Wednesday, March 07, 2007

low down

It's an all-Tom-Waits-all-the-time kind of day. I just want to put my head down and weep. I came this close to losing it on the subway (my favorite) and it's going to be all I can do to keep it together at the office.

This is all so is pathetic. I know it is and I can't stand it. I wish it were otherwise.

I've been thinking a lot about the movie Eternal Sunshine on the Spotless Mind. Thinking about how much I wish I could erase the memory of Barman Ben from my consciousness. Not his entire existence, just my emotions tied to him. Whatever it would take for Ben to no longer be my kryptonite.

Last night, Roommate Rachel and I went to Cozy Bar. It was a quiet night, so he came over to talk often. Except it wasn't to talk to me.

The first thing I noticed is that he complimented Rachel's shirt, several times. Then he kept coming over, asking her questions, paying lots of attention to her. He seemed indifferent to anything I had to say and utterly captivated by her.

Roommate Rachel is adorable, and has a sweetness and innocence that men find very appealing. She is also conservative as far as sex and relationships go, on the prudish side even, which is something we talked about last night. Ben was fascinated by it all. He hung on her every word, touched her arm repeatedly (even after she told him how much she didn't like being touched by strangers), and found a myriad of subtle ways to break my heart as the night wore on.

The ironic thing is, Rachel doesn't think he's at all good-looking, and was actually offended by his invasive comments, questions, and physical contact. But since she poses such a challenge, it probably makes her that much more appealing to him. I'm not as much of a challenge, which might make me less appealing.

"You play it very cool with him, though," Rachel observed later. "You talk to him the way you would a friend at the bar."

"Because I don't want to be one of those fawning girls. I see those girls at the bar, who turn their faces up at Ben, waiting to be showered with his attention, and I don't want to be like that. I'd rather be a little aloof."

"That's probably better."

The thing is, I am one of those girls, I just hide it. I do feel a warm glow when he looks at me or touches me. When we talk, though, he's sometimes a little bit of a jerk to me. For example, early in the night, he asked:

"Why do you think Brad Pitt would pose shirtless on the cover of a magazine after all these years?"

"I know why," I answered. "Because he needs to stay in the public eye, stay popular, to command a big salary for movies, which he then uses to fund his charity work. Angelina does it, too."

"I think you're full of shit," Ben answered. "How much money does that guy need?"

"A lot, because he is giving a big percentage of it away."

He shook his head dismissively.

Also, when Rachel and I mentioned to Ben that we both had problems we were dealing with, he was completely focused on hearing her situation (which has to do with her romantic repression) and had so much to say about it. When it was my turn to talk about my problems, I told him about trying to figure out what to do with my life and he said,

"But you're a writer."

"That's what everybody keeps telling me." I mentioned needing to think about switching gears career-wise, and taking a big trip next week with the hope that it would clear my head.

"We'll talk about this when you get back from your trip," Ben said.

End of conversation. Glad to hear my crisis can wait.

Rachel and I both ended up getting into conversations with other men in the bar, but Ben would still come over and chat with her. He and I talked a bit, too, but he didn't seem as engaged as he was with my roommate.

We did get to talking about film, and Ben mentioned an old Bertolucci film I absolutely had to see. I mentioned that I liked The Dreamers.

He smirked. "Oh please, I'm talking about old, classic Bertolucci. You saw The Dreamers and you think you know Bertolucci?"

I looked at him, semi-pissed, "I just mentioned one of his movies that I enjoyed, but thanks for judging my entire knowledge of a filmmaker on that single comment."

He smiled. "I'm just giving you a hard time."

He says that to me a lot.

We still had a few typical flirty moments. We made eye contact several times, smiled at each other. I wonder if we do better with non-verbal communication.

I started to get a bit serious and contemplative as the night wore on and felt Ben looking at me, though I wouldn't always meet his gaze. When I did look up once, he gave me a reassuring glance and said,

"It's going to be alright."

At another point, he looked at me and said, "You know I love you, right?"

Considering the fact that he said, "I love her" five minutes after meeting Roommate Rachel, I hardly put any stock into his words. I rolled my eyes and said, "Sure you do."

In fact, it made me somewhat angry that he would use the word love so flippantly, throwing it into his flirting vocabulary like it was nothing.

If he only knew. If he only knew that he is one of the causes of my not being alright. If he knew how much it hurt me to see him so enraptured with Rachel, he wouldn't have been so overt. I know he flirts with half the women there, but my roommate? Talk about too close to home.

Ben is bad for me and I need to give this up. I am also doing the opposite of what I need to be doing with him, going against the very wisdom I've been preaching to others. My interactions are about wanting something from him-- his affection, his approval, his advice--when they should be about what I can bring to the equation.

Roommate Rachel doesn't think Ben is interested in her and that he was just being curious, or just flirting with her the way he does any other woman at the bar. The best quote I've heard about Ben, from one of the male patrons, was, "Ben is great... though sometimes you have to wait 15 minutes for your beer while he's making one of the female customers feel good about herself." That's the thing, Ben is good at raising other peoples' social value.

