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Lesson Learned

Lesson Learned

I remember staring out the window at the rain bouncing off the barbecue grill.  Looking, but not really seeing.  How had things gone so wrong?How had all my plans for the future with Alex gone up in smoke in the blink of an eye?

Alex had called one night and said we needed to talk.  That should have been my first clue that something was not right.  Alex had never said those words to me before.  Whenever he had something to talk about, he just – did.  No grand pronouncement, no asking for permission, we would just talk about whatever needed to be discussed.

I had opened the door when Alex arrived and knew immediately that it was not going to be a pleasant conversation.  But what he had said was totally unexpected.  Of course, as the old adage goes, “hindsight is 20/20” which in this case is true because the signs were there.

“Mand, it’s not working for me,” Alex had said.  “I’m feeling claustrophobic.  Things are moving too fast.”

“Too fast?” I had said.  “We’ve been together for over nine months.”

“Maybe we should take a break, you know?” Alex had suggested “See if we still feel like we want to take this to the next level.”

I had looked at him like he was crazy, like I couldn’t be hearing what I was hearing.  Thinking this can’t really be happening.  But it was, it did.

That night was six months ago but sometimes is seems like yesterday.  Oh, the hurt and shock no longer persists but the anger of being used still lingers.  I suppose that to will pass in time.  The irony is Alex actually did me a favor.  Looking back on the relationship, I was able to see that I had started to change.  I had always been a strong woman.  At least that’s what I told myself but I had started to accept things from Alex that I ordinarily wouldn’t accept from a man.

I had made excuses when he would stand me up or go days without a call or text. “Alex is a busy man. He’s working hard to better himself, to get ahead.” I would tell myself.  Funny, that’s one of the things that had attracted me to Alex, his ambition.

I’m no slouch when it comes to ambition.  I have a five year career plan that’s on track and I’m doing pretty well.  I’m proud of my accomplishments and thought I had a good work/life balance.  Good friends and a loving family who helped me get through the worst of the breakup. I guess Alex thought he could do better.  Thought he could get more monetarily from a different woman.

The signs were always in from of me.  Alex had known ambition in a man was important to me, so he played to that trait.  He had pretended to be more than he was.  Showering me with gifts, always listening to how my day went, emphasizing how important he was to the company he worked for.  Alex always had the latest gadgets, his car was never more than two years old and he lived in a very nice apartment.

I’ll admit these material things sweetened the deal but it was the way he had treated me that mattered the most.  All the things Alex had, I could get for myself but he had made me feel special.  He had made me a priority in his life until the last three months of the relationship when he started to pull back.

Three months prior to the beginning of the end, Alex had asked me for a loan, an investment in our future as he had put it.  He told me he had gotten a tip about a “can’t lose” stock and wanted to invest heavily in it but his money was tied up in other investments.  When I asked him how much he wanted from me, he had said $10,000 dollars. When I had balked at that amount, he had said, $5,000 would work. We wouldn’t get the biggest bang but we would get a good head start on our future.

I was never one to part easily with my money and had asked to see projections, portfolios, how he was going to pay me back. Too many questions for him.  A week later he told me the window of opportunity to buy the stock had closed.  And apparently, so had the progression of our relationship.

I guess once Alex had realized I was not going to part with my hard earned money without good reason, I was no longer what he wanted.  To that I say “thank you!” Oh, I sure given time I would have figured out what Alex was about and ended the relationship myself but how much more time would I have wasted?

When it comes to dating now, I’m more cautious, skeptical even.  After getting over Alex, I realized I had been happy before I met him.  My life had been full with my family and friends.  So now I ask myself when dating someone, “Am I willing to risk time that I will never get back?”  “Will this person complement my life?”  If the answer to either questions is no…

Mandy Brown

Food For Thought

Food For Thought

Sally stared up at the ceiling, arms flung wide across her bed as she contemplated her folly. She had met a nice man named Joe and they had hit it off but in her excitement to impress, she had promised to cook dinner for the pair. There was only one problem. Sally couldn’t cook. Not even a little. And the reality only set in after promises where made and assurances where given.

What now? She thought. What now?

It came to her on her morning commute. An ad played on her favorite podcast that she would normally skip over but this time it held her attention.

“Try Blue Apron,” the host explained in a chipper voice. “You receive fresh ingredients that are perfectly portioned to the recipe’s needs.”
Sally scratched her chin as she contemplated the service.

“Anyone can cook with Blue Apron!”

Anyone?  Sally wondered. She planned to put that declaration to the test.

Sally received the box in time for the big night. She took a deep breath and went to work. Shrimp and fresh gnocchi was on the menu and she was determined to not screw it up. The cooking instructions came with pictures and she followed each step diligently, scrutinizing her work against the pictures.

After 30 minutes, she plated the dish. Before her was a mound of shrimp and gnocchi with bright yellow cherry tomatoes garnished with basil. Her mouth watered at the aroma and the meal matched the pictures. She nodded her head approvingly and went to clean up.
Sally watched him, probably a bit more intently than she should have, as he took the first bite. When he finished chewing, Sally realized she was holding her breath.

“Wow,” Joe commented. Sally’s eyes widened. “This is really good.”

“Really?” Sally replied hopefully.

Joe smiled. “Yeah, this must have taken a lot of work.”

Sally straightened her posture. “It was no problem at all, I’m glad you like it.”

“I’m going to have to return the favor,” Joe winked. “I’ll cook something for you.”

Sally blushed and she smiled brightly. Her mission was a success.

Joe stared at the ceiling with existential terror. Why had he promised he would cook something? Sally’s food was so good, there was no way he could top it but that didn’t stop him from running his mouth. Now, he had to deliver.

He opened his phone and looked through his contacts. He picked his best friend and called. He explained the situation, his friend mostly listening.

“So man, any ideas?” Joe said, finishing his tale of woe. Joe listened to his friend’s reply and received a promising suggestion…  Blue Apron!  

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