There were many problems throughout my deranged relationship with Eric, but in November 2006 the only one I cared to dwell upon was that I lived in Pennsylvania and he lived in New Jersey. As this did not allow for us to see each other very often, I cherished the weekends we could spend together. I planned an exciting Post-Halloween weekend for Eric to come visit me and bought us tickets to attend a Poe reading in a “haunted mansion,” complete with characters in costume reciting the works of Poe. I don't care how nerdy that sounds; to me and my darling English-teaching beau, it was bliss.
It should herein be noted that I do not tolerate smoking in romantic relationships. Eric had assured me, even before we began dating, that this was not a problem because he did not smoke. So imagine my surprise when, while visiting Eric one weekend, he excused himself late at night to buy a pack of cigarettes. I was angry at him for smoking, angrier that he had lied to me for months, but agreed with him when he said that he was afraid that if I knew the truth, I wouldn’t have given him a chance. No, I probably wouldn’t have. And it would have saved me a hell of a lot of trouble. But I was a silly girl and I was falling in love, so I forgave Eric, making him promise that he would not smoke in my presence. He eagerly complied with my request, thankful to be forgiven and accepted for his faults.
Back at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Fairegrounds where the Poe evening was to be held, Eric and I were finishing dinner at the Swashbuckler Pub when Eric announced he needed a smoke and would like to purchase a package of cigarettes. I was not a fan of the situation I had suddenly found myself in. For starters, Eric was clearly trying to break his promise to me. In addition, parking had been a bitch and as there was nowhere to buy smokes on the Fairegrounds, the only option would be to leave and come back. Furthermore, our show was to start in twenty minutes, which hardly allowed enough time to pay for our dinner, find the car, leave the parking lot, locate a convenience store, buy cigarettes, smoke said cigarette, drive back to the Fairegrounds, re-park and then find our way to the “haunted mansion.”
And so I said, “No.”
Eric pouted. I stood my ground. He made excuses. I stated my additional reasons. He attempted to refute them. I reminded him of his promise. Eric pouted some more.
Again, I said, “No.”
We set off in the direction of the mansion. I tried to take Eric’s hand on the walk over, but he promptly shoved his hands in his pockets. I tried to make small talk and crack jokes while waiting for the show to begin, but he ignored me. I decided to give him some space until the start of the show. When we were told to take our seats, I couldn’t find Eric. Anywhere. Becoming increasingly distraught that we would miss the show, I set off in search for him and eventually found him sitting in a corner of one of the unused rooms, slumped on a bench. After trying to convince him to join me he said, “I don’t like being told what to do and I’m really not in the mood for the show anymore.” I argued that he was over-reacting, that we had been looking forward to the Poe reading for so long, that I had spent a lot of money on the tickets, that we should just enjoy the evening and talk about the disagreement afterward, but he would have none of it. He got up and walked out, and I had no choice but to follow.
(Looking back, I wish I had gone to the reading without him. I was the one with the car and the keys. I could have had a nice evening while he froze outside in the parking lot for two hours… but it wouldn’t have been a nice evening. I was already in tears and trying to figure out if we could salvage what was so broken). And so, to the regret of my present self, my past self joined him in the parking lot.
It is difficult to drive through a haze of tears. One missed exit and the twenty minute drive home that I knew so well became a hysterical ninety minute drive. All the while Eric refused to talk to me except to demand to know where we were ("I'm lost!") and why we were lost ("I can't concentrate when I'm upset!") Fortunately, I evenutally made it home. Unfortunately, it was very late and Eric had no intention of driving back to New Jersey that night. Again, the regrets... Why didn't I kick him out? Why didn't I make him get a hotel room or sleep in his car? But I didn't. I left him to sleep on the sofa and locked myself in my bedroom.
But of course I couldn't sleep. An hour later, my phone signalled that I had received a text. It was Eric, downstairs, telling me it was silly to sleep separately. "Can't we just enjoy tonight?" he wanted to know. I laughed. "Enjoy tonight? Honestly? Does he even realize what he's saying?" But then my thoughts went in a different direction. I was sad. I was hurting. It was obviously over between us because he turned out to be a horrible person. Why not at least use him for one night to make myself feel better and dispose of him in the morning? Because I apparently wanted yet another regret attributed to that night, I went downstairs. And it was pleasant. But I can't help but wonder that if I had just left the situation alone... if I had only ignored him and remained locked in my room... how much heartache could I have spared myself? Because though I pushed him out of my life and moved on, three months later he apologized. He admitted he was a huge jackass. He told me he missed me and thought of me constantly and wished he could un-do the horrible way he had treated me.
So. This blog is not only about the stupid things men do when dating, but the crazy things women do as well. It would not be fair for me, as author of this blog, to editorialize and omit my own personal faux-pas in the world of dating. And so, I regret to inform you that there will be more Eric stories to come. There is, however, a happy ending to the saga: Eric is now out of my life. For good. His phone number and email addresses have been blocked. He may have continued to haunt my life for two years following my initial mistake of forgiveness, but that mistake will not be made again.