Of all the words I could use to describe the man I spent the better part of my twenties with, Spectacular Asshole is my favourite. Not just because it’s kinda funny, but because it is really the most fitting description I can use for a man who did just about every egregious thing a man can do to a woman to me. Twice.
Which is not to say that I haven’t made my peace with him, I have. Years after our disastrous break-up he and I got together and had a very frank discussion about all the many ways in which he was a fucking prick. And whether his astonishment was feigned or genuine, he apologized, we squashed it, and I moved on with my life, spectacular asshole well behind me.
The thing is, as I got older and my perspective on relationships evolved, my perception of the spectacular asshole also changed. The reluctance to be monogamous that was so offensive to 24-year old Max makes perfect sense to me now. And our opposite schedules – which only allowed us to see each other once every week or two – now seem like a major selling point, rather than the constant source of frustration they were back then.
But beyond the little things, as I get older I realize that this spectacular asshole has been very influential to me in a million positive ways. He schooled me on the phenomenon of frenemies, taught me to appreciate my bare face, and as the man featured in this story and this one, he’s responsible for unleashing my inner freak. For which we should all be thankful. In a nutshell, most of what I know about how to treat a man properly and all the ways in which I am not typically woman-stupid can be accredited to the spectacular asshole. Which has allowed me to look back on my time with him less as a tragic waste of time and more as a crash course in dealing with a selfish prick.
Of course, as these stories always go, the spectacular asshole recently made a reappearance in my world. He and I lost touch about four years ago and while I’ve occasionally looked for him online, I’ve not seen hide nor hair of him in all that time. Until he called out of nowhere.
When we spoke, it was exactly the way you want a conversation to go with an ex who did you wrong. I was pleasant, even excited to hear from him, but wouldn’t allow myself to be led down a path of reminiscing without stopping to remind him that it wasn’t all sweetness and light all the time. I had good things to report – I look good, I am good, I’m doing good. And I was genuinely glad to hear the good things he had to report. It was a good, pleasant, perfectly safe catch-up call until these words escaped me unbidden:
When can I see you?
I don’t know why I said it or if I meant it, but once it was out there there was no taking it back. And his immediate request that it be as soon as humanly possible calmed me and gassed me up a little bit. We made hasty tentative plans for the weekend and I headed off to my Friday meeting with a smile on my face for the first (and probably only) time.
Each time the spectacular asshole popped into my head I got more and more excited about seeing him. Because – and most women know this – there are few things more life-affirming than the chance to show a man who did you wrong and left you devastated that you are even better without him. So yeah, I was excited. Until I went home and told my sister what had happened and what was going to happen.
Those of you who know les poos in real life know that no one gives a judgmental face quite like my little sister. And the look of shock and horror on her face when I dropped my “exciting” news on her was like nothing I’d ever seen before. And no matter how I explained to her that I was past it, that I’m not the dumb little girl I was with him, that he doesn’t have the power to do any damage to me anymore, her position didn’t change. You don’t go back and hang out with someone who treated you like shit under his shoe like nothing ever happened. You don’t put yourself at risk like that and what’s more – you don’t give him the satisfaction of slithering back years later and getting to hang with you. She told me in no uncertain terms to shut it down.
Coming from anyone else, this unsolicited advice would go in one ear and out the other. But coming from the person who had to mop me up off the floor over and over when the spectacular asshole was doing spectacularly assholey things, I had to consider what she said. And while I really do feel like there’s no possibility of being sucked back into the vortex, I also acknowledge that I was a spectacular fool for this man. If he’s the asshole who got in his car and drove over me, I’m the fool who laid down in the street and didn’t move when I saw the car coming for me. And even back then I knew that I was being stupid, so I can’t even blame it on the naivete of youth. Which makes me wonder – can I really stop myself from being fooled by someone I’ve allowed to fool me countless times in the past? Or is it once a fool always a fool?
Tell me dear readers, what would you do? Have a friendly drink with the spectacular asshole or run for the hills and never look back? Have you ever been in this situation? What did you do? Give me some guidance in the comments.