Monday, February 12, 2007

Love Means Never Saying I Told You So

Because Someday You'll be
Lamenting in Your Latte

What do you do when your friend is crying in her coffee over breaking up with a boyfriend you hated? Actually we all hated him: me, her other friends, her parents – who never really count in these matters – everybody. Everybody except her. Warts and all, she loved him and I guess that’s what love is all about, but this guy was one big wart.

For starters her boyfriend was too old for her, by over 15 years. I think you should keep it under a decade. To quote the late great Moms Mabley: "The only thing an old man can do for me is bring me a young one." In the long run, I wouldn’t want to end up looking like my boyfriend’s home attendant.

True there are folks who look good for their age or who just out and out lie, but a good pre dating question to ask is, "What was your favorite toy as a kid?" If you’re unfamiliar with that toy, no date. And it doesn’t count if you recognize the toy because your kid played with it. Mr. Potato Head should not be going out with Elmo.

I never met her boyfriend. I didn’t need to. My friend was my conduit and I could tell from her that the vibe just wasn’t right. She hid the relationship for a while, as if subconsciously even she knew it wouldn’t last. And what she did tell me didn’t sound great. He was still a little twisted up over his last relationship. ‘So you’re dating my beautiful, smart, funny and young friend on the rebound? Scoundrel! Cad! Scallywag!’ And the simplest of all, she didn’t smile when she talked about him. If the man in your life can’t bring you that simple joy, the joy in the telling of him, he has got to go.

As the story unfolded in between refills, he broke up with her because he wasn’t ready for a commitment. Gee, a single 37-year-old never-been-married-man, dating a co-ed not ready? What a shock.

She told me other little things about him that when gathered up and looked at in retrospect were not so little. They were glaring pop up warnings that she should have seen. Her friends saw, of course, but we couldn’t say. She wouldn’t have heard us. People in love go temporarily deaf. I suspect it’s the amped up blood flow coursing through your veins at mach 10. Also, good friends and smart parents know any talk against the significant other of the moment will only draw the couple closer together, assured that they are the reincarnation of "Romeo and Juliet" when they are really Martha and George of "Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf."

In addition to the deafness there is also a certain amount of insanity. Scientists have found that chemically, the brain looks the same in love as it does in mental illness. Scientific proof that you can be crazy in love. (Beyonce is a genius.) When the intoxication of love wears off, many of us have made the sobering declaration, if only to ourselves, "I must have been crazy to go out with him!" Yes. Yes, you were.

Having had my turn in the psych ward of love, what’s friend to do? Just listen of course. Remind her that she’s beautiful and fantastic, and someone better will come along. Don’t run down the loser ex too much, as a reconciliation might be on the horizon. But you can offer to help her make a Voodoo doll of him just in case. This is always good for a smile and perhaps a lovely Sunday afternoon art project if she takes you up on it. And, of course, never say I told you so unless you want to hear it said back to you when it’s your turn to cry in your coffee.

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