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Adventures in Singledom: Part III: I Got Played

July 3, 2012

Syrian Doctor cont….

The next morning I was awake at 6am and couldn’t go back to sleep, an aberration in behavior for me. I would sleep my life away if I could. I decided to go out for a walk. I was riding the high of a young girl with a crush on a boy. I felt happy and excited for what might happen next. Then, I remembered the closet incident and I thought, Oh Shit! What did I do? Despite my fear over the possible ramifications of this transgression, I felt good as I listened to music and enjoyed the morning air that had not yet approached the scourging heat I knew if would in just a few hours. I kissed a man. I might survive this divorce after all. I went about my day and headed to work. Based on the previous two days’ experiences with this guy, I was expecting some friendly texts to come my way. By about 11am, nothing. I started to worry that I had screwed it up. So, I texted him, “Thank you for dinner etc…I had a nice time.”

“So did I,” he responded with one of his now-signature smiley faces. Okay, so far, so good.

“How’s your day going?” he asked. I replied. Then he called. He said he had slept in and was just driving to the hospital. And then he asked,

“So, my little satchel was in a different place on the shelf. Did you find anything interesting in there?” Oh Shit, I thought. I tried to back-track and explain myself. I had too much to drink. He had invited me to look around. His reaction was a strange combination of explanations and inquiries. He didn’t seem upset with me. He started to explain why he had multiple passports in the little bag, a detail that I had not noticed at the time. I was so embarrassed at my behavior that I wasn’t interested in the explanations and I didn’t want him to be making them. He ended the conversation when he reached the hospital. Great. I fucked it up, I thought. I wanted to fix it. I didn’t hear anything from him the rest of the day. Later, I tried to coax him back into an interaction.

“I’m having a bit of a day,” I texted him. “I’m going to Pamplona’s about 6-ish to decompress, if you’d like to join me.” I was desperate to apologize to him in person. I wanted to look into those hazel-brown eyes, to see him in person after the previous night’s affections. I wanted to use my charm, such as it is and my pretty blue eyes to work my way back into his good graces. Normally I don’t think I would attempt another meeting the very next day after a first date, but given the persistence he displayed within an hour of getting my phone number and for the next 36 hours, I didn’t think an attempt to meet again was being too forward. I went to Pamplona’s and texted him, asking if I would be seeing him that evening. He apologized for not replying sooner and said he had a “work-related meeting” and might not make it over. I texted him my desire to apologize in person for what I called “my foolish behavior.” I told him that I liked him a lot and I was worried that I had messed things up.

“I’m my own bad wingman,” I tried to joke. He replied that he liked me too and that I had not messed things up.

“We’ve had one date and a movie,” he texted, “ways to go.” Great, I think. He really is interested in me. This is just the beginning of something.

Then within a matter of seconds the wheels came off. He wrote that he was thinking about our conversation at the sushi place and he’s not sure we have the “same endpoint in mind.” I have no idea what part of the conversation he was talking about. He said he wanted to “take it slow rather than proceed in a fast way.”

“Slow is good,” I replied. I tell him if he’s tired and wants to call it I night, I would understand. “Another time, perhaps,” I texted.

“Perhaps,” he replied. Perhaps. He went from “Absolutely” to “Perhaps” in 36 hours. That’s the last communication I had from him. “Perhaps.” That was it. That was Tuesday evening. I tried to give him some time. The weekend came around and still, nothing. This was such a strange experience for me. I felt like an alien in a foreign world. What did it all mean? By Saturday evening I decided to text him a sort-of goodbye message, a pre-written, over-analyzed and carefully prepared one. I sent him this:

“OK, Well I haven’t heard from you so I guess I really did screw it up……or persistence followed by silence is your modus operandi. Either way, I must thank you for the lovely attention you gave me. It was a wonderful, if brief experience and I’m grateful that I met you. You have an open invitation from me to share drinks at Pamplona’s (with or without your wingman) if you ever decide you want to see me again. I would welcome a chance to see you again. Otherwise, good luck with everything. Don’t break too many hearts. And watch “The Godfather” trilogy. It’s an important part of American culture.  lol Thanks again.”

No reaction. No reply.

Of course all of this, as with every minute development in my life since my separation from my husband, has been confessed, discussed, dissected and analyzed by a host of friends, family members and co-workers. At first, I was convinced that I was the “at-fault” party who had ruined my chances with a perfectly nice, attractive, young doctor who had decided, justly that he didn’t want to have anything to do with an older, overly outgoing woman who pilfers through people’s closets. Others, however have pointed out my naïveté, including my sister, a nurse who dated her share of doctors back in her day.

“You didn’t sleep with him, Nicole,” they’ve all told me. “That’s why he went cold. You proved to be too much work.” In hindsight, I guess they’re right. I was played. By a play-a. He was hoping for a quick one-night stand that first night. He got me instead. I made him go out for coffee and take me to dinner and I still didn’t give it up. Oh well. One down, I guess.

