At one of the numerous happy hours my company has hosted for its employees this year, my teammates and I stood by a fence, surveying the array of pale, hirsute faces. The scene prompted one of my coworkers (who is also white and bearded) to point out that our office is a real life game of Guess Who. Remember that game? Twenty-four faces on the game board, most of them white men? Your first question was always “Is your person a man?” and your next was “Is the person white?” If your secret person was one of the only four women, the only black person, or one of the other three people of indeterminate ethnicity, you were setting yourself up to lose. You always had to choose a white man.
Now that I’m dating again, I’ve had to use my standard “I had a great time talking to you, but I don’t feel the connection I’m looking for” rejection line on several men. I know it’s cliche to say, but it hurts me as much as it hurts them. Telling someone to his face that you aren’t interested in a second date, especially when he clearly is, is awkward and uncomfortable. But it’s the right thing to do. Ghosting is weak-minded and I don’t like getting text after text from a guy who is interested in me when I don’t feel the same. Delaying the inevitable “I don’t feel that way about you” message is unfair. We’ve all been at the other end of unreturned text messages, our rational brains telling us the guy isn’t interested and we should move on, but our passionate hearts needing to hear it from him explicitly before we can accept it. That verbal confirmation rarely comes.
The conversation gets harder, but even more important, when you’ve been on more than one or two dates and you’ve had a strong, mutual connection. And guys are totally incompetent at having this talk. (Disclaimer: Girls probably suck at this too, but I can only speak from my experience.) Even the ones who seem emotionally honest for so long, at the end prove themselves incapable of sitting down with someone they’ve shared months or years of intimacy and laughter and memory making with to have a decent, respectful conversation about ending their relationship.
Yes, I know Shakespeare’s Juliet only had one T, and it is a little odd that the international spelling alphabet would use extraneous letters when its whole purpose is to make communication easier, but I didn’t save this post for Romeo because I didn’t have anything else for Juliett.
I saw the Baz Luhrmann version of Romeo and Juliet with my friend Jeremiah (another J name), who I had an enormous crush on at the time. I won a radio contest to go to a special preview showing and somehow got Jeremiah to go with me. You know how you tend to remember the most bizarre, seemingly meaningless things from your youth? I remember that before the showing began, the radio hosts did some Romeo and Juliet trivia questions with the audience. I answered one correctly and won a pillar candle, kind of like those religious ones that Walmart sells. And I remember clearly that we were sitting on the left side of the theater, about halfway down and I pushed my way out of my row and ran down the aisle like an ecstatic and slightly off-kilter Price is Right contestant to claim my prize. Continue reading →