So, is that a no?
Growing up, femininity was sparse around my house. My mom was way too busy running a household and a business to have time to teach me how to cross my legs and paint my toenails. So, I’ve just kind of always been more like a dude. Not in the way that I put my hands down my pants when I’m watching TV, or pee in the shower, or even try giving myself oral. But, more in the way that I prefer a Miller Lite to a Cosmo, brag about the scars I get from crashing my mountain bike, and dust around the books on my bookshelf. Oh, and there was that one time I proposed.
I was 21 and had been dating L for about seven months. I was wildly in love. I had never felt that way about anyone before. I couldn’t have been happier. I had to fuck it up. That was my M.O.: self-sabotage. Along with femininity, the ‘L-word’ was hard to come by around my house. We used it sparingly; like Tabasco. It’s not that my family didn’t love each other. We did, deeply. It’s just that expressing it was far too awkward. Either way, I knew I was loved by my dad’s relentless teasing, my sister’s constant blows to my arm, and my mom’s overflowing pans of Rice Krispie bars. Mostly, by the pans of Rice Krispie bars. But, at the same time, for whatever reason, I felt a gnawing uncertainty, a need to prove myself, a deep-seated fear of rejection. And so, when I was 13, I made a pact with myself that I would never be rejected. I would be in control of my hurt.
This way of life worked for me – hurting people before they could hurt me – until L came along. He was different. After two months, I wasn’t sick of him. Actually, it was quite the opposite; I wanted him near me, around me, in me – all the time. The most mind-blowing part was: he felt the same.
L was hot. He looked like Adrian Grenier, except with brown eyes and prominent ears. He ran a funeral home, and made me laugh until I snorted, like all of the time. Most of the time, my fingers were wrapped around L’s dark, curly locks. And, his were wrapped around a can of Bud Light. And, most of our nights ended with an empty 18-pack, half-eaten burned Totino’s pizza, and a tipped over La-Z-Boy. But, in the mornings we somehow found ourselves twisted up in L’s crisp, white sheets; my head nestled in between L’s broad shoulders, his chin resting on top of my head.
Around the same time I started dating L, another guy was interested in me. It doesn’t even matter who it was. It could have been Pee-wee Herman or Ron Jeremy, for that matter. It was the attention I was after. Because if I focused my attention on other men, it wouldn’t hurt so badly when L broke up with me. Because he would break up with me. Sooner or later L would see how unlovable I was and reject me. So, I had to reject him first.
Eventually I cheated on L with that other guy. L found out and broke up with me. But, not in the regular break up kind of way. He cried. He wrote me a gut-wrenching letter, he told me that because of me he had to read the book, “Never Be Lied to Again”, he said he thought I was ‘The One’, so how could I do this to him? He told me the only way I could fix this mess was with a time machine.
So, I made a time machine.
I went to the dump and got an old cardboard refrigerator box; spray painted it silver, decorated it with a black sharpie, and carved a door in the front. You know, so L could carry me over the threshold and we could travel back in time before I screwed things up.
The next morning, I dropped the machine off in his front yard, went to work, and waited. And, waited. Finally by three o’clock, I couldn’t take it anymore and called him, “So, did you see the time machine?”
“Meghan, it doesn’t work.” L told me, matter-of-factly.
No fucking shit. Of course it didn’t work. It’s not like I thought I was Samantha from Bewitched or I Dream of Jeannie. L’s response crushed me a little bit, but it also encouraged me. Maybe he just wanted me to try harder. Like, prove my love more – by doing more. You know, like a marriage proposal.
Because when someone continually rejects you, proposing to them is clearly the best way to illustrate your remorse, commitment, and love, right? So, I went to Kay Jewelers where I settled on a thick platinum band sprinkled with five diamonds. It screamed L: sophisticated and masculine.
I needed to propose in a grand way, so when I got home, I plucked a whole chicken from the freezer, defrosted it, and carefully dug out the wishbone. After cleaning it, I attached it to the ring with a piece of thread, and on a small piece of pink construction paper, I printed: I wish you’d marry me, and placed my proposal in the ring box. Then I drove over to L’s, my hopes high.
L was sitting in his La-Z-Boy, drinking a Bud Light when I got there. The lights were low and The Dixie Chicks wer softly humming from the stereo. The mood was set. Just like old times, we found ourselves twisted up in L’s white, crisp sheets. While still wrapped in his arms, I fished the ring box from my pile of clothes on the floor. I placed it on his chest and he looked at it like I just put a UFO on him. Then he asked, “What’s this?” with an expression that made it clear he knew exactly what it was. He did the polite thing, opened it, and tried putting the ring on his finger. It was like the OJ/glove courtroom scene and L bluntly explained, “Meghan, it doesn’t fit.”
It was at that moment, I knew he meant I didn’t fit. I swept my proposal from his chest and what was left of my dignity and got dressed as if the house was on fire. Really, it felt like my insides were on fire. I drove to my mom’s – where I always go when I’m feeling broken.
For the next several weeks I embedded myself into my mom’s recliner and pretty much went into a comatose state. Really, I’m surprised I didn’t get bedsores. I remember very little, except subjecting myself to depressing country music, drinking rum (side note: I hate rum) and sobbing. Finally, my mom yelled at me and told me to get the hell out of the house. She actually physically jerked me out of the chair, telling me I’d punished myself enough. Next to the Rice Krispie Bars, that was the kindest thing she’s ever done for me.
It’s been thirteen years and I’m over L. Some things just aren’t meant to be. And, some things you’re meant to experience in order to learn from. If L would have taken me back, I may have never learned the value of fidelity. If L would have taken me back, I may have married an alcoholic. If L would have taken me back, I may have never learned engagement rings must be returned within three months of purchase in order to get a full refund. If L would have taken me back, I may have never started crossing my legs and painting my toenails.