Working It Out: When Old Flames Come Around Acting Brand New
I had a crush on one of my close guy friends my junior and senior year of college, and for a few years after that if I’m being honest. Considering we talked all the time and were constantly around each other and nothing popped off, I knew the feelings weren’t mutual, but whenever I returned to my college town and we hung out the possibility of something happening was always in the back of my mind.
After a while, the attraction and his pretend reciprocation became a running joke between us. He’d say something flirtatious, I’d call his bluff, we’d go on about our day, or months, or year, which is about how long it’d been since I talked to my old buddy before calling to wish him a happy birthday a couple of weeks ago. Almost as soon as I’d gotten the customary wishes out of my mouth I was hit with “I see you made some changes.” Changes, i.e., lost a lot of weight. “Yeah, I’ve been meaning to call you. What made you do all that?” All that, meaning, again, lose a lot of weight. “It was just time I do something,” I replied before he pointed out one of my Facebook pictures in particular and said “You look good.”
I said thanks, feeling a smidge of a way, remembering in college how another of the signs my crush would never be anything more was the fact that he never complimented me on my physical appearance, except for a backwards remark about how I didn’t need “all that makeup.” As the conversation carried on, I was hit with the “so you got a boyfriend?” I said no, but did share that I just so happened to have a date the next night. A slew of questions besieged me and the next afternoon I got texts asking “what time is your date?” I answered 6:30 and asked if he would wish me luck. He said “Yes big luck but…. I don’t like it.” He then proceeded to criticize the fact that we were just having drinks and no dinner, told me to make the man pay for everything, proudly called himself a “cock blocker” and then told me to let him know how it goes after. When I didn’t, he texted me the next day asking how it went and sent a fake “I’m happy for you.”
I was tickled, but not as amused as I’d be a week later when my old crush was trying to have a serious conversation about coming to visit (one of many we’ve had over the past eight years) and making passive-aggressive comments like “you might have a boyfriend by then.” I retorted that a boyfriend doesn’t stop me from having friends and that’s when I was told “But you know I’m not just a regular friend.” Oh?
Asked where he’d sleep if he came to visit, I plainly said he could sleep right next to me in the bed like we did two years ago when I stayed with him for the weekend and the closest we got to any action was the friction of our feet rubbing together. That’s when he asked why I was playing and boldly stated, “I know your feelings for me didn’t just disappear.” Oh?
I’m a butt-hole at heart but I try not to be careless with other people’s emotions or egos. I could’ve read my old pal for filth and pointed out the fact that his behavior was nothing more than a repeat lashing out out, similar to a move he pulled in college when he found out I went on a date and told my roommate he was “salty” and would’ve taken me out if he knew I wanted to go (like I hadn’t been dropping hints for years). But instead I decided to keep it real and let him know when no sparks flew the last time we were around each other that was my final confirmation that anything beyond friendship wasn’t in the cards so I, honestly, hadn’t thought of him in that way since then — two years ago. It didn’t sink in and the issue kept getting pushed as I retorted that he was trying to cover up the fact that he just wasn’t attracted to me back then at a bigger size but he wouldn’t hear it and I let it go and moved the convo along as usual.
The next morning though, I found myself slightly irritated at the audacity of his arrogance. While I fault no one for their romantic preferences because I know a bigger Brande wasn’t for everyone, what I didn’t like was the lingering perception my friend had of me as the same thirsty girl willing to jump at any flirtatious bone thrown at her. I can’t blame anyone for that but myself, and, thankfully, in my case I can say when you know better, you do better. Still, I was trying to be kind when in reality I should’ve set ol’ boy straight and let him know without a shadow of a doubt I hadn’t been pining over him all these years and that older, wiser me really isn’t checking for anyone not willing to make a serious effort to have and accept me.
I’m sure time — and my mouth — will eventually tell. But for now I’ll just turn on a little Mike Jones and quote the chorus, “Back then they didn’t want me. Now I’m hot they all on me,” with a petty grin on my face.