I don’t know what it says about me that pictures of impeccable interior home decor make me extremely nervous. See the photo above of the perfect dining room table with coordinating wine glasses and tiny trees (tiny trees…) and perfectly pushed in matching chairs to boot? It’s beautiful and tasteful and elegant. I like to imagine throwing a dinner party with my closest friends all in attendance, presiding over the head of the table, laughing and talking and drinking a vintage noir.
But oh my god, in the present time this could not be lightyears away from where I am. So many internal insecurities of mine show up if I look at this for too long. First of all, there’s a lot of stuff in this picture. Tables, chairs, silverware, chandeliers, napkins. I feel like yelling at the Pottery Barn people don’t you know that you could lose all of that in a second if Mother Nature shows up? Or that in the event that you need to pack everything up and move you couldn’t do it without a dozen or more movers helping you? How do you not accidentally break a wine glass or crack a dirty joke at the table in front of everyone or smack your head into one of those chandeliers? And even if it were a dinner party, it would probably still be a party for one as you will note the five chairs in the picture. So I can invite two of my closest couple friends and be single. Or I can invite all of my closest girlfriends who are all in great relationships with wonderful men and listen to them talk about their anniversaries and engagement rings.
Pottery Barn, do you make a tasteful enough bathroom setting for a girl to go cry in the shower in? An 800 thread count shower curtain in a neutral shade? A porcelain tissue box?
In the next five years, my friendship landscapes will be completely different from how they were and how they are now. The majority of my girlfriends will be “Mrs.” with completely different last names. I’m quite happy about this because as of right now, not a single one of them are dating Mr. Wrong. They’re all a series of Mr. Rights which means that at future weddings to come, I won’t be silently debating to myself, “Really? Really? Do I have to be the one to get up and say it? Goddamnit. HE A CHEATER YO!” when the minister asks if anyone should speak now or forever hold their piece.
But then we have to circle back to me, which makes sense because I’ll probably be situated at a kids’ table during the reception coloring in a coloring book and fighting over the blue crayons with an 8 year old.
My closest friends and family often remark that the person I’ll wind up with will be “special.” It has since been an adjective that has plagued me. Special. Nobody ever says, “he’ll be handsome” or “he’ll be a real funny man” when it comes to pegging my future significant other down. Nope, it’s just… special. Which isn’t bad. And I’m sure somewhere in some other household somewhere a guy overheard a similar conversation between his parents once. It just leaves a lot open for interpretation is all.
Once when I was 19 or so, I got really drunk with a group of friends. During this time of drinking, I had what is known as the “beer tears” and suddenly started crying because I had a thought. A thought so upsetting that it sobered me up completely.
“What’s wrong?” the girls sitting with me asked.
“It’s… it’s my soulmate!” I managed to choke out. They all looked dumbfounded… kinda. I mean, I was drunk.
“What about your soulmate?”
“Oh, you know.” I shrugged, tears still falling out my eyes, “I’m never going to meet him.”
“Aww c’mon sure you will!”
“No I won’t. I know I won’t.”
“Why? Why won’t you.”
“Because. He got hit by lightning and died a long time ago!”
Fucking everyone started laughing at this point but not in a mean way. “That didn’t happen Heather!”
“Maybe not yet but it will. It will happen to me. I know it’s a long shot, but I’m never going to get to meet him.” And I remember twisting my hands into my skirt, completely convinced that this thought my drunk brain had conjured up was right.
“You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?”
Here we are, almost six years later. I don’t actually think I lost a soulmate to a bolt of lightning and I’m still far from the idealistic and refined look of a well put together dinner party, even if I would like to have one in the future.
And I guess it makes sense that almost six years later, I feel like I’m growing really sick of being single all the time. I could either date someone for the sake of dating someone or wait and hold out for someone that I have actual chemistry with to come along. The latter is what I’m good at and have been doing with all of my priorities focused on work in the meantime. I have a strange, face to the sun approach about this - a quiet inner voice that says I’m not wrong in what I’ve been doing so far, even if Facebook and its millions of engagement announcements and parade of wedding photos says otherwise.
Sometimes I get scared thinking about a future long-term relationship.
I’m terrified that if I get close, it will push that person away from me. I don’t like it when my first argument with a person is my last and we never talk again. I don’t want to be in charge constantly. I hate the idea that it is entirely possible that I could die alone one day. I don’t want to spend my entire life working and working and working and working while everyone else around me has a special someone that they can celebrate holidays with and go out with and vacation together and I have… my iPhone. I don’t like it when people tell me that they want to talk to me but are afraid to. Goddamnit, don’t be. Grab my arm and do it already.
I just want someone to hurry up and see me. I’m so impatient this way. I know it won’t hurry because this isn’t just my life at play here - it’s the other person’s life too. I’m destined to learn lessons along the way and wait and test my patience and wait some more and get a whole bunch of obstacles in the way that I don’t want and I’m certain they don’t either.
Nothing about this is meant to be conventional. This I know to be true.
But I just know all of it will be special.
Also, I need to get off the Pottery Barn mailing list.
Correction: meeting people to date period who aren’t psychopaths/creeps/wackos blows.
If there’s one thing that can be said for the education system, it’s that going to school from pre-K through graduate means that inevitably you’ll be surrounded by a shitload of people for about 8+ hours a day, five days a week. Now you may not like all of these people and most of the time you might just want to run home and hide in a cool and quiet place that isn’t frantically yammering on about so and so hooking up with so and so’s best friend’s third cousin twice removed from Indiana. But the nice thing is that these people typically rotate out the higher up the school ladder you go. Before you know it, you’re in high school with a whole new group of guys and girls, then college, then perhaps even grad school. And no matter what year you are, you’ll definitely meet people that you genuinely like and develop solid friendships and spend some very meaningful drunken moments with.
