Not so long ago, the most resolute act you could carry out in order to assert your commitment to ending a bad relationship was to throw the guy out and change the locks. If you were really brazen, you could toss his clothes into the mulberry bush beneath your window. The truly disturbed might sleep with his best friend or pour sugar into the gas tank of his souped-up Ford Escort. In this modern age, the most threatening, and perhaps only way to put a period at the end of a liaison headed toward Splitsville is one simple, though potent act: erase the guy’s number from your cell phone.
My friend Rebecca is the queen of “The Phone Number Delete.” When affairs are smooth, she gleefully adds her latest suitor to the list of people to whom she sends an endless stream of inconsequential text messages – “Is it me, or is it goddamn freezing” or “What was the name of Arnold’s best friend on Diff’rent Strokes” or “I just made shrimp tacos and, man, are they awesome.”
However, once texts aren’t being responded to, once dates are cancelled without explanation, the guy gets erased. I always know when her latest fling is on the rocks because she’ll send a text message with the same three unambiguous words: “I’m deleting him.” I know things are really bad when she is “sooo deleting him.”
I guess the logic is simple: if the guy’s number isn’t in her phone she’ll be able to save face and wean herself off him because she won’t be tempted to assail him with desperate texts. Another more mysterious upshot is that, somehow, she won’t be expecting his call because he’s no longer “in” her phone. Of course, if the guy does call, regardless of how well he makes up for the previous slight, she immediately saves the number and loves him again.
My dear Rebecca has a tendency to attract guys who have no intention of even committing to a choice on a dinner menu let alone a relationship. After having deleted the third playboy drummer she’d dated in a year, she called this past weekend to have me talk her down from accepting a dinner date with a DJ with two girlfriends and a wife.
Thus was born the ‘List of Off-Limits Men,’ a list of guys Rebecca promised herself never to get involved with in any way, shape or sexual position. No one was perfect, she knew. Some types just had history.
“Bike messengers,” Rebecca started as I played secretary. “Skateboarders. Oh, guys who work at gyms.”
“Man, you’ve really gotta upgrade.”
“Married men,” she went on. “Restaurant owners.”
“Oh, that’s gonna be a loss.”
“Have you ever dated one?” She asked. “They get to hire cute waitresses and always have an excuse for coming home at six in the morning.”
Rebecca added DJs, musicians and bartenders to the list, on account of their hotness and endless supply of tail, while I suggested adding university professors.
“Really?” She asked.
“Professors are rock stars for the ivy league set.”
In the end, we came up with twenty-five types of men Rebecca could no longer date. Though I wasn’t positive this was the best way to cure my friend’s romantic woes, I promised to type up the list and send her a laminated copy.
Obviously, I could create my own list of off-limits men, just as I’m sure my male friends could create a list of off-limits women. But I can’t imagine there really are “types” anyone looking for love should steer clear of. There must be just as many faithful, loving bartenders in the world as there are, say, slutty, scamming accountants.
In this modern world, people come in and out of our lives so frequently, it may seem a time saver to put checks and minuses on people before bothering to get to know them. Still, it seems like we’re doing everyone a disservice by not taking the time. And of course, if you meet someone and they do turn out to be a perfect example of someone who should be on your “off limits” list, you can employ that other cruel but time-saving tool of modern American life.
Just delete them.