If deja vu and irony had a baby

Today Otto and I were talking and he told me about a friend of his who’d just broken up with his girlfriend. They were in a long-distance relationship and we all know how much those can suck. Apparently the woman is ready to commit, and the man is… less so. But—as often happens—the man is now wracked with ambivalence, and turned to Otto for advice.

I was about to crack the obvious joke about someone coming to him for relationship advice, but he beat me to it. After some kidding around, he told me he’d really had to think long and hard about what to say. His friend was struggling and Otto wanted to help, if he could.

He showed me the first part of what he’d written, a paragraph about how, in his case, he spent the time that we were apart wondering if he was just meant to be alone. But then he decided to be happy, and I make him happy [everyone together now: Awwww!], and there was some luck and fate involved, but basically It Was Time. He then continued on to say that his friend had a decision to make, and he needed to make the right one for him, for the right reasons, but that when he was ready he would do what needed to be done.

I could barely respond for all the conflicted emotions, and also the sputtering. OKAY MR. MIYAGI, I wanted to say. THANKS FOR YOUR ZEN WISDOM. ALSO, WHO ARE YOU?

In the end, I couldn’t resist pointing out that despite his newfound sense of purpose and peacefulness and “when it’s right you’ll know,” he’d left out one small important detail in his missive.

“What’s that?” he asked.

“Well how about that 99.9% of the time, when you break up with someone because you’re a commitmentphobe, they’re not still available and willing to take you back a few years later after you’ve figured it all out?” As I said this, I wondered if our relationship is a testament to fate or masochism. I did not mention that to Otto, however.

“Well, sure,” he agreed. “I know.” As if I was pointing out the obvious, and this had no bearing on his advice. Also as if our managing to make this work is just as normal and everyday as you please, or if not, still not remarkable enough to qualify in his comments.

There is that huge component of how we are for each other, the way that we just FIT, that sometimes causes me to forget that we spent over two years apart, in varying degrees of misery about it, because he essentially said “this is too much and I don’t want it” back then.

If you had told me, then, that he would go away for a while and come back such a changed man, and that I would give him a second chance, and it would all finally work, I would’ve asked you what you were smoking. And possibly if I could have some.

If you had further told me that now Otto would be dispensing thoughtful relationship advice to other skittish males, I probably would’ve laughed until I wet myself.

Otto mused for a bit on how this woman is The One for his friend, but he hasn’t come to terms with that yet. But he should, and will, he told me with that same eerie calmness. He’d be an idiot to let her go. I think he’ll come around, he said.

I felt myself fighting back tears, and I was on the verge of trying to put into words how far he’s come and how much I love him and how lucky we are, when he showed me the rest of his email:

Now that the good friend role has played out for me, here’s the two knee-jerk reactions …
DUDE, what are you smoking? She was freaking HOT!!!
And …
Eh, screw it … use the airfare to pick up high school chicks …

Is it weird that I was sort of relieved? I mean, I don’t want to marry a pod person. If that isn’t proof positive that the guy I first fell for 17 years ago is still alive and well in there, I don’t know what is.


  1. Karen Rani

    At the risk of sounding cheese-deli: if you love something, set it free…

    Also? You two crack me up.

  2. InterstellarLass

    Ugh. Relationship advice. *cringe* I actually think it’s fairly easy to see when people should or should not be together. But I don’t want to stick my nose in.

  3. Cele

    I’ve never understood what older men see in teenage girls… I mean beside the perky breasts and bubble butt (pre-menopausal spread.) What is it? Wishful thinking? Non-challenging dialogue? Ill equipped to compare?

    Oh and I did go…Awwwww!

  4. Sara

    I think I have the teensiest crush on Otto–he’s smart AND hilarious. (Which, incidentally are two of my husband’s best qualities. So, it’s okay, I’m not a stalker….)

  5. Brigitte

    I’m with InterstellarLass, I prefer not to stick my nose in . . . but if a friend/relative MAKES me, I kind of do it like Otto did. You clarify their pros and cons for them, then lighten it up with a big shot of humor so they don’t think you’re judging them and (lovingly) screaming in your head ” You idiot!” (even though really you are).

  6. David

    I have to say I like Otto’s two knee-jerk answers at the end. They sum it all up quite succinctly. Myself, I think the guy ought to go for it. But I’m a hermit, so what do I know?