Beyond the friendship comes the relationship. A very popular (but unproven) statistic roaming on Tumblr states that at the age of 16, 80% of people have met who they’re going to marry. Cutesy. In the real stats category though, lies this bombshell from MSNBC’s ‘Why Men Marry Some Women And Not Others’:
-men who have graduated from high school begin thinking about marriage at the age of 23 and 24
-men who have graduated from college REALLY start thinking about tying the knot at 26
-men who are college grads are likely to propose between the ages of 28-33
-31 and 32 are the tipping point ages for educated men looking to commit - still high but slowly slipping
-37 and 38 are the years where the will to get married decline significantly for men
And so on. Just as women are given creepy deadlines for their uterus’s, so must a man be pegged into the Will Freeman box if he isn’t married by a particular age.
Stats aside, I have always harbored a slight resentment toward people who found their mates in high school/college. Ironically enough, I have some family members who did that. My uncle and aunt met in high school and married shortly afterward. A similar thing went down with my parents who met when they were both in the military together. The resentment is that from where I stand, it seems easy and convenient enough when you’re in school or in a similar establishment that has rooted through the weirdos. Not when you’re in your twenties as a post grad and nobody warns you that from here on out, you’re on the road to blind dates, set-ups from friends, and meeting people online.
Meeting people online to date is rough and I do mean that in the fullest sense. Even that little protective computer screen mask can prove to be a disadvantage because you never quite know if the person behind the screen is just like the way they portray themselves in real life (and it always, always, always sucks when they aren’t.) People online don’t always “get” how to talk to the opposite sex either - no, no brah, none of that “ur hotttt w/a bangin’ bod” mess - did you go to school at all? Is that what wins people over? I feel like I’d need a boatload of daddy issues in order to enjoy that noise.
And then there’s the whole “let’s meet up!” thing with online dating. That in itself is, unbeknownst to the guy, an entirely orchestrated affair on my part. It has to be in a well lit place in an area that I am familiar with, with at least one or two people I know scattered nearby in case the date goes sour. Well, more than just sour, in the event of creeptasticness occurring. My life isn’t about to turn into a real life version of 'Megan is Missing' or have a sudden plot twist laced with Ted Bundy elements. Maybe it does sound paranoid to some degree, but to me it’s smart and I’m certainly thankful that as a teenager I read as much about true crime as I could.
Meanwhile, the blind date and set-up road has 50/50 elements to it. I’ve been on a few successful blind dates (the few, the proud) and more godawful ones (the wigger guy from college, the end.) What makes the blind date work for me is if the guy comes in with confidence and can make me laugh from the get-go. He has to be able to keep my interest. More importantly, he has to be able to keep me from wandering over to the bar and making a new guy bar friend. My ex in college won me over with a joke about cocaine (it did not hurt that we had stupidly high chemistry together either). So… just be confident and funny and willing to challenge me and we should get along just fine for the night.
Oh yeah and there’s that other thing, that whole “I don’t want a long term relationship!” thing that I bring to the table. Just the other night, I was chided via text for leading some dude on for being “too flirty.” Luckily for him, I was three bellinis deep so the text didn’t have its intended effect had I read it straight poker faced but it was a weird message. Who tells a person that being too flirty is a bad thing? And to that end, this is the first time I have ever been referred to as “too flirty.” Well shit son, it really is a new age in my life! Hester Prynne better step off because somebody’s gonna be rocking that scarlet letter “F” with some serious pride.
But let me break down what “I don’t want a long term relationship!” means in the world of Heather Anne Taylor. I know what I want and what I’m looking for and will not budge. This element of expectation has pissed off some of my girlfriends (the super savvy dating ones) who constantly tell me to lower some of my expectations. And I do, occasionally, but those expectations only drop for the short term. The long term is elusive. It’s for somebody I don’t know yet. I haven’t met this person. I know this because the moment I have I will know - or at least as much as I can know. The only feeling I can compare it to will be how I knew what college I would go to. That feeling weighed me down each day but in a pleasant, motivating way. And I do believe the feeling will be mutual on the other side which is also the only way I can have it.
You want someone you can laugh with, fight for, hold up when they’re down, get that comfortable silence with, confide, trust, and believe in and really just feel like ripping all of their clothes off constantly (or is that last bit just me?) Why consider any of that to be too much of a tall order or an expectation? It shouldn’t be and that my friends is what I would want in a long term relationship. Sure, there would be shit days and good ones and unexpected things you just don’t want to happen. But you would be able to weather through that storm and come out on the other side stronger. I think that’s what I envy about couples the most. No matter what the platform you met them on was like, it’s just knowing that there are two people who just get each other so much that together they make each other all the stronger and happier for it.
It’s really quite beautiful if you put it into that perspective.
IN THE MEANTIME, your girl isn’t dumbing down that single life by any means. Go on and get it with your wonderfully awesome single self! Wear that scarlet letter F for flirt with pride! Do that single and mingle thing for what it’s worth! Even if you’d rather build a fort in your bed and watch an episode of Bob’s Burgers while eating gummy bears, motivate yourself to "throw on a skirt, take off [your] underwear, and make your Pop-pop proud!"
And really just be able see every dating mishap as a great story to tell - some of your couple friends cannot say they once went out with a white guy with a gold tooth and a do-rag with his pants hanging off this ass. But you can. Air five to you.
Another week, another TC post. Last week I was being shamed for having not accomplished a bullshit bucket list before I hit the big 2-5 later this year, this week it’s about listing off 41 reasons why I should spend every moment of my waking life bemoaning my singlehood. Or something like that, I haven’t read the list yet.
Let’s go through it together and bold what applies to me/include lively commentary on all of the rest!
