Mattie Jo Cowsert
Many Terrible Things...
Updated: Aug 3, 2020
The Jedi Returns
Alrighty. I know it’s been about a million years since I’ve written. But between babysitting for 17 different families, moving to Central Harlem, and fighting the urge to stress eat pasta at 2am every night, I have hardly a moment to remember my underwear. Let alone stories about my ex-boyfriend or college escapades. But I’m back. Let’s see how this goes.
Where were we. Ah, yes. I’ve just had my first big regrettable relationship experience witha spiritual player. I came back from that trip to NYC to a whirlwind of events. Most importantly that my college “main stage” musical debut as LuLu in Cabaret was in just two weeks! Which also meant that I would be seeing Catholic again...
During our breakup convo via Skype, I asked if he would at least come see Cabaret. He knew how hard I had been working on this show and it would mean a lot to me if he made the trip to see it. He didn’t even come to my 21st birthday, so why I thought he would oblige to coming to see a musical about stripclubs right before the Holocaust, I have no idea.
But he actually did! Which was great news because I was in lingerie for most of the show. So if I couldn’t win him back with my talent, maybe my break-up-weight-loss-skinny-bitch-bod-in-skivvies would. One can dream.
Our between breakup and seeing each other for closure I guess window, I managed to
1. Make out with the only straight boy in the musical theatre department. Then go smoke cigars together
2. Have an affair with an almost engaged guy
3. Makeout with a dude from high school who I totally wanted to like me in high school but I guess wasn't interested until I went to the cooler, not Nazi-religious college in our hometown.
I'm just thinking, whatever I was doing in our 3 weeks of break up could not have been even remotely close to what Catholic was doing. I was taking advantage of all this attention I didn’t even know was available to me and he was probably reading Theology of The Body in his bedroom.
Who was really winning here? The answer is neither. Or both. Because at least we were broken up and not "holding each other back." Whatever.
So it’s the opening weekend and I know Catholic is in town. Admittedly I tried really hard not to avoid him. I wanted him to see how hot and liberated (still in love) I was. I was also feeling kind of bad about my naughtiness listed above. I spent about 23 years of my life feeling guilty after every mild to hot sexual encounter I had. This is a terrible way to live. Note to mothers: your daughter will live a much more fulfilled, healthy life if you don’t raise her to think losing her hand-holding, kissing, or actual virginity is her currency. She is way more than her sexy time or lack thereof. Don’t leave her to navigate this shit alone because she can’t talk to you about it. Also, why just daughters? Why don't you talk to your son about it too? His sexy time. Not how to treat a woman like a princess which is the talk they usually get. One of the biggest mysteries/injustices in my upbringing is that all of us Cowsert daughters got a purity ring. But not my brother. This is Fucked Up. And Rude. It creates an unspoken standard that women are supposed to define themselves by their sexcapades. But men are chill. NOT OKAY PARENTS. STOP THIS IMMEDIATELY PLEASE AND THANK YOU.
I've strayed. So I'm at church.
I decided to go to a Presbyterian church that morning because Presbyterians have that mediative liturgy I love so much except they're way more inclusive than Catholics because they give you a pamphlet that tells you exactly what to say throughout the service. I’m sitting there alone and enjoying my private confession of all my breakup sins, when a nice-looking bearded guy sits about 4 seats down from me. I think to myself “Wow, he’s cute!” Then we make eye contact.
IT’S CATHOLIC. I think the last time my heart raced that quickly was the other day at a cruise line audition where they made us sing in groups of 15 in the room (I almost walked out of that audition). What a predicament. How was I supposed to WORSHIP THE LORD with my ex-boyfriend of 3 weeks sitting so close to me?!?! The answer is I didn’t. I just took deep breaths and tried not to nervous smile.
