August 23, 2006

Ex and Oz.

During my Legwarmers hiatus of last week, I dinner with an ex. I know what you're thinking: Dinner with exes=pathetic loneliness, romantic regression or "well, we've done it before..." sex. But for once, you're wrong. Thank God.

It was all business, in the friendliest way. And I am fortunate enough that with one exception I've ended up friends with my exes (okay, two exceptions, but the leg-shaving national tennis player ex turned out to be gay AND a birthday-forgetting asshole, so he doesn't count). Which is nice.

But this dinner was with an ex from a VERY long time ago. You could say he was the first (one of two) boy I ever loved. As you can imagine, that particular relationship took more than a few months to get back into the "cool" zone. Really, I'm not sure it ever did, as we both harbored some lingering stuff for a while. I took him out to dinner for two reasons:

1) to reaffirm my gut-feeling that the thought of getting back together with him (though we've both toyed with the idea in the past) no longer has any appeal -- important to establish in order to be fair to current and future Mr. Rights, and

2) to reaffirm my gut-feeling that in fact a critical reason we didn't work then and couln't ever work out now is because he has a quality that is, for me, a dealbraker.

First, let's paint the picture: This guy is scary-smart, kind and good natured, loves his parents, is selfless to a fault, and is, well, dashing.

If you recall my dealbreaker post, you might have noted that apathy is a major no-no for me. I'm rabidly enthusiastic about pretty much everything, (which really means I'm highly opinionated, stubborn and ambitious, but sounds better). Apathy seems to me to be a good way to waste life, which is short, short, short. (Ask anyone who's old.)

Mr. Past has EVERYTHING going for him, which he serially refuses to do anything about. It's like he's the Lion in the Wizard of Oz, but he's just never woken up from a lovely opium-induced nap in that poppy field -- the location of which is so close to the thing he wants most of all.

Mr. Past wants, for one simple example of many, to go to law school. He has always has. He finally took the LSATs, which he only sorta studied for, and did well. But instead of just going, he's working in a small law office 5 days a week, answering phones and crap. He's been fired from this job once already, for sleeping in and arriving late, which is actually the theme of his life. (He has slept through finals in college, and entire holiday family get-togethers for example).

Anyway, he HATES this job. He makes no money and it makes him miserable. He says he does it because he knows if he got a better job he'd never go back to school. But I have a theory. My theory is that he continues to do this job which he says he hates because if he does, it assures that he'll continue to do just okay without every really risking any time, effort or emotional investment.

It's the most frustrating thing in the world to watch, which I told him, but more kindly, of course. I also asked him, point blank, why he acts afraid of success -- why he's constantly getting close to going after what he wants (in life, in love, in his career), and then freezing up, backing out, and blowing it all off for something lesser, easier, and that he doesn't care about.

He actually agreed, in part, with my philosophy, but I also suspect he didn't care to think too hard about it, either, finding agreement easier than real analysis. I don't know. Though overall a positive exchange, the experience was frustrating, and a little bit sad, too.

There's a point where I realize, certainly, that confessing my hypothesis to him so frankly is not only ineffective, it's presumptuous. But consider this:

HE has defined his goals. HE says what he wants, and then fails to take action to get it. I'm not imposing my own set of definitions for success and happiness on him -- I'm only holding him to his own standard.

And I get it. He is ultimately unconcerned by his own apathy, most of the time.

But what I worry about is the restof the time, when he wakes up in the middle of the night and feels sick, realizing he's getting older by the minute and is still so afraid of something that he's settling for nothing at all instead. And that makes me really sad, because he deserves more than nothing. He deserves everything he wants, and I wish I could just will him to have it all.

I guess, in the end, I hoped a little shock therapy might help snap him out of his life's sleepwalk. But it seems he's still dreaming away somewhere in OZ, and I think I've realized that he might always prefer that to those little red slippers and home (with all its risk of slipping into the pigpen or getting sucked up in a twister), anyway.

Me? I'll take the natural disaster, any day.
Hell, I'd even like to BE the natural disaster.

Maybe I already am.


Mom of Three said...

Whenever I start romanticizing my exes, all I have to do is call and talk to one. That usually reminds me in short order as to why I left!

I have remained on speaking terms (I can't say friends, because I never see them) with 5 out of 9. That doesn't count my first husband who I think was probably gay, now that I think about it.

Trebuchet said...

Yes, precisely. Though I'm pretty good about not romanticizing past relationships, and this is how: I remind myself that I am, at present, an intelligent woman, and that when I broke up with him, I was also an intelligent woman, which means there is no reason for me to doubt my probably intelligent decision and make the same mistake again.

Because that would be stupid.

Works like a charm.

Ben said...

Whenever I try, or hear someone trying to convince another of something with little or no success. I think of my good friend Mark, and one of the litany of quotes he is known for.

"A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still"

It is funny how often in life I find that quote to be poignant.

Anonymous said...

Dude, maybe the guy really does like what he's doing, but when he has people like you, always on his ass, he feels like he has to make up excuses.

Trebuchet said...

Anonymous, huh? Interesting that we're not having what could otherwise be a friendly discussion out in the open, but okay, if that's how you'd like it.

Anonymous 1: To be clear, I'm not always up his ass. In fact, this is the first time I've ever really said anything to him about it -- and it's not like I bitched him out, for heaven's sake.

I don't know who else is "always up his ass", but I am quite certain he is being honest about his distaste for his current situation. In fact, I challenged him when he said he was n't happy there -- it's a good, stable job, and there's no reason he shouldn't like it. But HE has determined he doesn't like it and HE has determined he wants something more.

My question to him is why then, don't you go get it? I ask only because he clearly CAN have it and wants it, but still doesn't pursue it. And that I would love to understand.