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.

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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?”

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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.

12. fish: affection & ambiguity

Through writing out the strange tale of fish and I, I’ve gleaned a lot more perspective on his character, and somehow, less on what we’ve been doing with one another all this time. We wear our insecure hearts on our sleeves, just a little, for the right people. We both feel safe with one another emotionally. But we don’t always know how to respond if the other is being vulnerable. Something keeps fish and I entangled; what exactly that is remains to be seen, it could be nefarious or worthwhile. Without direction or intent we seem to be flowing alongside one another, sometimes closer, sometimes less so.

I can only conclude for certain today that I’m not afraid to lose fish to another woman or disinterest; wherever he ends up if he’s happy, I’m happy.

Unbeknownst to fish, by early October I had to gotten out of dating completely, some of the reasons include: the number I’d done on my own heart with a guy I call eight, accepting that I was using attention from men to fuel my self worth, but most of all recognizing that I do suffer from a crippling fear of being alone. I know now that I have no choice but to face this fear alone. I’ve come back to this this quote, so many times:

Learn you way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience. But never again use another person’s body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings.  – Elizabeth Gilbert

In the days that follow our last date, a la “Cafe & The Bay” I’m legitimately caught off guard when fish sent me a bunch of duvet cover photos and asked me which I liked best:

pattern
The duvet, uh, we picked?

Fish: Any of these hype?
Me: I don’t know – it’s your bedroom!
Fish: Whats the point shopping with u if u dont voice ur opinion Im not gunna autobuy But if I like one u like its easier
Me: I read somewhere that blue is calming. Haha what?
Fish: Which ones u like?
Me: This is bizarre … the middle one!
Fish: That was in my top 3 Thanks
Me: You sir are welcome.

Fish: But if ur not down to help with anything i wont ask, sorry for bugging
Me: It’s not bugging!!! No ones ever asked me that before is all.
Fish: Its just helpful advice Since i do everything on my own
Me: I’m happy to help. You’re independent, I admire that in you.
Fish: Stamp of approval nice

In the weeks that follow its just us … talking … about anything … except seeing each other … or our feelings, naturally. We talk about the gym and his car window motor repair. I tell him about volunteering with the police where they got me drunk then students practiced administering field sobriety tests on me. Our dads run into each other at the bank and talked briefly (neither dad acknowledged that they both know their kids are, well, you know). He bumps his head at work; I tell him I’ll get him a helmet. I get the flu; he tells me it’s fish withdrawal. His first niece is born and their entire family is head over heels, it’s so sweet. He asks me where to buy pistachio nuts in bulk the cheapest. He asks if I give good groin massages after a hockey game. You know, normal stuff. (Ha.)

Then December comes. I notice he begins to circle back a few times about his experiencing a lot of stress lately; he’s vague and never tells me what is going on, just that he snaps more lately and wanted suggestions for calming down. So we talk about teas, pot, and proper sleep. He starts to talk a lot about Christmas, we talk about our family traditions, I confess I’ve never been single during Christmas. He send me a photo of a drinking game to play while watching Home Alone but something, probably anxiety, kept me thinking, its just about being drunk together. We talk about football, I’d been to most of the Buffalo Bills home games this year and he asked why I never bring him. We talk about hockey and how I still don’t understand the hype. And then …

Then I don’t hear from fish from December 18th until January 1st. Two weeks was the longest, by a lot, we’d ever gone without speaking. He’d asked me to play hooky from work to spend the night with him, and I suggested he’d have to take the day off as well, and he said he would still go to work. “No dice” I said, “Well sometime soon stranger” he replied. I didn’t understand. I still don’t.

Then January comes. And the new year brings new confusion when it comes to fish. New Years Day at 3:00pm starts an interesting exchange:

Fish: Happy New Year!! Should we meet up this year? East sides does buy one take one home Sounds hot
Me: This year sounds doable. Lol happy new year! Have a good nite?
Fish: Yaa just over at a buddies house party Even got a kiss Kicker was … it was a boy lol
Me: Romance!
Fish: He got pretty drunk lol!
Me: Not you?
Fish: Enough that I cant move today Think ima order some za tn
Me: Ah good idea
Fish: Come share if u want … but i may not greet you at the door. Im lazy lol

My mom and I had already planned on burrito salads so I declined. And he doubled back on the East Side Marios deal, letting me know that it was over January 20th, so we’d have to go by then. I tell him I could’ve done that week but my daughter had just called and asked to come home early. And then, this next bit, this left me entirely dumbfounded:

Fish: She can come lol
Me: No she cannot lol
Fish: How come!? But ya lemme know What u do for nye?
Me: She would say I’m not allowed to be friends with boys. I stayed home solo. Drank mimosas, smoke joints, and went to bed early. It was heaven.
Fish: What a meanie. Doesn’t she know I’m best friends with kids?
Me: Im sure you’re great with kids. Mine just prefers I only speak to girls, ever.

