Ex’cuses, ex’cuses…

Come on and rock…

I have to issue a disclaimer here, I’m friends with all my exes, at least the ones I actually get to call exes (all 4 and a half of them), which automatically excludes all disappearing dudes, ‘ships passing in the night’ incidents and such like rubbish (not that there’s many of those either, I’m not a langa, promise…).  What I am about to say has little to no relation to these lovely gentlemen.

That was to make sure I don’t get shot in traffic on Langata Road by persons unknown with vested interests.  Moving on…

I’ve been watching old episodes of ‘How I Met Your Mother’ this past week and one episode has stuck with me; the basic plot is this, Ted becomes convinced that perhaps he may have overlooked a couple of good women in his past, women who need to be revisited, so to speak.  Despite the typically disastrous outcome of that experiment, it got me thinking, what about my own exes, could one of them possibly be the man I keep looking for?  Could it be that one of the men in my past, while wrong for me all those years ago, is Mr Right (now), and this despite, or perhaps even because, we’re still friends?  Now I’ve always assumed that if you’ve been with someone for a while you will inevitably become friends, sometimes you become such good friends that you can’t be lovers any more, no?  Even after you break up, the friendship continues, it may be different but its still there, hell, I think it gets better once you get past the romantic crap, at least that’s been my experience with my exes.  Problem is, seeing as how these men are now ensconced in seemingly loving relationships, it would seem that none of them could be the (seemingly impossible to find) Mr Alex, no?  No.  The problem is, people break up don’t they?  We did, stands to reason that perhaps it might happen again.

And that’s the problem with being friends with your ex, when you break up with your (no longer) current idiot, whose shoulder do you think you’re going to go cry on?  And what exactly do you think is going to happen after that steak has been polished off with a bottle or two of shiraz?  Frankly, that’s probably the one time when the ‘But honey, I slipped!’ excuse can actually be used.  If you have a history, then you know each other’s weaknesses, what buttons to push, the right thing to say, and not say.  You can arguably do stupid shit without meaning to, everything is happening on remote control.  It’s like you’re possessed by ghosts of sex past.

Today’s musical number is the appropriately titled ‘Rock me’, a song I first heard and memorised back in Standard Six, complete with the signature ‘saaay-ke’ in the chorus (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, wooiiiii… I don’t know what to say to you, just leave before I track you down and beat your ignorant behind).  It wasn’t until about 15 years later that I finally understood what Mr Jackson was talking about, and now these days when I sing (screech?) along, it’s like I’m bloody testifying!  I feel this song, kwa roho yangu, is all I’m saying…  This here is the dirty little secret of friendships between exes.  Lust.  We all walk around saying we’re ‘just friends’, but all of us have had a ‘blurring of the line’ moment, or three.  The degree of line-crossing may differ, but it’s been done, don’t even try to deny it.  If you haven’t had said moment, then either your ex is now batting for the other side, or you are my friend.  But that’s a discussion for another day, let’s get back to the ex files.

So your ex has just broken up with his woman, the one you (not so) secretly thought was a bit of a stupid cow, and he’s come to your house in search of a hot meal, a cold beer and possibly a warm body.  And you, being the supportive good woman you are, feed him and water him, hug him tight to your bosom, same bosom conveniently swathed in that red lace bra you save for special nights (complete with matching thong), the one he loves to see you in, and get you out of, the same one you just happened to slip on when he called to say he’s coming over.  As he pours out his sorrows you gently rub his back, then his neck, then his face, and then before you know it he’s rubbing you.  The following morning you wake up and gasp ‘What have we done?’  Next thing you know you’ve been shagging like rabbits for 2 weeks straight and you’re thinking that this is your happily ever after.  Then the following day he calls you, all happy and excited, says he’s getting back together with Ms Stupid Cow, says she’s forgiven him for whatever transgressions he’d committed, oh happy day!  Ouch!  Alternatively, the man may choose not to inform you of said reconciliation, and 10 months later you see a picture of Cow on facebook announcing the recent arrival of their first child, little Jimmy.  Funny, he looks a lot like your own James Junior, doesn’t he?

Sounds depressing no?  Don’t worry, it seldom works out that badly, I only put that in as a cautionary tale for those amongst us who may be thinking along such lines.  Most times, after a couple of days of getting reacquainted, you start to remember the reasons you broke up, she has a filthy temper, he’s a mean bastard, such like details that as friends you can tolerate, but as lovers, not so much.  With any luck, it slowly fizzles out by itself and life goes back to normal.  Worst case scenario, you break up again, only this time there’s less drama involved.

That’s the thing about post break-up hook-ups with exes, the reason they seem so appealing is because of the familiar, but the reason they never turn into something more is because of the familiar, you know each other too well.  This is probably why we keep revisiting the ex, over and over and over…  For as long as you’re both consenting adults and there are no other parties involved, there’s no harm done right?  Unless you’re still holding on to some unrequited love bullshit, it’s unlikely that you’re going to be hoping for some happily ever ending, are you?

