A Bullet Not Dodged
February 13, 2011 in Valentine's Day Love Contest
“What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?” – Rob Gordon (John Cusack), High Fidelity
I didn’t comment on it, but because I’m a fan of the movie (never read the Nick Hornby novel), I hit the “like” button next to the quote. The next day I went back to his page and there was another quote from a John Cusack character. I don’t remember what it was, or which movie it was from, but for the sake of narration, let’s say it was this:
“Maybe I didn’t really know you. Maybe you were just a mirage. Maybe the world is full of food and sex and spectacle and we’re all just hurling towards an apocalypse, in which case it’s not your fault. I’m been thinking about all these things and… you’re probably standing there monitoring. And one more thing – about the letter. Nuke it. Flame it. Destroy it. – It hurts me to know it’s out there. Later.” – Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) – Say Anything
I hit like again. No one said anything on either wall posting that’s worth repeating here, but then again neither did I.
On day three, I went to his page to see if he’d posted anything new from a John Cusack movie—because that would really have been an amazing thing in my dull life. Instead, there was a series of really lame updates that said things like, “Oh dear God, the pain,” and “I can’t sleep. When will this feeling end,” and “Baby, please come back!” It was becoming very obvious to me why this heretofore banal poster had suddenly upped his game. However, because I enjoy playfully kicking people in the gut when they’re down, I punched “like” below every whiney line, and then went back to my capering or cajoling or whatever I was doing that night.
After a few hours, I started getting Facebook notifications that others were commenting on his pity posts. Most of these were from his female friends giving him the kind of advice that my mom would give me when I was fighting some bit of teenage angst or another. (I’m sorry, mom, but your advice sucked. At times it was so bad that because of it, I should have been remanded to the custody of the state while you were thrown into unfit parent prison. That’s how bad it was.) Here are some examples of their gold-encrusted pearls of wisdom:
“Don’t worry, honey. You’re one special person is out there. You’re going to find her one day.”
“I found my soul mate. You will too. Just give it time!”
“Hey, Hug0! Cheer up!!!! If she doesn’t see you for who you are, then it’s her loss.”
I knew what they were trying to do, but I also knew that it wasn’t going to work. It never does. They probably knew it too. Occasionally, I would respond to one of the women in this manner:
“You didn’t find your soul mate. There is no such thing. You found someone who makes you happy and with whom you’re compatible. You should be grateful for that and give up this soul mate business. The whole idea is preposterous.”
At this point, nearly everyone who was even remotely connected with this whole “Save Hugo Effort” would set upon me like a pack of bloodthirsty savages. I was a misogynist. I was the devil. I was some despicable person who must have done something so horrible that I’d destroyed my only chance at love. I was the victim of some harpy and now I’m blaming all women for the sins of one. The attacks were fair, if inaccurate; I knew that I was playing a rough game, but a man’s soul was at stake. I didn’t expect to come out of it unscathed.
Meanwhile, Hugo’s trail of tears continued. Here are some of the actual posts that survived the de-lameification of his page:
“Another sleepless night. Now back to work today then a detail all night. Deep breath….. Nope that didn’t really help. If only…….”
“How do you possibly sleep with all the noise? Wish there was a switch to turn my brain off. I feel exhausted just trying to fall asleep. Ugh.”
“I’m waiting to be shaken awake from this nightmare. Anytime now would be good. Please………”
“Trying to function on about an hour of sleep if that. I can’t keep this up. Emotionally drained.”
“Never saw this happening. Emptiness. Trying to stay busy and keep my mind off of things, but it is so hard. Just doesn’t seem right here by myself.”
I kept “liking” the updates and ridiculing him in the comments. He needed to know that I was watching, and that he was accountable for his actions. My mockery may have been the only stable thing in his life. In fact, I was kind of doing him a favor if you think about it.
I wrote a half a dozen private notes to these female friends—none of whom I knew—explaining how I was just trying to snap him out of this weak, self-pitying malaise. I wasn’t hitting on any of them or advancing any other agenda, but why burn bridges? The notes didn’t really help to make me seem any less the villain and I never backed down publicly. When the cries for my head reached their crescendo, I posted this classic Bogart scene with the caption, “Don’t play the sap for her”:
Was I being a troll? Perhaps, but it was only Facebook. Do not judge me; that’s for God to do.