After the service, he basically acted the same awkward ass way he did that one time we ran into each other in the dining hall the day after we met for the first time. He wanted to talk but tried to seem cool but failed when he leaned against the romaine lettuce bin at the salad bar #saladbutt. Only this time, no salad. Just Catholic being painfully awkward as per usge. One of his Beartones besties came to his rescue. I went to my Cabaret call.
I remember being so nervous for that show. It was like...my last chance to prove to Catholic that my dreams were going to be real. That I had what it took to make it as a musical theatre actor. That our breakup would be worth it because now I could fly free to chase my dreams!
I guess I wanted to say “look how awesome I am, take me back!” and “Fuck you I can make it without you” simultaneously. How I thought he was going to get any of that from me being in the ensemble of a show about almost-Nazi Germany, I’m not sure. Rational thoughts have never been my forte.
So I did the show, complete with a solid makeout between me and my best friend during the New Years scene. That’ll show him how wild and wonderful I am! LEZBIAN KIZZEZ.
I knew we would talk a little after. Was I prepared for that? You betchya! I wore a sexy outfit. Probably leggings and a tight fitting top. Because I knew how much he loved/hated when I wore fitted clothing. He once told me at a Mizzou game that he didn’t approve of my yoga pants and fitted Tiger T. Really? Cuz you’re grabbing my ass when no one is looking. Constantly Conflicted: A Catholic’s Story.
He told me he thought the show was weird and he didn’t love it. It was at that point I knew I could never be with him because Cabaret is easily my favorite musical like what is wrong with you if you don't appreciate the PURE ART that Cabret is?
But actually, it wasn't then that I knew I could never be with Catholic. That’s not true. It waas actually a year later when he texted me to see if I had given him mouth herpes. As in, cold sores. A year after we broke up. I wanted to be like "No maybe you got it from that chalice you voluntarily share with an entire congregation every week." But instead I just said "I don't have mouth herpes, no." because I am a polite Midwestern and would never be so rude to say that to a person's face but will definitely write it on the internet years later.
So he thinks Cabaret sucked. We walked to his car and to be honest I have no idea what we talked about. All I remember is both of us crying. A lot. I remember grabbing his hand and telling him how much I would miss him. And was this really over?
He told me in our time apart (3 weeks) he realized the things he misses about me will go away over time (awesome). He’ll forget everything if we remain distant (dick). So we have to stop talking all together (FUCK YOU). Ah yes. The beginning of men in my life telling me what’s best for me. Telling me what to do. Telling me what I can handle emotionally. Thank you, ex boyfriend. For that wonderful source of encouragement.
“You weren’t that special. I’ll find someone else. Now stop talking to me please. You MUST stop talking to me.” All while sobbing. His words were so stoic. But his tears were saying something else. It was like he practiced this schpeel with his mom or something and was determined to get the words out even if they felt wrong. I don't know. (Again. Constantly conflicted). We stopped talking.
Catholic and I have had about 3 interactions since that Sunday in his car. We were in the wedding party of a couple we introduced (awk.com). He looked good but seemed very gloom. And was bound and determined not to speak to me. After a few glasses of wine I tried to dance with him. Oops.
Then the whole herpes thing. I received that text while making out with a new boyfriend. I could say I was surprised, but I wasn’t.
What. A. Weirdo.
And then about two years ago. He sent me an email with a lot of info I won’t share on the interwebs. He did tell me he had decided to quit medical school and pursue teaching. He thanked me for giving him standards for a relationship. If it weren’t for me he’d have no idea how good he should be treated. But also could we please cease communication forever. He’s getting to a place where he wants to be able to love again, but as long as I’m a reality in his life, he can’t. He signed the email “here’s to chasing dreams…”
Ending on an Ellipse
Everyone remembers their first love. Maybe yours was in high school so it wasn’t really love. It was like...eating popcorn and losing your virginity and football games. Or maybe it was your first grade teacher and you’ve since discovered you’re gay. I don’t know.
