On Breaking Up with Kindness–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–March 1995, Part 7

On Sunday, March 12, I had at least 100–probably more like 200, 300, 400 or 500–pages of Middlemarch to read by the next day.  I’d been reading it all week, in addition to homework from other classes, work, classes and the occasional outing, but still had quite a ways to go.

Dr. Nelson had assigned far too many pages for me to read, since with NVLD my reading speed was slow.  I didn’t know if I could possibly get it done even if I read all day and night, but I was going to read what I could.

I stayed in the apartment all day and evening.  If I went online at all, it probably wasn’t for long.  I turned down all other activities because I didn’t want to disappoint my thesis mentor.

Cugan called to ask if I wanted to go out that day, but I turned him down because of the reading.  He cheered me on and said I could get it done, but I didn’t.  I believe I still had several hundred pages to read.  I hated telling Dr. Nelson; fortunately, he didn’t yell at me, though he did seem disappointed.

****

The night of Wednesday, March 15, I had my second date with Cugan: He came over for an 8:00 showing of the movie Maverick on RoanokeTV, which was channel 19.

After this date, I decided I couldn’t see Stimpy anymore.  It had been fun dating around–my mother even told me I should keep doing it–but I was falling too hard for Cugan.  I had a lot more in common with Cugan, and it wouldn’t be fair to Stimpy to keep seeing them both.

That meant I wouldn’t see Brad, either, whom I’d been writing to as friends since we met at the Superbowl party.  I was ready to get serious with someone again.

Though on the one hand I was happy about my decision, on the other hand it made me sad.  For one thing, I loved hanging out (and making out) with Stimpy.  And Brad’s letters made him seem quite nice with much in common with me, plus he was good-looking.  I think I could’ve ended up happy with him, too, but he was far away and Cugan was here.

I resolved to be nice to the guys when I told them, letting them know they were great people but I decided to be exclusive with someone else.  I determined to be nothing like the guys who had dumped me.

After talking about it with Stimpy, who seemed understanding, I spoke with one of the teenagers on TCB in Teleconference or Farwest Trivia.  I don’t remember how it came up in conversation, but I told him I’d broken up with Stimpy.

“You dumped Stimpy?  Cool!” he typed.

“How is that cool??!!!”  I typed back.

I have wondered ever since if this kid told Stimpy, “You know, Nyssa defended you.”

For the first few days or week after the breakup, though Stimpy had said he didn’t hate me, he obviously didn’t want to talk to me.  I paged him a few times to show him I didn’t want to ignore him, saying hi and, at least once, asking how he was, but got no more than short, clipped answers in return: “hi,” “I’m doing okay.”

Normally these answers would have been fine, but they took a while to arrive and he sent no others, a marked contrast to how he usually talked to me online.  So I respected his wishes and didn’t push him or ask any more questions.

But not only did he not talk to me, he ignored Sharon, Pearl and even Krafter, even though they had nothing to do with it.

Pearl got upset, saying, “But he knew it wasn’t serious!  You made that very clear to him.  So why is he acting this way?”

The song “Popular” by Nada Surf didn’t come out until maybe a few weeks later, so we hadn’t yet heard these lines:

Be prepared for the boy to feel hurt and rejected
Even if you’ve gone together for only a short time,
And haven’t been too serious,
There’s still a feeling of rejection
When someone says she prefers the company of others
To your exclusive company
Lyrics

I don’t know why websites say this song came out in the summer of 1996.  I distinctly remember not only watching the video on Pearl’s TV in the apartment in spring of 1995, but also hearing it shortly after the breakup with Stimpy.  (Who knows–maybe the single came out on MTV long before the album was released.)

It told how to go about breaking up with a guy so that you’ll still be friends with him later.  I could have used this advice sooner, but it reassured me that I had done nothing wrong, and that apparently I broke up with Stimpy well enough that he would still want to be friends with me.

That was what I wanted; I didn’t want to hurt him and be mean to him like other guys had been to me.  Of course, the problem with dating even casually is that somebody often gets hurt.

I hoped he wouldn’t have a hard time letting go, but if he did, I intended to treat him the way I thought Peter and Phil should have treated me: not like dirt, but with respect and understanding that this was difficult for Stimpy.

I like to think that I would have acted in the following ways: If he wanted to talk, I would, and if he wrote me a letter, I would answer it nicely.  I would explain that I didn’t hate him, still liked him, and wished I could date him, but knew it would never work.

