Tuesday, May 09, 2006


“You have to stop.”

K found herself in a bad situation—the worst kind of situation. And here we were again, sitting in the Punch Tavern on Fleet Street, nursing glasses of red wine while she blinked away the tears that threatened to pool in her huge dark eyes.

“Look at what this is doing to you. You have to just stop.”

“It’s really not his fault. She cheated on him before they were married. She was the one who broke the trust first. He does everything he can to stay faithful to her. She treats him like shit, doesn’t let him go out at all, always nagging…”

It’s then that I have to conjure every fragment of self-control not to lunge across the table, send wine glasses and ashtrays flying into needles of shattered glass on the hardwood floor, and throttle her.


“I know I have to cut him off,” her eyes drop.

“No. Stop. Stop making excuses for him.”

It’s the defense mechanism that kicks in. No one wants to admit the mistake they know they are making. Especially when that mistake isn’t their own, but them becoming the puppet while someone else makes theirs. So they deny. They justify. Anything to convince themselves that this all makes sense.

I have initially listened to the excuses with an understanding nod. After all, there might be some credibility to them. But after weeks of it, it becomes increasingly clear to me, the outsider whose vision isn’t blurred by the emotions that come with involvement, that they’re empty promises. Methadone, weaning someone off an addiction, nursing them onto something just as bad.

“She’s just got this weird problem, you know. I know that she really cares and wants this to work, but she’s got these commitment issues…”


The ridiculousness of the situation is so obvious from where you stand on the sidelines. But what happens when you, the constant voice of reason who rolls your eyes every time one of your friends launches into one of their spiels, suddenly find yourself knee-deep? What happens when you get that new job, saunter into work your first day, pound out data analysis at lightening speed, and your new boss comes back from his business trip in all his young, sexy, intelligent, successful, witty, easygoing—perfect—glory? What happens when you’re face-to-face with the exception to the rule?

You tumble. The day you go out for drinks with coworkers and one drink becomes five pitchers. You stand outside with him, smoking a cigarette and the beer drowns his professionalism and he confirms that months of finding excuses to ask him work-related questions, pretending you flubbed your timesheet so he can sign another one for you, reducing yourself to a giggling high-schooler with an adolescent crush on her Chemistry teacher, hasn’t been for naught. You run home screaming, skip around your room talking to yourself, find your cheeks in a perpetual pink flush for the next three days. The indifference that has become so characteristic of your personality falters, and suddenly you care.

You make The Mistake.

You become like a dog, hungrily devouring the crumbs that he drops you long after you know everything else is gone. The one phone call before you leave for London, the one email when he actually does go through with that job transfer to England—I’m trying to find some time to visit London, I really should since it’s so close, but I’ve been really busy. And despite your best efforts to discourage yourself, shut the book and accept that it’s finished, you still turn back. And the weeks without are negated in an instant by one sentence, another excuse.

“So what’s happening with The Mistake? He visit you yet?”

“No, but you know, he’s been really busy. Just took over a new position, adjusting to the new job, settling into a new country. He’s started sailing and stuff on the weekends too. His schedule’s really hectic because he’s so ambitious, but that’s one of the things I like the most about him…”

There’s the sympathetic nod you’re so accustomed to giving, never receiving. And you find yourself sitting alone in an empty room in a city you don’t know, waiting.

For what?

Eventually, I’m on a flight back to New York City, squirming with anxiety at being thrown 30,000 feet into the air, and I find my thoughts wandering to what he’s been up to for the last three months. How the job’s going, whether or not the sailing worked out, trying to smother the image of him possibly with someone new—some British floozy with long legs and mousey hair who doesn’t pronounce her ‘r’s when they fall in the middle of words. Haven’t mentioned him for two months and no one has asked.

Now, months later, thoughts randomly find their way into my mind—I wonder if he’s still in England?—but the excuses are long gone. From both sides. You had no intention of following through with any of your promises. Despite my better judgment, I bought in and let you get under my skin. You were aloof. I got clingy, acted creepy. You were sometimes unnecessarily cruel, used me to stroke your ego. I made excuses for you.

But now, I’m through.



Blogger alcoholic poet said...

those kinds of situations can be humbling, even embarrassing to look back on, but are a necessary learning experience i think.

a lot of us have been there. it's okay. so long as we don't go back.

i love the way you write L.

3:52 PM  
Blogger Stuck Young said...

Good for you, L. I agree with Alcoholic Poet; you're a great writer.

9:54 PM  
Blogger The Doorman said...

You're such a strong woman! Post more stuff like this! So empowering...


11:52 PM  
Blogger CEO of the World said...

At least I don't cry every time someone tells me I suck.


9:34 AM  
Blogger The Doorman said...

I'll drop off my laundry in the morning. Can you have it done by 9 on Friday?

2:05 AM  

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