We met at a rock show. He was cute, the front man of a pop punk band. And that was pretty cool I guess. We started hanging out, and quickly realized how much we genuinely liked each other.
He was 10 years older than me. We were at different places in life, we weren’t gonna work out right now, we shouldn’t continue. That’s the gist of what he told me, anyway. I would find out months later that what he probably meant was “I’m going to LA to surprise a girl I’ve never met in person but have been talking to on and off over the phone and Internet for five years, and I’m going to do it on national TV. With a flash mob. ”
Pretty lame, right? No, stop swooning over there, IT’S LAME!
After the major cable network filmed the bizarre charade, he dropped the bomb on me. That’s just great. How romantic of you. She must be an amazing girl for you to do that for her. Oh, look at that, she’s gorgeous too. I’m so happy for you! I swallowed an overwhelming urge to puke.
Fast forward about a week later. He’s fresh off the plane home and we’re spending the night together. Why? Well, she apparently wasn’t that into it, despite her pleasant reaction for the cameras. And I still liked him, and he liked me. And it’s nothing serious. We’re just hanging out, having fun. Over the next few months we exhibited some standard couple behavior. Holding hands in public. Making out in public. Creating and exhausting endless inside jokes. We were texting all day, every day. But neither of us wanted a commitment, so we floated in the grey. And I refused to acknowledge the elephant in the room; because maybe the show won’t even air and we can all forget about this silly little incident, right?
Wrong. So wrong. But that’s not the worst part. First the previews start airing, and word starts getting around about his upcoming TV debut. I try to keep it together. No big deal. Let’s get this over with and get on with our routine. A few days before the big premiere he tells me that a publicist (oh, you have a publicist now?) thinks it would be a good idea for him and this girl to be in a relationship on Facebook right after the show airs. Ya know, give the people what they want, a happy ending.
You’re not seriously thinking of doing this, are you? Oh, you are. Okay. That’s cool.
I mean why should I care? We’re not officially dating or anything. We just like each other. We enjoy each other’s company. It’s fine. IT’S FINE.
Then, I lost my shit. The very next day he tells me that she’s had a change of heart. She wants to give it another try. How convenient. Impeccable timing. He gives in before I can blink and at this point I can’t even tell if I’m surprised at the heaping load of bullshit being thrown my way. My friends couldn’t pick their jaws up off the floor any slower and the only thing I could say was, “Yeah.” Yeah, that happened.
So I watch the show, alone, whiskey in hand. I was actually very adamant about watching it alone. No girlfriends to tell me how stupid her outfit looked or “Ew, she’s not even that pretty!” I wanted the chance to freak out the way you can only freak out when you’re alone. And my ugly cry is pretty terrifying. So I watched in horror as the man I had kissed at midnight on New Years just a few days earlier melted the hearts of millions of viewers. For her.
What followed proved to be more than I could handle. A wave of Internet chaos as people from all over the country flooded his and her Twitter and Facebook accounts with admiration of what a cute couple they were, what a beautiful story they had, and what an amazing, sweet, romantic guy he was. And he was all of those things, if you took me out of the picture.
All of a sudden I wasn’t good enough. And that was really the only heartbreak. He had provided the biggest blow to my pride that I could possibly imagine. Let’s show everyone, not just you but everyone, how much better she is. How much more worthy she is.
What angered me the most about this whole ordeal was that someone got really hurt by this grand romantic gesture, and no one knew that part of the story. The sweetest guy in America had just slapped me in the face. UHHH. WHAT ABOUT ME? It’s bad enough that I had to watch you declare your love for this girl on national television, but now I have to watch the whole country praise you for it? I am an average person who deals with average life situations. What kind of sorcery is this?! I didn’t want the attention. I wanted justice.
So what did I do? Nothing, I did nothing. In fact I let him reenter my life again after all the hype had died down a month later and she got bored. Just like I told him she would. I also told him I wouldn’t be there when it happened. But I was. And then a stranger came up to us a couple months later at a Ben Folds concert and asked if I was the lucky lady from the TV show.
No, I’m the understudy. And I’ll be going now.