Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Lone Star(burst) State’s “Catch and Release” Program

I’ve always divided boys into the four main groups:  “A Good Catch”… “A Skin Suit Maker”… “A Non-Skin Suit Maker”… “Wrong Team Allegiance.”  Most men fall into the “Non-Skin Suit Maker” category but I always proceed with caution because you never truly know. I completely ignore those who wear hats or jerseys I just can’t accept. I have met some boys that I am certain have women in their basement and a frequent shopper rewards card with Bath and Body Works. But the “A Good Catch” category is a rare find for me. Sometimes though, when the planets align and animals start going crazy using their sixth sense of natural phenomena, one will come around. And then it is up to me to figure out what just happened and what exactly I’m supposed to do with it.

He came out of nowhere and I’m just going to refer to him as “Mr. Texas” because he encompassed every bit of the state one could piece together into a human being. First and foremost: he gave me a Starburst. And not just any Starburst… he gave me a red one. And then a pink one. It’s like someone gave him the blueprint to my heart and he went straight to the core. If he had given me a Yankees ticket, a container of frosting, a mixed tape with Keith Whitley and a Tiffany’s box I’m sure I would have proposed to him myself. I was “caught” and I agreed to a first date.

I adhered to the rules that my best friend put together for first dates. I was one: not to drink him under the table; two: not wear my food; three: let him pay the bill. And while I dropped so much rice in my lap I am confident that he didn’t notice and if he did there was definitely no acknowledgement of the moment (or four…or five…ok, six times). I followed the advice that my brother has given me intermittently over time when he says: “If you’re ever on a date that’s probably something that I wouldn’t share with the guy” including but not limited to: my distrust of canned/frozen carrots; my cat’s participation in my home security with their catnip militia (you read that correctly); and to avoid telling him that I vacuum my fridge not for crumbs but for amoebas. While I find nothing wrong with these possible conversation killers I still refrained from sharing them at the dinner table. And the date was perfect. And I agreed to another. He was officially “A Good Catch” and I was still “caught.”

He made me laugh. He made me smile. My hesitation towards the intentions of the male species was nonexistent which should have been a warning sign to me but instead I took it as a green light. My best friend told me she was so excited to see me happy and that finally a boy was worthy of my time and attention. Every time that I would begin to doubt what was happening and why my guard was uncharacteristically down I would accept another Starburst. And Mr. Texas would smile. And I’d still be “caught.”

Fast forward one month. A day which blockbuster movies are made of: Every single fiber cable, phone line, space satellite, and cell tower stopped working. While mass chaos did not carry out into the streets I’m positive this massive technological collapse occurred. Because the text messages and calls from Mr. Texas abruptly stopped. The only logical explanation for such a drastic suspension of communication is the complete breakdown of modern technology. I picked up my phone and texted people… The texts went through and were actually replied to. Land lines had dial tones. Cell phones connected to outgoing and incoming calls. But there was still no communication from Mr. Texas. Perhaps it was just his phone, right?

Lucky for most boys I am not the kind of girl who sits by the phone and waits for a boy to call. I also don’t send out texts continuously asking for a response or prying for information. If a boy wants to talk to me then he will contact me (I’m confident that Jeter lost my number… again). So I kept myself busy. I cleaned my apartment. I did laundry. I had staring contests with my cat. I put on a pedometer on my ankle and pretended it was a Skip-It. I refused to give my phone any attention.

The last text I received from him read: "Goodnight and sweet dreams. I will talk to you tomorrow!" But 24 hours… 36 hours… 48 hours… 72 hours… “Ding.” One new message from Mr. Texas. I saw the message notification but since he waited 72 hours to send one he could wait for a response. Perhaps since 39 is the new 29 then tomorrow is the new "3 days later." So I flossed. I did some sit-ups until I realized those are not fun and so I immediately stopped. I tried to watch the ceiling fan non-stop without getting dizzy. I made Keurig cup pyramids. And when I thought a suitable amount of time had passed, I picked up the phone and read the message: “Hey sweetie.”

Really? This is your idea of informing me that you’re not dead Mr. Texas? I immediately thought of responses. What was so biting that it would have the same impact as not hearing from someone for 3 days? What could my fingers methodically type that would convey the frustration I had at the disrespect and lack of maturity that came with his behavior? What words could I muster from my years of Latin, AP English & Literature and speech writing? This boy went from texting me all the time to Marcel Marceau. Oh I was ready. So my hands picked up the phone and my fingers sent across a strong, woman-powered, direct comeback that Shakespeare himself would have envied: “Hey.”

His excuses were minimal and his behavior questionable. He questioned his ability to devote time to a new relationship and whether or not he was ready to do so. And then I read the line: “I’m not sure what I want to do.” Well, Mr. Texas. The good thing is that I am fully equipped with the ability to make decisions myself and do so knowing “what I want to do.” And so I made the decision for him. I told him that I did know what I wanted to do and it was not to wait around for him to make up his mind because I was better than that and worth more than that. He set the bait with the Starbursts. He caught me. He had me. And then in true sportsman fashion… I was released. And for the first time since I moved to the Lone Star State I realized I had liked a boy. And I had been disappointed by that boy. I let my guard down and let sugary promises guide my normally overcautious heart and mind.

They say things are bigger in Texas ranging from women’s hair to rancher’s cattle. Added to that list are now the false hopes that boys give you down here and the protective shield I will put up around me. If I could be easily persuaded to follow a boy with pink and red wrapped candy, one can only imagine what would happen with a handful of Skittles. So I take solace in knowing that I learned my lesson. That I walked away before I could be walked away from. That my pride is still intact and that my heart isn’t broken but just a bit bruised. They say “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.” These folks have never met a boy from the South. I preach to you: “Beware of Texans with Candy…”

If only he had offered me a yellow one.


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