13. fish: reel reflections

Fish: I love you 🙂

I threw my phone across the table of an all-day breakfast diner. “UhhhAH” is the best phonetic spelling of the sound I made. I sat there for a minute, in utter disbelief. Reclaiming my phone from the chrome legged table I ventured to the end of the setting for 7, to show my sisters what had just lit up my phone.

The tabletop. The diner. The day he said I love you.

“I’m amorous when I’m hungover” my middle sister tells me. I decide it’s best to assume it means nothing. How could it mean anything else? My thumbs tap a reply:

Me: Are you still hammered?
Fish: Hungover yes
Me: Thoughts on Kansas City [game] next week?

Yes I did. Football. We talked a bit about the upcoming games a bit and then we don’t talk for two days. When he checks in asking how obedience class for my dog is going, I lament that she’s more apt to listen to the trainer than she is to me. He says perhaps it’s because I smell funny, like perfume. We talk scents. And I tell him I like aroma therapy, usually mint and eucalyptus, for headaches or to stress:

Fish: I heard sex was the number 1 stress reliever
Me: I heard men were the number one cause of early death in women\
Fish: Cuddling is too
Me: True. Endorphins, dopamine, or something. You need a cuddle?
Fish: Ya
Me: What’s wrong?
Fish: Ah nothing but i do
Me: Tomorrow?
Fish: Oooh well ya if ud like

I quite literally couldn’t make myself respond. When I say I’m averse to vulnerability I mean, it can stop me dead in my tracks. I can’t move, I can’t speak, I can’t text:

Fish: So ur coming over tm or i didn’t really get it
Fish: So ur not coming over tm?
Fish: 20 hour response time! What the sam dickens

In truth, I have a lot of respect for fish here; I absolutely need(ed) to be called on my bullshit. (And maybe one day I’ll call him on his.) But at any rate it worked. I replied him I was just drinking tea with my mom eleven minutes later:

Fish: U forgot to put in an excuse
Me: No excuse?
Fish: Ya for not msging me back in 20 hours
Fish: At least it wasnt 24 though right? 😉

I apologized. I asked him how his day was. He asked me how mine was, life goes on. I told him how stressful my work has been and that I was tucking into bed early with Netflix and a granola bar.

Fish: Okay ill assume no cuddles then have a nice night
Me: Already in bed 🙂
Fish: I worked out, now just drinking wine! Ha
Me: Fancy. For the antioxidants?
Fish: I dunno, just wanted that stress relief
Me: Whats the stress?
Fish: Not worth sharing
Me: :/
Fish: Wine helps
Me: Ah fish

So with his intent and meaning entirely unknown, waters muddied, I flopped on the invitation to go cuddle a fish. Some days pass, and on a Thursday in January I’ve climbed in the tub to warm up from our absolutely frigid Canadian winter temperatures of late. Fish is texting me about Netflix and I tell him I might open up my newly arrived box of hangers and reorganize my closet again. He throws out a bunch of words that don’t register with me until it’s too late for me to pull my normal avoidance tactics. I’m bamboozled:

Fish: Ill wait to start the post for you
Me: ?
Fish: Tom hanks meryl streep
Me: I don’t follow
Fish: Its a movie. Award winning flick
Me: You’re putting it on?
Fish: Haha yeah its on crave
Me: Craves a channel I take it?
Fish: Its like Netflix. Ill give you til 9
Me: To come over?
Fish: Haha ya .. I guess its cold though
Me: Hm yeah I jumped in the tub quick. If you’re serious I’ll come.
Fish: Always serious. Are you going to the Canal this weekend?
Me: Unsure yet. But I’ll try to be there by 9.
Fish: Ok

I got out of the tub. And without washing my hair or a stitch of makeup, I put on jogging pants and Buffy the Vampire Slayer t-shirt, pinched my cheeks in the mirror, a la Scarlet O’Hara in Gone with the Wind, and slid on my winter boots and coat. I was at his front door by 9. I take off the coat that he helped me pick. He offers me a drink which I decline, and we start the movie. Every interaction that night brought me closer to the realization that maybe I’ve romanticized six months of barely knowing yet another man:

  • He remarks “you wore jogging pants”, seeming genuinely surprised.
    • In six months fish has only ever seen me in jeans or underwear or naked. He looked like he was shocked I owned them at all.
  • He earnestly asks me mid-movie if I “ever read the newspaper”.
    • In six months we’ve never discussed politics or current events or what we read. He has no idea I’m an avid reader, that my bedroom is full of books and pens and journals full of quotes. He has no idea I’d always intended to go to school for journalism, but on a whim chose graphic design.
  • He brings his legs up off the ottoman and lays them across my lap. “Is this ok?”
    • In six months we lack the emotional intimacy necessary for him to cuddle me without consent.

That last bit is ironic because when the movie ends he scooted down beside me on the couch and as we started kissing he put his hands down the front of the aforementioned jogging pants, all without a word. We fool around a while and without warning he abruptly says “Oh, you’re probably tired huh?”


