Jimmy looked at Ray as if he had just poured a beer on his head. "You want to explain what you're talking about Dr. Freud?" He almost shouted that statement, causing a few heads to turn towards them. "You know damn well I was loyal as fcuk to Jessica. I treated that woman better than any man she has ever known - hell, I bought her a freakin' car!"
Ray flinched a little. "Dude, calm down, I'm not saying you did anything wrong - I know exactly how well you treated her - exactly!"
Without hesitating Ray continued, least Jimmy get too annoyed with him and shut down. "Look, you and I have known each other for almost...what, seventeen, maybe nineteen years now...have you ever thought about why we hang out together?"
"You better not be saying there is some sort of latent homosexual bullshit about us man, 'cause you know that ain't my thing."
Ray just about laughed when Jimmy made that quip. "Quite the opposite dude - you and I became fast friends when we first met because we are birds of a feather - we both love women, everything about them - but neither of us are scumbags about it - we are not porn fiends, we are not derogatory in our appreciation of women, neither of us are the type that use and abuse women...we just really like and sometimes even love women. Unfortunately, we are also the type that, at times, are fairly clueless about women."
Jimmy took a sip of his beer and stared straight ahead. Ray took a sip of his and waited for a full minute to see if Jimmy was going to contend anything he had just said. When he didn't, Ray continued.
"There is one part of your relationship's demise that is your fault Jimmy - it's really the only part you need to come to terms with and do something about before you get into another relationship."
"What are you talking about man? Are you saying I'm clueless about women? I am not clueless about women. Hell, I used to read my sister's Cosmopolitan magazines when I was a teenager, I educated myself about what women wanted and desired - I'm the freakin' king of foreplay, I put the seat down, I've never asked a women to make me a sandwich or do my laundry in my life! I'm not jealous or possessive, and I communicate like a damn publicity manager. Women are just screwed up!"
He then took a long draw off his beer and signaled toward Gino at the end of the bar that they both needed another.
Looking at Jimmy, Ray said, "No they are not, and you know it. Well, most of them aren't. But you did just make my point about us being birds of a feather, because as a teenager I read my older sisters women's magazines too in a search for insight, and I do all those things you do, too. The only difference between you and I at this point in our lives is I'm not being dumped by a woman and you are, and I've finally figured out why I always got dumped and you haven't."
Gino came over with two beers and set them down, then asked, "Everything alright? You need menus or anything?"
"No," Jimmy answered, "We're good, thanks." Jimmy then looked over at Ray and said, "Fcuk man, you haven't figured crap out. You and Sharon are always taking breaks from each other. In the nine years you've dated, it's been on and off more times than peace in the middle east. Don't be telling me you have anything figured out."
"Sharon and I take breaks exactly because I have figured it out, or rather, we've figured it out. You want to hear it or not?"
"Okay wise one, fill me in, what's the big secret? What do women want that I'm not giving them?'
Shaking his head, Ray replied, "That's not what it's about. Well, not exactly. Let me ask you a question. Do you remember how you and Jessica met?"
His brow furrowed and Jimmy thought for a couple of minutes. "Yeah," he said, "It was at Danny's birthday party. She was a friend of some girl he worked with. When I first saw her I thought she was hot, but I also thought she was interested in Dan. She and I hit it off after we caught each other singing along to a song - it was "Sick of Myself" by Matthew Sweet. It wasn't until like, a year later that I learned she thought it was a Bowling for Soup song that somebody was covering, not the other way around."
"And when did you and Jessica start dating?"
"Damn, like immediately after we met. We went to a ton of shows - went out constantly - man, I don't think I hung out with you at all last summer, not until that week in August when she went back to Nebraska for her Uncle's funeral."
"Yeah," Ray said, "I remember that. So, who were you dating before you met Jessica?"
"You know, that girl Maria, the one who worked at the bank. She was cool and all, but she became a drag after awhile. Had to quit that scene after she started asking if I was investing any of my money or had a 401k and stuff like that."
Ray's eyes narrowed just slightly as he said to Jimmy, "Yep, I remember Maria. So, there you go, there's the crux of it."
"Yeah? What the fcuk are you talking about? Crux of what? You're going to have to be a lot less cryptic Yoda, my dumb ass has no idea what conclusion you've arrived at."
"Jimmy, you met me after my first divorce. From Casey, whom you've never met. You knew Stace though, my second ex-wife, and you've known every woman I dated since, right up until I met Sharon. Think about those women. What did all the women I dated for a long while have that the women I only went out with for a short while didn't?"
Jimmy took a gulp of his beer that emptied his glass and held it up so Gino could see he needed another. Gino glanced over with a look that asked if Ray wanted another as well. Ray nodded assent and he put two mugs under the taps.
With a grin Jimmy glanced over at Ray and said, "I don't know man, what, the women you dumped didn't give head? They all hated me? None of them liked the Hoodoo Gurus?"