As I told my mother about this exchange I saw a tinge of something cross her face. “His family would love her you know, dote on her.” “That’s nice to think about but he’s not my boyfriend. He’s not been my boyfriend.” “Well what’s his alternative? To see you, she comes. Or not see you at all.” She’s not wrong, about any of it. It softened me to fish in a lot of ways I didn’t expect.

So with dinner off the table, so to speak, we talk football again. All my teams were out of the playoffs, he asks me to start cheering for his and tells me their next game day/time. I agree. We talk gym stuff and about the love of my life, Starbucks:

Me: Yea but I drink like four coffees a day minimum.
Fish: When should we have a coffee date then, or even better fooood.
Me: I love food so much. It’s legit so good.

We talk food. He knows a lot about my weird diet and the fasting I do; he says he admires my willpower. I tell him the diet stuff comes from a shitty place but at least the outcome is better health; he said he has his shitty places too. It was weirdly comforting? On the weekend I texted him quickly from a restaurant while I was with my daughter, the football game he had asked me to watch was on and his team was on fire:

Me: Touchdown.
Fish: Hahaha yaaaaaaa ur watching 🙂
Fish: Whatta win.

Fish must’ve been out. And drunk. Because he continued:

Fish (@ 2:44am): Soooo happy. *gif of brad pitt dancing* Hello then?
Me (@ 10:43am): Ola

It was a Sunday, I had spent the morning at a little Psychic Fair in town with my sisters, nieces, and daughter, and now, in the early afternoon we were grabbing a quick bite to eat at a populat greasy spoon diner. I, quite literally, threw my phone across the table when one of these messages came through, you’ll know it when you see it:

Fish (@ 1:30pm): They won 🙂
Me: I saw! Happy boy. I was out for dinner with [my daughter] watching while we ate
Fish: I love you 🙂

Until next time dear readers.

11. fish: sourness & sheets

Fish: Have fun on ur date hahaha
Me: Don’t be a dickbag
Fish: Pfff
Me: Don’t pff me. You do your own Tinder stuff I’m sure, no big deal.
Fish: Well like I said have fun.

These are the texts we exchanged after I made the mistake of blurting out that I had a date after waking up in fish’s bed. He was spending his day prepping a ham for his family Thanksgiving but peppered into the conversation later in the evening he asks me “Nothing to report back?” and “How was your trip?” maybe looking for me to elaborate on the date. The only answer I gave was “Fine.” Later in the week, we’d be in touch daily, he circles back to it:

Fish: U go on one date and cant even say hi again!
Me: FISH! What am I supposed to do?
Fish: Go ahead and date him I guess? All good! How was ur day?

What jumps out at me: fish’s assumption that I’ve been on just one date. Only one other date than the two dinners, a walk in the park, and parking lot romp? Only one other date in ~140 days I’ve had free between June and mid October? To the cynic in me the “one date” comment translates to “I assume not a lot of men are interested in you.” And so, we go back to penpals, all the while our calendars beef up with social commitments, none of which include one another. Until during one conversation he implies he’d like to see me, I tried to be playful and tease him, and it falls flat, ugh:

Me: When are you taking me on our next date then sir?
Fish: Tues wed or thur?
Me: We’re sticking to whatever day you pick. Bonus points if you have a plan.
Fish: Well u kinda made me not care much anymore going on dates the same day ur with me. So I dunno. I still wanted to check out that cafe. (I deserved this.)
Me: You have to remember I don’t know how dating works. We hardly see each other. You seem content so I just figured I was supposed to do my own thing. We can talk about it or not. I’m sorry regardless, it was stupid to say to you.
Fish: Ya well, we can just go with the flow then and you can have all ur side stuff too.
Me: I don’t know what to say.
Fish: Thank u?
Me: Jesus fish. If you want a different arrangement you need to speak up. If you don’t, then *shrug*. Let’s do dinner next week. It’s not like I don’t like you and I do want to spend time with you. I don’t know what the expectations are.
Fish: What’s the weekend plan?

