Thursday, December 18, 2008

Single (again) during the holidays.

Sunday, my girlfriend broke down in tears in the middle of a dance. It's been a rough time for her -- her grandparents just passed away, she has the same economic struggles we're all facing, and her boyfriend seems kind of indifferent to her emotional turmoil. She wanted to be held, supported, you know -- cuddled. So she dragged me to a brunch party hosted by Reid, the suddenly famous host of the Cuddle Party.

Even though a cuddle brunch seems innocuous enough, I had a bad feeling in my gut about it, but I wanted her to feel better, so we picked up some eggs and went there.

We left our shoes in the hall of a small but beautifully decorated classic San Francisco flat, and Reid, who has shaggy blonde hair, was much cuter and, well -- huggable -- that I possibly expected, welcomed us with, of course, a fabulous warm hug and a big beaming smile. He was wearing printed flannel pajamas, though it was at least 3 in the afternoon. (Reid always wears PJs -- that's the de rigeur attire for the Cuddle Party.) I was starting to cheer up. But still, that vague "this is not right feeling" was stalking me.

When we walked into the kitchen I knew why: there was my ex -- and the (boo, hiss!) woman who snagged him away. I'll call her Bozo Hair, to protect her identity. She's a frumpy middle aged woman with this enormous pouf of frizzy hair dyed Ronald Mc Donald Red. Ok, Bozo the Clown Red. It is not a color of hair that exists in nature, even if you're Celtic. Contrasting the frizz of hair (in which, as usual, there were about an inch of gray roots showing), she was wearing one of her typically unflattering, loud, garish neo Goddess outfits -- a pair of widelegged printed purple hipster yoga pants that shouldn't even be manufactured in her size. (Some people do not have a licence to wear stretch pants.) It looked like they had both been out partying all night and rolled in still awake and wearing whatever they had on the night before. He had deep dark circles under his eyes, and they both looked kind of gray. Ex put on a show keeping himself busy fetching heaping plates of food to feed Bozo, which she scarfed up nervously. It was like watching someone fatten up a calf for slaughter.

Bitter? Moi? Nine months have passed. I recovered, therapized, workshopped and soothed myself into a wiser woman with higher self esteem. I tossed out every card and gift he ever gave me. (Except the vibrating razor. It's a wierd narcissic gift, but my legs have never been smoother.) I abandoned my communities and avoided every possible party where I might run into him. But once in a while, I run into THEM -- and in Eckart Tolle's words, it retriggers the "pain body" of grief.

So here's my worst nightmare, right? Him with HER (boo, hiss!) in a VERY small cuddle party! Yikes.

I looked around. The flat was cramped. There was no possible place for cuddling to happen except the bedroom. This was not looking promising.

I pulled my girlfriend aside and whispered, urgently:

"Get me out of here!"

"Let's eat first, I'm starved," she said.

There was one seat available -- of course, the one directly across from "them." Bozo made an awkward attempt to be polite (she always has this nonchalant touchy feely attitude of: "Why won't you be friends with me? We're all just one big polyamorous happy family, why can't we love one another, blah blah blah, San Francisco New Age Double Speak.)

The fact is, she "got" him for only one reason: She was willing to stalk a partnered man, she knew he was a cheater, and she was willing to tolerate it. I asked for respect, honesty, transparency and commitment. He didn't give it to me either, so I left, with my self respect intact.

She continues to look the other way. He continues to "pretend" to be her boyfriend while he continued to chase me for months and still blatantly sees others on the side -- business as usual, nothing changed. Maybe it works for them.

We scrambled some eggs, ate nervously, made some polite small talk, hugged everybody (except you know who!) and scrambled out nf there.

It was the latest in a string of "he's a cheater" experiences in my dating life.

Is the Internet and all of our high tech toys (like instant messaging and cellphones) to blame for what seems to continue steamrolling into a total erosion of traditional values in our culture?

Or is it just me? Am old fashioned and out of step in this new age of "polyamory" and NSAs and FWBS and "hook ups" -- and just not getting with it?

It just feels like an avalanche of cheating, dishonesty and two-timing is falling all around me, and I sit here in the midst of it, wanting just one simple thing: Someone to hold, to trust, to love, to unwrap gifts with, to share the warmth with. And I wonder why something so basic, so human, so simple to ask continues to elude me?

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