I recently re-read Bob’s Top Five’s “Top Five Breakup Stories.” Oh, how I miss Bob’s Top Five, though Bob is still writing (see “Bob” on my blogroll at left). Anyway, although I’ll be hard pressed to come up with five really good ones, I’m going to attempt my own Top Five Breakup Stories. If you’re so inclined dive in here and share your own favorite! PS names may be real, may not. None of them read this anyway.
My first boyfriend. We “dated” when I was 15, but since I wasn’t allowed to date until I was 16, this consisted largely of passing notes in class and holding hands in the hall and maybe sneaking out to the corner of the field during gym and sharing closed-mouth, amateur kisses. I liked him because he was extremely funny, and also he liked me, which didn’t happen much in the days of the unibrow. Every guy I’ve dated has given me something really cool that I still treasure – C.G. gave me Led Zeppelin. I still have a handful of Zeppelin tapes he made for me, in order to further my musical education, and whenever I hear Misty Mountain Hop I think of him. So. About 4 months into our 6 month relationship, he noticed that my parents had a ’76 VW bug that had been earmarked for me to use when I was allowed to drive (which would not be for many years yet). He wanted that car. He got his dad to call my dad, and they negotiated for two months for that car. Over the course of these two months, C.G. got a little meaner, a little grumpier with me. He didn’t want to hang out. He didn’t want to hold hands. He didn’t want much to do with me, but he kept up the bare minimum until his dad sealed the deal. The day he took home the car he called me on the phone and told me it was over, that it was time to move on, and finally that he’d met another girl from another school who was allowed to date and he’d been seeing her for a while. I didn’t even realize how I’d been used until my dad came in the room, saw me in tears on the phone, and shouted down the receiver “Bring me back my damn car, you jerk!” C.G. kept the car, and as we were both military families, we’d moved by the end of the year, so I didn’t have to face the humiliation for long.
Firstly, his mother was Columbian, which is why the “K” instead of “Ch.” Secondly, he could play the piano something fierce. He was an only child with dozens of musical instruments, tons of recording equipment, mics, a studio in their room over the garage – you name it, he had it. His parents were very supportive of his music career, and I think he went on to sign a record deal. He was a senior, I was a junior, and I can’t say why I was attracted because he was skinny as a beanpole and had a mushroom haircut with a tail. Again, I think those were still the days when I liked boys who liked me. So, when Kris went to college, and I stayed home, I was miserable. I missed him a lot, but we talked on the phone frequently. At first. The phone calls became less and less frequent, until one day I called his room and he answered and there was a female voice saying “Who is it, baby?” on the other end. He swore that she was just a friend, and a bunch of other people were in the room too at the time. This may have been true, and in fact I think it probably was, but I was just too jealous and insecure to handle it. I waited a few weeks til I found someone else at school (did I mention, insecure?) and then I broke up with him on the phone. He wasn’t that sad, and neither was I, and we stayed friendly until I was out of college and lost touch with him. What did Kris give me? He wrote me a song. The Color of Promise. It’s elevator music – everything he did was very EZ Listening – but it was heartfelt and beautifully produced and I still have it somewhere.
Paul was my first real love. We met our senior year in high school and continued dating until I was a junior in college, which was supremely dumb because he lived in California and I went to college in Indiana. We NEVER saw each other, but we’d call constantly and pine for each other and I never met anyone or did anything my whole first two years of college because I was always on the phone with him. His mother bought us a 1-800 number for Christmas that first year, which I didn’t understand at the time meant that she was paying all of our phone bills. His mother and I really got along, I think she was interested in wedding bells. Anyway, Paul was just a wonderful guy, and still is, and I think he eventually went to college himself and traveled South America and has done some really neat things with his life. So. I did not like my tiny Indiana college, and I begged my parents to let me leave. They said if I still hated it after 2 years, I could transfer. Well, because I didn’t give my life there a chance, I did still hate it after 2 years and attempted to transfer to a California school that was an hour away from Paul. I am really, truly glad that I did not get in (it’s nigh impossible to transfer in to Cal Poly from out of state.) At that point, I just said to myself – this can’t work. We’re done. I called Paul, but couldn’t bring myself to actually break up with him. So he did it for me – I mean he broke up with himself. He said “I can tell by what you’re not saying that you think this is over. I think maybe you’re trying to break up with me, is that what you’re trying to do? Because it’s ok.” And that’s what Paul gave me – my last two years of college.
