“So go on baby, make your little getaway,

My pride will keep me company, and you just gave yours all away

Now I’m gonna dress myself for two, once for me, and once for someone new

I’m gonna do some things you wouldn’t let me do, Oh!

I’m gonna find another you!

– John Mayer, “I’m Gonna Find Another You”


In my experience, there’s three Looks I can count in my relationships with women: the Handle This, the My Idiot, and the My Guy.  There’s no exact order, but it usually goes something like this:

Handle This: I dispise tests, and if I sense ‘games’, I don’t react well at all.  But that said, it’s a rite of passage, sometimes it’s physical, sometimes it’s financial, sometimes it’s emotional.  If I’m ‘under consideration,’ she wants to see me in action.  From my point of view, when it’s a woman I’m into, I love this part.  I’m old school like that. On the other hand, when a woman overestimates her importance to me and tries pulling this card…don’t ask.

My Idiot:  Usually she already has to be into me for me to get this Look, but there will come a point in time when I’ll do one of my quirky things and I can count on this one.  She puts up with my idiocy because she knows when it’s time to get serious, I’ll ‘handle it.’  For example:

Her: “Okay, your team lost.  Are you going to sulk the rest of the night?”

Me: (sulking)

Her: (sigh) You idiot…

Or how about this gem?

Her: “Please tell me you didn’t really dress up as Batman for Halloween last year.  You’re a grown man.”

Me: “Come on baby! A guy who dresses like a bat clearly has issues.  Yes.”

Her: (five second pause and sigh while she weighs this.  then finally) You idiot…

My Guy: basically a combination of the two earlier looks.  She knows she can count on me, she knows I’m a complete moron, and she digs me anyway.  I’m ‘Her Guy’.  Needless to say, I love when I recognize that one. 

So anyway, being back in Kansas meant turning my ‘radar’ back to off.  Putting my head in the sand and focusing on work, specifically finances.  I was working one of my anonymous jobs when I saw Her for the first time…

Thick, jet black hair, curly down to her shoulders.  Body of a track star (no surprise since she ran track in high school).  Soft spoken; the type of woman who knows she’s pretty but isn’t stuck on herself.  When she smiled…we’ll come back to that.

We exchanged smiles for a couple weeks in the hallway before I finally stepped to her.  Now, I’m not the ‘line’ type: even when I’m the aggressor, it comes out of natural conversation.  So I just said what I felt:

“Look, um, I haven’t been able to take my eyes off you since I saw you.  I think you’re the prettiest girl in here.

Can I take you out sometime?”

Now, she didn’t know me obviously, but she’d seen me around enough to know I’m not the type to say that to every pretty girl that crosses my path.  She giggled, said yes, and told me her name: Maria.  (I must have made a hell of an impression, cause after she walked away, the woman who saw her facial expression looked at me and started cheesing.)

Anyway from that first slight bit of reciprication, Maria was tattooed into my bloodstream.  Her father was German/Irish, her mother was Mexican.  If that sounds similar to a certain starlet I was obsessed with for years, you’re not that far off.  Maria was a few years younger than me, so the ‘Handle This’ moments came fairly early on.  (And I handled; boy did I handle). With her heritage and my film geekdom, it wasn’t long before I started throwing out my Tom Hagen jokes at her.  They were always good for a sigh, roll of the eyes, and a ‘You Idiot’ Look.  The first time she gave me the ‘My Guy’ look though I’ll never forget.  It was right after one of our ‘Handle This’ episodes; we were meeting up for ice cream.  Simple enough right?  But I’ll tell you, when she smiled at me, in that moment, it was as if the Sun had come into Baskin Robbins, split open my chest, and was shining directly into my heart.  Now you’re saying, Malik, that is by leaps and bounds the most simp statement you have ever made in your life.  And you’re right!  I was…in awe of having her; I felt beyond lucky.  You see, it’s not an exaggeration to say she turned me into Anakin Skywalker.

The End came suddenly.  She came to me with a new ‘Handle This’ situation.  I handled it, but not fast enough.  Now if she was truly the One, would we have handled it together, or at the very least would I have earned a little more leeway?  Of course, but these were lessons learned after the fact.  She left my life as suddenly as she entered it; no goodbye really, no thanks for the memories.  It may have been youthful arrogance, but I had always, always been able to get the things I absolutely had to have.  I had enough sense to know she wasn’t coming back, but I really couldn’t wrap my head around it.

The first step of course was denial.  You know the scene in Swingers when Mikey finally gets a number and calls the chick 25 times in 5 minutes?  Yeah I completely went there with Maria.  I prayed for her, but not in the way I pray for those I care about now (good health and happiness).  I’m a little embarrassed to admit I was Anakin praying: I need her.  Where is she?  Why isn’t she here?  She wasn’t coming back of course which led to, say it with me now, full blown depression.

Coming home for months without turning on the television, the radio, the lights.  Just sitting on the couch in silence and darkness until I fell asleep.  Going to the grocery store at 2 in the morning to avoid any ‘accidental run-ins’ because even though I accepted it was over, I wasn’t nowhere near ready to see her, especially if she was on another cat’s arm.  The movies were a favorite spot of course so I avoided the movie theatres altogether.  Wait, let me say that again…

One of the biggest film geeks you know did not go to the movies for 6 months, because of a woman.  A WOMAN!!!

The coup de gras is a story I’ve told before but becomes funnier/more tragic with the full context.  In the middle of a ‘lotion fast’ I was on, I was at Moms doing laundry.  P.M. Dawn’s “I’d Die Without You” came on the radio in the basement.  I was already a shell of a man; by the time the song got to the final “Is there anything that I would not do?”, my ass was curled up like a fetus in the hamper, wearing nothing but some tight ass boxers and dress socks, looking like I had been bathing in baby powder, trying to sing along between sniffles.  Now THAT my friends, is Rock Bottom!

The sun of course rises after the darkness.  The Musketeers both happened to be living in KC at the time; they eventually made the decision if I was going to sulk, I was going to do it in the club while I grinded on some new chicks.  The apartment I got for Maria and I to share just happened to be in the same complex as my old college friend Linus; it would be the catalyst for the adult portion of our friendship.  So I could get in good with Maria’s folks, I started asking for tips from one of my Latina friends; in time she would become the woman from KU I have the best relationship with.  So the worst heartbreak of my life is directly responsible for 80 percent of my inner circle.  Would I trade those four friendships to have her back?

YES!!!!  I’m kidding, I’m kidding.  Of course I wouldn’t.

But friendships aside, I still was coping with the pain of losing what at the time I thought was the One true love of my life. How did I compensate for probably caring too much?  Well, I just stopped giving a…