The end of the television season is just around the corner and it’s going to be a loooooonnnng wait until September. And not just because summer television programming is awful.
No. I’m going to miss my boyfriend.
My pretend boyfriend, to be exact.
I have a real boyfriend, mind you. The same one for 13 years. We get along great and enjoy one another’s company. I don’t have any intention of cheating on him. However, I, like a lot of other folks, enjoy having a bit of fantasy in my life. And I prefer that this fantasy stays in the realm of fantasy and doesn’t involve AshleyMadison.com-style messiness or ventures into any of the sheer lunacy that can be dug up on Craigslist — like that guy who likes to wrap his dong in Swiss Cheese for kicks.
This sudden urge to have a pretend boyfriend isn’t just something that suddenly materialized after 32 years. For almost as long as I can remember, I’ve had some sort of a pretend boyfriend…. And a pretend family… And a pretend pet.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be adopted by the castaways on Gilligan’s Island. What’s not to love? Tropical climate. Everyone gets along. None of the pressures of everyday society. A seemingly limitless supply of coconut cream pies. And even within the seven-person microcosm on that island, I would still find myself exposed to a substantial amount of science, culture, and mirth!
A few years later, I wished that I would be accepted into the sweet Miami digs of Dorothy, Rose, Blanche and Sophia as the youngest of The Golden Girls, sharing midnight cheesecake with some of the coolest grandmas around.
It’s not that I had any deep-seeded resentment or dislike of my own family. Quite the contrary. My parents were pretty damn awesome and (barring the occasional flare-up of sibling rivalry and a few knock-down drag-out pre-teen brawls resulting in having one of my fingernails ripped out and splitting his lip on the toilet) my brother and I got along great. It was just that my actual family more closely resembled the Bundys from Married… With Children and I wanted a change of pace with my chosen pretend family.
Being a life-long apartment dweller, I’ve never had the opportunity to have a pet. (Unless you count fish.) Some apartments I’ve lived in allow pets, but it’s kind of cruel to keep a dog in a small apartment without a fenced-in yard to run around. As for cats, I’m mildly allergic and my brother and sister-in-law are both highly allergic, which would shoot any visits from them straight to hell. While I love bunnies, my (real) boyfriend is convinced that rabbits are “hell spawn” and would feel very uncomfortable having one around the house.
Having been denied the fun of having a dog, cat, or even a bunny around to play with or snuggle with while growing up, I did what any normal kid with an overly-active imagination would do: I came to count my favorite stuffed animal — a small brown and white fox named Sammy — as my “pet.”
The years passed and Sammy accompanied me to college. (Ironically, when I went away to school, my parents got my brother a dog. Thanks, guys. No wonder why I had a “pretend family”.) Sammy has even been immortalized in ink on my ankle, even though being made from “all new man-made materials,” there’s very little chance of me ever having to mourn his passing. (Which is another up-side of having a pretend pet: They don’t die.) I still have Sammy and regularly spend a disturbing amount of time with him. My stuffed animal is probably treated better than most people treat their “real” pets.
While I’d been on board with the pretend family/pretend pet thing for years, having a pretend boyfriend didn’t come about until I was in 6th or 7th grade. In an attempt to make some guy I liked (who wouldn’t give me the time of day — and justifiably so, after reading what I’ve written here) jealous, I fabricated an imaginary boyfriend named Bob (Just Bob) that I had started “dating” in the hopes he might change his mind and start to “like” me. Because, as the poster child for cultivation theory, if there was one thing I learned from watching Dynasty and Knots Landing; a person was infinitely more desirable when they were unattainable.
During the brief tenure that Bob (Just Bob) and I dated, the (real) guy I liked was a lot nicer to me . (Probably because he was relieved my loony ass wasn’t trying to get him to go to Dairy Queen with me anymore.) I may have mistook the dissolution of the object of my affection’s icy front as some sort of interest in me now that I was off the market and “dating” Bob (Just Bob).
I kept up this ruse for a few weeks, feigning the delirious sort of happiness that a tween feels when she finds someone willing to walk around the Mall with her on an exclusive basis. Figuring I had kept things up long enough and that relations between myself and my real crush had improved to the point he might be interested in me, I concocted a break up with my non-existent boyfriend, putting up a stoic front that he and I decided we would be better off as friends. Bob (Just Bob) was 15 and I was 12 and we both just had different goals and needs at this time in our lives, hence our parting.
Right after my break up with my pretend boyfriend, the guy I had a crush on went right back to alternately busting my balls and avoiding me like the plague. (Although I can’t say I blame him.)
A few years later, during my Sophomore year in high school, I developed a crush on another guy I was friends with who (surprise, surprise) would rather chew glass than date my bound-for-Bellevue ass. Hoping that the old adage that “guys only make fun girls because they like really like them” was true, I cooked up yet another plot straight out of the Days of Our Lives handbook. I figured that maybe all this other dude I was crushing on needed was a reason to come out and say he liked me.
Realizing that Operation: Bob (Just Bob) had failed miserably back in 6th grade, instead of recycling that plan on this new guy, I decided I would buy myself a dozen roses on Valentine’s Day and say they were from a secret admirer, even though they were actually a present to me… from me. When the flowers were handed out in homeroom, I put them in my locker (which was near my crush’s locker in the hallway) and thanked him for the flowers in the hopes that he might confess his secret yearnings for me.
