tales of a girl in the city

décembre 30, 2003

My Ex M and The Unholy Slutwhore From Hell

Cheating is a horrible thing. And, lest there be any doubt about the kind of cheating I mean, let me clarify. I do not mean the kind I did when we played that game Seven Up in fourth grade where you put your head down on your desk and one of the seven "it" people would come around and tap you on your shoulder and you had to then pick out which of the seven "it" people it was who had tapped you and I always knew because I cheated and looked at their shoes.

No. I do not mean that kind of cheating.

I mean the kind of cheating where you find out that someone you love is fucking someone else. There. That seems clear.

M was, to my knowledge, the first guy to ever cheat on me. I now qualify that statement with "to my knowledge" because The M Fiasco taught me in no uncertain terms that you never ever ever ever never know what goes on when you're not around. Unless you have high-tech video surveillance in your apartment building like in the movie Sliver. And even then, you'd have to have high-tech video surveillance installed in every hotel room in Manhattan, and, as I discovered, Washington DC. Which is expensive and a pain in the neck to maintain. So. Anyway, I'm off my point.

I dated M for eleven months and I had actually already officially broken up with him by the time I found out about The Unholy Slut-Whore from Hell. I broke it off, I suppose, because on some molecular level I did know about The USWFH and possibly always knew. Molecules, however, have very small pee-wee voices that only dogs and bees can hear and they are easily drowned out by the mighty, booming voice of Self-Delusion. Which, in case you're wondering, sounds like those cars that drive up and down your street on Saturday nights at four am with the bass turned up so high that your windows rattle. Meaning, I guess, that Self-Delusion sounds like really loud 50 Cent. But anyway...

Though we had officially broken up when The USWFH reared her unholy slut-whore head, we were also officially trying to be friends and seeing each other regularly and doing pretty much everything we'd done when we were officially dating. So officially this time was painful and difficult, but in an unofficial, delicious kind of way. Very teenage-angsty stuff.

My molecular knowledge turned to actual knowledge on the morning after the NYC Blackout when I was staying at M's apartment and snooped in his computer. The power in his apartment came back and, sitting at his desk about to search the internet for the answer to the looming question, "How the hell did the power in New York City actually go entirely -out-?", my eyes immediately traveled to the file titled (go figure) "My Journal". Hmm... Should I? Why not.

Open file.

Read file.

Die a thousand deaths.

For any of you moral wombats out there preaching that I shouldn't have violated his privacy, first of all, Eat Me. Second of all, don't you worry. I got mine.

There was only one entry written during the weekend we had officially broken up. Weirdly, he had already told me a version of everything in it. The conversations he recounted with his brother in the first paragraph were no suprise. He'd told me them almost verbatum. Description of his frazzled state of mind post-breakup. No surprise. I even remembered witnessing the tears. Mention of a certain athletic, skinny Asian woman from work who he'd had dessert with. Surprise. Mention of how he invited her back to his apartment. Surprise. Description of her saying something coy like, "If I come back to your place, I'll spend the night." Surprise. Account of her seeing my photo on his bookshelf and running out of the apartment. Account of him acknowledging that he forgot to take down said photo (as had, apparently, been his routine) because he'd expected me to be over and hadn't expected her to stop by. Account of him dashing down the hall after her to tell her that he thought she was "different" (?) and that he was willing to "try the relationship on her terms" (?). Surprise. Surprise. Surprise.

Amazingly at this point, the bellowing voice of Self-Delusion was still frantically singing away, pulling out all the stops and belting out every Broadway tune it could remember. We're talking full production numbers here, all in a last stitch effort to drown out the obvious truth.

But then.

He described how they went to bed.

To our bed.
I had a side.

He described how her body was beautiful. How it was a pleasure to lay next to her.

He talked about waking up in the middle of the night when his doorbell mysteriously rang. How he thought it might be me. Worried it might be me and told her so. How she recommended he call me. How he got out of bed to check if I'd called, and when he came back how she said,

"When we had sex in Washington D.C. did you come inside of me?"

Like I said. I got mine.

I remember feeling like my bones were trying to absorb me. Sitting in that chair, in that apartment drawing myself into myself so as not touch anything around me. Wishing to be small. Wishing to be nothing. So that I wouldn't have to deal with every polluted surface around me. Places where I had sat and lain and kissed him. Things that I had touched and read. And God the stupid, childish gifts that I had given.

A ceramic pot that I had painted for him for Halloween so that he would have somewhere to keep his millions of pens.

The wooden bird my father had carved and sent to him for Christmas.

My foolish, foolish photo standing on his bookshelf, in a frame decorated with pages from _Twelfth Night_, the play we'd seen on our first date.

These things offended me most because they showed how thoroughly I'd been invested ("invested" meaning "fooled"). I mean I made him crafty things to decorate his apartment. And I wasn't even embarrassed about this. I even told people about my Martha Stewart endeavors who, in response, pretended to be happy that I was so in love that I was making crafts. Sentimental pots with pumpkins on them and a homemade picture frame. Things that, let's face it, were meant to be cute reminders of me around his apartment, signifying our history and our feelings.

But, from that chair, in front of those words and my grinning fool's face, I remember doubling over from the force of the transformation. The uncovering of the most horrible kind of movie set magic--coming up against the wires and tricks and manipulations. Recognizing the truth of the gifts I had given. Seeing them as he saw them: as props.

I wondered where he put them when she came over.

When I could breathe and see again I started writing him....

a very scathing letter.

I know.

I wanted to burn shit up--I mean actually physically set things on fire. And it would have been very satisfying in a Bertha Mason sort of way, to be able to stand atop the crumbling roof of his apartment building as it collapsed in on itself and I cackled in crazy fury with flames licking at my feet. To see his face twist when he realized that his vast collection of priceless books on war, politics and the economy was gone forever. But I figured my vengeance would be short-lived and would quickly lose its satisfying tang as soon as I plunged eight stories to my fiery doom. I mean I know they do say vengeance is sweet, but "they" also used to sit around trying to kill two birds with one stone and figuring out how many ways there are to skin cats, so....

I also wanted him never to be happy again. Seriously. I still kind of want that. I want him to go through his next seventy or so years on this planet and never feel good about himself, never feel excited. And at the time I wanted to find a means to ensure his eternal unhappiness. Burning shit up being out of the question, I figured writing a very very scathing and mean, nasty letter would just about do it.

So I wrote one and unfortunately didn't save it and when he came home that night he closed the window and deleted it before he even finished reading it. Yep.

The moral of this story, then, would seem to be:next time, burn shit up.