02 October 2015

Losing Nicole, How a Horrible Defeat Reformed Me

It was always some guy named Julian. Some skinny fucker with penetrating eyes and a soft voice, superficially cool and friendly, a pseudo intellectual, hip but not showy. God I hated those bastards but I was forever losing girls to them. They'd seem deep and honest and the shit they'd say sounded profound -- but not if you thought about it. They were soft, more likely to be musicians than athletes. They'd nod a lot when a girls talked as if they understood and cared about every word she said. Assholes.

All they really wanted was to get laid, which they managed with clockwork frequency and usually with someone I liked or even loved. I could never believe it when the girl I was interested in would pick one of these phonies. No way this guy was any great shakes in the sack. Best case scenario he was "a sensitive lover.” But back when I was dating there always seemed to be a Julian around. Lurking.

Of course any woman who would fall for one of these jerks was not anyone I cared to spend anymore time with anyway. I was better off with the Julians of the world separating the wheat from the chaff for me. At least that’s what I reasoned until I fell flat on my ass in love with Nicole.

Nicole was tall, slender and beautiful with these amazing eyes that made me weak in the knees. I couldn’t get enough of her. In addition to fashion model looks, Nicole was also very bright, politically astute and well read. Best of all Nicole was a lot of fun, she had a sense of humor to match my own. As a lover she had no equal to anyone I’d been with to that point. That point was when I was 24 years old and a journalist working on an alternative weekly and selling stories to magazines on the side. I’d even published some short stories. I felt like I was on top of the world. No one needed to tell me I was handsome, I’d heard it enough times already. I had a way with the ladies, charm, wit and I knew hot to have fun. But I could never maintain a relationship. Women I dated either ran off with some Julian or I got bored and moved on. But Nicole was someone I could never get bored with. I knew that from the start.

We met in a clothing store. I was looking at shirts and saw this gorgeous women who’d been in a class of mine in college a couple of years before. I boldly struck up a conversation and then asked her advice on a couple of shirts. From there we went for coffee together and the next weekend we were on a date and the weekend after that we became lovers. My friends were used to seeing me with a different woman every few weeks and with very pretty ones at that. But when I kept showing up at local watering holes and soirees with Nicole, I was the envy of the males in my circle. I already had an overly inflated ego, what with my early professional success, now I thought I was the almighty greatest most desirable blessed human in the history of the world. Truly the world revolved around me.

For six months Nicole and I spent virtually every night together. We never discussed the future. I assumed that we would move in together at some point and surely would eventually get married. Of course we were both also focussed on our careers. Nicole had just started working as a counselor and had notions of going into psychiatry. I was looking to move up from the alternative press into a full time magazine gig or a job with a daily newspaper. Meanwhile I’d started work on what I anticipated being the first of many successful novels.

But everything fell apart one night at a party my friend Keith was having for his 25th birthday. Keith was as popular among our group as I was but probably a lot better liked because he was a genuinely nice guy who, unlike me, wasn’t in love with himself. It was no surprise that the turnout for the party was huge. I knew most of the people there, but there also relatives and a few scattered friends and workmates of Keith’s I’d never met. One of them was a Julian type named, Brian.

I spotted him as soon as I walked in, sitting on the sofa chatting up some girl. I pegged him right off as one of those phony baloneys. He was being oh so casual and calm and yet all knowing and wise. I probably grimaced at the sight of him. I definitely grimaced an hour or so later when I saw him talking to Nicole. We’d of course split up for a bit to mingle. I wasn’t hitting on or so much as flirting with any women but it looked for all the world like Nicole was interested in this Brian guy. “You’re being paranoid,” I told myself. But when I noticed them still locked in conversation about 15 minutes later I decided to butt in. I walked over and gave Nicole a peck on the cheek and asked her if she was enjoying herself. In response she introduced me to Brian and told me stuff about him that was supposed to impress me -- I guess -- I sure don’t remember what it was. He gave a weak ass handshake and a forced toothless smile then looked straight at Nicole like I wasn’t there and continued talking to her. Nicole put a hand on my shoulder for just a second as she turned her attention back to this dickhead. I went over to where the drinks were and mixed myself a stiff one. And then another. After a few minutes I reasoned that there was nothing for me to be upset about that Nicole and I were solid and she probably just found a topic of mutual interest with this douche bag.  They'd be finished talking soon. Hell, maybe they already were. Then the music started.