  7. Ben

    At least Otto wasn’t asking for the poor girl’s phone number.

    Just sayin’

  8. mar

    Yea, but what I want to know – did some sage, all knowing friend give him the same advice about you, or did someone just slap him upside the head and say “Dude – what are you doing???”

    Either way, very funny and just a little touching all around!

  9. Aimee

    Awwwwww! And yeah, relationship advice is dicey stuff indeed.

  10. Rebecca

    Men. Phhft. :-D

  11. jilbur

    Well so I just want to respond to the serious point you made here, which is: if you retreat because you’re not ready, aren’t you taking a big risk that the person won’t be available when you *are* ready?

    So: yes, of course that’s a risk, and if it turns out unfortunately then there’s loss and sorrow. But the right person at the wrong time is no better, ultimately, than the wrong person at the right time … You can’t leapfrog over yourself, ultimately, no matter how much you might want to.

    Now I am in a situation where neither party was *supposed* to feel as though s/he was ‘ready’, but lo and behold, the conventional wisdom on that hasn’t panned out in this situation either. For both of us, it feels 100% right, in spite of the weird timing. Internal processes are unfathomable.

  12. Jenn2

    This post makes me glad Mr. Clairol was ready to commit. Really, really glad.

  13. Jenn2

    Oh and the title rocks, girlfriend.

  14. Northern Girl

    If Otto says anything like “Wax on…wax off” I’d bet Body Snatchers are involved. :)

  15. Bob

    I was going to write what Jilbur did. The right person at the wrong time is still wrong.

  16. Otto

    Ben –

    I have the “poor girl’s phone number.” And she had called me, but didn’t leave a message, apparently when this all happened. (I called her back, but got voice mail, and she hasn’t returned the call.)

    So, now what does an Otto do? It all gets really messy when you’re friends with both sides. She’s of “that age” when it’s all she thinks about. He’s a bit older and somewhat settled in his world (which has been pretty well upended with a massive career change and starting a lot of things over again).

    And, of course, they live 2,000 miles apart … one knows, one suspects. One needs a decision, the other isn’t there yet. How much of this is a gut-reaction decision? How sure do you need to be? Those are some of the things they’re wrestling with.

    It’s not a question of if it’ll work, it’s a question of whether both of them want it to work. That’s what we’re poking at.

    -otto out

  17. Megan

    And with a long-distance relationship there are a lot of extra considerations to make other than just committing to the person. Who moves? Who has a job that is more flexible? Leaving family, friends, support to move somewhere where you know 1 person. It is a HUGE committment. Better to feel really right about the decision than say yes before you’re ready.

  18. Liise

    heh heh heh Otto said “poking”

  19. elswhere

    mostly o/t but: jilbur! Hi! Nice to see you out there in the world still!

  20. Krisco

    What about the “he’s just not that into you” theory?

    If he’s not sure (right now) – isn’t that the answer?

    (Gawd, you’d think I’m a teenager, rather than the hardened, dated-forever, eventually-married gal that I am.)

  21. Christina


  22. Katherine

    Ah, now that’s a man’s man!

  23. Melanie

    I love that he was all mature and well-adjusted at first, then showed the true colors at the bottom – otherwise, you’re right, that would be utterly scary. Plus a man with his sh!t that together could make you look bad if you screw up.

  24. Gillian

    Guys range from scum to sizzling but the whole spectrum seems to have certain things that bind them despite their vast differences. The pity is that it is things like bathroom humor that never grows old and agreement that even though she is really old, ugly with a tendency to drink until her eyes roll back in her head they say in unison ‘But I’d do her.’ Some things are just on the Y chromosome.

  25. BethR

    I’ve known a few couples in this predicament, and my anecdotal evidence argues that it’s better for the two to break up, and then get back together if the stars align. I know several couples that have gone this route (including my own parents!) who wound up in great marriages when the unsure party realized after the breakup that s/he was making a big mistake. On the other hand, the couples that simply stayed together when one person had significant concerns often had trouble later, because the unsure party never got to chance to see if the grass really *was* greener on the single side.

  26. Belinda

    You simply cannot go wrong with a man whose name is an anagram.

Things I Might Once Have Said


Quick Retail Therapy

Pin It on Pinterest