Ah, exes. What’s that saying about opinions? They’re like a--holes. Everyone’s got ’em. Well, exes aren’t much different. Some have a handful. Some have enough to fill a movie theater. Unless you spent your formative years in a convent, you’ve likely got a few.
At the beginning of a relationship, romantic history is usually a topic you cover early on. You talk about your longest relationship, your worst breakup, etc. It’s the same as asking “what do your parents do for a living?” but with 150 percent more potential for awkwardness.
But running into exes is an entirely different story.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve had no less than five friends admit to an awkward encounter with an ex. In a town as small as Austin, it’s inevitable that at some point you will come face to face with a female or fella that you’ve hooked up with.
If you’re lucky enough to have grown up in Austin, you have the potential to run into exes starting in your teen years and beyond. It’s awkward at a whole new level, especially when one of those people happens to work the meat counter at your neighborhood H-E-B.
“Yes, I’ll take two chicken breasts, please," you say as you try not to think about how you made out in his mom’s car in 11th grade. “That’ll be all, thanks.”
An unexpected run-in with an ex is bound to throw anyone off his or her game. Recently, a friend was out with his lady friend when his ex was seated right next to them at dinner. He harbored no ill feelings for this flame, but he hadn’t seen her since they split.
Immediately he was clammy-handed, and the dinner was a wash. Despite her current happy relationship, another friend opted out of a party simply because she knew her ex would be there.
Of course everyone has a different relationship with the ex. Some have amicable splits; others have a knock-down, drag-out breakup. And, sure, you could hide in the corner or run like hell, but the reality of any relationship (whether old or new) is that you’ll inevitably have to face the music at some point.
But there can be something supremely satisfying about parading a new relationship in front of an ex. And if you don’t agree with me, you’re lying to yourself.
It doesn’t mean you’re looking for reconciliation or holding onto a grudge. It's just that you found someone to eat pizza-flavored ice cream with, as Mike Birbiglia would say, after previous bouts of lactose intolerance. You found someone who likes you, even after that other person ultimately found too many flaws.
Whether you’re ready to make a mad dash as soon as you make eyes across the room, or you can suffer through small talk holding the hand of your new companion, facing an ex is as common as going to the grocery store.
Just hope that you can make it through the meat counter unscathed.