In a previous blog fish begged me to stay the night with him before pulling the rug out from under me “Or you know, you can just leave.” I wrote the following:

I was at his kitchen counter collecting my purse and car keys before he even realized what had happened – he was throwing clothes on following me scrambling for an explanation and offering retractions on whatever he said. I caught the look in his eye for just a second – he looked like he felt some combination of bewilderment and horrified. … I cried in my car as I drove home. It was 2am.
– fish 5: ps he loves beer

Six months later, fish is saying to me “we should do this again sometime” and it rang so empty, like I was just another girl, after just another first hookup. I put on my coat in his kitchen, he didn’t walk me to the door, hell, I don’t think I even looked back at him from the door. I didn’t cry in my car this time. I did however hit the girl squad group chat with a little gem of a text: “I just left fish. We watched a movie and he fingerbanged me on the couch. Like I’m 18.” It was 11:07pm.


Fish told me several times that while we “weren’t exclusively dating yet, maybe in a few months we would.” I was always relieved, back then, when he said it because I myself needed more time to feel him out, but I found myself missing him or wondering where he was and I knew – things had started to change for me emotionally. So I decided it was time: we reeled him, we kissed him, and now we have to take the hook from his lip and send him back to the sea:

Me: So I was thinking I should talk to you and just say that we’ve probably spent enough time figuring each other out. And whatever our arrangement was before, I’m at the point now where it makes me feel bad. Not bad bad, just not good. If that makes sense.
Fish: Not really but ill go with the flow
Me: I don’t want to be someones friends with benefits. So it is what it is I guess.
Fish: Gotcha. Thought you did for a while. Thats odd [you felt bad], we haven’t even hung out or talked a ton lately.
Me: Yeah maybe that’s why? I missed you and realized we’re on different pages.
Fish: Yeeeh im jsut like always, nnever get serious with anyone
Me: Yeah fair enough I wouldn’t ask anyone to do anything differently, you have to do what makes you happy.
Fish: Well going forth as is was still working for me. We could def chill more though if thats what you want. But if not … okay. … If you don’t want to see me at all, that sucks but okay.
Me: I don’t want to be a friend with benefits, to anyone, not just you. I enjoy my time with you but it isn’t going to change the fact that you’re a) not the relationship type or b) I’m not your type.
Fish: I swear u said you didn’t want anything serious a while ago and I went with it. Maybe not?
Me: You aren’t wrong. I absolutely did say that. I’m texting you now because that has changed for me, and I understand it hasn’t for you. It just is what it is.
Fish: Ok. So no hangouts tm? 😛
Me: My kid comes home. But I want to be clear here, how you feel is a sign that we should not spend time together … for me.
Fish: Well u kinda bombarded me after u not caring for a while.
Me: Yeah. I’m not going to wax poetic about this. I did care. It was hurting my feelings. It isn’t your fault. I wasn’t aligning my behavior with things that matter to me. I don’t want to change how you feel at all.
Fish: I do like u but uve decided it appears
Me: Yeah I don’t know. Maybe you like me enough to sleep with me or grab dinners or watch movies, but I’m more than those things. And for the right girl you’ll want more than those things.
Fish: Well I dunno, sorry for ur sudden change of heart
Me: Don’t be. I was never really the FWB type of girl. I don’t regret any of it though.
Fish: Ahhh look what u made me do.
Me: Don’t cry over spilled spaghetti. Enjoy supper!
Fish: U were just upsetting me so i fumbled. Are u going to block and delete me and all that stuff?
Me: No of course not. I’m not mad at you fish, we just want different things. Nobody’s fault.
Fish: Sooo never let u know when im bored and want someone to hangout with or have wine and movies? I just want to know ur rules.
Me: … I’d rather not be called because you’re bored and have nothing better to do. It borders on insulting. I’m kind and fun and people generally call me because they want to be around me, because they recognize those traits.
Fish: I didnt mean it like that, im always bored i live alone
Me: I don’t know what to say? Date someone. Boredom and loneliness are cured by building emotional intimacy.
Fish: Correct but easier said than done
Me: I don’t know.
Fish: Well ur the one that would see me then go on another date that day … if that didnt scream i dont care about u i dont know what does
Me: Fish I haven’t seen another guy since that day but that doesn’t matter here. We had enough time. It’s no ones fault. You’re kind, handsome, well loved, your family is lovely, stable, all good things. It’s just sleeping with someone, missing them, wishing they wanted to see me is unhealthy … for me … for my self worth.
Fish: Uve never said any of this … Im glad we met and shared time together.
Me: I said it when I knew I should. Catch ya on the flippity flop!
Fish: U gonna watch the superbowl?
Me: Of course!

So we say goodbye to fish.

Until next time dear readers.


3 thoughts on “13. fish: reel reflections

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