Apr 22, 2010

The saga of Tristan-- a story with a moral

So I posted a little while ago about Skywalker's dating adventures. So now I guess it's my turn. Actually, this post is inspired by a conversation Skywalker and I had a little while ago wherein I related hilarious stories about my dating experiences, and he told me I ought to blog about it. So I will.

Anyway, we'll start with the most out-of-body of my experiences: Tristain. (Name changed to protect the innocent.)

I met him in a psych class. Actually, he was the graduate-student TA, and we met while waiting in the hall before the first class started. At the time I was working for the Center For Change, and so I did more to keep up my appearance and look a little higher-maintenance, for the sake of professionality. So I was in the hall, with perfectly blown-dry hair, in uncomfortable shoes and a cute outfit, and I was applying lip gloss. (All four of these things are completely unlike me if you know me well) when I chanced to hear something funny. I can't remember what exactly it was he said, but I do remember he was sitting on the floor with his back against the wall, next to a girl similarly sitting, and when I looked down and laughed at him she gave me this evil, evil glance.

Anyway, so my thought was, OK. I get the message. Hands off. Not that my hands were intending any sort of on-ness to begin with. Whatever.

But of course at that point I was noticing him a little bit more than usual. I was a single parent, so I didn't think of myself as datable, so I settled myself in for my normal bouts of admire-from-afar-but-make-sure-I'm-cold-and-unnapproachable-so-I-don't-have-to-explain-my-situation-and-get-rejected mode. (wow, that would have been quite an acronym.)

So it surprised me when he started giving me perfect, subtle hints he might be interested.

It all started with a paper I needed to make up. And he got my cell number (actually, my sister's) and called me personally about it instead of waiting for me to come up to him in class. (He left a message on Cait's cell, saying to give him a "jingle." Which totally grossed Cait out and gave her a somewhat-more-correct first impression of him than I had recieved.)

I returned his call, and he talked about things that weren't my overdue paper. And he saw me in class and sat next to me, and was dang. Charming. Verbally amazing. Sly, funny, a little suggestive but not suggestive in an objectionable way... just sort of playful; I don't know if you guys know what I mean. Anyway, I told him right up front I was a single parent (I mentioned my daughter in my request for a later duedate on the paper) but he didn't seem to be thrown by that, either. It was WIERD. Completely unexpected.

WE went out once. Talked, had fun. It was all very casual and entertaining. He was a good looking guy-- BIG, and I do mean BIG. Tall, and the broadest shoulders you've ever seen, interesting arresting features that looked somewhat Italian and hawk-like,(I've always been a sucker for that type) and good hair that kind of sprung away from his forehead. And he knew how to WORK it. Let's just say that the average, innocent BYU guy does NOT know how to work it. If he does, you know you might need to be a little suspicious.

But I wasn't purposefully ignoring all the warning signs because I didn't care. In my head it was just fun and nothing serious. Practice for when I met that Widower to spend time with in my sunset years that I mentioned in my previous dating post.

But then it got weird.

So he asked me out on a real date. At night, up in salt lake city, to a restaurant. the plan was for him to come to pick me up and drive me in his car.

He didn't show.

And didn't show.

Finally I picked up the phone to call him and *coincidence!* his voice was on the line! Apparently my ringer had been TURNED OFF and his car had BROKEN DOWN on the freeway and he had no ride and needed me to come pick him up and needed me to drive MY car to our date. SO I did.

OK, this should have been a sign, too. From the Universe.

Anyway, I went to pick him up in my 10-year-0ld mercury tracer with the slight glancing dents in one door and crumbs and pacifiers and diaper bag and discarded wipes all over the back seat.

Just so you understand the contrast and my mortification, I'll explain that Tristain's car was a saturn--a sporty little model that smelled like pine and obeyed you when you talked to it in Japanese.

I'd been kind of shaken by the whole not-being-called-almost-being-stood-up thing, as well as extremely uncomfortable about my car and how it may be smelling (I was so used to it, you know--I had no idea how it was for someone else) that I was completely in myself. Do you know what I mean when I say that? I was worried about me, me, me and it put me into a really strange place. He handed me a mix that he'd made for me. I put it in the door of my car, moved over so he could drive, and then I started thinking to myself, I'm alone in this car. With this guy, who I've only met in person and talked to at length a few times. He's not just big, he's HUGE which in normal circumstances is wayyyy sexy but in this circumstance is kind of scaring me because he could take me ANYWHERE and do ANYTHING to me up to and including HORRIBLY MURDERING me and LEAVING ME IN SOME RANDOM DITCH...

yeah. Kind of twisted, and likely not at all unrelated to the fact that I'd gone through that really really strange frightening experience with my ex-husband, and the divorce had happened only 8 months before.

So Me=thinking distorted, panicky thoughts.

Him=sitting in the middle of a stink-fest when he was used to pine and exotic breath-freshening chewing gums and the (let's face it, less-than-subtle) aura of Aqua Di Gio.