1. Watching every episode of Arrested Development a hundred times takes up a lot of your free time.
But when the money’s always in the banana stand, you know you made the right choice.
2. You already have three husbands you are very devoted to. Their names are Aaron Sorkin, Jay Gatsby and Binge Eating.
It’s painful how much you can tell whoever wrote this truly believes that this is a snarky, snarky, and wit-laden sentence. Oh haha, women sure do love eating their feelings!
3. Often food finds its way back out of the garbage and into your mouth. How did that get there?
WHAT. EVEN. That’s not a legit concern for being single. That’s an eating problem/weird wackness.
4. You don’t remember the last time you did laundry.
Sunday, 3 PM, BOOM.
5. Sometimes you’d rather just fall asleep while watching Felicity or Joseph Campbell documentaries than even attempt to have intercourse with someone.
6. Your Snuggie isn’t built for two.
Can you even imagine me with a Snuggie? Hell would be 70 degrees and breezy first.
7. The only pitter-patter of little feet you want in your apartment right now is from the cockroaches in the kitchen, who at least feed themselves and presumably change all their own diapers.
It’s a safe bet to say that whether single or taken, fucking nobody wants that sound in their kitchen.
8. Your parents haven’t gotten up the nerve to directly have you married off, but sometimes at Christmas, you see a strange glaze come over your mother’s eyes and you know she’s thinking it.
Particularly whenever I’m in the same room as a male in his 20’s-40’s who is single, financially stable, and we appear to be smiling/laughing/acknowledging the other’s presence. My mother isn’t the only person who applies in this scenario either - lately my grandmother’s first question on the phone to me has been “So, are there any young men in your life?” GRANDMA PLEASE.
9. The only blind date you ever liked was the time you and an ex got drunk and watched The Miracle Worker on DVD.
Disagree. The best blind date of my life was with a Mormon guy. We went and saw Valkyrie and made fun of the whole movie. He was gorgeous, but had to leave to go on his mission overseas. Very sad. I would have been down to be a sister wife and move to Utah.
I also can’t remember his name. Let’s just call him Hot Mormon.
10. In late fall and winter, you like to not shave your legs or your back or your chest or anything for a solid four months and not have to have to worry about anyone looking at it.
I shave every single day. I have a bizarre fear that if I died tomorrow and wound up on the coroner’s table, they’d mention my hairy legs first, had I not shaved.
11. When you get home, you just want to put on the sweatpants and not give any fucks.
I’m literally the happiest when I’m wearing just tights and an oversized men’s dress shirt with my hair up.
12. You don’t want anyone to know just how often you watch Toddlers and Tiaras. No one goes near your TiVo.
People should just not know how many times I’ve watched certain episodes of Game of Thrones is all I’m saying.
13. Hogging the whole bed and just rolling around in it comfortably is often just as good as having someone in it with you.
Better actually because you get the whole thing!
14. You watched Fatal Attraction for the first time and never want to go back in that water again.
Never seen it.
15. To quote the immortal Cher Horowitz — sage guide of all mankind — you know how picky you are about your shoes, and they only go on your feet.
"So, okay, I don’t want to be a traitor my generation and all but I don’t get how guys dress today. I mean, come on, it looks like they just fell out of bed, and put on some baggy pants and take their greasy hair, ew, and cover it up with a backwards cap and we’re expected to swoon? I don’t think so."
This movie was made in 1995 and 17 years later, it still holds true.
16. You plan on actually reading Infinite Jest or Finnegan’s Wake this summer, meaning you are clearing your schedule of any other commitments ever.
I’ve been saying this about Atlas Shrugged for at least 4 years now but somehow, dicking around on the internet always wins out (sorry Ayn Rand.)
17. Meg Ryan set you up to fail.
She was far too blonde and bubbly for the younger version of me to identify with. Growing up, I always felt like a cross between Winona Ryder and Christina Ricci.
18. You fart way more often than you would like to be accountable for.
Not more than the average person I’d say.
19. You are terrified of turning into your mother/father and even more than that, anyone ever bringing that up to you.
I will grow up to be my own person. That’s all.
20. You are equally nervous that you’ve already romantically peaked. How dare your ex for being such a good partner and setting the bar so high?
Yeah, how dare he! What an outrage! (Kidding, of course.)
21. You only ever see the same 15 people on OkCupid and one of them is your cousin.
I don’t do OkCupid.
22. Fiona Apple just won’t let you be happy.
No, no, she made me quite content in high school.
23. You had to read The Awakening in high school, and you never really got over it. Because that’s what happens when you are in love, and it’s the worst thing ever. You give up your children and then drown in a lake.
Um, wow. Thanks for the synopsis.
24. You, unfortunately, probably won’t marry Ryan Gosling or Christina Hendricks, because they won’t return any of your calls, and definitely can’t marry Doctor Who, because he isn’t real. And Anderson Cooper is gay now (or if you are gay, already taken), so you are even more doomed.
THERE IS NO HOPE FOR ANY OF US IS THERE.
25. You leave the bathroom door open, a lot. You sometimes forget the bathroom even has a door, and you’re all like, “Wait, we don’t pee in a barn?”
Maybe if a guy was reading this, this might be applicable, but I have roommates and I’m a girl, so, no.
26. Your mother won’t stop pulling out your baby photos and your dad probably still has that shotgun for potential mates.
Welp, they live 2000 miles away so that doesn’t happen. Yeaaaaaaah boi!!!
27. You can’t stop drunk dialing people, even though you barely know how to work the smart phone that the people at the door swore you were smart enough to figure out. Drunk dialing, that you can do.
Drunk texting but I did stop, sometime last year, I DID.
28. You never cook ever, and one time, you seriously considered using the oven to hold excess pairs of shoes because Lorelai Gilmore told you it was a good idea. Who are you to argue with a Gilmore?
