3.22.2010

Short and Fat and Hairy

Once upon a time I knew a troll. The troll was short and fat and hairy, but I had known the troll for twelve years, so the trollish features were overlooked. Unfortunately, the troll was friends with Tom, whom I discovered had spread lies after we broke up that I had been a dead fuck, which was complete bullshit. Until then, I hadn't mentioned to anyone that Tom had been a two pump chump, so I sent that message back through the grapevine, also known as his friends. Payback's a bitch.

Though it had been two years since Tom and I had severed communication, the troll and I had managed to maintain a good friendship. We talked on the phone, saw movies, and met up for dinner from time to time.

It was one of those times, having a late dinner at a bistro on Yonge Street, when the troll dropped a bomb: he had feelings for me. It was a good thing I wasn't taking a drink of my Coke, as I would have shot it out my nose.

"WHAT?" I nearly shouted, my voice cracking. People turned to look at me, and my face turned bright red.

"Redhead, I have feelings for you. I have for a long time. Hell, I had a crush on you in middle school," he told me quietly.

I buried my face in my hands and sighed heavily, which I do when I'm stressed. "I don't know what to say. I didn't see this coming," I told him.

"I want to see where this goes," he said.

"Fuck. I need a smoke. And time to think," I replied.

We finished our meals in relative silence, the troll sending worried glances my way, as if he thought I would bolt (it did cross my mind). I walked home, and instead of going inside, I sat in the backyard and chain smoked. Eventually, Angie came out to join me and I told her what had happened. She was shocked too, voiced her concerns about his group of friends, which included my ex-boyfriend, and asked me what I was going to do. I didn't have an answer for her.

The troll and I continued to hang out, and I acted as if nothing had happened, essentially ignoring the elephant in the room.

Long before the troll admitted feelings, we had planned a camping weekend with some friends. Upon arrival at the provincial park, we set up our tents and had a couple drinks while chilling around a bonfire. I'm a fucking idiot, so I drank too much and found myself making out with him in a dark tent a few hours later.

The next morning, I awoke to the sound of his snoring, weighed down by one of his tattooed arms draped across me. I slowly moved his arm off me, cursing my stupidity, and crawled out of the tent in my pyjamas, squinting in the harsh sunlight. Ignoring my friends' raised eyebrows, I sat down at the picnic table, swallowed some Advil, and ate breakfast in hungover silence. When the troll woke up and joined me at the table, things between us were surprisingly un-weird, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

Since I don't do anything stupid halfway, I got shitfaced that night and slept with the troll. I regretted it immediately, until we had a talk the next day; he was happy, excited, and wanted to take a stab at a serious relationship with me.

Back in the city, after contemplating our situation, I was withdrawn and hesitant. I voiced my concerns to him on a constant basis, which included my ex-boyfriend, his ex-wife (he had married an American girl he met over the internet, who dumped him after she returned to the States and got knocked up by another guy. I didn't trust that the troll was—or would ever be—over it, and would he want to get married again and have kids?), and the possibility of losing our friendship. Even though the troll assured me that everything would be fine with my ex, that he was over what his ex had done to him, and that he wanted to get married again and have kids, I worried constantly. I stressed about it so much that I nearly drove him away, until I realized that I could be fucking up a really good thing, and decided to jump in with both feet.

We spent most weekends together, and although my ex had told the troll that it didn't matter to him if we dated, I never saw any of his friends, apart from his roomate. If there was a party or get-together, the troll would not take me with him, to prevent things from getting hostile and awkward. His friends aside, things were going well and I was happy, to the surprise of most people.

Just short of a year after we started dating, the troll's roomate had to move back home for financial reasons, so I helped him find a new apartment and move in. I was sitting on the kitchen counter, swinging my legs and drinking water between loads when he walked up to me, put his hands on my waist and said, "You should move in."

I laughed.

"Redhead, I'm serious. You spend almost every weekend with me. You live out of a bag. We've known each other forever. I love you, and you should move in."

I opened and closed my mouth, not sure of what to say. "I can't leave Angie," I told him, "and this apartment isn't big enough for two people."