But not mine, not after last night. I think I saw through the tricks and the fog a bit. I also have to face the cold reality that he is just not very curious about me, which means he is probably not interested. After seeing the contrast between the way he treated me and my roommate, it's undeniable.

And probably for the best, because my jealous streak speaks to the fact that I could never handle being with someone like Ben, anyway. I'm better off knowing that sooner than later, right?

Of course, that doesn't stop me from feeling completely and utterly heartbroken. All I want to do is go home and cry my foolish little heart out.


Philipp said...

Oh man, I'm just some guy reading your blog, but after that I really want to give you a hug. I think, I understand how you feel. It's slowly eating you up, but deep down you don't want to let go, because those feelings are so intense and genuine. Which is better than feeling nothing, right?

Just hang in there.

DFMer said...


I'm really sorry to hear about this. I've been in your situation. It SUCKS.

I'm not going to rant on about Ben, but he sounds like a complete egomaniac who seriously lacks in character.

Just try to remember how amazing you are. How smart and funny and interesting and talented you are! And how much the rest of us love hearing about your life because you articulate so clearly what a lot of us are feeling.


The Deep Tone said...

Wow... i really do enjoy reading your blog. Especially this one. Why? Because you're so honest with yourself, it is inspiring. A lot fo what you write i can really relate to, on a heart level.

Ben sounds like he likes you, but from my experience, like the Dave's you've mentioned previously, Ben's like to play games beyond when they're funny.

dfmer is right. You're beautiful. Other people have the luxury of thinking what they like, but you have the power to decide what you are and choose your life...

Rest up. N have a good cry. It clears the air..


Aphexcoil said...

Amare et sapere vix deo conceditur!

StrangerInTheseParts said...

Ouch. I really feel you on this one. That just sounds like eat-your-heart out pain and misery.

FWIW, I think Ben's whole thing with Rachel was purely for your 'benefit'. If this bar is half as cozy as you describe it, word has gotten to Ben (probably straight from MM, as well as others) that you A)have a thing for BB, and B)keep making out with MM in the bathroom.

My hunch is BB is part jealous of MM, part competitive with him, and part smug as all hell, couldn't care what you feel, and enjoyed torturing you last night. There may be a part of him that thought you deserved it for making out with MM instead of him. That's how guys that hang together feel about the women they're flirting with.

Hang in there kid. Your heart will find it's way out of this space.

Writergal said...

A person like that doesn't deserve your time and energy. Guys can be fickle, they want what they can't have. By Roommate Rachel not wanting Ben, he wanted her even more.

You know that you can do better than him! Enjoy your trip and don't let someone who doesn't treat you right cause you so much pain.

Aphexcoil said...

Guys can be fickle, they want what they can't have.

Guys can be fickle?? Oh come now, let's be honest -- women are just as fickle as guys.

By Roommate Rachel not wanting Ben, he wanted her even more.

Well, I disagree. Ben is a bartender. I've been best friends with bartenders and they constantly get more ass than a toilet seat. Bartenders are great on a social / friend level but I would never date one. That's just asking for unnecessary drama.

Red Stapler said...


I still say Mitch.

::waves a Team Mitch flag::

Writergal said...

Aphexcoil, I'll clean it up, people can be fickle, is that better?

I think that Ben does like Dolly and he has given her reason to believe that he’s interested.
Regardless of his attitude I think she can do better than him. He's playing games with her emotions and if he's jealous of Mitch, maybe he should be.

Jack Roy said...

Hi Dolly,

Lurking per usual without much to offer in the way of advice etc., but I wanted to say three things:

1) Contrary to the PUA regulars (PUA-nut gallery?) at the beginning of this saga, I'm still really enjoying this line of posts.

2) I especially like the revelatory bit in this post about finally seeing through the schtick. Wasn't there a bit in the Voice story you linked to a while back about someone reading the Game and discovering she'd been "negged"? Anyway, it reminded me of something.

3) Jenna Mamina does a very nice cover of Waits' "I Hope that I Don't...." Just sayin'.

Anyway, thanks again. Reading avidly, I remain,

ruuude said...

I don't understand why you just don't ask him out, if that's what it is you're interested in. As far as I can tell, as a stranger reading your blog and knowing nothing about you apart from what you post, that seems to be what you're looking for. So, just do it.

If there's something that's keeping you at bay, then avoid him.

Looking through your past posts, it seems to me that you're making life difficult for yourself with regards BB and while the events related to this post have nothing to do with you personally throwing a spanner in the works, you would never have gotten to this point if you'd either asked him out or walked away completely a few weeks ago which I thought you might have done, to be honest.

Aphexcoil said...

I think that Ben does like Dolly and he has given her reason to believe that he’s interested.
Regardless of his attitude I think she can do better than him. He's playing games with her emotions and if he's jealous of Mitch, maybe he should be.

