Adventures in Dating: Helen – Part XII

The Kleenex Box and all that should never be re-visited again

The man that I speak of in this chapter makes me think of my favorite food, refried beans. They give me terrible acid reflux, but the more I think about them, the more I want them, despite my inability to digestively handle eating them. For this reason, I want refried beans all of the time and could eat them for every meal. I think of how many dishes I could put them with and how wonderful they taste when they are sitting in my palate. Of course, I never remember the acid part until after I have eaten a great, big bowl of them. After eating them, much like what happened in this chapter; calling upon an ex to fill a particular void -immediate remorse sets in.

It all began with a sweet, little text from a number I didn’t recognize. I was kayaking one morning on a placid lake with Johnny Cash serenading me, as I paddled to the beat of his songs. I heard the alert from my phone and stupidly stopped to unzip my Ziploc bag and look at my phone. The text on my phone said, “Hey, you! You were in my dream last night and I was thinking about you. How are you?” I answered it back asking if it was one of my long-lost girlfriends that I had lost contact with. A surprised text came back stating that it was my ex-boyfriend whom I had been crazy for. We dated for seven months after my divorce and I was crushed when I finally broke up with him.

I know, it sounds as though I would have been happy to get a particular text from a Matthew Perry look alike. I actually was. When he and I were together, we laughed like hyenas at each other’s jokes and observations of everyday life. We could throw movie lines from classic comedies that not many people have seen and have our inside jokes from that. Hanging out with Chandler was like hanging out with a long lost friend.

The most interesting part about Chandler, however, was how we met. He was actually dating my twin sister. I know, this is a horrible, horrible thing to ever do. However, he lived near me and she lived on the other side of the state. They met through our favorite dating website, and she would torture him mercilessly. I mean the kind of torture where you use someone to run your errands or buy you things.

When my sister would visit, he would tag along with us for our outings. Each time he accompanied us, however, he and I would do all of the talking and laughing as she would sit and sulk. Eventually, when she jokingly stated that he and I should date, we looked and each other and said, “You know what? You’re right!”

Please don’t think that I am that heartbreaking type. My sister is a book all in herself. She was the type that dated many men at one time. They would bow at her feet and do anything she asked them to do, even ridiculous things such as picking up, driving, and delivering Carne Asada clear across the state for her to eat with another guy. Yes, that’s what Chandler ended up doing for her, after buying her a very expensive and lovely purse. It made my blood boil. It seemed that he was a man that I could fall head over heels in love with and she was using him as a personal assistant! I broke down (I know I won’t get the best sister award for this) and eventually told Chandler about this. Needless to say, they broke up. I thought what a shame it was that I would no longer see him after their break up. Before Chandler, dating ex’s of your twin is a cardinal sin. You just don’t do it.

One day, months later, as I was rocking my son to sleep (he was still very young at the time) I heard a knock on the door and there Chandler was with the silliest expression on his face. He said, “Hi! I don’t know why exactly I am here, but I was in the area and thought I would drop by. If you need anything, here is my card. Give me a call and let me know how you are doing. I just thought you were such a nice, fun person and what a shame it was that your ex left you while you were pregnant with this little miracle” (as he reached over to touch Gabe‘s cheek).

Now, ladies, wouldn’t you have melted right there, too? So, I invited him in and we cracked jokes and made small talk for hours. It wasn’t until a month later, after spending time together as friends that he actually kissed me. I think that we were both surprised by the action, but both wanted it to happen. I was insistent on letting him know that I wasn’t his consolation prize for him after being used by my sister. He promised that I wasn’t and we began dating. It was a confusing ride with him, however.

He was under the assumption that I would get babysitters frequently for my son, and he and I could go out with his friends. I was under the assumption that he understood my need to be with my son and have him included on our plans. It wasn’t until things began dissolving that we actually voiced these assumptions. By then, it was too late. I saw that although we had some commonalities, we were nothing alike.