What I do know is that I was madly in love with this dude. And I would be lying if I said I’m not afraid I’ll never love like that again. Probably because…I won’t. I had zero walls up with Mr. Catholic. I had never experienced heartbreak or a break up which are terrible when they occur at the same time. I didn’t know how shitty love can be when it develops between two incompatible people. How the hell do you fall in love with someone you’re incompatible with anyway? Where’s that in the Bible, huh Jeebus????? But I did. And I learned a lot.
I Know Things Now
1. Falling in love with abandon is a beautiful thing.
Everyone in New York should really try this. Stop planning your relationships. Yes there is practicality in choosing a lifelong partner, but there is so much joy in raw love. You should get butterflies with that person every time. I can honestly say I did. This isn’t always enough. But it sure is wonderful.
2. Don’t apologize for who you are.
The thing most of my friends and family remember about Catholic is how stifling he was for my personality. He said things like I was “too much” or “immature”. Like I was some puppy he got 6 months ago and it was really cute then but why don’t you stop peeing in the house ya dumb shit?
BECAUSE MAYBE I WILL ALWAYS GET A LITTLE TOO EXCITED AND WEE ON YOUR RUG? IS THAT REALLY SO BAD? My outfit was too sexy or I was being too passionate or do we have to PDA? Ugh. Every Christian guy is so conflicted because they want this amazing godly girl who is also not boring and totally into giving BJs. But then they feel guilty about said BJs and wish you wouldn’t speak your mind so much.
3. Don’t marry your first love.
I know a lot of people do this. But this taught me that first loves are reckless and messy and beautiful but no place for eternal commitment. Save that for your 30s. Or whenever you get really awesome and meet someone equally awesome. You are still very lame in college, despite what your frat bros/srat sis/drama friends tell you. You are lame. All your professors know it. But you’ll get cooler. Don’t worry.
4. DON’T LET YOUR BOYFRIEND SLUT SHAME YOU.
Don’t date a guy who slut shames, like, in general. Date men who celebrate your sexuality and want to indulge it. You are beautiful and should be appreciated. Not made to feel like the fucking serpent every time you incite a boner. Catholic told me he regretted getting so physical with me. Yeah. Me too. We weren't in love or together for over two years or anything.
5. Your boyfriend shouldn’t be your best friend.
You need a girl to fill that role. He should fill a lot of other roles but don’t make him be your best friend. He doesn’t care about wine or Project Runway. And if he does, you have a gay boyfriend. And trust me. I have A LOT of gay boyfriends.
6. You should be a priority.
Your boyfriend should think you hung the fucking moon. In due time he’ll discover that you haven’t but that’s okay. Because by then he’ll have taken the time to discover you’ve done so many cooler things like supported yourself entirely since age 18, balanced a career, survival job, and daily gym routine in New York City, and written a funny blog. He’ll have forgotten about the moon. And you’ll be very grateful because hanging things is hard.
7. Listen to your mother.
Those women know shit you can’t even conceptualize. Unless your mother is on meth or something. Then just listen to my mother.
8. Be honest and be with honest.
Even though it was hard to hear a lot of the time, I appreciated Catholic’s unavoidable honesty. Homeboy couldn’t tell a lie. He once told me I should stop complaining about getting fat if I’m going to eat Tootie Frootie Circle-O’s for every dinner. 1) HOW DARE HE 2) Yeah you right.
He had very little charm and no swag. These are the winners. Find them before they learn to grow a beard or style their hair or buy a peacoat.
So I’m single. I have basically remained single since then. I have no idea what Catholic is doing. I know he's not a doctor and maybe a physics teacher and that he wants nothing to do with me. Honestly, it hurts but just like anything you get used to ignoring it over time. It's sad to me that such a wonderful chapter in my life ended with me feeling the opposite of wonderful. I would love to catch up and see how he's doing. But maybe if we still had contact, this blog wouldn't be possible. Regardless, here’s to hoping we’re both ~~Chasing Dreams~~