Final Texts Sent to Women I’ve Dated in the Past Year: A Tale of Resilience and Emotional Maturity

Thank you for the text and for meeting me. While I enjoyed talking with you, I didn’t feel there was much of a connection. Nevertheless, I wish you the best of luck! All best, Ed

* * *

Not defensive at all. I was politely replying to your invitation and you made the leaps. I’m quite happy being who I am.

* * *

It is the best thing for me too. I feel that you are emotionally manipulative, unwilling to be honest and communicative, and deeply unfair. Nevertheless, I wish you the best of luck. Thanks for using me.

* * *

Please stop texting me. I’m not interested. Best of luck.

* * *

Do you even comprehend that men are not playthings for your deranged pleasure?

* * *

Okay, I get the hint. I hope you feel better. Thanks and best of luck.

* * *

Sounds like your life is too complicated. Best of luck.

* * *

Sounds like you’re not all that serious. And I have better things to do than have my chain dragged. Best of luck. And thank you for wasting my time.

* * *

I’m not ripping into anything. You’re doing a grand job of tearing down the house with your eleventh hour “revelations.” And I will call bullshit on people, especially unrelenting types who fire the first shot, who lack the self-awareness and the empathy to consider their own complicity. If you think I’m enjoying this (perhaps you are?), you’re gravely mistaken. But you’ve proven yourself wrong about a lot of things. I think we can both agree that there’s no profit in this exchange. So again I wish you best of luck.

* * *

And, by the way, I’m NOT nice. Your actions made me very angry. Because I once again allowed a self-absorbed woman to use me, to take advantage of my heart, to feign diffidence when she didn’t have the guts to cut her losses and declare the truth of her loneliness and her desperation. Go to hell. All you know how to do is toy with other hearts. And I won’t allow ANYONE to do that to me ever again.

* * *

Alright, one last try (because I like you) and I won’t bother you again. No need to reply back if you don’t want to. You mentioned last night that you were in a somewhat sullen mood because of your architectural comment chided by the martinet-minded boatman, that people felt intimidated by you because of your exuberance, that you rubbed some people the wrong way, that you weren’t accustomed to people treating you nice. I’m not sure if this (or perhaps the shrapnel from the businesslike unraveling of your marriage; believe me, I understand) has any bearing on your skittishness, but please know that I found you profoundly interesting, laden with great life, refreshingly independent-minded, and felt compelled to shower you with some affection that you seemed, in the way in which you shifted closer to me, to covet. You struck me as someone who was a bit surprised to receive kindness and receptive ears. Perhaps you were putting forth some front. I don’t know. What I do know is that you deserve to be treated well. You are an uncommon soul I’d like to know more. I’d be delighted to try again, if you’re ready and willing, taking things as slow as you’d like to go. Whatever you decide, whether with me or someone else, please know that some men do actually want to give to you and listen to you and respect you. As someone who adjusts her mind and body for a six week stint on the high seas in winter, you of all people know that life is always worth the risk and that goes for everything, whether the coos of romance or owning an apartment. In any event, thank you for the delightful evening and I really wish you the best and hope you find everything you’re looking for. – Ed

* * *

Many thanks for the conversation. I would be delighted to hear more about your adventures in Kenya. Good luck with the interview! Thanks, Ed

* * *

The princess’s gleaming eyes glistened with an unanticipated joy as the courtier handed her a parchment dripping with warm words written in a happy careful hand. The knight who had vowed to joust against dragons and play sweet songs for her upon his lute had delivered a letter from a faraway land that stirred some happy memory. She remembered the warmth of his hand, his easy smile, and his rather attentive ways. “Chivalry,” she had said, “is not dead.” A flowing coat shimmering against the frostiest gale was not something to be so readily dismissed. Some natural cannonball shot into the air, an ardor built not on war but on tenderness and that rather exciting quiver that accompanied more important passions.

