In January I met a woman named Tess — well, *I* named her Tess, but that's another story — at my local Starbucks. She saw me reading a book, we got to talking, and a few weeks later we went to see the Fifty Shades movie. During the ride to the cinema, we talked about what was going on between us, and we agreed we were just going out and having fun, and despite dalliances of a private nature, neither of us was going to seek an actual relationship with the other. In the common parlance, we became each other's "slam piece." There's a few other terms that mean the same thing but we both think "slam piece" is pretty funny. And that's the way it has been for seven months.
Then this past Saturday night, Tess suddenly made noises normally heard from someone desiring an actual relationship. Specifically, noises of the "I can't believe how perfect we are for each other," "Where have you been my whole life?" and "It's okay if we start saying 'I love you,' right?" variety.
We are both adults. Her more than me, since she is older (45) and if you've ever met her, you know how she gleefully boasts of her "old" status. We've both been around the block, and both of us understand how life can throw you a fastball but at the last second make it break away from the plate. In the common parlance, she's suddenly getting all kinds of "feels."
I confess that my reaction was a lot of laughter.
In my recent experience, when a woman starts saying things like this to me — no matter if we're just getting to know each other, being slam-piece-tastic, or already in an official relationship — invariably it means she will disappear off the face of the earth very soon. A month at the absolute latest. I won't get an explanation or an apology or even a "It's not you, Chris, it's me" ... she'll just vanish. Calls will go unanswered, texts unresponded to. One of them even moved to Wisconsin. In the common parlance, I'll get "ghosted."
This used to be a source of great angst. But since it's happened so often, I've changed my whole outlook on things. You could say I changed my game, or even that I evolved. When Tess said this stuff to me, I laughed it off and even told her why.
"What if I don't vanish?" she laughed back. "What if things turn out differently than you predict they will?"
That's a good question! As you may have guessed, I've said all this to her. She is not on social media (for a legit reason) but I'm not being sneaky here, saying anything behind her back. I'll even show her this post when we next meet ... assuming, of course, she hasn't already decided I'm dead to her!
I bring this all up because I subscribe to a podcast called the Writer's Almanac, presented by Garrison Keillor and sponsored by the Poetry Foundation. Every day for five minutes, he talks about today's date as it pertains to writers (usually if it's their birthday) and concludes with a short poem. I saved the podcast for my birthday (July 31st) without listening to it since I was on vacation. I just listened to it today and wouldn't you know it, the poem, by William Butler Yeats of all people, fits this very topic. Ol' W. B. and I have been given the same treatment, it seems!
I texted a link to the poem to Tess. She laughed and assured me she wasn't going to vanish. She actually quoted the poem and said, "neither of us are deaf or blind with love but you might be dumb :-P"
Time will tell. In a few weeks, if she's still around, I'll have to decide if its okay to get "feels" of my own!
Anyway, here's the poem:
Never give all the Heart by W. B. YEATS
Never give all the heart, for love
Will hardly seem worth thinking of
To passionate women if it seem
Certain, and they never dream
That it fades out from kiss to kiss;
For everything that’s lovely is
But a brief, dreamy, kind delight.
O never give the heart outright,
For they, for all smooth lips can say,
Have given their hearts up to the play.
And who could play it well enough
If deaf and dumb and blind with love?
He that made this knows all the cost,
For he gave all his heart and lost.