Saturday, September 27, 2008

Mellowed

A few days ago, a vendor took a bunch of us out to dinner. The group consisted of three single women and myself and two married men. After a few drinks, everyone was feeling mellow and and two of the ladies got talking about ex-boyfriends. Most of the stories were downright hilarious - it is what hindsight and the passage of time often turns heartbreak into. As they shared, the ridiculous nature of their once romantic relationship became painfully obvious. They laughed and we along with them. The third woman, the youngest in the group, was not quite as forthcoming but an occasional reference to a former boyfriend did come through.

The men shared no such stories but they prodded the women to sharing more once they had begun. I have seen this theme repeated in many social gatherings involving men and women who are good acquaintances but not really friends. The girls will talk about boys they had once been with. Little things at a dinner table will trigger memories - the one who made a mean creme brulee, the one who was a wine connoisseur, the one who was a cheapskate when it came to tipping - the list goes on.

You sense a mix of nostalgia and disappointment in how these stories are told. Each failed relationship becomes to a woman of a certain age, a mile marker on the long road that failed to take them to a home and family of their own. One drink too many and they will talk about it if only to make light of something that weighs on their mind. For a man, perhaps it is a little different. Each woman that came and went from his life life, is a notch on the stake of their manliness - an accomplishment even if not a whole scale conquest.

A dinner with co-workers is not the best place for them to engage in manly braggadocio. Not surprisingly, they hold their peace and enjoy hearing it about it from a woman's perspective. As they hear, it might cross their mind that somewhere an ex-girlfriend after one margarita too many, must be reminiscing their time together as well just as these women around his dinner table are doing. That must offer some satisfaction.

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