You think you know a person…

Two years of uncommitted commitment is a good thing, right? I mean, Jake and I had a good thing going. We loved each other and had been quite happy being thisclose to living together. But I suppose we had reached that point of do-it-or-move-on. Either that or it was those damn oyster shooters.  “They’re an aphrodisiac,” Jake had whispered excitedly. Yeah, well, four months later, who got screwed?

Someone famous once said “ignorance is bliss”. Or maybe it was just famously said by some random person. Anyway, it was something that I obviously didn’t listen to – Jake and I decided to cut our rent by half and he moved into my place (it being the bigger of the two). And the first week was beautiful. We even made it past the you’re-not-bringing-that-into-the-house stage. Oh, I realize everyone has their “white elephants”. Unfortunately, Jake’s “white elephant” was a God-awful brass horse statuette. I pleaded with him to not place it in the living room as it didn’t match the décor.  Then I used the same line as he made his way through the house, pausing hopefully in the kitchen, family room and bathroom.  But I realized it was important to him for some vague reason and, being that I loved him, I told him he could put it in our bedroom. At least there it was mostly out-of-sight.

Gradually, my place began feeling less like “my place” and more like “our home”. We were a couple living together. Jake was comfortable. And it was beginning to bug the shit out of me.

How can you know someone for two years and not realize their idiosyncrasies? You think you know a person. But apparently I was now no longer the girlfriend he had to impress. He was in and I wasn’t going anywhere – we signed a twelve-month lease. I was now his roommate. And with that role comes the honor of knowing all – the good, the bad and the disgusting – that the other person is about. Unfortunately, I didn’t do the math before he moved in.

The problem is, Jake thought the equation was two good things make up for one disgusting thing.  It doesn’t work that way.  Which is a girl more likely to remember?  That he bought her flowers and vacuumed the living room without being asked, or that he belched really loud while she was on the phone making an appointment at her salon?  It’s not that I’ve never heard him belch before.  It’s just that he’d never done it in front of me while I was with someone.  And being on the phone is the same as being with someone.  He just didn’t get it.  Just like he didn’t get that it’s not okay to let your cat help clean off your plate – before you’re done eating.  Reasoning that the cat was only eating off one side of the plate makes for a poor argument.

So it was little things like that.

Eventually we had reached a point where every little thing the other person did was starting to become annoying.  We needed something new and different to shake things up a bit.  So one afternoon we set out for the home restoration store on an unspoken mission:  Find something to either keep us together, or suitably distracting enough to the other person to effectuate a truce.  Browsing through the store, I found myself leaning toward the aromatherapy home spa idea.  Jake zeroed in on the Weber Summit Gold D4 Gas Grill.   I could tell by the slightly glazed look in his eyes that I lost that battle.

However, if it was a battle that I lost, at least I was eating well.  We hardly ate anything anymore that hasn’t been grilled and, I have to admit, corn-on-the-cob never tasted better.  At least until that night when Jake forever ruined it for me.

Still enthusiastic a month later over the new grill, Jake invited a couple we had recently met over for dinner.  It went amazingly well.  A few hours later we had migrated into the kitchen to clean up and finish off the bottle of wine.  I noticed that Jake had corn in his teeth so I discreetly enlightened him. He seemed in no hurry to fix the situation and continued to clean off the counter. Annoyed at his lack of concern, I watched him pick up random objects and place them in the catch-all basket: some loose change, the phone bill, a pair of shoelaces that I never got around to putting in my shoes. As we talked I watched him absently toying with the shoelace.  I swear I almost saw a light bulb go off above his head.  Completely mortified, I watched as he brought the plastic tip to his teeth and start picking away at the corn.  No amount of wine could have made that scene any less awkward.   Completely unfazed, Jake looked over at me.  “What?” he asked.

Coincidentally, our new friends suddenly became aware of the time and ‘how late it was getting.’  They quickly left, leaving me standing alone in the kitchen with Shoelace Man.  I glanced over at him.  He was intently working the tip of the shoelace between his teeth, oblivious to anything else.  I just went into our room and cried.

Several days later, just when I thought Jake had reached his full gross-out potential, I came home to find he had at least one more trick up his sleeve.  Or rather, a disturbing interest in the contents of his belly button.  I stood in the doorway for a few minutes until I just couldn’t bear to watch any longer.

“Lose something?” I asked sarcastically.

Startled, Jake jerked his arm away.  His sheepish grin turned to what he obviously felt was a seductive smile as he reached his arm out to me.

“Hey baby,” he purred.

Disgusted, I glanced about the room, looking at anything but him.  My eyes fell on that stupid brass horse statuette, and the white object lying across it’s back.

“Jake, your dirty underwear is not a saddle”.  Like a nine-year-year-old boy failing to see how I failed to see the humor in his behavior, he just looked at me and pouted. “It’s funny. You just don’t get it”.

“Yeah, well, if the brass starts to tarnish you’ll know why,” I threw over my shoulder as I stormed out of the room.

Well, the brass didn’t tarnish, but our relationship did. One lease buy-out later, I’m poorer but wiser. I wonder if it would be socially acceptable to have my next boyfriend fill out an application prior to moving in. I could pose questions such as “what is your definition of personal hygiene?” Or “the purpose of a shoelace is (a) dental floss in a pinch (b) to hold a shoe in place or (c) strangulation”.

I think I’m going to need a lot of paper…..


(c) Dahlia Ramone:  November, 2006



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