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Oh…..Tennis Bashir…….

February 7, 2013

The second time was nice. Really nice. I can conjure up the memory of my favorite moment with him in an instant. We were sitting on the floor in front of the futon, watching YouTube videos of Indian music. He was translating the silly, romantic lines to me. Then he pulled me close and I sat on his lap. We straddled across each other, our legs intertwined as the strange Indian singing provided an almost comical background. He looked in my eyes a long time and put his hands behind my neck, running his fingers through my hair, pushing it out of the way as he slowly and tenderly kissed me. He was a bad kisser at first. He kissed quickly in short burst. But he was learning. In that moment he was more deliberate, slower. I remember looking at him and thinking how easy it would be to fall in love with him. How hard it was going to be when whatever we were doing came to an end. I knew it was going to come to an end. He was moving back to D.C. by the end of the month.

Our attraction had been only physical at first. We saw each other from a distance. I didn’t know if I would like him if I got to know him. By the time that moment came, the one etched in my brain, I had gotten to know him a bit. I liked him. I liked the way he talked. I liked that he always asked about my kids and work. I liked his smell.

The next day I thought, “I should end the story now. Write the ending to the Tennis Bashir saga right now, on a high note, before something ruins it.”  I had it written in my head but I was too busy with work to blog it out.

What a weird little story it’s been. I saw him. He sought me out. We had coffee. We had drinks. He left for a trip and ended up in India. “Forget about him,” I told myself. “You’ll probably never see him again.” But I didn’t forget about him. I thought about him all the time. I thought about him every time I came around the corner of the walking path and looked at the tennis court.

Months later I was at my daughter’s house in Hawaii when I heard that familiar sound that tells me I have a text message. To my surprise I saw his name pop up. “Hi. Marie, Maybe you forgot about me.” He was back from India.

“No, I haven’t forgotten about you,” I told him. Promises to call followed. Late night texts. “What are you doing? How are you? I miss you…,” all from a guy I had spent a few hours with. He was working in D.C. Damn. “Forget about him,” I told myself again. “You’ll never see him again.” He said he had to come to Lafayette eventually to finish up some graduate work and get his things from the apartment. He wanted to see me. I still tried to put him out of my mind. I still thought about him all the time.

Then one day I was in the park. My life seems to happen in that damn park. I was walking when I got a text from him. “I wanted to tell you I’m going to be in town for a while.” I had a physical reaction. “Oh, shit,” I exclaimed. I sat down on the grass. One of the other walkers asked if I was okay. “I’m in the park now,” he texted. “So I am,” I replied as I nervously walked towards the tennis courts. “I see you,” he texted. And there he was. Tall, dark, handsome Tennis Bashir. Sigh. I hugged him. We smiled at each other. He was with his friend, his old tennis partner. They were about to play. He asked if we could get together that weekend, but later that evening he texted me. He wanted to see me right away. I did too. He had his friend drop him off downtown and we met for drinks. We talked a long time, caught up on everything that had been happening to each of us. He was wearing these little pink, string bracelets with beads on them. His sisters had tied them to his wrist when he left them. I liked playing with those little beads on his wrists. I took him back to where he was staying and there was some pretty hot and heavy making out in my car. As the British would say, we just fancied each other and distance and time didn’t seem to matter.

…….and then he dropped off the face of the Earth again. He had seen his advisor  and he had a lot of work to do. I told him it was okay. I told him I understood. A couple of weeks and no contact. I was hurt. I started to cry in the park, thinking about him and just as I was wiping away a tear, there he was, standing by his car, waiting for me to pass by on the walking path. He looked tired and a beard was growing in. He was all apologies and excuses. “It’s ok,” I told him. “I don’t have any expectations.” That was a lie. He kept in touch a bit, then dropped off again. I couldn’t understand his behavior. He was a contradiciton of absence and inattention peppered with sweet and considerate gestures. He seemed to not be able to forget about me either. But when I was available to him, he didn’t make any effort to be with me.

I tried to forget about him again. A couple of months later….I was on my usual walking path and there he was coming around the corner. Sonofabitch! I had another physical reaction. I caught my breath and held my stomach. I played with my necklace nervously as I talked to him. I broke my necklace. I saw him and broke my necklace. He looked good. He’s so beautiful. He was working two jobs. He didn’t have time for anything etc… etc… “I thought you changed your mind about me,” I said. “If you still want to see me, I’d be interested in that,” I said.

