January 21, 2003

Achtung, Baby

I love a good discussion--whether spoken or written--with a clever sparring partner, and the emergence of email as a means of correspondence has meant that I do do quite a bit of writing, and that I’m much, much better about corresponding than I was in the days of snail mail. And I almost always spell everything out, and use proper punctuation and capitalization, and only occasionally rely on emoticons to convey tone of voice. It is unlikelier now that friends' prose will go completely unrequited with me, but if I have an engagement to run off to, I sometimes don't have the time to devote to a full and complete response to whatever issues are raised.

I'm can be wary of spending too much time on email, however. Two years ago, I carried on an intense email correspondence/ flirtation with a soi-disant poet who was pursuing me, and over the course of a couple of months, we exchanged about 400 emails, all told. I put my heart and soul into the thing, wrote him poetry, spent hours writing and thinking up witty multilingual puzzles for him to decipher, and he gave me the whole poetry/ flowers/ where have you been all my life shebang. I sat and listened to his whole "my marriage collapsed and I didn't even get any on my wedding night” spiel, but the minute, and I mean the minute I asked for the tiniest bit of support (it was the one-year anniversary of my father's death), he pretty much admitted he was just using me, and was zipoutthedoor. I was broke down. I felt so raw all over, it was like my skin had been peeled off and the exposed flesh rubbed with a nutmeg grater.

I am not going there again. Nuh-uh. And by that I mean that I’m not going to make that kind of effort for someone until I find out who they are, what they want from me, if they’re a good person, and if they are going to have violent objections to any of my personality quirks and blow me off for some bulls**t reason at the worst possible time. That doesn't mean I am never going to trust anyone again, or be giving to anyone again, but I don't have the time and emotional energy to spend on getting over a train wreck I could have avoided by being just a little more aware. The most recent man I met said, “I don’t want to use you,” but he also said, “Some people will tell you I’m a real jerk,” and although I have my theories about it, until I know why, I am going to tread very carefully, because there is something about him that says, “Achtung, baby.”

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