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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Being the Middle Girl in Break-Ups

I was reading Raising Mercury’s blog the other day. She wrote an entry about arranged marriages but that’s not what I’m rambling today. I dropped in a comment about I don’t think I’ll ever decide to get married and if I do, I’ll just agree to whoever that comes by.

My decision was mostly influenced by the horror stories I’ve heard while growing up, sitting around with all my aunts and aunts’ friends. Hard working women suddenly becoming their husbands’ first wives, divorce stories, infidelity, back-stabbing at work because of it and even children blaming themselves and getting high.

But then... that decision was also cemented by my own less-than-happy experience.

If you go to my school today and ask for ‘the girl who fixes relationships’, you’ll get blank stares and shrugs and they’ll mostly say, “I don’t know whom you’re talking about.”

That’s good because I plan to keep it that way.

I don’t ‘fix’ relationships. I’m not a Dear-Abby girl; I’m not a psychiatrist or a couples’ counselor and I sure as hell don’t want to do this for a living.

I’m just an observant girl with a sensitive side who doesn’t like to see my gender to mope in the dark with a box of tissues, saying stuff like her world is ending just because her special guy no longer sees her as his special girl.

My first experience as the middle girl started in secondary school. My best friend, a buddy for over 10 years, had a break-up with her boyfriend of almost a year. I know the guy personally and he knows me and I know the two of them were a ‘sort-of’ couple around school. Holding hands, having private times, that sort of thing.

Then it all stopped.

Yeah, I was shocked and angry with him. I even confronted the guy during one pendidikan jasmani class as balls were being put away (pun intended). He didn’t care, just took things for granted and said that “she’s just not I thought she was anymore”.

Apparently everything he thought she was, (funny, vivacious, active) became boring, corny to him.

I decided then that if his mentality was like that, then I shouldn’t care. But what I do care was that my BF shouldn’t hide herself when I know that she really is funny, vivacious and active.

In retrospect, I guess I shouldn’t have been such a busybody. I was overprotective and pushy at trying to get her back on her feet. I made sure she stopped doing things that reminded her of Him. We hung out at Uptown D’sara. We brought junk food from this BP gas station store during almost every recess and ate them in the dark and empty school hall, not bothering to clean up after ourselves.

Eventually, she did pull herself together and only then I told myself it was safe to leave her alone again. But I guess she wasn’t the same as before, even to all her other friends. In poetry, the light in her eye was gone.

Although just at 17, I never thought she overreacted. Her own single mother was a divorcee still fighting for alimony from a father always looking for money to finance his, ahem, “lifestyle”.

We drifted and then completely lost touch after I moved to Kt. D’sara.

My second experience got from being in between this dating, older couple that was great to me during my first year. They had just completed diploma and we shared co-curriculum classes for two semesters. There were hip and young and not shy with anyone.

And yes, they broke up.

Why they broke up, that’s a private story that theirs only; I didn’t push for details either. They avoided each other and just moved on. But they share the same friends and go to the same classes together. They made it look like it was all mutual separation and it fooled me too.

One semester, I found the girl in my class and the guy in another class on a different day. I don’t share their other friends and they knew that as well.

The girl asked me a few seemingly innocent inquiries. You got IT class, right? What time? Oh, he’s in your IT class? Who else? Do you do project with him this semester? Is he still using his laptop?

I indulged her for a time, partly because I thought she might be missing him and partly because I thought if I tell her these things, she’ll soon get over missing him. I had a lot of patience but it was wearing thin.

I didn’t want to knock her some sense by the same way I did with my ex-BF, mainly because she’s a nice girl even though I don’t know her as well as my ex-BF and I didn’t want to drift off from her friendship, in case I screwed up on the same way my I did with my ex-BF.

Do any of you ever have a class that not only you don’t look forward to see the lecturer but also one of the students? Well that semester, I had two of them. One to observe and the other to rattle answers to.

No, he’s not sharing project duty with me. Yes, he’s still using his laptop and he has a Liverpool group photo as his desktop background picture. He’s okay at class, talks just as much. Yes, he talks to other students and yes, there are other girls and yes, he talks to the girls too.

At those days, I kept telling myself that she needed it. Nowadays, I wondered if I’ve been cursed in a dream when I was sleeping.

After a while, out of curiosity, I called the guy up and asked him nicely about how’s things between he and his ex. He said that they were cool. So I dropped the confession of what I’ve been doing for his ex, about being an observant spy and stuff.

“Well?” I quipped.
“I know you were watching me.”

Crap. Busted.

“And I watched you too”
“You have?”

Crap and shited.

“But I thought you were watching me cos... Cos, I thought, you... you felt something... about me and I thought, well...”


The phone conversation just went downhill from there. Why did I call the guy in the first place? It was a very selfish reason. I wanted to stop being the girl’s secret hidden eye to this guy’s activities when she’s not pretending to be not desperately missing him.

I didn’t know what else to do but I placed myself first.