For starters, I am a couple years older than Chandler, have a child and have been teaching for eight years now. As far as energy levels go, I am more like a hummingbird. I can’t sit still and feel as though I always need to be on the go. I love to “fly by the seat of my pants” as they say. I love to do whatever I feel like doing at a particular moment. I hate being bored and lying around doing nothing. Don’t get me wrong, I love to have my relaxing days, I just don’t make a hobby of it.
Chandler, however, loved all of the things I hated. He had only been working as a “grown up” for a couple of years. As far as energy levels went, well, if I have ever met a human sloth, he was it. It seemed as though taking his dog for a stroll around the block was laborious enough to warrant a nap. Even the way he chewed seemed like it took a lot of effort. He would crunch his face up in a way while we were eating that I didn’t know if I was going to need to drop my silverware at any given second and leap over the table to give him the Heimlich maneuver, or if I could actually enjoy my meal.

At the time, when I broke up with him, I cried for what seemed like days. We had dated for seven months and I had really liked him. Rather than him breaking up with me, he became very distant and would only come around sporadically. When we would make dates, he would show up hours late, after I had already given up and put on my pajamas. Looking back, I can’t believe I dated him for so long; nor can I believe that I let such a person break my heart.

All of that said, the morning that I received his text while kayaking, I was pleasantly surprised to be remembered. We hadn’t spoken for almost a year and a half and I was in a very down time of my life. Loneliness and self-pity had settled in just enough to think that answering his text back and then continue texting him movie lines back and forth all day was a good idea.

Since my son was with his father that night, we agreed to meet for a funny movie. I needed to laugh and shake myself from my unusual state of mild depression that I was in. I also knew, remembering back that I wanted nothing that even resembled a relationship with “the human sloth” again.

It was a beautiful summer evening and as usual, I showed up early. I didn’t mind, however, and enjoyed feeling the summer breeze on my face as I people watched. However, after forty five minutes crawled by, I heaved a heavy sigh, got up, and stupidly went into the theater to buy our tickets. There were lines beginning to form and I didn’t want to miss our chance at seeing the movie.

After buying the tickets, I walked around for fifteen more minutes as the sun began to set. At this point, I had been waiting for an hour and was ready to either go in and watch the movie by myself or get up and walk laps around the building. Just as I got up to begin walking, I heard my name called and looked up to see Chandler, lazily walking toward me. When he meandered up to me finally (I am sure that I saw an old lady with a cane zip by him), all my anger melted away. I couldn’t help it. He just had that hypnotizing power over me, with his crooked smile and dimples.

He hugged me, apologized for being late and we went to the movie. Through the movie, we laughed as usual, but kept a safe distance from one another. There was no hand holding, teasing, or sudden pokes to the side in attempt to flirt. I believe that we both knew that night what we were getting together for, but neither of us were brave enough to admit it.

After the movie, we went and ate at one of my favorite wing places to catch up on each other‘s lives. The moment we walked in, I knew there wouldn’t be much talking going on, as you had to nearly shout at each other to be heard. So, I did what any girl would do who has no intentions of calling back someone who they are on a date with. I ate my fill of wings that night without being the least bit apprehensive. I am sure that had I taped the whole thing, I would have greatly resembled a T-Rex devouring its kill. However, I didn’t care and the human sloth was going to pay for my wings and beer after breaking my heart.

When the last bite of meat had been ripped off the bone (I know, it sounds so disgusting, it makes me want to be a vegetarian), I looked up at him and announced that I needed to wash my hands. He sort of had this half smile, half humored expression on his face. I believe it was because I threw all caution to the wind and “went to town” on my wings. Either way, when I got back from the bathroom, my jaw nearly dropped as he began telling me how he had been unemployed for nearly a year and a half (a year and a half!) and asked me if I could pay my portion of the bill. Well, the best part of this is, he had a job with his uncle’s company, but the job was boring to him… so he quit.

