Friday, July 08, 2005

My imaginary boyfriend

I'm going to Atlanta next week for five days for work. I hate Atlanta (sprawling, dead-downtown, car-centric, too many streets named "Peachtree"), but I won't have to deal much with the city or the heat because I'll be in a hotel meeting room from 8-5 every day I'm there. It will be boring but I might learn something.

I know a couple of people in Atlanta. One is a woman from grad school. She's not a close friend, but a very lively and entertaining person. I'm meeting her Monday for dinner.

The other one is Mike, one of my best friends from college. I've known him since I was fourteen. His wife hates me. I'm having dinner with him and his wife on Wednesday. The story of our friendship is ridiculously complicated. (My first attempt to write about it went past three pages and just scratched the surface--I may post it elsewhere eventually.)

A short(er) version: We liked each other but never at the same time. When we did like each other at the same time we lived 3,000 miles apart (but I think I only liked him then). We never slept together despite many bungled attempts on his part. We kissed a few times. It was kid stuff and was over many years ago. But we were always friends. We spent a lot of time together. We talked a lot. I drove him crazy sometimes and he did the same for me.

When he started dating his wife, it had been many years since we'd even flirted. I was happy for him when he got married. But his wife doesn't like me. I know this because he told me about six years ago. He said, "she gets upset when you call." I stopped calling. He did too (coward). I haven't seen her since their wedding. I've seen him twice. Once was two years ago when I was in Atlanta for a conference. We hung out for an afternoon with his kids. Last year he was in DC and we had dinner. He complained about his wife. I didn't like that.

Talking to Pele (aka Princess) it occurred to me that the one time I'd met Mike's wife and we'd gotten along was when I had a boyfriend. I told Pele, "I need a fake boyfriend." She said, "I think you just might. You have plenty to choose from."

Indeed I do. I am a terrible liar so if I have a fake boyfriend, I can't wing it. I need to have details and a back story in place. Potential imaginary boyfriends: The Republican, Jake or Jay. Or maybe someone else?

I used to pretend that I had a boyfriend when I went salsa dancing in Chapel Hill. I thought it would be an easy way to deal with some of the very aggressive guys there.

The first question those guys would ask, "Speak Spanish?"

The second question, "Have a boyfriend?"

I answered "no" to the first and "yes" to the second. I can (sort of) speak Spanish, but not while I'm dancing and listening to loud music. After I said I had a boyfriend I would be asked, "Where is he?"

"He lives in NY." I modeled him on the vip-ex, who was from NY.

One time I got a follow-up, "What does he do in NY?"

I had no idea. I said, "He's in business."

"What kind of business?"

Gulp. "He works for Smith-Barney." Vip-ex had a summer job there once. I felt like I'd been busted but he didn't say anything. Once I'd told the lie, I had to stick with it--the lie went on for over a year because I became a regular at the salsa place. Sometimes a guy would ask about my boyfriend and it would surprise me, "What boyfriend? Oh--the one in NY. Yes, he's still my boyfriend."

Thus, as a liar, I suck. But I think lying in this instance would lead to a more pleasant evening for all concerned. And coming up with an imaginary boyfriend is a lot more fun than worrying about whether Mike's wife is going to hate me.

Question: who should be my imaginary boyfriend?

Grateful for: Mike, even if it's a pain to see him.

P.S. I still haven't heard from Alicia, my friend in London, but I'm assuming it just means she's busy.

P.P.S. I went to a bizarre show last night and I would have written about it, but my companion did a much better job than I could have. Take a look.

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