During my freshman year of college, I dated an actress who not only laughed at my stupid jokes but matched my sense of humor (lots of fart jokes) with witty sarcasm. We got along well, and our relationship seemed rather harmless. But one day, as we snuggled during a crappy Lifetime movie that I think was titled All Men Will Eventually Lie and Probably Rape You, starring Scott Baio and Alicia Silverstone, I recognized that I really didn't care what terrible movie we watched together, because I genuinely enjoyed spending time with her. And that's when I knew I had fallen in love.
For the first time.
You can probably see where this is heading: Eventually we grew tired of each other, and our romance, which had largely benefited from the blissful naïveté of first love, slowly disintegrated. Just in time, too, because she had her first Hollywood premiere and red carpet to attend.
She shot her scenes early in our relationship, but when the premiere arrived, we had just broken up. I wanted to talk to her. She wanted to move on. But she finally took pity and called me — on her way to the red carpet.
This was the ultimate power move. If I pissed her off, she'd yell and say I was ruining her big day. If I called her out on calling me during the most inopportune time, she'd say she did what I wanted and complain for never letting her win. The phone call was long and featured a lot of yelling, not unlike a Shia LaBeouf movie.
"Goodbye, Wil," she choked out just before the phone went silent. The harsh truth hit me: We were done.
And I started to tear up. Then the tears turned into crying. And then the crying turned into full-blown bawling.
Now, I don't own a visor, and I've never accessorized a pair of Sperry's with a puka shell necklace. But as I broke down, I realized Dave Matthews Band was playing on my radio.
"Crash Into Me," to be exact.
I've never belonged to a fraternity, but as the Godfather of Frat Rock soundtracked my sorrow, it felt ... surprisingly, awfully right. And as those tears continued their cascade, something happened. Suddenly, the room felt ridiculously blistering. I couldn't focus. I fell to my knees and as the heat seemed unbearable, I let out the most (non) badass howl and wanted to hit something, but instead I did the next logical thing; I ripped my shirt off.
Not only was I crying for the first time in my adult life, but I ripped my shirt off.
Gradually, I unclenched my torn Hanes ComfortBlend — shout-out to Michael Jordan — but the Bruce Banner turning into the Incredible Hulk-esque rage continued to submerge me. I didn't know what to do, but I instinctively turned to a tool that could get me — and countless creeper ex-boyfriends — quick answers: Twitter.
I had to know what she was up to. I was never controlling, but suddenly I yearned to know her every move. The scrolling through my timeline seemed like it took a century, but finally, I found one of her recent posts. It was a photo ... of her and ... Justin Long on the red carpet?
Justin Long from Dodgeball? Fuck Justin Long!
The Justin Long Debacle is a much longer story, but it appropriately marked the beginning of my post-breakup hell — that volatile abyss that couples have to cross if they want to survive a split.
I eventually wanted to — and did — apologize for the way our relationship collapsed, but it didn't matter. I had hurt her because I was afraid of losing her, and the damage was done. I had to accept that fact that I couldn't re-create what we once had. And that I had now become that ex-boyfriend. The crazy one.
But first love isn't like some cliché-ridden Nicholas Sparks novel — now a major motion picture that attempts to convince us Mandy Moore is an actress. No. First love is painful, uplifting, mesmerizing, vindictive. It challenges you to be your best, but when the romance does fade, you'll make even more mistakes that will hurt like hell. It's normal to be a little crazy. You just have to take it day by day and know that one day you'll love again. Just pray that when it does happen, you're far away from any device broadcasting Dave Matthews Band.
Unless you have an extra shirt to spare, bro.
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