Anyone who thinks that women are the needy gender when it comes to Valentine’s Day was not up in my inbox on this particular Hallmark holiday.
Without fail I receive three phone calls on the special day, whether or not I am in a relationship. One call comes from my mother — who, like Viola Davis bolstering the egos of pudgy babies in “The Help” —reminds me that I am smart, pretty and have an OK job.
One of my girlfriends inevitably calls to wail about her douche boyfriend/lack of a douche boyfriend.
And without fail, at least one ex-boyfriend will leave a voicemail just saying, “Hey.”
This year’s blast from the past was a devastatingly handsome former brunch waiter of mine that I dated for maybe three months in my early 20s. It was the best sex I ever had. We haven’t spoken in about four years, but I had a vague idea that that he lived out West, graduated from law school and was married.
He sent over the “hey” and I sent a requisite “hey” back. Then began the kind of barrage of emails that can only be inspired by tequila or a midlife crisis. He said he stumbled on my web page. That means he Googled me. You don’t just stumble upon my web page by searching for last-minute flights to Florida or couch photos of Jeremy Lin.
So I asked, pointedly: “How’s your wife?”
Then he tried to invite me to his pity party.
“Not so rosy,” he replied. “I want out.”
“Any kids?” I asked. Yes, a one-month-old.
And that wasn’t the saddest bit. The saddest bit was when this 35-year-old married father of a very tiny infant tried to make me, a single former flame, validate his manhood on Valentine’s Day.
“I’m really doing some soul searching. Why is it so hard to find a hot, smart, funny member of the opposite sex?” he asked. And in quick succession. “I’m really into photography. I think I’m good.” And then came 50 photos of the ocean that were not particularly different than the ones my 13-year-old niece took with Instagram and tweeted last summer. “I have a unique perspective,” he wrote. “I really want to explore my whole self. Maybe acting. I could be like that guy on ’Entourage.’ Maybe you can help.”
Nothing makes a man less sexy to a woman — except maybe that whole married-to-someone-else-with-a-baby thing — than telling us they want to find themselves. And they think we can help them! We can’t. It’s not our job. Also, you didn’t marry us. You married someone else. Just because it’s not working out on a particularly romantic day, we can’t be your support system.
It only got worse when he emailed the next day. “We had the talk,” he wrote to me. “I ended it.”
I was no longer just a guest at his pity party, I was apparently a co-host. It was time to tell him that this wasn’t a role I was willing to play.
I sent an email I think we could all benefit from sending — not for when an ex comes crawling back, but for when he wants us to give him moral support because he’s displeased with the choices he made in his life post-us:
Dear Sexy Former Brunch Waiter,
Thanks for reaching out. Always good to catch up. I was thinking about how you said you think you deserve more in your life, about how you aren’t fulfilled as a man.
You now what isn’t manly? Your midlife crisis. A lot of you men of a certain age are convinced you are destined for something better than what you have. Here’s a little secret. You’re not. You’re likely not special or uniquely talented at something you haven’t yet discovered. You were once very, very good in bed, but it’s a been a long time and I know how things are different from 25 to 35.
So my advice is to look at the life you have created and deal with it. Stop aspiring to be like the guys on “Entourage,” because us ladies gave up on the “Sex and the City” fantasy a long time ago.
P.S. Happy Valentine’s Day.