How familiar is the following scenario? You meet a wonderful woman, start to woo her… and then realize she’s hung up on an inarguable loser—one of those guys with a silly name (or nickname) who plays a guitar (not always well), seems to be too fucking cool for his own good and isn’t nearly as together, successful or caring as you are.
Is now the time to mention Jake had no car, no job and no place to live? Back then, this hardly seemed to matter. As I saw it, when you were as cool as Jake was, people clamored to drive you around or offer you a couch.
I know all about it because I was once so hung up on such a guy that for a long while, I ignored a bunch of other, far more appropriate men. This guy’s name was Jake, which is to say that his name wasn’t really Jake because I just don’t have it in me to use the real name of someone I’m calling out as a loser. I have a heart, people.
Jake, as it turned out, did not. What he did have, however, was an ability to charm me silly with his rough, take-no-prisoners swagger, a swagger I found difficult to explain when I was involved with him but later learned in therapy to describe with one simple word: narcissism.
People put such a pejorative label on narcissists, but the fact is they can often be incredibly charming. And back then I didn’t even think Jake was a narcissist. I was 22 and so I thought that Jake—with his longish, not-gelled hair, permanent cigarette attached to his lip and deep voice charred and scarred by all those smokes—was dreamy.
I’d never dated anyone like Jake before. I was a private school kid who’d really only dated other private school kids, albeit the more rebellious ones. Jake hadn’t bothered with school all that much and, though his mom had raised him, it really seemed more like LA had been his parent. He knew all the clubs, back alleys, tattoo parlors and people one should know—including a slew of celebrities, all of whom seemed to be trying to mimic the coolness that Jake just naturally projected.
Is now the time to mention that Jake had no car, no job and no place to live? Back then, this hardly seemed to matter. As I saw it, when you were as cool as Jake was, people clamored to drive you around or offer you a couch. I, for one, loved driving him to his acting auditions on those rare occasions when he had them and lived for the days and nights he spent at my place.
But after a few months, Jake suddenly, without explanation or warning, disappeared from my life entirely. I was devastated, and since I was drunk a lot of the time back then, I’d do things like show up at 1 a.m. at the club where he was sometimes a promoter, asking the bouncer where he was and crying drunkenly on this often confused and uncomfortable bouncer’s shoulder about the way Jake had broken my heart. I even have a fuzzy and unfortunate memory of sharing, with permanent marker, my love for Jake on the club’s door. (Note to anyone out there pining away for someone: Don’t do this. Ever.)
Eventually, of course, I got over Jake and, years later, when I ran into him at a party, he casually explained to me why he’d had to make such a sudden and rash exit from my life: “You really needed to shave, baby,” he’d said, cigarette dangling from his lower lip. “Down there.”
Yep. That was the maturity level and depth of the guy who’d crushed me. It barely seemed worth asking why he hadn’t just told me the hair down there bothered him at the time. Pulling off a disappearing act sure seems like a hell of a lot more trouble than a conversation about waxing. But what do I know? I’m not one of these guys.
Which brings us to the real question: What was it about Jake—a man with no job, education, aspirations, common decency or respect for women—that drove me so crazy?