10:10 pm Friday, 20**
Cue Lenny Kravitz’s “Again.”
9:01 pm Friday, 20**
I’m late. I was supposed to be there by now, and I’m still in my washroom fixing my hair. It takes all of 5 minutes to give my hair that pseudo natural just-out-of-bed look. The key to being guy-chic is to look good and put together in that perfect, messed up way, as though you don’t care. Put on a fuchsia Prada shirt with black Prada pants and shiny brown leather shoes and you look like Euro trash trying too hard to impress. Enter any hip Toronto bar dressed in a three piece designer suit with matching designer shoes, and you might as well carry a sign that reads, “looking to get married within the next couple of years.” You want white picket fences, 2.5 kids, an ulcer and a dog named Dexter? Go bar hopping in a three piece designer suit downtown and watch the late-20 to mid-30 wannabe Torontonian hags flock to you like soccer moms to Mick Jagger. Any true Toronto man with a sense of fashion would never be caught in something so put together; you might as well have never moved out of your parents’ house and continued to let your mother lay your clothes out. Suits are perfectly fine for the workplace, but they should be left in your closet after 10 p.m. If you want to attract successful, beautiful, mid-to late-20s Toronto women, you need a real sense of fashion; A CK shirt under a Comme des Garçons cardigan, bottomed-off with plain white desert sneaks or a shirt and a tie with a simple black vest over broken-in 501s… You get the idea. Trying too hard is a deadly sin when it comes to attracting women. I think this is a crucial rule most guys overlook. I’m glad – less competition.
20 minutes late, and I’m standing in front of J-time sushi; one of the 25 or so Japanese restaurants on Bloor. She was late as well. I called her cell as soon as I got there and lied about my time of arrival. She apologized while I made it seem as if I had been there on time. I’ll take whatever upper hand I can get.
Spring arrived a week ago, but left the rain behind. It was a nice night and – truth be told – the weather calmed my nerves. Until I saw her walking towards me, of course. It had been close to half a year since our falling out/break up. We hadn’t really spoken with the exception of some disheartened late-night emails and to-the-point angry text message exchanges. To my dismay, she looked good. Her blonde hair seemed longer than before. Then again, 6 months would do that. Logically. Her 5’5 frame looked slimmer and was accentuated by the blue jeans that painted her hips and the half-zipped hoodie that covered her halter top, subtly showcasing just enough of her cleavage to garner attention without making her seem slutty.
Great *insert sarcastic undertones here*. Seeing an ex for the first time is always hard. There is an ongoing competition between exes: to see who ends up better – in every aspect of life. I realize how shallow this sounds but it’s true. No exceptions. We all know this is the case, but few of us are willing to admit it. Why else do we put together an outfit days before the first time we meet an ex again? Why else are we so concerned about how we look? By the time we’re ready to meet our exes, we’re most likely completely over them, so the competition is only with respect to our vanity and self-image. I don’t secretly root for my ex to fail. Really. In fact, I wish her all the best. I just want to be better. If she’s a millionaire, I want to be a billionaire. If she has an apartment downtown, I want a condo uptown. Ironically, by being the one to admit this, I have conceded defeat. I have painted myself as the pathetic ex who yearns for approval, deep down. Like the fashion rule, a similar stipulation applies with exes. Apparently, the key to truly being cool or being over someone is not to care. Well I guess I’m doomed to live a life of fishing for approval, Star Trek reruns and weekend Comic book conventions.
“I’m so sorry I’m late. Dexter came by before he went to work and… Well, you know how it goes.”
Dexter was her new boyfriend of almost 6 months; precisely the same amount of time we had been broken up. How convenient. I guess she was the obvious winner of the “who falls in love first” battle. But I didn’t at all feel defeated by this. Dexter, after all, was a dog’s name. Not to mention Dexter was currently an unsuccessful photographer, short, skinny and reminded me of a black version of David Spade. So until I saw his photographs on the cover of Vogue, or he suddenly got back on the puberty boat that seemed to have left him behind, I had no feelings of insecurity in this department.
The dinner was going well. My unresolved feelings were concealed by my jokes about raw fish and Japanese culture. “I heard everything moves faster in Japan… So much so that they don’t even have the time to cook their food.” Corny, but she laughed. After the first 10 minutes of struggling with the chopsticks, getting reacquainted and updating each other on the course of our lives, her current boyfriend wasn’t mentioned again. Instead, we reminisced about the good times we had and laughed about the bad ones. I had hated her since I’d let her go for what she did to me last summer. The main reason I agreed to see her was to show her how much better off I was without her. And I was, as I’m sure she was. I had a whole itinerary and monologue prepared. The monologue was suppose to subtly showcase all the good things in my life I had accomplished post-Liz. I planned to casually mention how focused I was on my career, “unintentionally” lift my shirt to show off the six-pack I now had time to shape at the gym, and casually mention the model I was currently seeing. But for some reason, a different, unrehearsed speech came out. Blame it on the combination of Saki and wasabi.
“Liz, you know I never wanted things to end up like they did. I never meant to put you through all that shit. I know everyone thinks I did, as some sort of retribution for you cheating on me. But that was never my intention. I was mad at you for what you did. I wanted to fuck.ing kill you, but instead I took you back. I loved you. Believe me, I did. I should have just walked away that day and the last year could have been avoided. I guess I couldn’t control my emotions; my insecurities just got the best of me. You got the best of me.”
I couldn’t look her in the eye as I muttered my cheesy, heartfelt speech. Since the words were unrehearsed, I was unsure of the reaction they would garner. I wasn’t sure if she was going to respond with a valley girl, “ummm ok”-type of reaction, or completely laugh in my face. When I finally looked up and caught her eye, I saw that the words had affected her. Her pupils rested on a shade of red and it seemed as if she was trying to hold back tears. For the last 6 months I’d been so caught up in my hatred that I’d forgotten that there was once love there. There the two of us sat, in a booth on opposite ends of the table, chopsticks in one hand and broken hearts in the other. I guess I struggled with more than chopsticks that night.
Nothing more was said after that. We left the noise of J-time sushi shortly after, said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. The night was still early, but there was no mention of any of our respective plans after that. I would eventually finish up my night by meeting up with my friends at the Drake. As she waved goodbye and walked away, a part of me wondered where she was headed. When we were together, there was hardly a minute we spent apart that was unaccounted for; however, being privy to that information ended when we did. Maybe she was headed for the comfort of Dexter the dog. Maybe she was going to cry to her girlfriends about me. Maybe she would simply forget about our encounter. Maybe this was the closure she needed to finally move on. Wherever she was headed, whatever she would end up doing after that night, a part of me would always wonder.