Down With Love

We begin in the midst of an earlier conversation with my best friend Choire in New York City:

Philo: yesterday i ran into that ex boyfriend we were talking about
Choire: no way!
Philo: way! the interesting thing about it is that i was at the gym running 4 and a half miles and while I was running my mind drifted as it often does and I started thinking about your mother, which reminded me of when she called me that one day trying to fix me up with that guy she worked with, how she thought we would be perfect for each other, and that was a good year before i wound up meeting him on my own. Had it been three years since I saw him? Hadn’t thought about him in some time and when I left the gym guess who was standing there? uh huh, that’s right!
Choire: holy crap. god remember that? what a weird story.
Philo: so weird, and I said “Well if it isn’t the person I was just thinking about!”
Choire: HA!
Philo: and he turns and laughs and after I tell him about that little walk down memory lane he tells me he was looking at pictures of us from New Year’s Eve Y2K and that he decided to look for me and asked if he had seen me on a certain website
Choire: hee!
Philo: So anyways, I ended up having a sex dream about him last night.
Choire: !!!
Philo: I told him we should hang out sometime, he said he would email me, and he did this morning.
Choire: ooo boy. let the games begin!
Philo: the email says “sorry i can’t type more i’m swamped at work, but we should have lunch sometime or something…let me know.” Still has quite the way with words. 😉
Choire: HA!

I let him know due to certain navigational aspects of my employment and weekend commitments that scheduling a something would be the better idea. His something suggestion turned out to be a movie. Which film? I mentioned a couple features I was interested in, but he selected Down With Love. He wants to meet at Van Ness and Market and I mention the donut shop. He explains the donut shop is too ghetto for our fancy asses and that he’ll meet me at the Rite-Aid drugstore instead.

All day long the memories from three years ago washed over me. I remembered long days spent in bed long past any respectable rising hour, playing each other selections of our favorite cds, the escapes for food only to return for even more leisurely cuddling hours between the sheets, the steamy shared showers, his accompaniment me to my company holiday soiree where everybody liked him. I was even reminded of how my winter coat that year turned out to have been his – having purchased it from a resale clothing store he had previously sold it to before we even knew one another. It did seem a bit odd that I couldn’t recall very clearly why we broke up. There was something there, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

Arriving at Rite-Aid a little early, I wandered the aisles, taking note of the seemingly endless supply of junk food products that this particular modern apothecary was peddling to the public. I picked up a bag of strawberry flavored Twizzlers to share during the film and I saw him waiting for me outside. I said hello and presented our refreshments for later, asking him what he has been up to lately. After a little coercion he informed me that he’s a DBA now. I had to ask him what a DBA is and he glared at me with a slight annoyance as if everyone should know it stands for Data Base Administrator. As I continue to listen he takes a pretty decent swan dive deep into the shallower end of things. He recently returned from a fabulous trip, he was there for another rugby tournament, then speaks more about all the rugby firing off so many references chock full of specific sport related jargon that I found myself myself lost as to what he is even talking about. I informed him that I’m still employed at the same non-profit and he says, “I thought you were going to get out of there years ago.” I tell him I’ve been leaving for about five years now. He asks how big the staff is, and I remind him that he met literally everyone when he was my date for the office holiday party, a party he doesn’t remember at all. He also mentions that he hates Twizzlers.

Soon we were seated at the Village Pizzeria, also his choice, where he asked the same questions over and over. I made a mental note that he really wasn’t listening to a word I had to say. While taking a bite of a thin slice that was seriously lacking in the cheese department, I found myself wondering if he was high, suddenly remembering a story he told me once about his stint in a certain drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. Seated inside the movie theater he actually apologized for how awkward this all was. I told him it’s understandable considering it’s been three years since we were together. He then informed me that we never were together, and that any references in that regard were ludicrous at best. I asked what we were doing all that time, to which he informs me that we were just friends. “Right, so we were just friends who spent virtually every day and night together and slept together for three months. Whatever it was for you I don’t know, but from where I was laying we were pretty involved. He quipped that it was nothing of the kind, to which I asked, “Then why did you agree to meet tonight when you’re going out of your way to be inattentive, condescending and rude?” He stated that my ideas that we were once involved when we weren’t was the source of all this awkwardness.

Down With Love is a marvelous film. Sure, I considered simply getting up before it started and leaving the theater, perhaps even walking home in a dramatic fit, but I had a bag of Twizzlers to console me and I had paid the full price of admission. During the film I did occasionally contemplate just getting up and going home, leaving him sitting there alone, but I was enjoying the film. And as the deliciously campy retro movie continued to roll I found myself more and more aligned to Barbara, sitting in a dark movie theater with a Catcher himself, an unromantic, narcissistic, self absorbed, pleasure playing womanizer who cared little for whatever met his needs at the moment, and I remembered much more clearly how our relationship ended, how it unraveled, how he had told me then that my ideas about the two of us didn’t match his at all. Yet, whether then or now, I remain unable to truly comprehend that a man would or could spend such a lengthy and intense physical and emotional period of time with someone, sharing innermost selves, holding one another through the night, night after night, that all this is/was someone’s definition of friendship, when sent me on an express jet back to those painful high school drunken romance days with Billy where everything was simply because we were under the influence, none of it was worth remembering come morning.

Leaving the theater the two of us shared a return bus to Market Street, only I didn’t bother making my way through the maddening crowd to stand with him at the back. I’d heard enough, and I had nothing to say, except for the fact that my memories are still my memories – and whether they match his experience, then or now, is no longer any of my business.

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