Ah, but that’s the problem, you are, aren’t you?  You still think that perhaps if you give it one more try it could work out?

Let’s be honest, break ups are rarely (if ever) balanced affairs, usually one half is left holding onto more than the other, right?  Now if this (no longer) happy couple insists on being friends post separation, one’s thinking ‘he’s my friend’ and the other’s thinking ‘what does she see in that new idiot?’ and this can’t, and won’t, change until the other finds someone else too, and even then…not so much.  Now I don’t know if men do this hanging-around-waiting nonsense, the men I know only hang around an ex if they’re hoping for and/or receiving a loose shag every so often, but said men are not the sharpest tools in the shed so perhaps theirs is not an example to be heeded.  Us women, on the other hand, we’re foolish, we will hang around a guy waiting for him to ‘realise that I’m the one he’s looking for’, or muttering ‘he’ll come back to me when he sees how bad it is out there’.  We actually believe that shit!  We think that if we wait long enough, Mr Man will one day come through for us, and come back.  Ladies, the rom-com movies and the paperback fluff with half-dressed hunks on their covers lied to us.  Its not going to happen.  Never.  No really, never.

Folks, if you’re hanging around your ex hoping for some great reconciliation, don’t.  Take it from someone with deep seated separation issues and baggage from here to TZ, it never ends well.  What you need to do is simply stay away from each other for a while, months, maybe even years if the split was that acrimonious.  You have to avoid them at least long enough for you to be able to look at them and not feel the need to kiss them, or slap them.  Simply put, as long as you are still getting hysterical over someone’s ass, then you have unfinished business, no exceptions, so stay the fuck away until you calm down and start thinking clearly.  Any sex had before you do will simply exacerbate matters further.  It’s like picking at the scab on a wound, the more you pick, the slower it heals, and the worse the scar.

On the up side though, once you get through that dark and irritating phase of healing, then you can shag the ex all you want, secure in the knowledge that no matter how good they are in bed, you have no intention of making the same mistake again.  Yes, I said good in bed, assuming you didn’t break up because the sex was crap, odds are you consider your ex a good lover, one you wouldn’t mind revisiting once in a while.  I call it comfort sex, you know, like comfort food, only less fattening.  You don’t have to go through the whole breaking-in process, teaching an idiot how to shag you properly, with an ex the manual has already been written, all you have to do is hit the refresh button and you’re off.  It’s predictable, and uncomplicated, and satisfying.  It’s like your mother’s chapos, they may not be the best you’ve ever had, but they’re the one thing that will always hit the spot, no matter what.  Hence, comfort sex.  Brilliant, no?

I started off by saying that I’m still friends with all my exes, but I didn’t explain how.  We’ve managed to remain friends despite the odd nasty break up and what not, only because I learnt the trick, I learnt it the hard way, but I learnt.  I’m friends with these men now, but in a couple of instances I wasn’t, for a long while.  These days, we’ll have a coffee and catch up, they’ll tell me about their jobs and women and I’ll tell them about my part time job looking for a sane man.  They tell me I’ll find someone special and I tell them to bite me.  It’s lovely.

So have we ever had ‘for old times sake’ situations?  In a couple of instances, yes, it’s inevitable isn’t it?  To the best of my knowledge, it’s never been a clande type scenario for either party, and if that’s not the case then I don’t want to hear it, ignorance, my friends, is bliss.  Plus, that’s how you get shot in this city, surely by now you know that I’m a believer in discretion being the better part of valour and such like alleged wisdom.  Instead it’s more a ‘Things are thick bana, si you hook me up?’ set up.  Stop laughing, sometimes life gets tough and you have to tap your reserves, so to speak.  And has it ever spiralled out of control into a Mexican soap?  No, not since the hard lessons were learnt many, many years ago.  Back then, I was hoping things with the man in question would work out, the random shag was my way of biding my time while he got his shit together.  ‘No sense throwing the baby out with the bathwater,’ I thought.  That is, until he had a baby with another woman.  That’s when it finally sank in that it was well and truly over.  Oddly enough, since then we’ve become disturbingly good friends, just friends, really.

The key thing about all these relationships with the exes is this, we actually like each other, despite the foolish shit we’ve said and done to each other in the past.  It helps that the mutual respect tends to keep things in perspective, despite the random shag.  You know, it’s just occurred to me that if this wisdom had been present when we were going out, life would have been a lot easier.  Scratch that, if we had been wiser, we’d never had lasted long enough to become exes.

POSTSCRIPT

Turns out the idea of comfort sex is not that unique after all.  Go figure.  Comfort Sex; Is it that bad?  Also worth a read, The beginner’s guide to exes