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September 14, 1998 e-mail e-mail to a friend in need




Dear Breakup Girl,

Okay, Breakup Girl, this is my first letter asking advice EVER to anyone about all of this, so... well, I hope you have time to read a long one. If not, toss me.

I'm a 17 year old guy. I'm too skinny, I've got acne, but I'm a great friend with an irresistible sense of humor (or so I've been told). Oh, and I've had a stellar love life, absolutely wonderful! NOT. My last relationship crashed and burned. On the SIX MONTH ANNIVERSARY, to the day, because things weren't going anywhere and we were getting frustrated with each other. And the three girlfriends I had before that ended when (in chronological order):

1) She lied to me about loving someone else, thus being unable to continue going out with me. (Fortunately, we had only been going out for, oh, 4 hours, just long enough for her to realize I had never had a girlfriend before and had no idea she was coming on to me. This one later turned psycho-slutty, having sex with anything that breathed, including ME, offering phone and oral sex with me as late as a year after. She also tried to break my best friend and his girlfriend up... sick-o.)

2) She went out with me for six days, kissed me, then refused to talk to me -- forever. No reason at all, except one I heard that went through three people that went, "She gets bored with guys quickly." Ne'er heard word from her since.

3) She left. I fell for a girl on the second to last day of a summer camp. She lives about 120 miles away part-time (and over 400 the other part) because of her split parents. Saddest thing about this one was that it was the best time out of all four girlfriends I've had... I haven't heard from her since, and my letters don't come back with "Address unknown" or anything on them.

Outside of girls I've actually dated, I've been heartbroken without a chance to date over a dozen times. Karen got taken before I could muster the guts to ask -- now she's engaged. I was literally minutes late in asking Amy out, and had her stolen out from under me at a camp -- by my roommate, no less. Eva stopped me short -- twice -- when a flashier guy cut in and cut off my hopes of getting a date with her. Amy #2 has everything in common with me, except she doesn't want to date and she enjoys hitting me with folding chair in private places "for the thrill of it." Carol was more interested in calculus than boys (although her anime art was the best). Melissa and I fell for each other the day before she left to go to a high school for gifted children, then fell for each other AGAIN when she came back for summer break -- of course, that time was the day before she went BACK for another year. Danielle couldn't stay broken up long enough for me to ask. Katie's great, but her last boyfriend didn't end well, making it difficult for her to trust guys, and she's Wiccan (natural witchcraft), which would mean my parents would excommunicate me if the ever found out I liked her. And the list grows by the week, pretty much.

My parents are (of course) counter productive to everything -- they've managed to keep me from dating most of the above long enough for them to get other boyfriends. My mom wants me to date from a selective pool of the best and brightest and most boring girls at school -- and yes, they really ARE the most boring. I brought one to a dance and, after playing balloon volleyball with her for nearly an hour while she jabbered endlessly about school, I nearly threw up from boredom. Or punch, I forget...

A line of girls came up to me after I broke up with girlfriend #4 to tell me they liked me. Only one said yes when I actually asked her out, and that never happened because of aforementioned parental intervention (confiscation of vehicle because "it's dirty"). That relationship died off quick.

Adding to everything is the fact that I'm a completely, totally, and hopeless romantic. Girlfriend #1 got mystery poems in her purse while she was (pretending like she was) dating someone else. Girlfriend #2 and I first kissed in a music practice room while we played a duet. Girlfriend #3 and I first kissed during the credits of "The Breakfast Club" (a mutual favorite movie). Girlfriend #4 got a dozen roses and a gold locket with a diamond in the center for Valentine's. Crush Melissa got a frog smilie-face ring that she still wears as her favorite ring. I've made uncountable plans for late-night candlelight dinners (I'm a decent pasta cook), picnics, romantic walks and outings, just to have the girlfriend break up or parents stick a fork in it before I pull it off. I have book on top of book on top of book of love poetry, how to write love letters, how to make the perfect romantic dinner, etc., etc. And don't EVEN try to publish all the love letters, poems, and short stories I've written, because there isn't a book large enough for it all.

And to top the pain and torture off, I can't seem to STOP making online girlfriends. I have two e-mail pen pals, both all the way in England, who have never met me but have pictures of me and talked to me on the phone. Neither can understand why I can't get, keep, and be happy with a girlfriend in person. I love the company and advice they give, but both have boyfriends and say they wish I could take their boyfriends' place.

And so, Breakup Girl, I turn to you. I am out of options, I am out of ideas, and I am running dangerously low on hope. I know there's girls out there that I'm compatible with, and I know at least one of them HAS TO BE single. I covered your list of ideas on the August 31st article, and the only one I'm guilty of breaking is #5: Shy is better than loud. I'm usually the one who starts conversation. And #6 -- finding people who like swing and pasta in the land of fried chicken and country is REAL hard.

So... any ideas I haven't thought of yet? <hopeful smile> Sorry to pound you with such a long letter -- I guess it was more to get it out to someone than asking for advice -- but I couldn't hold it in anymore, I'd have exploded.

-- GG

Dear GG,

First of all, let me clarify one important thing: Loud is not "starting conversation." That's ... talking. Loud is the guy (or girl) who shows up with the foam #1 glove and says things like "Who-HOOO!" and [to the waitress] "WANNA TIP? PLANT CORN EARLY?"

So, GG, I do not think you are too loud. I think you are too...much. Wait wait wait wait quick, let me finesse that before you completely shut down. I am not talking about too much authentic, unabashed, festive, bodacious self-expression -- goodness knows there's too little of that going around.

However. You're talking about candlelight dinners and lockets and poetry and roses and pain and torture -- in regard to women who in some cases you haven't even really ... dated. Women -- people -- love romantic gestures, even grand ones. Yes. But romance does not happen in a vacuum, unless you are in some Roz Chast cartoon about "Lint in Love." When you get all pain and torture and poetry and Ta-Da! right off the bat, women -- people -- wonder: wait, who is this guy? Do I know him? Does he know me? Sonnets? Lockets? Can't we just play some skeeball and chat?

I get that your emotions and intentions, and God knows your hormones, are authentic. Or at least that they feel that way. But I'm not sure they come across that way. They may, GG, come across as too much...pressure. Too much... drama. Too much. Without some actual connection as a sexy velvety sparkly cushion underneath, all of this EFFORT -- in your actions, and in the desperate, tortured feelings they're coming from -- falls flat, and hollow, and loud.

So let me say this loud and clear: YOU ARE TRYING TOO HARD. To make something happen and, in that good old reverse-psychology sleight-of-heart, to make sure something doesn't. You do not need options and ideas, GG. You have far too many. Quit making lists and pasta and just go do stuff. Talk. Hang. Wash the car. You'll be fine, girlfriend or no girlfriend. You do have an irresistible sense of humor -- your letter is one of my favorites of all time, I am not kidding. Hey, and work with what you have: as far as BG is concerned, when it comes to fried chicken and country, there's no such thing as too much.

Breakup Girl



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