I find it ironic that Mark Zuckerberg is now married. He designed a social network that allows people to stalk, ogle or breakup all while updating everyone with the status “straight chillin’”. The boy who couldn’t get the girl created a website that has the power to push everyone further apart. My ex-boyfriend F and I were on polite terms, and remained virtual friends on Facebook, until, a few months after our breakup, I saw a picture of blueberry pancakes on plates his mother gave us in a kitchen I recognized. His new girl had taken the picture adding an intimate caption, clearly an inside joke they shared, accented it with a heart emoticon and tagged him in it. The thought of being with someone else caved in my mind-hole, yet he was already having breakfast in bed.
I was a virgin until 23. I wasn’t religious or particularly romantic, I wasn’t unattractive or had a boil in need of lancing, I didn’t collect cats or have a penchant for flannel. I had crazy college years of kegs, body shots and trips to Mexico like any other Midwestern middle-class-lass who liked to end sentences with “woo!” My best buddies were males yet the notion of practicing procreation wasn’t playable. I was the friend. I was fine with that.
I lost it over a few shots and the ruse of watching a movie with a former co-worker. I went another two years before I had sex again, and another two years for the next round. As a disease-phobic-prude, abstinence became my new black. I rationalized that I wasn’t the relationship type and guys thought of me platonically-- until one snowy day when F screwed up that equation.
He was a friend of a friend going to audition for a play I had written and was casting. There was instant attraction over obscure karaoke choices – he selected Lil’ Jon and the East Side Boyz’ “Get Low” where I chose the Butthole Surfers’ “Pepper”. We both nodded at each other in approval and spouted more B-roll pop culture references, subtly including the romantic comedies I never saw but was sure I was living. I said, “The Verve Pipe was my first concert.” F replied, “I lost my virginity to their song, ‘Photograph’.” We each honed into the others tractor beam and discovered a shared love for Dolph Lundgren, terrible puns and non-ironic T-shirts. He moved a wisp of hair from my face-- somewhere Meg Ryan rolled over in the prime of her career’s grave. Oh, he got the part. It was love at first sound bite and three months after that he asked me to move in with him. Pretty cocky about how much better at this I was than everyone, I took my first swing at a relationship and was going at it like a rabbit on parole while 80s monster ballads took on deeper meanings as our soundtrack. His apartment became our home quickly, I got comfortable and assumed he was happy because if we had love, we had it all. Act one was in full production. I bet the universe loved when I thought I had it all figured out.
Being inexperienced, sexually-based insecurities still existed for me, but I was eager to please and determined to conquer coitus. To alleviate my anxiety I would take a couple of shots while out with fellow ne’er-do-wells or after bartending and come home and throw myself at him. Hair-a-tumble, make-up smeared, reeking of Jameson I would give him the glazed come hither eyes. Shockingly he was able to resist. “You’re drunk.” “You’re handsome.” “Go to bed.” “Now you’re talking.” “Go to bed to sleep this off.” The more he rejected drunk me, the more I would think he was no longer attracted to me. So to boost my confidence I would drink more.
The man I was supposed to marry and birth children for broke up with me on a Monday night over delicious Blue 9 mango cheeseburgers. I had made the mistake of asking what was wrong. “You drink too much, you’re not going anywhere in life, I love you but you have put yourself in the friend zone.” This time I minded being of platonically and couldn’t swallow my bite of gnarled burger.
All I could think to say was, “I’m sorry.” If I lost myself in the relationship I definitely didn’t find myself in the breakup, because I wanted to beg. I wanted to beg him to stay, to love me again like he once had, to not see those things I hated most about me and use them as reasons not to be with me. Most of all I wanted to beg him to not be right.
If a chain-rattling ghost showed up and offered me a chance to see that moment in my past, I wouldn’t seize it. Hindsight is cringe-worthy and I want to shake the baby I’d been like a British nanny.
I was back where I started—really good at friendship, terrible at life. Then I saw the pancakes. It was easier for him to move on as he was done with our relationship while we were still dating but still, I went to Facebook, hit “unfriend” and began to separate delusion from reality.
The reality is Mark Zuckerberg is a happily married billionaire who changed the way a generation socializes. The delusion is blaming him and blueberry pancakes for anything else.