I was mortified. I brought my boyfriend to a family cookout and there was my dad, trying to feed him a disguised chili dog. Spoiler alert: the contents inside the bun were left by a furry friend.
My cousin, possibly not wanting to have to stomach the outcome or perhaps knowing that our relationship would definitely end on the spot, intercepted the infamous gesture and promptly discarded it. I’m not sure that my boyfriend ever understood what he had so graciously missed out on, but knowing how our story ended, I sometimes wish for the chili dog outcome.
After I broke up with my now husband, I dated two boys. The first is previously described as The One Where I Walked Away, and the second ended a few weeks after the chili dog incident. The chili dog seems to be quite the metaphor now, because things certainly turned out to be a huge pile of…well, you get the point. *insert poop emoji*
We were close friends beforehand and thought that our friendship would be able to bud into more than a platonic relationship. It had not. After the chili dog guy confided in my husband that he had feelings for my best friend, I broke up with him. Yes, you read that correctly. Felice was still meddling in my relationships, but I am incredibly grateful that he did.
He admitted that he was, in fact, interested in my best friend and that was the end of that. Except, it wasn’t, because his father called me the following day asking for me to reconsider my relationship with him. Looking back, I have no idea what interest a fifty year old man would have in a high school relationship. I remember standing outside in my backyard, staring dumbfounded at our fence as he continued to plead his son’s case to me.
I just wanted to be loved. The kind love that was unfaltering, unconditional, and perhaps a little unnerving. My parents loved me because I was their daughter. I wanted someone to love me because of who I was and I mean, who I really was. I could be funny and witty. I could be sarcastic. I had a temper, and yet, I was usually quiet and reserved. I preferred my time alone. I was kind, to a fault of course, and I wanted nothing more than for everyone to get their happy ending. I was, irrevocably, me. But being me, I didn’t see a happy ending in sight. Certainly not the kind that included a knight in shining armor to whisk me away from the cell that I had created for myself. There were no captors or fire breathing dragons. In the end, it would always just be me.
I know what you’re thinking. How could I be so blind? I clearly had a constant in my life, a guy that would clearly not go away, no matter how much I pushed him. It was a journey to get there, and like most stories, it gets messy. But we are not there yet. His story is coming. In this phase of my life, we were simply not ready. We had to grow, and boy, did I grow.
I met Dakota and here was this guy who was incredibly funny, sweet, and seemed as though he genuinely cared about my feelings. Maybe we are seeing a pattern here, but at sixteen, a girl’s dreams can be endless. We went on a date and met at the movies. He gave me butterflies. I was excited. This is it, I can remember thinking, this can be love. The following week I went with my friend Zach to a basketball game, where we conveniently sat behind Dakota and his girlfriend. Talk about a punch to the gut.
Then there was Alex. Alex was nice, but then he asked another girl to be his girlfriend. Or how about Bryant? This one I never actually talked to outside of school, but a girl could hope. And then there was Nick, who invited me on a double date with him and his friend, only to decide to pick up his ex-girlfriend on the way to the fair.
“Really?” his friend asked him.
Uh yeah, really Nick? I stood as the awkward fifth wheel, but as he was my ride and this was before cell phones were more than a luxury, I was stuck. Matt served as a potential saving grace until he told me that he was going to “chase tail” on spring break. And then there were all of the other nameless guys who just never noticed me. Maybe I wasn’t pretty or outgoing enough. Maybe I wasn’t smart enough (or maybe too smart, as I like to think). Maybe, just maybe, fate had decided long ago that I would not experience love.
The guys in between it all served as lessons on how I wanted to be loved and how I deserved to be loved. The One Where He Let Me Go was my first real heartbreak. The future that I pictured with him suddenly fell to the wayside and left me wondering what it was that was so wrong with me. This continued, of course, with the guys that followed; and this continued, of course, until I stopped searching and started focusing on myself. When I focused on myself, I saw that there was someone in front of me all along.
And, I, I close my eyes
And, I kiss that frog
Each time finding
The more boys I meet the more I love my dog