Tall with electric eyes, he was popular in high school. Since I wasn’t, I felt elated when he asked me out. He picked me up, impressed my dad, and took me to Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel in Providence. Lupo’s typically had bands, but to my disgust, it was a wet T-shirt contest that night. I asked if he expected me to be a contestant. He laughed. I asked why he had brought me here. He thought it was funny. I wasn’t fucking laughing.
Funny enough, another disaster originated at Lupo’s. Using my fake ID to guzzle G&Ts, I met someone who looked like Anthony Kiedis from Red Hot Chili Peppers. He asked me out and upon arriving at my parents’ house, a short friend accompanied him. They hopped out of a truck and as Anthony Kiedis sauntered up the driveway, swinging his waist length hair, I knew my watchful father wouldn’t approve. I didn’t care. We drove away, me in the middle, the three of us swigging beer cans, arriving at the friend’s parents’ vacation home in a trailer park. Inside, we sat on cushioned benches, drinking the now lukewarm beers. I presented weed kept in one of my mom’s glass spice jars, and as we smoked, I grew anxious. They were talking and laughing, but I was silent, watching their faces grow distorted. The one appeared nothing like Anthony Kiedis and the other looked like a troll. I ambled to the bathroom to pull myself together, but felt claustrophobic in the miniscule space. As I slid back toward the benches, everything turned gray…
I came to on the tiny linoleum floor, was yanked up, propped up, and brought promptly home. My date formerly known as Anthony Kiedis never called again. I didn’t care. Who brings their troll buddy on a date to a trailer park?! Fuck that.
I met the next guy at an AA meeting. I was initially interested because he resembled Joaquin Phoenix and graduated from Yale. I remained curious after he ingested too much Klonopin and fell asleep while I was talking. He called the next day in distress, having been forced out of his sober house because of Klonopin. I went to get him. As my car approached the sober house, snow crunching under tires, he was shivering on the porch with two garbage bags full of clothes. I said he could stay at my apartment for a couple nights, and immediately he hinted at a longer stay. For one week, I drove him to his job at a sportswear store while he criticized my driving. Finally, I told my AA sponsor who called me into action. While he was at work, we packed up his dusty bags and delivered them to the curb of his job. He emerged from the storefront, yelling and swearing, but my sponsor squeezed my hand and we turned away. In just one week, I gave him the boot; thank fuck.
After that came a breakup text. On the toilet at work, my phone buzzed from the top of the toilet roll dispenser. A message from someone I’d been dating for six months: “Want to take a break?”
Lunchtime was approaching so I typed “I’m starving! Where do you want to go?”
He replied “No… a break in our relationship.”
My stomach sank. I immediately texted “Why?” “Need to talk!” No reply.
I wanted to go fetal on the floor, but I had students waiting. Eventually I dragged myself to the classroom, finishing the school day through tears. When the last student left, I launched a desperate barrage of calls and texts. There must be another woman. I slipped behind my steering wheel, peeled away from the school, and approached the triple decker with his car in the driveway. Ringing his doorbell to no avail, I projected my voice upwards, yelling his name. A neighbor popped her head out. I feigned sanity; I was a friend of the third floor tenant and would she please let me into the building. I bounded up the stairs, surprised to see his door open. It was a small victory. I searched for him in the living room, kitchen, and found him hiding under his bed covers. I sat on the edge, begging, crying, while he repeated “No.” When he got up for the bathroom, I stared at his unmade bed and smelled the pillows. One smelled like him: Egyptian Musk. The other smelled sweetly: lavender/vanilla, a woman’s scent. Not mine. I was defeated, but I had an answer. It was growing dark outside and a shred of dignity emerged, telling me it was time to go. It was fucking over. I went to an AA meeting and cried.
Heavy, dark, and cynical
Only two dates: one of them rollerskating. He ended it after the second date, explaining I was too “heavy, dark, and cynical.” His exact words. Would heavy, dark and cynical go roller skating, for fuck’s sake?
I’d been on a few promising dates with someone and I’d also discovered a love for yoga, so I invited the new guy to a class. It was a sweltering evening, and the studio was covered in carpet that had collected years of communal sweat. A mixture of heat, armpits, and incense permeated the room. As we entered, it appeared the stench hit him hard. I felt self-conscious as if it were my fault, but he smiled, rolling out his mat. After ninety minutes, we lied on our backs for shoulder stands. Tucking my elbows underneath, I propped my tailbone in my palms. I lifted my legs and out came a clamorous queef. Mortified, I turned to look, but he remained stoic, gazing at the ceiling. Months later, we discussed the queef. Sure, he had heard it, but had pretended not to, sparing me further embarrassment. I ended up marrying this fucking guy.
About the Author
A college/career advisor and a parent, Patty is also proud to have fourteen years clean and sober. She uses humor writing to share what were once painful experiences. Her work has appeared in Funny Pearls, Motherwell, Wry Times, and Bandit Fiction. She lives in Rhode Island.
Follow on IG: @Patty Bamford