I met F when I started bartending at a nearby place. A place I’d never been in before. It was seen as an adult’s bar. Not cool enough for twenty-somethings. He was my manager and we hit it off instantly. My friend had gotten me the job. He told me the day I started that I would fuck F. The thought was ridiculous. No way. He was extremely unattractive. As the saying goes ‘Looks are not everything’. I generally don’t care what a guy looks like, but I couldn’t imagine every touching him.

Day by day we got closer. Maybe not closer but enjoyed each other’s company more. We were both the kind of people who joked around from morning until night. Everything was funny. I loved my job anyway. I had waited tables before and loved it, but this was my calling. I loved crazy business nights. Run off y feet. The hours flying by. An eight-hour shift in the blink of an eye. When it got ridiculously busy, or a teammate was absent, F would jump behind the bar. We worked together so well. Knowing each other’s next move. Pouring pints for each other. Shouting as to what customer was next. The odd time we bumped into each other we caught each other, laughed, and moved on.

Slowly his appearance mattered less, and the start of a crush developed. He lived with his girlfriend and I had met her a few times. I started thinking wistfully about the maybes. What could be. I still hadn’t acknowledged how I felt, but this was turning in my mind. I knew we wouldn’t be together. I had never been a part of being with someone in a relationship, and I wasn’t about to start.

F turned out to be a bit of an asshole. Once we had developed a report, things started worsening. I think he liked me too, and this threw him off. Whatever the reason, my feelings remained. It’s not that I like ‘bad boys’, I guess I feel a need to be liked, and assume its my fault if someone doesn’t like me. Especially if we get along well. Why else would F be mean? Behind the bar he started pointing out my every mistake. And there were few. I was good at my job and we both knew it. He flirted regularly with me and would then announce his girlfriend was coming by later.

Weak, weak me. I let it all continue. I started taking rides home from him. We were both usually a least a little drunk. I’ve always been staunchly against drunk driving, but now I rationalized that it was okay because I wasn’t the driver. One day we drove onto the beach and fucked in his car. This became a regular thing. I always felt hollow after he’d drop me home. He still treated me like shit at work. Sometimes. Enough of the time he was still funny and made me smile and laugh. An abusive relationship with me as much to blame as him.

One night in his car, outside my house, I poured my heart out to him. I told him I loved him. I told him I knew we wouldn’t be together, but I felt I had to tell him. He didn’t seem surprised but reminded me he loved his girlfriend. Funny way of showing it, but that was his business, not mine.

I was due to move and leave my job. Before I did, he and I decided to go on a fancy pub crawl. We went to some of the most expensive pubs in Dublin. U2’s The Octagon among them. Early on he called his girlfriend without telling me. She turned up and the three of us went drinking. It was fucking weird. I’m sure he got some perverse kick out of it. His sister, who was actually good fun, joined. It kind of ended up the girls yakking and him separately.

I have no recollection of this, but F told me the next day in work that I had told his girlfriend I loved him. Oops! In other news he and his girl had gotten engaged that night. I felt a punch in the gut. He didn’t owe me anything. I knew we’d never be together, but I guess I thought they’d split up and he’d be busted. I’m not sure to be honest.

The next three months flew by and crawled. I was spending my last summer in Ireland – possibly ever. I was leaving my family and friends. This what made it fly by. I’d be lying if I said the thoughts of never seeing him again was awful. A few weeks before I left, my best friend was having her leaving do before she went to L.A. I booked it off a couple of weeks earlier. When the schedule came out, which he wrote up, I was scheduled to work that night. When I asked him about it, he told me I’d be fired and that I wouldn’t get a reference for The States. I was so upset. I knew I would choose my friend over work. How could he do this? Yet I still thought I loved him. His manager stepped in, who was usually even more of an asshole, and gave me the evening off.

Even after all this, he was the reason I cried most of the way over The Atlantic. It took a few months for the feelings to cool, but they were in the background for longer. I suppose deep down I HAD thought we might end up together. Despite what I thought I thought, I was in denial.

What did I learn from the experience? Certainly not to jump into two other people’s relationship. If I feel a platonic relationship is heading into a romantic one, and the other person is coupled, I will cut it off immediately. I need to respect myself. I need to recognize when someone is not respecting me and push them away. I’m still working on this one. If I fall for someone before they show their true colors, then what? I can’t say that I wouldn’t. I hope I would be strong, but I also know I have a lot of self-doubt. For now, I must build myself up, so I’m less likely to be torn down my someone else.

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