Rick-The Man who just wouldn’t stop talking…
I am a child of the eighties. I was raised playing outside, and I was a fan of Strawberry Shortcake, Holly Hobby and Cabbage Patch Kids. Times were simple and it only took a little incentive for my siblings and I to be good during the week so that we could pick out a fun activity to do over the weekend. One of our favorite things to pick was going to get pizza at a local pub and play video games while we waited. Although there were many games to choose from, it never failed, someone always ended up fighting over wanting to play a game at the same time. Usually, it was Pac-Man.
That is why I stuck to a game that not everyone liked to play. Pinball. It was very old-fashioned, but I loved to see the cause and effect of pulling the spring-loaded lever out of the machine and then letting go of it to see it hit the pin ball. I would squeal in delight each time I saw it being bounced around in the machine. Although I never quite grasped the concept of being interested in how many points could be accumulated for where the pinball hit until I was older, I didn’t care. The game was bright, shiny, full of life and no one else wanted to play with it but me.
Flashing back to present day (no, I didn’t keep the mullet or the pigtails and eventually ditched the Mork and Mindy suspenders), I can compare the last sentence with Rick, the next man on the roster of my love life. After another failed attempt at love with Manuel and slamming the door yet again behind a man whom I never should have been with in the first place, I sank down into my computer chair and gave myself a big twirl. Around and around I went, pretending that I wasn’t going to get back online, but knowing each time my chair swiveled back around and I saw the monitor’s warm glow, I knew I would continue on with my search. Online dating sucks in the lonely and the weary and makes us all feel like we are not as alone as we truly are in this world.
As I my chair came to a halt, my fingers jumped to my keyboard and I logged onto my old, familiar dating website. I let out my breath that I didn’t know I had been holding in, as I yet again typed in my criteria for my ideal “match”. I was a little anxious to be reunited with the online dating world, as I had taken a year long hiatus from it and wasn‘t sure who or what would be out there. However, I felt butterflies in my tummy as I thought, “Oh, what possibilities lie ahead of you when you have been offline for an entire year”. I thought excitedly of how many new and different prospects I would see now that some time had passed.
However, after I put in my search criteria and the corresponding matches pulled up, I was aghast to see that my matches consisted of a lot of the same men from the year prior. “What the hell? Don’t these people ever date anyone long enough to erase their profile for good?” I said out loud to no one but myself.
Amidst the candidates, though, shone a shining star. He was beautiful. There, his profile picture sat, with a smile with the whitest teeth I have ever seen and dimples that could make a woman’s heart melt. He was dashingly handsome, with dark hair, blue eyes and skin that looked like he went outside everyday. He looked like Superman. His profile read that he was a distance runner and he loved kids. My heart leapt when it said that he was an elementary teacher, as well.
I was reluctant to send him a message that day because his profile stated that he didn’t want to date a woman who had kids. As you know, I don’t care how gorgeous or charismatic a man is, if he doesn’t like kids, I don’t even consider him. However, since his profile said he loved kids and he was a teacher, I thought I would at least attempt to say hello to him. I had nothing to lose and I only half expected to hear back from him that day.
I only continued to search for more prospects for a few more minutes when I realized I was already sick of being online again. I was sick and tired of reading profiles that stated “I am tall, dark, handsome and the last great guy out there”. Mainly because, while many of their profiles stated this, I had been on enough dates to know the truth. Most of the guys on there were probably the furthest thing from being what qualifies as a “great guy” and the only time they had ever been described as “tall, dark and handsome” was by their mother.
So, I seemed a bit jaded and my eyes were a bit more open this time around. As I shut down my monitor that day and went kayaking (no swan fights or tears this time), I kept trying to convince myself that I didn’t need a man in my life to be happy. I loved my little, simple life with my son and I could live alone for the rest of my life. Right? But as they say, “Man cannot live on bread alone”, and I felt I couldn’t either. So, as I paddled my way around the lake that beautiful, sunny day on the water with Johnny Cash tunes playing yet again on my Ipod, I couldn’t help but day dream of what Rick might be like.
When I returned home, I did everything I could to avoid checking my online dating account for responses. It felt like torture as I forced myself to shower and waste time, puttering around the house telling myself that it didn’t matter if he responded back or not. Finally, I ran to my computer, logged on, and there it sat next to a picture of his smiling face. Rick had responded.
From then on, we spoke for about a month over email and phone getting to know one another. I loved the fact that he could converse so easily and loved swapping teaching stories with him on a daily basis. How wonderful it is when little commonalities are discovered in a person whom you are attracted to. It is what I call the “kindling” to a relationship. Much like the little twigs and branches are the kindling that gets a good campfire going, when commonalities are revealed, this is when a fire within the heart begins to smolder.
