Editor's Note: I know all I do is blog about the puppy now, but I do have some dating stories that I never dished. I'll try to post them now that I have time, and stop torturing you with the puppy woes! (Listen, I have nothing to do all day, but babysit a dog. Stop judging, people.) Enjoy!
After a few months of talking and a few fun dates, Marcus St. James had exited my life with the same rapidity and fervor that he entered. This time, though, his enthusiasm was—no doubt--related to his anger.
It was during a particularly long day during MSII, in which I had a four hour exam in the morning, followed by a mandatory Practice of Medicine “field trip” in the afternoon. Although he knew that I had a full day of being inaccessible, he had texted me throughout the day and gotten annoyed when I wasn’t responding.
When I looked at my phone around noon and saw a text saying something like, “OK, I see that you’re ignoring me,” I may have sent a text back saying, “I just finished four hours of exams…which you knew about.”
Then, I put my phone away.
In addition to having to a mere 30 minutes to stuff my ravenous face with junk food, I then had to haul onto the Metro with a hundred and fifty or so classmates, and then, listen to mandatory lectures on ethics in a DC museum for another four hours. I was tired, cranky, and occupied. My phone was on vibrate out of necessity, but I didn’t want to hear anything that he had to say anyway.
MSII is a grueling year and whether or not you’ve had to complete it yourself, the rigors are obvious enough to elicit compassion from most people. Especially if you are treading the sort of delicate ground needed to date a MSII, patience, empathy, and the ability to soothe and support are minimum basic requirements.
The fact that Marcus hadn’t even acknowledged how difficult the day must have been for me, and was instead whining over me not returning his stupid text messages had already incited me to a sleep-deprived-induced rage. I didn’t have time for men who needed babysitters. Most MSIIs don’t.
So, imagine my further annoyance when after a very long, very tiring day, I was still receiving texts from Marcus indicating that he was displeased with my behavior. When he asked where I was around 6:30 p.m. that evening, I responded,
“I’m drinking with my classmates!”
The story behind that particular event was even less interesting than the day that preceded it. Upon walking out of the Metro closest to school, one of my classmates had turned to me and said, “Hey, Brian and I are going to go get a drink across the street. Want to come?” And, being that I was 5 p.m. and my sustenance for the day had been coffee and potato chips, I said yes and went with her.
I knew that Marcus was in Baltimore, buying supplies for his bar, and his particular location was irrelevant anyway. Even if he had been in his condo a few blocks away from the medical school, he was crazy if he thought that I’d end a day from hell by soothing his bruised ego over dinner.
Before I had to tell him that, though, he had beat me to the punch line.
“Oh, I see,” he wrote back, accusingly. “Well, I see you don’t have time for me, so have a nice life.”
I was stunned, but also amused. “Have a nice life?” Was this middle school all over again? I mean, at least tell me to have a nice summer, never change, and sign my yearbook with the gratuitous, “LYLAS,” and a phone number.
I told him that I would call him the following day, when I wasn’t so ticked off, and he wrote back, “Yeah, right.”
So, it was no surprise that when I called him the following day, his phone went to voicemail. I left a message saying that I didn’t understand why he was so upset, given that my schedule has never been easy, that I’ve always been forthcoming about how difficult the year is, and that most importantly, I didn’t do anything wrong.
He never called back, and instead, defriended me on Facebook. (If you recall, Facebook was how we reconnected.)
I noted his online disappearance, but was hardly grieved, given that I had 23897 other things clamoring for my attention—the least of which was a petty, childish man complaining about my schedule. At the time, though, I also had the attention of The Lawyer, who had, incidentally, responded to the same day in question by asking how my exams went and then texting a congratulatory, “NICE!” when I said I was across the street drinking with my classmates.
(He later told me that he was cracking up at his desk, thinking about the little goody two shoes from high school learning how to take a tequila shot at some medical school dive bar.)
Following Marcus’ online and real life exit, my life moved on.
I started dating The Lawyer later that fall, and MSII raged forward with a vengeance. Most of that year is a blur of memorizing pharmacology with my neighbor, being really, really sleepy, and having The Lawyer bring me food and coffee while I studied.
On Valentine’s Day last year, though, I got a message from Marcus.
“Happy Valentine’s Day, if you celebrate that kind of thing,” it read.
I do, in fact, celebrate “that kind of thing,” I suppose. But, it’s also fair to say that I’m not the kind of girl who waits around for three months to have someone like Marcus St. James acknowledge me again. I was surprised that he had saved my phone number, given that I had only saved his out of laziness. As it was, I had an exam on Valentine’s Day itself, and plans with The Lawyer—my now boyfriend—to celebrate properly later. Neither was really any of his business or concern.
I didn’t tell The Lawyer about the text message and I didn’t respond.
Again, life moved forward. MSII finished, and MSIII began. I took my Boards, found out I failed them, had a life crisis, took a leave from medical school, and went to Peru shortly before my one year anniversary with The Lawyer.
Then, on Christmas last year, I received another message from Marcus.
“Merry Christmas! How are you? I haven’t talked to you in forever! I hope your schedule is better than before.”
“I haven’t talked to you in forever?”
Yeah, maybe that’s because you chose to get mad at me because I had a full day of exams, then you unfriended me, then you didn’t return my call, then you disappeared from my life
because you’re a little girl
who can’t handle a strong woman who might have other things to do besides
This guy was clearly a joke. It had been over fourteen months since I last saw him; over a year since I had been dating The Lawyer.
The text message on Valentine’s Day had been a nice little stroke to my ego, but now? I felt sort of bad for him. It was flattering that he was still thinking about me, but I couldn’t help thinking that his actions were starting to border on desperation.
This time, I told The Lawyer about the message. His response was,
“Hasn’t it been over a year since you talked to him?”
It had, yes.
Then, The Lawyer started laughing.
“I guess it’s nice that he’s still thinking about you…”
His smugness was, no doubt, related to knowing that a male competitor had blown it—badly—and that I was never going to acknowledge him again.
After Rich and I broke up, I decided that I never wanted to date anyone who was only a fair-weather boyfriend or husband. Like most stress-free, well-rested people, I am positively delightful during vacations and times of leisure. But, let’s face it: Life is neither a 24 hour vacation or time of leisure.
When Rich walked away from our relationship and upcoming marriage when things started getting tough, I let him go. If I had less Southern gentility and good breeding, I might have told him not to let the door hit him on the way out. Nevertheless, moving forward and living your life successfully makes a louder statement than anything dramatically said in moments of anger.
With The Lawyer, one of the first things that I told him was that I wanted to be with someone who wasn’t afraid of conflict resolution. I didn’t want someone who was going to get scared and walk away when things got messy or uncomfortable. I wanted someone who was prepared to stick it out, no matter what happened. In short, I wanted someone who was going to fight for me and for our relationship.
Having been divorced from someone who he described as not only walking away, but making sure she burned down the house and everything it stood for, The Lawyer wholeheartedly agreed. It was a foundational moment in our burgeoning relationship.
So, when I get texts like this from Marcus, the only thing that I can wonder is, “Are there really women out there who respond to this kind of thing?” Like, OK, now that my schedule is “better,” you want to talk to me again, because it’s convenient for you? And then when things get hectic again, I can expect you to run away again because you don’t feel special enough?
I really do feel bad for him, and men like him, because he doesn't get it.
I really do feel bad for him, and men like him, because he doesn't get it.