The Other Girl


Two of my girlfriends are currently involved in a love triangle. They are enamored with men who are/were in long-term relationships and are in the process of extricating their lives from their (ex) girlfriends. The more I heard about the story of each, I saw myself in both stories and on both sides of it. I saw the 18-year-old girl who hung on to the hope of that special guy breaking up with his awful girlfriend to be with me. I also saw the 24-year-old girl crying and driving recklessly away when she found out that her boyfriend of 3 years was cheating on her.

I’ve played the part of the other girl. It never ends well.

Jason and I met at a time when he was unhappy with his girlfriend. He saw things differently with me and felt emboldened enough to break up with her. In the time that followed were a handful of half-hearted attempts at trying to start a relationship with me. I refused to be anyone’s rebound so I rejected these advances because I knew I deserved more than that. Years later when he’d moved on to other relationships, he still sought me out. To him, I was his friend. I was the only one he could really confide in and the only person who intimately understood him. While these friendly exchanges were nice and a nostalgic reminder of simpler times, I couldn’t help but feel like I was being used. Each time we had an exchange, he would feel better about life, and I was left weary with wanting. It was unfair. I somehow felt he used my friendship to fill the hole that was missing in his current relationship. What did I get out of it?

I don’t know when it happened exactly but one day I decided to stop. I didn’t want to be the other girl anymore. I wanted to be the girl. The only girl. And I knew that was never going to happen with him because he was a coward. I knew I wanted and deserved a man who’d be courageous enough to love me in the light. So I let it go.

Now in hearing my girlfriends’ stories, I also could see myself on the other side- I have also been the ‘awful’ girlfriend. Many years ago, when my relationship with John was coming to its toxic end, he found comfort in another girl. He was spending almost every weekend in Orange County because of all these real estate deals he was getting. In particular, he was spending a lot of time with a girl. One day I was at his work computer and he left his Yahoo Messenger up and I saw a very long and more than flirtatious IM exchange between him and this girl. She was talking about what kind of lingerie she was going to wear the next time she saw him. Needless to say I stormed out of his office and jumped into my truck to leave.

John breathlessly ran after me, trying to figure out what happened and I yelled at him and I told him I knew what he’d been doing. He kept the door open to keep me from going, but I revved off, nearly taking his arm with me.

A few weeks later was his birthday. I did everything I could to make it as romantic as possible to forget the awfulness of everything that had happened. I made lunch from scratch, got wine and a picnic basket and we drove out to Carmel to enjoy the day. While we lay there on the grass he got a call. He picked up and it was her. She was on vacation in the Philippines but she just wanted to call him and wish him a happy birthday. I was livid. The day was done and ruined, as was our relationship. We broke a few months later when he left for the Philippines for good.

Do I regret having broken up with John? Of course not! That was the unhealthiest relationship ever and it gave me the courage to move on and expect more from myself. Was him cheating the reason for our breakup? Not entirely, but his actions certainly didn’t help. My point is, I have been the girlfriend and the other girl in both instances. It never feels good to be either.

I’m not throwing shade at what my friends are doing. I’m no saint and I’ve done things I’m not proud of. Ultimately, I want them to be happy and I hope that I’m wrong and that these turn out to be lasting relationships for them. If I were them, I’d probably be doing the same thing. But I can’t help but have empathy for the girl, while also casting a wary eye on the other girl.

Vegas Strip & Yoyo Tricks

The-StripEveryone needs a good Vegas story. I just didn’t think I’d have one for a work trip.

I was at my first company tradeshow with only one objective in mind: make this show kickass. For the first couple of days, I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off, trying to make sure the booth had everything it needed. Finally, I was able to take a breather and look around the tradeshow floor. I walked around and was approached by this guy with a yoyo. I had to admit that I noticed him before, but figured he was just talent that they hired out there in Vegas. He says to me,

“Do you want to see my heart?”

“Excuse me?”

“Do you want to see my heart?”

and then he proceeds to flip his yoyo and the strings into a heart. I melt instantly. Like a peacock, he brandishes the yoyo and gives me everything he’s got: he whips out a star, the word ‘Yo’ and a host of other tricks. I thank him for the performance and he wishes me a good show. I walk away, not quite sure what happened but floored at the seemingly cheesy but effective pickup line.

The next day and last day of the show I gathered my nerve and decided to ask him out. This was Vegas, right? Who cares if he lives far? Everyone needs a good story every time they leave Vegas. I walk towards his booth but at the last minute, lose my nerve. I get cold feet and am on the verge of aborting the plan when he walks up to me and says, “I remember you from yesterday!” I’m relieved. We introduce ourselves and I ask where he’s from. “Oh I’m not from here. I’m from San Francisco.” My heart stops. It I ask what he and his group are up to after the tradeshow. He says that his friend is coming in from Arizona and they’re going to go out tonight. I give him my card and let him know that my crew and I were also going out and we should hook up. (FALSE. Of course that was a lie.)

A few hours later he texts me and we coordinate plans for the evening. There’s chemistry over the phone, good banter and witty remarks. I’m excited and get ready to meet him at MGM. We end up at one of the bar lounges. He orders us drinks and we fall into easy conversation. First of which, I have to ask him about yoyo-ing because it’s not everyday you meet a professional yoyoer. He’s pretty much been in the game since he was young. He’s gotten so good that he competes and is lucky enough to do gigs like this as a living. He does anything from simple things like birthday parties or ‘stage 3’ as he calls them, which was this last Vegas show, where he gets flown out and given the grand treatment.