“I’d like that,” he said. “I’ll text you.”

Weeks go by and nothing. This time I told myself to really forget about him. My pride finally won out. He had been dropping off the face of the Earth for months. He had not made any efforts to be with me. Why should I try to reach out to him? I deserve better than that. That was the mantra I stuck to with confident determination. I let my pride be the master of me as I rounded the path and faced those tennis courts every day. “No, Marie, Let it go!” Shut it down.

Then, I went on a date with a child: the 23-year old who boldly asked me out, knowing my age and didn’t have a clue what to do with me once he had me on a date. When I walked into my apartment after that terrible experience, the first thing I thought was, “I miss Tennis Bashir.”

So, I told my pride to go fuck itself and I e-mailed him. “Hi. How’s life? Are you still in Lafayette?” To my shock he replied right away. A few days later I was walking up the steps to his apartment. I was so happy to see him. I had wanted to be with him for so long.

I enjoyed being with him. I liked talking to him. We kissed. We did more than that. And……………it wasn’t…………….great. It was rather awkward actually. I won’t get into details. This isn’t that kind of blog. I’ll just say he had been drinking whiskey earlier and it was not conducive to….well, you know. Nevertheless, I spent the night with him and floated to work the next day, happy to have finally spent some time with this guy I had kept in my head and my heart for so long.

The second time I was with him was wonderful. He had not had whiskey, just a couple of beers. We talked a lot. We kissed a lot. He was kind and charming and interesting. He was interested in me. This time it was…………better. Still not great. But nice. I spent the night. In the morning I bent down to say goodbye and he wrapped his arms around me in a big, tender hug. I kissed him on the head and lips. I went home to change and floated to work.

This is where I want it to end. Or I want to make up a different ending than the one that actually happened. I want to write a long story about a romantic love affair that ended with tears and promises to see each other again. I want to write a sappy ending where, after only weeks of knowing each other, there’s a tearful goodbye at the airport and he reluctantly says to me, “But Marie, I can’t go. I’m in love with you. You’re the only woman I could ever love. You’re perfect.” Yeah. Whatever. This isn’t a fairy tale. This isn’t an Austen novel.

I don’t want to say what happened next. I don’t want to write it. It was upsetting and it reminded me of things that happened to me a long time ago. Things I allowed. Things I didn’t stop. I don’t want to write about that either. I said I was going to write a book. I’ll have to write about it for the book. I wish it hadn’t happened. I wish I didn’t have to think about it. I wish it would go away. Okay, back to the present. Time to stop with the melodrama. He didn’t hurt me. He wasn’t violent or anything. It wasn’t that bad, really.

There was a third visit. I went to him. We were having a good time. We went grocery shopping together. I haven’t done that with a man in a long time. It was weird and cute. We watched television and laughed and talked. He was drinking whiskey, again. I had some wine. He smoked more than he ever had before. I’ve seen him have a cigarette on the balcony on occasion but that night he smoked several cigarettes. It seemed like every 10 minutes he was excusing himself to smoke. By the time we were in bed together it was very late and he had had a lot to drink. He asked me to do something I wasn’t comfortable doing.

Let me set the record straight here. I’m not a prude. I have experience. It may have been with the same man for 25 years but you don’t have sex with the same person for two-and-a-half decades without experimenting and owning your sexuality. Since the divorce, my limited experience in this area has taught me that not everybody knows what they’re doing. Not everyone is skilled and men are not the same in bed. So, Tennis Bashir required a course of action that had never been requested of me before and I didn’t care for it. I pushed him away and said, “No, I’m not comfortable with that.”

He turned on his side and said in mocking frustration, “I’m not comfortable with that. I’m not comfortable with that.” There was annoyance in his voice. He pulled the covers over him and said, “Let’s just sleep.”

