There are guys that we break the rules for because he’s that guy. Not Mr. Right. Just that guy that we want to get to know, the one that we want to let us into their world, the one that we rationalize throwing the rulebook out the window for. Usually very attractive. Very mysterious. Very sexy. And in this case, very broken. Mr. Ninja was my “that guy”. We met on match.com over two years ago. We texted for just a couple days before we went out for the first time. We met at Starbucks and within about 20 minutes, I was in the passenger seat of his brand new, luxury car. See, already breaking the rules. He wanted to take me for a drive around the city… and I must admit, he had me at “hello”. It was so easy to say “yes”. He played amazing music in the background and while he drove us around Louisville, we talked. For hours. We stopped along the way to check out places in the city. He would point out spots I had never noticed before and I did my best to be a good tour guide. I found out quickly that he has a habit of going through the late-night drive-thru. It was after 1 in the morning when our exploration came to an end. But of course I wanted more. After all, he was that guy.
Mr. Ninja is a United States Marine (another weakness of mine). Mr. Ninja was so fit and so lean. A tall man with a handsome face, sculpted shoulders and arms but still very cut and trim. Muscles upon muscles. Rock solid abs. Several tattoos to give him that bad-boy edge. Looking at him without his shirt off could make you drool. He was skilled in martial arts and had been a personal trainer at some point. He would go rock climbing with just a rope. He could climb up poles and hang from rafters. Like a ninja. He even called himself that. One thing I think he was proud of. Scared me to death… He was somewhat of an adrenaline junkie, careless with his life, and I feared one day that he would end up hurting himself.
Mr. Ninja was stationed in Fort Knox. He was a training instructor and drove huge tanks. He showed me lots of pictures of the tanks he drove and things they would do on base. He also got the young guys in shape, screaming in their faces and pushing them to their physical limits. He worked out three or four times per day, sometimes more. He’d do a workout in the morning. He’d do a workout during the day with the Marines. He’d go for a run when he was off duty. And most days, he’d do another workout late at night. Mr. Ninja did not drink often. It seemed to me that he had very few friends on base. He was the kind of guy that kept to himself a lot. So late at night when he had nothing else to do, he’d go for another run. Plus, he had a hard time sleeping so why not.
When Mr. Ninja would come to see me, he was coming to get away from everything on base. I was like an escape for him. He’d text me sometime during the day, say something sweet, and let me know he was coming into Louisville. He had an apartment in the city but mostly just for his stuff. On those days, I knew I could expect a visit from him. He came to get away from everything else. And Mr. Ninja was like an escape for me too. I’d put everything else aside and focus on him. Just for that night. At the time, it was something we both needed. Intimacy. Not just in a physical way, but in a person-to-person kind of way. He needed someone feminine in his life, someone to talk to, someone who would listen, and someone to be there. And at the time, I wanted to be that girl who dropped everything to do just that. Sometimes he would come in to talk, about things on base or about his daughter who was hundreds of miles away, other times we would just relax and it was as if nothing needed to be said at all. He just needed an escape. And I won’t be so naïve as to think that there were possibly other girls that would have done the trick, but I know why he picked me. I gave him my attention. I was a good listener. We could sit in silence together. I was supportive. And I didn’t judge him. Our relationship was like this for about six months, seeing him as often as once a week or as little as once a month. Rarely did I ever need to contact him. I always knew it was just a matter of time until I’d be hearing from him again. I let him come to me. After all, he was that guy.
One night he came to Louisville on his yellow Harley Davidson. (Like I was saying, anything dangerous has his name written all over it.) On this particular night, it began to storm. He got caught in pouring down rain, thunder and lightning, and he was still quite a ways from my house. When I went to pick him up, he was soaking wet and exhausted but still offered to drive my car home so I wouldn’t have to drive through the mess. He treated me like I was special. Like I was a prize. But we both had no illusions about our relationship. It was never going to work out. I know from time to time I wondered “what if”. I will not lie; I was pretty smitten with him. But deep in my heart, I knew the relationship was not going anywhere. He was not my Mr. Right, and truthfully, I don’t know if Mr. Ninja will ever marry… again. He had gotten married several years before, prior to his first deployment. While he was gone, his wife had multiple affairs. With some of his friends even. Their marriage lasted less than a year. When I knew him, he still had not recovered. And maybe that’s another reason why he came to see me… he could trust me. He let me know in his way that he cared about me and would say sweet things or look at me a certain way to try and convey that to me. I think he was always scared of getting too close. To me or to anyone else. This post is named after the song he played for me, a song I will never forget. And it really is perfect for us.
I guess in a way Mr. Ninja did end up hurting himself. Unlike a tragic accident, when all the injuries happen at once, Mr. Ninja was slowing injuring his body. He was 30 years old and had been pushing himself to such physical extremes for years. His spine was taking the blow and he needed surgery, badly. And eventually, he decided it was time. His neck was where most of the damage had been done. When I saw him after the surgery, he was still having problems with movement and pain. One half of his body was limp. He was losing muscle tone because he couldn’t workout. He was having problems with his jaw and the muscles surrounding his mouth so he barely ate. There were times when the pain would get so bad in his neck that he would freeze up, unable to move. I could see the pain he was in but he didn’t like being doped up on drugs. He was on medical leave so he couldn’t do much on base. He was going through a rough patch and was questioning everything he was going to do in life from that moment forward. I didn’t know what do other than to be supportive and just listen. That’s what he came for I suppose. After I saw Mr. Ninja that night, just a couple weeks after his surgery, I never saw him again. It was only a matter of days before he got the news that he was being stationed on a base down south. There was never much closure, but then again, there was never really anything to talk about. After all, he was that guy.
Relationships like the one I had with Mr. Ninja are unique. Usually both people know that it’s not going to end anywhere but they know they want to do it anyway. We both needed it for some reason or another. The connection was there and it was almost like instantaneously we both chose to just go with it. I can’t say that I would ever go through that again for anyone else, but then again, I haven’t met anyone else like Mr. Ninja. Though a part of me loved Mr. Ninja for the person he was, these days I’m not settling for anything less than the full package and that’s just not something he could have given me. Things ended when they needed too. The closer we got, the harder it would have been to say goodbye. I don’t know where he is these days or what he’s doing, but I wish him all the best.
Our hearts and our minds sometimes lead us in different directions. My mind always knew that things with Mr. Ninja would never work but my heart was telling me to stay put. I would never say that seeing Mr. Ninja was a mistake but I was definitely making life harder for myself. Getting involved with someone that I knew deep down I had no future with was just setting myself up for emotional turmoil later. But it is through the tough times that we learn and we grow and though it may be tough, we hang on to the good moments, the happy memories that we play again and again in our minds, and we hold on to those forever.