Stupid Tuesday questions, HHC edition

Yesterday, I happened to be driving around at midday.  As I toodled from place to place, I caught a wee snippet of an interview on “Here & Now” with a man named Moses Gates.  Apparently Mr. Gates has written a book all about exploring the hidden parts of cities and destinations, the places that are closed off from the average visitor.

It sounds like an interesting book, though the preservationist in me recoils a bit from the opening snippet (linked above) in which the author describes gaining access to the bell in Notre Dame by climbing up the outside of the cathedral.  That doesn’t seem… good for the architecture?

Rather than conjure up images of dark and mysterious nooks in the catacombs of Paris, however, the discussion brought to mind one of my exes.  In Russell’s Cavalcade of Idiotic Romances, the one I had with him would probably qualify as the Most Idiotic.  It was marked by a distressingly high [emotional drama]: [hours spent in actual relationship] ratio, and when I lamented its demise on a wound-licking trip out West to visit my brother it was all he could do to choke back his obvious incredulity that I could engage in a romance so inane.  (It should also be noted that a certain best friend Never Liked Him.)

I shall call him Jude.

Rest assured that I would rather drip various household solvents into self-inflicted paper cuts than go into the details of one of my old, doomed flings. Suffice it to say that if I had dedicated all the hours I spent mooning about this guy to reading instead I’d be able to discuss the conclusion of “In Search of Lost Time” with authority.

But…

Jude was a bright and inquisitive guy.  He liked going places and exploring and learning about the world.  He had traveled all over the place and seemed so very fascinating when I met him.  At the time, I was a resident at Major City Hospital and he was a student at the affiliated medical school.  And one of the first things we ever did together was explore the old, forgotten and unused rooms of the famous place where we had met.35090002761344

I don’t know how he first came to explore them himself.  Perhaps it’s a pastime of the medical students there to do so.  I never asked.  For whatever reason, he knew how to get to a bunch of dusty old rooms, full of ancient wheelchairs and other cast-off bits of medical equipment from time gone by.

It doesn’t sound cool in my retelling.  But it was really cool, I promise.  It was cool taking a peek into a dim little cranny of a long-ago part of the City’s life, one that nobody else would think to explore.

A laughably short time later our relationship went “ka-blooey,” after which I spent an even-more-laughably protracted period listening to “The Globe Sessions” in the dark in my apartment drinking red wine and tormenting friends with my inability to get over the guy already.  If I were given the opportunity to travel back in time and slap a past self on the back of the head for being an idiot, this time period would be a strong contender for the first stop in my personal TARDIS.

But I got to see something hidden and secret and vaguely magical because of him.  He gets credit for that one happy thing, which I would otherwise almost certainly have missed.

So that’s this week’s Question — think of an ex, and name something good that came out of the relationship no matter what a shitshow it might otherwise have been.  (You are allowed to pick past relationships that weren’t a total shitshow, of course.)  What’s an experience you’re grateful to have had, no matter the fallout that otherwise ensued thanks to that reprobate/termagant?  What memory can you still smile at when you grit your teeth recalling everything else?

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30 thoughts on “Stupid Tuesday questions, HHC edition

  1. I got my son from my first wife, but that it somewhat of a cliche answer.

    The fact of the matter is, I have been shaped by all of my relationships. If not for them, I am confident that I would not be in the exact situation I am in now, and I am very happy with my current situation. It is possible I would be in a better situation, but I could also be somewhere worse. I have no way to know.

    I have learned things to avoid in relationships. I have learned about my own personality traits from those bad relationships.

    Also, all of those relationships had their good moments, or they never would have gotten started. There were fun moments, quite moments, emotional moments.

    I might wish they had gone differently in the end, but I am grateful for every one of them.

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    • I have my daughter from my first husband, and the shitshow that was our marriage.

      She’s a double major in college now, holds a full time job and has her own house she lives in with her boyfriend.

      As much as I regret a lot of the choices I made before and during that marriage, she will never be one of them.

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  2. I actually had a dream just the other night about the ghost that puffs of a cigarette in the back of my mind, who I otherwise hadn’t thought about in quite a long time. I wrote about her a lot in the early days of Hit Coffee. Though I had no regrets about making the decisions I’d made, it took me a really, really long time to get her out of my head. Or to get the idea of her out of it.

    The trivial answer to your question is that she introduced me to frou-frou-fake-coffee and a few bands. The more substantive – and more evasive – answer is that she (and perhaps more specifically, the disaster surrounding her, had a rather profound effect on who I am. The kind of husband I am, the kind of father I am, the kind of political philosopher I am. Most of my time with her would, objectively, be wasted time and misery. And it would be, if it wasn’t critical to the person that I came to be.

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  3. Most of the ones that come to mind are career based. It feels like there are a lot of mistakes I made over the years (taking on a client I shouldn’t have, taking a job I shouldn’t have, making a decision that ended up in disaster) that seemed terrible at the time, but looking back were just steps I had to take to get where I wanted to go.

    I have a pretty zen outlook on my past.

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    • Yes, your ex’s sense of humor was his best attribute. Shame about some of the others, though.

      I think you are confusing Jude with a different ex. I haven’t had reason to write about the one who was fond of tea. I did not take long to get over that failed romance, because by the time we split I could barely stand the sight of him.

      Jude was the one who visited you in your old apartment, drank too much, and asked you questions about your religion without bothering to pay attention to your answers. If that’s not a good enough clue, I’ll text you his real name.