The courtier had caught sight of a distant horse in the horizon, upon which rode the selfsame knight, who leaped from his steed and, shortly after spinning his sword into the air in the manner of a showman whirling a cane, performed an acrobatic interpretive dance that revealed the fine letters of the alphabet. “X…X…X”

This was quite a good deal of effort for a memory from so long before, certainly not the usual, but she couldn’t help smiling. The courtier opened the large book containing her many appointments and said, “The knight, ma’am. He hopes to schedule a visitation. Is there an opening?” The princess replied…

…well, how shall we continue this story?

* * *

No, you’re not. You’re one of those textbook cases Janet Malcolm wrote about.

* * *

I’d like to thank you for hurting me. It has provided me with a clarity which not only explains why X left you, but will ensure that I never make the same mistake of revealing my soul to a solipsist ever again. Best of luck. You definitely need it.

* * *

Affectionate and complimentary one moment, recoiling the next; goofy theatrical banter one minute, trilingual gymnastics almost as if you had to prove something (you didn’t) the next. You vacillated wildly in mood and I’m not interested in playing head games, whether conscious or subconscious. I’m interested in connecting with someone. Last night, you revealed yourself in ways that suggested very strongly that you could never do that with me, even though there was some part of you that wanted to. I don’t know if some of this is residual from the guy who hurt you. I’m sorry that happened, but I’m not going to be the fall guy. Get this in check. Other men won’t be nearly as patient or as understanding as I’ve been. Take good care of yourself. Truly. Nothing but empathy and good will here. Thanks and all best, Ed

* * *

First off, I’m sorry to hear about your grandmother. Having an ailing grandmother myself, I completely understand. Second, yes, I was the subject of a long, libelous, and predominantly untrue hit piece. I have been nothing less than courteous to you. I can even talk honestly about what really happened, as difficult as it is for me. But the one thing I won’t do is defend myself before someone who chooses to take stock in a distorted clickbait funhouse image of me rather than the very real and good man she met on Thursday night. I am truly sorry that you have opted to see the wrong version and apologize for any unsettling feelings caused by these disgraceful articles. All best, Ed

* * *

No problem. Glad to hear you landed a place! All best with your art and life. Many thanks, Ed

* * *

Thank you for taking the time out to meet last night. You seem nice and thoughtful, but I didn’t feel any romantic sparks. So I shall have to respectfully bow out. Nevertheless, I wish you the best in life and finishing your dissertation! Thanks and all best, Ed

* * *

Okay, I don’t want to add discomfort to an already awkward exchange. So I’m going to bow out of Thursday with all the grace I can muster, apologize for time wasted, and wish you the best. Thanks and supreme apologies, Ed

* * *

Of course we can be friends! I’m very honored that I got to meet you and your gregarious friends, enjoyed our moments, and am tremendously sorry that my heart hasn’t cooperated. For you are a very good soul who deserves nothing less than a marvelous man who will undoubtedly make you feel even more special than I possibly can. Again, my contrition and great gratitude. Please have a magnificent weekend! Thanks and all best, Ed

* * *

Good luck and take care!

* * *

Dear X: I’m very sorry to do this, but I’ve met someone in the last week who I’ve been getting very serious with. I very much enjoyed meeting you, but I’m going to have to cancel Thursday night because of this entirely unanticipated development. But I thank you for your time, hope you had a good holiday, and I wish you the best of luck! Thanks, Ed

Some Ruminations on Modern Romance

Sometimes it takes only two words, uttered by someone very kind at the right place at the right time, to keep you soaring for days. There is nothing wrong with giving or receiving affection or coveting a loose ledger that is never in need of an audit. It is the gamble we all take as we stumble upon the fine intuitive glue that keeps the heart pumping in a ferociously stable place and that fills the spirit with newfound signposts to paths uncharted and untried. There is always the risk of heartbreak, but it is overshadowed by salacious quips and dancing eyes and exchanged smiles, the discovery of bright lively flora blossoming inside another soul, the enchanting unknowingness of it all.

