Our theme for the month of March is “Part Two.” Writers were challenged to choose a piece they’ve previously contributed to the post calvin and revisit it, perhaps writing a sequel or reflecting on how things have changed.
I Hope We Can Still Be Friends…
…and other funny things girls say
I wrote this in 2013 about the girl from “This is the Way; Walk in it.” Note: I was pretty upset with women in general while writing this.
In October, I broke up with my longtime pre-girlfriend of four months. Which is to say, that it was mutual. Which is to say, that she ended it. Her and I had a let’s stop semi-dating from different states conversation over Facetime. My loss is your gain because nothing bad ever happens to a writer; it’s all material.
The whole thing started in June when I called her to go on a date. I call, and I get the answering machine—it’s one of those robot messages: “Hello, you have reached 985…”
I made it this far, I have to leave a voicemail. I leave a horrifyingly awkward voicemail. “Hi, this is Bart…and I’m…wondering…Bart Tocci by the way—I didn’t say my last name, and you know Frank?…Yeah, so Frank is ridiculous and ah, he told me that you wanted to—were able to go out…” I finished the message and put down the phone.
Three hours go by. Three hours is a long time for anything, but it’s an eternity if you’ve left a kindergarten-quality voicemail with an attractive girl. She calls me back. I miss the call. She leaves a voicemail. “Hiii, Bart. This is Jennifer…so funny thing, you actually called my house phone. My mom called and…” OH. Oh no. Her MOM?! FRANK GAVE ME HER HOME PHONE.
That was the start. What ensued was heaps of time spent talking and learning about each other and all that dreamy stuff you hear about in young love songs. Then I moved a few weeks after and things fizzled. We had an amicable ending and exchanged a couple of well-wishing emails. I have learned that I can think everything is fine with my emotions and then a very short time passes.
So we didn’t talk for a week and another week later I went back to town for work and saw her a few times in passing. Which was horrible.
The break was the right decision, but it hasn’t been easy. She, as far as I know, got on her feet a lot faster. I know because I had a moment of weakness shortly after we had this conversation, and I looked at her Facebook. It’s okay to do that never.
There was a voice saying, THIS…is not a good idea. And another voice saying, Oh, better just see.
I type in the first letter of her name in the search bar and she pops up. It must be a sign. Or an algorithm Facebook uses to keep you crazy.
Click. [her page]
Maaaaybe she still likes me [scroll]
and she [scroll]
Close the tab, Bart!
is [scroll] waaaaiting to—A-PICTURE-WITHAGUY!
CLOSE THE DAMN TAB!
It was her and a dude dressed the same for a Halloween thing. Maybe they are just friends. Friends… Who WEARTHESAMECOSTUME?!
Who does that?! No one! They’re a thing!
So she’s on her feet. Good, good.
The main reason for the break up was something she called “bad timing.” When a girl tells you this, what she really means is, “I don’t like you as much as I thought I did” or, “I found a guy who will dress up with me.” Because if you are alive at the same time as someone you are dating, the timing is pretty good.
I thought she meant that the timing wasn’t right at this moment, but that eventually the timing would be right. I even wrote a song called “The Time’s Not Right (Right Now).” That’s how timing works, right?
When you walk outside to catch a bus, and you just miss it, that’s bad timing. When you drive by a softball field and catch a foul ball with your windshield, that’s bad timing. When you come back to town for a weekend and you walk out of the grocery store and your ex-pre-girlfriend pulls her car in and parks right in front of you and shines her headlights on you and her new guy is in the front seat and you try three times to nod and smile and make eye contact with her to acknowledge the hilarity of the awkwardness, but you just end up looking like a Japanese businessman, bowing, smiling, and she acts like she doesn’t see or know you, that’s bad timing.
You want the real reason. You want: “I don’t like you, romantically speaking, period, we’re done, RIP.” Or, “I found someone else.” You want people to be brutally honest with you. A few years ago I was brutally honest with a girl after not being brutally honest with her. “If the spark died, Bart, then just tell me the spark died!” I made the mistake of telling her that the spark died. Then she said, “What does that mean?!” “I haven’t thought about you in three days!”
I was a jerk. But can you be nicer? (Yes.) If you use fluffy language, and say the timing isn’t right, or the spark died, or it’s not you it’s me, you leave too much room for ambiguity. Destroy me with honesty.
So when girls say, I hope we can still be friends, what they really mean is, I hope you don’t hate me.
Being friends would mean that I would be okay asking her about this guy. “Hey, how’s…ah, I don’t care.” When you start dating, you acknowledge that you’re not going to be friends anymore. That’s why, in middle school you said, “I like you more than a friend.” It’s the same idea as an adult.
That’s why it’s weird to see someone you dated with someone else, regardless of how it ended. How many ex-pre-girlfriend friends do you have? My guess is not too many. I know I don’t want my girlfriend hanging out with her ex-boyfriends. “Oh Bart, you’re so old fashioned, get with the times!” Yeah I’ll get with the times when I’m not worrying about her ex-boyfriend getting with her times.
Here’s what I hope when these relationships don’t work: I hope we can still be friendly. No one is trying to hang out. “Hey, come over! There’s a group here and we were all saying how it’s been so long since we’ve been super uncomfortable.” If you do, by a small miracle, become friends, the timing has to be perfect.