Where were we? Oh, yes. Things were getting ugly. The more messages left, the angrier he got that I wasn't returning his calls. Then I sent him this email:
"I haven't been ignoring you -- I've just been at a loss for time to be able to call you back. Things have been crazy busy around here, but I think they're finally beginning to slow down. Or maybe I'm just getting used to the pace and have a minute to breathe. At any rate....
"I was actually in Riverside on Saturday night, with some friends to see a show at the community college, and felt guilty that I hadn't called you. The good news is, the show was so good that we're going to try to get tickets to see it again this Saturday. Would you be interested in going? It's a musical called "Once On This Island," and I've loved the music from it for years, but have never been able to find a production of it. It was fabulous and we all loved it. I know how you feel about Austin Powers and Night at the Roxbury and all manner of things related to SNL, but am not sure if this is something that would appeal to you.
"Whaddya think? Interested?
"Other than all of that, I hope things are going well for you and that you're surviving and having fun. Talk to you soon!"
This is nice, right? I was trying to not offend while offering up excuses that he would HAVE to accept. Right? RIGHT? Maybe those rules would apply for a normal person, but not for Branden.
Hang onto them hats and glasses -- Norman's in the house.
"Excuses, excuses, excuses. If anybody is really worth hanging onto, you would have called them, left a voice message during a bathroom break at work. You have to make time for ones you are interested in and in your self centered world, you are the center and nobody else is probably interested. I don't buy it, I am not flattered by this, I have been too busy to call you back this week so I am writing you my farewell to you. I am dating somebody else right now, and she treats me alot better than you. Simple decision for me. I thought I had a good time with you and it was a no-brainer for you to go out with me again. I doubt you will find anybody as good as me. But the deal is, you DID NOT treat me with respect, and I therefore have lost a lot of respect for you, and then you admitted you had been rude, which proves this is a premeditated crime. I am sure you can understand and respect this per your note below.
"There is no point in me dating somebody I don't respect. I can never have any respect for you now that I know how you operate. When you are interested and when you need a date to a concert, and when it is convenient for you to go to Riverside, then you finally call me after 4 attempts? I don't trust you and I am sure if we ever dated this would get worse. I hope you remember how you blew it with this tall good looking guy and that is part of the reason you will remain in single hell forever. You sound like a fallen criminal, "I accept full responsibility". Too much too little too late Laura. Ha Ha."
Then ... What? Really? Did he just banish me to singles' hell? As long as he's not there, it can't be that hellish. What an ego! Obviously he's forgotten that this "tall good looking guy" is 48 and never been married. Hmmmm. Where do we really think the problem lies?
Speaking of egos, I couldn't just let him blast me like this without trying to take him down a notch. I deleted my first draft, because for as scathingly delicious as it was, he's too dense to be able to get it, so I went for the guilt trip route:
"Wow. I really wish I knew where all of this flippancy is coming from.
"How could I even know you were interested, when I didn't hear from you for a week after our date? I actually thought you weren't interested, and was wondering what I had done wrong, [Yeah, right. But nice touch, don't you think?] so it came somewhat as a shock when you suddenly started calling me again. Then, that next week, layoffs started at my company, so I've literally been through three weeks of hell with dealing with trying to find a new job. I've also been dealing with family crises with my dad's health, and other family things. With all of that happening, I didn't think it fair to burden someone I had just met with all of my life issues. I wasn't in much of a position to do anything more than keep my head above water.
"It hurts me that you would call me selfish, when all I was trying to do was get things off between us on the right foot.
"It's times like these you can tell who your true friends are. [Like the ones who know when they need medication.]
"I'm sorry that you feel like you have to be so sarcastic and mean just to say goodbye.
"I wish you the best of luck in life, Branden." [Good riddance, jerkface.]
Sadly, he just didn't know when to quit. And he always has to have the last word. Which was:
"I don't think one date demands a call back the next morning saying "I still respect you darling" when we didn't even kiss." [Thank goodness! I'd have cooties if we had!] "All you have to tell me in the future is 'hey Branden, got your call, I am kind of busy with work right now, can you call me tomorrow?' Not calling a woman 2 or 3 weeks after a first date is not the end of the world if you aren't going steady or aren't engaged and it was your first date. [But apparently, a woman not calling an ego-inflated jerk within minutes of getting his call is disrepectful. Right.] I could have called you the next day and you may have said you were busy, I certainly don't want to rush things. [I just want to guilt you into liking me.] I was starting to date someone else at the same time so I needed a week to evaluate. That is better than going full bore with 2 women and hurting them both, isn't it. [Ooooh! I guess he showed me, didn't he?]