My newly single junior year, Jim was a freshman. Hoo boy, was I hot for this dude. He was athletic, but sensitive - a wrestler who wrote poetry. He made my heart beat faster for those last two years of college, and after college whenever I’d visit if I ever bumped into him my heart still leapt into my throat. Just before I met my husband, I was back in the Midwest for several months, and ended up doing a play with Jim. I was dating a few people at this time, and wanted to add Jim to my dance card, as it were. I’d just gone through a difficult breakup that isn’t on my top 5 list, and did not want any boyfriends, just dates. Jim had just gone through something similar (she gave back the ring, in other words), and he was in the same boat, so we really got along. We’d have sensitive, soulful (read: pretentious) conversations about love and loss and heartache, and I’d always try to subtly turn the conversations towards, well, getting over it and dating again. He was not hearing me, on purpose or not, so finally I just clearly said Hey Jim, let’s go on a date. And he said, Let me think about it – which should’ve been a clue – and several weeks later he said, OK, we can try dating. And I said – just to be clear, this is not exclusive or serious, I just want to start having fun again instead of mooning about being sad. And he said - yeah, I’m with ya. So we go on a couple of dates, to the park – to the movies – to bars. Most of these outings we were in a huge group of friends, and we all had a lot of fun together, and I really thought life was grand. Then I didn’t see Jim for over 6 weeks. I called him once, twice, three times, leaving messages, and then I said – Well, so I guess that’s that. I wasn’t too bothered, just slightly annoyed that he couldn’t call me back and even say he was all done with dating, or whatever was going on. He did eventually call me, and said that he couldn’t see me anymore because the only woman he would ever trust again was his sister, that women were too devious. I was like – me? And he was like, no just women in general. So I’m rolling my eyes already at this point, and then he says that besides his breakup he also is grappling with the aftermath of his parents’ divorce, which made it really hard to believe in love. My heart softens, and I say, oh Jim, I’m so sorry, when did they split? And he says - When I was 3 years old. And I said – Click. And that was the end of moody, moony Jim.
We’re going to rewind a little to back in college – that fabulous fun junior year – and meet Adam. I’d admired him from across the choir room for years, but having chained myself to my California boyfriend I did nothing about it til junior year. Then I made it very clear that I was interested in him, and he was interested back, and though we were both shy and it took forever, he finally asked me to go on a walk. It was the perfect romantic evening – moonlight, starlight, the lovely river burbling below, a deer even dashed across our path for heaven’s sake (I am NOT kidding about the deer.) It began to rain, we found refuge under a willow, and he gazed into my eyes and “I can’t believe it’s happening at last,” and then squeezed me into a hug that lasted forever. It was right out of a cheesy summer movie. There was no kissing, which I found puzzling but, you know, that was ok, hugs are nice too. He walks me to my room, and then goes straight back to his and calls me right away, and we talk for ages. I am floating on a sea of happiness and excitement, and I barely sleep. The next day I stumble through my classes and then go hover over the phone, until – YES!! He calls me and asks me to go on another walk. This time, he takes me to the front of the chapel and sits me down on a bench, but several inches away. He says we need to talk. He tells me that sometimes the devil sends creatures to tempt one away from the path of righteousness, but he refused to succumb. I looked at him blinking for a moment before realizing that he was talking about me (I taught Sunday school in college, by the way. I didn’t even drink.) He said he could only marry another Apostolic (marry?? What?? When did we skip ahead to marrying??) He left me there on the bench, though I held onto the tears until he was out of sight. I didn’t even know Adam was religious. A month before graduation he married his preacher’s daughter, who attended our 90 degree outdoor graduation in a Laura Ingalls Wilder type dress that covered her from neck to wrist to ankle, with ankle boots and her uncut hair piled on her head with a prayer cap. An outfit clearly designed not to tempt one away from the path of righteousness, much like, oh, a burka. After I got over my disappoinment in the death of our zygotic relationship, I considered it a point of pride that I was found TOO TEMPTING to date. Just call me The Succubus.