When I set out on my quest to see what dating was like at the start of the pandemic in 2020, my intention was not to have a situationship per season. It just kinda happened like that. After an awkward spring with The Lobster and confusing disaster of a summer with Milk Dud, I was ready to give it another go in the fall. While I normally dread dating, this time I was feeling excited, like this round of dating was going to result in something worthwhile. What I didn’t realize is that my out-of-character-optimism was the start of a medication induced manic episode.
My therapist at the time, the one that reminds me a lot of the slug lady receptionist from Monsters Inc., prescribed me Zoloft for depression. I think it was the third session in a row where I got maybe a single sentence out before crying and then spending the remainder of the session crying, unable to get any words out, that convinced him it was time to look at medication as a part of my treatment. I remember being hesitant and asking, “are the side effects worth not feeling like this anymore?” He said I was the only one that could answer that. I agreed to give Zoloft a try. I started feeling a little better, then I started feeling good, then WHAM! I WAS FEELING AMAZING. I thought these meds must really be working. What (in retrospect) my psychologist thinks happened is that the Zoloft shifted me into a manic episode. Instead of simply lifting me from my depression, it launched me straight into the other extreme.
While all of that was going on, I met Spooky Daddy. He was a fellow October Scorpio, and we shared the same deep love for Halloween and fall in general. The intensity of the relationship with Spooky Daddy and the manic episode I was in got stuck in a positive feedback loop together. When I look back on this relationship, it is hard for me to separate what was genuine and what was influenced by my manic lens. I couldn’t even tell you how long we dated for – I can’t remember. But I do remember that we went on a bunch of really fun (manic or not) dates. I know it is a little unfair for me to compare other dates to these manic dates, but Spooky Daddy really did set the bar for a fun date.
I’ve never been on such a perfect first date. First, I wore the cutest outfit and was looking right. The confidence I had on that first night set the tone for the rest of our relationship. My newfound, and manic fueled, confidence is what attracted him to me. I was attracted to his spontaneous bad boy energy. He was my type and my friends teased me about it. The tall-moody-tatted-musician type. Milk Dud fit into that category. So did all my early college boyfriends and a vast majority of the people I have ever had a crush on. Also including my greatest love, Yannis Philippakis, even though he isn’t tall. He’s still bae though.
All our dates were random adventures. Just us two, driving and talking. He once drove me through the wonderful city of Vacaville for the exclusive VIP tour of his hometown. The highlights of the tour were Leisure Town and driving past the prison Manson was at. For my birthday, he picked me up after work and drove me to Tahoe. He had a great taste in music, so we jammed the whole way up. We stopped in some small mountain town I can’t remember the name of to get dinner. This was the fanciest restaurant I’ve ever been in. It wasn’t super high-end or anything like that, but it wasn’t Chili’s. I was in awe the entire time we were at dinner in this small town on my mini birthday road trip. (For the record, I absolutely fuck with Chili’s).
After dinner, we got back on the road. Once we got close enough to see the lake, I was awestruck all over again. I’ve been to Tahoe before, but this time was different. I couldn’t believe that we were there. He had asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday. I told him I wanted to go to Tahoe, or I wanted to go somewhere with a good view of the stars. He made sure we did both by going to Tahoe to see the stars. He caught on to my amazement and said, “Callie, this is the bare minimum. No matter what happens with us, promise me you won’t forget that.”
Another one of his not-so-subtle ways of reminding me that this wasn’t a forever situation.
All the beaches were blocked off, but we found one that was easy to sneak down to. While we were standing there looking up at the stars, I couldn’t help but think about all the people I’ve ever dated and how none of them ever did anything like this for me. I also wondered how he could be so nonchalant about something that seemed so spectacular to me. That was always our dynamic. Things that felt big to me were always nothing to him. Like when he started leaving things at my place.
It was already a big deal to me that he was spending the night, that was something I just didn’t do. One time, The Lobster spent the night and I told him to never do that again. Milk Dud never stayed the night, and I never stayed the night at his place either. I don’t like when it feels like someone’s energy is lingering in my space. Spooky Daddy was spending the night pretty regularly and started leaving evidence. First it was his toothbrush in the bathroom. Then it was pipe and grinder in the living room. Maybe a forgotten beanie or sock in the bedroom. To me, this was a big deal. To him, it didn’t mean anything.