I told him about a hand-lettering class I had booked for the weekend. We talked about his upcoming work trip and NHL game. But the important bit: he never picked a day and we never went out. I left for a girls weekend to Detroit a week later – met a guy I’ll call Scarf in a standalone story. Fish stayed in touch, watching my social media, and texted to tell me how “hot” I looked. While driving home he makes a pretty big gesture:

Me: Oh you got me a [hockey] ticket too? 😉
Fish: Not at this present time. U like hockey? If so we should rock a [local] game, I have fun there too.
Me: I don’t know anything about hockey. I’d go to spend time with you.
Fish: Awwwwww.
Me: I’m going to give up on it.
Fish: Uhhhh what? I’m free fri, sat, sun, pick a day and I’m all yours. We can do an activity and food!
Me: You said tues, wed, thur and I never heard from you.
Fish: Well if you pick on of the days I mentioned I’m urs. We can even go away for the weekend! Whatever u wanna do. And if not I wont stop trying. But maybe ur not feeling it? No clue.
Me: I’ve been trying fish.
Fish: So I miss last wed or whatever so now u wanna throw away a whole weekend we could hang out?
Me: We’ve been talking since June. We’ve gone out, what, 3 times?
Fish: So not down this weekend? Thats upsetting but if thats how u want it. Sit on it and let me know.

But don’t worry – his grand gesture – that offer he made on a Sunday, for the following weekend, expired by Tuesday:

Me: I checked and I can do Sat/Sun so if you want to do the weekend thing I’m down.
Fish: Well you never got back to me yesterday about it so I won’t have time to plan anything but I can look into it Friday.
Me: K another time!
Fish: We can stick around here, I was just bombing suggestions.
Me: Yea no prob!
Fish: I also asked u about that virtual reality thing, another question u never answered.
Me: I’m not sure if VR is my sort of thing.
Fish: K
Me: Well this is weird and you have an early flight so … safe travels hope you two have fun!
Fish: U don’t think you’ve been sour to me lately? That kinda just showed u have been. But alright goodnight.
Me: I’m not being sour fish, it’s just, you keep bailing on me. It is what it is. No big deal.
Fish: Wtf i haven’t even bailed. For one i said ill look into niagara im just not promising it and 2nd we can do anything else saturday anywhere.
Me: Ok! This is akward.
Fish: ?
Me: I don’t like confrontation. I just like directness. I’m not super emotional I just need to know what to expect. You gotta do what you gotta do. I’m not sour at you personally, I swear.
Fish: Ya i dont know where this is coming from. U seemed cool with me at beerfest.
Me: I don’t know. You got mad at me. I didn’t expect it. Then I assumed I misunderstood something.
Fish: I was weirded out that u were naked in bed with me one moment and on a date 3 hours later.
Me: Be real fish. You talk to other girls right?
Fish: Ya we’re not dating.
Me: So then?
Fish: Ur blowing what I thought out of proportion.
Me: Then I misunderstood. My bad. Sorted now. Listen, if you just like “chilling” with me – we’re taking the potential of dating off the table. Call a spade a spade.
Fish: At this very moment no, a month or two down the road maybe.

I’d started questioning myself, “Is fish gas-lighting me? Or is he that insecure?” He brought up the fact that I went on that date multiple times, I apologized, and now?

But let’s finish this blog off with a weird two hours, shall we?

Fish texts me on a Friday, about a week after the above, asking if I’m free Saturday and asks if I’d like to finally hit the cafe we’ve been talking about. We also decide to hit The Bay, since I like to cruise the mall, and he had, of course, a giftcard. I ordered a chicken caesar salad and an americano and fish ordered a panini and a french vanilla. The food was fantastic, the cafe was intimate, beautifully decorated and while we ate fish showed me a zombie meatloaf recipe he was going to make. He ate the salad I couldn’t finish, which was sort of weird. I tried to pay the bill and he wouldn’t let me. We talked about what he might need from The Bay while we finished our coffees. “Maybe sheets” he says, “the internet says you’re supposed to replace them every 2 years, so I’m about 3 overdue”. “Ok, mission new sheets it is then.”

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A photo I sent to my mother from The Bay, while with fish. She looks cute in florals & camo.

He looked at pants, I looked at bracelets, and finally we found the bedding section and he picked his sheets. He asked me so many questions, what I thought about the fabric, which shade of beige or grey is best,  do I notice thread count, he doesn’t, etc. It’s conversation, and yet, it feels foreign to me, I don’t know why that is. As we waited in line for him to pay I remember looking up at him and thinking, “wow, he’s tall … and handsome”. In that moment he turned to me and said, “if you want to come by later and test them out, you’re welcome to.” Ok moment over I guess. 

I walked him to the door I knew he had somewhere to be in the afternoon, and I hugged him goodbye. He looked at me differently, I don’t know how to describe it. I just remember wondering “shit, were we supposed to kiss goodbye in the Bay? No probably not.”

I don’t see fish again, for two months after this Cafe & The Bay date, but as penpals do we stay in touch. In the next blog I’ll tell you about the most recent time I saw fish, and start to unpack the reflections I have of our “not dating, but seems close” and “maybe a month or two down the road” situation-ship. Until next time dear readers.

10. fish: folly & flagrancy.

