Everything with Evan has gone up in smoke!
Last night, after much arguing with myself over the wisdom of calling the man I liked rather than waiting for him to call me, I dialed his number. It was 10:30.
“Hi Evan. It’s Lily.”
“Oh … hi.” He sounded unenthusiastic. Even though I am hypersensitive and can feel rejected over almost anything, I was pretty sure I wasn’t imagining his lukewarm response.
“Did I catch you at a bad time?” I asked. This is a way of saying “Do you want to talk to me?” without actually saying it.
“No … I have a few minutes to spare.”
This was looking grim indeed. Our conversation stuttered along for a few minutes until finally I said, “Well, it doesn’t sound like this is the best time for you, so I’ll let you go.”
“Why do you say that?” He was using his psychotherapist’s techniques on me! Making me answer questions! Also, why was he saying “Why do you say that?” instead of saying “Well, yes..” or “No, don’t be silly…”
“Well,” I swallowed, and played with the edge of my quilt. I was lying in bed. “You didn’t sound very happy to hear from me, and I’d rather not bother you if that’s the case.”
“You don’t want to bother me? Why not?” For the first time this evening I heard warmth in Evan’s voice.
“Why don’t I want to bother you?” What kind of a conversation was this? “Well, I’d never want you to pick up the phone and think, ‘Oh no, not her.’ I … wouldn’t want to contribute to your unhappiness. I’d rather not talk to you in that case.”
“Well,” Evan said at last. “I’ve been upset about our talk on Saturday night. And I didn’t know if I wanted to talk to you.”
“Oh.” I said, taken aback. “Were you planning to tell me this?”
“I’m telling you now,” said Evan flatly, and my hackles rose.
“I’m sorry if I offended you,” I began.
“You did offend me,” Evan said. “My job and Group X is very important to me. John Smith is a very important person in my life, and it offends me when people refer to him as a cult leader.”
Had I done that? Well, sort of. I’d expressed my fears about Group X. I’d tried to do it politely and with respect for his intelligence and allegiances, but. Evan continued, “I want to know why it is why people feel free to give their opinions on something they know nothing about.”
You’re so hostile, I thought, and grimaced at my own use of psychological clichés as Evan went on: Why is it that people think I’m in a cult?” His voice rose. “I’m obviously an intelligent young man—” yes, certainly, “You would think that people might not make assumptions about things they’ve read on the Internet.”
“Evan, by people, do you mean me?” Because seriously, I thought I’d behaved fairly well, trying to understand his involvement with Group X without dismissing him as kind of nuts. And I thought he’d thought so too, judging by the lovely and passionate things he’d said to me later that night.
“Yes, I do mean you.” Oh. “You did offend me—“
“I never meant to offend you—“
“I don’t care that you didn’t mean to offend me,” Evan snapped. So I saw. “You did offend me. What about that?”
There was a long silence. At last I said, “Like I said, I’m sorry that I offended you.” Then: “I think I’m going to go now.” I hung up.
I stared at the display screen. We’d been on the phone for 16 minutes and 33 seconds. My heart was pounding. Evan didn’t call back.
I lay there, my heart still pounding and the phone not ringing and I thought, The things I said didn’t bother you when you were fucking me, did they? And I concocted this theory:
Sometime after we’d had sex that last night, Evan had decided that he no longer wanted to see me. I played with the idea that he felt so strongly about me that he’d deliberately pushed me away – an explanation favored by the romantic and easily injured everywhere – but eventually I decided that I didn’t know the reason for his decision. But he didn't want to see me. And because Evan is used to feeling defensive about Group X, it’s easy to continue to feel defensive about Group X and my doubts about something so important to him were a good enough excuse to dump me if he wanted to blame me for his decision. Which I think he did. I think Evan felt he had to get mad at me in order to justify dumping me. But he didn’t: he only had to tell me he’d changed his mind.
And I wasn’t quite angry, though I was close. On Saturday night, when I’d been near tears, insisting, “I don’t want to have this discussion with you now,” Evan had said, “Look, this talk tonight might end things between us, but I’m not unkind.” And I’d relaxed, because I believed this was true, that Evan was kind. And later, after our talk, when we’d been inching closer together, our limbs touching, he’d said, “I give myself a lot of credit, I think I’m more honest than most guys. You’re very honest too,” he admitted, “But I feel like I deserve more credit because I’m a guy and I think that in general women are braver and more honest than men.”
“You do, eh?” I smirked. “You think you deserve special credit?”
“Yeah,” he said sheepishly, then laughed.
And as I stared at the ceiling I thought, You’re neither honest nor kind. I don’t believe Evan picked a fight with me because I was disrespectful of something that’s important to him. He picked a fight with me because he needed an excuse to be angry.
Hmmmph, I thought. Is there something lacking in my judgment? First Jeremy, now Evan. At times like these it’s good to be reminded that some people don’t find me totally unpalatable. That is, attractive people: Jefferson and Daniel. Then I felt sorry for myself, wondering if I would ever find someone who returned my feelings, was kind, not in a cult, and wasn’t opposed to possibly having children with me one day.
The thing is, I don’t think his about face (or volte-face, as I believe the French call it) can be attributed to the cult. I think he made this decision all on his own.
It’s also instructive to note that while I am unhappy about this turn of events, I haven’t completely lost it, as I did over Jeremy. Part of the reason is because I didn’t know Evan as long, nor did I like and admire him as much. But I think an important part of the reason I’ve managed to retain (mostly anyway) my equilibrium is because he was so passionate, however unreasonable. He wasn’t lukewarm, at least. I can dismiss this failure more easily because Evan’s behavior was so disturbing and, in my opinion, so out of order that I can hardly regret the fact that I won’t be seeing him any longer.
So I guess this is it with me and Evan. I feel totally sideswiped: I didn’t see this coming.