The Lessons of the First Time

Posted: Jul 11, 2014 12:01 AM

As far as first times go politically, he was supposed to be perfect. Charming, self-confident, kind-hearted and strong. A guy with an easy smile and an easy way with words. No baggage, thankfully. The kind of guy you thought you could trust. Not like those other guys, with their fake smiles and cheesy pick-up lines. You’d seen that type before, and this guy was different.

Assured that your confidence was not misplaced, you jumped in head-first. What he offered sounded good, so you figured you would figure out the details as you went along. There’s always a learning curve the first time, so you would cut him some slack if things turned out differently than advertised.

As is usually the case, it was the advertising that first got you. It wasn’t left versus right, it was cool versus not. He epitomized cool, and you knew where you would be when it came time to be counted. You would stand with him, with history. He gave you reason to believe that all the hype warranted the hope you placed in him.

A lifetime of expectation was wrapped up in that hope. You sensed this was your rendezvous with destiny. After all, he said he was the one you had been waiting for all these years. Here was a guy who could certainly talk the talk: anthropogenic weather and war would cease at his command. Staring down adversity, he even said he could walk and chew gum at the same time.

You didn’t really know him, but no matter, you knew you could trust him. It was time to make history. Your first time would change your world forever. What could possibly go wrong?

Four years in, trouble was brewing. People began to question his abilities, his truthfulness. As with other relationships that don’t live up to huge expectations, the initial infatuation gave way to excuses. It’s not his fault, he inherited these problems. He’s a genius but the system is broken. He’s too smart for the lesser men around him.

You knew things weren’t ideal, but you thought that if you gave him some more time, things would turn around. Besides, even if he wasn’t all that he promised, your alternatives weren’t that great, so you stuck with him. You believed him when he said it would be better the second time. Progress was just around the corner.

Two years hence, that corner has come and gone, and things have only gotten worse. He still isn’t living up to the promises he made. He’s a big spender, but there’s precious little to show for it. He promised to care for you when you got sick, but he couldn’t deliver. He promised fundamental transformation in your life, but then you found out you actually liked the way things were, the way you were, before he came along.

You’ve given yourself to him twice, and both times he’s failed you. After repeated failure, you’ve come to the sad conclusion that, like many others, he’s just not very good at it. And you’re just not into him anymore. Like Charlotte Simmons, your journey of self-exploration has left you cynical, and feeling used and abandoned.

Knowing the inevitable end is near, you tell yourself never again. You tell your friends that he was a mistake, that it didn’t mean much, and that if given the chance, you would have chosen another guy for your first time. In a desperate attempt to keep you, he tries to rekindle the initial magic that drew you to him. But after so much failure you’re now immune. The fairy tale gave way to heartache, and invoking a fairy tale can’t change a thing now for you.

Or anyone else – you realize you’re not alone. He’s failed millions to whom he made similar promises about their first time. He promised that everyone, red and blue, would be united if they simply gave themselves to him. Five years on, America is black and blue from the damage he has caused. Such fighting for nothing. Such promise without purpose, a flash-bang in the pan that you can’t wait to forget.

Having accepted that your first time was a disaster, you wonder if a second chance at the first time is possible. Of course, another decision awaits in a little over a year. Next time, you tell yourself, you won’t get fooled again. You’re wiser, more discerning, and can spot an amateur like him from a mile away. You hope that the future offers something new and better for everyone who, like you, learned painful lessons the first time. The question is: have you learned anything?