Fish had bumped our dinner at an upscale cafe from Saturday to Sunday so that he could attend a housewarming party. The next morning, while I was sweating it out at the gym in my morning HIIT class, fish texted to let me know that, of course, the cafe isn’t open on Sundays; so we’re pooched. I told him it was ok that we were “back to being penpals” and began to discuss things like online shopping and the annual local beer festival. A week would pass and Fish inquired a few times about my plans for the fest, lamenting that he’d been before and it was “just overpriced beer and long lines”. I explained that I’d never been before and, despite my plans for a mostly sober October, I’d already bought tickets for two nights to attend with friends because #bucketlist. I told him which nights I had tickets, for multiple times – and yet, when the Thursday before came, he texted as though he was surprised I would be there at all:

Fish: I bit. Got tickets for Saturday.
Me: Are you? I’ll be with girlfriends but my bro squad and their gfs will be there too. So I’ll be around with whoever.
Fish: Ur heading?
Me: Yeah I told you that.
Fish: I knew you had Friday off.
Me: Lol well if you want me to pretend I don’t know you, I can do that.
Fish: Haha duck off. I dont know how the different venues work but we’ll play it by ear.

When Saturday rolled around I didn’t hear from fish though I knew he had a family brunch in the am and then was going to pre-drink (yes, pre-drink for a beer festival). As I arrived at the venue I saw that, three people ahead of me in the line, he was with his friends. I texted him once I got inside:

Me: Saw you.
Fish: U did? Where are you at? Table?
Me: By the front door.
Fish: Do you have a table?
Me: No. Friends do. Come find me at the photobooth.
Fish: I’m in beer line atm. Lol no.

He didn’t reply for an hour. And I thought the “lol no” was very rude.

Fish: Where is you?
Me: Side bar, near dance floor.

Twenty minutes went by. I had met up with my bro friends briefly, including LB and his new gf  (but that’s another story), and my other group of girl friends were winding down to go home. I was getting drunk as hell on Smirnoff Ice (yes, at a beer festival) and my gf Cheeks turns to me and said “You need to tell me who I’m passing you off to, or were taking you home.” (Bless her heart, for real.) I looked around at the bros but I considered my proximity to LB’s new gf was a skosh inappropriate, so I decided to give fish one last chance – I called him on the phone. Over loud music and a roaring crowd I was able to make out just this: “Hullo? Back bar. Stay on the phone.” I weaved through the venue, eventually spotting a group of people standing in a circle around a green plaid shirt. Bingo. Crouched near the floor, with a finger stuffed in one ear, holding his phone to the other was fish; I hung up and approached him, tapping him on the shoulder. A few of his friends stumbled over for drunk introductions – but cheeks interjected immediately, “Hi, fish, nice to meet you, heard great things, listen, we’re heading out now so you either need to take over watching her for me, or we’re taking her with us.” I only wish she had’ve said “Kapeesh” too. But she’s direct huh? That’s why I love her. Fish nodded along as she spoke and assured “I’ve got her. I’ll make sure she’s good.” She hugged me and we said our “Love yous” and she went on her way. I turned back to fish and I said “Drink?” and the two of us went off on our own, leaving his friends without a goodbye. He commented on how sweaty my face was – uh yea, I was dancing hammered – don’t be annoying, I thought. I bought him a beer and myself another Smirnoff, we drank them by a pillar near the dance floor talking and then kissing and laughing and talking some more. He asked if I minded if he had a cigarette and we went outside. As he lit it, I took it from his hand and began puffing away; he scolded me. We shared two before returning inside, where he said he wanted to grab one more beer before we left. I wanted to say goodbye to the bros and we agreed to meet at the front door in ten minutes.

unnamed
With one of the bros.

I ordered us an Uber – somehow (drunk reasons) asking to be picked up at our destination – and had to text the Uber to ask how to cancel the ride – and then got in a random cab parked outside of the venue and headed back to fish’s house. I don’t think I asked to stay over – I don’t think he asked me either – we just literally both meandered to his bedroom, got in the blankets, grabbed hands and fell asleep, I don’t think we even spoke. The next morning I remember being mostly naked, laying in bed, holding hands in the early hours of a Sunday morning. He said something that stuck with me:

“It’s a big deal that you stayed over for you, right? You’ve always said no before.”

I told him I stayed because I was in no shape to order another Uber. I hadn’t thought about it but he’s right, I’d always said no, and that “sleepovers were a different set of privileges” for me with guys – basically – I’d have to trust you, a lot. He asked what my plans were and I might as well just stuff my foot in my mouth now:

“Oh I have this coffee date at 2, out of town.”

Shit, even typing it makes my eyes roll. Yes, I’m that stupid, I don’t get typical hangovers; no pain, no puking, just fogginess. That’s literally the only excuse I can give. When I tell the story of that date, it’ll be a guy I call Porsche.