It was Carrie Bradshaw who said to keep magazines in the oven (or was it the bathtub?). Either way, terrible ideas - c’mon you guys I’m not that much of a kitchen dunce.
29. Your kitchen sink could be certified as a disaster area some days, especially if those days fall during finals week or thesis deadlines.
I clean when I’m stressed so nope, not our sink.
30. You tend to fall in love with everyone you meet, and you can’t legally marry all of them. Also, Big Love proves that if you did marry all of them, it would be exhausting and one of them would be played by Chloe Sevigny. So, no, thank you.
Ugh, can you imagine the shitshow that would be marriage to ALL of the guys (or girls) you ever had a thing for? Except for Hot Mormon, this would all. be. just. terrible.
Yeah, and don’t forget that Chloe Sevigny had a shopping problem on that show in the first season and rang up over 10 grand on 9 different credit cards. But her dad was also Harry Dean Stanton so you take the good with the bad I guess.
31. Your imaginary girlfriend or boyfriend dumped you when you were 12, and you are still pining for them.
It was a prince I had a dream about getting married to when I was 10 and never saw again. Thanks, subconscious, thanks.
32. Your cat can’t sign a marriage license or write wedding vows because of a lack of opposable thumbs, but if she could, you would make her so happy, just like a Rihanna song.
Not a cat person.
33. When you add up your best friends, they are like having a spouse already, and they are just as needy as one. And usually, when you are out with any of them, people think you are either dating, married or conjoined twins.
I’ve said it multiple times, but if I had been born a guy, I would have dated almost all of my girlfriends. I would have also been a great dresser and my name would have been Heath. (You think about these things often when you’re the only girl out of four kids.)
34. You don’t get bars that aren’t dive bars. How the hell can you be expected to hear anyone when the blaring techno beats won’t leave your ears alone? PISS OFF, KE$HA. Instead, you would rather go to a place where all the patrons remind you of Tom Waits songs and typical conversation involves Reaganomics and Vietnam flashbacks.
Dive bars creep me out. Bring on the flashing lights, excuse to wear a sparkly dress, Calvin Harris remixes, and brahs at the bar who buy you fruity drinks with grenadine and rum.
35. You know that society expects you to go out and look like a Nicki Minaj video on Friday nights, but most of the time you would secretly rather stay in, have about five glasses of wine and watch reruns of Nova on PBS. Because you are internally a 50-year-old woman.
It’s only internally 50-year-old woman status worthy if you replace the wine with tea.
36. Your life model is Liz Lemon, which is great for most things but a very bad idea when it comes to relationships.
But who doesn’t love Liz when they first watch 30 Rock? Workin’ on my night cheese!
37. The pizza delivery guy doesn’t sell future husbands, just future sadness when you see the five pizza boxes lying near the trash and you know that no one else ate pizza in your apartment last night.
Again, how did you eat five pizzas in one night? Only if you had a bad breakup is that allowed and even then you’re pushing it beyond one small box.
38. Every time you tell your therapist that you are ready to start dating again, they chuckle. Not an outright laugh that would overtly acknowledge the ludicrousness of your idea, but just something to make you nervous about it. You are thinking of getting a therapist to help you deal with being in therapy.
You know what made me chuckle? The idea that Thought Catalog believes that I a) have money for a therapist and b) have issues severe enough to see a therapist. I just read The Onion and I’m better again. That’s free and it’s funny.
39. You have a bad habit of running into things when you check someone out, like you are the lead in a 90s romantic comedy.
40. You really like being single and being your own person, and not just because the Spice Girls told you to. You know you could be just as empowered in a relationship, but right now, you are just cool doing you. Got a problem with that, Mom, Grandma, and that guy at the grocery store checkout who is weirdly insistent upon the fact that you should be “settled down?” Tough.
I’d bold this if it didn’t end on a slightly “you want some, huh? HUH?” almost threatening note.
41. Settling is for pilgrims. You’d rather be with someone when it doesn’t feel like settling, it just feels right.
Pretty much, yeah!
The last couple of days I’ve been watching a lot of old episodes of Sex and the City. Most of this has been because I’ve been incredibly sick and coughing and just a general hot mess of snot and exhaustion and sore throats. During times like these (which rarely happen to me, I don’t get sick often if ever) I turn to my ultimate comfort food source: Carrie Bradshaw and co. navigating the streets of early 2000’s New York City.
And true to Bradshaw form, recently I had a thought concerning the character Charlotte York. In a nutshell, Charlotte is the prim member of the group with believes in true love and has pretty strict rules she abides by when it comes to relationships. As with anyone who tries to lead their life based off of a perfect vision in their head, this blows up in her face. Charlotte is the first member of the group to get married and divorced from her hot, hot, hot husband Trey MacDougal and then falls in love with her not-hot lawyer Harry Goldenblatt who is also Jewish which forces her to kiss her WASP roots goodbye in favor of some newfound JAP ones.
Here’s what my thought was about her. As the child of any set of parents knows, eventually you get curious about how your parents met and fell in love. You tend to ask this question to your parents at various stages of your life too like when you’re in grade school and still aren’t sure of how love works or when you’re in your twenties and are already jaded by a shitload of terrible relationships with douchebag dudes.
What the hell would Charlotte tell her children? As we learn by the second SATC movie (don’t watch it, please don’t), Charlotte has two daughters, adopted Lily and naturally conceived Rose with Harry. The first time Charlotte and Harry meet is when Charlotte is finalizing her divorce. The attorney working with her is really attractive and she has a hard time focusing on anything beyond that fact. Then Harry comes running into the room with his bald head and being sweaty and yammering on about blueberry bagels being the bad bagel to eat. And because he’s not handsome, Charlotte asks to have him represent her so she can focus on being a hardass with her ex mother-in-law.
