Friday, November 04, 2005

Mrs. Sherlock Holmes

Little Black Book was on Starz last night. I’d seen the beginning of the movie twice, but was never able to stick around to see the ending. So while Billy packed for his business trip out of town today, I watched Brittany Murphy dig around in her boyfriend’s Palm Pilot, track down three ex-girlfriends using the Kippy Kan show as a front, and ultimately make a mess of everything.

Billy joined me while Brittany Murphy’s Stacey did her detective work on Joyce, the ex the boyfriend, Derek, still carried a torch for. When Stacey finally snagged a meeting with Joyce, she pretended to be someone else entirely and that she had never even heard this Derek guy. While they talked about Joyce’s career, the dirt on her relationship – the one they ended years ago, and the friendship they continued to that very day – with Derek just spilled out.

“Why would she do that?” Billy asked, lighting up a cigarette.

“I don’t know.”

“She’s torturing that girl.” He meant that Stacey was torturing Joyce.

“She’s torturing herself.” I said as Joyce answered her ringing cell phone and mouthed It’s Derek to a shocked Stacey. “That would be awful, sitting next to a girl who didn’t know that you’re dating the ex she’s still madly in love with and watching her get a call from him, and then watching her laugh at something he said…To watch one half of a conversation where your boyfriend is flirting with a woman he used to date that doesn’t know about you and that he never told you about. That would kill me.”

“That’s what I don’t understand, why she would do that in the first place.”

“I don’t either,” I lied. I knew why. I’d done it before. Maybe I didn’t go so far as to pose as someone else and interview the exes, but I’ve rooted around in history before.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I think we women research too much. In an effort to find out something – anything – about our boyfriend’s history, we dig. We peek at his inbox when he checks his email in our presence, we eavesdrop on his phone conversations, we ask leading questions and begin to piece together a horribly askew picture of his past and his present. We Google. In our more shameful moments, we rummage through rooms, foraging through pockets and luggage and notebooks and boxes, seeking something that will tell us what our boyfriends don’t want to tell us themselves. We interrogate friends and family in what we hope is a subtle way, we keep our eyes peeled for clues, we ask about exes and attempt to decode his answer into what he really meant. And for what? Well, we don’t really know. We’ll tell ourselves that it’s to find proof that he’s over his ex, that he’s faithful to us. But really, it’s evidence to the contrary we’re after. We want to weed out his transgression before it gets a chance to make us look foolish. We don’t want to be played, we don’t want our hearts broken. We want to know.

In my past life, I wanted to know, too. I dug and poked and prodded my way around all of his 36 years. I asked about his exes, looked at their pictures and compared myself to them. And when I did that? It only made me feel horrible. It made me sick to my stomach, but I still kept at it. I asked more questions, looked at more pictures, wanted more information. Even though it made me want to throw up to look at him locked in an embrace with someone from his past, even though it made me feel inadequate compared to these older women who were successful and well-traveled, I kept it up. And it made me a jealous beast. I began to think that he would gladly go back with each and every one of his exes – all they had to do was show up. I started to think he was being unfaithful. Whether he was or not, I’ll never know. But it wasn’t for lack of trying. I kept trying to catch him in lies. I searched the house for another woman’s presence. I smelled his shirts for a foreign perfume. I was almost disappointed when I came up with nothing. My stomach was in a perpetual knot. It was awful. I was awful. I didn’t even like myself then.

But we’re always looking for the bad. What’s in his past? What’s he not telling me? We forget that the past is the past for a reason. And we get caught up in wanting to know things we don’t really even want to know. It’s masochism.

Billy’s checked his email right in front of me, and I didn’t even look. He’s left me alone in his house – I’ve even slept there when he’s been out of town – and I’ve never even had to fight the urge to snoop. I don’t ask about ex girlfriends because I don’t really want to know. I don’t need to know what his last girlfriend looked like, what she did that made him happy or what she did that made him sad. I don’t need to know that he loved her smile or the color of her hair. Because, you know what…He loves my smile and my hair now.

