The Absurd and Amazing Adventures of Cafe Girl: Why Not Us?

February 17, 2008

Why Not Us?

I've been privy to some relationship horror stories lately. Well, maybe not just lately. I suppose having single female friends almost always guarantees you a library of relationship stories -- good, bad and neutral. The Good -- the Hot Office Guy that your girl friend has a crush on finally makes a move and asks her out to lunch. The Neutral -- another girl friend finally admits she always had a crush on her Male Best Friend. The Ugly -- girl likes boy who doesn't like her back. The Uglier -- she can't move on. The Ugliest -- boy and girl get into a relationship, but he blows hot and cold while she clings on, leaving neither party really fulfilled.

The difference now is that I'm actually in a relationship. That library of relationship stories has gone from being a shelf full of light fiction to a whole reference section. Each tale has become a How-To Guide. Or, in the case of an ugly story, a How-Not-To Guide.

Good tales are like the cookbooks I read in real life. With their detailed, step-by-step instructions combined with colorful pictures of the end result, cookbooks leave me full of hope. Yes! I can make that leg of lamb with the rosemary garlic crust and it will look just like it did on page 456. Yes! I can whip up egg whites just so to make the perfect lemon meringue. Likewise, good relationship tales leave me hopeful. Yes! We can be that couple that has the perfect combination of stability and chemistry. Yes! Like that perfect lemon meringue, we can be just so -- not too sweet, not too sour.

Relationship tales of horror inevitably bring two waves of emotion. The first, relief -- thank goodness that's not us. The second, suspicion peppered with discomfort -- how are we any different, could that be us?

Could that be us? Once that question has been uttered, no matter how softly, I find myself secretly thinking, yes, yes that could be us.

We could easily be that couple where the girl never really tells the boy what she needs to feel loved, expects him to read her mind, and so is always dissatisfied.

Yes, we could be that couple where the boy fears to commit but fears even more the messiness of a breakup resulting in a dating relationship that drags into the decades and never ends in anything more than tears and anger.

We can definitely be that couple that over-thinks the relationship, never risking a move forward until we've talked the issue to death with ourselves, our God and our friends.

It is likely that we could be that couple whose every other argument results in a dramatic breakup followed by an even more dramatic makeup, followed by yet another earth-shattering breakup.

The possibilities of us being like "those other couples" are endless. We are, afterall, human -- me, my Someone, and every dating couple in the world. And, as humans, we are likely to be selfish, complacent, fearful, overly-analytical and have a penchant for drama.

Perhaps the better question to be asking is why not us? What makes my Someone and I different and unique as a couple?

I once asked my Someone what it was about me that he liked. His reply was that we shared a similar sense of humor. At the time, I was outraged that after close to eight months of dating, that was all he could come up with. What about all my great character traits, I demanded, close to screaming and not close to showing any of the said great character traits I so desperately wanted him to identify.

But what I didn't realize then was that he had unwittingly voiced an invaluable aspect of our relationship. We 'got' each other. I get him and he gets me. And it's not just because we both think the same things are funny. Often, we don't. Rather, it's the understanding of what makes the other person tick.

He gets that I watch the world around me because I'm nosy, but also because I am genuinely fascinated by human interaction and body language. And so, when we leave a restaurant, he never fails to ask me what I've observed and always listens with gentle humor and patience.

I get that he would rather know the harsh truth than be made to feel better with a white lie. He thrives in honesty and hates to be coddled. And I get that because of this, he will never lie to me, no matter how painful the truth might be.

He gets that I need some semblance of a schedule when it comes to seeing and hearing from him. So, despite his tendency to "figure it out when the time comes," he's taken care to plan every date and set a time for each call.

I get that he sometimes gets absorbed in a task to the exclusion of all else because he's highly motivated and extremely focused. But I also get that this is the same motivation and focus he draws on as he pursues me.

Because we get what makes the other tick, we understand why we do the things we do and give each other lots of grace for it. So we do make a choice not to be selfish or complacent. We choose to think the best of one another, let our fears rest and take emotional risks. And, thankfully, neither of us has ever had a real taste for personal drama, so that one pretty much takes care of itself.

So, why not us? Truthful answer? I don't know. And I would be smug and condescending to say that it could never be us. It's just that for now, we’re choosing not to be that relationship horror story.

1 comment:

Julie said...

Hey Janice,
I can't believe you are actually living in LA that is awesome. You always said that was a goal of yours. It sounds like you are doing well.

Julie Martin