Then Harry and Charlotte wind up having sex at his friend’s place and she complains to her gay best friend Anthony that it was disgusting and sweaty and he just laughs and gets to use the great line “ugly sex is hot.” But seriously Charlotte? Is this what you’re going to tell your kids one day? “Well, I met your daddy because I was working with a lawyer who was really hot and couldn’t deal with the fact that I had to keep reapplying lip gloss all the time with him so I decided to settle with a baldie that I had to change everything about myself for while he stayed more or less the same but no longer teabags around the house and sits on the white couches with his bare ass. And I grew to love him! Over time! It was true love!”
I am totally alone in this respect but at least with Trey there was slightly more romance to open the story of how they met off with. Charlotte fell in the street trying to run away from a creepy guy friend and Trey jumped out of a taxi to help her up. Trey asked her to help him pick out a ring at Tiffany & Co.- an engagement ring.
Nevermind the whole “Schooner and Rebecca” thing. That kills the vibe (not to mention there might not have been any kids to tell said story to).
*Ever have one of those days where you work so hard on every possible writing genre but fiction and it literally consumes your soul in being all that you want to do? Me, today. This is a follow-up to From A Distance. I switched over to first person in Abby’s voice. When we last left her, Abby was totally hungover and about to have lunch with the guy she used to date who broke up with her. Bad move, Abby, bad move…*
It wasn’t the exact same table where he broke up with me because the actual table was really a countertop in his parents’ home. It wasn’t the exact same restaurant because we had been inside of his kitchen where I was kneading dough. I had wanted to make a pizza that night. It was a meal I made whenever I felt most at home, most comfortable, and I knew for a fact that his family rarely ate pizza outside of his father so I really wanted to have them try my cooking specialty. In retrospect, I could have slapped that blissful smile right off of my face, the ponytail braided so tightly up on my head, the fact that little warning signs were bouncing off of me left and right and I did nothing to heed them. All I did was focus on making that chunky pile of yeasty dough smooth and flat. That, and admire my diamond ring glittering in the overhead lighting.
Marc is sitting very straight across from me at the lunch table, his posture stiff, his salad so put together it looks almost fake. He is smiling at me. He is trying to smile at me. There is something right behind his light brown eyes that looks at me as though he wants to try to like me again but is leery of how I might respond and weary of trying to figure out if I will either behave normally or like I’m batshit insane. And since I’m still dressed in the outfit I wore while downing 16 shots last night during the Shot-Off and haven’t eaten in 24 hours, the likelihood of it being the latter is about 89% right now. And counting.
“So, uh, you look… you look…” Mr. Polo Prep is nervous, but masks it underneath a laugh and hides his chin in his hand, “Lazy Saturday huh?”
A woman at the table next to me is digging into a grapefruit with a spoon. I want nothing more than to have the juice squirt everywhere into his eyes. “Not really,” I reply back, bringing my legs to my chest and hugging them there, “It’s laundry day.”
Abby that was a nice reply- no sarcasm! My brain gives me a thunderous roar of applause instead of patting me on the back though either action would still make me throw up a little in my mouth. My cheeks puff up like a chipmunk and I turn my head and quickly, forcibly, swallow my own vomit. It tastes like shot number 9 from last night is making its way back up and out- Abbie’s French Kiss.
“It’s perfect for you,” slurred the guy who bought it for me (Stu? Roger?), “because it’s your name and I wanna make out with you later.”
“Are you okay Abby?” Marc asks me and I turn back around and nod, “Uh huh. Just the hiccups.”
Then he does the thing I kind of knew he would do because anytime I used to get sick, he always did it. He reaches out and takes my hand and softly places it in between his own two hands. Then he gives it a quick massage. It’s soothing. For the first time all morning, I don’t feel like I’m going to be sick. The sky is no longer a gash of bright blue paint thrown in the air and the sun isn’t scorching my hair to bits. The ocean is calm and beguiling and holy hell, I can actually think of and use that word to describe something after a night of intense, almost stomach pump inducing drinking! Everything is hushed around us because that stupid thing is happening again like it did when we first met. When it was like we were the universe all of a sudden and every day and night only existed because we made it so. Some people call it love. Others call it soulmates. My parents used to call him “the one.” His parents used to call me “perfect.”
I don’t know what he ever called it because he broke up with me before he said those three words or any other assorted three words to me. The three words I call it now are these: “the empty finger.” He cradles the hand that once wore the diamond he gave me when he proposed that required four simple words, but somehow, those three words I thought I’d be hearing I didn’t.
Instead I got saddled with these five, two months later. “We need to break up.” Five more words, enough to fit onto one hand.
I lean forward and reach out to smooth my left hand against his stubbly face and push back his shaggy hair. Christ, not again. Does the boy not own a pair of scissors? I tilt my head to the side and flutter my lashes at him and sweetly murmur, “Oh, Marc.”
He tightens his grip on my right hand and I let my left hand trail down his face until it drops. His eyes are shut, “I’ve missed this so much. Oh, Abby. My mother was right.”
“Right about what?” My hand draws back.
“Your fingers are pretty fat. You should really see someone about that.”
BOOM! My hand sails through the air and instead of slapping him; I have made a fist and punched him in the left eye. Marc tumbles out of his chair and since my hand is still in his, I go down with him, screaming and grabbing the table for support but only bringing down the tablecloth, salad, water, and silverware with me. In a show of how much the universe is laughing at me, the salad lands on top of my head. Ranch dressing pools down my cheeks, hiding my tears. I wear the bowl like a hat.
“Jesus Christ!” Marc stands up, his eyelid all mottled pink, and I rip my hand free of his. “Oh Abby, your hair.” He chokes back a laugh, “You have a cucumber in your ear.” He can’t choke it back anymore; the boy breaks down chuckling like I’m someone who should be laughed at.
