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09 January 2014

My life is a soap opera. Has your life ever been a soap opera?[More:]Guy at work, whom I've whined about before, we went on some beautiful, long lunchtime walks over the summer and fall. He really stepped up the attention this summer, and I thought this could finally be it. First guy I've had a real connection with in eight years. Had tons of great conversations over coffee in the break room. He constantly complimented my outfits and figure. He said more than once, "I'm smitten with you." Then one day in November, he says, guess what, I got married two weeks ago!

Then I did the math...our last walk was after he had gotten married.

And he didn't tell his co-workers until the same day he told me. Went on vacation for two days, didn't tell anyone where he was going. Was wearing a ring the day he told me, but co-workers swear they didn't see it until that day.

Now the problem is, he's still stalking me in the hallways and saying hello. Just yesterday he complimented my sweater. Am debating what to do: it's easy enough to tell him to knock it off, not so easy when you're still in love with the guy and he's the only one who gives you any attention. (Yes, I know he's an asshole. Stop telling me that. I've heard that a million times, and it's not helping.)

But that's not what makes this a soap opera! Also in November, my sister announces to Facebook that she's in a relationship with a woman. Not a problem in itself, except that all my relatives start shouting, "what is your crazy hippie sister up to now?!" (Which I generally agree with, actually; not a year goes by that she isn't experimenting with some type of lifestyle or philosophy.) So I spend Christmas day lying on my mother's couch, rumpling my dress, using every ounce of energy I have to not burst into sobs again, and at the same time trying to calm the relatives who are complaining about how my sister is acting exactly the way she's always been acting.

Have you ever had a soap opera period in your life? Tell me about it, keep my mind off my troubles.
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You have unlocked: The HOMEWRECKER badge!

I'm jealous. I've been after that badge for years!
posted by Eideteker 09 January | 17:21
None here. But stynxno is an identical twin so I feel like the potential is there.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 09 January | 17:43
My life is more full on opera to experimental chamber music to operetta to farce to Grand Guignol... then maybe some straight faced pop spoofs before some old school punk and a series of farting sounds--

I have questions but i don't want to poke any open wounds unless they need draining.

Um, in the happy jingle ear worm section that abruptly interrupted some rather tortured finger exercises, a new computer showed up today, but with some annoying background of not quite sad trombone, not quite what i thought it'd be.

Cue Frankenstein music as I consider a Jambone and get out the tiny screwdriver.
posted by ethylene 09 January | 20:28
I once moved to Israel intending to convert to Judaism because I was in love and I knew she'd never marry a goy. Of course in my case this was an asinine idea, a recipe for disaster. She had a year to go in college. I loved her like dogs love sleep, a real thing, abiding, or so I thought.

Israel was confusing. I worked my fingers to the bone and played my ass off, drank a lot, made loads of friends, and those phone calls from America got more and more strained. We were no less fond of each other but she started to see her post-college plans forming and I started to see the ridiculousness of the whole going-to-Israel-to-become-Jewish proposition.

I went to a Quaker college. Pacifists and conscientious objectors. I didn't want to be joining some hyperactive army just for a chance at matrimony. Plus distance in such an immature relationship can be a dealbreaker, and the space between us showed us both that we weren't as perfect a couple as we thought. So the plans were off. Very amicably, we stayed good friends and occasional confidantes for years until she found the man I wasn't, and married him.

Anyway, that's all setup. So, I was there after about a month, having the time of my life, just broken up with my former dream girl, and I did what any red-blooded fellow would do in such a situation: I organized a basketball game. Three to a side, short-court, the baskets were regulation but the ball was junior high-sized.

On one side were the forces of good: this cat from Curitiba who had put his whole business up his nose, been sent to the Levant by his family to simmer down, and ended up keeping the volunteers' bar, a nightly bacchanale of stupendous proportions; the world's greatest Prince fan, from Rotterdam, who brought to the damn desert a purple suit with a silver TAFCAP symbol lapel pin and proudly displayed, upon meeting just about anyone, the abdominal scar where his kidney had been removed to save his brother's life; and your humble narrator, itching to run around and shoot hoops after that dismal and final phone call.

