Friday, August 8, 2008

How to Date: While Still Making Time for Pie

We've all been there. On one side or the other. Either the neglected party or the neglecting. Some people feel guilt. Others don't. And it's an extremely touchy subject. Taboo even.

So, let's throw it out in the open here. (Afterwards we can all have dessert because, believe me, you're going to want some.)

Your friend is in a new relationship, and suddenly she falls off the face of the planet. Do you say something and come off as a jealous and selfish asshole? Or do you wait it out and see if she comes to her senses at some point?

Alternatively, maybe you yourself are in a new relationship and suddenly realize that you're being neglectful. Do you try to rearrange things in order to be a better friend or just assume that your friends are happy for you and therefore don't mind?

Last summer, when I was dating my ex and dealing with the subsequent fallout from that, I was a neglectful asshole. I missed entire birthday parties, avoided people, screened calls, booked my weekends solid for two months, and was a general nitwit. In my defense, I was dating a manipulator who got pissed when I tried to make plans that didn't include him. But I also didn't try very hard to tell him no. I just went along because I wanted him to be happy. When I did manage to find time for my friends, I spent a good part of the time sending and receiving text messages and talking about my relationship woes. Not to mention gloating, gloating, gloating, and basking in my own happiness when things were good.

So, there it is. I admit it. I have been a selfish asshole in the past. And yet I still manage to get annoyed when the tables are turned. But now that I've been single for a while and have some time on my hands, I've had a lot of time to think. Let's break it down into the best metaphor of all time, shall we?

Relationships you have with other people are like dessert. (Yes, technically a simile. Shut up.)

That's right. Dessert. And in order to have the best possible dessert eating experience, you need a lot of different elements working together.

Your friendships are like pie. The best piece of pie in the entire world. Maybe for you, it's apple pie (sweet, down-to-earth, familiar), or strawberry rhubarb (tart, sassy, original), or pumpkin (spicy and warm). Your friendships are defined by your tastes in other people, as you know.

And a new relationship is like whipped cream. Sometimes it's really good whipped cream, freshly whipped with bits of lemon zest. And sometimes, it's the shit from the can. (My relationship from last summer was fat-free Cool Whip that has grown blue mold.)

You can have pie without whipped cream, although it's greatly improved by it. (And let's face it, sometimes pie just isn't enough.) But whipped cream without pie is not really very satisfying. It leaves you feeling a bit empty, no matter how much of it you eat.

So what do you do in order to balance the right amount of pie with the right amount of whipped cream?

Well, you remember that while you're up to your neck in whipped goodness, your friend might be completely dessertless and wondering where the hell you went. No one needs pie all the time, but it is so nice when you get to have it, even if it's less often than what your friend is used to. And remember that talking about nothing but whipped cream makes you boring.

On the other half of the dessert cart, if you're the one feeling neglected, I always find that it's a good idea to be honest with yourself and your friend. It's okay to admit that you would like some whipped cream for yourself and that you're just a bit jealous of your friend's surplus of it. As long as you don't push your friend to choose between pie and whipped cream.

In a perfect world, we would all enjoy only cream pies, which come already slathered in just the right amount of cream. But we don't. So, we have to take desserts as they come to us; discard the pie that grows stale, know when you've had enough dairy-free whipped topping, and appreciate it when you're having a really excellent piece of pie.

Let's have some pie now, shall we?


katastic said...

My best friend recently got into a serious relationship, and disappeared for a good two months. I mean, I LIVE WITH HER and didn't see her more than three times in two months. I became like a resentful, jealous lover. I was pissy and snippy with her and couldn't say her boyfriend's name without rolling my eyes. Fortunately, she snapped out of it- but I wish I could've just sent her this. WHERE YOUR PIE, WOMAN?

The Honorable Mayor of Bethville said...

Oh, I've totally been there on that. I think the important thing is for people to be straight up with you and say, "Dude, I'm sorry I'm neglecting you." Just acknowledging it is a huge weight off. Because then you don't have to be the one who says it. You know? I try to give people a small grace period before I start to get irritated. Usually about a month or so. If things don't improve or get worse, then I start feeling resentful.

I think that people forget that sometimes that neglect leads to resentment, of the friend AND his/her new bf/gf. Every time my old roommate would bring her boyfriend home, I would give him dagger eyes because she was the worst kind of "OMG! BOYFRIEND" type. It drove in a wedge, and we never got along afterward.

NefariousNewt said...

But there's more than one kind of pie, and some taste good with whipped cream and some don't, like lemon meringue for example.

We tend to use friends to fill the voids in our life. Not always the best use of friends, especially those that have stuck by us through thick and thin. Relationships tend to consume us. Not always a good idea, because we lose part of our identity when we lose touch with our friends.

Jen said...

This post has left me feeling guilty and hungry. Curse you!

angiesyounglover said...

not to be a creeper but i think i saw you today at the union square subway station. were you wearing a blue dress? i wanted to be like BETHVILLE! I'M ANGIESYOUNGLOVER! but yeah, how about not causing a scene on a monday morning? it took a lot of oompf to suppress my inner cry.
(and if it wasn't you, disregard this msg and tell me where to get a slice of pumpkin pie that looks as good as the last picture)

The Honorable Mayor of Bethville said...

OMG! That was me! Did I look supremely annoyed??? Because I got stuck on the subway for an hour and then they kept running everything express. I was 30 minutes late for work and I knew my boss was going to be a jerk about me making up the time. I finally had to just walk up from Union Square. Oy.

You should have said something! It would have cheered me up greatly.

As for the pumpkin pie, I don't know where you can get a good piece of pie in this city. But I'm sure as hell going to need one today.

angiesyounglover said...

aw that's so funny, wait til i tell bangieb! everyone kinda looks annoyed in the subway, so i didn't really differentiate. sorry about the subway woes! tell your boss to suck it!

The Honorable Mayor of Bethville said...

@ayl: Had I known you would be so close by, I would have asked you to bring me some goods from SSS. I need a cupcake. Or five.

angiesyounglover said...

a dozen/$18, get over there! they have a new flavor, strawberry cheesecake, or, strawberryyouwillbecomeaddictedcake. me and bang went mad over it. they have a new ingredient...i forget...something about crack or something? idk. a must try!

The Honorable Mayor of Bethville said...

Okay, I really do have to get down there. The last time I went, my pumpkin cupcake ended up getting squashed, and I never got to eat it. Boo.

angiesyounglover said...

new blog: does your best friend's over-involvement in her new boyfriend leave you feeling like a squished pumpkin cupcake that no one gets to enjoy?


The Honorable Mayor of Bethville said...

I love baking metaphors.

nadarine said...

I have been that asshole, it's true. I wish friends had been ballsy enough to call me on it instead of making pouty faces when I bailed on plans (I'm sorry, Nicole in 2002!).

Jenn said...

Ohhh, that pie looks darned delicious. And I beg to differ that you can NEVER get enough pie. And I mean NEVER. As an aside I'll get back to you on a pastry simile for sex because you can't get enough of that either. Maybe it can be called a french cruller? Or perhaps a torte? I don't wanna get all fancy there.

The Honorable Mayor of Bethville said...

@jenn: You can get enough pie if it's literally all you ever eat and eventually all your teeth fall out from scurvy. Just sayin.