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  4. A sly, gorgeous, witty English/Irish woman, lives along the better part of the shore in Southern Los Angaleeez. A stylist. A Blitz Kid.

    Hard to explain what she did to me, for me. She’s kinda still doing it. We’re still friends, one of those odd relationships which did successfully retreat into friendship. I remarked, early on in the relationship, “whatever comes of this, I’ll put this survey stake in the ground: you’ve improved me.” I did a YouTube video for her, now just shy of 350,000 hits. Wrote some good things for her.

    Really, I am a better man for having known her. My standards are higher. I’m less prone to doing a slapdash job on delivery. Appearances matter more in a substantive way. We are such stuff as dreams are made of. But making a dream is hard work, not just mooning around, the zig-zag wanderings of some self-indulgent visionary.

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  5. I don’t really have ‘old romances.’ I mean I did, but it was so long ago and is so clouded by accident-related memory that I don’t really have an assurances what I remember had anything to do with what actually happened. Plus, it was the ’70’s.

    But I did have a friend. I’ll call her Carlotta. She lit up a room in technicolor, everyone tried to circle around her, be close to her. And for some reason beyond comprehension, she adored me. For about a year, we spent a lot of time together.

    And then I began witnessing her trashing-of-others. Long intense, and paranoid phone conversations with other friends about how what they’d done was wrong; conversations about who-said-what how and what it meant that would put this crowd to shame. Heart-breaking conversations for those friends as they tried to hold to the flame that brought so much vim to life. These falling outs took time; it wasn’t just a one-day thing, they lasted for weeks. And the poor friends, hungering for Carlotta’s color, always failed to maintain her grace, at least for the short term. Some would be welcomed back after a few years in purgatory, and I’d get this sense of them trying to nudge me to the side, trying to take their place as Carlotta’s primary go-to friend for whatever adventure she was planning next.

    I thought a lot on this as I watched it happen. One day my sweetie and I spoke on it, on how frightening and horrible it seemed to be for those poor, maligned, flawed friends of the brightly-burning Carlotta. “That’s going to be me one day, soon,” I told him. (He was quite smitten by Carlotta, too. She made everyone’s life have more color.) And I decided then and there: I’d enjoy the bright fire as long as I could, but when my time came to go through the emotional meat grinder, no.

    And it came. I don’t remember the reason behind the initial slight she perceived. At first, I was surprised. A night’s sleep resolved things. On the second day in, I said I wasn’t going to play this game; it ended now, and she could call me after she’d gotten help for her mental health. I walked away, into what I’d call the loneliest months I’d had in a very long time.

    Time passed, and I got used to my monochrome existence once again.

    And then one day, Carlotta showed up at the door, “I got help, she said.” I spent a few hours with her. The colors were gone. I saw her a few more times in passing (she’d moved back into the neighborhood), but never rekindled what had long ago burned out.

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  6. When the ex wife left me, I developed a much better and closer relationship with her sister and my neice and nephew, and they became a lot dearer to me than they used to be.

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  7. While on a fling with a woman with whom it could never possibly have lasted longer than the fling stage, we saw the Cowboy Junkies in concert. No real hard or warm feelings for my former partner remain, but I’d never have sat through a whole set from the Junkies otherwise and now they still make me smile and relax.

    Another woman I dated went to Las Vegas with me. She won a little bit of money gambling and we had a great dinner on the house. That was when I realized that Las Vegas is about consumption, not gambling, and I’d always been pretty tight with my gambling money so didn’t have such a great time in Vegas. But her experience made me realize, hey, just spend the money; if it’s the casino’s money so much the better, but spend it. Have a good time. Have the good steak, not the fifty-cent shrimp cocktail. That’s what the steakhouse is there for.

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  8. I’ve thought of several examples over the course of the day, but they all ended up feeling too personal and/or emotional for me to actually write them up. So I’ll just say I know exactly what you mean. In fact, when I think about it, just about everyone I’ve ever actually had a relationship with has shown me something that I probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise, or at least would have seen very differently. Makes me hope that, if and when they remember me, they remember something I showed them as well.

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  9. Rest assured that I would rather drip various household solvents into self-inflicted paper cuts than go into the details of one of my old, doomed flings.

    See, this doesn’t ring true at all, for as much as you do it. Just be honest: you love talking about your exes. If living well is the best revenge, dishing is a good close second.

    Suffice it to say that if I had dedicated all the hours I spent mooning about this guy to reading instead I’d be able to discuss the conclusion of “In Search of Lost Time” with authority.

    I’ve been there too, though admittedly I’m only a book and a half from the end.

    I didn’t date a lot before I met Boegiboe. Only a couple of other relationships, both quite brief, and then the One. But good lord did I ever spend a lot of time lamenting certain other guys’ heterosexuality. I had a bad tendency to fall hard for obviously straight guys, and I have to say that I’m incredibly glad I’m over it.

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    • Please allow me to clarify.

      I am patently all too happy to mention various exes and allude to aspects of their character or of our relationship. But I would rather endure [insert excruciation here] than go into the preposterous details of why any given relationship collapsed under the weight of its own stupidity. When I look back on essentially all the relationships I enjoyed prior to meeting the Better Half, they were all so laughably, obviously doomed to fail that barfing up the particulars is too humiliating a prospect to consider.

      Except in person over drinks.

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