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Call Waiting for Godot

July 16, 2008

It is very useful to have friends skilled at using humor to gently point out the absurdity of the way in which you are approaching a challenging situation. I met one such person (we’ll call him “Friendan”) two years ago through Chemistry.com, proving that occasionally online exchanges are not completely tragic.

A while back we were having a heart to heart during which I ruminated about the unsatisfying nature of recent interactions with a former flame. As if on cue, a call that he had to take came in while I was mid-sentence. When he clicked back from the other line his first words were:

That was Jack.

He told me to tell you he said hi.

Beckett 2.0

Samuel Beckett 2.0

I was a tad bewildered. I had never met or heard him mention a friend named Jack and wondered why this mystery person was sending along a salutation.

See, Jack is also my ex’s name but Friendan had not had the pleasure of making his acquaintance. “Wh… uhhh… Whooo???” was about all I managed to get out.

Jack… you know – your ex.

I still didn’t get it but was curious to see where it was going. He catches me off guard like this every now and then and it’ll take me a moment to pick up what he’s putting down. I asked him what, besides hello, Jack had to say.

He said it’s all his fault. He’s being a dick.

You’re right. He’s wrong.

He’d tell you himself but he’s a guy.

Ahhhh – now I got it. Well played, my friend. Well played.

It’s settled, you’re vindicated.

Now you can move on.

There was no trace of exasperation in his voice even though he knew, all too well, the unhealthy behaviors I was cycling through at breakneck speed. I was barking up a tree that bore no fruit and who amongst us hasn’t engaged in a similarly pointless exercise at one time or another? What? You haven’t? <cough>Liar</cough>

Truth is, the dogged pursuit of warmth and closure from the source in question was not without consequence. Each strained interaction served to erode whatever connection remained. My favorite bit of folk wisdom sums up the resulting tension quite nicely.

You can’t teach a pig to sing.

It’s a waste of time and it just annoys the pig.

While I’m certainly not saying my ex is a pig, the basic message rings true… as much for myself as for him. (I’ll be the first to admit that it takes two to tangle.)

Getting on with it is a clumsy dance involving many left feet. Hidden in the bundle of raw nerves, former lovers are – at the same time – closer and more distant than friends would ever be. The only two people who know exactly what was lost are unable to comfort one another and the disconnect is as necessary as it is unnatural.

Friendan reminds me that the opposite of love is apathy, not hate. (Dammit- he’s right AGAIN.) Putting aside the sweet everythings once whispered is not my forte. Emotional divestiture may go against my very nature, but I suppose it’s a choice like any other. We all write our own story (like the relationship edition of “Choose Your Own Adventure”). So, is it going to be:

  • A cut and dry saline flashflood. (Think Lifetime Original Movie)

OR

  • Fond memories of a bittersweet romance. (Jack and I will always have Toms River, NJ.)

Personally, I’m working on the latter. Nancy McKeon couldn’t begin to do me justice.

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