"You and Angie will have to split up sometime, and we could live here while we save money for a condo downtown."

I told him I would think about it, but I wasn't sure if I was ready. I had never lived with a boyfriend, and the thought was a little scary. However, it wasn't long before the decision was made for me: Angie informed me that she was moving out.

"Still want a roomate?" I asked the troll, who was ecstatic, and I began to make preparations. I packed up all my stuff and bought some new things for our apartment. Before I knew it, moving day came, and ironically, I was headed back to the very street I grew up on. Unfortunately, the neighbourhood was rather ghetto, and I wasn't exactly thrilled to return to a very rough area of the city.

The troll's apartment was a small, dark, wood-paneled and spider-infested basement of a house—decorated with Kevin Smith movie action figures and a Klingon blade thingy—that I wasn't very fond of, but I figured it would be a temporary living situation.

It became apparent quite quickly that the troll wouldn't be doing any of the cooking or cleaning, so these chores fell to me. He lived like a slob, ate takeout on a daily basis, and smoked like a chimney. He wouldn't open the blinds to let any light in, and spent hours playing video games and watching movies. He was more involved in my life than I was with his, due to his asinine, grudge-holding friends who refused to be in the same room as me. The troll took all orders from his former roomate and obeyed without question, regardless of my opinion. All this wore thin quickly and we began to fight only weeks after I moved in.

The troll liked to spew nonsense about how weird and fucked-up he was, how people didn't "get" him because he was so different. I grew tired of the sermons, and I would tell him that I wasn't buying his attention-seeking bullshit. Everybody had issues, and he needed to get over himself. He often didn't like what I had to say, and would lose his temper, yell at me, and say horrible things that he couldn't take back. I began to wonder if I had made a HUGE mistake by moving in with him.

He would go out with his friends who were into drugs, and out of nowhere, he casually admitted that he had snorted coke at a party only weeks before. If there is one thing I can't tolerate, it's drugs. I have little patience for potheads, but cocaine? I lost my shit. He promised that it was a one time deal that wouldn't happen again, but I didn't believe him, nor did I feel as if I could trust him. I couldn't help but wonder what else he had been hiding from me.

The ghetto began to take its toll, as thug douchebags called out to me as I got off the bus at the end of the day. One evening a guy followed me up a street, whistling and shouting, "Hey, baby! I got what you need! Where you running off to?" until I ducked into a convenience store and waited for him to give up and leave, so he wouldn't find out where I lived. The troll came home to find me shaken, and instead of showing concern, said, "I know other girls who live in this neighbourhood and they don't have a problem. What makes you so special?" He didn't care that I was unhappy, felt unsafe and wanted to discuss moving to a different area of the city. He worked two jobs, didn't drive, and got a ride right to the door late at night, while I had to take a very expensive cab ride from my night school class downtown, as I didn't want to take the bus and walk home in the dark.

For the first time, the troll joined a couple friends and I on our annual trip to Huntsville for the Victoria Day weekend. Friday night, sitting at the bonfire, the troll made the mistake of bringing up the big fights we had gotten into recently, thus sparking another one. He told me that he had let me move in with him "as a favour" and "to be nice". Naturally, I lost it on him, disgusted by his lies and selfishness. I told him how frustrated and hurt I was by his unwillingness to compromise.

"I don't feel that compromise means I should have to give anything up!" he yelled, "I've worked hard for everything I have, and now that everything is perfect for me, why should I have to give any of it up?!"

"Because it's not just YOU!" I retaliated, "Why am I the one making all the sacrifices? Why can't I have ONE THING that's perfect? You have everything and I have nothing!"

He wouldn't listen and he didn't care. My friend, who had been listening to this embarrassing clash of tempers (did I mention I'm Irish?), told him he was being a bit ridiculous and selfish, although she could see his side too (what?). She suggested that we move to her area, which actually made my commute to work FURTHER. By this point I was crying very hard, and looked at her incredulously. Backtracking, she suggested that maybe I should get my license, as a compromise (WHAT?).

