Toxic Ain’t Just For Chemicals Anymore
A Yawn and a sigh escape my lips. Again. It is somewhat early (in other words, before Noon) on a Sunday in mid-February and I am in the NYC apartment of the lady I have been dating for about three months. I lie there staring at the ceiling, weary of the attempt to catch just a little more sleep. No doubt she is weary of my tossing and turning.
The mattress is too small and lumpy in a way that only hide-a-bed mattresses seem to be. Why a hide-a-bed? Well, it doubles as the living room sofa in a very small apartment. In addition to the size of the bed, (obviously not designed for anyone over 6 feet tall) and the lumpiness that discourages sleep, there is also the perpetual hissing and clanking of the steam pipes, the clicking of an out of balance ceiling fan and noise from the street. Shall I also mention a hungry cat that is doing his best to knock the phone handset to the floor in an attempt to wake up the lady gently snoring next to me?
“God what I would give for my nice big waterbed and another hour of silence” I think to myself. Being a product of suburban America, I am not used to all the noise that comes with living in a tiny, hundred year old, poorly maintained, 3rd floor tenement walk-up.
Sighing quietly yet again I drag myself out of bed and get dressed.
I open the ‘fridge. “Damn! No Orange Juice!” No surprise here, she’s a coffee drinker. So I grab my coat and gloves, in preparation for a journey ’round the corner for some OJ.
At this point a mass of rumpled bed sheets behind me on the bedcouch resolves itself into a speaking mass of rumpled bed sheets, sleepy eyes and a voice.
“Where you goin?”
“Thought I’d find a place to get some OJ and a New York Times, want anything?”
Five minutes later, after being given directions to the only nearby place that sells chocolate scones, the best place to buy OJ and the preferred place to purchase the Times (all different, mind you) the speaking mass of rumpled bed sheets closes her eyes and goes back to sleep. And I am off.
I make my way down two flights of aging iron staircase and out through a claustrophobic entry hall. I open the double doors to the street and venture past garbage cans not quite up to the task of holding all that garbage.
Down on the nearest Avenue I notice that it is a glorious morning. Well, as glorious as February in NYC can get anyway. I purchase the scones, OJ and newspaper and head back.
Let me stop here for a second and mention that I am one of those people who don’t drink coffee or tea in the morning. I’ve never been fond of coffee. And while I like tea it just doesn’t appeal to me in the morning. So I have a nice big glass of OJ with just enough seltzer to cut the syrupy taste and give it a tiny little fizz. It’s what I need to start my morning. As necessary to me as coffee is to those of you who can’t function without a cup of hot black motivation.
In my absence the bed sheets have turned back into my lady friend, let’s call her “Annibel”. Annibel is sitting up on the bed, sipping her coffee and stroking her cat. I dive into the OJ and my blueberry scone (delicious!) and she dives for the Style section. The cover story of which is “Men who are crazy for women who are too” (By Rick Marin). I have excerpted a few paragraphs below.
Before you dive into the article, I feel that there are assumptions in both articles that you should be aware of. The people described therein are generally nowhere near 40. Both Annibel and I are quite close to 40, me a bit above and her, a lesser amount below. What are the Toxic Bachelorettes described below? Screwed-up 20 and 30 year-olds, that’s what. This
means they come by their toxicity largely from inexperience and that peculiar arrogance that seems to come so naturally to those in their twenties and thirties. Go ahead listen in on a conversation about a relationship between two 25 year-olds. Real conversations, not the crap you see in the media. It is instructive in the value of that greatest teacher of them all: experience.
Tired of looking at blurry scans of the actual article I used this thing called “google” to find the link to
the New York Times article, unavailable at the time this was originally written. The article is here.
”Sex and the City” coined the term ”toxic bachelor” to describe the many Mr. Wrongs bedded by the show’s chronically single women. He is emotionally unavailable, unwilling to commit, unfaithful. But ask a man why a relationship has gone bad and he will very often cite just one reason. Twirling his index finger around his ear, he will lip-sync, if not actually come out and say, ”She was crazy.”
There is a lot more to that particular NY Times article, without a doubt worth a read. Especially if you tend to attract or are attracted to “interesting” women.
The rest of the day goes much as other Sundays at Annibel’s apartment in NYC go, generally pleasant, interspersed with moments of complete and utter misunderstanding: Why should this relationship be any different from any previous ones I have had? Or for that matter ones you have had. Good question, I am still trying to figure that one out.
Now The Hard Part
So why am I doing this? Fast forward to today (a Saturday early in March) I am at home putting together this web page. A page that will go here and only here. On a web site that, on a good week, gets about 20 unique visits. You figure it out.
How do I walk the fine line between saying what has been percolating in the back of my mind for over a year and at the same time protect one of the most intelligent and interesting women I have dated in recent memory. Let me state this again, Annibel and that NY times article are merely the trigger. That, and the fact that her mom called her later that morning and said there was an article in The Times about her. Jokingly, I assume. She is certainly not crazy, not any more than we are anyway. She never threw a tantrum, disappeared mysteriously at a party or had any reliance on pharmaceuticals, legal or otherwise. All in all a delightful woman to spend a weekend with.
So exactly what is this about?. It’s about the way we enter a relationship, and the expectations that we all have along the way. Then, at the end of the relationship, it’s about the unwillingness to admit that it was fun while it lasted, and that it really is time to call it quits. It is very easy and natural to fall into the trap of
labeling someone. The label makes dealing with the breakup easier. It puts them at fault, filing them in a category with all the other failed relationships, where they can be conveniently forgotten. If you can fix the blame on something, a characteristic or idiosyncrasy, you’re off the hook!
“She’s just another Toxic Bachelorette.”
Saying that (or anything else) makes it justifiable (in your mind) that is is obviously their fault and not yours. It’s only natural to take the easy way out. It’s, ummmm, easy.
Putting someone in a category is always easier than actually dealing with the person. For some reason it is much harder to say, “It just didn’t work out. Maybe I screwed up, but no regrets, no recriminations, we had a blast, time to move on.”
Not that there is no such thing as a Toxic Bachelor or Bachelorette. I’m sure that there are plenty of people out there who are eminently qualified for that label. But this isn’t Hollywood.”
Have you been dating a lot of Toxic Bachelors or Bachelorettes lately? Ever wonder why so many of the people you have dated remind you of other people you have dated? Yeah me too. Setting aside the obvious, “I prefer redheads” or “I like ’em tall” why is it that the more you get to know someone the more they start to remind you of past lovers.
What was it that made you walk right past fourteen perfectly nice women on a beeline to the one that is going to eventually hurt you, and you, her? It’s the same thing that makes you think that Miss December is hot and Miss January is not. Pure animal attraction.
How is it possible in the space of a first date or a chance meeting for your unconscious mind to integrate all the impressions and come to a conclusion that this one meets the proper specifications and is “the right one for me.” Then weeks or months down the road that odd feeling of familiarity turns the discovery of all the ways that she is so incredibly similar to past lovers: Another Toxic-Bachelorette. I wish I knew.
I don’t have any conclusions, sage advice or trite catch phrases to pass on. Just a lot of questions and the hope that the next time I’ll see it coming.
Originally posted before I added WordPress to this site. Published date is approximate.
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