The Girl Who Lived In a Shack

My shrink.

I’ve met a lot of great women through Match.com, I really have. I would say at least 90% of the ladies I’ve been out with have been sweet, attractive, and utterly likable people. My problem is, it keeps being the other 10% that I ask out for a second date. Why? No idea, you better ask my shrink. Piece of advice though, she charges by the word and has, let’s say, a liberal perspective on the merits of falling asleep while someone else is talking.

The first woman I had a long-term relationship with that I met on Match was definitely one of the good 90%. She was very attractive, wore glasses (official It’s Not A Match quirky turn on), had a great sense of humor, and was generally irresistible. She also lived six blocks from me and for some reason enjoyed the pleasure of my company, so things were off to a promising start.

There’s always a thing that, after you break up with someone, you look back and realize “oh, I’m an idiot.” Something that, at the time, you justify and explain away and decide not to worry about, mostly because this person is willing to let you see them without their clothes on and allowances must be made for such behavior. But then, after you separate, you slap your hand to your head and wonder how you couldn’t have seen it coming. In the case of 90% Nanette, it was this statement: “Oh, I don’t call back.”

Her ideal telephone

We had just returned from spending Christmas with our families, and she had been distant. I would call her, she wouldn’t call me back, then I’d wait for a few days and call her again. Maybe I’d get her, maybe I wouldn’t. But the whole time she sounded pissed, which was confusing, but such is the life of one who tries to date women. When we returned to New York she yelled at me for not calling her enough over the break. I pointed out that in fact I called her plenty and it was she that didn’t call me. Her response: “Oh, I don’t call back.” She just doesn’t. Never has. How I had dated her for several months without noticing this I don’t know, but she explained that it’s not the woman’s job to call a man back. Men are just to call her until she eventually picks up. Because she’s a princess living in a castle and the entire world is a fairy tale and her hair is made of gold and unicorn eyelashes. I told her plainly that that was the stupidest thing I’d ever heard. Apparently that was also something she didn’t do – get told that she was an idiot – because she didn’t care for that one bit. This was when I should have known that I wasn’t dealing with a 90% Nanette, but actually one of the crappy 10% Tinas. A woman with an opinion about gender roles and the telephone that predate the actual invention of the telephone wasn’t gonna work for me. But we talked it out, I looked past the obvious (mostly because of that whole potential for clothes being off thing), and we moved on. Mistake.

A few months later, entirely out of the blue, 10% Tina sent me an email saying we were through. No real reason was given, because after all she was a 10% Tina. The only thing she said was that she wasn’t good at discussing such things in person so we wouldn’t be doing that. No talking, face to face or otherwise, would be going on. What can I say, she liked restrictions on communication, generally. At the time, I was young and delicate and it hit me pretty hard. I tried to talk to her, but she refused. It was all very confusing and awful and I felt bad for a few months. Yeah, I said it. Months. I was listening to a lot of Nick Drake and Elliott Smith in those days and oh how the cigarettes were smoked. The cherry on the cake of the relationship happened one day when I saw her on the street in our neighborhood and she pretended not to see me and walked right by. That one hurt for sure. She was downgraded to a 5% Phyllis after that. But then, maybe a year later, it all changed.

My replacement

I ran into her roommate in a bar and after pretending to care about catching up, I asked her the big question: so…what’s up with 5% Phyllis? That was when she uttered the one sentence that fixed everything, that turned this into one of the great dating experiences of my life. The roommate said…AHEM… “after she broke up with you she moved in with a guy who lived in a shack.” How do you know you’ve won a breakup? When within 90 days your ex is without running water or indoor plumbing. When her mailing address becomes “Next To The Big Oak Tree With The Knot In It.” When she has to throw away her electric toothbrush because it draws too much on the generator. AWESOME.

The way the story goes, she broke up with me and for a while dated a guy who was married. But who hasn’t really? Then she met this fine gentlemen who entirely swept her off her feet, which was wonderful until he announced that he was morally opposed to modern conveniences of city living, so had built himself a shack. AND SHE LIVED IN IT WITH HIM. I could never figure out where this shack was located exactly, but when you get a gem like this you don’t go looking too hard for fault lines. The point is, I was upset at her choosing against me when a few months later she would also choose against a toilet and working faucets. Luckily, she probably didn’t run into the problem of not calling people back again, as it’s hard to place a call when your phone is plugged into a tree stump. She was nuts and I was scott free! All because of one beautiful sentence…

“After she broke up with you she moved in with a guy who lived in a shack.” I’m considering it as a tattoo.

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2 Responses to The Girl Who Lived In a Shack

  1. Paul says:

    OhmyGawd, this is my #1 pet peeve with dating women. I actually just five minutes ago left a comment on Yvette’s blog about this very same thing. For some reason, women want it both ways. They want to be the ones in control of the communication, but then they won’t communicate. I have run into a nasty string of women who DO NOT PICK UP THE PHONE, and then they DO NOT CALL BACK when a message is left. Furthermore, when they say they’re going to call me, I wait for them to call and they can’t make the Frickin’ call!

    To me, it’s just disrespectful to behave this way. I give ‘em the heave ho quickly (although I get your point about the seeing each other naked aspect – I would probably cut her a little leeway under those circumstances.

    Ironic that none of the women who normally comment on your blog posts have left anything for this one. This seems to be a “war of the sexes” type issue. It maybe worth exploring further with your readers. What is it with the female psyche that thinks it’ “OK” to manage communications this way. I guess the way I look at it is, if you’re treating me badly early in a relationship (by not calling back, not calling when you say you’re going to call), how realistic am I being expecting that things will improve as you get to know me better? If I’m feeling like I’m being “taken for granted” when we’ve just met, the likilihood that it’s going to improve seems pretty low.

  2. Oh hey I’m a girl, or so my physical form thinks (I tend to disagree, but whatever). This gal was definitely a whack-job… meanwhile, I’m not exactly coming at this from normal-girl perspective either.

    My issue is, I actually hate talking on the phone, even with people I want to talk to. Originally I thought this was some kind of phobia or something, but further research has led me to a conclusion beyond social anxiety. Thanks to Aspergers, I have a hard time with random sound combinations when people speak, and this is made much worse by conversations being held over the phone due to the decline in sound quality. It’s not that I have a hearing problem in the traditional sense… it’s that randomly, certain spoken sounds won’t register properly and I end up going “huh?” a lot. In fact, sometimes I ask people to rephrase something and the moment they say it differently I know exactly what they said the first time… like my brain has only just caught up and translated the first round.

    Thus, I’d rather have a conversation in person or via chat, even though text words can sometimes be misinterpreted, it’s still miles ahead of a phone convo. However, if a guy calls me and leaves a message, of course I would call back. Even miss hates-talking-on-the-phone, social-anxiety Aspergers girl here would call you back. So yeah, shack-girl is whacked.

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