Value added. It’s an economic term referencing "the amount by which the value of an article is increased at each stage of its production, exclusive of initial costs." When working in advertising, our goal on behalf of our clients was to offer customers a perceived added value: something that was cheap and easy for our clients to offer their consumers, just enough to entice them to sign up, rejoin, or tell a friend. When it came to our relationship, Turner should have charged a VAT.
Each step along the assembly line of our relationship, he’d add just enough to keep me there. Some people refer to these as steps in a dance. "The Dance of Intimacy," or some such horrific term, with the man taking the lead. I think of it more like Ford’s moving assembly line. Over time we learn more about each other, interchangeable facts are added in a sequential manner, to create a relationship. Turner was becoming my Model T, and it was then that I learned the man is the gas, and the woman is the brakes.
The man needs to be the one pursuing, wooing, courting, the woman, and it’s up to her to determine the pace of the relationship. She sets the speed of that assembly line. If he’s not revved up enough, if she’s wanting more, then it’s really not a good match. Turner’s engine seized up way too quickly, and I realized I’d never get what I deserved as long as I stayed with him.
Sorry, I’d say come one of our regular drinking Sunday nights, I just can’t do this anymore. When he sensed these talks were coming, he always tried to sweep them aside. Come on, he’d say, let’s go for dinner at Annisa; you love that place. "No I don’t. It’s too sterile." Then pick a place, anywhere you want to go. He was trying to add value, to tempt me with food like a terrier. I’d decline, and he’d need to offer more, just enough to keep me on the line. But Linus would miss me, he’d say more to Linus than to me. When I wouldn’t break a smile, he’d need to switch gears.Look, he’d say, you know I’m crazy about you, and I wouldn’t just say that. I know what you’ve been through, and I’m a good guy. Now please, just come here.
Then he’d pull me into him and make me believe. I second guessed. Maybe he really was crazy about me, in his way, not mine. Or maybe I was just making excuses because ending things seemed too hard. He was too comfortable, and it wasn’t as if he was a bad guy. He hadn’t made it that clear cut. When it’s explicit, when he’s unforgivable, it’s easier to sever things, because you can always look back and point to that shitty thing he dumped on the line. You regret less. But when he just isn’t pursuing you enough, you begin to think, maybe I’m too needy. Maybe this is all he’s capable of, and if that’s so, can I live with that? Can I be happy this way?
Then we do our own form of unforgivable. We ignore our answer to the question and turn to our friends to see what they think. Am I asking too much? As if they know what it is that we need inside. Instead, what we’re really asking is for them to decide for us. But we ignore all the advice we don’t want to hear anyway, and then we’re still just left with our answer. No. I can’t be happy this way. I wish I could, but I’m not built like that. Maybe I could’ve been okay with it two years ago, but I’m not okay with it now.
It would have been a hard next day, a hard next week and maybe even month, had we ended things. Maybe I’d just see. I was making excuses, falling into that "don’t be so dramatic" trap. The words said by the person who doesn’t want to deal with emotions, or the words said to yourself when you don’t want to face what you really feel.
We’d come to this point too often, and I was beginning to lose respect for myself. I knew it would be hard, that I’d miss the way he saw the world, his walk, and the way he crawled the halls with Linus. I’d miss our meals and the way he loved my cooking. His guitar and our whiskey. And come the following afternoon, after hitting refresh all morning, there still wouldn’t be that email where he asked me to take it all back. I’d phone my father and tell him how miserable I was. Won’t I ever meet anyone? And then, mid conversation–while I’m at the office, unable to get any work done–I’d say, "son of a bitch" aloud. "He’s changed his profile to single."
I might have been the brakes, but I wasn’t really ready for a break.