"My father is ill and I have been layed off from IBM in 1993 so I understand about job crisis things. I don't feel guilty that you have those problems and I called, I was calling to share time with you, thank you for sharing them now, that is better than keeping someone guessing about why they don't return calls from me.
"I like the fact you are from Burbank and I used to live there and I am sure we can work out a date again, but you need to stay in touch. Messages on voice recorders can hold over until we talk, but I don't want to keep calling somebody and then get an email telling they have in fact been getting the calls but don't have time to call back. Think about it. IF too much damage is done, then good-bye.
"If you want to try again, try calling me back next time when I call and stay in touch. that forms the basis of a good foundation for a friendship. Friendships can lead to other things. Maybe you are inexperienced from dating, but I am sure of one thing, constant communication and returning emails and voice mails and phone calls shows somebody you care." [Can you see how much he cares? Can you feel the love? Clearly, I have much to learn from about communication and inter-personal skills from this fine bastion of society. Jerk.]
Don't judge me too harshly. But. I just couldn't let it end there. No, I'm not a glutton for punishment, I just knew I was right and he was wrong, and I needed to prove it to him. Even knowing he wouldn't listen, I wanted to guilt him into realizing he was wrong.
So I called him.
Thankfully, he wasn't home, so I left a very terse message.
When he did call back, I had just gotten back from having to work at 3:00 on a Saturday morning, so I wasn't really in the mood to be charitable. I was just in the mood to get him as far away from me as possible. Our conversation went something like this:
Branden: [rehash everything already said in the emails. You're a big meanie for not returning my calls.] "Even if you are having a hard time at work and worried about your dad's health, you should have returned my calls."
Laura: (Incredulously thinking, did he really just say I should have been focused on him? Really?) "Wow, Branden, that was really unsympathetic. I guess you've said everything you felt you nee.."
Laura: (turns to friends) "He just hung up on me."
And that was that. I put him out of my mind, except for those times when I needed a good, "Oh yeah? Let me tell you about this guy I met..." story.
Last week. (Really, I'm not making this up. You can't write fiction this good.)
I get another email from him: "Laura, why did you give up on us?"
I had no hesitation in replying, "Your question implies that there's blame to be placed, specifically on me. I will not play that game. You said what you chose to say, and hung up on me without giving either of us a fair shot. So, to answer your question, ask yourself the same thing. Let me know what you come up with."
Pretty good, huh? Aren't you proud of me? I thought that would shut him up for good. But I forgot who I was dealing with. Stupid Branden. Stupid, psycho, dense, self-focused Branden.
"Laura, I think you are a bit uptight about this whole thing. My issue was you didn't call me back after 2 or 3 attempts on my part over a week or two period and I began to wonder how anybody can function in a relationship where people don't return calls. [Easy. If the other person in the relationship is you, then that's the ONLY way to function. Avoidance.] Then suddenly you started calling me to invite me some where, and that was a little bit weird on my part because I had given up on you, written you off. [As evidenced by the four voicemails in two days. Yes, clearly, my dear disillusioned boy, you had given up on me. That would also explain, I suppose, your renewed interest in me.]
"So when I called your residence, you appeared angry at me and I just thought by hanging up I would beat you to it, because I thought that is where the conversation was headed. You said I was rude, etc. and I thought you were rude for not returning my original calls. It seems like you never accepted blame for that part.[And yet, didn't we all see the part where I clearly accepted responsibility for it? Words fail me. I don't see how he can really and truly be so thick-headed.] It seems like you were angered that I didn't call you back right after the date, but once I did, it seems you had to make me wait awhile vs just calling me back.
"I think you probably would hold a grudge against me forever, but I didn't do anything that bad. I can forgive you, can you forgive me and let it go? I think you were hurt by the fact I took so long to call you, but I did wait a little period of time, and it wasn't rude to wait a little while. What appears to be rude is when someone tries to contact you and then you ignore him."
I did not respond to this. Yay, Laura! And just when I think he's finally getting it, I get this:
"May we talk on the phone sometime?"
Really? He can't be serious. So I asked him very simply, "Why?" To which he responded:
"There was a misunderstanding, we may be able to get on track. I can forget it. We did go out and I had a good time. You are a nice person, I am a nice person, can you let it drop? If not that is ok. I would like to try to talk to you.
"Did you find another job? Are you able to stay in your Company if you move or are you looking at other companies? Do you still live in the same place?
That's it. For reals.
Now what? I don't know. But I welcome your advise and input. My initial reaction, just so you know, is, "When there's ice skating in hell." I think that my girl friends would agree with me. But if there are any men out there, I welcome your insight. Maybe there's some sort of male chromosome driving all of this that I just don't get.
For the time being, I'm trying to keep Ego in check while letting Self Esteem exercise control.