I shouldn’t listen to the radio on the way to work in the mornings. I just shouldn’t.
THIS morning, I was listening to the rock station here in Minneapolis, and they were doing what I found to be a particularly distasteful ‘bit’. It was sort of a “where are they now” thing, where a caller spills their guts about a past love that they are holding out hope for, and the radio station searches out and then calls the object of affection and finds out their feelings.
I think the end game was twofold. Either the station would succeed in putting the two starcrossed lovers back in contact with each other, or there would be abject humiliation for the lovelorn initial caller.
Its the equivalent of a third grade “Do you like me? If so check this box” note. Only with modern technology and more public mockery.
Today’s caller received “abject humiliation”.
This poor woman. She had broken up with this guy 7 years ago and yet was still holding a torch for him. Thoughts of their finally being together consumed her mind each night in bed. He was her ‘dream date’, yet over the years she lost touch with him.
Enter the radio station. They talked to the woman, she poured her heart out, they came up with a list of questions to ask the guy, the DJs and their interns searched the country for “Jim”, and found him living in San Diego. So they called him up.
It did not go well.
The guy was very affable and answered all the questions honestly and without reservation. Unfortunately the answers were like the following paraphrased quotes:
“Oh yeah. I’m totally happy now. I live in San Diego. I have a dog and a great job. My wife is awesome and I have three kids whom I love to pieces.”
“Do I regret breaking up? No. Honestly it was probably the best thing that could’ve happened. Otherwise how would I have met my wife and had these great kids?”
“I’m very happy. Very content now.”
“Do I think of her? Well, I have some fond memories of our time together, but that was a long time ago. I’ve moved on and things are great.”
Every comment was recorded and played on the radio and the DJs snickered and ‘Oooooooo’ed. There was even a point where they did a short loop of the “Do I regret breaking up… No.” thing and played it over and over.
And then the woman was asked how she was feeling right now.
To her credit she kept it together for the most part. She said she felt “like she was going to throw up” and that she “felt completely stupid and embarassed”. To which I can totally relate.
For added salt in the wound- the DJs had his address, so they looked up the selling price for the home he lives in now in San Diego. Naturally they delighted in telling the poor caller that the home sold for $700,000 dollars.
Ah, the one that got away. Stupid bitch! Ha ha hahaha!!!!!
I snapped off the radio and found myself fuming a bit. I found no schadenfreude in this 10 minutes of verbal stoning. I was sad for her because her decision “to know” allowed the DJs to lay waste to one of her most precious dreams.
Granted, she probably needed to let go of him a long time ago, and move on, and get in touch with her inner self, and whatever other psychobabble fits the situation. But not this harshly.
I also became rather contemplative in the silence of my car. Her story resonated with me and initiated ripples from my own past. I began thinking about my own “could have been”. Someone who I have written about before, and who apparently still exerts some force in my life.
But would I ever call up a radio station (or just call him myself) and open up Pandora’s Box just to satisfy some twisted curiosity about his life now?
Yes, at one time I wanted to share my precious, jealously guarded space with this man. Yes, I would have subjugated my career and my self to be with him. Yes, I would have toted his baggage… and mine. But that time has long past.
I think I can honestly say that I don’t want to find out how he is. I really hope he is happy and doing well in whatever path he chose. But at the same time, I don’t want to actually hear about it. I don’t want to know if he stayed with his wife and four kids and found God again and is a big executive and is “working through” his life (with the assistance of men on the side of course). It would piss me off.
And I really don’t want to know if he got divorced and is now happily living with some stud named Mitch who is the love of his life and they are living in Aspen and shagging like bunnies. That would break my heart a little. And piss me off.
Instead I shall content myself with the memories of our time together and continue to hope in the future, thank you very much. Hope is, after all, the one thing that didn’t escape from Pandora.
And I’ll continue letting go. And moving on. And getting touch with my inner self…
I know how you feel all too well. I hope we both have the fortitude to give up the past.
Relationships are tough. It’s not all about love. It’s a complex series of gadgets, widgets, and whirls working with “needs”, “desires”, “emotions”, and other human crap.
Knowing this, I would never kill myself over another. It’s hard to not take it personally, but you shouldn’t. As much as it is hard to do, you should put yourself first and try not to settle for less than what will make you truly happy. And don’t be Pot-Kettling me on this, because I’ll be the first to say that I would rather settle than be alone.
Your Mangina is well loved. With billions upon billions of people on Earth, don’t waste your time thinking of what is going on with one human’s life. Your Ex is probably doing the same goddamn thing he did when you were together.
Your posts are so great. I fully intended to have a long converstaion with you last weekend, but my mouth was full (a-hem). I’ll be keeping closer tabs on your going forward.
We all have that one that got away. But the reality is that it didn’t work for a reason, and the “person” we pine after is really just the ideal of what we want projected onto someone we know. Truth is, if it were a perfect fit, you’d still be together. Knowing that, though, only makes it slightly easier to let go.
Althought obviously written by you, this post is decidedly different than most you write.
You brought up a great question: Is it really necessary “to know” in order to move on?