We arrive at the restaurant and he brags a little--the waiter is his favorite. He knows him. (Implication--he's a wise dater and is good at choosing his place and his waiter, thus I should enjoy this if I'm any kind of normal human being.)

I wasn't enjoying it. Suddenly the whole scene was different. It was like I was seeing it all on large-screen instead of participating; him leaning on his elbows across the table with his elbow-length, nice-fitting sweater bunched up stylishly just past his elbows, his dark hair falling devastatingly across his brow, his eyes dark and inviting...

My thought was, Holy Cow. I'm in deep waters here, and I have absolutely no way of knowing how to negotiate the currents. This is waaaay beyond what I can do right now, and perhaps ever--this boy is out of my league. Not that I'm not pretty, not that I'm not dressed to fit the part at this current juncture in my life. The problem was inside. Not only was I obviously (after my freak out session in the car) not quite ready to date, but this guy. Well, he was high maintenance in a way I didn't even fully understand, and I knew it as soon as I sat across that table from him and attempted to choke down battered calamari and red sauce and stave off my thoughts of making an excuse, running for my car and making a break for it.

That should have been my third and final sign. But for some reason I stuck it out, choked down my panic and nodded politely, trying to contribute now and then to some sort of normal conversation. He noticed and asked me if I was OK. I said sure. He said, maybe we should go to my place, I'll show you around. I said (with ghosts of my young women leaders echoing in my ears) sure.

My somewhat foggy and distorted thoughts were, maybe I could get back to that place where I liked him and enjoyed repartee-ing with him. And after all, he'd made me a mix. Seriously, a mix. How slightly naive and high school is that? And I love the fact that there was some Red Hot Chili peppers on it-- he and I could possibly get along really well, if I gave it a chance.

And overall the experience of suddenly being sought after, and by someone so clearly desirable, was too much to give up right away. I needed to get hold of myself before I ruined it and regretted it forever; that's what I told myself.

We went to his place, sat on his couch and talked. Or at least, I tried to. They were pretty pathetic attempts at this point. And he clearly did not want to talk. He kept snuggling up next to me, cozy as we talked, and then he'd get a little *too* close let's say, and I'd move away.

He must have been confused. I mean, with any normal, worldly girl and any normal, worldly boy that would be the implication of "let me show you my apartment", right? And I already knew he wasn't your run-of-the-mill-scared-returned-missionary type, so I should have expected something like that. After a couple cycles of musical couch-cushions I stood up and said I had to go home so I could get up in the morning, something like that.

He was very nice. Walked me out, and said something really clever and funny as I left, can't remember what it was but it made me completly unable to dismiss the night, and thus, the possibility of Tristain, as a failure. He was too dang clever! And funny! And overall, in spite of what happened on the date, including his attempts to be more physically close than I was really willing to be on a first date (alone in his apartment!) he was someone I really liked in a lot of ways.

But I called him the next morning, with all the resolve I could muster, and told him I didn't think we should go out again.

And then reconsidered when I saw him in class and he was so funny again, and so attractive, dang.

So I called him and we kind of decided to go out again. Sort of. He's not a guy who likes rejection (what guy does) or perhaps is used to it? But he was still nice, witty, funny.

And then I started feeling crazy. Honestly, totally crazy. It was such a worry for me, this guy-- i was used to only worrying about child care and college and my part time job and my divorce and my crazy ex husband who might find me any minute and hire a hit man or something. It was the worry that tipped the iceberg, let's say, just enough for my ship of sanity to run full scale into it.

I remember calling him, once, when I was completely freaked out, and having a funny, normal conversation with him about how he was washing his disney glasses and broke one and was sad. It was such a normal, fun exchange, in the middle of utter craziness, and so it was kind of addictive. I started calling every once in a while, even if he hadn't called me. And if you're a girl, you know that, in spite of all the ground that the feminist movement has gained for women, in dating that's kind of an unspoken (and sometimes, spoken) rule. Don't call him much more often, proportionately, than he calls you.

Still, he seemed to like me and like talking to me. He'd sit next to me in class. I think we might have gone out one more time. He came to one of my other psych classes and watched "Shadowlands" with me, one of my favorite films of all time.

But it quickly spiraled, what with his busy schedule and my freaking-out-ness, into something less pretty than either of us probably like to admit at this point.

It all sort of ended one night when I called him (disproportionately) and asked if I could come up and see him. It had been a hard day for me, and the prospect of adult conversation and perhaps a fun movie and hanging out with someone so very attractive and fun to talk to was more tempting than I could resist, despite the little voice in my head telling me that calling was unwise and going up was unwise, particularly because of how things had gone the previous time I went to his apartment.

I arrived, and he'd set out some pizza and soda. And asked if I wanted to watch a movie. I relaxed immediately (though there was still a bit of knotting in the pit of my stomach) realizing that he'd gotten the message the last time and knew I wasn't up for (whatever it was he was up for that I really didn't want to think too hard about.)

