People Like Her
Vickie wasn’t her. I was careful. I’d been down that road before. The glasses. The hair. I was so careful. I even poked her politics, made sure she liked religion, and marriage, and babies, and conservative ideas (even though all those would have driven me bonkers eventually). It started in this little look she gave me the first night I took her home, just a little thing I found enchanting, serious but playful. I can’t even remember the way it twisted her face, but I remember the way it twisted my stomach, and my stomach remembered it, too, but not from Vickie- from her. It took my stomach a while to communicate this; my roommate did something borderline illegal, but since the lease was under my name we were both out, and she asked me to move in. And I wanted to, I did, but my stomach wouldn’t let me. I was young and foolish enough, then, to fight it, but after 48 hours of excruciating toilet-related pain, I was homeless and single.
And Em was nothing like her. I’d learned my lesson, dating co-workers, especially for the fact that just because a relationship ends doesn’t mean you get to strike them from your life- because they’re just a cube away. But Em was special. She had all the right nerd habits, without any of the obnoxious pretensions; she especially didn’t have her insecurities about them. She even played Wow; okay, she didn’t just play, her level 63 orc shaman made my blood elf paladin look like the n00b she was. It almost seems silly, now, but she insisted our avatars wed in a lesbian wedding. I’ve got nothing against gay marriage, but the argument we had I’d had before, about the less than stellar history of the institution of marriage- it started playful, me mentioning babies and bathwater, but it only escalated. I left because I’d had that break-up before, and I like to minimalize repeating myself.
And Ann. Ann was normal, more normal than anyone I’d ever met- probably more normal than exists outside of tight-knit home schooled Mormon families. I remember thinking with Ann that how easy it was, and how right, was how relationships should be, that maybe they didn’t need all of the hard work; of course, the honeymoon ended at some point, but even then, our arguments seemed to have a reason, and, more important, a resolution- though that didn’t last. In the end with Ann it was in the way she fought (dirty); in an opponent she would have been formidable, but I didn’t want to be her adversary. In fact, to the contrary, I told her things I’d told only one other person, and their reactions were uncannily the same. What neither of them understood is it wasn’t what they said that hurt so deep (trust me, I know my insecurities more thoroughly than the carved pits of my palms)- but that they used my confidence in an attempt to wound me.
Genna really wasn’t her; hell, Genna wasn’t really a her, technically- and I think I knew that. I wasn’t exactly surprised when we went to her place and she unwrapped what she said was her candy, and it turned out to be a Snickers instead of a Milky Way- there were nuts, is what I’m getting at, in a stupidly oblique way. But, Genna wasn’t even remotely the same race, let alone gender, and yet, somehow, Genna was her. It started with Genna’s hair, in that horrible bob cut she got and for some reason expected me to lie about liking. In part it was because I knew what it meant- she got upset when people confused her for a guy, but she dressed like a guy, wore her hair like a guy- it’s not that she was passing for a guy to anyone paying attention, but the thing is people don’t pay attention. I’ve done it; I’ve had it done to me, been called ma’am when I’m sporting a full beard. It has everything to do with human laziness- but of course, some people seek out and internalize even the obscurest of perceived slights- and I suppose I can’t speak too highly, I’d internalized the concept- it was what drew me to Genna. I’ll artfully say that things with Genna didn’t work out that night, and that for once this might not have had anything to do with who she reminded me of.
It’s possible I’m being too picky, or there’s only so much variation to people and of course I’ll find some obscure similarities; it just might be that regardless of what I want (or think I want), what I keep looking for is what I’m finding. But I’m hopeful that out there there’s someone who’s nothing like her who’d be happy with someone like me.