Representing evil were these two guys from Madrid, princes both of them, inseparable, wicked, and bright. You know how the trick of the devil is that he's perfect, he promises everything you want, he's the smoothest of the smooth, the sweetest of the sweet, the nicest of the you-get-the-picture? That's how these guys were, about everything. You could trust them completely. They cooked omelets every night. Delicious.

Rounding out the evil team was the craziest piece of work I've ever met, from somewhere near or far from Vancouver, a former Canadian special forces trooper who was in the Holy Land with his very young wife because his messiah complex needed a place to call home. This guy could make up scripture like no other. One Saturday morning the Prince fan painted his door purple. By Sunday a veritable Jeremiad condemning the licentiousness of homosexuals and Those Who Would Encourage Them appeared in black Sharpie on the wall next to the offending door. It was written in faux-archaic language, full of nonstandard spelling and full-word capitalization, and even had line numbers in case you owned the concordance and wanted to look something up. God spoke; that dude took dictation.

Not to be outdone, my man the Prince fan inked out the lyrics 2 "Lovesexy" 4 the messiah and his wife to enjoy every time they walked to the shower room. With line numbers and a "Prince 8:6" chapter reference at the bottom. Walk with god, baby.

And so we were set to play basketball. It was pretty bad, none of us had game. I'm only 6'3" so I've always played outside, shooting guard or small forward, but they wanted me under the rim so I obliged. I suck at posting up. Luckily, nobody on either team was any good. Five of us were having a great time, but the messiah kept getting madder and madder. Eventually he lashed out and threw a totally inappropriate shoulder-check at the Prince fan that knocked him down, bloodied his lip, and necessitated spectator interference to keep the lid from popping off.

The Prince fan said to hell with it, I'm out, this guy's a jerk, Jesus would be ashamed of him. I somehow found myself standing there with a fist-sized rock in my hand, like what, I went to the land of Canaan to stone a false prophet? Anyway I felt a hand on mine, pulling my fingers away from the rock, I dropped it and turned and there was this Parisian girl who had arrived just the night before, hadn't really said a word to anybody, and she leaned forward like she was whispering into my ear, "When you all calm down, can I play?"

She was magic. A quick passer, moved off the ball, a deft dribble drive, with an amazing running hook that I got to see a lot of in the months that followed. We played to 21 and it wasn't even close, the two devils were embarrassed that a woman took them to the cleaners and, well, who knows what the nutter thought?

This was the start of a few months fling, based mostly on basketball, trips to the pool, and occasional 12 km walks to the beach at Caesaria, where we ate salt-broiled St. Peter's fish and hitchhiked home under the stars.

See, everything on a kibbutz runs on a three-month cycle, since that's how long the tourist visas for volunteers last. Some people get extensions. I just overstayed mine. The border guard at the Rafah crossing gave me a hard time, but stamped me through anyway. Nobody cared about visas back then unless you killed someone or smuggled drugs.

So she went back to France after a few months. We sent a few wistful notes back and forth but both of us knew it was the most temporary affair of the heart, and we both felt better for the time and energy we spent getting to know each other.

Then one night a few weeks after she'd left all the volunteers were hanging around drinking beer on a great big slab of concrete where the former volunteers' bar had been before it burned, and I leaned back to laugh and tipped over an unopened bottle of beer, which fell just so and popped like a grenade. A sliver of glass flew and sliced a cut in the upraised arm of a graduate student from Florence who was on the kibbutz to study modern Hebrew in the ulpan in preparation for her graduate work in Biblical linguistics in Jerusalem.

Oh my god! What did I do? She had just arrived, I don't know if she'd even unpacked yet! So I introduced myself and rushed her over to the first aid station, bandaged and wrapped her cut, apologized profusely, and got her an unbroken beer. We became friends.

As it turned out both of us wanted, needed maybe, someone to just talk with, to listen to, to sit around with, relax, and maybe fall in love with a little or a lot as it turned out. She had just ended a long, acrimonious relationship, and I needed to stop rebounding and sit with my thoughts for awhile. So we became friends, nothing more. It took decades for me to love a woman as much as I loved her. All the stronger for it being entirely platonic and certainly mutual.

