In the early days of our romance, when we were living in cities 500 miles apart, I was "the other guy." Lynn was in a not terribly satisfying relationship with a guy who lived in Texas (we'll call him "Texas"), and I suppose that it was that dissatisfaction that provided an opening for me.
She was always straightforward and honest with the two of us, and when Texas got wind of the fact that Lynn was starting to invest some emotional energy in somebody else, he started paying more attention. This surprised her a bit because she'd felt for some time that his interest in her had been waning. This went on for several weeks, but I was pressing my case, working hard to convince her that I was the one. Then, on the weekend that she invited him to B'ham to tell him that she had to break it off with him, he proposed.
This was a dilemma. Her relationship with Texas had been going on for a couple of years and although for a variety of reasons she'd thought he was unattainable, Lynn had long since decided that he was "perfect" for her. The fact that when she was with me she was happier, that I never made her cry, that we seemed to be able to so easily and gently reach into each other's hearts, and that I always seemed to know exactly the right thing to say or do was perplexing. It certainly didn't feel like what she'd come to recognize as "being in love" -- but it sure felt good. Texas, on the other hand, frequently disappointed or embarassed her, she'd had many long weepy evenings pining over him, she would never have considered sharing her innermost secrets with him, and she knew that she couldn't entirely trust him -- that was much closer to her experience of being in love. (I'm told that this experience of "being in love" is fairly common for single women in their thirties). How was she to choose?
So she'd have "Texas days" and "Scott days". On her Scott days, she was in love with me and knew that she'd have to eventually break it off with Texas. But on her Texas days, she was back to thinking that he was "perfect for her." What made it somewhat awkward was that since our relationship was built on a deep friendship, even on her Texas days, I was the one that she'd call at the end of the day to talk about her dilemma and the difficulties she was having making a choice. She'd joke about marrying Texas, but keeping me in the basement. We agreed that he probably wouldn't be in favor of that arrangement.
Every evening we'd talk on the phone, and we'd chatter about our work days and the other things going on in our lives, but we'd inevitably talk about how she was going to work her way through to a decision. Generally, I was pretty patient.
There was one day when Texas had done something unexpectedly sweet or thoughtful. Lynn was having a Texas day. She gushed to me about what he'd done and said, "I really think that if I can give him a little more time, he could be almost as good as you!"
I remember taking the handset away from my ear and staring at it for a moment. I brought it back to my ear and said, as gently as I could, "Y'know, I'm as good as me right now. Why wait?"
When I hear technophiles talk about how they're sure that any day now e-book readers and electronic ink are going to be so good that we can get rid of paper books altogether, I think about this.