When I was six years old, I remember crying hard. It was mostly out of frustration and intense feelings of inadequacy over my funky pedicure. I couldn’t understand it: I was great at coloring within the lines but when it came to applying that Maybelline fast-drying raspberry nail polish, I got more on my skin than nails and what I did manage to get on my tiny toenails had marks and smudges and chunks of cotton in it. Older girls could do it; I didn’t understand what was wrong with me. After several failed attempts, my eyes were so full of tears I couldn’t see clearly and I was wallowing in a pool of my own exasperation. I cried for several minutes.
That’s when my dad came onto the patio where I was sitting in a mess of acetone-drenched red cotton balls. He took one look at my raspberry fingers and the stains all over my clothes and sat down beside me. He really hadn’t ever painted toenails before (as evidenced by his side-to-side brush strokes rather than from cuticle to tip). With stern concentration and a steady hand, he gave me the most beautiful pedicure I would ever have.
Thanks to him, I developed a high esteem for men at a young age. However, as I got older it became more difficult for him to save me from the things that made me sad.
When I was 16 years old, I met my first love. Jackson was cute, Midwestern, athletic and one of those popular guys everyone likes to be around. In high school, I was the serious studyholic too prissy to smoke a cigarette or miss a homework assignment so I loved the way being around Jackson made me popular too. We would have intense discussions that would last all night. He made me mixed tapes with Paul McCartney and even handcrafted many lovely gifts for me including a wooden jewelry box and a needlepointed keychain. I trusted him completely. I thought we would be together forever. Then, when we ended up in different universities, a girl from my high school contacted me to tell me that Jackson was cheating with a white trash bimbo named Dawna. Up until that day, I was unfamiliar with the feeling of betrayal from a man. I cried for weeks.
When I was 26 years old, after many years alone, I started what would become a serious relationship with a former work colleague. Julien helped bear the burden of stress from life and took care of me. A woman who goes from her father’s house to the sorority house to her husband’s house might not appreciate this but I had been doing things on my own for years; his attentiveness and helpfulness were much appreciated. After we had been together for over three years, I decided I would surprise him with a romantic island vacation so, one day when he was in the shower, I went on his PC so he would come out and see the resort I had chosen on the screen. I started typing in the URL but then mistakenly pushed ‘enter’ on a strange site that appeared in the history. I was not at all prepared for what I saw. Julien, who that same week was begging me to start a family, had an online dating profile and was chatting with multiple other women. I cried for months.
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Most of the men you read about in my Dating Catastrophes came after these three, who shaped me. Luckily, only one of the three matters and he is the one who gives me faith that great men do exist.
My dad left this world much too soon. Of all the men for whom I cried, only he truly deserved it. Remember that the only men worth crying over are the ones that will love you enough to stop your tears, not cause them.
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Where are they now?
Jackson: He called me multiple times every day for two weeks and I never took his calls. After time passed, he made a few attempts on MSN Messenger to reconcile. I never saw him again.
Dawna: I checked her facebook page (which is completely public) and Dawna today cannot be recognized as the cute girl she once was. She married a guy physically comparable to her and I wish them all the best.
Julien: He never got over the breakup and made multiple efforts to get back together. I do not return his messages. One person said it best, “trust is like an unlit match, once you burn it, it goes away forever.”
– Albany Eden