“What the hell are you talking about?” he said, a puzzled look on his face. “I didn’t buy you those flowers.”
“I don’t know of anyone else who would have bought them for me,” I lied.
“Then you must have a secret admirer,” my crush replied before muttering under his breath. “God help him.”
So much for my plan.
All of that plotting and planning over the years wasn’t entirely in vain, though. I did learn several valuable lessons from the experience, chief of which being that the plots of most movies and television shows are total bunk and don’t work that way in real life.
I also learned that walking, breathing, daily life is full of disappointments.
Let’s face it. Your real family and your real boyfriend (or even guys you have teensie crushes on throughout the course of your life) will inevitably disappoint you — sometimes on a grand scale. Even pets will disappoint you, particularly when they poop and pee all over your couch and yowl like Sam Kinison after an old school coke binge. When that disappointment rears its head, sometimes, you just want to retreat out of reality and imagine your life is something a bit more fabulous and fulfilling than what it really is. While Xanax has become the new ingredient dropped in in lieu of that battle cry of the defeated: “Calgon! Take me away!”, I like to stay as far away from anyone with a net in a white coat doling out prescriptions. I like to keep my reverie free and clear of anything that might merit a stint in rehab.
I realize I’m trying pretty damn hard to sound (somewhat) sane and to justify my raging case of Walter Mitty Syndrome, so I’ll just leave all of the justifications for why at the door and gush about my pretend boyfriend of the moment.
My current pretend boyfriend is one Damon Salvatore from the television show The Vampire Diaries.
Yes, the character — not the actor who portrays him. While Ian Somerhalder seems like a lovely person, is a fine actor and is one hot, blue-eyed, Grade A piece of ass, it’s just plain weird to pretend a real person or celebrity is your boyfriend, let’s just make that distinction. Not that pretending that a vampire is your boyfriend isn’t completely batshit crazy, either, but it’s important to have a few psychological boundaries in place. (When the chick who grew up wanting to believe that Gilligan and The Skipper could be her two daddies thinks it’s completely bonkers to delude yourself that an actual celebrity you’ve never met is your soulmate, you better believe it’s the cookie jar for you, sister!)
But, I digress! When my real boyfriend disappoints me by shrugging off snuggle time on the couch, not wanting to go out on the town, or makes me finish my dinner after calling me out for pushing my food around my plate; I like to retreat to the vampiric embrace of the devastatingly handsome Damon. He’s fun, sarcastic, loves to party and has a well-hidden sweet side. Much like many of the men I’ve found myself attracted to over the years, Damon is emotionally unavailable at times and not always down with “snuggle time” — which is where having a pretend pet to cuddle with comes in handy. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a win-win situation! My real boyfriend doesn’t have to put up with my princess tantrums and I have a (semi) devoted pretend boyfriend who indulges my sense of fun and snark!
Before Damon, my pretend boyfriend was Davis Bloome/Doomsday from Smallville. Like Damon, Davis/Doomsday was dark haired, tormented, and had a raging beast inside him tempered with a softer side. Well, at least as soft a side as you can have when your altar ego is a kill-happy Kryptonian monster covered in projectiles.
My time with Davis/Doomsday was brief, however. He abandoned me, turning all evil and getting himself impaled and booted from prime time television and, consequentially, my dreams.
It took me awhile to find a pretend boyfriend again. Sure, there was that brief fling with Supernatural‘s Dean Winchester, but that didn’t last too long. (Plus, his personality is eerily similar to that of my real boyfriend.) I honestly wasn’t looking for one, but then Damon appeared and we’ve been pretend-inseparable ever since. In my own twisted little fantasies, Damon even talks to Sammy and scratches him behind the ears every so often, too!
Ironically, the actor who portrayed my previous faux- beau (Davis/Doomsday) now plays a vampire on SyFy’s Americanized version of Being Human. For a split second, I thought it was kind of cute that Doomsday was trying to be a vampire now and maybe “win me back,” but I’m staying loyal to Damon as my pretend boyfriend.
Fortunately, my real boyfriend is not jealous of my pretend boyfriend. Actually, he was the one who started referring to Davis/Doomsday as my “boyfriend” during my weekly viewings of Smallville, later dubbing Damon my “boyfriend” once I became engrossed in The Vampire Diaries. Sometimes he makes fun of my pretend boyfriend and asks, “How many times did he pop his eyes this episode?”, but I know it’s all in good fun and he’s not threatened. Actually, he even thinks that I “traded up” in picking Damon over Doomsday.
Having learned my lesson back in high school and middle school, I’m not a big fan of jealousy. That said, it was nice to have my real boyfriend encourage my having a pretend boyfriend on the side. In turn, I’ve even encouraged him to have a “pretend girlfriend.” He doesn’t seem to be jumping onto that bandwagon, but after much prodding, I discerned that his pretend girlfriend of choice (if he absolutely had to pick one) would be Angelina Jolie’s character in Salt. (Hmm… Interesting.)
All in all, I’m pretty lucky to have a real boyfriend who can tolerate (and sometimes appreciate) my quirks. And when he doesn’t, I’m lucky enough to have a pretend boyfriend to put up with my whacky hijinx, too!