Finally, after emailing, talking on the phone and texting throughout the days, Rick and I decided to meet. Getting ready that night to meet Rick was nerve-wracking. I was critiquing myself much more harshly because although Rick and I had both been distance runners in the past, he was still running all of the time. I, however, was taking time from running due to heart problems. So, as I looked in the mirror that night, it seemed as if every little bulge I had from having a baby stood out.
The buzzer from my apartment building brought me out of my critiquing mode and snapped me back to reality. Yes, on our first date, I had him come over to my place and no, not for the reason you would think. Remember, mine is a life of duty to my son, and he always comes first. I have full custody and did not have the resources to just take off and go on a date whenever I wanted to. Had I the opportunity to do it all over again, I would never have had Rick come over to my place while my son was there (even if he was sleeping) because people aren’t to be trusted anymore this day and age.
However, I did have him come over and things actually went wonderfully. As I opened the door and smoothed down my hair, I saw a smiling Rick looking back at me. I was amazed at how short he was, despite his claim to be 5’11 on his website. We were eye to eye as I ushered him in the door and I realized that yet another man had fibbed about his height. I made a mental note that from now on, I would subtract at least two inches from their height.
Despite his height, I was delighted when he hugged me and he instantly started up a conversation about children’s books after he saw my collections I had on a shelf in my living room. We did not have a typical first date like many young people do. No, there was no dinner, movie and coffee involved. Instead, we simply met up and talked.
It was refreshing and honest as we talked about and even shed a couple of tears talking about our divorces. He was appalled to hear my story of how my husband had left me for a teenager while I was pregnant. He wouldn’t yet tell me of why his marriage ended, but I didn’t want to pressure him yet into such a story. After three hours of talking, Rick and I had decided that we liked each other enough to go on an actual date. He left that night and gave me a very sweet little kiss on the lips and turned to go. I watched him out the window, and I felt again a new found spark of hope, lit inside my soul that perhaps I had finally met a great guy.
Flash forward three months…
Sitting on my living room floor in a crumpled heap was yet again Rick. It seemed he had emotional break down after emotional break down that ultimately ended in tears and him cursing his ex-wife in pretend conversations. He would actually pretend that he was talking to her and telling her all over again why he cheated on her. Yes. I said why he cheated on her.
Three months had passed by and my Superman, my gorgeous, male Kindergarten teacher ended up morphing into someone that greatly reminded me of the tiny king from Shrek. If you haven’t seen the movie, he was whiny, he was short and he thought he was the “fairest in the land”. Case in point with Rick. He was an absolute emotional mess and it was much like riding a crazy roller coaster. However, he never, ever saw his flaws and would constantly talk about how “ripped” he liked to get for the beach because he liked to look good. Also, how he was on Good Morning America once in college for some benefit in which he partook and just couldn’t let it go. He would talk of his beliefs that perhaps Matt Lauer would call him someday to request him as co-anchor.
Now that the “honeymoon period” with Rick was over, meet the real Rick: One minute he was up and psychotically happy, only to end in tears on the floor minutes later, talking and talking and talking and talking about only God knows what. I have never met a man who had such a difficult time having a two way conversation nor one that cried so much.
I believe that perhaps we shared a menstrual cycle because he cried more than I did. Much to my dismay, his charm quickly faded away when I realized who he truly was. When he had walked through my door the first night I met him, I couldn’t figure out why he wasn’t married or at least have a girlfriend. He was much like the pinball machine: shiny, full of life, beautiful and no one else wanted to play with him. I just couldn’t figure out why… until now.
Our relationship reached the point of no return one night as he sat, clutching me like a baby and crying yet again of how his ex-wife didn’t take any responsibility in the dissolution of their marriage. I finally felt like I could take no more of this ridiculous charade. So, I peeled him off of me, stood up and said, “Rick? Get a grip and stop crying. I am not saying that crying is a bad thing, but this is ridiculous. Your marriage ended because you couldn’t take the fact that your ex-wife was away in law classes trying to become a lawyer instead of doting her attention on you every second of the day. Gosh, you remind me of my bastard ex-husband, who just couldn’t see that some situations are temporary and run off, looking for your instant gratification. Rather than working on your marriage, much like my ex, you found some floozy with no morals to sleep with you. Get over yourself already and face the fact that perhaps you messed up too.”
As I spit out my last line in disgust, I could see Rick’s face crumpling up to release a fresh cascade of tears. “It’s not always about you, Helen!” he cried. “You have no idea what I went through with her and how great of a husband I was. I loved her and she just ignored me and went to her classes rather than reaching out to me when I was home. Helen, the woman I had an affair with was someone that met my needs and whom I thought I fell in love with. Besides, everyone knows, you can’t help whom you fall in love with.”
As Rick finished his thought, my jaw dropped and it was as if someone turned a light bulb on in my brain. Rick was exactly like my ex-husband. My ex-husband had even said that exact same line when I asked him why he had an affair. “I just fell in love,” was his pathetic excuse as if it wasn’t a conscious decision to let someone into your heart anyway. Love takes two people, both willing to let someone else into their hearts. I hate it when people say they have no control over it.