Once the poker faces of our best selves dissolve over a few glasses of malbec, we learn of forgotten cards buried up our sleeves. The stagecraft is intuitive and vaguely mystical, transcending optical illusion, undetectable by the smartest Broadway crowd. A good pair of magicians understands that they can bring down any house through a shared glance or a sotto voce declaration or the slightest brush of fingers on a windy stage. Good living theater is all about the magic that arrives out of nowhere when no one, not even the featured players, is looking.

In recent years, we’ve abandoned our late night telephone conversations for flirty evocative texts that careen across the 4G matrix well past the midnight hour, circumventing the long established rule of never calling another after ten. But maybe we confine our expressions to words because we crave shared physicality more than ever before, perhaps because it is more easily consummated than at any other time in human history. The phones are parked in our pockets and our purses in the early stages of whatever counts for current courtship, intimating that we are occupying some private shared territory that will never be intruded upon. Dating, like show business, is all about showing up.

We sometimes succumb to cliches, but we can still be surprised by someone else even when we are exhausted. This is the magic and the fluidity of romance. The jittery excitement of meeting someone new or deepening something that seems to be tottering happily along a thrilling edge can turn a seemingly collected and rational mind into a visceral thunderball, prone to wild whims and daring moves that were never staked out on the syllabus.

It becomes easier to listen and glisten and kiss and even miss out. It becomes easier to be courteous even when the date is disastrous. It becomes easier to be honest about whatever it is you truly want. The only requirements for enjoying yourself amid a series of pleasures and mishaps are curiosity and a zest for life. And when someone emerges from the ever rotating throng who is gentle with your ventricles and willing to accept your totality, it can shoot you across the moon in ways that no cosmonaut can mimic.

It will never go the same way. This is the first thing you learn. You are more of a catch than you know. This is the second thing you learn. But there are more important lessons following these obvious revelations.

We learn of our resilience. We learn how many chances we give to other souls. We learn, even the skeptics and the bitter cynics among us, that we allow more idealism in our lives than we are willing to acknowledge. We even learn somehow to be comfortably alone during the breaks. There are patterns, but there are also deviations.

It does not matter how many there are. Equations are meaningless in this journey. There is no need to scribble gibberish upon the theoretical chalkboard of your mind. Some grand soul will emerge, even if for a brief time, if you have the courage and fortitude to go the distance.

The Bat Segundo Show: Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan

Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #296.

Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan are most recently the authors of Beyond Heaving Bosoms. They are also the proprietors of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.

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Subjects Discussed; Kathleen Woodwiss’s The Flame and the Flower, the beginnings of original paperback romance, genre respectability, romance’s profitability, the stigma of effeminacy, cozy mysteries, arterial bloodspray, the fallacious anatomical placement of the hymen, spontaneously lactating virgins, whether the pun is intended or not, editorial house style and “the magic hoo hoo,” the wandering vagina, Lilith Saintcrow’s “Half of Humanity is Worth Less Than a Chair,” rapists within romances, Candy Tan’s suggestive hand gestures, marriage and choice, intrusive Mercedes drivers and related invective, the frequency of oral sex within romances, how far sex needs to go in art, porn, anal sex, bukkake, double wangs and double penetration, homunculi, the line between romance and erotica, hypothetical genre fusion, poseur man titty and erotic romance, the “shop and run” approach to romances, embarrassing covers, dashing long-haired heroes and bald badasses, game theory and Sarah and Candy’s reading preferences, Candy’s pirate fixation, the sharp disparity between genuine smelly pirates and the twee McSweeney’s pirates, “the big mis,” John O’Hara’s Appointment in Samarra, misunderstandings and character flaws, simultaneous organs, romances and Republican presidencies, Cassie Edwards and plagiarism, and encouraging civil disagreement and discourse in the romance community.

EXCERPT FROM SHOW:

sarahwendellCorrespondent: Science fiction, mystery, YA. These genres are getting respect, particularly in the last decade. And yet romance is still one of those things in which people thumb their noses down. Why do you think this is? Must we always have some place to go for the ghetto? What’s the deal here?

