She knew I wanted to break up with her. I’m convinced she knew. That’s why she started saying all these really weird things.
We’d be hanging out. Her doing some errands, me watching TV. Or maybe her watching TV, me reading. And one of us would make a snide comment to the other, pretty much unprovoked. It was really time for things to end. Then I would mentally take the plunge, the dreaded phrase, “listen, um ….” It would escape my lips with all the pomp and circumstance of a funeral procession. Then out of her, as though she hadn’t heard me at all, would come the weirdest thing.
“Have you thought about taking banjo lessons?”
It was like choking on something, having that “listen, um…” come back at me to be set aside for another time. No I hadn’t thought about banjo lessons, but now of course that was my top priority. Me? Banjo lessons? Well, I just think you’d be really good. Really? At banjo? Yeah of course! Can’t you see it? The relationship would live another day. And it turns out I suck at banjo.
“You look like you could’ve been a jeans jacket model in the late 80’s … have I told you that before?”
Honest. She said that to me once.
We were putting on clothes to go get ice cream from the grocery store and then she made a comment about my old shoes which led to me making a comment about all her new shoes which led her to comment on how I’ve gained weight and then I started in on a new insult when I realized the smarter thing to say would be, “listen … um …” Somehow she sensed it and instead I received,
“Turtle soup seems like the kind of thing you would’ve invented if you’d been alive all those years back. You know, back before it was invented. I just feel like you would’ve been the first one to see a turtle and thought, ‘yeah, let’s do this.'”
How could I break up with someone after they say such confusing, weird things? She was deliberately delaying our break up with little cups of crazy. I couldn’t leave – I had to know what was going to happen next. It’s like being sucked into a bad TV show or book, where you can’t stop now because geez you’ve put in all this effort and well occasionally something kinda interesting happens I guess.
“Listen, um …”
Wait what? She had just muttered that phrase to me and I couldn’t believe it. She’s doing this now? Really? On the one hand, yes, I don’t have to feel sorry for her now … but on the other hand THAT’S MY LINE. She did it, she pulled the gun and ended things. We were outside her apartment at the time. I asked if we could go up and grab my things. Up the flights of stairs we went in pained silence. As far as I knew she was preparing some incredibly weird thing to say before I could walk out of her door for the last time. I couldn’t handle that. Not again. This time it’ll be me.
“Do you want to keep my t-shirt that you sleep in?” I asked, sincerely. I don’t want that thing.
“Why would I want that?,” she asked surprisingly angry. Hey, didn’t YOU just break up with ME?
“I don’t know!,” whoops, now I’m angry. “God,” whoops again. Anger, you silly fiend.
We both look around, realizing at the same time we’d needlessly gotten angry with each other.
“So, is that everything?” She was asking about my clothes, but for a second I got dramatic and thought about how it really was everything in terms of us. Then I remembered my pledge to myself – that I had to be the one to leave on the weird note. She was opening her mouth, I hadn’t thought of anything, oh no, “one last thing before -”
“Sandwiches are a ploy by the government to …” oh no, something!, something!, “to um … you’ve gained weight.”
Then I turned and walked out.