The One That Got Away


the one that got away
What happens when an open relationship suddenly becomes closed?

"Correct me if I'm wrong," I said, doing my best to sound unaffected and mean, "but I was under the impression that we had an open relationship. So… is there something going on here that I'm not understanding?"

It went on like that for the entire ride: Carrie huffing and puffing, and angry enough to burst. And me, forcing out a series of fake laughs, and refusing to make eye contact. There we were, two supposedly superior beings, acting like a gaggle of bratty, snot-nosed children. And all because I was obsessed with getting laid, and because Carrie had caught a glimpse of the elastic waistband on my new underwear. The entire situation was ridiculous. We were ridiculous.


My evening with Nancy didn't exactly turn out as planned. We started the night at a hipster bar, and then moved on to a karaoke bar, but because she had a half-dozen friends in tow (someone was celebrating a birthday), I wasn't entirely sure how to behave. Should I focus all my attention on Nancy and ignore her friends, thereby coming across as potentially rude but clearly interested? Or should I maybe go for something a bit more aloof? Should I chat up her friends, and attempt to disguise the fact that all I really wanted was to throw Nancy up against the nearest wall, and to press my body into hers?

I went with aloof. And thankfully, Nancy's friends were fascinating people – most were musicians and artists. A week later, after Carrie and I had returned home and apologized to each other for acting so badly, I emailed Nancy and then got an email from her in return. "Aloof," as it turned out, hadn't been the wisest choice. Here's an excerpt:

"I was actually very surprised to get your email on thurs, it didn't seem like you were enjoying my company while you were here. At the bar you seemed distracted and then at my house you spoke of how much you are in love with Carrie for 3 hours. So of course after you left I thought nothing of the possibility of you and I."

She was right, of course. After we'd said goodnight to Nancy's friends and gone back to her house, I found myself in the familiar and awkward position of not having anything to talk about. It was true that we had a few things in common, sure. But on the other hand, we hadn't seen each other in over four years. Not to mention the fact that we'd never gotten to know each other in the first place. But since we'd both had more than a few beers at the karaoke bar, I decided to turn the conversation sexual. I figured that if I shared the odd details of my relationship, considering how unusual they really were, Nancy would see me as a risk taker. Or at least as someone who knew how to loosen up and have fun, even though on the outside I was clearly a bundle of nervous and compulsive energy.

But like I said, the evening didn't go exactly as I'd planned. Nancy didn't seem to be fascinated by my stories at all. At least, not the way most people were. She seemed almost disappointed. It was as if she was realizing that the same person she once thought of as unique and unconventional was clearly just another nut.

This is one of the final paragraphs from her email: