I did it on purpose.
In a dating world where men have so much less power than you believe we do, we have to hold onto whatever we have.
We can't be too eager because, as much as you say you want a guy who's approachable, understanding, responsible and upfront, you want a thirsty dude less.
We have to let the fishing line out a little before we yank it up to the surface, to keep it from spooking you.
So I took a while to text you back. Guilty as charged. I knew what I was doing, what I was getting myself into, what ripple effect I was starting.
There was no conspiracy — no emergency — just calculated apathy and a modicum of strategy.
What would I gain by being easy to reach? By not making you sweat a little? I'm nobody. Like everyone else, I need to trick you into thinking I'm worth giving a shit about.
I didn't decide to never talk to you again. I didn't get arrested. I didn't die. I just waited until you said something slightly vulnerable, left my phone in the kitchen and went to take a shit.
But that possibility doesn't even enter your head, right? You go straight to the fatalist idea.
You keep checking your messages over and over again because you know how long it's been since the last one, and you know how long it was between the two before that. And shit, it's been longer, so something must be wrong.
It must have been something you said, something you did. Did your “hahahahahahah” have too many “haha”s? Were the emojis stupid? You scroll back to proofread words you can't change. You check your service. Did your iMessage turn off?
No, because your 12 group chats were still working.
You ask your friends what they think, why it's been so long. Would they take eight minutes to respond to something like that? Do they think he's OK? Do you deserve this?
They tell you if I take more than 20 minutes, I'm not interested, and you shouldn't write back at all. This feels a little extreme. You like me... you think. How much do you like me again?
At 20 minutes, you go to find out. You check your Instagram feed and look for me because you don't want to admit to yourself you went straight to my Instagram.
“Just to make sure he's alive,” you say.
No new photos. You check Twitter with the same routine. No new tweets. "That's enough," you tell yourself. But you check your messages again.
Five minutes later, you're torn between being pissed and worried. Recheck the Instagram. Recheck the Twitter. Fucking asshole. I'm making you go to Facebook.
You check Facebook. We're not even friends yet. You hate yourself. LinkedIn is literally NOT happening.
You send your best friend a private text outside the group. I'm a fucking asshole. I'm ignoring you. You rant and rant.
"He isn't shit," she says. "You're smart and beautiful and can get 60 other guys like him, so he doesn't deserve you."
You send your best friend some emoji combination of a strong bicep, deuces fingers and sunglass face. You throw in a pineapple for the hell of it.
Then, I tweet something stupid like, “Is it racist to wonder which country has the ugliest people per capita?”
HOLY SHIT. I'M NOT DEAD, AND ME BEING ALIVE MAKES ME EVEN MORE OF AN ASSHOLE.
You keep checking your messages, waiting for that “Sorry, I was….” text.
You want to forgive me. You want to still like me. You want me to be the kind of guy who is busy, but then apologizes because you are a priority.
And I'm sitting on the toilet, half drunk on the slightest sniff of power, chuckling at how much controlled commotion such a small splash of silence can secrete.
Suddenly, I've become a challenge — by doing absolutely nothing.
Hey, sorry, I was busy manipulating you.
What are you doing later?