About a week into this, I went to post something new, but all of my other comments and posts were gone. I received a message from Hugo asking me to stop. In it, he told me that the ex-girlfriend had been reading my posts and that they were making her angry. I was apparently doing some sort of damage. I have to honestly say that I didn’t see that part coming. It seems like a big oversight in retrospect, but I didn’t actually think she was reading. In any event, I knew that I ultimately wasn’t the problem. Maybe it was a good thing. At least her anger showed that she cared about something. Although, she was really just pissed at me, so maybe not.
Still, I had to square up with him. I wrote this without ever expecting to repost it:
I’m sorry if my little plan to make light of things backfired earlier. I intend to make it up to you by giving you some really sound advice. I’ve been where you are at least a dozen times and I’ve gotten a fairly decent idea of what works and what doesn’t. To make sure that I’m not off track, I discussed it with a close female friend of mine before writing this.
You have to stop with the wall posts about how much pain you’re in. I don’t know what you did or think you did to cause this, but prostrating yourself publicly is not going to get her back. I’m Irish-Catholic as well. Guilt is what the Church teaches us to do, but women aren’t God—they’re women. Even if their heads tell them that they like something (like your public humiliation), their nature often tells them something else. I would just leave the wall alone for now. Don’t take anything else down. Just leave it all alone.
It’s probably too soon to try to repair things. She can’t forgive you yet and pushing that agenda is just going to cause her to not want to talk to you, and you’ll be even that much farther away.
So, you have to do something in the mean time. You have to reestablish yourself as someone she respects even if she can’t forgive you. How do you do that?
First, you’ve already apologized. Showing your pain to the world is like apologizing over and over again even though you know it’s already been heard. No one respects that. You either apologize and she forgives you for whatever you’ve done, or you did something so bad that she just can’t forgive it, in which case your apologies are meaningless. In any event, the words “I’m sorry” are out there in many forms and it’s time to let them stand on their own.
Secondly, no matter what you did, whose fault it was, how much she hates you, et cetera, you have to demonstrate your value to the human race. She needs to see the things that attracted her to you in the first place. You’re a cop, a father, popular and blessed with many friends (which is just really another way of saying that you’re popular, isn’t it?). Quit acting like all that you ever accomplished was this relationship. It’s not attractive to her and it won’t be to anyone else.
Nowhere in here am I telling you to be aloof or a jerk to her. A lot of people get this wrong because it sounds like I’m saying do the exact opposite of what you’re doing. I’m not. I’m telling you to try to be normal even though you don’t feel normal. It will help you a lot in the long run.
I may come up with more, but this is a good start. A lot of women will tell you things that are very different from what I’m saying. They mean well, but you know that people often deny their true nature. Guys do it too.
Also, don’t get bogged down with all of that “soul mate” crap. I’m not bitter, but worrying that I’m with the only person out there who has been designated for me is counterproductive to any relationship. I love women and I like being in love. I hope it happens to me twenty more times.
I sent you the wrong movie. Watch the end of Casablanca instead. That shows what a real man does when he has to choose between heartbreak and nobility. Rick puts everyone else’s wellbeing before his own feelings and moves on even though we all know that he’s devastated inside. You need to be Rick.
Sorry, it’s late and I’m tired and a bit drunk, but you know that if you weren’t in this yourself and you were advising a friend, your advice would be something close to this. Time to come back to the world and start fighting again.
Of course, I was more than ” a bit drunk” when I wrote it. I think I had consumed an entire bottle of cheap
wine rye. I never received a reply, but I noticed that he did stop posting things on Facebook. I saw him a few days later around the station house. Someone had made a crack about him being unfit for duty, but it wasn’t true. I could see it in his face: he was bent, beaten down, but not broken. He was holding out hope for some reason. I thought that it might be good for him to ease into accepting the fact that she wasn’t coming back, ever.
But she did. They’re getting married in March. Now when I read his page it’s covered with messages from her punctuated with those little hearts that people make by combining the angle bracket with the number three (<3).
Some would say that it’s a testament to love that their relationship was able to survive such a heroic display of weepy emasculation. Others might criticize Hugo’s strategy as being “too embarrassing” for self-respecting human beings. I personally don’t care about any of that, because his triumph is the undoing of my romantic hubris. This outcome flies in the face of everything that I thought I knew about women, love and pride.
Hugo, if you’re reading this, I hope your lifetime of happiness is worth the damage you’ve done to my overinflated ego, but from my standpoint, it’s not.
Good luck in Hell.