To say fish was taken aback is an understatement, and to say he was horrified would be an exaggeration; more surprised than hurt is my best estimation. “Why would you tell me that” he asked. I sputtered out an apology (sincere), and insisted I honestly didn’t think he would care (true) and that it was just coffee (accurate). But like I said, sprinkled in all these blogs, is all the proof we need of the reasons I just don’t understand what I’m doing until retrospect kicks me in the ass. I knew fish got razzed for the sheer number of Tinder dates he went on, and regardless of it’s veracity, I reconciled that with my behaviour; all’s fair in love and war after all.

That was the last time I slept with fish, both literally and figuratively.

In the next blog you’ll see how we do and don’t bounce back from this faux pas. Spoiler alert: from mid October all the way through to present day – I only see him once despite him asking me several times. And it involves, surprise, a coupon and a voucher at The Bay. Until next time dear readers.

9. fish: tuck-ins and titles.

Just shy of a full month would pass before I would see fish again after our romp in the parking lot of a movie theater. During that month the end of the brief nothing I had with a guy I call eight occured. I was confused as to what I had done to turn eight off – but I knew that knowing whatever it was wouldn’t help me as much as the experience of walking away from something that was making me question my self worth. Fish and I had kept loosely in touch over text message, neither of us suggesting firm plans.

One Friday, ding, fish texted me, clearly drunk, suggesting once again that he’d “let me pick him up” from the party he was at. It was 11:30pm and I said, “I’m in my pjs but if you need a ride I will come.” As I got in the car my phone dinged again. He’d already paid for a cab and was en route home, and that he’d leave the front door unlocked. I remember something nagged at me – a feeling like I should check on him – and sure enough, when I walked up his porch, the door wasn’t fully latched. I proceeded into his darkened town-home, announcing my arrival “Fish?” several times and found him lying in bed fully clothed on his back in a stupor. He mumbled out “You came! Will you tuck me in?” I laughed, his eyes are totally closed and his face is smiling like a small child who just ate a melted chocolate bar, totally satisfied. I walked around to his side of the bed and yanked the covers up over him. I remember asking if he even knew who was there – that scared him – his eyes shot open for a second – and then closed slowly, “Of course I did.” He asked me to stay the night and I told him I would not but agreed to chat a few minutes and asked him about his night. Eventually I asked him to hand me his phone and, with eyes still closed, he dug around the blankets and held it out for me. “Why?” he asked and I told him “I want to delete the messages where you ask me to come here, and I agree, so that in the morning you sort of remember someone was here – but there’s no proof of whom.” And this is where fish said something, he probably doesn’t remember, but I do and will, “If you want to, but don’t you dare delete the rest, I like reading them.” I handed his phone back with all messages intact and told him to sleep well and that I’d lock the door on my way out.

On Saturday he complained that because I didn’t stay over, he was rideless to his car and horny. I responded with “I’m not your sex taxi.” *shrug*

On Sunday we had an interesting chat that I would come to find out this conversation happened when he had drank all day by the lake, spelling errors intact:

Fish: If she’s down lets do a restaurant this weejk
Me: How was the rest of your weekend?
Fish: I ended up doing thr lake it was fun
Me: Oh good! Chilling like a villain or fish?
Fish: I always just think of u though, so when ur not around everythings less fun. I need u by my side more
Me: .. we can do dinner. You’re not seriousss about the rest.
Fish: I have a serious crush ya. Likability is high
Me: You’re lovely stop.
Fish: Dinners a start! We gotta find a new place.

There’s one other conversation that stands out mid week, fish commented on how when he first met me I didn’t go to the gym, and now I go all the time. I told him a very basic backstory of how my ex told me that (at 128 lbs and 5’5″) I was heavier than girls he normally dated, while he was in the midst of cheating on me with a pregnant girl. Fish didn’t have a lot of questions, he just told me how mean he thought that was, and that it’s good that I’m back at it:

Me: Yeah well, I’m athletic and built curvy, I won’t ever be crazy thin, but I’m all about pushing myself right now. Fuck everything else.
Fish: Ouch
Me: Why ouch?
Fish: Just the way that comes out like fuck you to me
Me: No not at all.

Here’s that emotional eject button again: I’d been feeling, despite knowing fish was extremely shy without alcohol, that the frequency of his drunk texts must mean that he didn’t take me that serious in the context of romance.

Me: You’re mostly direct with me. I have zero complaints. But you already know how to be independent – I’m having to learn it, from scratch, at 32. I’ve always been somebody’s girlfriend. My entire life.
Fish: Yea independence is my thing. I dont like help.
Me: Youre a solid guy, fish. I hope you find exactly what you’re looking for in a girl.
Fish: You got some of that stuff I bet.
Me: Some maybe. But not all I don’t think.
Fish: U never know.
Me: I think so long as we’re honest we’re good. Like you don’t need to say you have a crush on me for me to spend time with you. I’m not that sentimental.
Fish: Believe me or not but I do! Dont sell urself short
Me: I’m not. I’m a catch. But I’m not in the right mind frame to be caught. If that makes sense.
Fish: Whatever ur feeling thats fine.