No, Ben doesn't like her. Guys don't play the same bullshit games that women play. If we like a woman, we approach them and talk to them. If a guy doesn't, he's insecure with himself and plays games -- either way, a woman wouldn't want to be in a relationship with that type of guy.

I seriously doubt Ben needs to play those kind of games. He's a bartender and bartenders constantly get hit on by drunk women -- that's not even mentioning bartenders that bare it all on stage! With those kind of balls (no pun intended), he can write his own checks when it comes to cashing in on any woman that catches his eye.

To say things like "Ben probably likes Dolly" is just going to fill her with false hopes and confuse the girl even more. She needs to come back to reality, get her shit together, and move on and cut her losses. There are plenty of great guys out there. To be fixated on just one is a waste of time. What has been her return on investment thus far? She's already built up an impossible image of Ben in her mind. Now she's chasing phantoms and projections of what she wants a guy to be like -- and those aspirations are being places directly on Ben.

I'm not Dolly, but if I were her, I'd ditch the Cozy Bar for a few months and move on. NYC is a huge town and there is a lot to see -- why waste youth on silly games and impossible situations.

It may be hard-hitting to realize the truth but to spend idle time in denial is only going to burn away other possibilities that she's throwing away.

Why be miserable when one can be happy? It is stupid.

monicker said...

Don't know if you've considered this, but:

Sounds to me like Ben is or was into you, but considered you off limits somehow, either because of Mitch (if he knows) or because of your aloofness. It's possible that he's exacting a petty revenge in the form of flirting with other women and treating you like dirt.

Lou said...

Dear Dolly,

You are what they call...

stuck in Limerence
Ditto to what everyone says. you're swell. Love is blind. Step-carefully.

Damsel Underdressed said...

Dolly...first of all, I want to give you a hug. I know how you feel and it sucks. Second, my thoughts on the whole thing were exactly the same as Monicker's. I think Mitch has something to do with it.

Omar said...


If after all this time, Ben hasn't asked you out or made some kind of obvious move towards a romantic relationship, then he just isn't that interested in you.

It is as simple as that. If he were interested in you, he would have made it as clear to you as he did to that married Elle Macpherson-lookalike you mentioned before.

That is the cold hard truth: the compliments, and the little kiss on the lips he gave you, and all the really means nothing when we know he isn't exactly a shy guy, he knows you are interested, and he STILL hasn't done anything significant towards having some kind of relationship with you.

It sucks, I know, but you need to find yourself a better boyfriend prospect: all that glitters is not gold :-)

Omar said...

Let me add one more thing: if you want to know whether or not someone's behavior indicates interest in you, then it is important to look at how their behavior towards you compares with their normal behavior towards others.

Is there anything Ben has been doing with you that is out of the ordinary for women in his bar? Probably not.

I'm trying to help you out by being the voice of cold reason: sorry if it sounds harsh, but I think you need a bit of "tough love" on this one :-)

Adam said...

Looks like a clumsy attempt at MM cat-string theory.
In an attempt to not focus on the target (you Dolly) he confuses active indifference with basic pick up techniques on Rachel.
Hence the over use of kino and negs. Unfortunately for her LSS negs were not a good idea.

You know all this. It is just difficult for you to see from the inside.

randombeatnik said...

Would you still date Ben if he asked you out even after said situation?

CoatMan said...

My goodness, poor Dolly. That must have been awfully painful, and I doubt that Ben had the slightest idea what it was doing to you. Whilst he may well realise that you find him attractive, it is highly improbable that he has the slightest idea of how intense that your feelings for him are; indeed, any sane person who might have some clue of the same would resoundingly dismiss such a thought as being the product of an over-active ego.

If only you could find a Mr. Cute and Fun but Stable and Kind to play with...

Mahesh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mahesh said...

Read your blog. Very interesting. Though I wont talk if Ben was right or wrong.
though I understand, thats its hard for a woman to see her guy hitting on other women, I still feel theres a missing piece here.

you said Rachel thinks that Ben is not all that hot looking or whatever, Judging a person by his looks somehow I find it very shallow. We all are attracted to good looking people period,men and women alike.

But thats just a spark needed to start something like dating or relation. Think of it like a spark plug for a car. you need to start things, but you cant base that alone, to keep thigs rolling.
Sparks work as far as 4-5 dates, may be till the first 3-4 making love. Then men and women might loose attraction or things are not as intense as they were.

May be Ben was attracted to a good looking women (like yourself), or may be its your personality. This goes the other way too. on what you guys actually based your attraction on.
We humans need a challenge to base something on. Even a relationship needs a challenge. take it out both guys and gals are looking for a heart break. to have challenges you need unknown elements to concentrate on. As you slwoly process the unknowns make sure the other end of the unknowns is filling up with more unknowns. Keeps it interesting. Just a thought.