"You're an assclown dude," Ray retorted. Jimmy was laughing a little right then, and smiling, which Ray felt good about. Jimmy had been in an ugly mood for over three weeks, ever since Jessica had moved out. Ray thought to himself that it was good to see his friend smile, even if it was just briefly.
"It was none of that dude. What all of those women who I made no effort to stay with had in common was exactly what Maria, and I'm willing to bet just about all of the women you've bailed on, had in common. Each and everyone of those women wanted us to be responsible, and when it came down to brass tacks, we could not do that. You and me, we stay with women who do not care if we are ever responsible, unless it's being responsible for their drinks and entertainment. You and I, we seek out the female equivalent of bad boys, and just like the women who seek out bad boys, we think we're going to be the ones they are going to change for, except we don't want them to change into women who want us to be responsible, we just want them to change into women who are satisfied with being with us and only us, change into women who stop seeking the next thrill because we are enough for them."
Staring into the large mirror behind the bar, Jimmy said "Man, you have been watching way too much Dr. Phil. You can't divide every relationship you or I have ever been in into something as simple as category A, gotta bail on this woman because she wants me to be responsible, and category B, gotta pursue this woman relentlessly because she doesn't care if I'm ever responsible."
Ray looked blankly at Jimmy. "You're missing my point, or I'm not making my point very well, one of the two - probably the latter. What I'm trying to say is that you and I, we go after women who are exciting to us because they continually want to do exciting stuff. They don't like to slow down, don't like to stay at home. When we find ourselves with women who tell us that they prefer to stay in or take things slow, no matter how attractive they were to us at first, we leave them. C'mon dude, be honest with yourself, think about all of the women you have been with just over the past ten years, you'll see I'm right."
With a pensive look on his face Jimmy turned to Ray and said, "Oh yeah, well then why do these women who we meet that we have so much in common with, who we get along with like mad and do all kinds of stuff with, end up bailing on us? Answer me that, Batman."
"Simple my friend, very simple. Because eventually we, you and me, we become the boring one. We get to a point where we start realizing we are constantly stressed or broke or both because we have been buying the attention and affections of whatever woman we are with and it is no longer viable. We start to pull back on things - we become the ones wanting to stay home, and they do not. Tension develops because of that, and then the emotional bond you had developed when everything was a constant high-energy party, when you were a "fun guy" and "treated her right," well, it just dissolves like sugar candy in water."
"So you're saying my problem is I choose to date fcuked up women. I already knew that."
Exasperated, Ray said, "No dude, that's not what I'm saying at all. Jessica is not a fcuked up woman, and neither were either of my ex-wives or any of the other women I've ever dated who dumped me, or that you dated who dumped you. All of those women were living their lives as they chose too, as they had and have every right to. Our problem is not that we chose to be with any of them and got burned, it's that we wanted a part of what they were - exciting, free-spirited, adventurous, and we bit off more than we could chew, every time."
"What? Are you saying I'm to blame for Jessica leaving me because I was attracted to her because she was exciting? What the hell, man, that makes no sense at all."
"Yes it does dude, it makes all the sense in the world. You're thinking like an alcoholic who blames the makers and marketers of alcohol instead of their own consumption of the product. You have got to get to the point where you accept your role, take some responsibility for your actions."
"Man, I don't want to spend the rest of my life dating boring women, I'd rather just deal with getting dumped by exciting women than spend my life bored out of my head going to Home & Garden shows or having breakfast with a woman who is afraid to get out of the house every so often."
Jimmy looked more depressed when he said that than he did when Ray picked him up after work.
"You don't have to make the either/or choice dude, you just have to own up to yourself what your limitations are. You may think that what Sharon and I have is a joke, but it works for both of us. We are familiar enough with each other that we can fart in front of each other without fear of embarrassment, and we have developed, over a long period of what has, I will admit, been kind of a dodgy trial, an innate sense of when either of us needs space without feeling we are being abandoned or are abandoning anyone."
"Yeah," said Jimmy, still looking sullen, "You both got lucky then. I'm not that lucky. I've never been that lucky."
Ray's heart ached a little as he sat next to his friend. "Sharon and I, what we have has almost zero to do with luck, except for the blind luck of having the same epiphany about what it was going to take for a relationship to succeed for us was the knowledge that we both had to stop hoping a great relationship was just going to magically happen - that does happen for some people, admittedly, but not for us. Once we accepted that, we took stock of what we had together, realized it was pretty good, and then made the mutual decision that we would do everything we could to make it work, even if it meant being away from each other for extended periods of time - that works for some people, and accepting we are part of that group of people has made all the difference. But that was it. Everything since has been work."
Jimmy shot Ray a half-ass grin and said, "Epiphany? Did you just say epiphany? I knew you'd been watching Dr. Phil."
They both laughed at that and Ray motioned to Gino for the bill. Ray knew the hardest part of the first part of getting his friend back from the brink was over. Now he just had to get him back in the gym again or maybe out on the trails hiking, keep him from slipping back into that morose state of feeling unworthy that hits guys like them when they get dumped.
Ray looked forward to spending more time with Jimmy now, at least until he and Sharon picked up again.