“Fuck you!” I shout and an audible gasp at my swearing fills the air at the restaurant, “Fuck you and your nasty greasy ass hair and your fucking stepmother and your degree in finance and your stupid, preppy sweater vests and for breaking up with me when I was wearing that ring! Why did you do it, Marc, huh? Why did you break up with me when you wanted to marry me? When we were engaged? Why?”
The cucumber is making it hard to hear so I pull it out and place it on the bare table. He looks at the ground and then back at me, “Let’s not do this here. Please Abby.”
“Why the hell not? Why is here any different from your parents’ kitchen huh? What, you afraid somebody might hear and hold it against you?”
“Well, with my family name, you never know-”
I cannot believe he just said that, “You mean your stepmother’s family name you fool!” I turn to the waitress behind me who is on her knees cleaning up the mess, “Excuse me miss, did you know that Marc here is related to a woman who is the fourth removed cousin of Lady Diana Spencer, better known as Princess Diana? Oh no? That’s because that ain’t even true! Your stepmother is a liar. A. Grade. A. Liar.”
“Are you through making a mess out of yourself?” Marc shouts at me to which I grin in reply at. Oh goody, my batshit insane is getting a rise out of him.
“Just tell me why you did it. Why did you dump me? I’m not someone who gets dumped, I’m not. I’m special Marc. I know… I know I am.” I tell him and stumble slightly toward him. Damn this hangover. By now more waitstaff have appeared and any minute now I’ll be sacked away from the public eye. Deep down, I don’t like this. I’m not an embarrassment. I’m not the hungover drunk I appear to be right now dressed like I fell out of the juniors section of Forever 21. I’ve worked in PR for seven years. I graduated Summa Cum Laude in college. I have a relatively grown-up closet and I pay my bills on time and I will buy yogurt instead of ice cream at the grocery store. But whenever I’m around Marc, it’s like a different me shows up. I like her because she’s different, but I hate her for the same reason. She’s never just right. She’s either too abrasive or too sweet or too quiet or too something else I don’t even know I can become but I do. Right now she’s just nobody I know which makes it easier for the real me to step outside of her and just watch it unfold. I’m alone in that respect. People aren’t sticking around to watch any more of my saucy lip. The outdoor portion of the restaurant is clearing out and I don’t blame them.
“Tell me-“Then it happens.
I throw up all over him. All over his sweater vest. And his leather Oxfords and distressed denim jeans. Marc smells like Three Wise Men now. Shot number 14.
“Oh! I’m so sorry,” I look down and then begin to tear up. I quickly look up, “That was-“
The only thing I see is his backside going into indoor part of the restaurant to the men’s restroom. All I hear him say is quietly echoed back, “I can’t deal with this shit anymore. No more.”
“… an accident. It was an accident.” I fold my arms together and sit down on the open chair. I pull the bowl off of my head. Almost immediately, a bird swoops down and bites at my scalp, “OWWWW!!” I scream and begin batting the leftovers off of my head. Pieces of shrimp land all around me. Of course he ordered a seafood salad.
So much for a beautiful pizza pie marriage.
I need a Sprite. Now.
Last night, my roommate and I were watching “Virgin Diaries” on TLC which was both incredibly horrifying and awesomely hilarious with the right touch of heartbreaking (how did they do that?!) all wrapped into one hour long special. My feelings on watching shows like these are split. There’s a part of me that feels very much enraged that somewhere out there, a sizable portion of the country tuning in is laughing and mocking these people at their celibate lifestyles. This same portion of me wants to blindly defend these people that I don’t even know. But then there is a separate portion of myself that is also laughing at them and can’t help it. This is the same portion of me who is just “oh come on!” You don’t tell a guy on your first date that you’re a virgin! And if you even want to have the date continue on to become ANYTHING beyond a first date, you sure as shit don’t go babbling, “I want kids!” or have your roommates (who are also single) meet your date at the door and badger him with 20 questions related to marriage. Also this is going to sound really bad, but the same portion of myself that rolls her eyes watching this and moans and groans is also the same person who thinks, “I am so glad I am nothing like that.” You know what I mean. I might have my own set of personality quirks, but I understand how to not be socially inept and downright weird in public. Which you’d only hope someone who works in communications with a degree in journalism would be but hey, not everyone in comm knows how to talk to people.
The best part of the show were the kissing scenes. Like fish sucking each other’s faces off. At one point there was just full on tongue everywhere and I nearly fell off the couch laughing. You really want the first kiss moment to be a sweet and cute one- as both a TV viewer and general human being- not one where you’re busting up laughing the entire time. In an off-hand way, this reminded me of my personal best kiss ever story. Ahhh this kiss. Twas a wonderful one, befitting for the evening.
It was the summer of 2008, right before I was set to move to California to attend school. Back in the day when I was working at Subway with my best buddy from home Melissa and was only a few weeks away from the big move. Mel got invited to go to a birthday party at this girl Leah’s house that weekend and asked me if I wanted to come along with her. Leah was in my year in high school and was a person I had lukewarm feelings towards. She wasn’t a bad person by any means but for a time there she was friends with this one girl I wasted too much time and friendship with in high school so I tended to steer clear of her. However, since we had both been out of high school for 2 years at the time, I decided to accept the invite and go with it. The theme of the birthday party was costume because Leah was really big on Halloween so we all got dressed up to go over. I dressed as the evil & sexy version of Alice in Wonderland with a pink and black wig on (important). Mel was a sexy version of Thomas the Tank which was basically her putting on a tiny ass Thomas the Tank engine tee shirt and matching shorts set. High-larious.
