A Sorta End to a Sorta Relationship



I’ll never love again. Not that I was in love, but still…

This one was an Italian living in New York. She was nice and funny. When I’m honest with myself (why is that so hard?) the sex was not great-not the greatest anyway. I think it was a combination of her inexperience and us both wanting to be on top.

But that makes it sound like the blame is mostly hers. Is that true? It’s certainly not fair. I’m the one making the judgment and isn’t my perspective hopelessly compromised? Of course I think it’s her fault. Anything I do say that is self-critical is only to build my credibility as an unbiased source of information. That way, you’ll take what I do say against her more seriously. Right?

Still, she didn’t just relax and let me go down on her. That’s a fact. Nor would she speak during sex which threw me off.

We meet on a street corner near the only bar

in New York City not showing the Super Bowl.

Turns out she’s Italian. Turns out I’m from New York.

We already know from OkCupid that we’re both writers.

Choosing the right wine is awkward.

Talking about how we’re the only ones in the bar is funny.

She’s the one who starts making out with me.

I’m the one who asks if we can hang out again.

Probably the things I should learn from this- and I have to believe there is something to learn from this- are the following:

1) Keep your nails trimmed. (I have already purchased a set of nail files and I am going to do better.)

2) Feel out early on if she is looking for something serious or not and maybe don’t give her a chance if she’s not. (But am I looking for something serious? Or am I just serious-minded?)

There are things I definitely didn’t do wrong. I never drunk-dialed. I never mentioned a relationship. I never guilted her into hanging out. In short, I did not do any crazy-girl things.

I’m not sure entirely what I should have done differently. Or really, there are maybe things that I should have done differently…But that’s too easy to say. I should have been more beautiful. I should have been the perfect girl for her. (She wasn’t the perfect girl for me.) “Should” doesn’t seem like the right way to think.

But “would,’ that’s a different story. Would I have done anything differently under the circumstances? Very few things. I was on the verge of completely broke when we went on our first date- I had 100 dollars and spent 50 of it on red wine. Then I was completely broke for about a week there after we went out and got drunk and listened to show tunes. I like to think that I didn’t let any panic show. But I’m sure it was sort of obvious that something was off when I kept suggesting cheaper and cheaper drinks at cheaper and cheaper bars (“How about a Miller High Life at 7-11?”).

On a date we run out of the bar laughing and I try to explain why grape-vining is the only way to travel until we run into the window of a Starbucks and start making out. It’s decided we will race to her place. Only topless races count. Neither of us goes topless but it still counts. I’m behind, way behind. This is shocking. I am 18 inches taller. She falls like a trapdoor before I can catch up.

The next morning, the doctors in the Emergency Room say her elbow is broken.

We had fun when we were out. I went to see her when she broke her elbow (see vignette number 2). But for all that fun we had, there wasn’t enough to maintain a connection. Through work. Through the lack of sleep our relationship must have required for her- and for me too. We didn’t sleep in together even once.

She was always having more fun without me rather than with me. She went out dancing. She went to New Orleans, Las Vegas, Atlantic City and San Diego while I was at home debating between rice and pasta for dinner and phone interviewing for tutoring jobs. I was always a little relived when she went away because then I didn’t have to pay for the subway to go to the West Village.

At some point, I felt her somehow less excited to see me. When I calculate it (breaking up always requires some calculation. “Two weeks ago, we were sending cute texts. When did it go wrong?), I remember registering some disappointment on her face that night we met late after she was at work and I was Penny’s Open Mic.

She blew me off some weekend. I don’t remember when. Before she went to New Orleans. She was sorry. When she got back, I told her it would be cool if we spent more time together and asked her out on a proper date to show I meant it.

She said yes. I think she was trying to give me a chance on that date. (Or did she “feel bad?”) Possibly it was during that date that she decided she was over it. Possibly it was during that the sex that she decided she was over it. I know it was only okay for me and I bet the same was true for her. But how could I know? Whenever I had inquired on previous occasions she was at best dark.

There was a strange moment afterwards when I got up and walked around the bed and turned out the light. It may have been the first time she saw me completely naked and standing up. We slept pretty much separately.

By the time I woke up she was doing all the things she did every morning-showering, blow-drying, putting on make up. I got up and got ready too. It was raining and neither of us had an umbrella so we had to run off in different directions.

That was it. Then some silence then an awkward text. There was nothing particular that went wrong that night. We had fun and played boggle and she told me things about herself that I didn’t know but that cleared up a few things that had confused me- I don’t like to pry into the lives of a girl I date until I know her a bit. There had always been something a little strange going on- some kind of secret love which she would occasionally refer. An androgynous girl who may have had tattoos and a coke problem.

The Boggle letters are covered in whiskey and we start talking about other things. She’s talking around something. I ask her to tell me what it is. She doesn’t want to but she’s doing it anyway. We’re both being polite. She’s talking through the story and I’m having trouble staying upright on the bar stool.The booze makes my vision of the bar blurry but I manage to keep her in focus. I feel how I do when I tutor or teach English, like I’m doing my job to draw out the student’s response: “And then what happened? And then?”

When she finished telling me, I don’t feel like a lover. It doesn’t feel like intimacy. It feels like I just practiced active listening and I can tell she’s not sure she’s happy she told me. But we’re sleeping together and that means honesty, right? I express my condolences and we both change the subject.

She didn’t have time for a real connection. As comforting as that notion is, is that why it ended? Or was it the sex? Or the allure of this past relationship with that androgynous girl-the one she wrote a whole film about? Or was it something that I have no way of knowing and could not face?

It occurs to me, as I write all this, that I could never (never!) have said any of these things to her. That the time we spent together, laughing, joking, drinking, making out, had nothing to do with any of this. With her, I wanted to have a good time and forget my money and writing problems. I deliberately kept them hidden from her. That perhaps (perhaps!) is something I would have done differently.



One thought on “A Sorta End to a Sorta Relationship

  1. so in other words, nothing real. none of that stupid spongy accordion paper, even. just the afterimage of a dancing cupcake on some stupid girl’s retinae, placed there by the flashing stroboscope of a lie, accelerating from a series of rapid instantaneous freeze-frame-falsities to the asymptote of some kind of idiotic, self-serving, drunken calculus. a light show so impressive that by the end of it, evidently, even you were half-convinced.

    all you had to do was tell the truth. not to her: trust your instict; she wanted nothing to do with either your money or your writing problems. to yourself. the misgivings you had during your very first impression were correct. duh. they ALWAYS ARE. love, darling. that’s what you’re looking for. none of this other imagined, superficial, ridiculous nonsense. just love, in whatever form it happens to present itself.

    stop chasing your goddamn adolescent phantoms. and, by the way, i’m sure the film she made about said androgynous girl was TERRIBLE, irrespective of the degree to which you’ve romanticized it.

    my point: ATTRACTIVE DOES NOT EQUAL INTERESTING, EVEN IF SHE’S A LESBIAN. (maybe even ESPECIALLY if she’s a lesbian, in this day & age & geographic locale.)

    christ almighty. do you really need a dude to explain this to you?

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