Friday, September 29, 2006

Nice little disaster

Last night was a mess.

After a delightful dinner with K and my friend L, in which each finally got to meet the other, K and I went to the tail end of a birthday party for one of K's friends, Jen.

I'd met Jen and her crew before around Easter. She's funny. Her friends are funny.

K and I were both tired, being up well past our bed times, but wanted to spend some quality time with the birthday girl before leaving.

So we moved over to the table in the bar where she was holding court, and took the two empty seats in front of her. Bawdy stories were told. Many laughed.

She was clearly a little smashed. She continued to remind her guests that I "make great bread" which is true: I brought my spent grain bread that I make after brewing to the Easter dinner when we met. It was a hit. Though I think everyone got the point about my culinary talents the first time they heard it. Let alone the third. Or the eighth.

And then she got a little personal.

Jen: Ken Doll, K is such a great girl. She's so special. If you're not good to her... [dramatically snaps clamshell cell phone closed as if to indicate cutting something off]

The crowd is amused.

I tolerate it as drunken chick friend talk. Yes, you love your friend. Got it. You'll be mean to me. Fine.

And then she got too personal.

Jen: But Ken Doll, seriously. Get the fuck off of What are you doing on there? I don't want to see your face again when I do a search....

Now I may have misremembered the exact phrasing. But the public implication and accusation was that I'm still on Match cruising for girls and generally being a scoundrel.

People tend to prefer hearing about potential infidelity by surprise in public with strangers. Good times. And it's always fun to be confronted in public with what one thought was private behavior.

It was one of those time standing still moments, as my brain shifted from "she's going to say something funny" to "Holy shit, I can't believe she's saying this" to "If you were a guy, I'd have punched you out 5 sentences a go".

All I could muster in the moment was a very sternly voiced "Jen, you're drunk, and it's your birthday, so I'm going to let that go". It was accompanied by the look which said "If you were a guy, I'd have punched you out 5 sentences ago."

Meanwhile, there had been much scrambling. K had stood up and walked away without a word, and some of Jen's friends had disappeared about the same time, possibly to check on K, possibly to run for cover.

Having delivered my single sentence reply, I stood up and walked out, to try to find K. I couldn't find her, ducked into the men's room, called her cell phone let her know I was looking for her. After a glance back into the room where folks had been, seeing that K had made her way back there and that the girls were frantically surrounding her, I opted to walk out of the place and wait by the door outside.

Eventually K came out. She wasn't in good shape.

We spent the drive home and the next several hours at her place talking.

This "effective" girlfriend status was only a few weeks old. I still have misgivings about being anyone's "boyfriend" right now.

Yes, I'd been logging in and checking my match account still. Mostly to get the re-assurance that, yes, no one was writing me and, yes, none of the girls even looking at my profile were folks I'd want to date. It turned my stomach to think of another date with a chick who thinks that everything will be wonderful when she's married, or with a bitter dysfunctional harpie who hopes you're the one but would also like to take out her generalized aggression towards men upon you. No more girls. All done.

Eventually, K articulated what I've been feeling: I've no trouble choosing her. I just have a lot of issues about choosing the role of "boyfriend". Not part of my plan. I was supposed to be just playing the field and having fun now. Women sneak in and take all your fun and your stuff and deprive you of sex and make you clean the house and carry giant financial burdens like mortgages and children. They are scary. Being a boyfriend is bad.

And the actions of "taking myself off the market" are about choosing that boyfriend role. And while, I may have been moving in that direction, I wasn't there yet. Which was probably just fine with K

But clearly not fine with Jen.

Last night I was tempted to just pull the plug.

"Fuck it. Too much hassle, these women. I'll go home to Marin, and be a monk. And while it'll suck for K, Jen will really feel like shit when she learns her words triggered the break up. Teach her to fuck with me. I'll burn down my house if it's guaranteed to kill the wasp that stung me."

I realized I was exhausted, and that exhaustion was amplifying the drama. But I was seething and far from ready to relax into sleep. I hadn't expected to be blindsided and publicly shamed.

And then I wondered why Jen, who has a new boyfriend, is doing searches on Pot calling kettle black?

Criminy, I haven't e-mailed a match chick looking for a date since... May? The only ones I've had since then are women who got in touch with me, and the last of those was early July.

So now K's a bit unsettled, I'm pissed off and not looking forward to spending time around more of her friends this weekend. I'm tempted to get very passive aggressive. If I'm going to pay the penalty for the sin, I might as well actually commit it. If I'm going to suffer as a cad, I should enjoy the fruits of scoundrelhood.

But I'm not going to. I'm going to stay on the high road, try to act with integrity.

I pulled my profile. is useless.

The correct boyfriend response would be "I pulled my profile. I found the girl for me, and have no interest in others".

I'm not interested in building other relationships. But I remain interested in the validation of receiving women's interest and attention. Yeah, I'm a self esteem special. But thinking of myself as "off the market" freaks me out.

So for now, folks will have to be content with my being done with If they don't like the motives, that's tough.

And K's friends can stay the fuck out of our business.