June 3rd, 2011
Dater Unknown: Tee Times and Tofu Pie
Lately in the mornings I’ve been watching the TODAY show as I drink coffee and morph from comatose to a person who can maybe kinda sorta function. A few days ago, I was still in the comatose stage when a commercial came on advertising the big nightly news story – Are your golf clubs counterfeit? Later, as I was coming to, throwing on my work clothes and questioning what I did before hair powder, that commercial popped in my mind. And so did Cal.
Note: Cal isn’t his real name. Cal is short for Callaway as in golf stuff. Ba-dum-bum.
I dated Cal years ago. He loved to play golf and was very talented in the sport. Before meeting him, my thoughts around golf were: Good TV to encourage napping, my dad played a lot, and I like the movie Caddyshack. It was winter when I met him, but he had a tan that was pure outside, the kind you have at the end of the summer.
“How are you so tan this time of year?” I asked. He smiled, “I play a lot of golf.”
In the very early days of our relationship I appreciated his passion for golf because people with passions are interesting. But as the relationship continued, I began to feel like he had a mistress who had him each weekend during the day and some nights after work. I began to loathe this hussy named Golf. I would talk to Cal about it, and he’d meet her earlier on weekends in order to be out sooner – but bottom line was Golf on both weekend days was non-negotiable.
I remember countless phone calls or dinners with friends where I would be pissed off or at a loss — “I am livid,” I’d start or “He loves that hooker Golf more than me,” I’d say. Self-Pity party – table for 1, please.
I felt like I was in a pinball machine bouncing between sadness, anger, resentment, hope, anxiousness, and helplessness. A few times I would declare game over, but would end up returning weeks later for another go. The thing was, everything else in my life was pretty great. I had a recent promotion, fun travel plans, and phenomenal friends. But I was unhappy, and I pointed my finger to him and Golf. “If only he would change, then I would be happy,” I’d think.
I broke up with Cal after about a year and a half. I was devastated. “I will never find anyone,” I would tell my sister over the phone. I felt like everything was out of control and mostly out of my control.
Then time did that thing she does so well, and things moved on. I began to date. The person I dated after Cal was asked seemingly innocent on our second date, “Soooo, do you play golf?” and when he answered “No, not really,” I thought, “Oh, he’s it!”
I decided I was going to date differently. I was going to think about what I really wanted versus just dating someone who was the polar opposite of whoever was before. Totally unwittingly, I was taking steps towards taking responsibility for my dating happiness in a way I hadn’t before. It felt pretty damn good.
And then I heard a commercial on counterfeit clubs and what I thought surprised me.
I had completely laid my happiness in Cal’s hands. Things and emotions and life felt so out of control because I had handed the responsibility for my happiness over to him. We both were doing the best we could at the time, but no one but myself could have made me happy then. And now. And always.
Listen, taking responsibility for our own happiness in dating SUCKS. I don’t purport to know how to do it well or even when I need to do it, but all I know is it feels better when I’m doing it. It’s not easy and is scary. Show of hands if you’ve stayed in a relationship you know was expired, if you’ve been single and thought about how you’ll be happy ONCE you find someone, or if you’ve been pissed at your partner when really you had some stuff you actually needed to deal with. Uhhhh, yes and yes and yes (for me).
I was reminded of all of this again recently. I was really mad about something, but then over French fries at Field of Greens (you guys, those fries are amaaaaazing.) a smart-as-hell best friend asked me, “What are you really mad about?”
I stopped mid-dipping-fry-in-ketchup. I was confused. I was wronged and mad. Had she heard me?
And then I blurted out, “I don’t know what I’m doing with my life.”
“Well, what do you want?” she asked.
“More of these fries,” I replied, trying to use mediocre humor to change subjects.
“No really. What do YOU want?”
“I don’t know,” I said as she looked at me with both faith and seriousness.
“Make a list. Make a list and then go do it,” she said.
Later, after the fries were polished off and we were walking out, she stopped and said, “Wait, I think I’m going to get some of that chocolate tofu pie to go.” (Note: Despite expecting it to taste like fish food, it actually tastes amazing).
“I don’t know. Do I want this?” she asked aloud.
“It sounds good. Will your husband share it with you?”
“Hmm, I don’t know. He may. But I want it. I’m going for it,” she said confidently and pulled out her wallet.