I can’t even remember who set us up, it doesn’t really matter at this point. I was living in San Diego at the time. We decided to meet at this little lunch place that had recently opened across the street from the jewelry store where I worked. The restaurant was called “Starbucks,” and apparently was pretty well-known in Seattle. I wasn’t sure how I would recognize him (this was back in the pre-Facebook days), but he said he knew what I looked like just from my voice.
That was a sexy thing to say, because he said my voice on the phone sounded like Cindy Crawford. He was going to be looking for Cindy Crawford!
I got there a few minutes early and sat down. Sure enough, he walked over to me and introduced himself, all smooth and no bitter. “I’m Caffeine,” he said, winking. “I’ve been out with a few of your friends, too. I should warn you, I’m addictive.”
I should have listened to him; did he not tell me the moment we met that he was addictive? But no, that only added to the intrigue.
Our relationship moved fast. I’d only known him for a few weeks when I asked him to start spending the night regularly (mostly so I could be with him first thing in the morning).
He’d go to work, I’d go to work, but then 3 o’clock would roll around and I’d be dialing his number. “Caffeine? It’s me. I really need to see you. Can you meet me in half an hour?”
That was the thing about him, he was so accommodating. And I always felt better after our rendezvous.
I knew it wasn’t a healthy relationship because I was obsessing about him all day long: when I would see him again, how he made me feel when we were together, how I wanted to spend more time with him and perhaps even introduce him to my family. But I was under the impression that he could live without me, that he had lots of other girls waiting in line for their chance.
I remember the day I ended it. I stood him up for our normal afternoon meeting. I thought I was so smart, but about a half an hour later, I had a throbbing headache. I went running back to him. He didn’t seem alarmed in the slightest. “I knew you’d show up eventually,” he grinned, his teeth looking like a dental whitening ad’s “Before” shot.
This pattern went on for months—get together, break up, get together, break up. My mind was racing, and my heartbeat was a little bit, too.
“Why do I need you so much?” I recall saying to him on the phone late one night. “It’s a very one-sided romance.”
The other thing is: I was spending money on him like crazy. He never spent a dime on me, although I found out later he had a trust fund. He’d merely sit there, staring off into space when the check came, waiting for me to get out my wallet. I didn’t complain, our dates were relatively cheap—five dollars here, five dollars there. But over time, it adds up.
Eventually, I moved away. I left no forwarding address, but he found me in Chicago, training with United Airlines to be a flight attendant.
“You think you can ditch me now, after everything we’ve been through?” he demanded. “You’ll be needing me on those red-eye flights.”
As usual, he was right.
We continued our relationship amidst my protests. It got to the point where I simply accepted his presence in my life, like air or water—he wasn’t going anywhere.
Then one day, I met someone new, someone who would change my life forever. I told Caffeine I would still always love him, that it was me not him, that he deserved someone else who loved him unconditionally. Not surprisingly, he was not happy.
“Who is it?” he yelled. “Who? You can’t break up with me and not tell me who my replacement is!”
That is the exact moment my new love walked through the door.
“Him?!?” said Caffeine, pointing. “You would rather be with him?!”
My new love was the confidant sort, not easily intimidated by ex-boyfriends. “Hello, nice to meet you,” he said politely, putting his hand out to shake, “my name is Chocolate.”
PS—and thanks to Marianne at We Band of Mothers for the inspiration (with her longing for sugar)