Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Old Boyfriend Stories: Part I

Just to give you some background on my ex (whom I shall call the Notorious D.I.C.), we were together for about two and a half years, two years of which was a long distance relationship. Once the long-distance part was over, our relationship rapidly deteriorated. The following is an example.

At the age of 19, I hadn't had my license for too long. Even though he and I came from a large city with lots of freeways, most of my driving experience at that time was limited to driving around the small university town I was living in. And by small, I mean there was only one large highway, which I only got on to drive back home to visit family. The feeder roads to this highway were two-way roads instead of the normal one-way that you find in big cities. Even in the town itself, I didn't do much driving, since I lived on-campus. I mostly just went to church, the laundromat, and Wal-Mart.

So D.I.C. comes home from his two-year absense. We decide one day to drive out to Mars Music Store, an incredible place to go for a musician (which he was, and I was learning to be). It's all the way out in West Houston, and we had to take I-10 to get there (a freeway). Since I was the one with a car, I drove. D.I.C. had a biting comment for every little thing I did wrong, and that was just from his house to the entrance ramp. Once we got on the freeway, and I had to merge and bob and weave and get from Loop 610 to I-10, we hit some of the worst traffic I have ever seen in my life. I don't know if there was an accident ahead of us, or construction, or a herd of screaming monkeys, but the cars were all just jam packed. The freeway was practically a parking lot. I took an exit and decided to just stay on the feeder, which seemed to have a bit more flow.

D.I.C. had no mercy for me. I was the worst driver he'd ever seen in all his 22 years, I had no idea what I was doing, blah blah blah. He called me names, said I was stupid, every critical thing he could think of, he said. Meanwhile, I'm sitting in the driver's seat, both hands on the steering wheel, already nervous from all the traffic I was wasn't used to, and growing more frightened and discouraged with each remark. I don't know how I managed not to cry. He didn't seem to think he was doing anything wrong, probably because he felt his tone of voice was not hostile. And while it is true that he was not yelling, he sure didn't sound friendly to me.

When at last we finally got to the music store, and I found a parking spot, I made a point to turn off the air conditioner before I turned off the car. (I later learned that this was supposed to prevent problems with the air compressor.) D.I.C. asked me why I did this. I told him that my father told me to always turn off the A/C, that it was good for the car for some reason. D.I.C. proceeds to rail on me for doing what my father asked me to do for my own good. If memory serves, he said something about being stupid for following advice without knowing exactly what it was for. "What if I told you to do (such-and-such) for no good reason?"

At this point, I'd had it. I felt I'd taken enough abuse for one car trip. I could have said (and should have said) a lot of things, but all I said was, "What if I slap the shit out of you right now?"

When I look back on it, I think of all the things I could have done. I could have said (while on the road), "You know what, I'm not used to driving in this kind of traffic, and you? Aren't helping. You're making it worse." Or "Would you like to drive instead of me, since you're such an automotive prodigy?" Or perhaps I could have pulled over at a gas station and said, "Here's $20 and a quarter. If you can't stand my terrible driving, call a cab. Or better yet, call your mother, so she can deal with all this traffic just to take you where you want to go." Or maybe I should have just said, "D.I.C.? Shut. The f***. Up."

My secondmost personal favorite what-I-should-have-said diatribe is "Why do you always have to be such an ass? Why don't you ever have anything positive to say? You're not paying for my car, or my insurance, or even the gas for this little drive-from-hell. You're not my father or my driving instructor, so I don't see why you think you have the right to tell me a damn thing about how I drive. So from now on, do like they taught you in kindergarten: if you don't have something nice to say, shut the hell up."

My absolute favorite response that I fantisize about using: pull over on the side of the freeway and say "Get out. Now." Then leave.

After I made my remark about slapping him, he got quiet for a minute, then stopped and faced me. He apologized for yelling at me. "You didn't yell at me," I said, sounding tired. "Well, I'm sorry for being ugly to you."

I don't remember my response to this. I only remember that when we finally entered the doors of the music store, I didn't want to be near him. I went towards the acoustic guitar room and played a sad song. He went...somewhere. I didn't care. I don't even remember which of us drove my car home. I just remember how much I wish I'd told him off, told him to go to hell, told him to stop treating me like dirt on the ground.

He probably doesn't remember this event. It was many years ago. But I remember. I still feel the emotional scar. I still get nervous when I drive.


Anonymous said...

Oh Sleepless, you crack me up. I can totally imagine you in the car ready pummel him.

Criticism is so unbecoming of a significant other. I know, because mine tends to criticize me from time to time, and I don't think she's very aware of it. She gets it from her mother, who would literally berate her husband in front of the kids while my wife was growing up. So I think it's genetic. It's something she hates, yet doesn't realize she's doing.

There have been things she has said over the years, which sadly have closed some doors in our relationship. Permanently? I don't know. Time will tell.

In the past, she's criticized my writing, so now I share absolutely nothing of my writing with her (I have over 16 different stories that I work on actively, and hope to turn into books). She doesn't have any idea about the blog...

Things are a bit better now than they have been in the past, but like you, I still have some scars inflicted by the the ones who should have been least likely to hurt me.

angel, jr. said...

Wow. I am left a little speechless.
I don't believe in name calling. I think that putting a derogatory label on someone is something that can't be taken back, ever, no matter how many apologies are said. It will always be in the back of one person's mind. For the last couple mature years of my being, I've made it a point to never label a person, even constructively. I label the problem.
I got a forward a few years ago about a father who made his sons put nails into a fence everytime they did something mean to each other. Years later he asked them to remove the nails--the boys said "but now there are holes". He told them that although they may have forgotten the mean things they had done to each other, there was still holes in their souls for the indecent treatment they received. It was something like that. I've babbled. I tend to do that a lot.

KimberlyDi said...

Don't feel bad about Houston. I still shudder at the thought of driving through it. It was one of my most terrifying driving experiences ever. Whatever you feel you should have said to him, remember that you did finally stand up for yourself. Better late than never. He faced what he was doing. That's what matters most.