“She said yes!”
In front of me is one of those horrible Instagram collage things that makes life look like a commercial for KIDS INCORPORATED, only this is the grownup version, featuring some girl with very thin arms wrapped around the shoulders of some guy I used to – for lack of a better word – “date.” She’s sporting a giant grin and, unfortunately, a wedding ring.
Well, there’s the nail in that coffin.
Luckily enough, I have thus far not had to endure the marriage of a massively significant ex-boyfriend to another woman. Although, to be honest, I’ll be happy when those particular announcements arrive, because those are relationships that have clear beginnings and even clearer endings. Hopefully, whatever happened in between can be looked back on fondly enough upon so that you remain friends afterward. I want the people in my life to be happy, and if they couldn’t find it with me, so be it. Congratulations. Mazel tov.
But it’s these complicated trysts that so often end in convoluted ways (if they ever even end at all), which prove to be more troublesome when someone has to go and, like, I don’t know, get married. Over the course of a person’s dating life — in between the substantial relationships, the live-in boyfriends, the long distance love affairs – there are dozens of brief encounters with men who seemed deeply promising at one point in time. And I don’t mean promising in the clawing-at-the-walls, desperate-spinster-needs-a-man sort of way. I mean promising in that you can imagine maybe, just maybe, falling in love with them. These are the people you look back on with those countless could-have-beens and the nagging what-ifs. These are the people who, inevitably, go on to marry other women. And because you were never actually given the chance to fall in love with them, and, in turn, make them fall in love with you, these are the marriage announcements that sting the worst.
Of course, the passage of time and subsequent horrible dating experiences allows you to view these flings with a delusional fondness. You forget all of the reasons why it didn’t work out in the first place, why you’re not the one on his Instagram feed smiling like an idiot, wearing a rock on your left hand. You forget about their obvious drug problems, their fidelity issues, the plain and simple fact that they obviously didn’t like you very much. And, even in this instance, I’m willfully omitting the vague recollection that the last time I “saw” this newly engaged gentleman in the flesh, I’m pretty sure he was actually dating this woman, his future bride.
If not a nail in the coffin, it’s probably just a bullet I’ve missed.