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January 11, 1999   CONTINUED e-mail e-mail to a friend in need


Predicament of the Week
In which Breakup Girl addresses the situation that has, this week, brought her the most (a) amusement, (b) relief that it is happening to someone else, and/or (c) proof that she could not possibly be making this stuff up.

Dear Breakup Girl,

Well, here it goes...get comfortable...

My senior year in high school, I was the all American kid. I broke the academic and athletic barrier by achieving excellence in both areas. I was recruited by college after college for football, and even more for academics. I was your basic jock that should have been egotistical and a complete booty hungry a**hole right? Wrong. That was never me, nor will it ever be.

Well, I dated my share of the people I was "supposed" to date, being entangled in the social popularity and all (i.e., cheerleaders, other female athletes, etc.). However, I've always felt alone, and empty. The people that consumed my time were shallow, and stereotypical. I wasn't a stereotype. Then I met her. She was a junior in high school, I was a senior. She wasn't consumed with all of the high school propaganda. She was more like me, concerned with the future. We both wanted a simple life. A life devoted to our significant other, and eventually, devoted to a family. We were made for each other.

I had committed to a major college for a football scholarship. I live in the South, and the scholarship was on the West coast. Well, the decision of my life came...and it was given to her. To me, football was expected of me. But love, that's hard to find. True love, is even harder. I had to close my eyes and jump, and I did. I wasn't jumping completely however. I pursued an academic scholarship at a local university, which is esteemed worldwide for the career of my choice. We attended this university together.

Three years later, her personality began to change. She began wanting different things, things that were not typical of her. She started drinking, partying, and things of that nature. Soon, she made new friends, and I felt the beginning of the end. The person that I thought was so perfect, honest, affectionate, and devout had changed literally overnight. She pushed me out of her life.

I have centered my complete existence not around her, but around us, for four years. I really thought I had found someone who was real. But all that I thought was true, turned out to be a front, or a mask if you will. Finally, it happened. I was on tour with my band one weekend (I'm in an agro / rapcore band), and I came home to a complete stranger. She was cold, distant, and hateful. That's when it hit me inside. I asked her if she was seeing someone else, and she denied it at first, but finally admitted to cheating on me. She didn't cheat on me, she cheated on us. She cheated me out of my perfect future. My perfect love.

This was six months ago. I haven't spoken to her since. I'm still an emotional wreck. I love her more than everything. She is my everything. But, I had to let go. To me, if someone cheats, then there is no forgiveness. There wasn't a reason to cheat. I wasn't an a**hole, and I wasn't an over-annoying "too nice" of a guy who sheltered her with affection and insecurity. I was just me. And "just me" was compatible with her in every way. We didn't need to play any games.

Well, I've accepted that it's over. It's the hardest thing I've ever faced. However, now I'm lost. I don't know where to begin again. I have only a few friends left. I mean, in a relationship of this nature, it's inevitable to lose most of your single friends. But I find that now my self esteem is really low. I'm not an outgoing person anyway. In fact, I'm very shy and timid. That's kind of funny, cause my football nickname that stuck is "Monster." I don't know if I'm good looking or not. It hasn't mattered for so long. I didn't care when I was with her. But people keep telling me "it's not natural for a 6'4" 225lb guy to cry." But I can't help it. I'm a hopeless romantic.

I just really don't know how to meet people. I see some nice girls that I would like to talk to at school, but I just don't have the guts or the know how to approach them. I'm not a "playa" and I don't study "the game." So I don't know where to begin. So now all I do is study, work, and work out religiously. In short, how can I be anything, when my everything is gone?

-- B

Dear B,

Oh, man.

First of all, thank you for debunking some of the dumb old jock stereotypes. Yes, in many cases/places, elite athletes are implicitly or explicitly encouraged to be heinous troglodytes. But all too often, I'm sure, those who give jocks a bad name also make life hard for 6' 4" 225-pound guys who, inside, are -- well, let's not say "anti-jock," 'cause that's equally pigeonholistic -- full, three-dimensional people. Like you. (Or like, say, a superhero who can open up a can of whoop-ass on Dumpzilla, yet opened up New Year's champagne with ... friends.)

Next, I need to offer a small apology. Those of you who know BG may expect that she will now go on to lace her inspirational epistle with football terminology as cleverly relevant metaphor. You assume that BG's one of those cool supergrrls "equally comfortable with gridirons and Great Performances..." right?

Um, nope. I really know very little about football. Baseball I can handle, because references to "the designated hitter rule" and "a framed 1975 Cincinnatti Reds National League Championship pennant" are always funny (though I'm not really sure why). But football, no can do. I've been to my share of Packers' parties with Wisconsin expatriates (as well as ex-Patriots fans), but that's mainly for the Tater Tot casserole and the imported bratwurst / cheddar. And depending on how busy you guys keep me, I just may show up at someone's Super Bowl party bearing the featured recipe in this month's Woman's Day: a cake in the shape of a submarine sandwich, which in turn is shaped like a football, and where the fixins inside -- ham, onions, pickles -- are made out of rolled-out gumdrops and Starbursts. You guys have to see this. But those are going to be the last football references you'll get in this response. Sorry.

But anyway, B, let me debunk a few more myths that are actually relevant to your heart-wrenching predicament.

1. It is as if your girlfriend changed overnight, as if she was living behind a front or a mask. Yes. But just as you are not EITHER a romantic OR a monster, she is not EITHER lovely OR hateful. All of which is to say: I don't know what actually, like, happened with her, but try not to beat yourself up for being/feeling, like, duped. She, I guess, lost interest and wanted to make a dramatic exit to make up for a simply dulled feeling. All along, seems like you did what -- and loved whom -- you felt was right at the time.

2. There's no such thing as a "reason to cheat" (except in that Randy Travis song that I can't think of ... can anyone help me out?). There are such things as: a "self-serving justification" to cheat, as well as cheating for no reason at all. People cheat in loving relationships; people don't cheat in heinous relationships. Go figure. Point being: it's about the cheater, not the cheatee. Further point being: therefore, it wasn't anything you did or didn't do. Another thing not to beat yourself up for.

3. Again: 6'4", 225-pound guys can do anything they want. I mean, feelings-wise. Cry, roll out gumdrops, whatever.

4. You don't have to be a "playa" of some "game" to meet women. God forbid, actually. There we go again with the false dichotomies (not a football term). Saying "well, I'm not a player" is, actually, an excellent way to avoid the whole (yes) scary risky neck/ego-on-the-line enterprise. There is a nice, kind, respecful medium between playing and not dating. You'll find it when you're ready.

So. I know it feels like you don't have the guts to strike up a conversation, but let me tell you what you do have: an edge over many of the people who write to me with the same question. I don't have to give you that corny-but-apt advice about starting by getting a hobby or working hard or exercising. So I will give you a more advanced pep talk: frankly, B., you sound dreamy. I mean, dreamy. Thoughtful. Lucid. Smart. Musical. A good writer. With the strong, balanced carriage of a true athlete. And experience with serious relationships. Yum. If I were one of the nice girls you'd spotted at school, I'd just be stoked -- for starters -- that you talked to me at all. Trust me, you could say, "qwertyuiop, asdfghjkl," and they'll be all, "HI!!!"

Okay, B? Listen: you lost something -- something massive, yes -- but not everything. So I also want you to lose your framed national league championship self-fulfilling prophecy. Once again: "I'm too shy and wounded" is a great way to stay lonely and "safe." We're all shy, B, no matter how tall we are. So when you're ready, go ahead and designate someone to hit on.

Breakup Girl



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