Jessica #21 - Nightmare Girlfriend
Relationships take work -- and Jessica finds out that some of that work is (ack!) on herself.
"There's something about airports, isn't there?"
I was standing in line at a kiosk getting a drink after taking Beth to her plane -- and there was Dan Albom, briefcase and overnight bag in hand. I hadn't spoken to him since he was last in Phoenix and we had an argu-scussion about whether my job in the fashion industry degrades women.
I vaguely recalled an e-mail mentioning that he'd be in town in the next few weeks.
"I wonder if I'd run into you in any airport, or is it just this one?" I said, delighted to see him.
"I think I sent you an e-mail that I was coming," he said. "I was going to call you if I had time to get together. This is just a quick overnighter."
I explained that I'd been busy entertaining romantically challenged siblings and breaking up with boyfriends. I offered to drive him to his hotel and we stopped for lunch along the way, providing a chance to explain my surly mood.
"So what did you do with the Palm Pilot?" he asked.
"My secretary took it to his office this morning."
"Ooh," he winced. "Cold."
I guffawed. "Not really. It totally confirmed that I was right to break it off."
"I need more information to understand that sentence," he said.
"When my secretary came back, she immediately asked to speak with me privately."
"She wanted to know if I would mind if she went out with him."
"You heard me," I said, shaking my head, still in wonder over Harris' callousness. "The heel asked her out."
Dan looked as if his jaw had gone liquid. He was dumbstruck. "Uh, he obviously did it just to hurt you," he said, aghast. "He knew she would tell you."
"Of course he did," I said, chuckling. "That's the funny part of it. Harris doesn't date non-Jewish women and he certainly doesn't date women without fancy degrees and titles. He never dreamed she'd say yes. And now that she did, he has to go out with her."
Dan just blinked, repeatedly.
This is revenge of almost Homeric proportions -- and he did it to himself.
"I told her to 'follow her heart' and then I heard her call him about 80 times before the end of the day. The way I see it, this is revenge of almost Homeric proportions -- and he did it to himself," I said.
We both laughed. Then Dan shifted the conversation. "I'm curious how Harris responded to your concerns during the course of your dating. You know, Jessica," he said affably, "the way it sounds, you really are a nightmare girlfriend."
"Excuse me?" I sputtered. "Care to explain that statement?"
"You were storing up all these totally valid complaints for three months and then, by the time you presented him with them, you'd already made up your mind that it was over."
If you're really serious, you have to voice your concerns, not just give superficial approval all the time.
"You didn't communicate," he said. "You're complaining that he wasn't really interested in a two-way relationship, and yet you didn't voice your concerns to him. If you're really serious about building something real and long-lasting, you have to voice your concerns, not just give superficial approval all the time."
I digested what he said for a second.
Okay, he had me. All along, I'd justified my behavior with the fact that Harris should have known better. I thought of the night Harris and I went on a whirlwind of social events. I was irritated that he wasn't paying enough attention to me and responded by acting somewhat distant. He had compensated for his inattention, and then I warmed up. I had assumed his increased attentiveness came in response to my distance.
Dan continued good-naturedly, oblivious to my rationalizing.
"I am going to let you in on a secret. We men do not know what you're feeling unless you tell us. I'm not saying that things would have worked out with Harris. But if he was good enough to spend a couple of months with, at least he deserved to know when he did something wrong in your eyes."
I've never been very good at explaining what exactly I am feeling but have developed fairly effective ways of conveying my feelings non-verbally, I thought defensively.
I must have been pouting because Dan chuckled and leaned over.
"Don't worry, Jess. I am sure that with a good trainer, you'll make someone a fine girlfriend," he said. "He'll actually be a fairly lucky guy."
Even half-compliments I'm willing to accept.