The broken bottle that introduced us left a little forget-me-not scar on her forearm.

But that's not all! Along came a woman from London who wanted me one week, my roommate the next, swung back and forth for a month and you know what? She went home a winner! Someone drunkenly suggested that if she liked us both, she could have us both together, or not at all. So it goes. Kibbutz life.

All this played out against a backdrop of farm work, factory labor, kitchen apprenticeship; tumbling off the side of an ancient Roman aqueduct; contracting dysentery and eventually curing it with whiskey and cribbage; paying respects to Yitzhak Rabin lying in state after his assassination; watching Radiohead open for REM from the hill overlooking Ramat Gan; jumping in a taxicab full of gangsters in Cairo to procure duty-free liquor and cigarettes in exchange for cash; holding a genuine curse-free mummy's head; bellydancing hijinks in Luxor and midnight bus rides across the Eastern Desert; shakshouka and koshari; hashish and hibiscus tea.

Oh, and a big earthquake while were in Cairo. A week or so later we were in Sinai, sleeping under camel blankets in a little beachside hut at a Bedouin camp called Nuweiba. One morning I didn't want to get out of bed. I felt great, like I'd been doing it all night. I was lying there smiling and my roommate looked over and said, "Why don't you go take the first shower." I was loath to get up because I'd just reached down and discovered a sticky mess in my underwear.

After a little back and forth we realized that we were both trying to get the other out of there for the same reason, that we had each had a wet dream in the night and woken gotch full of semen. What are the odds? Well, it turned out that overnight aftershocks from the previous week's earthquake had flattened work on the newly-under-construction Nuweiba Hilton. What can I say? The earth moved.

It seems like I'm just scratching the surface. It was all in the course of one year. I'm not sure if soap operas are like that. If they were, I would probably like to watch.
posted by Hugh Janus 09 January | 21:23
Dag, Hugh. You're one of my all-time favorites.

My life has been more often "tears in your beers" country songs as opposed to soap operas, but I loathe drama and avoid it like I would a sickly toddler, often in spite of myself.

Sorry to hear things aren't going so well, Melismata.
posted by ufez 09 January | 22:10
God, I wouldn't even know where to begin. My family's history is all full of divorces, drunks, serious mental illness, adultery, incarceration, crazy aunts locked in state hospitals, minor mafia members, gang membership, drug addictions, political scandal and a couple of murders.

My personal life history is pretty normal in comparison, just one kid out of wedlock and two marriages. Pretty boring for a bunch of urban rednecks from Jersey like my kin.
posted by octothorpe 09 January | 22:37
Three years and a couple of months later; and some 6000 miles of driving later; a few horrific episodes of life stress induced alcoholism (highly overrated by TV movies etc and not funny or safe IRL), plenty of lost sleep, and the probate of my Dad's estate is finally over.

I am now 'free' to move on with my life; a strong faith in the digital and real world, and a great co-worker crew kept me hanging in there.

Best to all that have had crap times, and that dude in the hall is probably divorced and burnt badly in a couple of years.
posted by buzzman 10 January | 00:43
Huge Anus, I wish we had a "flagged for fantstaticism" because I would flag that story of yours right now so hard.

My own soap opera? Meh, I don't remember, I'm too old now. I do sympathize Melismata, being in your own soap opera, without a catchy soundtrack and breaks for commercial, convenient plot twists and blindingly attractive costars, can be a drag. I hope you are able to find some peace soon, when the credits roll.
posted by msali 10 January | 07:54
Most of the time, I feel like my life was written by Gilbert & Sullivan.
posted by pjern 10 January | 20:47
The drama in my life around having a child was so over the top ask.mefi like that I used as an entertaining anecdote for a while. People, especially women, enjoy that kind of gossip. So I was auto-gossiping basically.
The strange thing is I never wanted a child before because I wasn't perfectly sure about the relationships I was in and the circumstances. And then I became a father in the worst way imaginable with somebody who treated me very badly. Drama.
posted by jouke 11 January | 08:46
LOL pjern! Thanks for making me laugh out loud alone! :)
posted by Melismata 11 January | 18:08
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