I hadn’t told him before that I couldn’t get serious with an agnostic, or that we had trouble talking, since I didn’t want him to feel it was his fault.  But if I had to tell him these things now, I would.

I’d say I cared a great deal about his feelings, and that breaking up with him now would be far less painful than stringing him along for weeks or months, risking that one of us might fall in love, and then breaking up with him then.

I would say I was sorry for hurting him, and that the breakup made me sad, too, but I had a feeling about Cugan and it would be unfair to date any other guys and give them false hope.

I would be kind, though firm.  I never wanted to be in Peter or Phil’s place, to be the mean one that Stimpy would detest forever for having treated him like dirt just because he still cared for me.

I never, ever wanted to be like them, just as I never, ever wanted to date them again and give them the chance to treat me that way all over again.

I was relieved, however, that instead I got the silent treatment (though I hated it) and then–well, that’s for later.  I don’t remember how much, if any, of these things I eventually told Stimpy, but I didn’t have to say more.

If Peter and Phil had treated me the way I planned to treat Stimpy, things would have been very different.  Phil would never have gotten an angry letter, and we might have actually been friends again because he would have shown himself to be a halfway decent guy.

(But for that to happen, he would also have to be decent enough not to treat me the way he did that summer.  But then, we probably would have gotten publicly married instead of divorced, because I don’t think he would break up with me after making such vows.  We would have had a pleasant summer and no reason to break up.)

Instead of being mad at Peter, I would have soon forgiven him and we would have been friends again.  I wouldn’t have spent a couple of weekends with my nerves on edge, wondering what Peter would say to my latest letter, only to hear nothing at all from him.

We would have actually talked, and I would probably have discovered that he wanted to try drinking and smoking and weed, that our ideas of religion were changing in ways I could not tolerate, and that we were best just being friends.

I was Stimpy’s advocate online.  Maybe a month or two later, some girl in tele didn’t know what kind of guy he was, so I said, “Stimpy’s really very sweet.”  Stimpy responded with an action word: I soon saw, “Stimpy is blushing for that you said!”  (The grammar on the action words wasn’t perfect.)

I’ve come to the conclusion that when you break up with someone, and it’s your idea, not theirs, you must be very delicate with their feelings.  Be polite, but don’t try to force them to talk, or go out of your way to be polite.

If you pass them on the street, say hi, but don’t act cheerful, because that will only make it look as if life without them is wonderful (which will only make them feel worse).

If you see them across a crowded room, don’t go over to them just to say hi, or if you see them through a window, don’t wave at them (like Charles did to Trina).  As someone who has been on both sides of the fence, dumper and dumpee, I believe this is the best way to act.

****

Krafter drove Sharon, Stimpy and me to the BBS bowling party on Saturday.  I don’t remember if Pearl went with us, though she did go.  Somehow, not at all by my design, Sharon ended up sitting in the front seat of the van, so Stimpy had to sit next to me when we got to his house.

We sat like two bumps on a log, not speaking, not looking at each other.  I felt extremely uncomfortable because I knew he was mad at me.  I wished I didn’t have to break up with him, because I missed him very much.  I missed typing the global action word “.cuddle stimpy” every time I logged onto TCB.

At the bowling alley, he sprang out of the van and ran off to find Misty.  Krafter joked to us that he was “running away,” and that he’d probably say to Krafter (or had said), “Yer next!”

Stimpy found an alley with Misty, and talked and laughed with him all night, ignoring me, Sharon, even Krafter.  I knew what he was doing, because I did it myself with other guys: trying to show me I didn’t bother him.

At least I knew one thing: Stimpy would not join the Zetas like my other exes!  He wasn’t a Roanoke student, after all.

Maybe a week passed.  One day, Sharon and Pearl logged in and found cyberflowers from Stimpy waiting in their e-mailboxes.  He apologized for ignoring them.

I hoped to find the same thing, but Sharon said that wasn’t likely.  However, when I logged in, I found one for me!  Stimpy wrote that he had a long talk with his friend Teri about how he’d been acting.  He apologized for ignoring me.

Soon after, I found him online and had a long chat with him.  We patched things up and became friends again.  We didn’t start dating again, because I knew that would be a mistake.  It would never work out, and I already told Cugan I was now dating only him.

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

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