Friday, May 30, 2008

Lila and me

A lot of you who contact me still ask about Lila. People in my non-blog life do the same thing. Hopefully, that means I've done a good job of describing her.

Lila and I are still friends, but we don't talk as much as we used to. Part of that is because I'm married, and doing all the things that newlyweds do. For Tim and I, a month without some kind of romantic getaway is an eternity. We're always visiting family, or eating at some new restaurant, or catching up on "our shows", and it doesn't leave much time for anyone else.

Sometimes Lila and I will text each other, or send a quick email to say hi. Occasionally, we'll talk late at night, like we used to. Beyond that, we go from one month to the next with little contact.

Lila's been with her boyfriend, Nate, for well over a year, and the more I hear about him, the more wary I get. At the beginning, he struck me as a cool, successful, well-adjusted guy and a great match for her. But as she's gotten to know him, he seems terribly insecure and needy.

The script was written long ago, and it's been played out more times than Hamlet, MacBeth, and Cats combined. Stop me if you've heard it:

Young man grows up and becomes irresistible to women. He beds one after another,
satisfying his every wildest erotic fantasy, having his way with any female within smelling distance of him. They simply can't keep away from him, and he's having the time of his life.

But there's a serious problem. With the ocean of testosterone flooding his veins, the only possible way he can quiet his voracious sexual hunger is to spray his manly fluids around like a lawn sprinkler, dousing as many women as possible. It's just a matter of biology, really: He simply can't control it!

But the women don't understand, you see. He only needs them for an hour or two, and they want more. Having experienced his rugged manliness, they fling themselves at him, clutching at his pant legs like sad children, begging him to remain in their lives, however superficially.

He could have these women any way he wanted them, of course. He could simply drop by their houses, unannounced, fuck them mercilessly, and then piss in their toilet bowls and leave without lowering the seats, and they'd be on his voice mail the next day, asking him to do it again.

But, alas, this is not how he wants it.

It would get complicated. These poor, naive girls, they simply don't understand what it is to be a man like our hero. They don't understand his need to roam the earth, fornicating with wild abandon. They would interpret his repeated conjugal visits as "love", or "commitment", or "lack of nausea", and soon after, the demands would start.

They will demand that he be exclusive. That he only date them, to the exclusion of all others, that he holster his babymaking weapon and only draw it for their benefit. Sadly, this is impossible, and our happy horndog rides off, leaving a trail of broken hearts in his wake.

You ought to know this story, since pretty much every guy between the ages of 17 and 35 has been telling it since the mid-70's. Nate is no exception.

At the beginning, Lila used to tell me about this mysterious guy who would give her a little head-nod when he walked past her at the gym. Sometimes he'd say hi. One day they were next to each other on the treadmills and he told her she had "great arms". It sounds corny, I know, but she wore tank tops every day from then on, hoping to impress him. As if she had to try.

I gotta be honest. Hearing about some young stallion macking up Lila made me jealous. I know, I know, I'm married, but I get territorial sometimes. I could see she was really intrigued with him, and it made me realize that both of us had moved on.

She would call me and wonder aloud if he noticed her, if he thought she was attractive. Was she serious?

"But I don't even shower before I go to the gym!" she said.

"Get a clue, honey. The guy is drooling over you."

She doesn't get it. Lila could go to the gym in a garbage bag, and guys would be tripping over each other to hand her a twistie-tie.

By the time he asked her out, she was about ready to rip of his Adidas sweatsuit and ride him cowgirl style on a weight bench. Call me cynical, but I wondered if this guy was a true player, or if he just lacked the balls to hit on her properly.

On Friday nights, he either played poker or went out drinking with co-workers, and every time she asked to come along, he'd give her a speech about "taking it slow". Pushing her away like that, giving her a challenge, made her want him ten times more. Guys didn't do that to Lila!

"Why won't he take me with him? Is he ashamed of me?" she would ask.

"Lila, do you seriously believe that? Really?"

"Well, why then?"

"He's either trying to play the I-don't-give-a-shit role to make you want him more, or he's afraid of falling for you. Or he's queer."

"Maybe he has another girlfriend."

"Then who needs him?"

The cool-dude routine faded away soon enough. After about a year with Lila, Nate was dropping hints about marriage. She was flattered, but she didn't encourage him, hoping he'd get the hint and slow down.

"He just asked me," she said on Thanksgiving night, and I could tell from her tone that she turned him down.

I figured he would dump her after that, but he didn't. In fact, he didn't even back off; if anything, he got worse.

After months of negotiating (or begging, depending on your point of view), he asked her again on Valentine's Day, and she said yes.

"Why can't you be happy for me?" she asked.

"Because you don't seem happy."

We fought about it, and I was secretly glad that she was unhappy, that Nate did not inhabit her the way I thought he might have. And I think Lila knew it.

A month or so later, she was calling me again, just like she used to, and she sounded sadder than ever. As part of Lila's "take it slow" requirements, they haven't set a date yet, and it's a constant source of irritation for him.

Now that they're engaged, he smothers her even more than before. He works out with her at the gym, rushing to her side any time a guy so much as says hello. If she's 15 minutes late coming home from work, he wants to know why, and he especially hates her talking to me.

She's not forbidden from calling, exactly, but I do get mysteriously cut off sometimes while talking to her. He trash-talks me constantly, asking why she wasted her time with me, and if she says anything remotely resembling a defense of our relationship, he flies off the handle. It's funny in a way: he's 30, ten years older than Lila, and yet she dominates him, like a young girl with her father wrapped around her little finger.

Even though I'd be jealous, it would still be nice to see Lila in something resembling a stable relationship.

And it would be nice to talk to her like I used to, too.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Open season

Liz Trotta, Fox News Channel, 5/25/2008: "And now we have what some are reading as a suggestion that somebody knock off Osama, uh Obama. Well, both, if we could."

Mark Madden, ESPN, 5/22/2008: "I'm very disappointed to hear that Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts is near death because of a brain tumor. I always hoped Senator Kennedy would live long enough to be assassinated. I wonder if he got a card from the Kopechnes."

Mike Huckabee, 5/16/2008: "That was Barack Obama, he just tripped off a chair, he's getting ready to speak. Somebody aimed a gun at him and he dove for the floor.”

Interesting how these "jokes" always involve extreme violence and murder. Makes you think, doesn't it...