I'm not saying I actually want the pointless follow-up. I'm well aware it's nearly always meaningless in the big picture and likely only hinders and delays the moving-on process. Still, it would be nice to know I left some impression (preferably a favorable one, even, if it's not too much to ask--one that makes an ex miss me a bit when he's sitting at home watching a movie all alone, or when he tosses a Simpsons reference at his new girlfriend and she stares back at him blankly and without recognition).
A lot of things in my life have felt backwards lately, however. I've been trying consciously to step out of my norm and not do what I typically do in every and all situations. I've been rethinking everything from relationships to wardrobe choices (How many black and gray shirts do I need, really? Perhaps I should try on this green one instead...), and I suddenly wonder if it's creating some strange ripple effect.
First case in point? meMarmony boomerang guy #1, who I had that uneventful non-alcoholic drink with a couple weeks back... a guy who I later described to my friends as "the in-person equivalent of a weak and floppy handshake." Why did I call him boomerang guy #1? That's simple, of course. Because two other long-vanished meMarmony matches contacted me this week as well, and really I have no idea what to make of it.
meMarmony boomerang guys #2 and #3 were both smart, fun, and interesting men who I actually enjoyed spending time with and wouldn't have been opposed to continuing to see. Unlike the great big pool of men who I said "no" to myself, these were two where I'll admit I did not really make the final call. No, with these two, I suddenly realized that online date-finding is a lot like one of those ridiculous competitive-dating reality shows that I never watch (well, "never" unless it's Elimidate and I'm feeling nostalgic for the days when I got sucked in by that trainwreck more regularly than I'd like to admit). By that I mean that putting myself in a matching database almost guaranteed that I would be asked out by and going on dates with two or more different men near-simultaneously (remember the two-Mike week a while back?), but it also meant that the men I was dating were likely going out with women besides me as well. At some point, decisions have to be made, roses need to be handed out, and perfectly nice, interesting, intelligent, and reasonably attractive girls have to be sent home just because there is only one "girlfriend" slot to fill. It's nothing personal... or, it is personal, of course, but is nothing I can really fault each Bachelor for. It is what it is. Life goes on.
I've remained in sporadic contact with both mMBG #2 and #3 over the months, but by this point, I pretty much assumed that they'd both vanished for good. And then came this week's messages, sent less than 24 hours apart, both small talky and just slightly elusive and open to interpretation in many ways. Or, open to interpretation if you're looking to overanalyze and make some interpretation, which, of course, I almost always am. I really don't know what these guys' motives (if any) are in contacting me now, but if you know me at all, you're well aware of my frequently overactive imagination, so it should come as no surprise that I have a few theories.
- The most obvious theory, of course, is that they both realized what a huge mistake they made in choosing some other, clearly inferior woman over me. They regretted their decision almost immediately, but stuck it out with the Other Woman for a while anyway, the whole time thinking, "I bet Stefanie would never say that to me" or "Stefanie surely would have had a clever and interesting perspective on this." Recently they both finally accepted that it would never work with Other Woman and they ended that relationship for good. Now, they're easing slowly back into re-established communication with me until they can try to make their move and attempt to rectify past mistakes.
- That first theory might be a tad lofty and self-absorbed, which is strange, since self-doubt and paranoia are actually much more my style most of the time. Theory #2, therefore, is that mMBG #2 and #3 met and became friends recently (most likely, of course, at some meMarmony Survivors Network meeting or support group of which I am unaware). In comparing notes, they discovered that they both had me in common and decided to see what sort of little mind games they could play to amuse themselves for a while.
- Only slightly less realistic than that last theory, the next option is that each of these guys recently learned of some serious medical ailment with which they are hoping I might be of help. After already searching their entire friend and family network, they've not yet found a suitable kidney or bone marrow match, and they're now casting the net further and including me (and who knows who else) within the search. That's not the sort of thing you can just come right out and ask, so obviously a cordial sort of "testing the waters" e-mail is the better way to start. I imagine they'll work up to the big question two or three e-mails down the road.
- Theory number 4 is that one or both of them is still blissfully happy with the woman deemed a better choice than me, and they are, in fact, planning the impending nuptials as I type. What more fun addition to the rehearsal dinner festivities than to bring in a panel of women the groom met and dated before the bride-to-be? Fun for whom, I am not sure, but it is a theory, anyway.
- And finally, the most cynical (and, according to my friend Amy, the most likely) explanation: that neither guy is quite "done" yet with whatever woman is in his life, but he is feeling some lack of attention or some need to see what's still out there before he commits or calls it quits. Checking in with me on occasion is a way of keeping me in the wings or on a back burner until he finds himself single again.
Most likely, of course, the answer is actually none of these. The purpose of the unexpected e-mails probably goes no deeper that the actual words each guy typed, which were, basically, "Just wanted to say hi, see what you're up to, say I hope you're doing well." There's nothing wrong with that, now, is there? Yet my jaded self apparently can't agree.
I actually agreed to drinks tonight with boomerang guy #3, so perhaps I'll have some answers to relay soon enough.