Storytime: Greetings from Taos/Speak Up, Please

So I’m at a writers conference for the weekend, aka a place where the male-to-female ratio is approximately 1.2 to 300.

Let’s not even get into who’s actually single. But the whole scene has gotten me thinking that, as much as I deserve blame/intensive psychotheraphy for being compulsively drawn to men who are emotionally unavailable–the feeling is often mutual.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m a human hologram: attractive only to people who are prohibitively involved with other women or unhealthy substances.

Which brings me to a public service announcement of sorts: I understand it’s a delicate question, when two people come together in a potentially flirtatious context, at what point someone who is otherwise attached ought to say so. Too soon and you seem presumptious, too late and you seem like a jerk.

But I’d like to take this opportunity to recommend that all of us abandon our collective pride and for the sake of hopeful single people everywhere, tend toward the former. If after thirty minutes of talking and trading book recommendations I still don’t know you’ve got a girlfriend, that’s about twenty-five minutes too many. Because honestly, you’re not that smart or interesting and your writing isn’t that great and I really like to get eight hours of sleep if possible. I’ve got enough friends. We both understand hormones. Out with it.

And for the record, lest we forget, I have only actually been the other women exactly one time and that, as I’ve written, was one time too many and I never say never but if you’re interested in cheating I’m not interested in helping you.  Relationships are complex enough with two people involved, thanks.

All of which, finally, brings me to a story.

It starts back in my DC days, when it was my job to book Important People on a big deal radio show. Once in a great while, one of those Important People actually showed up in Washington and took the time to come in to the studio.

One of those times, the Important Person was also very tall and very handsome and very much exactly my type: creative (a painter as well as a writer), quiet, hyper intelligent and hyper sensitive. We clicked instantly. The night before his interview, at his publicist’s recommendation, we went out with a group of colleagues. We flirted. We stood awkwardly on the sidewalk and sang karaoke and when he left the studio the next day, we shared a brief hug in the lobby.

At least, that’s what he said happened over a year later when we met up again in New York. I hadn’t actually remembered that hug. I’d thought he was attractive and fun, but basically figured he was out of my league: he was an Important Person, for christ’s sake, and I wasn’t. I’d had fun flirting and forgot about the interaction soon after it happened.

Until, a few months after moving back to NY, I emailed his publicist for a contact and he wrote back that he, the author, still talked about me. I assumed he was joking—publicists, you may know, tend to dramatize. Until the publicist and I planned to meet up for drinks, and hours beforehand he informed me that the author would be joining us.

Next thing I know our knees are knocking under the table and then we’re huddled agains one another, publicist gone home, on a Union Square side street—searching for the next bar.

“There was something so special about you,” he said as we strolled, arm-in-arm. “I’ll always remember that hug.”

All of which seemed forward enough to make me feel comfortable asking him, as I did over our next cocktail, why it was that he hadn’t kissed me that night in DC.

He looked at me, sheepish.

“Cause I’m shy and awkward,” he confessed with a giggle. And then, wait for it: “And cause I kinda had a girlfriend.”

Needless to say, make that had/has.

I mean, I have no idea whether they’re together now. On occasion he and I exchange pithy emails, he asks me how my writing is going and makes an empty suggestion that we have dinner or get drinks or trade writing. I respond, feel annoyed and move on with my life.

I don’t know if I can help being attracted to men who aren’t available, but I can certainly try to avoid them—just as I might need to avoid becoming involved with fellow creative types, too.

If two people of any variety are enough work in a relationship, one introspective, self-analytic writer in a given pair might be plenty.

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4 Comments

Filed under Love Life

4 responses to “Storytime: Greetings from Taos/Speak Up, Please

  1. Susie II

    I felt guilty reading first part of your post. Years ago when I was single but in a relationship I had a brief but apparently engaging conversation with a man standing in the boarding line at an airport. After settling into a seat very far in the back of the plane a flight attendant came to me with a note, “Please join me in first class”. She seemed to be waiting to assist me rather than waiting for my answer. ( I think she said something like, you’d be stupid not to) I joined the man from the line and had a delightful 2-hour conversation with free drinks and food. Upon descent he suggested we go out after landing and it’s then that I told him my boyfriend was meeting me at the airport. I felt bad, knew I should have said something earlier or never should have accepted in the first place but it was just one of those times when I went with the flow and just didn’t know where to fit it in. Confession is not necessarily good for the soul…I feel as guilty now as before I wrote this! But I learned….

    • What a great story! I mean, no one’s perfect…I’ve certainly been on that side of things too and completely understand the impulse to just go along with a fun thing. I think once in a while, you’ve gotta do it! Even if it isn’t totally considerate…:)

  2. Hi Liz: We met at the conference–I wrote the piece about Barrett Windchaser in Pam’s class and we spoke about living in Minnesota. I meant to ask you for a copy of your “list” that you read, which I thought was brilliant. I’m enjoying your blog, it gives me a push to do more work on mine. I am interested in your sense of place and where to live. Last summer I sold my house, gave everything away, and was intent on living in Oregon. I took my RV across the country and after a month could not find what I was looking for there. Then a guy-friend (unavailable, hunky–you know) left a message on my cell: “Hey Judy, I’m down at the lake (Superior). Listen to the waves, now listen to the campfire.” That did it. I returned to Duluth, bought a house and love the feel of the dirt in the cottage garden I have created. I am home and it feels really good. Good wishes to you and stay in touch, Judy

  3. Hi Judy! It’s so nice to hear from you! I so enjoyed your Barrett Windchaser piece…and that’s a great story about your unavailable hunky friend–I hope you’ll write it if you haven’t already! Would be glad to send you that list (even though I sometimes think my work sounds better than it reads on the page…). Best to you and hope to be in touch as well!
    Elizabeth

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