There are distinct stages to romantic liaisons—at least mine anyway. My relationships historically have stepped through four recognizable phases, usually on a rather predictable timeline. Let me explain.
Phase 1: Romance. This is the champagne phase; the bubbly, lovely, dreamy time when neither of the participants know each other well enough to imagine anything amiss. It is all rosy pink, lusty and playful, smiles on a spoon, and totally charming. This may be as good as it ever gets if you’re addicted to tingly surprises and silly nicknames. Honestly, it is pretty damn good stuff, but sadly it has the same shelf life as raw shrimp on a summer’s day. This phase ends, and ends quickly.
Phase 2: Rescue. Okay, now it has become apparent that your brand new Boo-Boo Bear is an actual human and not a twenty-four-hour-a-day romantic love machine. Daydreams adjust to reflect this new reality. Boo-Boo leaves your quivering side and goes to work, goes bowling with the other Boo-Boo Bears, and does his laundry. Boo-Boo has a life too, and is not able to kiss your pinky toe at two in the afternoon just because you think that would be oh so nice. He does say that he wishes he could, and that the next time you call him at the office you might warn him of your intent so he can take you off the damn speakerphone. That’s okay. I can adjust. Boo-Boo and I will have super romantic dinner dates after his project is done and my deadline is met . . . say the third Tuesday in February. Wait, I might have a root canal scheduled for that day. I’ll have to check.
Phase 3: Recovery. I should sue Harlequin Romance. I should sue whomever coined the phrase “Happily Ever After.” I should sue Cosmopolitan magazine for blowing smoke up my skirt for twenty-five years with dumbass articles on “Where to Touch Your Man to Drive Him Wild.” The answer is anywhere. Men don’t care. You could stroke a man’s elbow and he would be grateful and googly-eyed. I’ve been overplanning and overthinking everything romantic since I was thirteen years old. Enough. Give me an article on “How to Wrangle the Same Day Off as Your Man and Not Spend It at the DMV.” Or how about an article on “Sexy In Spite of Sleep Deprivation.” Give me something I can use here. Boo-Boo and I are willing to make the effort. We just need some guidance.
Phase 4: Salvage. Now we have arrived at the end of the line. The awful phase where I am just trying to save whatever scraps of dignity I can find hiding under the bed with the dust balls and a forgotten bottle of piña colada-flavored lube. Boo-Boo has stopped calling and I have stopped caring. Maybe I’ll at least get a good article out of this relationship. Hell, maybe I can even sell the story to Cosmopolitan. They owe me.