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    Wednesday, February 20, 2013

    By Helene “I Want A Feast” Gresser

    In addition to my real estate day job, I have a great bartending gig on Sunday and Monday nights here in NYC. It’s just a short shift, easy because there are ten seats and it’s mostly wine and mixed drinks, very little side-work, no counting of receipts, the owners are wonderful to me, I get a free meal and drink, and I get paid for my credit card tips THAT NIGHT. Amazing. I also have great regulars. They tip well, like me, and usually keep me entertained. And sometimes I gain wisdom from their experiences.

    There is a lovely couple who sit at my bar almost every week, and they always order dinner and plenty of vino, and over-tip me every time. They are somewhat newly married, and seem to be a great match. She is smiling, open, smart, sweet, and funny; he is dead-pan hilarious in a corny way that I adore. I amuse them by doing my “funny jig” – for their eyes only – when I am outside smoking a sneaky ciggie on the sidewalk. I look ridiculous, and they watch me through the plate-glass window and laugh. The wife will beg me to do my jig every time. I wait for the sidewalk to be clear of pedestrians and delivery-men, and quickly make a complete ass of myself, solely for their reaction. I am a hopeless hack, but I have always been willing to be completely goofy to elicit a laugh, especially for these people. They are worth the potential embarrassment.

    I was struggling, as I continue to struggle, to come to grips with the present “uncommitted” relationship I am in. I have read “He’s Just Not That Into You,” and been told to follow “The Rules,” and have read countless blogs and advice columns and psychology articles regarding relationships and commitment and what women should  (Be fun! Play hard to get!) and shouldn’t do (Don’t call or text him too often! Don’t settle for scraps!) to manipulate/manage their love lives. It all seems so ridiculous and dishonest. I am nothing if not ridiculously honest. And I never learned to play games to “catch” a good man. My mother never instilled in me the need to be anything but my plain old romantically hopeless self. I had some wonderful, loving, open, mature men in my love life as a young woman, and I always thought it would be so. As I thought the well would never run dry of potential mates, I just carried on blithely, sure that when the time was right, I would settle down, marry, have two kids and live my life with my love right next to me. That has changed somewhat, as I think I am too old to start having children, but the basic thought that I’d find a partner in life has remained.

    I shared my angst with the married couple. The wife looked to her husband and said, “Do you have any advice from a man’s perspective?” He thought for a minute and suggested I make a list of Pros and Cons regarding the relationship. Then he said,” You have to figure out what you want.”

    Ah. THAT. My Achilles heel. What I want. What. the fuck. do I want?

    My meandering, indecisive, inconsistent life path has plagued me since I set foot in this blasted city, and here I am, getting grey hairs and crow’s feet and I still don’t know what the hell I want. Well, specifically, I don’t know how to clearly articulate what I want and then set a course that leads me there, or if not there, then steer myself closely enough to it that I might feel is some sense of accomplishment. Oh, I have written long lists of my wants in my journals, but then promptly forgot or buried the want in order to do what I thought I HAD to do to get by. The day-to-day overwhelms me, it seems. I get things done, sure. But living at subsistence level is not enough for me.

    Here’s what I want: I want to write and perform my own one-woman show, and have it be a success, and go on tour after a successful run on Broadway. I want a sunny, spacious apartment overlooking Central Park with a huge patio and housekeeper and cook and a beautiful beach house to escape to. I want enough money to provide my mother with a lovely home wherever she desires, and a pied-a-terre in the city for when she comes to visit, and give her the bankroll to have security in her golden years. I want to pay back all the friends and family who have lent me money and bought me dinner and drinks throughout these lean years, and always pick up the check in the future.

    And I want Love. Deep, reciprocal, abiding Love. I want company. I want to make coffee and share my day with someone who likes me as I am. Jigging, goofy, ridiculously honest me. Intense me. Sexual me. Impatient me. Scattered me. Scared me. Someone who opens their arms to me when I need comforting, even when I don’t ask for it. Someone who loves that I love him. Someone who checks in, listens, and talks about his dreams and fears in return. Someone who likes to lie in bed eating bagels and lox and reads the Sunday Times with me, sometimes reading aloud his favorite articles or quotes. A funny and fun guy who dances with me and brings me pink flowers just because. Someone who treats my parents with love and respect and understanding, and who loves and respects and understands his own family, quirks and all. A man who genuinely likes women, and particularly, strong, funny, sharp-witted ladies. A man who likes my friends, and has great friends himself. Strong and creative and curious and empathetic. That is what I want.