I told the girl that I spoken with her ex. She got irritated but not yet angry. She asked why and I told her, with much abbreviation, that he might be taking miscues from me if I paid him any more attention.

I don’t know if she got the hint but I do hope so. I avoided the two of them altogether; I didn’t dare approach them. In case she wanted any more favors and in case he... well, I don’t feel the same. I don’t want a guy to love me because he thought I love him, when I don’t.

That’s just way too full of shit.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of the story, at least for the guy.

This was just at last year. His ex had already left school with her diploma; he stayed and changed his program for bachelor’s degree. We shared same classes again but we hadn’t seen each other in years and so we’re both just as cool as two former classmates from a bygone era.

He’s changed methinks. More outward, more flamboyant.

Freer, if I have to be drama about it.

Then it came again.

I got a call from him early one morning. Talk about waking up on the wrong side of the bed. I remember I had slept in and was oozy, doozy like gelatinous mush. He sounded in a panic and wanted me to come to this empty parking lot near school (now known as Kelana Mall).

My first thought was that he was making a joke; my second thought was that he had hired Ah Longs to kidnap me for money.

But I came to that parking lot anyway (I needed to use the internet at school) and he wasn’t there. I hung around the area for a few minutes before I got impatient enough to give him a call.

It turns out that he was at school and was watching me from, I kid you not, the freaking flattop roof of the school’s building.

It turns out that he had been secretly dating with a girl from God-knows-where and now she wants to get serious. She wants to introduce him to her family and friends. She wants to know his family and friends. She wants to spend public holidays together. She wants to love and commitment and wish-for-the-future, all the stuff not-ready guys too chicken to give.

I said, wtf, what the hell do you want me to do? I don’t consider myself as his ‘friend’ anymore. A classmate, an acquaintance, somebody you pass the lecturer notes to. Times change people, more so if you haven’t kept in touch.

What he wanted was for me to talk with his secret girlfriend. Tell her than he wants more time.


As it turns out, there was this young girl, pretty and bertudung lagi, doing the lepak at the other end of the parking lot. I had never seen her before and I don’t know how to talk to her. Most importantly, I had to assess what the heck am I doing at the moment and what I need to do.

Well, duh, my first reaction was to step out of the business and let the man take care of whatever mess he dropped himself in. But my next thought was totally female-oriented. Was this girl waiting for her man? How long had she waited there? Had she called him? The day was getting hot, why hadn’t she called him?

It was the most nerve-wrecking day I ever had, except the time when my sister was in labour. I was the one who approached her and introduced each other. I told her the truth, mindful of being tactful and offered to belanja her makan at Burger King (hey, I was hungry too).

Of course she was suspicious. Between fries, I told her why the guy had sent me, adding my own thoughts like maybe he was too scared or he needed time away to think or maybe he didn’t have money to buy Burger King.

I also expressed that I was just a stranger who knew him in the past and that he’s going to owe me a big favour. Funnily enough, I thought she was actually really nice and considering. She was patient listening to me, understood what I was saying and for a few moments, blamed herself for pushing him.

God, I hated it when strangers cry in front of me. I don’t know her very well; I have no idea how to comfort her. I don’t know what to say, what truthful words I can say, to make her feel better. I can’t simply pat her on the back and say ‘you’re young’, ‘everything’s going to fine’ and ‘he’s evil jack-ass’ (even thought I really wanted to say the latter).

What I can give her was a measure of pride.

I walked her back to her car. We made polite conversation, tossed quips and sallies, not the friendly joking kind, just funny tales as two strangers in a chatroom might, like Sadam Hussein’s hanging and other people we might want to hang. I made a point not to touch ‘The Guy’ subject.

I never saw her again, even though I still do have her phone number. I’m not going to guess if it was a break-up or not. I’m only speculating so don’t take my word for it. Through his other friends, I do know that he’s taking up practical training now.

And ‘The Guy’ never paid me for the Burger King meal either.

And there you go, confessions of a serial middle girl of relationships on wobbly ground. Banyak drama-kan? Why do I get in these situations I don’t know, maybe I offended Cupid or something somewhere. But they’re life stories and with real people with mending heartbreaks.

Maybe because I’m a paradox. I’m a romantic. Cynical, yet romantic. I love happily ever after fairy tales (Disney’s Enchanted movie was a fav). Though real life could never imitate fairy tales, the virtues it represents like courage to commitment, being true to the other person, stand-by-your-special-someone and all that junk can be achieved.

It’s not impossible to find true love.

It’s just not as easy as it seem either.

For myself, I don’t think I’m cut out for it. I’ve seen it come and go, mostly the going that’s tough.

At the time of writing, I’m free from all potentially exhausting lovers’ spat, thank you very much. Though I have another friend, a nice girl whose about to graduate sooner than me and having some boyfriend troubles of her own. The guy is much older than her and already working.

If it goes south... I’m willing to step it. I may not a perfect track record, I’m not an expert and yes, I’m not paid to do this.

Still, the human heart is emotionally stronger than most people think and it shouldn’t have to sit and mope in depression while life is still too long and too full to waste.

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