I told him that one day I wanted to sit down with him and talk about what datings been like for him. (We can all know here that I asked for that because I’d like to know other viewpoints to help with writing this blog.) But fish didn’t know what to make of this request, he settled on telling me that “I dont gf up right away. I dont know it scares me or something.”

We spent another week texting the way we do. Or did. I don’t know. Work, gym, social calendars, my oil change, and he let me know I could call him if I ever got a flat tire, he’s really good at changing them. (What?) We continued to try and find a day to do the “dinner” which was going to turn into a lunch at an upscale cafe (spoiler alert, were weeks away from being able to sync up schedules.)

But the following weekend on a Friday night, like clockwork, he asks me to pick him up yet again from a pub uptown, but this time I decline and tell him to carry on with his adventure in my honour. When Saturday afternoon rolled around, when we intended on doing the lunch together, he asked if I wanted to come with him to a housewarming party for one of his friends (his way of rescheduling our date without my input, who knows).

Let’s finish this blog here – what’s in a name title – would a fish by any other name smell as sweet?

Fish: U wanna go to a housewarming party? Tm works dandy too
Me: Pass on the party. Lemme know what time tomorrow then!
Fish: U dont like meeting new peeps and that? Ull hafta come out with me sometime
Me: Its not that persay? Context of introducing me might be awks?
Fish: Girl im seeing doesn’t work?
Me: Never thought about it.
Fish: Nott dating yet but seems close. But u said ur not ready for anything which is fine too
Me: Yea? Makes sense I guess! True about my readiness. I wonder if I’m emotionally defunct sometimes lol.
Fish: Its cool. I like where were at. A pretty gal I like to hang with and can do any activity with.
Me: Me too! 🙂 You only spook me 10%
Fish: How do I lower it to 2%
Me: Keep doing what you’re doing I guess? Most dudes spook me 99%. You’re pacing me well. When people come on too strong it makes me think they’re up to something fucky.
Fish: Lol yaa im crushing hard but ill keep it to myself.
Me: Good plan cuz it’s spookin season 🎃
Fish: Lol ur cute

dip

 

8. fish: pessimism & parking lots.

So here we were, fish had bailed on our “morning after” breakfast which had scooted my foot a little more out of the proverbial door. I’ve wondered since if fish suggested the follow-up more casual (and decidedly sober) park walk as a sort of olive branch, but I can’t be certain. At any rate – we we’re sort of flopping around our intentions and I wasn’t convinced he took me seriously, and after three months of doing whatever it was that we we’re doing – I’d lost emotional steam, so to speak, it just felt like it was falling flat with fish. And with one foot out the door, my effort and interest was taking a nosedive.

A quote about my dating life from my middle sister:

Honestly, a guy has to work so hard before you even give them a chance. You never believe anyone is interested in you. What do they have to do? – Labella

She’s not wrong. Because of the relationship with my ex, and my penchant for being most attracted to men who show the bare minimum interest in me, I take precautions to the extreme, too extreme; I pull the rip cord, hit the emergency eject button or I run away at the first sniff of apathy. I’ve concluded in these past few months that I’m still just not ready to really be dating. It’s not just meeting the wrong guys, which I think I have; but I’m also convinced I’d probably screw it up with the right one too.

Shortly after our park date, during a text conversation, the tone I was picking up was just “smh” from fish. And I get it, I feel it too from time to time, and I started to overthink it, and thus you’ll see me reaching around blindly for that aforementioned rip cord:

Me: Sometimes your aloofness reads as disinterest.
Fish: Dunno where you get that from
Me: Me neither just a vibe
Fish: Shove ur vibe up your @$$
Me: Will do! You want me to leave you alone?
Fish: No all is fine and good
Me: Dude I honestly can’t tell.
Fish: Gee what do u want me to do
Me: I got nothing
Fish: U can be worried if I stop talking to you, dunno what ur worried about now
Me: I’m not worried. I just don’t know you well enough to know your humour.
Fish: Well if i didnt like u i wouldn’t have went on a walk.