But at that point I had kissed him. Once. So it wasn't too hard for me to kiss him again at some point in the evening. But it must have transmitted some of my extremely cautous state because he then turned to me and said, "you know, I think I expect people who have been married before to give, like, sexier kisses than people who haven't," or something like that. But this was enough to even break through my crazy-single-mom-just-recently-divorced fog and provide me with a red flag.

I left soon after that. But it was snowing hard that evening. Not only was my car slipping and sliding all over the road, but it was pitch black so that my headlights didn't even go far in the falling snow, AND all the street signs were covered up. I quickly realized that I needed to go back. And there was only one place to stay.

OK, you can all stop holding your breath. This is actually the part where it gets really hilarious. I'd already kind of written him off in my head, and knew I had to be pretty clear to him that I was staying out of necessity and he couldn't expect anything from me. So as soon as I knocked on the door, (and he appeared wearing his blanket and also *garments??* Ok this guy was all complete contradictions, who WAS he) I said I couldn't get home, I needed to stay but I needed to find a pay phone and call my sister first to let her know I wouldn't be home that night but I'd make my best effort to get home before her classes started because she was watching my baby for me.

He said OK and offered to drive me to the nearest pay phone (because he'd lost his Cell and couldn't find it! All events seemed to be combining against me this night, making my life as difficult and uncomfortable as possible. Possibly it was Heavenly Father punishing me for my previous, complete and utter stupidity.) On the way, I hinted at him that I needed to stop off at a drugstore and get "supplies", partly to gross him out and keep him at arm's length and partly because it was true. (all events combining against me.)

Unfortunately it didn't seem to put him off quite enough. When we got back to his place he loaned me his sweatshirt (came clear down to my knees) and some sweatpants (had to roll, tie the ties around my waist more than once, and flip the top over several times) and then got me settled on his couch, got out his alarm clock and set it for six (all this time I'm thinking, maybe I judged him too harshly) and THEN came and sat on my legs on the couch (quick reversal of judging.) I looked him in the eye and said, "do you have any scriptures? I have to read a chapter every night before I go to sleep."

He looked a little nonplussed. "The only ones I have are in French," he said. (He served his mission in France. Again... who IS this guy?)

"OK. Well... do you think you could get them and translate a couple verses for me."

He looked at me for a moment like I was completely insane, went to get his scriptures, translated a few verses in to English.

And then he went to bed.

I woke up in the morning not very refreshed or renewed, having worried throughout the night about how wierd it was that I was WHERE I was and wondering if my baby was OK, and what my sister and roomate would say to me in the morning.

It all worked out. Loli was OK. I was OK. Tristain was OK. But the whole experience is one I'll never be without. The oddness, the strange conflicting feelings-- being attracted way too much to this boy who obviously had some amazing qualities but equally obviously had some issues that especially in my emotional state at the time, I had no way of dealing with.

It pretty much ended at that point. He came back to get a coat he'd lent me to go home in. I'd put some chocolate kisses in one of the pockets. He ate one, then gave me a (last) kiss. yes I admit I allowed him to reel me in that one last time.

Just for some more perspective, I have kissed exactly three guys in my life. My ex husband, my current husband, and Tristain. For some reason right now that's kind of hilarious to me. BUt... it also means I'm probably never going to forget Tristain.

And as a postscript: We chatted online occasionally after that. We were able to be casual friends because it never really got too far, I think. But one time he asked me, "how can you be such a good girl? Honestly."

My response: "well... you just are. It's a simple decision."

It is, girls.

We both got married within two years after that. And I'm very happy. And by all appearances, he is too. And he did get married in the temple. Something about both of our experiences dating each other I think sort of prepped us-- he needed to realize something about "good girls," and the fact that this was what he really wanted. And I needed to realize something about myself-- I needed companionship, in spite of all my plans for independence. And I was desireable, in spite of my divorce and single-parent status.

(BTW in case you're wondering-- when I came home that morning, my sister said that, in spite of the fact she knew I'd never do anything stupid, she was "really disappointed in me." And I think my roommate still thinks I did something bad that I didn't do. So-- wiseness is about more than trusting yourself sometimes, girls. Sometimes it's also about your reputation, unfortunate as that is. Especially if you're single parent living in Utah Valley. :/)

Right now we're facebook friends and that's it. And that's the way it should be, I'm thinking.


Amyjo said...

loved this story. Made me think back to a time 20 years ago in Provo, except his name was David...lol

Putz said...

very good writing, but most people of the world would call you a prude< the thing that made me kind of laugh was wondering if..the statement from you>>>that boys {do not know}knew what the moves they were making,and what they meant>>>aas if we do things and don't understand the emotions behind them...boys are not stupid nor surf or maybe they are, how would i know????????but it was a good bit of writing nevertheless and you should do more writing as soon as possible

Margaret said...

Good girls rock :)