For some perhaps it is, but I was happy to read that for you it is not. Sometimes closure is just closure, and does not necessarily make things better.
we probably all have someones that “got away”. “got away” from me while i was trying to run him over…”got away” from the cops who were trying to bust him….you know..the usual stuff. LOL
i have no words of wisdom on this. i don’t believe in hanging on to the past because it’s gone and you can’t change it (no matter how much i want to go back and buy MSN shares i can’t). i can learn from my past but i’m not gonna drag it around with me!
Kind of tasteless, don’t you think? I understand her hopes and wishes that he would come back, but after how many years?
But, I think “ME” hit the nail on the head. Life is ever changing and we have to move on, regardless of the outcome.
I’m one of those guys who was able to find out what followed after the “one who got away”… er, got away.
He’d moved away to go to law school and, although I think we were sincere in keeping things going long distance, it just didn’t work out that way. I was recently out of college and barely had a dollar to my name (which meant I couldn’t travel as much as I wanted) and he was struggling through the first year at Harvard and didn’t want to screw it up.
Sometimes, life itself is too overwhelming to keep things together. It’s nobody’s fault. Which probably makes it even harder to accept when it doesn’t work out, but…
Over time, we lost touch. Years after, I’d still wonder what happened to him and “what if”. There were times when a day wouldn’t pass that I hadn’t thought about him. Eventually, as a lot of these things do, it became just another chapter in the “book” of my life.
Two years ago, I stumbled across his name during a random Google search. And no, I wasn’t Google-stalking him. 🙂
One link led to another and another…
He met another law student the year after we ended things. They’ve been together ever since (18 years now, I think?). His partner is now a well-respected professor of law at a major university. He’s on some sort of legal advisory board for corporations. They collect amazing works of art and have supported the theatre in the cities in which they’ve lived together over the past decade. At one time, I think his partner even tried to become a published poet.
Is he happy? I don’t know. Google can’t tell you that. But I do know he’s been successful and has some stability and continuity in his life. In a way, it made me feel good that he’s been doing well.
Will I ever try to contact him, knowing the information now? No. Mostly due to the fact I know he’s not the same person from 20 years ago. He’s moved on and done really well. At best, I hope he’s content.
I know I’ve moved on, too. Not in the same ways but in the fact that I’m not the same guy he knew 20 years ago either.
However, every now and then I still think about that amazingly clever and cute guy who introduced me to the Golden Palominos, the awful Sean Connery movie “Zardoz” and made lasagna for me so long ago on Roscoe Street. And as I write this now – along with going through some current breakup angst – I’m feeling like I still miss that guy a little bit and wish I could somehow talk with him again. But you can’t make phone calls through time, eh? 🙂
Anyhow, I think that’s the difference between obsession and hanging onto good memories. Obsessions only cause pain and stagnation. Recalling the memories of how you’ve been capable of achieving happiness shows you’re still able to be on a path towards more of it.
Jebus! That radio story makes me ill as well. Your thoughts are completely on target.
I can tell you this: even as tough as it was to meet with my ex a couple of times, this is what made it more bearable:
*he’d broken up with the guy who replaced me after my 10 years,
*he’d made a terrible business decision and is regretting it now,
*his 2 houses are crashing in value,
*and one house caught serious fire (I was bothered by this, but no-one was hurt at all…)
If, in contrast, all had been peachy and great with his new “soulmate”, etc, best decision of his life, I wouldn’t have even agreed to talk with him. No way, fuck that.
I thought I was a bad person for making that distinction in my head.
This post reminds me that, in contrast, it’s only human and more that completely understandable
That sounds like a terrible radio program putting people through stuff like that. Sounds like a few radio stations over here in the UK that I know. There are ex boyfriends in my past I think about too. If things way back then between us were good or bad I always wished them well in whatever they done with the rest of their lives but to be honest I don’t want to know what they are up too now either. I really do leave the past in the past and wish them well. I think if the past is dragged up again in some situations then the “what ifs” may creep in. I feel sorry for that poor giel. Thats horrible. Bad radio show Tut Tut
The greatest lesson — or one of the greatest lessons — I’ve learned in my 30+ years as a Career Homosexual applies to all (possible) relationships: “I do not want that which doesn’t want me equally.”
That mantra really helps when wondering “what if?” regarding a love lost (or rejected), and it’s helped me stay close with all my exes except those who’ve croaked and that one I won’t have anything to do with — the one who put me in the hospital and who, for all I care, could drink Satan’s piss every day for the rest of his life.
I mean, if there was a Satan and stuff. And if I cared.
Am I the only one who’s a bit short on sympathy for that woman? One assumes that she knows what that show was about, and nobody forced her to participate at gunpoint. Ya pays yer money and takes yer chances.
Re the relationship stuff: living in the “now” is one of the hardest things I ever learned to do, and I learned to do it somewhat late, but it’s the most important thing I’ve ever learned. Life is like a boat–if it ain’t moving, you can’t steer it. Keep it moving! I’m ultimately more intrigued by what tomorrow might bring than by the tired old shit that happened yesterday, however pleasant it was.
I can’t even imagine what would be going through someone’s head to go on a show like that (and we all know what a fucking masochist I am…)