The next day he texted me again after playing volleyball, complaining of an injury and tensor bandage. As he texted me, I was busy gossiping over tea with my mother, who you may remember has known fish since he was a tween. I read these messages out to her as I sent and received them and she was beside herself in the absurdity of reality and more importantly, she was totally goading me that I had to go:

Fish: … im holding down the parents fort while theyre away tn. so if u wanna check it out come on by haha. im just eating a box of kraft dinner watching bucket list.
Me: lol are you asking me to come to your parents house?
Fish: Could haha. Just me atm but [baby brother] should be back in a hour or something.
Me: Tempting. Leave before he gets back?
Fish: U wouldnt hafta no. I was just stating hes gone.
Me: Hm. You’ve peaked my interest.
Fish: Just wondering what shell do.
Me: [Baby brother] tells [Dad] that Fish had Mimi over here while he was gone? Funny. I’d do it if you wanted me to.
Fish: I do! Could possible be weird though. I dunno. I wanna see u soon again. Maybe hafta waiter out.

Fish soon thereafter left town for a concert/festival not far out of town – it’s a big binge drinking affair so I wasn’t surprised I got a few drunk texts calling me babe. I ended up golfing over the weekend and then heading to take in the sights and a few concerts at the CNE in Toronto with my daughter and friends. But we set our next date, going to the movies to see Happytime Murders, for the week I returned from the cottage. I went out and picked up some happy sativa weed called Strawberry Cough for us and rolled a joint.

What comes to mind as I look back on this time frame is that this is when eight begins to watch my social media, and in short order, reached out to me after our “hiatus” of sorts. Sad isn’t it? That after all this time – and in the midst of reflecting on fish – there’s eight – clouding the issue. Here’s a snippet from the eight blogs from this time-frame:

[Eight] asks me what I’m up to and I tell him I’m getting ready to go to the movies. The truth was I was going to the movies with … fish that night. – from Eight #3

So after a week at the cottage, sometimes spent exchanging long emails with another guy I call the professor, I returned home a little freckled and in summer spirits just in time for our marijuana movie night. We left the specifics to the last minute as usual – which resulted in me ordering the tickets on my phone as I drove to meet him at the theater – my treat I guess huh fish? We parked near the back row, and smoked a joint I had rolled while sitting on the sidewalk/curb. He coughed his guts out, which I found surprising given the amount of cigarettes he smokes, then headed inside to grab our seats. Before the movie started I watched as he became agitated and visibly paranoid. He rubbed his hands together in a bewildered state, unable to sit still in his seat. The movie is perverse and hilarious – I highly recommend it (punny) and afterwards we got back to our cars and fish still looked sort of off. I didn’t want him to drive but he wouldn’t accept a ride so I told him to sit and chat with me. We sat on the curb but he didn’t have much to say – I sort of felt like I was recapping the movie unnecessarily and interviewing him. We looked at each other silently a while before he chimed in with “Do you want to make-out in the car?” Spoiler alert: I did not really want to make out, and yet it seemed as good as any way to pass the time while I made sure he was clear to drive. We climbed in the backseat of my hatchback, but make out we did not. We had sex, pretty much immediately. It was, despite not really being that thrilled by it, really fun in retrospect, and at the very least, juicy fodder for the blog. While we romped in my tinted back seat, other couples came and went to their parked vehicles nearby which caused us to laugh several times. When we were finished I climbed back out of the car, he seemed himself again. As the date came to an obvious end, I pulled one of my more awkward stunts:

I high-fived him, said “thanks for the sex”, got in my car, and then drove away.

Over the next few days fish checks in, lazily. He’s either sore from a sport, or work accident, or hungover, or doing laundry. Timeline wise for these stories/blogs were in the last week of August now – which you’ll remember means a guy I called eight and I are a few nights away from a blackout birthday boink. Let’s end on how fish, a guy I’d been talking to for three months at this point, wished me well on my 32nd year: he texted me “happy bday” a day late because he’d been so drunk on the day of.

Bless this fish – he tries – sort of.

In the next blog I’ll tell you a quick little tale that takes place in at the end of September that I call the “tuck-in” and about another faux-pas the morning after I found a fish at a beer festival downtown. Until next time dear readers – stay floppy.

charter

7. fish: a puppy & a park.

On a Saturday night in early August, I made a choice. I guy I call Gosling texted me “I need you” at the same time Fish was asking me to pick him up from a party. Sunday morning I woke up in Gosling’s bed, but that’s another story for another series for another time. But let’s rewind back to making that choice – the truth is, I was already at Goslings condo before I even bothered to reply to fish in the following exchange:

Fish: Id let u just pick me up! Its fun but I have mimi fever.
Me: Gah! I want to but I’m birthday-ing uptown. Are you having a good time?
Fish: Yup msg me after birthday then. Its early but starting to clear so Im down whenever, if not I can just sleep here. Or I can cab home.
Me: Do it and I’ll try and be by later.

*2 hours later*

Fish:
Ok. Ill go home now.
Fish: En route.
Fish: Im here! Whats your thought?
Me: Im uptown sober. But still in a line.
Fish: Ok well Im back now just to let you know. Come or not I just want you to have fun. Doors open anyways.

I didn’t reply.