Despite the disappointment, I don’t regret the brief experience. It taught me a lot. I learned that yes, I am still an attractive woman and young, smart, interesting men will be attracted to me. There is life after divorce. I can kiss another man and the world will not come to an end. It also reminded me of my vulnerabilities. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I crush too easily and too fast. I need to be more careful next time and I need to stick to my own rules. No more than two glasses of wine on a first date! No going to someone else’s home on a first or a second or even third date! I also learned that I’m not a one-night-stand kind of girl, even at 43. My hormones and my body could have easily slept with Mr. Syria. But my emotions and my pride wouldn’t let it happen. Those three short days of attention made it easier to sign those divorce papers. The brief experience will make July 2, the day our divorce is final a little easier to bear.

And yes, I’m still in love with my husband and still struggling with those feelings and how to keep them from affecting my behavior. I saw him just a week ago. Yes, you guessed it, at Pamplona’s. He still seems so nervous around me but we had another nice talk. I like seeing him. I told him again that I would be open to seeing him more often. He’s the one who’s going to break my heart next. How many times can you hit someone over the head with the message, “I’m here if you want me,” before it gets to be a bit pathetic? Not sure yet.

Meanwhile, for the first time in my life I’ve found an exercise routine that I enjoy. I’ve been walking the track at Girard Park almost every day. It makes me happy. I listen to music and enjoy the nature and scenery (which includes cute runners and basketball players.) I’ve lost weight and I feel good. I usually ride my bike there, walk three laps and ride back home but the other day I needed to go get a few things at WalMart so I drove and went shopping after my laps. I was still listening to my headphones as I walked into WalMart seeking make-up, tomatoes and an air conditioning filter. It was really busy and there weren’t many check out counters open so people were lined up 10 to 15 deep behind the registers. I stood in the middle of the aisle between the merchandise and the registers, contemplating which department I should go to first. I looked over at the lines of people and one man stood out from the rest. He was very tall. He was dressed very casually in a t-shirt and jeans and it took me a minute to recognize his face. Is that?…… I questioned myself. It is! It’s the Syrian doctor! At WalMart! I looked over at him again. He looked my way and then made eye contact with me. I could tell from his facial expressions the range of thoughts that must have been going on in his head in a matter of milliseconds. Eye contact. Wonder. Recognition. Fear. Pretense. He looked at me then immediately looked away. Son of a bitch! He’s pretending not to know me. Mother fucker! Weeks ago he held me in his arms and kissed me on the couch in his home. And there he was in line at WalMart with ugly, white, plastic laundry baskets pretending that he didn’t even know who I was. Wow.

You’d think I’d be angry or hurt but I just laughed. I couldn’t stop smiling and laughing at the absurdity of the whole thing. I kept looking over at him and of course I immediately texted Liz who had been privy to every detail of my brief experience with this guy.

“Syrian Doctor is in WalMart,” I wrote. I was still in the main aisle and I knew he could see me texting and smiling. I got my makeup in the cosmetics department and walked back over to the groceries. Since he was going to pretend not to know me I decided there would be no harm in investigating a little closer. There was a woman with him! Son of a bitch! They were buying household goods. Wow. He really is a player and I was nothing more than a potential, temporary plaything to him. He wasn’t interested in getting to know me at all. I got played.

The power I had at that moment was amusing. I could have made a scene. I could have yelled out his name. I could have approached him, asking loudly why he hadn’t called me. He was probably scared that I would do something like that. I could’ve texted him and watched as he read it. But, I didn’t need to do any of those things. He wasn’t worth it. I got my tomatoes, checked out and went home.

This last bit on information has become fodder for one of my more hyper-analytical confidents. After I told her the story, she came back to work the next day saying,

“I’ve been thinking about this guy all night.”

“Seriously, you’ve been thinking about this,” I questioned. “Is it really worth the time?”

“I can’t help it,” she said. “It’s like a puzzle I have to solve.” She poured out her theory: “He was playing a game with you right from the beginning but you didn’t play along the way you were supposed to. You didn’t follow the script. That first night, you said he doesn’t usually go to Pamplona’s. His friend is the regular there. He immediately tried to get you on his turf. River Ranch, where he lives. You didn’t go for that. You made him work for it. He met you for coffee than wanted to come over that night. You didn’t go for that either. He convinced you to go to his home and the way he showed you around. He showed you the closet. Left the door open. The light was left on. You were supposed to find that little satchel. You were supposed to find those pills. You didn’t follow the script. He wanted you to ask about them. Maybe that would have led to something else that evening. You didn’t ask about them. You asked to be taken home instead. The next day, he wanted to explain. He asked you over and over if you had ‘seen anything interesting.’ You still didn’t take the bait. You just wanted to apologize and pretend it didn’t happen. By that time he did a risk analysis and decided you were too much work for him. Maybe a bit brighter and more principled than the women he’s used to dating. He cut bait.”

Maybe she’s right. Before the WalMart incident I was hoping not to see him again because he obviously wasn’t interested in me. I thought it would be embarrassing. But now, I think it would be funny. I know what I could say if I saw him again. I could go up to him and say,

“Excuse me. Do I know you from somewhere? Are you some kind of doctor? A dentist maybe? Did you clean my teeth? I’m having this strong memory of your face really close to mine. No? You sure? My mistake.”

Honestly, I do kind of want to talk to him just to ask him some questions about single men. I need to learn more about how players like him operate. How often does he do this? Is it really that meaningless to hold someone’s hand, caress them in your arms and kiss them only to pretend you don’t even know who they are? I don’t know if I have the strength to play these games. This is going to be a rough road ahead.

Live and learn. Live and learn.

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From → Rantings

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