A note from the editor.
Allen Katherman is a guest writer to mantanium.com this summer. He is a Poker personality, fashion enthusiast, nuclear engineer and a great friend. Be sure to follow him on instagram and check back for more.
Déjà vu times 2: 2x Better and 2x Worse
By Allen Katherman
Like any brand-new relationship, Zena and I could find no wrong with each other. We would talk about how odd it was that we didn’t meet each other sooner. And maybe it was just “meant to be” because neither of us were as involved with the downtown life. In my mind, things were going great! We were on our way to being exclusive but there was a catch – Zena said she wasn’t ready to be in a relationship. While she was always at my place, and we were spending a LOT of time together, she was pretty vocal about not wanting to be tied down.
In retrospect, this should have raised all kinds of red flags, but I was oblivious. I ignored all the signals because I believed that I could “convince” her to want to be in a relationship. This minor “conflict of interest” drove a wedge between us. Finally, after a lot of talking and honestly failing to come to a mutual agreement, we decided to take one last trip to Vegas so that we could at least end things with a “bang.”
What we originally planned to be a fairly calm and quiet week turned in to an epic one. We bought tickets to various shows on the strip and enjoyed each other’s company doing what tourists do best in Vegas: ANYTHING we wanted!
Since I had just gotten done re-enlisting, I had half of my bonus available in my checking account. Can you imagine what kind of trouble two people can get themselves into with $45k bank in Vegas??? The craziest part is that we didn’t even touch a penny of it! The first morning we were there, we showed up to the Wynn brunch a little early and decided to play some roulette. I decided to bet the cost of pur brunch on black and it immediately hit.
We did this several times, each time parlaying it, and hit FOUR times in a row! To add to that, I decided to take one of the black chips ($100) and put it on ’25.’ Low and behold that hit too! Pretty quickly, that $40 we started with turned into over $4k!
Right after breakfast, fueled by that win and the confidence that Lady Luck was following us around, we hit the craps table. Zena had never played before so I decided to keep dancing with Lady Luck and let her roll. Her first roll went into the wall closest to her – it was clear that she had no idea what she was doing. However, it didn’t take long for her to figure out that the dice were supposed to be thrown to the opposite side. She went on a heater and we increased our winnings over $2K! Our little $40 investment left us with over $6k in profit.
Since we were walking away with money that we didn’t intend to have, we decided to go shopping – Michael Kors ‘this’ and Louis Vuitton ‘that.’ Price didn’t matter cause it was profit, and it was making her happy. I had never purchase a $500 watch up until this point, but Zena liked it, so hey – why not?
We were falling for each other more and more, and by the end of the trip, she had told me she loved me and wanted to make it work. I was elated to say the least, but as they say, “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”
I was hopeful and optimistic. When our plane touched back down in San Diego, we made it “official.” We had just come back from one of the best mini vacations of our lives, we made our relationship “Facebook official,” and we began to flood social media with pictures of us.
I loved the idea that Zena was MY girlfriend, but she was starting to use that title to her advantage. She started dropping hints about changes she wanted to see from me, such as hair, style, shoes, fitting of clothes, brand names, etc. I remember coming home from work one day, and her saying “don’t you think you look like a child with that faux hawk?” After that comment, I grew out my hair and styled it in a combover.
She would make snide remarks about all the hats that I had. So to avoid further bickering, I got rid of them. Then she would complain about my suits, my ties – even what I wore to the grocery store! If I decided to wear basketball shorts and a tank top to the grocery store she would get mad and wouldn’t go in public with me.
You might be thinking to yourself, “how shallow” and “how superficial.” And you’d be 100% right. However, all the constant scrutiny about my wardrobe and appearance actually made me make the effort to dress and look better on a consistent basis. My new style brought about a confidence in me, and I began to walk with more purpose and more swagger. I used to just wear a suit with a tie, but Zena influenced me to incorporate different colors, patterns, handkerchiefs, etc. It wasn’t long until one of my photos was featured on a popular fashion Instagram page called “Bows-n-ties.” Being featured drove me to try and better myself in the fashion world. Every suit I wore was tailored to fit perfectly and everything coordinated perfectly together from my tie, to my pocket square and even my socks.
While she had seriously influenced my change in fashion, as I began to dress better and get more attention, it brought out a different Zena – one that I didn’t recognize. What started as small issues that I tried to ignore, such as guys making comments on her pictures or her mischievously texting random people late at night, turned into a real and consistent problem. To make matters worse, my ship began doing workups for the next deployment, and every time we were gone, Zena would be out at the club getting drunk with people I didn’t know.
Although the situations would make ANY man insecure, I started to become insecure about EVERYTHING. I could, and never will, justify anything that she did, but I was the one that chose to stay with her and the one who came back when we broke up. We had a stereotypical toxic relationship in the sense that we would break up and get back together over and over and over again. I’d always get to the point of not being able to handle being as insecure as I was, but every time we broke up, we’d find each other downtown, sleep together and then promise that we’d really change this time. And even though I wanted her to change, the changes that I was really looking for began to happen within me.
Because I hadn’t already learned from Melinda, it was Zena who made it truly evident in that people will always do what they want, regardless. Especially if we try to limit their actions or try to control the situation.
Being insecure with Zena was one of the worst feelings I have ever had. I was paranoid every time her phone vibrated. I got rather suspicious when she didn’t respond to a text or a call within a certain amount of time. Now I’m not saying she was doing anything behind my back – more often than not she wasn’t – but all I could do was accuse her.
My anger and insecurity was a mixture of a lot of issues: one being that she was the kind of woman who loved the attention of other men. The other reason was that I was ashamed of myself for allowing her to continue coming back into my life.
If there is ONE thing to take from my blog it is this: No matter what they do or what they say, people will never change. You might influence some behaviors and they might alter certain habits, but their character will always remain. If they change, it is because THEY choose to do so, not because you told them to.
Our break-ups and make-ups continued for about two years. Finally, we both realized that the relationship wasn’t going to last. We wanted different things and although she WANTED to change for us, she couldn’t. If our fights, quarrels and different values weren’t enough, my upcoming deployment loomed in the back of both our minds.
The Navy had just passed a bill that made the maximum amount of time a ship could ever be deployed was eight months. This was great for the Navy, but not for the sailors on the USS Carl Vinson. We were the carrier that had to offset the time so that other ships could fit into schedule. Because of this offset. what was originally supposed to be a six month deployment was now a ten month deployment. Not only was the time tough to bare, but as we started our POM vacations, threats from North Korea developed rapidly. It wasn’t long until we were instructed to prepare for my biggest fear: War.
As always, to be continued…