9am Sunday morning came around and I was still sort of processing the night that Gosling’s friends, aka the bros, gave me the name “Drunk Fairy”. My phone dinged and it sounded like maybe a mild amount damage control was needed:

Fish: Ok
Me: Oh boy got super hammered. How was the party you were at?
Fish: Good
Me: Sorry I didn’t make it over. I was in zero condition. Just picking up my car from uptown. (Solid lie because I hadn’t actually gone home from Gosling’s uptown high-rise condo yet.)
Fish: Ya Id have to say Im pretty hung too.

I picked up my daughter Sunday afternoon and hit the road towards a rural town a few hours outside the city to pick up our new puppy. Fish told me a story about his sisters dog – I sent him a photo – and we talked throughout the day on and off.  The next night he asked me if we should have “any chills this week?” I told him my schedule and we settled on Wednesday. He told me “I like thinking of our Friday night. Naked the 1, 2, 3, or 4th time. It was fun.” Romance? When date night finally rolled around we didn’t have a firm plan – which wasn’t surprising. After work he let me know that “we didn’t really talk about it” he had “ate some leftovers for dinner” and was “hopping into the shower”. I offered up the suggestion of a movie or a park as I began to stuff my face at the fridge; he chose the park, we decided to meet there, and I packed up my puppy.

The park and puppy date was a little strange. If you remember, in the eight blogs I talked about how I like when I get to flex socially in front of guys, strangers talk to me all the time, and I like to see how guys react, and more importantly join in and keep up.

I like meeting new people – I like having little conversations with strangers – its happening semi-frequently on my dates lately – some guys jump right in, others sit back and watch me do my thing. I like that the other people I end up talking to don’t realize I’m on a first date – can you imagine if they did? – from Eight #5

Well. Fish doesn’t, can’t or won’t. The corgi puppy I’m carrying around the park only adds to the number of random people stopping to say hello on our walk, and fish says nothing … every time. He doesn’t look annoyed but he doesn’t know what to do. He’s quiet and aloof and visibly shy. We walked the entire perimeter of the park, mainly focused on the animals the mini petting zoo and talking about the carp in the small man-made lake. He told me you can bait them with corn – we see a can on the ground nearby an abandoned fishing rod. As we walked he took photos of the animals that he posted to social media. When we had finished walking and talking, rather awkwardly, we went back to the car and said goodbye rather awkwardly too. He didn’t ask to extend the date – and he didn’t try to hug or kiss me – we just stood at my trunk in a parking lot, said we’d talk later, and then he turned on his heel and got in his car. I was dumbfounded. I sat in the driver seat – mouth agape. And that weird little habit of mine, not comfortable with misunderstanding, decided to clear the air. I got out of my car and strode over to his driver window, he was sitting there looking just as bewildered as I felt, and said “Um, so do like each other or …” I KNOW – I’M THE WORST. Ha. Fish sputtered out a “Well, yeah, I -” as I wagged my finger at him in a “come here” motion. He hopped out of the car – I kissed him – said “Ok then, bye” and got back in my car and left. Fish texted later asking if he should’ve invited me over? I said no but “I’m going to say goodbye properly knowing we have tricky schedules.” We knew we were facing another span of time out of touch from our park walk and talk. I suggested to fish that “If you’re shy by nature and I’m more submissive we’re both going to have to push ourselves.” He agreed and said he was up to the challenge and gushed about how cute my dog was. He put a few photos from the park on social media, including my puppy, and made sure to mention than neither he nor I “made the cut”. (I didn’t break it to him that my reaction to my @username being posted on his social media would not have been a good one. I’m very very private about my dating life. Ironic considering the blog, I know, but anonymity is a hell of a drug.)

llama
A local alpaca photographed by a local fish.

It didn’t take long for his guy friends to start roasting him in the comments of the photo: “Tinder date?” leading me to believe that Fish catches a lot of flack for being single and on apps to the degree he is, which probably should have provided some level of foreshadowing for me. But it didn’t.

Fish is forgivable – nothing he does is malicious – and I think what I gleaned from this little awkward and quiet date is that when pressed, he generally tells the truth. Will he hide behind non-specifics? Yes. Can that be considered a lie? In the way I did it – absolutely. But him posting on social media a photo of the animals we looked at, and especially my dog is maybe an olive branch I just didn’t recognize at the time. As private as I am with my dating – fish is as well – I’ve only seen him reference me and one other girl, what he refers to as his “fling before me”.  Him inviting me to spend time with his friends – maybe also was an olive branch. It could be me missing the point, or his intent, all along, but in writing these blogs I think some of those come to view: at the heart of it – deep down, I think fish is a really good catch. Just maybe not for me.

In the next blog – I bring fish a little more into my world.
Your spoiler is: it’s weed. And another flub-bub.