You know how there are some guys you know are going to be trouble, but something about them is so irresistible that you end up going for it anyways even though you know you’re going to get hurt? For me, those guys always turn out to be lifeguards.
Ever since that first summer fling (or what I had thought would be a summer fling, it didn’t really last long enough to count) back when I was fifteen, something about lifeguards has always tended to draw me in. Never mind the fact that they spend most of their days shirtless and in the sun (read: toned and tan), there’s an allure to the knowledge that a guy could literally save your life if it came down to it, and that’s sexy. But the thing about guys who can save you is that they can just as easily let you drown, and you have to decide if that’s a risk you’re willing to take.
That must have been somewhere in the back of my mind when one of my pool’s lifeguards recognized me at a local dance party. We danced for ages, him talking in my ear the whole time with the music too loud for me to understand what he was saying, and me nodding and laughing at what seemed to be appropriate intervals. I guess I was too naive to realize that his monologuing was not a good sign, and neither was the fact that I really didn’t care what he was saying. When he kissed me, it mattered even less. I never quite knew what scared him off- perhaps I tried to get too close too fast, perhaps it was my father’s insistence on knowing his home address and license plate number before he was allowed to take me for ice cream (really, Dad?)- but it was only the beginning of my problems with lifeguards.
I’ve never really done the boyfriend thing. I lost a lot of years on unrequited crushes, lost a lot of potentially good relationships while thinking “if I can’t have him, I don’t want anybody else.” I wouldn’t say even now I’m single by choice, thanks to the guys who stopped texting back or who were only in town for the night (and yes, one of those might have been a lifeguard). However, in spite of that, I’m content. I’ve had plenty of men in my life, just without the commitment, so it’s not like I don’t know what I’m doing. But I’m not interested in wasting my time on a guy who won’t just call me up and ask me out to dinner. If he doesn’t think I’m worth that, then why should I think he’s worth pining over or agonizing over every text? I shouldn’t, and you shouldn’t either. No woman should feel like she has to settle for a boy who plays games when there’s a man out there who will care enough about her not to.
Hence, the creation of The Rules, a list of guidelines by which I live my life; the express meaning behind each rule is not necessarily spelled out explicitly, but serves as a reminder. “Never date a lifeguard” doesn’t have to mean “don’t date lifeguards”- I know plenty of guys who are lifeguards who are great guys, some in happily committed relationships. For me, “never date a lifeguard” reminds me never to settle for a guy who stops texting with no explanation or who makes excuses for why he doesn’t want to see me instead of being straight about not being interested. I tell random guys at the bars that I’m not interested all the time; why can’t a guy who bothers to get my number show me the same courtesy? Don’t text, don’t Facebook message, be a man and call me up and ask me on an actual fucking date.
And maybe, you know, let me know ahead of time if you’re going to let me drown.