Thursday, October 11, 2012


She had shown up on the porch looking a little haggard.
She looked good, ofcourse. She always looked good. To him, anyway...well managed, a specific sense of style that always hit the mark, but generally also a little tired, like in a way to reveal a certain intellect, like she'd been thinking too hard and she needed to rest her eyes and clear the chaotic symbology. Today this affect was exaggerated.

It was his day off and he was a little high already, and he hadn't been planning for visitors and was frankly relieved he had put on real pants. A move he had questioned only moments ago.
He touched his jeans with relief.

Can I come in?

Yes. Ofcourse. He hugged her, let her in. He was sitting out back. Would she join him? Would she like anything?

I'd like a drink.

It was only 12:30 and the quality of the request alerted the appropriate alarm bells but he provided the drink like they were on vacation, as if this were a casual request.

Moments later, pleasantries exchanged, a din of silence passing, she looked directly at him and delivered the payload:

John is leaving me.

There was nothing remotely not disturbing about this statement. It made the visit make perfectly no sense.

Your best friends wife comes to your house, uninvited, downs a whiskey and tells you information you feel you ought to hear from another source. Any other source. And she tells it to you calmly.

So I realized I need you to help me with my taxes.

So I was wondering if you could watch the dog.

John is leaving me.

And it is information that does not, on any level, make sense, if you know John. And he knows John. Knew John. Or so he thought.
What do you do with this information...?
You argue.
And so he argued but it was clear she he had expected that and put up a hand, make it clear she had rehearsed this.

John doesn't know he is leaving me yet.

And then a story: a story of how she ran John and this girl the other day. They were just hanging out together, innocently, doing something or another she could not to find fault with. And he was with her and they were talking and suddenly she was very clear: John was in love with this girl. Or will be mostly definitely in love with this girl. And there is nothing to be done to stop it. And there is probably no good reason to stop it. Because he belongs with this girl, and seeing him with this girl abolishes all thoughts of her and John, all meant to be together and all he is mine, almost quashes the jealous rage with its rightness, with its clear purity. And so she understood that it will happen, and she will wait for it to happen, and she will fight it just enough to make it clear she wants him, to make clear the value of what they have had, but not so hard that it hurts more than it should, not so hard that he can't move forward, and be happy.

She loves John, she explains, but that this what something more important looks like, and this is what you want for the person you love.

And there is no comfortable way to ask the question you can't look away from: When did you lose your mind?

So instead he just asked why she had come to him.


There are two reasons, really…

Well, the first is that you are his friend. And I want you to help him, I’m hoping this talk will stop you from fighting him. Or something. You can tell him whatever you like…you probably think I am crazy, anyway

I don’t think you are crazy?

She shook her head…how is that even possible?

He asked the other reason

She wanted a portrait done. I want a portrait, today…when I am in this state. I know things are going to get bad and I am going to get crazy and selfish and forget this moment in which a greater universal plan made sense to me. I know when I feel it slipping away I’ll grip tightly. I know I’ll embarrass myself. I want a picture of this kind of dignity. And happiness. I know it sounds crazy, but I am not sad right now. I suspect this might be one of the last times I can say that, honestly, in a while.

And so he got out his camera. And he shot. And shot and shot. Horrible direct pictures of him he knew were good. All of them. And wondered what he would do with them. Any of them. Hey John, this is a photo essay of your ex wife. Yeah, I shot that the day she told me you were over. Want one?

He was in the process of putting his equipment away, refilling her whiskey glass for the nth time, vaguely wondering if she would be driving home, if she should, if the desire to do so was the beginning of the end, the start of her predicted downturn when he found himself asking the question before he knew it would come out of his mouth “why are you really here?”

I guess I am just here because I like you.


He was suddenly uncomfortable.

I didn’t want to say that because I didn’t want you to think I was coming on to you or doing something creepy. I just I know I probably won’t get to know you when this all is through. Not really. I guess I barely know you, now. I just realized, when I was processing all this, that we didn’t talk enough and that I would regret that and that I would miss you. I didn’t know if you’d miss me, but I wanted to give you something to stick in your memory. I wanted to make sure you’d miss me. I didn’t want to disappear completely . Or maybe I just wanted this…intimacy, for a moment.

Like a bookmark.

Yes, like a bookmark.

It all made perfect sense, strangely.

When she left he couldn’t relax. Why did moments like that ruin everything and yet seem so exciting, like the storm on TV, like a change in the weather. Why didn’t he tell her he liked her back? Why was everything suddenly so sensual for him when it had nothing to do with him. Why did it suddenly have to do with him at all?

Because she had chosen to make it meaningful for him. And that was something he somehow couldn't escape. Now he was in a breakup that had nothing to do with him and he was going through all his other break ups in his head and trying not to get too wound up before his wife came home and noticed something was awry.


It didn’t take too long after that really. She was strangely accurate about it all except the part where she humiliated herself. Or, at least, publicly humiliated herself. Any tantrums, any clinging might have happened behind closed doors, but he only saw a quieter kind of dissolution.

He watched her wash away. Or rather didn't watch her as she stopped showing up at events, stopped showing up in John's arms, returned less and less calls of other wives, discreetly slipped out the back door.

And it even went down exactly as she had predicted.

John is a nice guy, she explained, and first he’ll be happy because he is in love, but the weight of what that means, the acknowledgement of that inconvenient reality hasn’t hit him yet.

Then he’ll be on edge, when he begins to acknowledge these feelings and come to you (and he did)

And then he’ll be distraught, and he’ll come to his suddenly heroic and loyal wife and admit everything (insert nights on his couch, insert guilt and confusion here)

And then it would be over.

He wondered if she received any pleasure from that kind of clarity.

But here was a thing: by the time it was over she would have come over at least 5 times, drank at least as many bottles of whiskey and would have posed for half a dozen photos he would probably do nothing with. The time was really all they made. They would have talked about everything except the oddity of their new found friendship, and he would have told her everything that John told him, and told John little of what she had said. Loyalties strangely re-aligned, and yet his friendship with his best friend, still, stronger than ever.

By the time it was over he would have had at least 20 fights about this, with himself, with others, with his wife and John, himself. And he would have mourned the end of that relationship perhaps more than the couple divorcing.

It all made perfectly no sense

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