This is going to sound ridiculous and downright unwomanist/feminist, but when I was in high school, I thought it would be cool to be a trophy wife. I mean, come on: smart, beautiful, a model mom, and on top of it all, kept? Seemed like a pretty sweet deal to me. Thankfully, I grew up and realized that being a “trophy wife” would not bring me the fulfillment I look for in life.
Little did I know that ten years down the line I’d have a taste of my adolescent dream.
I had sort of been seeing this fellow -- we’ll call him Michael -- sporadically for almost a year. I first met him at a friend's birthday, at which I was a total mess. I cannot stress enough how much of a mess I was. I was vogue-battling by myself, making inappropriate jokes -- I was wasted. After the party, we both conked out on my friend's couch and apparently, I woke up five times during the night and punched Mike in the leg before passing out again.
The next morning, Mike offered to drive me home, but said we’d have to take the subway to his car (he'd left his car a couple stops away). I had seriously horrible menstrual cramps that caused me to projectile-vomit between train cars shortly after we boarded. Then, when we finally got out of the subway and reached his car, I made him stop at CVS because I absolutely needed tampons then and there. What a first impression, huh?
But despite my antics, Michael still wanted to go out with me.
"I like that you're spontaneous and vibrant," he said, to my great shock. Like ... what? Who would want to go out with me after I'd made such a fool of myself all over town? I figured he had to be a good guy.
I went out on a few dates with him, but we both had crazy schedules so there were stretches when we would text each other a lot, but couldn’t make time to meet.
Early last year, we started hanging out more often. I wasn't particularly physically attracted to Michael — he’s not my usual type, but I enjoyed his company, and I felt I could be myself around him. He was easy to talk to; we found each other hilarious, we were both working in media ... things just seemed to click. And he was incredibly sweet, encouraging and supportive, always telling me how exciting, interesting, intelligent, and beautiful was.
In his world, my physical appearance explained a lot about how people treated me. If a guy was harassing me at a party, it was because I was hot. If a store clerk cut me some slack and let me have me that bag of M&Ms even though I was ten cents short, I could thank my looks. When I told him my boss was making inappropriate comments towards me during staff meetings, he replied (quite matter-of-factly), “Of course he’s hitting on you. Why wouldn’t he? You’re pretty.”
I think this guy told me I was attractive more times than any dude I'd ever met. It was flattering in the beginning, but as time progressed, his comments started to make me a little uncomfortable. Any time we went out together, he would always point out that this girl or that guy was looking at me. Of course, I didn't notice anyone looking at me, because I was not out with every pedestrian in NYC, I was out with him. But he always seemed to catch people staring, and took every opportunity to mention it.
"You see that girl? She just grilled you so hard,” he told me, “I love watching people's reactions to you. You don't see it, but I see it."
"That dude just checked you out. He looked away real quick because he saw me with you, but I saw him looking at you. I love that shit.”
OK I thought, maybe he's just observant.
But I suspected something more was afoot one night when he took me out to his friend's birthday party at a popular Meatpacking District nightspot. At first I was excited to go. If he was taking me out to meet his friends, that meant things were on the right track. Why would he introduce me to his boys if he wasn't at least slightly serious about me? I got to the club and it was myself, Michael, two of his homeboys, and their respective girlfriends. We got there and had a couple drinks. Michael wasn't interacting with me much. I figured it was because he wanted to kick it with his boys a little, which was totally fine by me. I just sat and chatted with the two girlfriends, who turned out to be very cool.
But as the drinks kept flowing, Michael started acting funny. He completely ignored me the entire time I was there, except to come over and tell me how good I looked. It pissed me off. Why had he brought me all the way downtown to just blow me off all night?
When we finally left, I told him how I felt and he apologized. But it didn't stop that night. He would take me around his friends, we would talk, chill -- things were cool, but he would pay me little mind except to make small talk and ask if I’d been getting hit on.
I tolerated it for a month or two. During that time, Mike was still talking to me, but he was working a lot, and wouldn't plan anything when it was just the two of us hanging out. One or more of his friends would always be there, which annoyed me because I wanted to spend time alone with him.
Things came to a head after I moved into my new apartment. I'd invited him over with the promise that I would make dinner, and we could watch movies and hang out together. He said he was busy on the night I suggested, but he was free the next night. At that point, I'd sensed something was up, so I decided to test him. I wanted to see if he would come and hang out if it was just the two of us. If being with me was important to him, he would make it his beeswax to be at my house. The next day came and went, and I didn't hear a peep from him.
Indeed, I didn't get a single call or text message from the guy until the end of the week -- and he didn’t even apologize.
"Are you going to Jackie's party tonight?" was the text I got five days later. I didn't respond, deleted his number and went to Jackie’s party, assuming he wouldn't have the nerve to show up, especially after being a jerk.
But show up he did. He got to the party, put his arm around me, and tried to talk to me. I walked away and proceeded to ignore him and have a good time in spite of his presence. Ya'll, let me tell you this boy hovered over me the whole night. If I was dancing with a dude, he was there looming in the corner. When I went to get a drink, he would be right behind me trying to get one of his own. At the end of the night, before I was about to leave, I confronted him.
"I got really busy this week, I apologize," he said. "You know how it is with me, I work crazy hours."
"I understand that," I replied, "but I also work a lot, and you could have at least contacted me to say you couldn't make it." He agreed.
"It's just crazy,” I continued, “how you didn’t hit me up all week. I feel like you don't even really care about me, you just want to take me around town and show me off to your friends."
He was silent -- a little too silent.
"Is that it, then?" I asked.
Shifty eyes. “Well…”
"Oh. I see," I replied. He tried to protest, but his silence (and lame explanation) said it all. I was the trophy date.
Granted, Mike and I had hung out before, and maybe he did like my personality. But that seemed to have gotten lost somewhere between our friendship and his ego, and he became more concerned with how others people were responding to my presence ... and how it made him look. We talked again a few days later, and he didn't deny it when I again accused him of trying to turn me into some kind of trophy.
Needless to say, we are no longer in contact.
It was a strange situation. I felt used, but I also felt like I'd wasted so much of my time. I thought this guy was into me because he found me exciting and cool, but really, he was feeling himself more than he was feeling me ... and I was unknowingly feeding his inner egomaniac.
Have you ever dated someone like this? How'd it play out?