Now, I haven’t always been a fan of Saul (played by Ron Rifkin). He just always seemed to cause some kind of trouble, didn’t he? He was always making the wrong choices at Ojai Foods, or doing deals on the side he wasn’t supposed to be doing, or having meetings he wasn’t supposed to be having. My husband, who would often overhear the show from another room, would walk in, see that people were crying and ask, “Oh, geez, was it Saul? What did he do now?” and I’d laugh, explaining that yes, Saul had shaken things up again.
But this week, I loved Saul for the struggle he’s been going through and the way he bounced out of it. Saul, you see, is a sixty-something man who recently came out as gay and also found out he is HIV positive. This week, he went on a few dates with a man he really likes—Charlie, played by the Seventh Heaven dad, who I love—but was too scared to reveal his HIV status. Saul’s nephew Kevin and Kevin’s husband Scotty (played by Matthew Rhys and Luke MacFarlane, respectively) suggest that Saul tell him and get it over with. So, Saul reveals his secret, but Charlie backs away, not wanting to have to watch Saul get sick like his last partner.
The moment I loved was hearing Saul explain how he felt about it. As he told Kevin and Scotty:
“Come on, if you hadn’t had pushed me, I’d probably still be standing at the edge of that cliff, afraid to jump. So I jumped, I hit the rocks, it hurt like hell and I’m still standing.”
Kevin and Scotty push for more, but Saul insists:
“I’m fine. I’m better than fine. Look, I realized how lucky I am, okay? Charlie’s lover died, I’ve been symptom free for probably thirty years, and we know that could change, right? So the next time I’m on the edge of that cliff, I’ll probably leap even faster, just keep pushing me. I could always use a little shove.
Getting stuck on that cliff happens in dating all the time, right? Maybe you like someone and you don’t know how to make a move. Maybe you have a crush on a friend of yours, but you fear ruining the friendship by saying so. Maybe you’ve had a few dates and because the phone calls and texts are so erratic, you can’t tell where you stand with them. Hey, that’s dating. But there is a potential problem with all of these scenarios: When you’re stuck all alone on The Cliff of the Confused, you get stalled by fear, and you may find you don’t open yourself up to anyone else because dealing with your unresolved “relationship.” How do you know you’re stuck?
Signs you’re stuck on The Cliff of the Confused:
1. You check your phone for messages or texts from the person you like, and the messages aren’t there more often than they are.
2. You feel like you have to work hard at coming up with irrational ways to involve the person you like. Like, “Ooh, maybe I’ll call him to and say my company needs the recipe of those burger buns he said his cousin made once.”
3. Your friends have devolved into responding, “Uh huh” or “Yep” when you circle the same rationalizations about this same dating situation (again)—or someone finally just says, “Just do it already!”
See, when you’re stuck on The Cliff of the Confused, you’re so busy checking your texts, and talking about the person and working so hard to be around them, you don’t even notice the cute new single person who was smiling at you at the party.
I’m not saying that every time you like someone you should take the leap and lay a big ol’ smacker on them right away. But if you feel like you’re treading water with someone, maybe it’s time to resolve where you stand once and for all. Free yourself from the questions of “Does he or doesn’t he?” “Would she or wouldn’t she?” and “What if…?” Take the leap off and find out! Maybe, like Saul, you’ll jump, hit the rocks and it’ll hurt like hell. But you’ll notice too that you’re still standing and that you may actually feel lighter for the leap. Because at least now you know.
The right love doesn’t make you feel like you’re on a cliff all alone. Your half-orange is either up there with you, or down below ready to catch you when you jump. So do yourself a favor and when you’re getting dizzy up there, remember this and take the leap. We could all sometimes use a little shove.