Welcome to the next installment of Doorflower Dating Do-overs, where your favourite authors share a moment from their romantic past they’d do over again if they could. Today’s guest is LG McCann, as part of the CLP Blog Tour to promote her new title, The Other Side of Gemini! Welcome LG!
I wasn’t the first girl to fall down a set of stairs drunk. I wasn’t the first girl to get drunk to salve unrequited love. And I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the first girl to fall down the stairs after getting drunk because of said unrequited love.
One night in particular found me on the N train crying, reeking of nine-dollar Bud Light and despair.
“My butt hurts,” I whined.
My best friend Danielle patted me on the shoulder and popped a fruit snack into my mouth. “That’s because you fell down the stairs at the bar,” she said.
“What?” I protested between chews. “I did not.”
Actually, I had. Not more than fifteen minutes had passed and I’d already forgotten. I had slid down a long, steep set of stairs on my tailbone while trying to exit a midtown Manhattan bar, sobbing over a man I really, really liked. It hurt like hell for well over a year after the event—my tailbone, that is—long after I’d gotten over the man I’d gotten drunk over.
I was twenty-three and he was thirty-eight. I had just moved to New York City a little over a year before and he’d been there for twenty years. His job was exotic, full of travel and big events and celebrities. He owned an apartment with a terrace on the Upper West Side. He sent his laundry out to be washed and folded by someone else! As far as I was concerned, Mr. X lived a life I had only dreamed of.
The relationship, for utter lack of a befitting word, was extremely short-lived. At least on his part. But even after he had exhibited every offense in He’s Just Not that Into You and then some, I pined. Oh, how I pined! I’d vacillate between crying and swooning in mere moments. A text message from Mr. X would send me over the moon with excitement. But he just didn’t feel the way about me that I did about him. And it’s so painfully obvious in retrospect.
This hindsight thing is a real bitch. I look back at twenty-three-year-old LG and just shake my head. What a silly young thing. Naive to the ways of the world, she was still fresh out of college (a women’s college, at that) and so new to the city, like an American Girl doll just out of the box.
Actually, that last bit is a lie. I can’t even try to paint my twenty-three-year-old self as naive or fresh. I had spent too many nights at parties at Washington & Lee University and Virginia Tech and too many nights in London pubs during my semester abroad to be considered anything other than lightly seasoned, if not full-on brined.
Frat boys and single-serve dates I knew. But men? Grown-up relationships? These were the things of legend, of the many fictional women who had come before me like Bridget Jones and Carrie Bradshaw, like Jennifer and Anne and Neely. I mistook Mr. X’s affection for passion, my infatuation for love. And I cried and I cried and I cried because I didn’t want to admit that he didn’t feel the same way.
I eventually got over Mr. X. In fact, we’re still acquaintances to this day. I like to see what he’s up to on Facebook, and he’s had so many kind words for me over the years. He probably doesn’t have any idea that the villain in my book, The Other Side of Gemini,was originally based on him (though I suppose he does now if he’s reading this). Which brings me to this conclusion: I don’t have any regrets about dating Mr. X or any other man who passed through my life up to this point. I’ve learned from every single one and I’m a better, stronger, and smarter person because of them.
Gemini’s villain James Ryan, quite a nasty piece of work, was born from my feelings and emotions about Mr. X’s unrequited love, not from any aspect of Mr. X’s personality. In fact, Mr. X is probably one of the most unassuming men I’ve met, but I vilified him through my anger and hurt feelings. Once I came to this realization, James Ryan got even larger than life, more evil with every revision, and more calculatingly vicious.
If I had the option to do anything over in my dalliance with Mr. X, I would call him out on not being direct, and I would straight up ask, “What am I to you? If I’m not anything, tell me so I can stop mooning over you.” Of course, that would mean changing who I was when I was twenty-three. (Also, I later learned that saying this to men almost never elicits a truthful answer anyway.) At that age, being so infatuated, I wouldn’t have wanted to hear the truth anyway, which was more than likely something along the lines of “You’re fun and young, but I don’t want anything more with you.”
I wouldn’t be who I am now, a woman I quite like, and I wouldn’t have written the same book if anything had been different with Mr. X. I think I’m glad my experience with Mr. X went the way it did. I know Mr. X didn’t mean to hurt me—he clearly had no idea how much I liked him. We had only been on a few dates, after all. I was just crushing so hard that I couldn’t see the proverbial forest for the trees. Or maybe in New York terms, the city for the buildings. This whole hindsight thing also allows me to see just how inexperienced I was and, perhaps most important, that Mr. X really is a nice guy.
As for Danielle? My best friend who picked me up after I fell down the stairs, and convinced a guy to give her a pack of fruit snacks because I was crying, and spent countless hours mopping up my tears with wine-stained napkins? There’s no love lost there. I’m sure she’d be civil and shake Mr. X’s hand, though I can’t say she’d throw him a smile.
In all truthfulness, there is one thing I’d do differently with regard to Mr. X: I would have been more careful walking down those stairs in the midtown Manhattan bar. That was a few years shy of a decade ago and my tailbone still hurts from time to time.
No man is worth that kind of pain.
Thanks for reading! For more info on LG McCann and The Other Side of Gemini, check out each stop on the CLP Blog Tour here! Buy the book here, and connect with LG on social media at: Twitter: @lgmccann Instagram: lgmccann Facebook: facebook.com/lgmccann