I do realize ladies, that women have been fighting for years to gain equal treatment. However, in this case, as I have mentioned before, if you ask a woman out, you should pay. Not only had I paid for the movie tickets, I was also going to pay for my meal? I don’t think so. I offered to pay tip, as I threw cash on the table and got up to leave. I do believe at that moment, his jaw dropped as well. While we were dating, I was much like a human doormat that would put up with anything and do whatever he asked. This is where I love to admit personal growth, and I smiled as I whipped around and began heading for the door.

He had to nearly run to catch up to me, but as he did, he offered to walk me to my car. The bill was not spoken of again as we began quoting movie lines and laughing once again on our way to the car. As we walked and laughed, he put his arm around my shoulders and the tension between us seemed to float away with sounds of our laughter into the night air. I know, I know. I am such an idiot sometimes…

He asked for a ride to his car because he had parked on the other side of the movie theater. (Of course, I shouldn’t have figured the sloth would want to walk that far).So, as we got to my car, it happened. He leaned in and kissed me. I don’t know about you readers out there, but attraction to a person doesn’t just fall away when you break up. Although many of us wishes it did, it simply doesn’t. Every time you run into people that you’ve dated, if it was of any importance in your life, there is tension. All of the tension from the night seemed to drift away as we sat there and the fireworks went off again and made out like high school kids.

Yes, I know you are all shaking your heads in dismay at this one. Don’t worry, I was, too as we drove back to my place. As we ripped each other’s clothes off, I began telling him (insert laugh track) that I didn’t want anything serious. I didn’t even care if he ever called me again. I didn’t even… and then we dove on the bed and began our dance as though we had jumped into a time machine and it was the past again. Only this time, I remembered how utterly boring the human sloth was in bed. At the time, since I was pretty inexperienced, he didn’t seem all that bad. Now, however, I remembered.

So, I told him to lie back and I would do all of the work. (Don’t worry readers, I am sure that I would have anyway, what with our difference in work ethics and all) After five minutes had passed, the unthinkable happened. One that made me burst out in laughter at an utmost important moment of the whole encounter.

Before I tell you what happened, I must preface it with telling you that this explains the title to the chapter and the reference to the Kleenex box. I have allergies. I have had them all my life and therefore have boxes of Kleenex in nearly ever corner of the room that you see. I also have a box of Kleenex that sits on the ledge of my headboard. Any guesses yet as to what happened?

So, there we are, in the heat of the moment as I am rhythmically moving back and forth and putting in the effort needed to make this a success. Back and forth, back and forth, a little talk here and there and… boom! Before I could catch it, the Kleenex box fell off of the headboard and bashed poor Chandler right on his unsuspecting face.

That did it. I threw the box, while laughing so hard that I didn’t know if I should just tell him, “You know what… this wasn’t such a great idea after all” or if I should just keep going. In fact, I didn’t know if I had it in me to keep going. Perhaps it was a sign from God, perhaps… but I had to finish what I had started. Don’t worry, I didn’t get anything out of it and once Chandler was done, he was asleep before I could even say goodnight.

That night was a first for me. I actually wanted to push his lazy body out of my bed and tell him to go home. When I finally woke him up with him shouting, “What?!“ and I suggested such, he told me that he was too tired and needed to stay. I actually wanted to sleep on the couch that night, that’s how remorseful I was! It was like I was looking at the empty bowl again after devouring my beloved refried beans and saying, “Oh no, I did it again”.

The next morning, I couldn’t get him out of my apartment fast enough. Although he said that he had the rest of the weekend to hang out, and my son would still be gone for a couple more days, I told Chandler that I had a lot of work to do. I had to work on my book, create lesson plans, scrub the floors, re-caulk the windows, wash the curtains; any ridiculous chore that I could rattle off to give him the notion that I was busy.

