When I first started dating Kevin, we went through the typical questions, “What’s your favorite color,” “When was your last relationship,” “What’s your favorite drink?” The getting-to-know-you phase of the relationship is honestly one of my favorites. There’s so much excitement in discovering details about your partner’s life. As a journalist, there’s satisfaction in gathering information on my “subject” and using that information to scribe our love story in my journals and repeat that story over and over in my mind.
However, when Kevin looked at me and answered, “I don’t drink,” a little pebble hop-scotched its way down my esophagus and settled into the pit of my gut.
“Recovering alcoholic?” I laughed, trying to make light of the moment.
“Not exactly. I’ve been there, done that and I threw away my T-shirt,” Kevin smiled, allowing the top left corner of his mouth to create a solitary dimple on that side of his smile. God, I love that smile. He continued, “I don’t drink or smoke. My only real vice is football,” he shrugged.
That same pebble from my gut jumped up and climbed its way up my throat and choked me. I’ve been here before. A few years ago, I was dating a man (Lawrence) who was on a straight and narrow path. Saint, he was not, but he preferred not to drink and shunned smoking in all forms.
I have a confession–while I enjoy a good cocktail, puff-puff-passing has become one of my major vices. I detest cigarettes and cigarette-smokers and despite how much of a double standard it sounds like; I roll a joint daily. I never allowed my habit to control my life; it’s just been something to look forward to and it helps erase my stress. But this isn’t about me justifying my vice. This is about dating a man who rejects your vices.
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When I was dating Lawrence, he assured me that my vices were not a problem for him and they wouldn’t deter his feelings for me. He may as well, chopped, seasoned and sauteed those words, because he certainly ate them!
One night I was out with my friends and we decided to smoke before heading out. Lawrence called while we were in the cab and giddiness and of course marijuana smoke clouded my brain and my judgment, so I invited him out with us, “Hey babe! Meet us at Le Poisson Rouge!” I giggled before hanging up. I was excited for him to meet my friends for the first time since we started dating. I didn’t even think about being high around him; I just wanted to be around him. Quickly, I put in eye drops, chewed gum vigorously and doused myself in perfume. My friends looked at me sideways. “He doesn’t like the smell,” I lied.
We hopped out of the cab and into line. Within 10 minutes, Lawrence showed up, hugging me tight around the waist, then he leaned in to kiss me. With a smile lingering on my lips, we separated, “You’ve been smoking,” he said with venom in his tone.
My smile faded. Before I could even introduce him to my friends, he started yelling about how he couldn’t believe that I would have him around when I was “under the influence” and I should be ashamed of myself for even asking him. I stood there in an inebriated shock because as Lawrence verbally chastised me, he pulled himself away from my grip and walked away. It took about three weeks for him to speak to me again and when he did, he confessed that he couldn’t date me anymore because the smoking and drinking bothered him more than he thought it would.
So when Kevin told me that he’s not a smoker or drinker, I knew there would be an issue here. But just like Lawrence, Kevin assured me that there wouldn’t be. “You’re not an addict,” Kevin stated, “But please don’t do it around me.”
That was Kevin’s only request. I could easily oblige that. Or so I thought.