The setup for the house party was fairly standard. A few people at the beginning, then gradually more and more people started showing up, more alcohol, more kegs, the music got louder and louder, the scene got weirder and more hilarious, and the cops eventually got called. My memories from that night are spotty in some places and clear in others. A bunch of people I had gone to high school with showed up and all of them seemed extremely surprised to see me, swaying slightly from side to side from drinking, there. This is the same reaction I got in the 8th grade when I started going to mixers for the first time. Apparently virtually no one believes that I like to go out and have a good time. Pity for those people; they clearly do not know anything about my “Piano Man” bar evenings.
I’m leaving the house to go outside midway during the night and I turn on the porch to see this guy standing at the foot of the porch stairs. The porch light is beaming down on him and I stand there for a good minute going in my buzzed head, “Is that? No. Can’t be. But is it? Is that him?”
"Heather?" The guy asks in just about the same voice that I’m using in my head to ration out what I’m seeing before me. I smile and carefully ask in reply, "John?" while going down the stairs in my sparkly ballet flats.
"Hi!" John reaches out and hugs me and I’m literally stunned by the series of events going down.
John transferred to my school when I was a senior. Hands-down, the guy that every girl in my year immediately had a thing for. He was an enigma which is dangerous, dangerous thing to be in a private Catholic school, especially if you are a hot, straight dude who looks like a cross between Pete Doherty and some kind of Karl Lagerfeld dream guy model. He was also in the theatre department though routinely he pissed off the heads there, always arriving late and whatnot. I myself did not start noticing how attractive and kind he was until close to the end of the year when he was dating a friend of mine, K. In the war of the girls, I knew I literally had no chance of winning when up against K who had the following things working in her corner a) big boobs, b) lots of money and c) a lot of powerful friends. He dated her for about 2 years or so and the pair broke up a couple of weeks before Leah’s party. I knew this because K lived up the street from me and after running into her one afternoon, she told me about the breakup. Can’t say I was surprised either, just mostly in awe that they lasted for as long as they did.
Anyway, back to the porch. I tell John about my plans to leave for school in a few weeks which he remembers from when I was in high school where the plan first bloomed and was initially thwarted. While we both continue to talk (forgive me for not remembering all of the details, it was in 2008 and I was drinking) I had a few John-related memories re-enter my skull. One of the most prominent was when the two of us were in the stairwell together during an acting class I had enrolled in senior year. I remember asking him to sign my yearbook which almost immediately I wished I had not asked him to do. At the time, we shared both an acting class and a film class together and in the film one, I was particularly assertive, having once gotten into a debate about whether Crash or Brokeback Mountain would win the Oscar with another dude from the class (who interestingly enough, also resides in LA and works for Paramount). What the fuck was he gonna write in my yearbook- hey, loved hearing you scream at Mike “I KNOW the Academy and how it works!”-stay awesome!
He took his time writing in there, often pausing to glance up at me and continue writing. When he finished, he looked up at me once more, then kissed the thing he just got done writing, smiled, closed the yearbook, and handed it to me. I stuffed it into my handbag and said thanks and the bell rang and I went to the bathroom to read whatever he had written in the privacy of the bathroom stall. It said (forgive me for not remembering all of the details, it was in 2006 and that yearbook is somewhere in my old bedroom) that I was always doing or reading something interesting and that he often admired that in me and a bunch of other stuff all capped off with him signing “love, john” with a heart.
Interesting! It is the adjective of choice that every guy I have ever known slaps me with. And also the same one that guys I do not know pin me with too. The nice thing is that I am no Felicity Porter type- just because a hot guy from my high school writes in my yearbook doesn’t mean I will decide to drop attending my West Coast university in favor of a hometown college. And while there is a portion of me that fears that this sense of self may doom me from being caught up in multiple terrible semi-relationships throughout my twenties, ultimately what that yearbook and this story does for me in the long run is create a unique story that I can write about and others can feel they relate to.
The party keeps going and John and I go our separate ways. I continue to drink more and more and then the cops get called, I don’t know why it’s either the noise or the fact that underage kids are all doing keg stands outside. I hear the cop cars approaching and suddenly, I am struck with the irrational feeling that this may be the last night I see John again. I grab Melissa, “Mel!” I slur out, “I have to go find John! I have to kiss him before it’s too late!”
"Whaaa-" She doesn’t even get the word out but does stumble up to follow me out the front door as I spot him getting ready to leave with the group of dudes he came to the party with. Thankfully, none of them attended my high school. I bolt down the porch steps and find myself jumping in front of him before he leaves and kissing the crap out of him. The totally awesome thing is that he is really into it and is, and still stands, as the best kisser yet in my life.
The hilarious part is that during the kiss, my wig begins to fall off of my head. So by the time we finally let each other go, the wig is on the ground and the cops are coasting down the street. Very 2008 version of Romeo + Juliet minus the underage love story. “Bye!” I tell him and grab the wig and go running to the house where Melissa is on the front porch, cackling so hard she looks like she’s going to pee herself. “Mel! I did it! I kissed John! And then my wig fell off but I kissed John!”
"I know! I saw." She gives me this look that I’ll continue to see throughout the rest of my life but really only ever started seeing that night because I was in the presence of a true friend: the look that she’s with someone whom she truly enjoys the company of with the feeling being as mutual as possible. And even though these moments may end, we’ll never stop recounting them.
It’s been almost 4 years since that kiss and we still talk about it occasionally. As far as where John is, I don’t know. He isn’t on Facebook or anything so it makes it very hard for me to know anything about him. But that’s all a part of his enigma I suppose, and in many ways, makes it much nicer for me to have fonder memories of that night. I don’t imagine they’d be so nice if I routinely saw his profile every morning. God, I wonder if he even remembers that night.
If he does, I certainly hope I proved to be as interesting to him as he thought me to be.
This has been a flashback post,
Me: My roommate is moving out and moving in with her boyfriend and his roommates.