I do realize to you, this may sound sweet that he wanted to spend more time with me. However, the following conversation will make you shake your head in disbelief and agree that what I did was right.

(As Chandler is on his way out the door, he turns and says, “Helen?”

“Yes?” I asked as I looked up from my computer (to show him how busy I was, I hopped on it right away).

“Um… one of the reasons why I wanted to hang out with you so badly was… well, I love spending time with you and all. But, mainly, I just wanted to talk to you.”

I replied, curious now. “Oh? About what?”

“Well, when I was working and you weren’t, remember when I paid for gas for your car once in a while?”

“Yes, Chandler. That was so generous of you. I will never, ever forget that”.

“Well, Helen, I was thinking… since I have been out of work, and since you have been in work… and since I helped you…”

“Yes, Chandler? Please, do go on. Because I think I may be picking up on your implications. Our situations are not exactly the same. I was out of work, homeless and with a newborn baby because my husband had left me for a teenager. I couldn’t find a teaching job, and was living off of Medicaid and food stamps.“ I began, seething with fury. “You, however, are able bodied and are simply choosing not to work. Your uncle offered you a job and you quit it because you were bored! If you are even asking for money, you had better go right now and never call me again”.

“Geesh, Helen. You don’t have to get so mad. I was just thinking, I helped you out, now you are supposed to help me out..”

“OUT!“ I yelled, pointing my finger to the door and standing up so fast that files on my desk slid off and fell to the ground. “Get out of my place.” I repeated, as I opened this damned, tainted apartment door. I was having back flashes to Manuel and the firefighter when I had thrown them out. “Is this why you sent me your sweet little texts? To get money? You should be ashamed of yourself, you ass. GET OUT!” With that, he stepped out of my apartment and I slammed the door.
Once he was out the door, I couldn’t strip my bed fast enough. I felt dirty. I literally ran my bedding down three flights of stairs to the laundry room, put the washer on the hottest setting (boiling, please) and added bleach. As the washer began its cycle, I shook my head, made the “ick” noise and thought of how many Hail Mary’s it would take to repent for this one. I obviously couldn’t divulge such information during confessional time! (Again, insert laugh track, as all Catholics think this way).
I walked up the stairs that day with many changing states of emotion. I would first be utterly disgusted with myself and then break into laughter at the thoughts of the sound of the thump of the Kleenex box and Chandler’s facial expression after it hit. Then, just as I got a good laugh going, I would replay our conversation of how he asked me to pay for dinner and then how he asked for money. That is when anger would take over.

After showering and scouring my body several times, I felt like I was again physically clean. My next step was to re-make my bed with my clean sheets and get rid of any evidence from the “scene of the crime”. As I re-made my bed that day, I cranked open my windows and lit a candle to renew my sense of hope. I just couldn’t help but wonder out loud as I worked, “There has to be a good guy out there for me. There just has to be, right?“

I finished making my bed and walked down the stairs of my apartment out to the dumpster where I threw away any remaining pictures and memorabilia I had of Chandler. (I wanted to light it all on fire, too… but that would have been too much). But lastly, I threw on top of the pile, the corrupted Kleenex box and began to laugh all over again. Well, it’s either laugh about it or cry about it, as my grandmother always used to say…so I laughed about it that day, as I called my best friend and we laughed until we had tears in our eyes, as we re-called the “thump” of the Kleenex box and the surprised look on Chandler’s face when it hit. I hung up my phone that day after my cathartic laugh with my girlfriend and deleted Chandler’s number again forever. With this, I made a vow that Chandler will be one that shall never be re-visited again.

1 Comment on Adventures in Dating: Helen – Part XII

  1. Adventures in Dating: Helen – Part XII : Adventures in Dating - Dating Tips and Tricks

    […] post:  Adventures in Dating: Helen – Part XII : Adventures in Dating :chandler, dating, door, helen, kleenex, movie, our-dating, our-stories, phone, poetry, stories, […]

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