Does No Mean Bring Me Chicken Soup?

I was about 10 minutes into the latest disappointing RomCom. Not so disappointing because it had the predictable arc of boy meets girl, girl resists boy’s charms, boy falls in love, girl denies she’s in love and breaks things off, boy moves on, girl realizes “wait, I’m in love with boy,” but it’s too late…or is it? I honestly did like the sex buddies twist.

It was more disappointing because it starred Natalie Portman, from whom I’ve come to expect great things, for the most part (cough, certain Star Wars movies).  While she brilliantly played her dark role in Black Swan, the last film I’d seen her in, I would certainly never choose to see that twisted movie again, and I was looking forward to seeing how the beautiful and talented actress could tackle comedy.

Anyway, I was just settling into Natalie’s recent foray in romantic comedy when the doorbell rang. It was nearing 9 p.m., we weren’t expecting anyone and we very rarely had unexpected guests, unless you’re counting Jehovah’s Witnesses or lawn maintenance guys trying to sell their services. We all—my mom, visiting brother and sister-in-law, and I exchanged quizzical looks; no one knew who this could be. But I had a sinking suspicion that the person on the other side of the door was probably looking for me. The question was, exactly who was doing the looking?

My brother gamely went to answer the door, and I continued chomping on my second dessert of the night. Hey, I was celebrating No Rapture Day. Then I heard his voice.

A near anxiety-attack inducing déjà vu flooded my system when I heard the unmistakable Philly accent of Karaoke Crooner snake around the corner. “Is SoloAt30 up in her room?”

Not another one. Not again.

I knew I had to stand up and face the music, as much as I wanted to sink into the sofa. “I’m in here,” I said with heavy resignation. In he bounded in with a plastic container of chicken soup—fresh from the grocery store.

“I brought you some soup since I know you aren’t feeling well,” he said, too afraid, I noticed, to look me in the eye. “But I didn’t know you’d have company,” he said hesitantly (and accusingly).

“Karaoke Crooner, my brother and sister-in-law,” I introduced.

“Do you want to go outside and talk?” he asked.

“Um, no, I’ve had a rough day, and I just want to relax as I’d planned for now,” I said. “We’re watching a movie. You’re welcome to watch, if you want.”

Chick flick with the girl’s family. I could see the wheels spinning in his head. He decided to stay. Throughout the movie, he was obsessively doing who-knows-what on his smartphone. Trying to ignore his presence, I kept thinking to myself, “What is he doing here?”

The situation almost immediately made me sick to my stomach. Okay—that may have had more to do with the apple-filled doughnut I was eating when he came in, but he certainly wasn’t helping. (Tip: fried foods and chemo don’t mix. Hope you don’t ever need to know that, but just in case…) My body went into uncontrolled spasms.

He showed no concern for me or my health, except to say, “I can leave if you want,” in between fiddles on his phone.

Yes I want. “It’s up to you,” I said with an unmistakable tone—I could give a rat’s ass if you walked right out that door right now, and I never heard from you again, chicken soup or not.

The movie ended. “Do you want to go outside and talk?”

Ugh, no. We opened the door. Thankfully it was pouring rain.

Not to be deterred. Karaoke Crooner suggested going to his car. “Help!” I tried to send vibes to my mom, but she was leaving me on my own this time. I grabbed my raincoat, ignored the hand he held out for me as we went down my front steps and walked to his car.

He told me how he figured he had to drive over here, or we’d never break this cycle of not seeing each other again. Smart one. “I didn’t know if you’d think ‘how sweet, he brought me soup,’ or if you’d think I was being a stalker…”

He said he knew he was ‘messed up mentally’, but he was really a nice guy. I agreed that for the most part, he’s a fairly nice guy. He wouldn’t intentionally hurt anyone. He holds the door open for people. He tries to be polite when he’s not spinning in his own world of depression and/or anxiety and/or extreme OCD or whatever cycle of the bipolar condition he happens to be at the time.

He said he felt bad for getting irritated and picking fights when I wasn’t able to get together before, when he should’ve said what he was really feeling. Which was, “I miss you.” Oh no.

I can’t remember the entire sequence. He grabbed my hand and tried to rub it. He hugged me and tried to pull me in for a kiss.

I pushed back. “No. I don’t want this.” Damn, I was proud of myself.

