A man and his metaphors 

Q: I'd lived with my boyfriend for a year when he broke up with me. He was very firm that we would never, ever be together again. After many months and much therapy, I started feeling like myself again. Two months ago, he started coming around and telling me how deeply he loves me. We got cuddly, but we didn't have sex. I told him that I just wasn't ready, but he was persistent. I started to think that maybe he does love me, and maybe I should just take love while it's there. I made an appointment with my therapist to discuss this. But, when I spoke with my ex just before my therapy appointment, he informed me that I had "missed the wave." I couldn't believe it. There I was, all compassionate and afraid to hurt him when he was sharing his deep love for me, but I ended up with the bruised ego. I know it's my fault for allowing him in, but I don't want to be one of those chicks with all these rules about how it has to be. Then again, here I am, hurt again. —Gullible

A: Apparently, "the wave" runs on a city bus schedule. You missed the 10:27, and now you're bodysurfing a plastic sectional in the bus station. Since, at this point, you've got hours until Dunkin' Donuts reopens, grab a bottle of Mad Dog 20/20, curl up under the fluorescents, and ponder the question: Did you miss the bus when you missed the wave? The last time you hopped this particular wave, you had your heart ground up, shrink-wrapped and handed back to you. This is a risk that anybody who wants love in their life has to be willing to take. Still, there are risks — and there are intelligent risks. You'd have to be an idiot to do a flying cannonball back into the arms of a guy with such a bad track record in the meat department; even one who claims that he loves you "deeply." Even with all that deep love in him, he couldn't wait for you to feel ready to risk having your heart torn into small pieces and fed to the seagulls. This leads us to the big question — exactly how shallow can deep love be? Well, in this case, since speedy service seemed to be of primary importance to Mr. Backwash, it appears pretty clear that what he was looking for wasn't love, but a Jiffy Lube.

Q: Three months ago, I met Mr. Right. He's a wonderful man, and I think the world of him. But there's a problem: He just got out of a three-year relationship, and he's miserable about it. He is killing himself by drinking and smoking. We started seeing each other, but he broke up with me because he didn't want to hurt me or fall in love with me. He's also afraid that he won't treat me the way he should because he's hurting so much. But, I can't stop thinking about him. What can I do to stop my pain? —Tormented By Love
A: Brush off the guacamole splotches on his nametag, and you'll see that you've missed a few words: It isn't Mr. Right but Mr. Not Right Now that you've set your sights on. At the moment, Mr. Not Right Now is stuck on the hamster wheel of unrequited love. He does take brief self-destruction breaks with his only friends, Jim Beam and the Marlboro Man, but he isn't ready to start smoking and drinking over anyone new. This might not suit you, but it suits him just fine. Eventually, he might sober up long enough to realize that the wheel isn't getting him anywhere; at that point, perhaps he'll ease up on the self-destruction and scamper off into the hills to lick his wounds. Then again, the self-destruction thing might be his regular exercise program, regardless of who's in his life. Where do you fit into this picture? You don't. Waiting around for him is like ice fishing for carp in somebody's Styrofoam cooler. At the end of the day, you'll find yourself all cold and wet, with nothing on the hook to show for your efforts. Move on. When his face floats to the surface in your head, wash it away by reminding yourself that there's no room for you in a life that's already so full of the sorrow and the pity ... not to mention the impending cirrhosis and lung cancer. But, don't despair. This cloud can have a nickel-plated lining ... providing you turn your encounter into a learning experience: The next time you meet a guy who appears to be Mr. Right, lick his nametag to be sure you aren't missing anything in the translation. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com

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