A room was cleared and people started dancing. Much to my surprise and dismay Nicole was out there dancing with this Brian guy. He was a terrible dancer. Barely moving at all but looking deeply into Nicole's eyes. I thought: Okay so they're having a dance. What harm could that possibly be? Still I stood there feeling empty inside as I watched. When the first song ended Nicole and Brian started to walk away from the dance area, but as soon as the next song began they wheeled around and were dancing again. Now I was pissed. She was showing me up in front of friends. My best friends. I couldn't just stand there passively, I had to act. So I made my way to where they were dancing and cut in. Brian was cool about it and stepped back but Nicole...Nicole, Nicole said: "I'm dancing with Brian right now." She said it coldly too and gave me an angry look like I'd never seen from her before. It was a punch in the gut. I slinked away feeling, for the first time in my life, abject and total humiliation. No one has ever felt sorrier for themselves. I went and mixed myself a few more drinks. Tall and strong. What else could I do? I got -- least I thought I did -- sympathetic looks from friends.

That night I drank myself into a stupor. I recall sitting around talking with Keith and others but I remember little else. Well there is one thing I remember, I remember it still as clearly as if it were in a movie I've seen a dozen times. Nicole and Brian left the party together. I rushed to the door. Nicole saw me and ignored me. She didn't even say goodbye.

I woke up the next morning with an epic hangover. It felt like my head had been pounded all night with a sledgehammer. But worse was than the hangover was the memory of Nicole ditching me. The very thought seemed to radiate from my sphincter to my brain and made me feel emasculated. I was through with her. Period. She'd crossed a line that was impossible to come back from. I spent the next few days waiting for her to call -- I sure as hell wasn't going to reach out to her -- so I could tell her off. However she tried to excuse her behavior wasn't going to be good enough for me, not by a long shot. But she didn't call. And in those few days I became obsessed with my jealousy, my anger, my sense of betrayal. How I hated her. How I wanted to be with her again. I was never so upset with anyone and at the same time I never wanted so badly to make love to someone. The conflicting feelings were driving me to distraction.

It was over a week later that she called. "How are you?" she asked cheerily as if everything was perfectly normal. All the rage in me surged forward and disappeared. I couldn't muster a hint of my anger. Instead in a pouty voice I assured her that I was fine and asked how she was. Nicole said she was "great" and told me how well her work was going. All the time I pictured her sitting there in bed, probably naked and with Brian having just left. Finally she got to the point: "We've got tickets to the symphony next weekend. We still on?"

Now I knew the meaning of the word dumbstruck. Over a week after her leaving a party with another man she calls and asks if we're still going to the goddamned symphony together. "Nicole, you left a party with another guy. I was standing there like an idiot. I haven't heard from you in a week after we were practically inseparable for six months. Now, now you're asking if we're going to the symphony."

I'd given it to her right between the eyes. I couldn't wait for an apology and some half baked excuse and a promise to make it up to me and an earnestly expressed wish to become inseparable yet again. That's not what I got.

"We have no commitment that I'm aware of. I met a guy I liked and wanted to spend some time with him. I won't apologize for that. I'm a very independent girl, you should have known that about me. I want us to still be close, hang out and be lovers and all that, but I'm not ready to be tied down. And ya know, you could have called me."

The wind was completely taken out of me. My first impulse was to scream bloody murder at her, my second was to invite her over for a night of sexual gymnastics. Instead I meekly said, "I do not want to go to the symphony with you, or for that matter see you again. I'll send the tickets to you. Good bye." And I hung up.

In the aftermath of my affair with Nicole I shied away from relationships. I was celibate for a few months. My professional life was unaffected and I did soon get a job on a national magazine. But I no longer thought of myself as invincible. It's one thing to lose an ordinary girl to a Julian, but to see Nicole saunter off with this guy left me feeling wrung out and emotionally weak. The emotional beating I took was actually a necessary comeuppance for years of arrogant behavior.  I was a changed man one who actually had a dose of humility

I only slowly got back into dating. About a year later I met Karen who I've been with ever since. I've never even seen her look at another guy. We're married now and will soon welcome our first child. I only recently saw Nicole again. She was in a bookstore with a man. I said a cordial hello and she gave me a quick hug. Nicole then introduced me to the guy she was with. "This is my boyfriend, Julian." No kidding, that was his name.

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