As I went on thinking, I realized that Rick wasn’t the only one a lot like my ex-husband. So was Chandler, and Manuel and… as I went down the laundry list of losers I had dated, I realized they all had very similar personalities to my ex-husband. Perhaps it wasn’t that the jerks were finding me. No, perhaps I was finding the jerks myself because that is what I felt comfortable with.
My therapist later described it as co-dependency. I never actually understood what it meant before her explanation. However, afterwards, I realized that being co-dependent is just falling into the same routine with people time after time. For example, I was finding men much like one of my family members, who is unpredictable. They were a roller-coaster of emotions, usually had bad tempers and were pretty narcissistic when it came down to it. I never believed the theory that people are a product of their environment until that moment, where I sat looking at Rick, crying and muttering re-assuring things to himself that his divorce wasn’t his fault.
“Rick?” I began a bit hesitantly. “I don’t think I can date you anymore. You see, you remind me a lot of my ex-..” I began to say.
“Helen,” Rick interrupted as if he hadn‘t heard that I said I couldn‘t date him anymore. “This isn’t about you. I am the one hurting here. I am the one needing to be comforted. I am…”
“Oh, Rick,”I began again, cutting him off. “I know that you will have no idea what I am saying anyway if I tried to explain it. There are too many layers and too many years that have brought us to this very moment. So, I will just give it to you straight…”
“Helen, really.“ Rick said, cutting me off yet again. “I don’t want to talk about your childhood. I am hurting here. I am really needing you to just put your arms around me and hold me right now. I am feeling very vulnerable and…”
Rather than let him finish, I didn’t know what else to do that would shut him up, so I planted my mouth right on his and kissed him. He tried to talk, but I wouldn’t let him. As I pulled away, Rick looked at me like he had just been hit by a subway train.
“Helen, that was the sexiest thing you have ever done. Do it again”.
“No, Rick. I didn’t mean for it to be that way. I didn’t know how I was going to shut you up. It was either slap you or kiss you or put my hand over your mouth. The only option that sounded even halfway respectful was kissing you. So, please just shut up for one second while I tell you what I have to say. I promise, it will be short”.
“Okay, Helen,” he said, now looking a bit dejected. Finally, I had put this little man who thought he was God’s gift to women in his place. Looking back on it all, I think it is hilarious that he couldn’t shut the hell up long enough to get dumped.
“Rick. It has been very… interesting getting to know you. You are very handsome, very..”
“Helen?” he began, cutting me off again. “What is this about? I was really on a role with sharing my feelings with you and you…”
“Rick, I am serious. Please shut the fuck up and let me break up with you already!” I yelled, frustrated and flabbergasted at his audacity and inability to listen.
“What? Helen?” he began again as even more tears rolled down his cheeks. “Are you dumping me? Can we work on this? Can we go to couple’s counseling? Can we…” he began to stammer and got up to pace around the room.
“Rick, counseling is what you should have done with your ex-wife. I am simply your girlfriend and there is no hope of us ever getting back together. I realized something tonight…” I began, trying to delve a bit into why I was breaking up with him.
“Helen. No. This is bad. This is wrong. We are so right for each other and…” he stammered on as I now interrupted him.
“Rick, why don’t you get your shoes on while you talk to me? I am going to have you leave tonight. Sorry. Again, no offense, I just realized something really important about myself tonight. Call it… a self-discovery”.
As I closed the door that night (this time lightly and after practically having to pry Rick’s fingers off the door frame, I stood against the door and sighed. I could still hear Rick muttering in the hallway to himself, as I locked the deadbolt. I knew poor Rick would be alright. After all, I am sure he would run home and ask his mirror on the wall, “Mirror Mirror on the wall, I am still the fairest of them all, right?”
Soon I saw (about two weeks later on face book) that he had another girlfriend and was probably not yet to the stage of horrifying her with his emotional states. I am also certain that he is not the type that feels he needs to grow as an individual at all. He is the type who thinks he is always right and will never stop trying to stuff his ideas down other people’s throats. A true narcissist. I can just imagine him being in a retirement home sixty years from now and being put on “muscle relaxers” just to get him to shut up.
Although Rick had moved on, I realized that I needed to take a step back and give myself a break from dating. The hardest part of this lesson of the chapter is much like when I realized I no longer liked to play pinball at the little arcade in the pub. Perhaps, if no one else wants to play with a particular game or hang with a particular person, there is a reason for it. I soon realized that like Rick, pinball was kind of boring and just seemed like a waste of time and energy. I realized that the shininess of that particular thing had worn off and I had to do something I really didn’t want to do. I had to let go of always wanting to see the cause and effect of things and wanting that instant gratification of meeting someone and creating my forever in a short span of time. Ultimately, I realized all over again what I had to do as I stood against my door that night and said goodbye to Rick and hello to adult hood. I had to grow up.