Perhaps the only thing more traumatic than running into an ex’s ex at a coffee shop is, of course, running into the ex themselves.
As I’ve alluded, I don’t think I can really call My Latest Hiccup a capitol E ex. The Olympics have gone on for longer than the time we spent together. But it was intense time, and he disappointed me in a rather epic, infuriating manner.
Which it was really, really hard not to tell him when he sat down at a table not twenty feet from mine and in my direct line of vision at a cafe this morning. The distance was such that I was pretty sure neither of us could legitimately claim not to see one another. But what was I to do?? Could I possibly be expected to make an approach? Or even stare at him until we made eye contact? I racked my brain for the proper etiquette. (P.S., it’s not there.)
Of course, there was part of me that longed to throw my chocolate chip cookie crumbs all over his lap and make sure he knew how badly he handled things. (If you know of my recent tea-burn experience than you know someone has to do far worse for me to even think of wishing upon them the wrath of a spilled hot beverage; if you don’t, trust me.)
And then there was the part of me that was dying to ask him whether he’d read any of my blogging or recent essays and knew that he was the inspiration for my piece about “speed dating.”
But there was also the part of me–perhaps, I must admit, the biggest part–that wanted to sit down across from him and say, “Really? Are you sure you don’t want to date me? Because last time I checked myself out in the bathroom mirror I looked pretty casual-cute in this ponytail and sweatshirt and I know you are an emotional catastrophe but come on! How can you not realize what you’re missing??”
Fortunately, I restrained myself. I said, or did, none of these things. After about ten minutes of panicked efforts to keep my eyes down and my hand scribbling furiously, I caught him looking my way and shared an acknowledgment (he waved, I nodded and, painfully, smiled). A few minutes later, we got up for a coffee refill at the same time and had a brief and completely superficial conversation limited to both of us being over-worked.
I was relieved to run into a fellow student from my department at the cafe soon after–there’s nothing, after all, that says “You’re really missing out” like “I have friends.” He slipped out while I stood chatting without a goodbye.
Part of me–guess which part–expects him to send me an email in the next twenty-four hours proclaiming his rejuvenated affections and apologizing for his bad behavior.
The other part doesn’t have much to say. I wouldn’t exactly claim to be “over” the whole thing, but–considering my next date feels about as imminent as Labor Day–I think I’ve done pretty well lately at keeping my energy focused elsewhere.
It is difficult to do that, however, when he is within such proximity. And folks, this is a small city. And we have more than one mutual friend: it is bound to happen again. I just hope the next time we see each other that even less of me will yearn to accost him with cookie crumbs or humiliating soliloquies.
And, of course, that I will look a bit better.