True Love? — Alone again
After he got dumped, all Daniel, 18, wanted was a girlfriend.
"I’ve found another guy," my girlfriend said, fighting back tears. I guess I was naïve. I thought we’d always be together. We stayed up all night talking on my back porch while I tried to figure out what I would do without my best friend. Who would I talk to late at night? Who could I cuddle when it rained? I was on my own again.
Reprinted from March-April 1997
The first couple weeks after the breakup, she dominated my thoughts. If I saw a couple kissing on TV, I’d change the channel. At the video arcade, I remembered the times she would distract me from playing the video games by kissing me. I remembered how she saved the first roses I gave her until they turned black. Sometimes I’d stand outside at night, hoping she’d drive up in her red Explorer.
One night I started listening to U2′s "With or Without You," sipping a warm beer and staring at an old picture of us from a photo booth. I went to my room and cried. It was the first of many depressing lonely nights.
I tried going to a dance club by myself. When I got to the door I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go in or not. But the ticket guy said that pretty soon the place would be "crawling with girls." All I remember about that night was the loud, annoying band and a bunch of drunk women grabbing onto some guy with greased-back hair and ugly yellow pants.
My friend had the brilliant idea of going to a strip club. While we were around the little table that the girl dances on, the other guys started tossing down dollar bills so she would dance in front of them. We were all staring at the same piece of skinny, high-heeled fantasy. I just couldn’t enjoy myself. What might have drawn the girls to become strippers? What if they were abused or molested as girls? If this was the case with these girls, then I felt ashamed for enjoying it. I left $40 poorer and feeling worse than when I came in, while my friend was glowing all the way back to my house, because he got the private lap dance.
One night I went to the beach and started admiring the calm movements of the waves and the moon shimmering on the water. I noticed a girl sitting alone. "Maybe I can talk to her and she’ll be my new girlfriend," I thought. We spent the night talking and walking around. After a while I started to realize that she wasn’t my ex-girlfriend and had no qualities resembling her. I bought her dinner, got her phone number and promised to call. When I got home, I threw the number away.
Then I met a girl in an SAT class. When the class ended, we exchanged numbers and went out twice, but then I stopped returning her calls. When she called, I didn’t want to talk to her, and I just shooed her away. It felt good. It was like a power thing. I really acted like a jerk.
There was another girl in my Spanish class. The first couple weeks of school I didn’t even notice her but as time went on, with the teacher babbling on, I started to get interested. She talked about her manicures and what toenail colors best matched her blouse. I kept trying to convince myself how superficial she was, but for some reason I still found her attractive. I asked her if I could have her phone number in case I had any problems with my homework. The same night I called. She said she had to go because she was watching TV. She totally blew me off!
Then I remembered a girl I used to like a few years ago. She was still around. I agonized over how to approach her. First I sent her a Valentine. She came up to me and said, "Oh, that was very sweet."
That seemed like a green light, so I started following her around. I noticed where she parked her car. One day I waited for her by her car. "Um … I was just wondering if you would like to go out with me sometime?" She looked down at the ground and (while I was planning our marriage and what to name our kids) she said, "Sorry, I already have a boyfriend."
I smiled politely, feeling so small that a cockroach could feast on me. As I walked away, I bit my big white notebook as hard as I could, leaving huge tooth marks. I felt so bad that I started seeing things—weird shapes and colors. Everyone who passed me looked disfigured. I tried my best not to think about the incident, but I knew that I was in for several days of sorrow. I imagined a banner in front of the school reading, "DANIEL GOT REJECTED."
I called my old girlfriend once in a while, but it was painful to talk to her when we weren’t really close anymore. Finally, I started dating this other girl for about a month and a half. We went to the movies and went out to eat and talked on the phone. Finally I asked her what she thought of me. She said that she just thought of me as a "friend." A friend? Just a friend? I dropped my head in disappointment. I knew that I wasn’t going to be calling her anymore. She said, "I’m sorry if I hurt you but I still want to hang out. I feel bad because I value our friendship." That pissed me off even more. Did she think I was spending time with her just so I could be her friend?
So here I am, still waiting for that "special someone." And let me tell you, I’m tired of waiting, tired of playing games, tired of being rejected. I’m tired of people telling me, "When you finally do find the right person, you will appreciate the relationship more."
Some day there’ll be a girl for me. She’ll be caring and open-minded. Maybe she’ll be different from me. Maybe she’ll be pretty. I’m not sure. This much I know: She won’t reject me.
Daniel Weintraub is now an educator in Inglewood. About his relationships, he wrote, "In high school, the main reason I wanted a girlfriend was so I could get with her or show off. This priority has changed. With my girlfriend Yessica, we have a spiritual connection, and common views on raising a family, growing in our religion and building a life together. And though times are hard sometimes, like in the MTV show "Newlyweds," in the end we always know that we love each other. I wish I knew then what I know now."