He asks me about my job and I basically talk about how I work 24×8 and how I’m completely invested in my career and professional endeavors. He takes a peek at my ID and realizes that he’s waay younger than me, like 5 years. SMH. I don’t know how I get to attracting these younguns. I just couldn’t help but think this guy is younger than the last guy I was kinda sorta seeing. I asked where he was from and he talked about growing up in Hawaii and eventually moving over to SF.

At some point during this, he took a shot and it’s starting to show. He’s much more talkative, loose and laughing, He’s telling me all kinds of stories and showing me pix from his ipod. He’s trying to sell me his friend from Arizona, James, and how good looking he was, just a little odd, but this makes sense later. We get to talking about Vegas and the different sites and seeing how well the other knew the city. We talked about the different ways we’d done Vegas, whether it be for work, single, attached, with family, etc, and how each experience is good but just different. I asked him how he was doing Vegas this time around and he said, ‘Work and attached.’ I paused for a second and checked myself – did he really just say he’s NOT available?

He wanted to get out of there and get to exploring the strip, so we basically tear out of there. He’s also rushing to find a bathroom, which kills me b/c I’m usually the one doing that. When he finally does that, I stop him for a sec and say.

‘Real talk. Did I just hear you say that you weren’t single?’

‘Ya…’ He sees the look on my face. ‘I didn’t lie.. is that a problem?’

‘Well…  I can’t talk to you anymore.’

‘Oh c’mon!’

I shake my head furiously.

‘Why not?’

‘Well, why did we even go out if you’re not available?’

‘A pretty girl hands you her number in VEGAS and you say ‘no??’

I wanted to kill him.

He presses on, “At the very least, I thought I could make a friend.”

Homie, people don’t come to Vegas to make friends. I insisted that there was no point in doing this. His friend was nearly to Vegas so i agreed to walk back with him to the hotel and just call it a night for me. He was trying to save the evening though.

Then he basically proceeds to pad my ego. ‘A gorgeous girl like you? I can’t even understand how you’re single.’ He even tries to pawn me off to his friend, James, which made me feel even more pathetic. It’s important to note that the minute he told he wasn’t single, the whole mood of the night changed. I wasn’t flirtatious, I kept my distance and hands to myself and was very stand-offish. He noticed so he of course tried to compensate by padding my ego. His mom called him and he was talking to her in Vietnamese. I got a flashback of Phil and wondered what the hell is up w/ my attraction w/ the Viets. He said ‘I love you’ before he hung up and showed me his phone, as if to prove he was really talking to his mom. I say thank you in Viet and he makes fun of my accent. I ask what his mix was and he said he was part Chinese, Viet and white. The minute he said Viet I shook my head.

‘What’s wrong w/ Viet?’

‘Nothing- it’s just that I’ve dated you already.’

The more I looked at him, the more I saw John’s smile, Cristern’s energy, Phil’s heritage, Jason’s situation, and Armen’s age. This guy was the embodiment of everything that had gone wrong in my dating life, from looks, personality, and the fact that he was already in a relationship. Only this time he also happened to be a professional yoyo-er. I couldn’t do this. I refused to do this. I have been the homewrecker and the wrecked. I’ve already done this dance and it never ends well.

Finally we get on the subject on friendship. I argue that men and women simply cannot be friends. He stops in his tracks and says, ‘Really??’ He goes on to say that one of his closest friends is a girl that he met fairly recently. He strongly believed it was possible. I said, ‘Look, maybe I’m just jaded, or have been exposed to my brother and my guy friends, and too many douchebags. It’s just not possible in my experience.’ I think we were sensing the night was nearing its end and we were deciding how to move forward. Basically, if we could be friends. I wanted to give him shit for the reason why he was making ‘friends’ like this. I wanted to accuse him of being emotionally unfaithful and basically being unhappy in his own relationship, but finding other outlets to feel validated. But I held back. I didn’t know him or his situation. I didn’t want to be cruel and unkind so I kept my mouth shut, knowing that parts of my assessment had to be true or else he wouldn’t be out walking the Vegas strip with me.

We awkwardly run into his friend, James, on the street and had to make an abrupt goodbye on the street. He gives me a hug and says, ‘Look, I’d love to hear from you, but if I don’t, I’ll understand.’ I smile, walk away, seething with every bone in my body. I’d never felt so infuriated in my life. Who DOES shit like this!?!? I tore about his business card on the way back to the hotel and cursed the fact that I even gave him my number. But really though- if he were a good boyfriend, he would’ve thrown my number away and not even give me a second thought. I would’ve been bummed and reasoned out that he really wasn’t interested or b) HAD A GIRLFRIEND. That would’ve been fine and I would’ve had a funny story about a professional yoyo-er, tugging on my heart strings. But that’s not what he did. He did the guy thing and capitalized. Pretty girl’s phone number + Vegas = you call her and you make a night of it. Asshole.

I shouldn’t be so upset. After all, he was a performer, giving me a performance. This is his specialty. Nothing was real to begin with. Just a lot of flash and no substance. I feel sorry for him and his poor girlfriend who has to be subjected to the push and pull, the tug and shove of his emotional tricks. Performers are only as good as their audience. And I’ve stopped watching.