Reality Truck

Sunday, Sunday

I wouldn’t be labeled a conventional romantic, but I don’t think I should be labeled a cynic either. I’m skeptical and yet hopeful. I’m a realist, I guess. Someone who has genuine hope for people and for himself, but who has lived long enough to be aware that it’s so easy for things to go wrong.
—Neil LaBute

Whenever anyone starts a sentence with “I can’t believe you....” And follows it with some arbitrary mean/insensitive/petty thing I’ve said or done, my automatic response is…

“....You can’t?”

“Have we met?!”

I’m mystified.

That there’s anyone left out there who has no concept of my capacity for anger, temper tantrums, spite, and bitterness.

MOST people already know.

Last week, for example, a guy couldn’t believe I fed his dinner to the dog.

This was a dinner it took me a week to make, mind you—and I’d sandwiched all the shopping and prep time in between work, child-care, family responsibilities, and the usual holiday planning.

It was not an especially simple meal. It was three to four courses (or would’ve been). The soup alone took three days.

And he ruined it. (Not the soup. The plan.)

By getting the day wrong.

I thought Saturday, he thought Sunday.

Here’s where I would point out: I THOUGHT Saturday because he SAID Saturday. Here’s where he would point out: he thinks he just said “dinner.”

My argument for having a minimum of three alternate plans ready to kick in the second he vacillated or suggested the slightest deviation was: the holidays are busy; I know by now not to count on him; and my schedule was already so finely timed that if a bug so much as hits my windshield, it could set into motion a chain of miscalculations that could throw my entire YEAR off.

I’d only left Saturday open; that’s the only day he’d mentioned being free. I assumed he’d be leaving town soon thereafter. Everyone is. And the rest of the time, I was busy, and also, oh yeah, I have a job. Where we don’t take two weeks off for Christmas and New Year’s. I OFTEN go there on Monday mornings—which means I don’t typically stay up all night on Sunday cooking and doing dishes.

PLUS: in the hierarchy of dating, as my evil party twin and I decreed in the 90s (though she’s since married and moved away): we are NOT Sunday night girls, we are Saturday night girls.

Unless you’re in a very, very, very longterm committed relationship (defined exclusively as the kind where you’re listed first on the life insurance policy), Sunday plans mean you are an afterthought—you’re leftovers. The weekend is finished. The good time that was had by all has already been had. And you weren’t it. Maybe it wasn’t another girl… maybe it was a sporting event of some sort, an evening of theatre, dance, or music… or perhaps a night out drinking with the boys wrapped up with all of them passed out face-down in a pool of their respective vomit… the point is, it just wasn’t you.

The point is (as everyone knew LONG before it became a Sex & the City topic): he’s just not that into you.

Sunday supplies an automatic escape route that will not involve anyone chewing their own legs off—there’s always an early Monday meeting that’ll conveniently and justifiably limit the time devoted (although that doesn’t apply to bass players, so don’t fall for it in their case).

Sunday night plans means there’ll be no awkward Sunday morning Starbucks recriminations over beer goggles and regrets—no need to fake a seizure, or a sudden, unexpected 24 hour case of bacterial meningitis to get rid of anyone (as I myself have, admittedly, done—and that was just to walk out on a movie date that I wasn’t enjoying).

So THAT’s why his Saturday-night dinner got fed to the dog on Thursday afternoon.

It coulda gone in the trash.

I could’ve eaten it or served it to other guests (if I hadn’t made lightning-fast backup plans to go elsewhere and do otherwise—before the word “Sund…” was out of his mouth, I’d flashed up the emergency Barbie-head silhouette over the Park near my house—it’s like the Bat Signal, only it lets everyone in a 20-mile radius know I AM in fact free and I COULD use those tickets).

But feeding it to the dog seemed the perfect gesture. Cause I love my dog—and my dog looooooves sweet potato soup and pork loin (although to be culinarily honest, he frankly did not seem to be THAT crazy about the fancy little “pockets” of Montrachet goat cheese wrapped in radicchio).

So —notwithstanding the fundamental incompatibility of mesclun and canine digestive tracts— this was a harmless way to throw a fit where no one got hurt and nothing got broken.

Because in the grand scheme, skipping one dinner’s not that big a big deal (enough to merit something mild…instead of say, a shock collar)—it was only MADE bigger by the cumulative effect of months of this kind of miscommunication…Never telling me specific days or times he’d be free…and on the rare occasions he did, it’d be wrong (like showing up hours after a ballgame ended)—augmented by plenty of fall and summer travel plans that never got communicated in advance, like “spontaneous” fishing trips, which usually got casually dropped into conversation mere hours before the plane took off, as in, “oh yeah....I’m going fly fishing this weekend.” (And for the record, “the weekend” is not defined by anybody as leaving on a Wednesday and coming back on a Tuesday…that is what’s technically known as a Vacation…and Vacation Schedules are subject to a heads-up for all significant and insignificant others. When one plans them.)

I can never tell if he’s REALLY that thoughtless (always a safe bet)……or if he just figures if I don’t have much notice, I’ll have less time to PLAN to better-deal him while he’s gone.

(Which is absurd. There’s ALWAYS time for a better deal. And it doesn’t require much of a plan.) n