I used to work at a non-profit thrift store with a lot of senior citizen women. The majority of these women were absolutely fabulous – they looked no older than fifty and lived like they were twenty five.
I spent a lot of time flipping through racks of designer clothes and listening to them rap about women’s lib, reminisce about past relationships, gossip about the local high society, or secretly fight about who was the coolest (my vote will always, always go to Enid, the former trapeze artist, or to the two Ruths, one of which – I swear to god – has gills behind her ears).
I worked there for five years, so they were around when I was going through a lot of relationship turmoil – Hippy Ex, Lying Ex, The Boy Formerly Known As Cute Boy, etc. They gave me a million fabulous years worth of advice, whether I was seeking it out or not.
The most important thing that they ever told me was that if a man says he isn‘t good for you or if he tells you he isn’t good enough for you, the smartest thing to do is believe him.
I spend a lot of time forgiving people. I try to look for the best in those around me and I like trying to bring that out.
I used to think that their advice lacked compassion, that it was just a way of cementing other people’s insecurities. Because of that, I dealt with a lot of crap and spent a lot of time trying to convince myself that the good outweighed the bad.
Hippy Ex told me that he was too much of a mess for me. It took two years to figure out that I couldn’t be the one to clean it up. He had to figure out how to do it by himself, and he did, and I’m proud of him. TBFKACB told me that he was “dangerous”, which cracked me up at the time, but it turns out that he was right about that, too.
When Lying Ex and I were hanging out in London, he told me that he’d probably end up as one of those guys who sleeps with his secretary. I laughed because I was so sure that he wasn’t capable of that. He asked me what I’d do if he turned into that guy, and I jokingly told him that I’d spend a couple of years short-sheeting the bed, spitting in his soup, and just plain irritating the shit out of him. I mean, what was I supposed to say? I really wanted to believe he was better than that.
And what did he do? He went to work and slept with the girl who sat behind him.
“She was just… there,” he told me later.
And that’s exactly what he did this time around, too. He didn’t want anything that required effort, he wanted someone who was just… there. Convenient and, most importantly, easy. He uses people for selfish reasons and warned me about that from the beginning, and I suppose I’m partly to blame because I really wanted to believe that he was above that.
I spend a lot of time looking back at that conversation in London, and all the like conversations I’ve had before, and the advice from my Silver Foxes. Maybe this time, it’ll kick in.
I don’t think I have to worry about the guy I’m focused on now, because I’m not wearing the blinders that I used to need for a relationship. He’s too blunt for the BS, anyway. Europeans have a different way of looking at life and loving people and handling problems, and the more I become accustomed to it, the more convinced I am that it’s the way to go. I don’t try to believe anything about him. I just take him for who he is.
Speaking of wise advice, I learned more from TSGoC’s father in one day than I did in a year with the ladies at the Shop.
He gave me a big lecture on what “partnership” really means. He tried to convince me to go to law school instead of getting a PhD. He told me about raising each of his five children. And he told me that when I get married, I need to let my husband go to strip clubs. If I don’t, he advised, then the guy will go to strip clubs anyway. Then he’ll keep going and he’ll stop feeling bad about lying, and this will open the gateway for secrecy and deception and the relationship will ultimately be Doomed.
When I got home, TSGoC asked me how the day went with his dad.
“He told me I should let my husband go to the strip club.” I said, punctuating it with my best “The Fuck?” face.
“Oh, yeah. He tells everyone that.”