What had happened was… I was distracted. I had the D'Angelo video (that Untitled tune with all the nekkidity, six packs and whatnot) playing on VH1 Soul plus I was tweeting on one computer while proofreading something else on my laptop… I just wasn't paying attention. So when my cell phone rang, I answered without checking the caller id. I know, I know… playette FAIL.
"Michele?" Male voice. Didn't recognize it.
"This is Bill." No help.
"I'm sorry, Bill who?"
"Bill Pollard." Oh snap. Blast from the past. (as always, name changed)
Over ten years ago I met Bill while walking through a mall. He managed a furniture store; I was a young Human Resources Assistant at a Fortune 500 company. Bill was 6'2", sexy and caramel colored, originally from Florida. He was a sweet guy, heart of gold, super affectionate, cooked for me (literally made and brought me homemade chicken soup when I was sick), and worried more about how I was feeling than how he was. In the beginning, I had very few complaints. He had a tendency to butcher the English language every once and a while, "I seent dat." What is seent? "You know I loveded that gurl," Loved-ed? Every time he dropped one of those, I would gently correct him and he would say, "Thank you baby, you speak so good." Winceworthy but not major. The first major issue came out of the blue.
We were sitting quietly one Sunday afternoon when he said, "I need more from you."
My eyebrow went up but ooo-kay. "What do you mean?"
"I need us to share our every intimate thought and need all the time. So like, tell me what you're thinking right now. Right this minute, how do you feel?"
I didn't hide the horror on my face well as I said, "Wait, I'm confused. You want us to share every single thought?"
"Yes, I want us to be so close that there's no difference between your thoughts and mine."
"Umm, I'm not sure I'm comfortable with that." Nor was I sure that was humanly possible.
"You're so closed off from me. I just want us to be close."
"I thought that builds over time, right?"
Holding my hand he looked deep into my eyes, "Take down your walls girl, I'm here for you. Don't be afraid of love."
Okay, I KNOW I was wrong to laugh. I KNOW THAT. I was young and he caught me off guard and in that moment it was the corniest thing I had ever heard. Much to my horror, he started to tear up. Actual tears. Ah jeez, I felt terrible (and more than a little dismayed). "I'm sorry; I'll really try if it's that important to you. What would you like to talk about?"
He sniffled and said, "I just want to know how you feel about me, is that too much to ask?"
So are you where I was? Starting to feel a distinct role reversal in this relationship? Whatever, I was supposed to be thrilled to find a sensitive man. I said, "Bill, I care for you very much."
"What does that mean?" His face scrunched up.
"It means I really, really like you." I gave him the 'what more can I say' look.
"And?" He prompted.
"And I'm glad you're in my life?"
He took a deep breath, squeezed my hand and said quite forcefully, "I need you to LOVE me!"
To my credit, I bit back my first response and answered, "Then I need you to give me some time."
After this conversation, our relationship shifted. I didn't know it then but looking back I realized that in that conversation he gave me all the power. You can't give that to a daddy's girl, young stupid bougie chick with a princess complex. She will run right over you… which is exactly what I did. With that conversation, he had laid down and stamped "doormat" on his forehead, and I wasted no time wiping my feet. I'm not proud of it, just being real. I nagged him to dress better, I urged him to speak better, I left brochures on Business Linguistics classes all over his apartment. I tried to mold him into what I thought he should be all the while dangling the carrot that if he did this thing, and then this thing and then this thing I would love him. He literally cracked one day. We had a particularly nasty fight where I verbally beat him about the head and neck (shamed to say words like 'punk-ass' and 'man the f! up' fell out of my mouth in his direction). [Blogger's note: Fellas, women will get away with as much as you let them get away with. I know you think that is your game exclusively, here's the wake up call. If you allow a woman to treat you any old kindaway, she just might. Ya'll ain't cornered the market]
Anyway, at three in the morning, I heard the shower running. I went in there and he was curled up on the floor of the bathtub sobbing like I shot his mama. "I'm never going to be good enough for you. I'm just not what you want. Why don't you just say it so I can walk away?" In that moment, I questioned everything I knew about myself (at that age, it wasn't much) and realized that I had taken a good guy who just wanted to adore me and broken him. He was a broken tore-up soul letting cold water run across his body. I turned off the water, wrapped him up and held him through the night. The next morning I told him, "You're right and it's really not you. I just don't know who I am and what I want." He looked at me and said sadly, "But you know it not's me." He took his keys and walked out. I never laid eyes on him again.
So back to present day. Now that you know the tale, you can imagine my discomfort at hearing from him again. I had actually tried to find him a few years back to "make amends" but old boy had fled back to Florida. Yep, I broke the boy to the point that he quit his job, left the state and went home to his mama. *hangs head in shame*
"Bill, wow – it's been a while. What's up?"
"I just want you know that I thank you."
"Oh, uh. Really?" Color OneChele confused.
"Yes. If you hadn't ripped my heart out years ago, I would never be who I am now."
Uncomfortable. He spent the next 15 minutes letting me know how angry and bitter he was after I "ruined" him. And how he entered into a series of relationships where he basically did to other women what I had done to him (ooo- the guilt burned! I'm sorry Florida sisters!) until finally getting married a few years ago. He now has two kids and a chain of some kinda store.
"I'm happy for you, Bill. I really am. I always wanted to apologize for how I treated you. I was really young and stupid. If it helps at all, I never treated anyone else that way again."
"Well, you can apologize in person."
"I'll be in Dallas in a few weeks and I think you owe me closure… in whatever form I choose to exact it."
Say what now? "I'm sure I don't understand."
"You owe me."
"I owed you an apology, I just gave you that."
"I want it in person. And I want the break-up sex."
I held the phone with my mouth hanging open. "Umm…"
"Yeah, I'm not that same punk b*tch in the shower boo-hooing cause you don't love me."
Wincing, wincing. "Umm…"
"Shall I call you when I land?"
Damn if he didn't sound like he'd taken that Business Linguistics class I had recommended. "Bill, I don't think that's a good idea."
"You married some doctor or lawyer, huh?"
Take the easy fork in the road girl, "You know me too well."
"Exactly, that's why I'll call when I get in. Knowing you, old boy is on a short leash and you're ready for some no strings entertainment."
Ouch. "You take care, Bill." CLICK. Straight to call history. SAVE NUMBER? Yes. NAME? "Do Not Answer Bill!"
Truly, I believe karma has come back around and kicked my ass plenty for my Bill foolishness. If there's a yin-yang in the universe, I've more than out-yinned the yang of it all. But feel free to let me have it, BougieLand. Did I just have this one coming? Is the over apology enough, knowing that what he really wants is revenge instead of closure? Do we even really owe anybody closure if we weren't "with" them for over a year or married? Isn't "goodbye and good luck" enough? Does hearing the other person apologize net you anything in the long run anyway? And what good did break-up sex ever do? Okay, comment as you will.