The minute I left Dean’s apartment I placed a phone call to my sainted therapist: “Caroline?” I bleated to her voice mail. “This is Lily. I’ve precipitated a crisis with Dean. Can you call me back as soon as you get this?”
Then I went to work in the (mild) November rain, where I did what I always do when faced with romantic confusion: I emailed Jefferson. I had confided my crush on Dean to him some months ago, and he had been unfailingly kind in allowing me to blather on about it. Jefferson has also been the patient recipient of my more inane ramblings, like my astonishment at coming across a reference to Lesa Aldridge in an old Smithsonian magazine (kind of obscure: Aldridge is the onetime girlfriend of Alex Chilton -- he of the super-awesome Big Star, The Box Tops, and that Replacements song) as well as my disgruntlement at my sister’s choice of name for my newborn nephew (she named the baby after our grandfather. But that name was earmarked for my as-yet-unborn son!) Best of all, Jefferson always responds to my emails, and in a timely manner. Truly, yea, he is a paragon. And then, after some cathartic whining, I composed an email to Dean.
It was a very nice email, but it said that I was dumping him on the grounds that I didn’t think he wanted to be my boyfriend, and the casual nature of our relationship was turning me into a nervous wreck. I waited for Caroline to call me back before I sent it, since I never do anything without her approval. When she phoned I recounted my conversation with Dean. She suggested that perhaps instead of dumping him as a preemptive strike, I should instead ask Dean if he wanted to date me seriously.
“I don’t want to do that,” I whined. “That gives him the chance to reject me.” Also, it would make my email an ultimatum, which meant I was the kind of woman who gave ultimatiums: manipulative, scheming ... female. I preferred to see myself in a more flattering light.
But Caroline prevailed, since she is the therapist and I am the neurotic. I thanked her and then I sent the following email:
Hi. I cannot tell you how much I regret our conversation last night. I revealed information I suspected you did not want to hear and painted myself into a corner. But I learned my lesson, and that lesson is Lay off the pinot grigio. I'm still hungover. Jesus.
But the corner. As I said, I want to date you seriously, exclusively, whatever. But you said you weren’t sure you were capable of being in a relationship, which, alas, didn’t sound like a yes to me.
I think that the more I see you, the more I will want that kind of intimacy. So there are two options. One is I stop seeing you. Frankly, my nerves are shot and if we continue to date casually, there is a strong likelihood of a repeat of last night’s theatrics. I’m not up for that. The other option is you give some thought to us dating exclusively. And then you say, ‘OK, sounds good.’ That means we take our personals profiles down and you think of me as your girlfriend and when we get together we make dumb jokes and have sex.
Anyway. I’m sorry I haven’t got the nerve to talk to you about this in person. I will be disappointed if you don’t want to give it a go, but I will understand. (This part was not really true: I would have a hard time understanding. For once I was the victim of high self-esteem; I thought he ought to want to date me). I will miss you. I like you tremendously and think you’re lovely and, if this is it, I really hope everything turns out well for you. Take care. Many kisses.
I sent it and decided I would not check my email until the following morning. To facilitate this, I went home and went to bed. It was not yet 7:00 pm, but I’d had a trying 24 hours.
The following morning there was an email in my inbox from Dean. He too apologized for the conversation, said he liked me very much, and needed to discuss my proposition with his therapist. See? I thought, We have so much in common!
So then I settled down to wait for his answer. I didn’t cry, though. I’m done with that. At least I hope I am.