"She should have used the knife," he whispered, when Rusalka sacrificed her happiness for the man she loved. "Typical dumb blonde" he joked. "Not a dumb blonde—" I said, "a woman." He turned to me in the dark theater. I thought "How could he say that when he's expecting me to sacrifice myself for him?" He ran a finger down my arm affectionately. "Not all blondes are dumb," he said. Rusalka turned and walked away. The disembodied voice behind the stage sang out "all sacrifice is futile!" I really need to add "social skills" to my dating requirements.
"She should have used the knife" says the echo in my head. "Yes, I know," I resign. "And which part of me will we be cutting out and devouring today?"
"I just meant" he said as we descended the theater steps "that she was acting like a stereotypical blonde. She could have saved herself and she chose not to. I know the stereotype is nonsense." He knew he said something wrong. He thought I was being feminist at him, calling him on making a dumb blonde joke because I'm blonde and frankly, we only make those jokes about women. I repeated myself "she's not a dumb blonde; she's a woman." Yes, I did take it personally; that's just not why.
I used to think that understanding things would help me fix them. I studied hard to understand people because I only understood machines. I learned to pick better people, at least. I learned to only date people who exceed the qualifications for being my friend. I learned that I could put our friendship back together after a breakup and then I didn't lose that investment in someone worthwhile. I learned to lower my risk in the long run.
Oh, but the short run is eating me alive.
"If you're not happy," I'd said a month before, "that's a problem. I want you to be happy. But if you're unhappy you have to tell me why so if it's something that I can address, I have that chance. You can't just be unhappy about something and stew in it without telling me, make me think that everything is fine, then give up and tell me it's too late because you've decided that it's over."
"That wasn't fair of me," he admitted, "but I didn't know how to talk about it. I just don't want to lose your friendship! I don't have many friends and I can't risk losing my friendship with you." He wanted me to feel loved and appreciated; instead, I felt used, betrayed, deceived.
I said "I really need to stop telling guys that if things go wrong, we'll work things out in the end and we'll be friends again. I only date guys that I could be good friends with and by trying to be friends with them afterwards, I feel like I'm not risking much by trusting them, by making myself vulnerable to them. Maybe I need to rethink this because this keeps happening to me. I thought I was lowering my risk but really, I'm lowering yours. If you thought that we wouldn't be friends afterwards, honestly, I don't think this is where we'd be right now. You know that I'll still be in your life. You don't have to give me up at all. You know I'll be here. You can just give up on us and risk nothing." I thought "maybe we shouldn't be friends. It would fucking serve you right."
But I love him and I want him in my life and some part of me still hopes that he'll realize that I'm right here, waiting for him to remember why he loved me.
I used to think that understanding things would help me fix them. Now I know that understanding merely increases the helplessness that I feel when people don't let me try to fix things. I'm tired of being the sacrifice.
"She should have used the knife," he whispered. These will be the words on my tombstone.