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.