Sarah Wendell: Well, I will point out that romance is actually getting a lot more respect because of the turgid strength of its quarterly earnings. And even though most industries — especially in New York, which is hyper-navel gazing in the financial industry — are experiencing massive losses year to year and quarterly to quarterly, romance is the one erect column in your spreadsheet. And it remains quite strong. So while it doesn’t get a lot of respect from your average cocktail crowd, most financial newspapers are having to pay attention to the strength of romance when you’re looking at it as an investment, or as an indicator of an economy. Which is why I think that Harlequin is chuckling, or befuddled, at the entire economic crisis. Because they were founded during the Depression. I’m sure they’re looking at this, going, “This? This is nothing. Are you kidding? Let me just tell you what it was really like.”

Candy Tan: This is great for business!

Sarah Wendell: I know.

Candy Tan: What the hell? No, I think personally that a lot of the reason why romance novels are the Rodney Dangerfield of genre fiction is the stigma of effeminacy. You know, science fiction. They’re “novels of ideas.” Mysteries have lots of blood and guts. Well, some of them do. The ones that don’t get respect, interestingly enough, tend to be the cozy mysteries. The ones in which there’s a cat solving the goddam murder or whatever the hell. You know, those are the ones: “Oh man, they’re not worth taking seriously.” If I remember correctly, and I might be wrong, because I don’t know mystery as well as I should, the hardboiled mystery were one of the first to exit the ghetto.

Sarah Wendell: As long as there’s arterial bloodspray, you get some respect.

Candy Tan: Or you know…

Sarah Wendell: Spooge, not so much.

Candy Tan: Yeah, there’s definitely a lot more respect for male fantasies versus female fantasies in fiction and you see this over and over again.

Correspondent: If we’re going to talk about arterial bloodspray, I think we should point to the fallacious anatomical scenario involving hymens, which you point out in this book.

Sarah Wendell: At length. At great, great length.

Correspondent: Yeah, at great length.

candytanSarah Wendell: You can tell that this is something that rubbed us the wrong way.

Correspondent: Yes, I got the sense…

Sarah Wendell: And to anyone who’s listening, I want a complete pun count at the end of the podcast. And if we can get an accurate pun number, I’ll totally give away a copy of the book and some beaucoup prize if you can identify how many puns we make in the course of this interview.

Correspondent: But the question is: You have so much attention to detail in historical romance and yet this one thing continues to propagate, continues, I suppose, to not be patched up in quite the way that one would expect.

Sarah Wendell: Good one.

Correspondent: And so what I’m wondering is: Do you think romance readers and romance writers want to fantasize about where the hymen is?

Sarah Wendell: No, I think it’s simple oral history. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. I think that the legend of the misplaced hymen is just something that’s passed down from writer to writer. Much like the historical inaccuracies that plague other parts of the specific historical genre, “Where the hell your hymen is?” is one of them.

Candy Tan: Here’s the thing. I think I’ve spotted the same misplacement of the hymen in other books. Not romance novels. I think I’ve read a couple of horror novels — and maybe it would have made sense if the girl being devirginized were some kind of filthy alien beast. By hymen, you mean vagina dentata. But you don’t. Oh, oh, it’s infected other genres too! How wonderful! Anatomical craziness all the way around.

Sarah Wendell: And that’s not the only anatomical inaccuracy we’ve discovered. There’s a few one off inaccuracies we’ve discovered that are just mind-boggling. Like there’s one Gaelen Foley where the heroine’s a bona-fide virgin. And I mean bona-fide. Not is she like a virgin, but she’s like a princess or some shit? They haven’t even had sex yet. This is the first time they’re kissing in the woods. And he tastes her milk. Because, you know, virgins spontaneously lactate. Like a postpartum woman going into Target and hearing a baby cry. Yeah, same thing.

Candy Tan: It was the most nipple-tacular moment in all historical romance.

BSS #296: Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan (Download MP3)

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