Girl's Eye View - Don't hate me

May 22, 2014

Boyfriend, basebal, burgers: Having it all... except something to say

Here's a concept: Me with nothing to say. At lunch recently, a simple query by my friend Melinda, "What's going on with you and the new boyfriend?" yielded more than a 30-second span of dead air. I sat there, dull to the incoming query, unable to supply my normal pithy response, rant or rave. I was unable to lob anything back over the net at all.

It was a net that not only separated Silent Me from Curious Melinda, but marked the chasm between the new, happy, In love Me from a Sassily Single Melinda. It was as obvious as the food on the table: a greasy cheeseburger for my ever-expanding girth vs. a salad for Melinda's perfectly toned, still-playing-the-field figure. Looking at Melinda's plate of lettuce, I realized I had become That Girl - the blissfully befriended woman I used to hate.

Even worse was the realization that I had also become Mute Woman. I couldn't remember a time when I didn't have remarks at the ready. And since discovering boys, I couldn't remember having a relationship that lasted longer than three weeks. Until now. I had never thought these two experiences would be at odds, but ever since my current relationship passed the three-month mark - yep, it's officially a marathon! - I have had absolutely nothing to say.

When Melinda lobbed the ball my way, though, she was anticipating some master playing on my part. After all, with m previous record, there must have been myriad tales of my hysterical wanderings into the woods of intimacy - the hijinks that ensue when I am forced to share my space, compromise my lifestyle, watch sports. Alas, not only was my life bereft of such tales (I had actually learned to like baseball), my life was bereft of any tales at all. I was a smiling, buoyant, cheeseburger-eating... cult member. It was all very alarming.

Of course there were some things I could have told Melinda. Like the wonderful surprise of admitting to someone that you alphabetize your medicine cabinet, and discovering that he doesn't consider it anal or obsessive. Or the quiet exhilaration of having bought a guy a toothbrush to use at our house instead of calling him "presumptuous" for leaving one there himself. These small miracles were wondrous to me, but they were the first things I'd spare out of sympathy at a cheeseburger/lettuce catch-up. Who wants to hear about someone's great relationship? As a single gal, I was colorful and engaging, full of anecdotes and histrionics. With a boyfriend, I was as exciting as a Tom Hanks Oscar speech, shunning the statue for the annual tribute to Rita. Yawn.

And it was not just conversation that I had lost; it was creativity at large. I found it hard to write a compelling sentence. It had been almost three months since I'd had a sardonic or witty thought. I was beginning to suspect that my writing career would soon end. It's like the libido loss with antidepressants: your Zoloft might keep you cheery, but you'll never enjoy sex again. Perfect - now that my love life was in order, I could kiss my career goodbye. No longer would I be a compelling subject of my own analysis, let alone the witty analyst of anything at all. The editor's calls would cease, the bylines would disappear, the bank account would run dry. For every cozy night in front of the TV, one more creative brain cell would wither away. For every loving conversation, another article would vanish.

Maybe that was a little dire.

And then I began to realize that it would simply take time and patience to adjust to anew kind of storytelling, one based on the challenges of relating, rather than those found in the pursuit. Like the subtle compromises I was facing in my new partnered life - like having to go bowling with his buddies during Sex and the City and sitting through an entire Lyle Lovett CD - finding fodder would not be as impossible as I imagined.

But even as I began to contemplate - even celebrate - the revised, opinionated Me, it was becoming clear that my prior dating experiences, however trying, had served a much higher purpose than I had previously thought. While prepping me for the right relationship, they had also given me something I couldn't fully appreciate while suffering through bad dinners and relentless coffees. Quite simply, they had all unknowingly provided a steady stream of lob-worthy anecdotes, and for that, I feel I should pay tribute. So here's to you "Stabby," "If Guy" and "The One I Blind Dated" - twice. To you, and all the other dudes who were destined to fail, you succeeded at something else. You gave me a wealth of material. You gave me something to lob.

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