The Absurd and Amazing Adventures of Cafe Girl: Your Ex Is Fugly, Now Let's Eat Cake

April 19, 2012

Your Ex Is Fugly, Now Let's Eat Cake

Sooner or later, it's going to come out - your friends never liked the guy you were dating anyway. When you first broke up, all your girl friends declared that you were awesome and he was awful. But they were your friends, in your camp. What else were they supposed to say? But when your other friends started to say the same things, from your guy friends, to your acquaintances, to someone who barely even knew your ex, you started to realize - no one liked him. Not before you were dating him, not during, and certainly not after.

And no one bothered to tell you.

Ok, in my case, it wasn't that bad. The Ex wasn't awful. I didn't think he was awful when I dated him, and certainly didn't think he was awful after we broke up. None of my friends ever said that either (to my face, anyway). But he was, how shall we put it... an unlikely candidate. We were very different in terms of temperament, energy levels, and, as I came to realize, how we looked at the world and the people in it. But, at the time I thought we were both shared a faith community, we seemed to be on the same page with life goals, and we seemed to be attracted to one another. And everything else, we could at least discuss, work through, and see where things go.

When things ended between The Ex and I, I was pretty devastated. I was devastated for the usual reasons -  I felt rejected, I felt confused that something I thought was good and had a future could end so abruptly, I felt an acute sense of loss. I was lonely. I felt small. I missed him.

But of course, the competitive, vindictive part of me did not wish The Ex well on his journey without me. I was obsessed about which one of us would start dating other people first. I was convinced it would be him, and I hated the thought. If anyone was to start dating first, it would have to be me - the one who was dumped. That was only what was fair according to the relationship cosmos, right?

My friends patiently waited for me to tire myself out as I went on and on about how The Ex would probably start dating first. One day, one of my girl friends looked at me and said, "You know, you guys were kind of cute together. But now that he's not with you. He looks, sort of, I don't know.. odd."

Months later, in response to one of my teary protests, my guy friend said, "Nah, you're so going to start dating before he does. You're so much cuter than him."

That's when I started to pay attention. I always thought my girl friends were just being loyal girl friends when they said The Ex was sort of weird looking. But when my guy friends, who weren't bound by the Girl Friend Honor Code said the same thing, I had to wonder - what did everyone see about The Ex, that I completely missed?

Years later, I would get the answer. Over dinner one evening, one of my girl friends said, point blank, "Your Ex is not a good looking man."

Oh. Apparently what everyone was trying to tell me, delicately, was that The Ex was Fugly.

OK, maybe not Fugly, per se, but definitely not as attractive as I seemed to think he was when I was dating him, and certainly not as attractive as I made him out to be after we ended.

Oh well.

So, in tribute to the Not Quite Fugly Former, I'm sharing pictures of the Salt-Kissed Buttermilk Cake my girl friend and I were sharing over dinner that one evening when I learned the truth about what my friends were thinking. This is a simple cake, mixed in one bowl, baked in a tart pan, and topped with whatever fruit happens to be in season. This particular time, I used plums, but I've also used peaches or blueberries.

I think this cake is a good representation of what the my experience with The Former was like - all at once salty, sweet, sour. I've oscillated between deeply regretting ever dating him, to being grateful I did because I came out on the other side having grown through the sorrow. 

I love the idea of this cake, but I've made this recipe three times now, and I'm always just a little disappointed. The cake never tastes like what I hope it would taste like. It's always slightly too sour, or too salty, and never quite sweet enough.

Hence, it's the perfect metaphor for the relationship that was.

The other thing that is significant about this cake, is that I made a version of this with blueberries for a potluck in the Summer. It was at that potluck where I met The Dude In My Life. And yes, that version was a little disappointing too. 

The cake, I mean, not The Dude.

No comments: