Let's be real. If you're #SingleAfter30, it's safe to say you've got a few regrets in life. That job opportunity you didn't take, the trip to paradise you passed up, that waitress working the third shift at Bickfords you shouldn't have taken home. That's typical. Regret is an inevitable consequence of life. Sometimes it helps to remember that we aren't alone, though. Married folks have just as many regrets. Such as, "why did I ever marry this frigid hag in the first place", and "are those really MY kids?!", or "good thing I only get it twice a year, doctor says the antibiotics should kick in by then."
Married or single, there's no doubt we would have done a couple things differently if we had the chance. Even happy people, or those wretched "everything happens for a reason" fortune cookie romantics, would change at least a detail or two here and there. But for us, riding the #SingleAfter30 Express to Palookasville, there's one regret we dwell on. Obsess over. Sleepless nights and hazy day dreamy what ifs. She's the one who got away.
If only that description were accurate. She's not the one who got away. She's not a fish in a pond who stole your bait. She didn't rob a bank and cross over into Mexico with Poncho Villa. She didn't get away at all, actually you chased her off, let her go. Or you scared her off, or weren't available enough, or had a threesome with her sister and the neighbor upstairs who wasn't even attractive until she told you she wanted to sleep with your lady. In other words, she's the one you messed everything up with. Nobody pines after someone who rejected them, or betrayed them, or they don't really like very much. And if you do, you're a special kind of #SingleAfter30: stone cold stupid.
Simply put, you wouldn't regret that piece of your past unless you knew there was untapped potential left on the table. Who cares about someone who has proven to be less than worthy of your precious time and attention? Which is why it eats us alive. Could have, would have, should have. What might life be today if only I had her by my side? Who might I be instead? It's all very optimistic, but at this point, it feels nice just to fantasize that you COULD have had a better life, that you WERE capable of something more...and if I was eight inches taller, had a three foot vertical, really precise aim and a sweet nickname I could have been an NBA star.
Fantasy or not, you never stop thinking about her. In your darkest personal moments or greatest moments of triumph, wishing she was there to share it with. The smell of her perfume you swear you got a waft of. When every television couple and song lyric on the radio reminds you of her, you know she's the one who got away. So let's dwell on it, shall we?
The company I worked for was looking for a spokesperson for a new ad campaign, and my team was put in charge of finding the talent. We auditioned for over two weeks, rejecting stripper after stripper before finding the perfect girl. She was cute, personable, took direction easily, and definitely had a certain magnetism to her. I signed her up immediately, and my bosses were ecstatic to know they would be represented by such a knockout. Unfortunately, two weeks before we were ready to hit the ground, she suffered a workplace injury, preventing her from fulfilling her obligations. Damndest thing. Fell off a pole and fractured her clavicle. Sigh, turns out she took her clothes off for money too. As a silver lining, it was better to find out then rather than get fired for it later for ruining their wholesome family image.
So I was left with a dilemma. Two weeks before the big campaign, and I've got no talent. As a red blooded American, I did what came natural: I drank heavily and bitched to my colleagues. In this case, I happen to be sharing the bar with a pal in the TV business. My saving grace. He just happened to have hired a new intern that week, and she was experienced in theatre, a bona fide actress. Hell, he could have sent me his grandmother's middle school teacher at that point and I would have signed her, I was that desperate. The fact I got so lucky was actually lost on me in the moment.
We set up the audition for the next afternoon. Couldn't let this young starlet think we intended to just GIVE her the part, right? Even if that was the reality of the situation. But before we were even allowed to meet our future ad model and spokesperson, we had to go through Dad. Apparently, Dad also doubled as her agent, life coach, nutritionist, trainer, best friend, and quite possibly her pimp, as the story will reveal. Dad scared me. He scared all of us. An ex-military type, six feet six inches of don't you dare fuck with my daughter. You wondered if she called him Colonel instead of Dad, and if perhaps a salute was more appropriate under the mistletoe in that house around Christmas rather than a kiss and cheap feel. Once Dad felt satisfied that we were not going to put his daughter on the casting couch, or ask her to do anything scandalous, we were allowed to meet her.
It only took a moment, less than a second. In the time it takes to blink your eyes, my whole life ceased to mean anything. Everything I had ever believed in suddenly didn't matter anymore. Every thought, every emotion, every experience became meaningless. Because Way Too Good For Me walked into that room, 22 years old, with the glowing radiance of a Fukushima fireworks party. She was more than beautiful, she was elegant. Greek poets had her in mind when taking pen to page. Her voice, a song written just for the heart. And wits enough to charm a room full of men twice and thrice her age. I was smitten. So I didn't complain when I was assigned to essentially be her handler, the young man in an old man's game.
She was perfect for the part. Every picture was flawless. Every line she was asked to read sounded as sincere as if it had come out of her own diary. Men flocked to her, women admired and envied her, and children would gather around her like Snow White singing to the animals in the forest. Anything she was asked to do, everywhere she was asked to go, Way Too Good For Me nailed it, and impressed everyone she came into contact with in the process. I was well beyond smitten now, I was falling and falling fast.
The campaign came to an end a couple months later, a resounding success all around. It came time to part ways, our business complete. For days I agonized, how could I compromise my professional ethics to ask this girl out? No no, that's not a moral question. Literally, how was I going to make that happen? I must have been wearing lucky drawers that season, because Dad heard my prayers. I half suspect he bugged my apartment and my office. Dad came down to the office to talk to me, let me know it would be in my best interest to date his daughter, Way Too Good For Me. Sort of like they tell you it's in your best interest to pay for neighborhood protection in mob movies. I have never felt so elated to be subtly threatened. By an overprotective parent who wants me to put my filthy hands on his pride and joy, no less. I should have been trying my hand at roulette around this time, maybe.
I don't know that I've ever been so nervous for a date. I'm a social guy, I meet lots of people. Way Too Good For Me had me feeling not quite myself, off my game. And we weren't even strangers, having spent hours and hours together. But hey, I'm a grown-up, I'm #SingleAfter30, I'm not gonna let that show. Played it cool as Billy Dee, Way Too Good For Me had no fraction of a clue that she was indeed way too good for me. In fact, she was feeling like I was just the right amount of good for her....
....To put this into context, it has been four hours since I finished the previous paragraph. Reliving what I'm about to share put me into a state of uncontrollable sobbing, weeping, and binging on Remy Martin. I've vomited myself back to sobriety, but don't know how much longer I can hold out. So I will make this as quick and painful as possible.
It was a work day and a school night, so we had driven to the bistro separately and decided to call it an early night. We walked out to the parking lot, gazing into each others eyes, drunk on our infatuation. I walked her to her car. She asked me if she could give me a ride to my car. It was four spots away. I said I would walk.
I said I would walk!
Needless to say, she never returned my calls after that. Still hear from Dad now and again. He likes to kick me in the pants. "You know that should be you marrying her, right?" But hey, I still get to see her...on television, like every other schmuck who is in love with her. Her fiance too. He's some PR something for some political blah blah blah...ahhh, who cares.
They say you can't look back. You can't live in the past, wondering so often. Regret gets exhausting. But the fact remains, you know I should be marrying her, right? When you're #SingleAfter30, best believe you've got something worth regretting. Besides, I'm drunk again and the waitresses working graveyard at Denny's get off in a couple hours.
#SingleAfter30: The Affair You Never Knew You Were Having!!!