He bamboozled me into having dinner with his family after maybe only a week of dating. I’m not against meeting the family of the person I’m seeing, even though that is completely uncharted territory for me. I’d met my high school boyfriend’s family, but everyone I’ve dated since then? Nope. It has made me reflect on what about me makes me the kind of girl you don’t bring home to meet the family. And now here was this guy, who after only a handful of dates wanted to me to have dinner with his family. I thought the timing was insane, but there I was, full of my manic-anarchist-I-wanna-fuck-shit-up energy, holding hands with his family while they said grace before dinner. After dinner he asked me to be his girlfriend, thankfully not in front of his family. He would break up with me via text a few weeks later.
He only liked when I was fun and rebellious. Ironically, my feistiness is also why he didn’t want to be with me. He once told me that I’d be a “feral housewife,” a term that really stuck with me. I spent most of my twenties conforming to what my ex thought a good girlfriend was. Not only did I not get shit in return, but I also lost so much of myself in the process. But now I was back and fiercely determined to always be what I want, do what I want, and say what I want when I want. Feral is the perfect word to describe me. I’ve embraced the idea that if I ever did get married, I would be a feral housewife. I took it as a compliment, but I’m sure he meant it as an insult.
He always seemed like he was stuck between wanting a relationship less exciting and being drawn to my exciting energy. I was stuck in this idea that everything in my life needed to be full steam ahead. I disregarded his hesitations. What was the worst thing that could happen? We break up? I’ve had worse.
I was riding this high and kind of just taking him along with me. As I started realizing he didn’t want to ride it with me anymore, I crashed. More accurately, I dropped.
I don’t remember a lot from this time, but I remember the day we broke up. I think it was getting close to Thanksgiving. I was at work that day and was having a hard time. My mom called me, and I stepped outside to talk to her. I told her I was thinking about killing myself. I didn’t see a point. The world was so fucked. I was so fucked. She talked me down, thankfully. I went back inside to work like I didn’t just tell my mom I wanted to kill myself. I was still in the phase of my life where I worked through whatever was going on with my mental health. Work first, everything else later. I was sitting at my desk when Spooky Daddy texted me something generic, asking how my day was.
I told him I was having a hard day and have been feeling down lately. I said I vented to my mom, which helped a lot. He didn’t respond right away, but a few hours later he texted me to tell me he wasn’t ready to be anyone’s boyfriend. I know he meant he wasn’t ready to be my boyfriend. The guy that told me the story about being 5150-ed on our first date jumped ship. I was too caught up in my own shit to process how I felt about no longer going out with him. I went home and threw away the random accumulation of his belongings in my apartment, reminding myself why I don’t do sleepovers or let people leave stuff here. I cleansed my space of his energy.
A few weeks later he texted me asking if I was still looking for shrooms. I was, but I wasn’t going to get them from him. I’m the type of person where if we aren’t dating or friends anymore, I completely remove you from my life. I let him know that I didn’t need his help getting shrooms and that he and I aren’t friends—we didn’t have a reason to speak again.
Spooky Daddy was the last person I seriously dated. Everything since then has either been a one-night stand or they haven’t made it past a second date. I tend to lose interest in the people I’m talking to and dating unusually quickly. Part of me is still chasing the high of the first few dates I had with Spooky Daddy. Was there really this spark I haven’t been able to replicate with another person? Were my feelings influenced by mania? If they were, does that somehow make them less sincere?
Regardless of the impact mania has on my dating life, maybe I am just too feral for the conventionality of a relationship. Or, maybe I will feel that spark again.
The song that always makes me think of Spooky Daddy: Cutting My Fingers Off by Turnover.
The sentence he left on my fridge was “Not yur boyfrend.” I later changed it to “Not yur gurlfrend” and in the process dropped the boyfrend magnet, which slid under the fridge never to be seen again.
Zodiac sign: Scorpio.