NicetiesAh, yes, "niceties". These will be heavily in force as we enter the Hell That Is The Holiday Season.
Now, before you think I'm going all "bah, humbug", let me explain. I'm not anti-holidays. I'm anti-commercialization and anti-fake. If your good cheer is authentic, great! If you are focusing on the Reason for the Season and remembering the true meaning of Thanksgiving and Christmas, wonderful. It's the "BIG SALE STARTS AT 4 AM!!!" stuff that I'm opposed to. I mean, come ON.
FOUR in the morning? I thought 6-11 earlybird hours were bad enough but things have gotten completely out of hand. Although... I can see the benefits of moving from eating festivities to naptime to night out on the town to closing down the bars at 2 AM, fortifying one's drunken self with breakfast at an all-night diner (or an after-hours party), then being first in line for the shop-off two hours later.
Yeah. That's gonna work out great.
Just think. Now people can get in a good four hours of shopping before arriving at work.
But I've derailed myself here. The subject is niceties. Not "Nice Ties" as in compliments to your Dad, but "niceties", those inane blatherings we must endure when trapped amongst our relatives or our friends and their relatives for several hours in the name of holiday celebration.
My tradition for 43 years was to be with my parents, sister, nieces, and later their spouses (and the occasional boyfriend of mine), noshing on turkey at my parents' home, drinking champagne, playing cards, and having laugh attacks (because we genuinely liked being with each other, or so I mistakenly thought). Parents dead, I'm the only one here, and the rest of them decided almost on the drive out of the cemetery last year that they were scattering to the winds. One comment was "gee, I don't have to worry about getting time off this year". (Sorry to cause such an inconvenience for you... uh, how many thousands is it you plan to inherit?)
Last year, I reluctantly spent turkey day with my friend B and her family. Not reluctant because it was her family—reluctant because I was still fresh from losing Mom and not sure I was ready to upend my traditions. In other words, I really just wanted to crawl under the covers the day before Thanksgiving and hide until January 3rd. Just make it go away.
But it turned out to be OK after all, so I'm comfortable with repeating the pattern this year. With a twist. This year, I'll also be attending the festivities held by the family of my ex/bf J. Yeah. Not sure I can sum this up in a few sentences, but... we began dating in January 1993. Dated for about 2 years. Played in a band together (yeah, I know, but this time, I'd already been dating him for nearly a year before he begged me to sing for his band so it wasn't like oooh I hooked up with yet another one of my musicians) for 2.5 years. Broke up but stayed friends because we were the main writers of the band and to be honest, our friendship was far more developed than our romantic interests. So we cut out the romantic stuff and became strictly friends. ABSOLUTELY friends. No booty calls, no "just this once". End. Of. Story.
And, as I seem to have a habit of doing, we stayed friends. It's been 14 years now. I was always very open about my dating; he was less open. So I never knew about his gfs except what I gleaned from chats with his sister (also my friend) but I could always tell when he was involved because he'd drop off the face of the earth for a few weeks. Then I'd hear from him again as if nothing happened. But I blew it off as being busy because I do that, too, sometimes. Just drop out of sight for awhile and don't return calls right away.
One thing you need to know about his dating habits. We met through the music store. Since then, the only way he meets women is online. The ONLY way. He's not on Match.com looking for his one true love, though. Nope, he, uh... as I put it when I first learned of this years ago, he "trolls the internet picking up cybersluts". Then he quizzes them to make sure they pass the criteria (decent-looking, no kids, not looking for step-daddy or marriage) and if they do, he chats with them for a couple of weeks then meets them. If they "hit it off", he "dates" them for awhile (a few weeks) until "they lose their flavor".
He has, however, maintained that he really IS seeking true love. We've had many an argument over whether his actions align with what he says he wants (they don't, IMHO). I think he's going about it wrong (moves too fast, only in it for physical and I mean if the girl he's known for 10 days hasn't put out by the third in-person date, he drops her and moves on); he thinks I'm "too picky" (because I've been celibate by choice for far too long, no thanks to Rocker Boy who decided at the wrong time to join me on that road, dammit) and that it's possible I'm "frigid". I assure you, I am anything BUT. I'm just capable of keeping it in my pants until someone WORTHWHILE shows up rather than thinking "OMG it's been three months I must feed before I diiiieeeeeeee...."
Well. J got his dream job in Minneapolis. He'd been dating someone locally, though—she helped him move. She's talking about selling her house and moving to be with him. J feels differently. He expected that having 700 miles between them would allow it to end naturally (avoid confrontation) because he was bored with her but... gee. She has money and she's so helpful, so... he's not doing much about it but she continues to maintain it on her own. Most of what I know came from the sister, but J finally opened up about ALL his ex/gfs once he'd safely moved to Minneapolis. (Odd, eh?)
(About 700 miles being an issue? All it did for me and Rocker Boy was bring us closer. 997 miles, now, that's another story. *sigh*)
J arrived in town Monday. We had lunch Tuesday. All he did was talk about how bored he is with this girl, how being away provided perspective he didn't have when he was around her all the time and he sees things he didn't see before (in a negative light). She never ever wears makeup or dresses up—doesn't even try. He's big on the natural look and he's not a dressup kind of guy, but he says once in a while, you know, if the occasion calls for it, he can dress decently and he'd think she'd want to but she never does. And she's nice. Calm. Never gets upset. Too easy.
