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?