On Being ‘The Grenade’

Dearest Rachel –

I’ve spoken to certain people who find themselves amused at some of the stories I tell you about my life lived after you, particularly those having to do with finding a successor to you (if you’d want to call her that). It offers a measure of comfort to me that, if I cannot be happy yet (or worse, if I will never be happy again) in that way, I can at least entertain others with my pursuits. Hopefully, they will be able to rejoice in a successful conclusion, but until then, I could at least illustrate to them by example the do’s and don’ts of trying to find love and companionship in my peculiar set of circumstances, rare as they might be.

So you’re probably wondering about the title at this point. You can probably figure it out, but it has nothing to do with actual warfare; at most, it’s a metaphorical concept. It’s considered axiomatic that, in any group of cute (or hot – I’m not entirely clear on the distinction, in this context) girls, there is at least one unattractive girl in the group. Why such a girl would be a part of such a group, I’m not certain, since clearly she would suffer by comparison to the rest of the posse she travels with. Maybe it’s the Dunning-Kruger effect applied to physical attractiveness. Maybe it’s a symbiotic relationship, where the others in the group have someone to look better than, and thus are welcoming to her in a way that wouldn’t appear to make sense from an external perspective. Maybe she finds that the access to the social circles the group travels in is worth being perceived as decidedly less appealing than the rest of her alleged ‘friends.’ For the purposes of the definition, it’s a moot point; we only have to accept that it is a thing – or at least, to the group of guys attempting to score with the girls in this group, it appears to be a thing, and that is quite sufficient for the moment.

In any event, a corresponding postulate about such groups of girls is that the attractive ones tend to support the ugly duckling – they are aware of the power they have over the single man’s heart, mind… and other parts – and will not entertain the notion of being approached, unless she can find a match among those gentlemen (and I use the term loosely) wishing to make connections with the members of their group. It is at this point that the military metaphors are revived with the concept of the ‘wingman’; the designated sacrifice whose job it is this evening to ‘fall upon the grenade,’ to ‘take one for the team,’ so that the other guys have a shot at the hotter girls.

Ironically, I recall a certain comedian who pointed out that ‘the ugly one’ was often ‘the nice one,’ such that his comrades would be busily trying to prove to one hottie or another that he was well-read and sophisticated enough for her tastes, while in his duties as ‘wingman,’ he was already in a back room, making time with the alleged ‘grenade’ already. Given that you know who I’m talking about, that routine should probably have been a red flag, but hey, it’s hard to tell a joke from reality sometimes. Guess he should have stuck to Sunday School stories.

So what does this have to do with me? It isn’t as if I go to bars with my posse, looking for women to hit on for a night together. I’m not even sure I have any peers to hang with, as it is – guys my age are generally married, for instance. So it’s not like I have to deal with a ‘grenade’ in my day-to-day life.

Unless… I am the grenade.

Again, I’m not the ugly duckling in a group or anything, but I’m clearly no swan, either. I never was one even in the prime of my life (all your efforts to tell me otherwise notwithstanding). And as much as I would wish to find someone among our (is it still ‘ours’ at this point?) church family, I’ve suddenly become dangerous to those who I might consider pursuing.

When we were together, I don’t think I ever thought of looking at another woman with the idea of ‘what might she be like…?’ Why waste time and imagination on something that was out of reach, when you were already at my side, and more than willing? So you might not have been Gisele Bündchen, so what? I’m no Tom Brady, either, so that’s more than fair. But now…

Now I find myself wondering. Even as I go through the photos in the dating site, my mind’s eye treats them like digital paperdolls. What would these girls look like, dressed in white tulle and lace? Would they be comfortable in a T-shirt and jeans, running errands together, or chilling on the couch with Daniel and me? How about a swimsuit at the beach or the water park… or yes, how about nothing at all?

I’m not comfortable with this line of thought, but I can’t seem to avoid it. It’s a case of picturing the possibilities of a future together with all that it entails, and even the slightest stirrings of a conversation has the possibility to explode in my mind. That goes for online chats and even some in real life… the latter of which leads me to hesitate in initiating conversation with anyone, lest my motives be too obvious to the one I’m trying to approach.

And that prevents me from advancing – or at least, heading the direction I consider to be an advance.

·It takes wisdom to have a good family [L By wisdom a house is built],
    and ·it takes understanding to make it strong [L by understanding it is established].
·It takes knowledge to fill a home [L By knowledge rooms are filled]
    with rare and beautiful treasures [31:10–31].

Proverbs 24:3-4, Expanded Bible

I can clean our house (or at least, have it cleaned), and replace nearly everything in it as the need arises. I can remodel whole rooms; indeed, I may find myself remodeling everything from top to bottom in the span of the next few years. I can make the place suitable for entertaining (and more than just those friends who had learned to live with the mess we called home back in the day), and fill it, should I so choose, with those ‘rare and beautiful treasures.’

But I cannot seem to figure out how to find the rarest treasure of all, the one thing without which, the house hardly seems to be a home.

·It is hard to [L Who can…?] find a ·good [noble; virtuous] wife [Ruth 3:11],
because she is worth more than ·rubies [or pearls].

Proverbs 31:10

Regardless of all the comparisons between love and war, this is more of a hunt than a battle. And you don’t hunt with grenades.

Published by randy@letters-to-rachel.memorial

I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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