Oh online dating..how very awkward you are. No matter how common it seems to be getting, it still feels like the red-headed stepchild of regular dating (no offense to beautiful red-heads or lovely step-children). For me at least, it has this layer of desperation about it that is slightly embarrassing whenever I have to bring it up. It’s hard enough being single sometimes, but then to have to explain to people about your time on OK Cupid or Match or eHarmony or whatever…you try to phrase it in a way that seems the least bit loser-y, tell a few funny date stories and move on to that mango margarita you are scoping out at happy hour. Even more awkward are the occasional run-ins with guys you have either chatted with online, or have gone out on a date(s) with. Seeing Mr. I’m Not Over My Last Girlfriend in the line at Starbucks becomes an epic game of “How do I hide myself behind this festive display of themed coffee mugs?!?!” In the event that you do make eye-contact, how do you proceed? Go with the small, friendly yet non-committal smile?…quickly avert your eyes and pretend to be super interested in the bag of Organic Yukon Blend on the shelf next to you?..Heaven forbid he actually strike up a conversation, which can vary in levels of excruciating-ness (if this is not a word..I’m making it one).
Speaking of painful things..Breaking up with someone that you’ve dated can be rough depending on how involved you were. If it was casual..no big deal.. you just go on about your day with a “see ya later…that was fun..or not.” If it was serious, you do everything you can to erase all traces of them from your life and try to move forward. This could mean anything from a ceremonial picture burning in the backyard, to a series of epic man-bashing sessions over a few bottles of vino. And here’s the good news..you eventually DO get over the jerk! YAY HOORAY! Let’s throw a party! You now go about your days feeling great about where you are, either by yourself or with the new guy, and are pretty damn proud of yourself for how far you’ve come.
We’re talking from this ————->
<————- to this..or almost…
If you’re anything like me though, you think every once in a while, of what it would be like to run into them again now that you are more awesome than ever. The cherry on top? The new boyfriend who is better in every single possible way…or as my dad likes to call it…an UPGRADE. (Apparently my dad thinks dating is like changing over cell phone plans) How amazing would this be?!?
You picture it…the slow motion walk down the sidewalk as you and your sexy man laugh happily, arm in arm..(your new guy also has a fabulous sense of humor..you lucky girl) You’re so caught up in each other, you don’t even notice your ex walking toward you…20 pounds heavier (obviously) and gazing at you…mouth open in astonishment.. He approaches slowly, in awe of how wonderful you both look.
Suddenly, he trips over his own shoelace and stumbles off the sidewalk, into the street, only to be hit by a massive 18-wheeler truck!!!
ahem…sorry…where was I?
In a perfect world this would be the case..you would be calm, cool and collected..and he would be a hot mess wondering how he ever let a prize like you slip away.
But since this world is so very far from perfect, this was not how it went down in real life.
It started off as a beautiful Saturday afternoon. My friend Julia and I were meeting up with my sister at the local strawberry festival. Josh was spending the day with his brother, serving up snow cones for the local Special Olympics kids. Of course he was…does this guy get any sweeter??? So there we were, walking through the streets..poking in and out of the craft booths..when I saw her walking down the street toward us…I mean the her in all caps, HER. She Who Must Not Be Named. Her parents were right behind her and as I stood there frozen, gripping a jar of strawberry jam, the crowds parted and I saw him. And immediately went into flight mode. Much to the confusion of the booth’s vendor, I promptly hid behind a display of marmalade and tried to calm my pounding heart. Julia, noticing my absence, scanned the booth looking for where I could have possibly gone. “Pssst!” I hissed..peeking around the jars..Much to her credit, she didn’t even bat an eyelash…”Hey there…whatcha doin’?” Sneaking a quick glance at the street, I satisfied myself that they had gone and came out of my hiding spot. “I saw him.” I told her breathlessly. “My ex Jack, I saw him and the girl and her parents. I dunno, I just panicked.”
So much for my calm, cool, collected reunion…it’s like you go along thinking you are 100% over things and then you get a swift kick in the pants letting you know that maybe you weren’t as ready for that reunion as you thought. I got down about it for a second..Truth be told, I didn’t want them seeing me out with a friend..then they would assume I was still single and depressed and alone instead of ridiculously happy. I suppose I could have really thrown them for a loop and gone with the old standby, “oh hello, this is my girlfriend…I’ve realized that I’ve actually been a lesbian all along and breaking up with you was the best thing that ever happened to me since now I don’t have to hide who I really am!” er…yeah..it’s probably a good thing I can’t really think on my feet like that. Can you imagine? If only I had had Josh there with me. I could have walked down that street with confidence. I could have walked right up to them and….and.. that’s where I blank and the voice of reason in my head goes..DO WHAT EXACTLY Julia?! No really, let’s play this one out for the hell of it. Let’s just say you introduce yourself to this girl and her family. It might go a little like this:
“Oh hi there! I know we’ve never officially met, but I’m the girl whose fiance slept with your daughter in the back of a Chevy Impala, in the parking lot of a Texas De Brazil. Those things sure are roomy aren’t they!! Gosh is it just so nice to finally meet you! And may I just say..wow..what a job you two have done raising her! You should be so proud. Oh I’m sorry, how rude of me. This is my boyfriend Josh…he’s oh about a million times better than Jack and doesn’t suffer from crippling debt, lack of future goals and in inability to tell the truth in any situation! And speaking of Jack, how are you? Looking like you’ve packed on those pounds buddy..guess things are getting comfortable with you and the spawn of Satan. Speaking of, how did you manage to find a cross necklace to wear that wouldn’t burst into flames around your neck? Is it one of those special flame-retardant ones you can get at Target? That is just so special! Congrats you two love birds!”
While not entirely feasible, it does have a certain something special about it 🙂
And here’s the thing.. I don’t plan on running into the happy couple or even just Jack by himself..but this city is smaller than you’d think. It might happen again..and if it does..maybe I won’t hide behind a marmalade display..or maybe I will…but at least I can hold my head up knowing that my life is the best it’s ever been…awkward moments and all.