Mom: Oh Heather. Well, you’ll meet the right boy for yourself someday.
Me: Oh no I won’t! I have it on good authority I won’t. It’s going to be exactly the way I always thought it would be: everyone paddling off into the sunset in pairs and me struggling with my oars in the boat and not asking for help because I think I can do it alone.
Mom: Whatever you do, don’t marry because you’re lonely. That’s what your dad did (note: my dad married once before he married my mom). He thought he needed someone because he was lonely in the house.
Me: I can’t marry anyone right now! I’m too busy.
Mom: You might have already met the man you’re going to marry and just don’t know it.
Note: That sentence right there? Read it out loud to yourself. IT WILL BE THE BIGGEST MINDFUCK OF YOUR LIFE. My god, what if this dude was the kid in kindergarten who had a crush on me? Or some random Subway customer? Or a guy I used to tutor in college? What the what is happening.
Me: OH GOD. What if it was that hot guy in college I had the writing class with???
Mom: Or it could be that boy James who keeps writing all over your Facebook wall.
Mom: Well, you both seem to get along so well.
Me: Mom, he’s my intern. And engaged to marry one of my best friends and former roommate.
Mom: Oh. Well I didn’t know.
Me: Can I not have guy friends anymore.
And now you know where I get my creeping skills from. Runs in the family.
*This is something I just wrote up. I haven’t written a fiction-y thing in some time so don’t hate on it too much.
** Also, not based on true events.
There is nothing special about today. She woke up late at 11am, dressed sort of sloppily but hide her outfit with a big overcoat. Lots of mistakes could be hidden that way. She also put on some big sunglasses because wearing eye makeup on a Saturday morning sounded worse than the hangover that already ate at her throbbing skull. It’s not going to be a big deal she rationed coffee, smokes, and a trip to the market. Then she could crawl back into her unmade bed again, close the blinds, and eject the world into a semi-blissful nap.
Ah, what it feels like to be a sort of grown-up.
Everything in the next forty minutes of her life felt mechanical. Leave apartment, lock door, drop keys, swear loudly, pick keys up, start walking down the long, long hill from her home, stare at the taxis sprinting by, wish she had more money for a ride, wish she had a mini toilet to carry with her because she felt nothing but hurt and maybe bile in her throat from last night. The longer she walked and the more the bay wind slapped her in the face with its tart unrelenting spurts of coolness, she began to feel better. Or at least more rational. She smoked as she made her way to the financial district, flat shoes with feet that had a purpose: they were in the mood for some breakfast food.
A mini-toilet is so ridiculous not to mention not sanitary she realized five minutes later, one cigarette later, many blocks passed later in her beautiful city by the bay, San Francisco. What the fuck Abby. You need to get it together. Stop going out so late at night, stop dressing like Miley Cyrus when she was straddling that stripper pole, and seriously stop with the drinking contests with grown men from the agency next door. And also stop yelling out that you will French the first guy to go shot for shot with you.
Fifteen shots deep though. It was a new record for the first time in many years. She was almost impressed with herself. Almost. Until she woke up the next morning, unable to blink and not sure who’s number she had been texting throughout the night.
So here she was finally made it to the Farmer’s Market, feet exhausted and the overwhelming sea of food, everything from shellfish to chicken tacos, assaulting her senses to a sickening point. I can always lean over the bridge and throw up into the bay. See? The wind had only made her smarter. She gave herself a mental pat on the back for that one.
Wandering the food booths, she found herself no longer in the mood for any kind of food. A bottle of Sprite seemed safest and she sat down on the nearest open park bench, just letting her thoughts fill the sky and the space surrounding her. It was fairly peaceful. Pretty day out, lots of cute little kids and families, couples milling around in their coats and laughter. She crossed her legs and jiggled her foot nervously. No particular reason why. Just because.
From a distance she saw him and her heart slowed down. All the way down. Barely even a faint beating could be felt anymore. No. It could not be. It was impossible. Possible. Somebody else. Somebody unlike no one else. She needed to move closer to inspect and her legs pulled themselves upright and carefully walked over to where he sat, right outside of a small cafe, alone at a table. He was reading. From an actual book with thin papery pages instead of some electronic tablet. It made her heart ache and made her feel very cold toward him all at once.
She stood right outside of the little fence that separated them from one another, patron of the establishment and the non-patron and cleared her throat, “Marc?”
He looked up in front of him, then turned to his side where she stood and cocked his head, “Yeah?”
"Gishnee, ahem! It’s me." Damnit throat. She slipped off the sunglasses and for one morbid moment, wished she was still in her craptastic skinny jeans and glittery top, "Abby. Abby Paris?"
"Abby!" His blue eyes could dance you away all night long with how quickly they lit up, "Hey! How are ya, c’mere and give me a hug!"
"Oh, okay, I’ll uh try." She tried to reach over the fence but it made it too tough to lean over and reach out to him, "I could try to hop the fence or something."
"Why don’t you just come inside and join me for lunch? I’m just about to order and it’s even sweeter to share with two." Did he really just say that? Oh god.
"No I don’t want to interrupt you and your book." She started but he gestured to the empty chair in front of him and grinned, "Please Abby, we haven’t spoken in ages."
And who the fuck’s fault is that her brain screamed just loud enough to be heard over her louder complaint of ughhhhhh why are we not asleep and oh dear god where is the aspirin.
So she walked inside the front entrance to the restaurant, ignoring the snooty looks of the bohemian guests in their hemp and expensive vegan footwear and the waitstaff curiously looking at her as she went straight outside to the table she had sat at once before, many many years ago, the exact same table where it all went down.
The same restaurant and table and even the same pretty kind of day where once upon a time, Marc Sweetheart would decide to break up with Abby Paris.