Nick had a pinky ring. That was probably the 7th of too many warning signs. But he had a pinky ring and he liked it and he would clink it against his glass and I hated it. I don’t think it was until tonight that I realized Nick actually liked his pinky ring. He wore it proudly, no hipster irony. Just some dickhead who sincerely thought he looked cool. Which would be cute. If he wasn’t a dickhead and if it wasn’t a pinky ring.
Nick and I had been hanging out for about 2 months. We dabbled in dating, had really bad sex once and sort of okay sex again then he went to Mexico for a week and then I went to Vegas and then I got sick and then tonight he invited me out for what would be our first hang in 3 weeks.
I’ve already fast-forwarded to the part where you find out he has a pinky ring, so saying anything to bolster his case is pointless now. But I will say Nick’s good. He’s not a bully. He doesn’t know how to dress himself and he took me on dates. He made me tea and complimented my bra and took me to a weird wrestling match once that would’ve been awful had I not found him terribly cute. But he’s also a dumb idiot who doesn’t understand people things.
So tonight Nick invites me to his friend’s apartment. I don’t know any of them. There’s 5 of them. It’s not weird but it’s weird, you know? I drank lots of wine. We ordered a pizza.
The pizza was okay. Nick asked if I wanted to go back to his place, and I did. Because a boy was talking to me and, since I had played my cards right (I only ate TWO slices of pizza and ONE parmesan popper), I knew I could at least get some solid 10th grade mouth action! We went back to his place where he cracked two beers and lit a fire and laid out some weird fur blanket on the ground.
Warning Sign #8: I turned the light off and, with the fur laid out in front of the crackling fire, asked if the lighting was too “Beauty and the Beast.” (That was rhetorical—obviously it was and obviously it was marvelous.) He said yes it was and made me turn the light back on. Dickhead. We lie on our backs, staring up at his dumb boring ceiling that doesn’t even have any glow-in-the-dark stars for glow-in-the-dark stargazing. And he launches in, straight for the jugular, with, “So what sort of relationship are you looking for?”
How do I communicate complete indifference without hurting his feelings? Is there a nice way to say you’re real cute and we totally get along but I don’t miss you when you’re gone and your sex is weird but maybe it’s better than no sex at all?
Probably not. So I go with the tried and true: scared of relationships. No finger-pointing there! For starters, it’s true. I am terrified of relationships. That’s a natural byproduct of never having been in a good one. But the excuse is also wonderful and amorphous and makes me look like a little fledgling bird and maybe I’ll still get some mouth action tonight! Lo and behold, little Nick feels pretty much the exact same way I do.
And it’s kind of great. He basically says he enjoys me, thinks I’m pretty, but in no way ever wants to date me. It’s wonderful, really. How often are people actually on the same page about that? It’s a terrible truth that we live in a world where people like people who don’t like them back. It’s very basic and sad. But this was fantastic. We both like each other just enough to not want to not keep hanging out.
And how fleeting. That euphoria of being just as un-into someone as they are un-into you was gone in an instant. I stated my side, which was basically his side, which was essentially that I’m down with how things are but I never want him to be my boyfriend. And the response I get is, “I’m gonna choose to believe you.”
I’m sorry, Dickhead. What was that?
You’re going to CHOOSE to BELIEVE that maybe I don’t want to date you? Like the fact that I might feel the exact same way you do scrambled the data in your head so hard that you had to take manual control of the neurons firing in your tiny little brain and direct them towards belief or disbelief? You’re saying you cannot comprehend in your tin can lizard brain that I had sex with you yet don’t need you to father my tribe or hunt while I gather or FUCK YOU, DICKHEAD. So that’s when it came out. That nugget I had been holding so close to my heart, the part of my heart that hates and judges and reacts before my brain can say don’t be an asshole, Rachel. The motherfucking pinky ring.
So he “chooses to believe me.” And I choose to respond, “Really? You’re cocky. And you wear a pinky ring. And for that reason alone I could never date you.” And then I told him I wanted to throw his pinky ring in the fire. You know, the way mature people do. If I was really a badass I would’ve just done it, and cackled like a madwoman until he called the cops on me. Oh well—next time!
It was a small victory. I felt I had at least leveled the playing field. But now I wasn’t sure exactly what that level was, so I went for more clarification and asked, “Wait, did you still want to hook up?” To which I got a charming, “Yeah… but not tonight. But you should stay over!”
I’m sorry, Dickhead. What was that?
I haven’t seen you in weeks, you invited me out, fed me wine AND PIZZA—nature’s most potent aphrodisiac—invited me HOME, lit a FIRE, laid out a FUR BLANKET, POPPED OPEN ANOTHER BREW, AND TOLD ME YOU NEVER WANT TO DATE ME. But you want to hook up with me. But not tonight. But I should stay over.
Okay cool just making sure.
WHAT?! WHAT THE FUCKING WHAT?!
So we lie there. Silently. Well, silently after I told him he was an asshole. Then it was silent. And then, like a fucking champ, he decides this is a great opportunity to rest his hand on the small of my back. How nice. That was my cue to get up and immediately text anyone I knew in the area with an S.O.S. Then this dickhead asks if I’m ready for bed and I say, “I think I’m gonna go.” He says he understands, but he doesn’t understand, because he also says that I don’t have to. And he’s right. I didn’t have to go. As long as self-respect wasn’t on my list of things to, I don’t know, HAVE, and I was perfectly content serving as a human body pillow for the night then sure, I could very well have stayed. I hadn’t done the fuckbuddies thing before but I was pretty sure this wasn’t it.
This is when I took the time to clue him in to my thought process. I told him, sternly but kindly, that there’s a difference between hooking up as friends but not dating and taking away the whole hooking up part whenever he feels like it. I told him he’d basically boiled me down to an object and then declared that object useless. That it makes me feel shitty and I need to look out for myself. These words sound so tame but I felt like I was delivering the King’s fucking Speech because I realized right then that I do not stand up for myself. Thinking “I love you” and saying “I love you” are two separate beasts. Thinking “you hurt me” and saying “you hurt me” are too.
This wasn’t about love. This was barely about like. It was about self-respect. Good. Great. Fuckbuddy thing? Let’s do this. Oh wait, you actually just don’t want to take me out or really try anymore, but when you feel like sticking your dick in something you’ll give me a call? No thanks, dude. Stick it in your pinky ring. It’ll fit. Promise.
Rachel Forman is a writer, improviser, sandwich-enthusiast, and all-around human. Her proudest moment was winning first place in a watermelon eating contest. Her least proud moment was accidentally sitting on a stranger in a dark movie theater. Check her out on her blog and on Twitter or Instagram.
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