I got up and went to the bathroom. I was immediately struck with an unwavering feeling: “This isn’t right. This isn’t okay. I’m out of here.” I didn’t cry. I remember wondering why I wasn’t crying. I turned on a light to gather my things. “The light, please.” he said, annoyed. I ignored him and put on my clothes. I got my backpack and purse and turned off the light. I don’t know why I tried to say goodbye to him. I guess I thought it was probably the last time I would see him. I sat down next to him on the bed and said softly, “I’m going,” as I moved my hand to the top of his head. I wanted to touch that hair one more time. He pushed my arm away and said, “If you’re leaving, just leave.” I did. I got in my car and drove home. It was about 1 a.m. I e-mailed Pickle telling her a diorama would be in order the next day and tried to sleep.

Here’s the thing. I know some of you might read what happened and think, “That’s it?That’s all that happened? I’ve been through worse than that. Hell, my husband’s done worse than that.” I know you have. I have too. That’s the point. We all have. When I was the editor of a small weekly paper I wrote an editorial about sexual abuse. I reminded my readers that just about every woman over the age of 20 (and many younger) has had at least one negative sexual experience. That can be anything from being pressured into a kiss to violent rape. It’s all not okay. Tennis Bashir didn’t do anything horrible. I said no and he stopped. But he got pissy with me about it. He was annoyed that I didn’t do what he wanted me to. That’s enough for me. Shut it down.

I was proud of myself for walking out. I redeemed the 16-year-old I once was who allowed that first asshole to have his way with me in the back of a car. At the first hint of inappropriate, disrespectful behavior, I stood up for myself. I put my foot down. I left. I claimed myself. I am not anyone else’s. I…do….not….do…anything….I…..don’t….want….to…..do! And you’re not going to try to make me feel bad about it.

So, that’s how the long, suffering, romantic Tennis Bashir story ends. In disappointment. Are you surprised? I’m not.

In his defense, he did contact me a couple of days later and apologize for his behavior. He’s been trying to hook up with me since. I haven’t taken the bait. I put my guard down for him. I knew it was temporary so, I lived in the moment. Fences down. I dropped what I was doing to be with him, treasuring the moments, knowing each one could be the last one. Up until that last moment, it was worth it. To be held and kissed by a beautiful man. To have that man engage with you and show genuine interest in your life…when you’ve been through what I’ve been through in the past year or so, it’s incredibly appealing. It’s intoxicating. It makes you do things like be summoned by booty calls. To leave the company of friends and go to the arms of a strong, kind man. That last night…..he said he wanted to meet Pickle. He said I didn’t belong in Lafayette. He said a lot of things. Then he ruined it. Damn.

Inspired by the combination of a depressive mind and an unhappy marriage I used to often wonder, “Why does everything good have to be tainted by something bad?” I felt that way about my marriage a lot. It seemed like all the good we had between us eventually gave way to some tension and negativity. Every experience somehow got some anger or blame added to the memory of it. We couldn’t hang on to the joy.

It’s been a bad few weeks. People have been disappointing me. I can’t hang on to the joy. I barely knew Tennis Bashir. If I added up the hours of actual face time with him it would be about…..22…24 hours total. I put him up on a pedestal. I romanticized him. I compared him to Darcy for Christ’s sake! I let my guard down for him. I didn’t hold him to convention. I didn’t care what his visa status was or his financial situation or what car he drove or whether he smoked. And he got drunk and fucked up and disappointed me.

If people are brought into your life to teach you things. What am I supposed to learn from this? That I did the right thing? To go slower next time? To let go of the foreigner fetish? I don’t know right now.

So, another one bites the dust. The next one is not going to find me so pliable. I wrote before that when I first got divorced I worried that I would be bitter and closed and found myself open and giddy instead. I think I found that bitter, closed girl. The walls are back up. Let’s see if anyone can get them down again. (Who am I kidding? It’s just going to take a nice smile and a little attention.)

On a final note, whoever the hell is reading this: If you read some future blog about how I saw him again, forgave him, started seeing him again, flew to India for him, gave him money or any level of such nonsense…….figure out who I am, come and find me and slap the shit out of me! It won’t be that hard. You know I’m in Lafayette. Ask anyone where Pamplona’s is. Ask James if he knows a girl named Marie who goes by Kitten and hangs out with Pickle and they dance at the Blue Moon every weekend. James will answer, “Yeah. Just have a seat. Wait here long enough and she’ll walk in the door. I’ll point her out.”

Oh Shit. It really would be that easy. Anonymous, my ass.

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From → Rantings

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