His Mother and sister both think she's exactly what he needs—someone "level-headed, calm, down to earth to balance him out" rather than "overly dramatic" like some of his other exes (meaning me—and they LIKE me, if you can believe that). They want him to marry HER.
Personally I think both of us are wrong for him. He needs someone level-headed, calm and not as prone to emotional expression as I am (I'm a singer—I'm neurotic)—BUT he also needs someone who will challenge him intellectually, stimulate him in other ways (and with as much enthusiasm *cough nymphomania cough*), and stand up to him so that he's never bored.
I asked what he planned to do about her. J said he didn't know. Because where would he stay the rest of the week? (Uh... your Mom is nice, she has a big empty house, and it's not like you have habits you have to hide or anything... and there is your sister... or your friends?) I pointed this out.
But... she's letting him use her car.
OH. Well, then...
I told him I feel sorry for her because she is obviously head over heels for him (she even bought him a cell phone with a local number to ensure he'd keep calling) and is planning a future with him and he's ambivalent at best. He said he's not against ever getting married to someone in the future, but it damn sure won't be to HER. Except...
...it's tempting, because he'd be safe and comfortable for the rest of his life. Because she has a good job (in finance, in the boring sector thereof), her own house, he'd never have to worry about the bills being paid because she knows how to do all that...
I was aghast. A guy telling me he was considering marrying someone safe simply to be taken care of?
I'm glad I'm not dating him anymore. It's OK to be friends with him, though. Different boundaries.
I told J, if you marry her, you'll get bored. Then you'll cheat. Just like your Dad did.
I struck a chord. But he wasn't mad. He was surprised at my honesty and insight. He agreed with me, too. Because Current GF reminds him an awful lot of his mother (who is perfectly nice but not challenging in the least).
Why am I telling you all of this? Because Current will be attending T-Day dinner tomorrow. Current has no idea that she's on the way out. Unless, of course, he took my suggestion to heart and did the only fair thing (break it off with her) and she opts out. Current knows all about me. Current totally supports (or at least doesn't fuss about) his friendship with me. Current let him have her car so he could meet me for lunch.
I know nothing about Current except her first name (which I had to pull teeth to get out of him), what she does for a living, what kind of car she drives, that she has a brother, that her parents live in town, and that she's short, quiet, and has "nappy" blonde hair. I don't know how old she is. I assume they met online. I assume the only reason she is still around is because she overlapped with his moving (see "700 miles makes dating a moot point", above) and because he has no shame in accepting whatever someone generously offers him. (He's not big on giving, though, that's why I dumped him.)
So. I'm a mixture of curiosity and a tad bit of dread. I feel sorry for her. If I were her, I'd feel all kinds of uncomfortable, being in the same room with the Ex That For Some Reason Is Still Around. It would be like dining with his ex-wife or something and having the family enjoying the ex-wife's company, all the inside jokes and stuff. Because I can't imagine she feels all that secure about him if she's clued in to his vibes. She invited him to her parents' holiday dinner and he flat out refused to go. What does that tell you? The way he described it, she's only going to his because she assumes she's invited. I was personally invited by J. In fact, he insisted I come. (As a friend. He attended several of ours as a friend long after we were done. They accepted him as part of the family and his family... vice versa.)
I'm also wondering if he's using my presence as an excuse not to go to her parents' if he needs one. Or if he's going to focus all his attention on me and ignore her to see if she gets the message. I don't have any idea how this is going to go down. It should be interesting. I just hope the poor girl survives it.
Then again, she may not even show up, if she happens to have gotten a clue in the past couple of days.
Y'know, as adamantly as he is about not having any intention of marrying her, he's also a path of least resistance kind of guy. I can see him dumping her, but I can also see her wearing him down until he weighs the options like a business deal, decides with a shrug that it might not be so bad to be a kept man, and marries her anyway. Not for love, mind you. The next chapter of that is him getting divorced (with a shrug) because she catches him cheating. He does not, as a rule, cheat. But he is deceptive. And if he were in a marriage and bored, I can see him going for just so long before he cheats.
Uh, he actually does have a lot of good qualities, too, just so you know.
So that'll be my day: noon with the J-Fam, dinner with the B-Fam. I'm taking Friday "off" from people.
But I'll close with my list of things for which I am thankful this year:
- every blessing that the Good Lord has bestowed upon me
- my cats
- my horses
- my friends (however insane they may be)
- that I had my parents for 43 years
- that I had a great relationship with my parents (overall)
- that I have a nice house in a safe neighborhood and it's mortgage-free
- that I'm still here and healthy *knock wood*
- all the "stuff" I have, even if I'm still unsure where it all fits
- that I have good food to eat, money to pay my bills, a decent car to drive
- that no matter how treacherous the future may look at times, I am, as I realized a couple of days ago, much better off financially and materially than my parents were at my age (and that's without a job, too, which is amazing)
- my talents, intelligence and skills
- that LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL and the best is yet to come