I’m currently in the process of quitting smoking, which has turned me into a wrathful and violent beast prone to outbursts of obscenity, door slamming, hysterical crying fits, and Four Loko binge drinking. But normally I’m a very sweet person, and I don’t think I’m a hater. In fact, I find it very hard to hate people.
But there is one context that defies this pattern. As a gay man with a myriad of female friends, I have to meet a lot of boyfriends. If I meet you and you are dating a friend of mine (or dating my mom, ugh) I will probably find something very wrong with you.
When you meet your friend’s boyfriend and think that they are awesome, you should get down on your knees and thank the lord. That is a rarity. Slightly less rare is thinking that the guy is boring, not quite cute enough for your friend, but ultimately decent. But the unfaltering norm is this: he’s emotionally abusive, totally ugly, inappropriately old, a drug addict, a serial cheater, gay or all of the above (aka, he’s in a band).
So, if most people in the world are ultimately decent humans, why are most boyfriends so inadequate? Well, I have a little theory about this. It’s a two parter.
First part: When we meet someone we hate, we avoid them. We toss them aside. We might have to interact with them here and there at school or work, but we certainly don’t have to bring them along to dinners, or movies, or picnics in the park. We can forget about them. If they happen to be lodged in our friend group and are quite inextricable, we can usually empty our bee-filled bonnets by talking sh*t about said jerk while he or she is not present.
With our friend’s boyfriends, we have no such coping mechanisms. They are here to stay and we can’t say much to them or about them. Well, we can say much about them, but we have to be very careful when and to whom we say it. Which is no fun.
The second part deals with what we want from relationships and what we actually get from them. We might think we are looking for someone sweet or funny or kind or smart, but we’re not. We’re looking for someone who gives us that something special and intangible. I believe Ms. Carrie Bradshaw once called it “Zsa Zsa Zsu”.
Zsa Zsa Zsu is fabulous. It makes our stomach spin and our eyes go starry and it makes us feel young and ebullient and hopeful. But the thing about it is this: it is entirely divorced from those rational characteristics we want in a man. Remember those? Smart, cute, funny, kind? Yeah, didn’t think so. You forgot because the Zsa Zsa Zsu is as good as that first puff of tobacco in the morning (ahhhhh) and now you’re stuck with some lame homo who still thinks his band, “The Shrieking Pussies”, is going to make it. And you have to go to ALL OF THEIR SHOWS.
Sorry. I got carried away there. Anyways, while our friends are getting Zsa Zsa Zsu’d on a regular basis, which is great, all we can see are the negative qualities. We’re like the non-smokers. We see the stains on the teeth, we smell the foul smell, we bear witness to the yellow nicotine stains on your fingers. We are incapable of knowing how joyous that smoke feels when it’s just you and your cigarette… I mean, boyfriend.
Like a smoker, you will quit. And you will relapse and you will quit and you will relapse and you will quit. You’ll date some randoms here and there and say, “I’m over my ex!” and we’ll believe you and be SO HAPPY but then you’re off the patch and back with the jackass. And we’ll be there for you like you’re there for us when we date assholes (we all do it).
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe true love, for all its intensity and power, actually is enough. Maybe it’s ok to be with a loser or a freak on a-leash if you love them and I should just stop being so judgey because I’m totally single and I haven’t had a cigarette in days and I’m probably just jealous or maybe on the verge of a nictotine withdrawal-induced mental breakdown…….
But maybe I’m right. Maybe I’m better off without my pack of Dutch Import Rolling Tobacco, even though I love it.
Maybe you don’t understand all the good times me and cigarettes had together. Maybe you didn’t know how good we were together when it was just the two of us, how cigarettes were there for me to celebrate every achievement, to mourn every loss. Maybe you didn’t understand any of that. But if you were one of the people who advised me to quit, you were right. And I should have listened sooner, because you’re my friend and you’ve got my back, and I should know that.
To all my friends with significant others: ummmm, this isn’t about you. It’s about someone else. You don’t know her.