I turned to the troll and said, "If you're not willing to meet me halfway and move at the end of the year, tell me now and I'm gone. And don't tell me you will just to shut me up for now and then hurt me later, because I deserve better than that."

"You're such a bitch, you know that?" he said, "I'm going to bed. The least you can do is give me some time to think about it," and he got up and walked away.

I sat there and cried, while my friend tried to come up with ways for me to compromise. She told me I shouldn't back him into a corner and sometimes you need to feed a man's ego and let him have his way.

I told her that he didn't love me enough, because he had been willing to move to the United States for his ex-wife, but wouldn't move within the city for me. I was tired, frustrated, and convinced that I was setting myself up to get hurt, no matter what I did.

When I finally went to bed, I tried to talk to him, but he rolled away from me.

In the morning, we made peace, and everything was fine, if a little tense, for the rest of the weekend.

Back in the city, I took some time to think and I didn't know what to do. I doubted he would ever compromise, and maybe staying was just setting myself up to get hurt. Maybe all the troubles that came with our relationship were just too much, as they seemed to swallow us whole sometimes. I was tired of walking on eggshells, and tired of fighting. I had little left to fight with. Maybe it wasn't going to work out and I was too scared to admit it.

Frustrated, I gave the apartment a good cleaning. That was when I found a large stack of photos of his ex-wife in a drawer, which was bad timing and felt like a slap in the face.

Behind the troll's back, I started to look for apartments.

One night I was peeling potatoes for dinner when he came into the kitchen and told me he had decided he didn't want to get married again or have kids. My face turned red and I stabbed the potato HARD with the knife, whipping around to look at him.

"You. Fucking. Asshole," I said.

He eyed the knife and said, "What?"

"You knew what I wanted when we started dating, and I told you that if you didn't want the same things, then you shouldn't waste my time."

He didn't have an answer for that, and walked away. We ate our dinner in silence that night, and barely spoke to each other over the next few weeks. Our relationship was a ticking time bomb, and we both knew it.

I was out with friends one Saturday afternoon when he called me to tell me that we needed to talk.

I snorted sarcastically, "Yes, we do."

At the apartment, sitting across from each other uncomfortably, he said, "This isn't working."

"No shit this isn't working."

"I'm sorry, but I just don't love you anymore. I don't want to hurt you, but I think it's best that I end this. I know you were hoping that this would work out, but we just don't want the same things, and I think we make better friends—"

I cut off his self-righteous diatribe to say, "I don't love you either. I've been looking for an apartment for a few weeks now."

That took some wind out of his sails, and he looked up, shocked. "What?"

"You heard me."

"Oh. You have? Oh. Well. Okay."

"And I don't take steps backwards."

"What?"

"You and I will NOT be friends."

"But—"

"Spare me."

It was the second week of June; we had lived together for less than three months. He told me I was welcome to stay until I found a place, so I started a frantic search for an apartment, with the help of my mom and dad.

Living with the troll after breaking up was one of the most miserable experiences of my life: sometimes we were civil, sometimes we hardly spoke, and sometimes we would yell. I began to feel depressed and hardly ate or slept. We shared a bed (he wasn't even courteous enough to sleep on the couch), and if his arm or leg grazed mine, I would jump out of bed like it was on fire. He disappeared for days at a time, and then acted as if everything was normal. More often than not, I would start crying and screaming at him; it was horrifying to go through the motions in front of him. He constantly apologized for not loving me anymore, but that's what happened and I would just have to deal with it. I told him that dating him was my biggest regret, because I didn't know who he was anymore and I had lost one of my best friends. Things between us would never be the same. I so wanted to punch him in his stupid trollish face. I'm all angry again just writing about it.

At the very last minute, my parents and I found a cute little basement apartment in the midtown area of the city, and I moved within a week.

Returning to pick up a couple things I had forgotten, the troll stopped me on my way out, hugged me and said, "I miss my friend."

I pulled away and replied, "The person I dated is not the person I was friends with for twelve years, so you can see my dilemma," before walking out the door.

That was the last time I ever saw or spoke to the troll. He has tried to contact me a number of times over the years, but I have never replied.

I made a promise to myself that I would never date a friend again.

I broke it.

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