But as much as I’d like to believe that my peace with Billy’s past and present has to do with my new-found maturity and confidence, that’s only half of it. The other half is that he’s open. He’ll tell me what I want to know, all I have to do is ask. And I don’t need to dig around to see if he’s unfaithful – He’s with me all the time. And when he’s not with me, he calls to let me know he’s thinking of me and that he wants to be with me.

And what’s worse is that men don’t do this. From what I’ve learned from the men I’ve dated, known, spoken with, men don’t worry themselves over their girlfriends’ past. They don’t overanalyze and wonder and think and ruminate and make themselves sick over who she used to date, how she felt about him, and what she’s doing when he’s not around. Why is this borderline psychosis so much more prevalent in women? Or are women just less afraid to admit that, yes, they want to know more?

“I don’t get it,” Billy said at the climax of the movie, as Brittany Murphy was confronted with all three exes and the boyfriend she’d been researching. “Look, everyone’s miserable now.”

I knew all too well how everyone in that movie felt. But Billy would have dig in my past to find that out.


Anonymous said...

oh, we go through it too sis, remember when i talked to you about what i was going through a earlier this week. i think that girls are just more open about it, and can explain it in more detail. i'm very happy that you and billy are doing well. i like him more and more as i read your blogs.

Anonymous said...

Its so crazy how you explained past and present relationships because the more you do look, the more you want to know and analize about the other person....the more miserable you get. Also you really start to turn into someone you're not! Not worth it! And after you really want to know....not really!

Casey said...

Lord, have I been there (as you know!)... and it's so unbecoming.

I think we do it as a defense mechanism. We want to be warned if we're making a mistake in loving someone. We feel like we're giving ourselves, heart body and soul, and we want to make sure the person we're giving ourselves to won't damage us or throw us away. Talk about neruosis.

Also, I think some people are actually searching for evidence of wrongdoing so they can be justified in ending it.

I did this once. The relationship seemed too perfect, too wonderful... there was nothing within him that I could use to justify my own aversions. So I kept looking for something, anything, that would enable me to place the blame on him for our demise. Well, eventually I found it. Am I happy? No.

There's a lesson to be learned here. I just hope it gets through my thick skull this time.

Amber said...

I've been guilty of this before, too, though only once. It was the only boy I cared enough about to be jealous over...if that makes sense?

The thing that bothered me about his ex was that she got to spend three years with him. That's what I was jealous of...that she got to spend so much time with him, being with him day to day. And, I will admit...she was very different from me. In one way it was good because I knew that the things that he didn't like about her were things that I didn't have...but I always wondered what it was about her that made him fall in love with her, and if I was lacking some of those things.

And you DO feel awful when you let yourself get wrapped up in this game. Sometimes I would look at his old photo albums and just feel sick to my stomach.

But you know what I realized? When I looked at the history of my ex's, all of them are different from each other, for good reasons. With each relationship I grow a little bit more and refine what I want in a person and in a the next person always wins out over all my other ex's. Unless a current boyfriend is still hung up over an ex, I know that it's usually also the same way for them.

portuguesa nova said...

I was a bad bad bad bad bad snooper with THE GUY I MARRIED. Bad snooper. E-mails, MSN messenger history, cell phone, backpack, drawers, kept track of condoms And of course I wouldn't have done it if I didn't feel there was something to find. And I found stuff. And confronted him. And he felt no guilt about it whatsoever but was very mad at me for having snooped. Our relationship in his mind was completely different than it was in my mind.

That is when I made the definite decision to move to Japan. I'm glad I snooped because it forced us to start all over again when I came back and it allowed me to live in Japan and it allowed both of us to grow up a little--me out of my insecure, no experience in relationships phase, him out of his bachelor phase.

But I'm even more glad that I have never snooped again. And more importantly, never felt the need to.

God's gift to women (with really low standards) said...

Man, I'd be pissed if my girlfriend started snooping around in my past. There's that DUI, the attempted bank robbery and that thing that says I have to tell new people to the neighborhood about my...nevermind, that's not really important.

Popeye said...

I like the slower discovery process. I guess I also find someone telling you their secrets and you telling your secrets a very intimate thing. The unfolding of that is nice.