    I haven’t gotten close to my career and money ambitions, but I am making changes and have started to write more, perhaps finally getting to the point where I write my damn one-woman show. I am trying to be a more focused person, but a lifetime of bad habits is slow to break. I will endure, and keep trying. It’s what gets me up in the morning. I am forever competitive. I am hungry for more.

    And I have found someone who fits much of what I’ve been looking for. He is someone I admire and desire and who makes me laugh often. He is kind and creative and hardworking. He is affectionate and thoughtful and calls his parents daily. He asked me to his sister's house for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I met his parents. He bought me presents and cards for Christmas, my birthday and Valentine's Day, and spent those days with me. He brings me coffee just the way I like it when I spend the night at his place. He likes the books and videos I suggest. He holds my hand in public, and has introduced me to his friends. He has helped me move, and lets me store my boxes in his spare office space. He pays for dinner and drinks and ciggies. He makes me dinners. And breakfasts. He is a strong man. He is so sexually attractive to me that I have to restrain myself from jumping him 24/7. 

    I have been dating him for about seven months now. I am in love with him. We have not said "I love you" yet. Well, actually, he said "I love you, baby" the day after Valentine's, at precisely 2:45 p.m. as I was headed to the subway, and though it struck me hard that he said it, I do wonder if it was said rather accidentally, like one tells one's parents they love them before one ends a phone call. I did not say "I love you, too." I was holding my breath, ready to hug him hard and whisper it back to him.  But I hesitated, unsure if I would ruin the moment by pouncing on those longed-for words too hungrily. He knows I love him. And his actions tell me he cares very much about me, even if he is not in love with me. 

    And he loves his Freedom.

    He does not want a Girlfriend. Or more precisely, he does not want to have to commit to only being with me as far as sexual relations go. He wants me in his life, but does not want to be a Committed Boyfriend. At least, that is what I understand from what he tells me. He is honest, and always has been. He sleeps with other ladies sometimes. I am free to do the same, either men or ladies, he does not seem to care. We don't talk about specifics, except safety issues and the fact that I don't like to think of him with other ladies. I think he said he felt the same way, but also said he cannot ask me to be committed if he is not. We once spoke of what we would do if we happened upon one another if we were with another person on a date (of course, I brought it up, as I always the only one to bring up the "relationship issues.") It occurred because we ran into each another one night as a young man was walking me to my stop, and though the man was clearly interested in things going further, I bid him a kind farewell (he knew about my "relationship") and followed my guy to our regular bar, because he asked me if I wanted to join him, and I did. So there it is.

    We can’t always get what we want, but am I getting what I need? Does anyone get what they need? Maybe. I see some of my dearest friends and family in wonderful relationships. Is it always that way? No. It is work; difficult at times - exasperating, tiring, unsexy, and gross, trying, and compromising work. But if they come through the bad shit together, they are ready for the good times with their hands together, sharing something intimate and deep. They have trust. They have someone to drink coffee and fry bacon with. I want that shared bacon.

    That married couple from the bar has set some old, rusty wheels in motion. I may have to jig my silly jig a thousand times to get the gears greased, but I am willing to make a fool of myself if I can get close to what I really want.

    So I am figuring it all out, day by day. Am I being a doormat, or learning to be patient and adult and give the space my love needs to find his way? Am I hoping things will change, or content with the good company I have on occasion? Can I make it through the day, the days, without a check in phone call and still know that I am special to this man? Will the nauseating butterflies in my gut ever fly away, leaving me warm and happy and feeling fully loved? Am I asking for too much, or not enough? Fuck if I know. All I can do is keep jigging in front of that damn plate glass window, willing myself to keep up the dance and watch the people mutely laugh through the glass. It is who I am; a silly, silly girl in a woman’s body, waiting for my moment of bliss. I have my freedom to do as I please. 

    And I will. You betcha.


  2. 4 comments:

    1. RHC said...

      I wish you the best of what you wish for yourself.

    2. you never let me down. loved this. yeah, we gotta keep on keepin' on. i also enjoyed the video.

    3. RHC said...

      I just realized everything I want is from the last century, totally irrelevant & non-income generating. F%ck world peace!

    4. Spleen said...

      Thanks so much, lovelies. You touch my heart, sister comics and writing goddesses.

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