“Come on. You can’t give up this gorgeous specimen of man,” he joked. Tall, missing a front tooth, face frozen in clownish expressions, though when I still had favorable feelings toward him there had been a boyish charm to him. Now that I knew him better, there was just nothing I found too appealing.

He worked a maximum of 15 hours per week on the clock in medical sales so he could still collect unemployment (he was a certified high school teacher in PA, and has been just shy of getting a master’s degree for several years.) Instead of using gas money to go to the other office location on certain days, he would take the day so so he could drive further away at night to get drunk with his friends at karaoke.

His vision of being a karaoke venue reviewer was pretty much frozen because he was caught in a really bad mental/emotional cycle, but he had refused to pick up one of his most important medications for more than a week. This guy didn’t need a girlfriend—he needed a life preserver.

“Are you sure you really meant it when you said you just wanted to be friends?” he said coyly, trying to pull me in again. “Seeing me again doesn’t change your mind?”

“No,” I said as honestly as I could muster. For my health, no!

“No, as in you don’t want to stay just friends or no as in—“ he said with a cocky grin.

“No as in, I haven’t changed my mind,” I said as gently as possibly. “I don’t want to be any more than friends.”

I tried to steer the conversation away to other things for a couple minutes. Then I told him I was tired and needed to lay down inside. After desperately trying to lock another date commitment out of me, I told him I was going back in. He hugged me and of course tried to give me more kisses.

I finally pushed him away. “That was sweet of you to bring chicken soup,” I said. “Have a safe drive home.”

He texted me when he got home, asking me to let him know when I got up. I didn’t.

Readers: seriously, what do you do when someone in a really fragile state of mind really doesn’t take no for an answer?

5 thoughts on “Does No Mean Bring Me Chicken Soup?

  1. I feel for you! I am exactly the same way, and feel very guilty when I have to let someone down easy. Usually “the fade” technique is the cleanest, but that assumes that the slightly off guy will be able to take a hint.

    You did the right thing.

  2. Dudes who act like this frustrate me because they leave an impression on women that the rest of us men end up bumping against all the time. A simple kind gesture like bringing soup when someone is sick gets questioned because some other guy, in the past, used that to get something else. And in saying that, I blame the men who are doing the manipulating, not the women who later question other men.

    I don’t know what else you could have done, really. He didn’t seem to get it that you weren’t interested, or that it was totally poor timing to be assessing your relationship or lack there of.

    I hope he disappears from your life and figures out his own.

  3. To be honest no ones really wrong in this situation, I suffer from deppression and anxieties and its NOT actually our fault we act like that, no one understands deppression and when you end up with it you have know idea whats going on! You just all of a sudden have to learn about it and try to understand it all while feeling like your worthless, you say he needs a life preserver maybe he just wanted someone to make him feel like hes not so useless after all because to tell the truth thats the feeling 24/7 and no its not your obligation and you always should do whats best for you. It just really hurts when I read things like this because it seems like women are never understand how it feels to be deppressed and a man. Its like it automatically demotes you, like your not worthy of love just because your suffering from something no one understands. Im not saying your key to his happiness and that would be too much of a burden on you anyway but he is a human and hes probably just trying to make the best of a bad situation, cut him some slack. If you dont like him cool but you say hes a nice guy so encourage him to show his good qualities and be a friend to him.

    One other thing, he was on his phone because he knew the situation was awkward, but when you really like someone and you’ve messed it up so bad they cant stand you and then they actually by some light of god give you the time of day you take that opportunity regardless! Just be honest with him in future.

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comment! I had a relationship for three years with someone who had severe depression, and I had another rolller-coaster three years with someone who is bipolar, worsened by drug use…I completely understand getting that trapped under water feeling is not something one intentionally seeks.

      With this particular guy, I went on one date where he misrepresented himself and then things steadily went downhill. He’s not a horrible person. He just needed a lot of help, and I, going through chemo and not feeling especially strong myself, was not up to “saving” him, which is what he was asking me to do. I know he felt alone, which is why I continued to reach out in friendship. I wasn’t, however, going to give him hope that I wanted to be his girlfriend, that this was going to be romantic anymore, etc. He pushed anyway.

      Regardless, this was a year ago. I’ve reached out to him a few times, especially professionally as I knew he was trying to break into my same field. I helped him get a freelancing position, which he was grateful for. I haven’t talked to him in quite a while though, which I think is best, but I do still wonder about him and hope he is well. I do have a heart. I want him to be happy and to find some peace.

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