Who needs love when you can be Mrs. Second best! My ex-boyfriend wants to get married but only if he can’t find anyone else. Caution: TV spoilers and self-pity ahead!
The Ted & Robin Pact
If you ever watched the show, How I Met Your Mother, it’s premise begins with the character Ted Mosby, a hopeless romantic recanting the story to his future kids about how he met the love of his life: their mother. Of course as 30- minute comedies goes, he does so through many trials, tribulations, and high-jinks. Through the seasons, the audience embarks on the journey to meeting “the mom”. After all Ted’s desire to have a wife and kids is a stage in our lives that many of us will run into or try to runaway from. Although,the big reveal of the mother doesn’t occur until the end of series, most of Ted’s love interest includes his on and off again ex-girlfriend, Robin. This relationship becomes the main stage of the show almost to the point where you think she’s the mother. During their long break up, Ted and Robin make a pact: if they’re both single by the time they are 40, they will marry each other. He even gets down on one knee and proposes: will she do the honor of being the girl he settles for…his backup partner so they can settle down by proxy because no one volunteers to die alone.
I never thought I was Robin until now. I always assumed I was the mother, the happy ending wrapped into a burrito of marital bliss. My husband would a Ted-esk type, always searching for the one who completes him and builds him in the strong man he was meant to be. Unfortunately, this isn’t a story of how I met my husband. This is a story of how I became a back-up wife.
…More on that later….
Relationship Status: Settle for Less
He sat on the edge of the bed, his back towards me as he gathered his thoughts. He was dressed nice, unlike his usual attire: a baseball cap followed by basketball shorts; this time he wore a navy polo, comfy jeans and the weight of the world on his shoulders. I sat across him. We across in pure silence as we gathered our thoughts. I bit my lip, avoiding eye contact and arched my back on the cherry mahogany dresser while staring at the ceiling fan, then my feet, and finally the back in his general direction.
He wanted to prove to me that he was a man now. We met each ten years, when I was pressed against the dull, blue painted lockers, blushing at the fact that he wanted to be my first real boyfriend in High School. This time was different. I was different. There was now a wrinkle on the side of my cheek from many frown lines. He was older. I was less naive. Life had gotten the best of us. Yet, here we were, in my old bedroom, playing chicken…who would speak first.
“You wanted to see me?” I posed. I made the drive back to my childhood city to see family. I didn’t plan on running into him.
He cleared his throat and spoke about his near death experience. He was in the hospital all while back. I almost nodded like I totally understood what why they meant we had to meet. Lots of people go to hospitals for different reasons.
He said he almost died and they made him think of all his life choices including the women in his life. The first lady that came to his mind was me. He couldn’t see himself living without me. Side note: near-death experiences are not great expressions of romantic interest.
I waited for him to finish the story. He almost choked on his words before I could respond. The gesture was sweet. I guess if I was dying, I would reach out to the one that got away before I wasted another moment but then I thought about High School and how he dumped me after a week because I didn’t sleep with him or better yet, how he told his friends that it was okay to date because he “was over me” and how he took me to prom only because the girl he asked said no. I balled my hand into a fist. I never thought of him after those moments. I didn’t carry him in my spirit. At that point, I had found love before and so he wasn’t the first nor last.
“I guess what I’m trying to say is I love you,” he spat out.
The words took me aback. I remembered when he couldn’t formulate those words into a sentence and now he was saying them like it was his last life line.
I just held my tongue and listened. I posed him a series of questions: Who broke his heart this time? Why was he here? Did he remembered the last time he saw me, it was in passing, last year.
He explained that being with other girls made him realize he was missing something. He explained that he never forgot about me and he found the missing element in his life…me. I was ‘the one’. I sucked in my lip at the idea.
“What would you say if I asked you to be my wife?” he proposed.
Proposing. The verbiage threw me askew. There was no ring, he wasn’t down on one knee. He hadn’t ask my family for my hand and he certainly did not know if I was in a relationship. He assumed I was sitting around with a thumb up my ass just waiting for him to go through all those women before he realized I could be the one.
Just when I was about to give my answer: a brief ‘no, thank you’, followed by ‘do you want to get pizza?” because at that point I was starving; my godson, Eli walks in and informs me that it’s time for dinner. Saved by the kid.
This was not the first time he was proposing. I wondered if he got tired of hearing no. It wasn’t like I wanted to say no, but I wasn’t going to say yes either. It was like he saying all the things I’ve been trained to want to hear…marriage, like it was my life’s objective. All my friends on social media were flaunting their new last names and baby bumps, it was time I joined social ranking.
The problem was he was asking me to settle and become the girl who he never really loved. He was proposing because I was always available when he needed. That’s who I became: the backup wife.