"So, where's your crazy?" I asked him, taking a swig of my Mojito.
"What do you mean," he asked. I had just rather abruptly switched tack from discussing which appie we were sharing.
"Well, my crazy is always out there, on display, " I pointed out. "I'm overdramatic, histrionic, at once flirty and prickly...it's all there. YOU, on the other hand. You seem so normal, so well adjusted. You communicate. Where's your crazy."
"I suppose in bed," he said thoughtfully. I spewed Mojito across the table, choking.
"Good answer," I muttered.
After that conversation, we were off to the races, and soon left friend territory behind for more exciting lands. Unfortunately, David also seemed to think, within days, that we were also crossing the line from dating, or sleeping together, to serious relationship, rather more quickly than I would wish, given that I had disclosed, in abbreviated terms, the sad history of Complicated Man and cautioned that my heart was bruised, that I would have to take it slow.
Our first sleepover was a Friday, and was accompanied once again by a talk about how I like to take things slow, that what is comfortable for me is to push people away, and that while I was going to try my best not to do that, I was only prepared to take baby steps, romantically speaking. That Sunday, he asked me to brunch to meet his ENTIRE circle of friends, who, when I arrived, had all clearly been briefed about me. I smiled through the brunch and suppressed my paranoia, offering up my cheek when he tried to kiss me in front of the entire table.
The following Tuesday, after yet another dinner with another set of David's friends, and another talk about why, no, I was not comfortable being referred to as his girlfriend yet or changing my Facebook relationship status, given we had only been dating a few weeks, and again explaining how I was trying very hard to move on from hurtful things in the recent past, David dropped the bomb.
"I love you RCC," he said, staring into my eyes. I covered my face with my hands.
"It's too soon," I wailed.
"I know," he said. "I'm sorry. It's just...I was in love with you years ago, and couldn't deal with it then, and now all the emotions are just flooding back, and...I love you. I'm sorry. I'm sorry."
I couldn't say it back. I just stared at him.
"I don't want to hurt you," I said softly.
"I don't think you could," he said, smiling. Which made it even more clear to me that he wasn't in love with the real me, he was in love with this idea of me he's been caring around for eight years. Because the real me definitely had the capacity to hurt him. And if he knew what was good for him, he would have seen that.
From that point on, David got just that much more clingy, and I got that much more freaked out. On Wednesday he tried to sleep over and I made him go home. I needed alone time. On Friday, we went to a burlesque show with my BFF and her new man, who came for drinks at my place first. David, who had showed up with flowers for me, played the genial host, serving drinks, offering people a seat. At MY house. It was a little unnerving. Then, at the end of the evening, after we had all come back to my house for drunken snackies, and the last guest had left, David remained, loading the dishwasher, wiping down the counters.
"You don't have to do that," I said several times from the sofa. "I'll do it in the morning."
"No, no," he said. "I'll do it now." He continued puttering around my kitchen.
Finally I stood up.
"Well, I'm tired and going to bed," I said, yawning and stretching. "Good night."
David didn't take the hint.
"I'm going to have a shower," he said.
I was annoyed, but a little too drunk and tired to point out he had not been invited to stay. I climbed in bed and prayed I'd be asleep by the time he came to bed. I wasn't; he climbed in, and soon began snoring, so loudly it woke me up. I sighed, stood up, and stumbled down the hall to the spare room.
David heard me and quickly followed.
"Was I snoring? Oh, sorry sorry...I'll sleep in here," he said.
"No," I said. "I don't like the idea of you sleeping in the guest bedroom. You should just go home."
"But I want to be here, with you."
"But you're not. You're down the hall. In the guest room."
"But I want to be there."
"But. I. Don't. Want. You. To."
I couldn't believe he was making me argue with him about whether he was welcome in my house or not. I insisted he could not sleep in the spare room, like my handservant. This would not do. I could tell he was close to tears as he slunk towards the door. I was furious and relieved when he left.
At the door, he turned. "I won't call you tomorrow," he said. "YOU call me when you get up."
I nodded tiredly, knowing I would not call.
When I woke up the next morning, there were two voicemails from David.
And the bonus? My BFF had two voicemails from David. The first, informing her (mistakenly) that my phone was "toast" after I had sent him a Facebook message telling him I had taken my iPhone to the Apple Store (it wasn't toast, nor was there any need for him to tell my BFF about it), and a second, telling her that the two of them should get together soon to start planning my 30th birthday party. WHICH IS FIVE MONTHS AWAY.
BFF was furious. I was furious. And now, David has crossed from potentially-really-nice guy to crazy-clingy-and-just-a-little-bit-scary-guy.
I called him on it. I sent him an email laying out in no uncertain terms how I was feeling, and why he was jumping the gun and needed to take a step back. In 10 days, we had the L-bomb, plus all this clingy boyfriend behaviour. And the calls to the BFF? Back the fuck off.
He sent a reply to the email saying he was working on a reply. He also sent me a message on Facebook to ensure I understood that he had received the email. 4 hours later, came a biblical second reply in which he admitted he was completely in the wrong, grovelled more than slightly, begged me to always tell him when he's being obtuse because he "doesn't get hints" and "doesn't understand when he is behaving inappropriately in relationships," and gave himself "action points" to take away, such as "Do not treat things RCC tells you about baggage as merely RCC trivia, understand this applies to your actions and behaviour" and "Do not assume RCC feels the same way you do and that what is good for you is good for her."
The email made things worse, almost. Maybe a different kind of woman would appreciate this. I didn't. His backbone completely disappeared, and the fact that he is trying to hold on to a woman who has basically said, "I'm pissed off with you and not interested in being your girlfriend so chill the fuck out" has somehow made him less attractive. I'm not feelin' it anymore. And it's disappointing. And also, I don't know that I can be with someone who has relationship autism, who can't read cues, doesn't know how to act, and actually INVITES out-and-out criticism as this is the "only way" he will know he is behaving inappropriately.
So. I've told him I won't see him for a week. There have been emails but I haven't responded to them. A guy friend, Max, said earlier in the week of David, "It's always better to have the guy be more keen on you than the other way around." But you know what? Sometimes it's not. I know I tend to push people away who tell me they find me attractive. I've been quite aware of that with David and have suppressed that reaction in order to see where things go. But if where things go is being told "I love you" in a week, and having someone ready to move in within 10 days, and me not feelin' it within two weeks, I think I'd rather revert to aloofness. Maybe one day I'll attract a man who can cut through my bullshit and still retain his dignity.