But I’d rather you be mean than love and lie
I’d rather hear the truth and have to say goodbye
I’d rather take a blow — at least then I would know
But baby don’t you break my heart slow
— Taylor Swift, “Baby Don’t Break my Heart Slow”
First, let’s get a business matter settled. I’ve got four Altman’s Army T-shirts that I suppose I won’t be needing anymore. To the highest bidder they go!
I didn’t read the paper this morning. I haven’t even seen it, actually. From Twitter, I can gather that Tom Shatel wrote an excellent piece on Altman to Oregon. Also from Twitter, I can gather that he included a Fish slam in the column. Good for him. I will certainly have to read it.
From experience, I can also gather that about 45 percent of Shatel’s sentences were probably three to five words long, and I can assume that he compared the Creighton-Altman-Oregon ordeal to a divorce. Actually, I’m sure anyone who writes a column about the circumstances on the Hilltop – or argues about it on the radio, for that matter – will use the divorce analogy.
But I am 22 years old. I’ve never been even remotely close to anything that might be considered a stage close to thinking about the idea of perhaps discussing marriage. So to me, this is more like a common high school/college/early twenties first real relationship breakup. You know the one I’m talking about.
You were a dork – smart and funny, sure, but too shy to approach any good-looking girls and too obsessed with the Cubs or Red Sox or Packers to care. It was fine, for awhile – you had a niche and you were cool with it. But, eventually, you wanted to get into the game. You were tired of hanging out with Dad on Friday night or driving around with your friends until you found the optimum parking lot to, you know, do nothing.
And then there she was – a beautiful girl, probably out of your league, but coming off a tough breakup with the football team’s cornerback, leaving her skeptical of guys, and looking for a man who would treat her right, who wouldn’t break her heart, who wouldn’t expect and demand more than she could provide
You’ll be damned if you weren’t that guy. So, one day, you went up to her and used the worst pickup line you’ve ever heard (Are your legs tired? Because you’ve been running through my mind all day); she laughed, the two of you started to hang out, got to know each other, became friends. And one day, you just had to kiss her.
It was perfect, really – a match made in heaven, a best-friends-turned-ideal-couple story. For the first time, you were in love, and it felt incredible.
You didn’t have any previous relationship experience, so it started rough. She had to help you along, show you the ropes. But you were a quick learner and the relationship started to flourish. Of course it was new and exciting at the beginning, but it stayed new and exciting, your love for her growing, her love for you growing.
But, like most relationships, it peaked. Eventually, the two of you were in a rut, seemingly going nowhere, but fine with it because where you were was still better than most couples you knew.
But maybe she didn’t feel the same way.
For whatever reason – maybe she thought the grass would be greener on the other side, maybe she was bored, maybe she was going through a rough time and temporarily lost her mind, maybe she didn’t really love you – she cheated on you.
And then she came crawling back, tears in her eyes, regret in her voice. It was only one time, she said. It was a mistake, a lapse in judgment, something that would never happen again.
This was all new to you, of course. A few of your friends were adamant that you shouldn’t take her back. They wondered aloud how you could ever trust her again, and they claimed there were plenty of fish in the ocean.
But you liked your old fish, the fish that partially made you who you were then, who had changed you for the better, the much, much better. You loved her. She said she loved you. She said she just wanted things to be like they were before.
Ah, but how things could never be the way they were before. If the two of you were in a rut before, it was more like a deep pothole of indifference now. You no longer went out with friends on the weekend; you didn’t go out on dates; there was no spontaneity, no fire, no sense of urgency. You were just going through the motions.
One day, she sat you down, said the two of you needed to talk. She smiled at you, that beautiful smile that highlighted her charming dimples. You knew what was coming, even if you wouldn’t admit it.
I love you, she said. But not like I used to. We’re not going anywhere; we’ve plateaued; where do you see us in three years?
And that was it. It wasn’t messy. It was quite amicable, mutual, a split that made sense and would allow each of you to go on to bigger and better things.
But that didn’t mean it didn’t hurt. She was the first girl you loved, someone who shaped who you had become. You would always love her for that, and for those damn dimples. She’s the only girl you’ve ever loved. What do you do now?
So, yeah – what were we talking about? Oh yeah, basketball. Now that the breakup is official, this is where, for the sake of the Creighton basketball program and the whole athletic department, the analogy has to end. Because the next logical step for the heart-broken guy is to spend about six months sitting on his couch, eating Chinese takeout and ignoring calls from friends.
Creighton athletic director Bruce Rasmussen will need to skip that step if he doesn’t want to fall back into the days of Rick Johnson. He needs to move to the part where we hop on the treadmill and try to find the next girl, one who will be even better than the last one, perhaps even one who will make the last one jealous, but definitely one who’s a good fit, who makes you happy, who continues to bring out your good qualities, and who can take the relationship to heights which you’ve never been.
He needs to find The One.
And then, sometime, we’ll be able to invite everyone to the wedding. And, oh, what a wedding it will be. I’m thinking a fairly large one, maybe about 17,000, with lots of dancing, endless celebration and perhaps a putting contest of some kind. We’ll have to have a cash bar, but we’ll put some magic pixie dust in the beer and people won’t care about the six dollar price tag.
We’ll always remember that first girl. In some ways, we’ll always love her – it’s impossible not to. But it’s time to move to the next level. It’s time to get married.