I’ve been putting this one off for a while. All right, much like Nick Hornby did in “High Fidelity,” here it is…the money shot, the reason we make these lists. To get down to the nitty-gritty, the shit, that one person Who Utterly Fucked Up Your Life.
Now, I don’t want to give him too much emotional credit here—there are others I’ve been way more in love with—but this is the one that left marks, the ones that stick around. You know, like anyone who’s been through a shitty-ass divorce, i.e. sleeping in some dive motel—or, in my case, on an air mattress—bank account drained, etc., I am well-acquainted with the CMT-made-for-TV-special relationship, like clothes-on-the-lawn, shotgun-aiming, you-knocked-up-my-inbred-half-sister special starring Leann Rimes and whoever she’s fucking now.
It’s basically a Lucinda Williams song.
I had no business dating this one, let’s call him oh, Bar Charm. Bar Charm was all that—western-shirt wearing, young Mickey Rourke-ish looking, buying rounds all night for everyone. Bar Charm and I should’ve remained exactly what we were for each other at the time—rebound fucks.
You should know this, but I’ll reiterate: Never make Rebound Fuck your boyfriend.
Anyway, after a couple months of dating, we were getting ripped one night on $17 martinis at Mandalay Bay in Vegas and were bored outta our minds.
“What should we do next?” I say. “I don’t feel like going to the Klondike, or going to the titty bars.”
“Um, don’t know,” he says. “Something we’ve never done before.”
I’m kinda woozy, but feeling good, a warm, like anything-can-happen-and-will-happen tonight good.
“Maybe we should go get married,” he says, taking a sip.
“Married? Oh yes,” I say, starting to laugh. “Oh, yes, that might be awesome.”
The more I thought about it, the more the idea appealed to me at that moment—yes, what could possibly be more rock’n’roll than rolling up to a Vegas chapel and getting married?
So, a few phone calls to secure details—and this is before the iPhone or Google days, friends–a $1,500 check cleared at the cashier’s window and a driver who knew how to get to the court house, there we were, sitting in the back of the limo. The second before we were to pull away, it finally hit me that this was no joke, no funny we-got-wasted-last-night and guess-what-we-did story. That tomorrow morning, I would be married—and I could picture the divorce proceedings in my mind already. And no number of martinis would turn that nightmare into anything resembling fun. Though it would also be pretty rock’n’roll to be divorced by age 27 after a few months of marriage.
So, I backed out at the last second. After that debacle, you’d think that we’d learnt us a lesson. Nope.
The second proposal came at probably one of the most awkward, inopportune moments ever—and this is probably the most embarrassing thing I will ever write about myself, so take note. In a rash moment, driven by depression, stupidity and hormones, I decided to quit my job and move cross-country with Bar Charm. Before we took off, he turned to me and said, “So, this is a long drive.”
“Uh-hum,” I said.
“Well, at some point during such a long drive, you’re gonna have to cut loose,” he said. “And let me know when you do.”
“What the fuck are you talking about?” I said.
“Well, all I’m saying is that you’re going to have to fart.”
“I think I can refrain.”
“So you say,” he says. “But sooner or later, you’re gonna have to fart.”
Yes, sooner or later, just east of Denver, I finally cut one. Not a big one, it was quiet and didn’t smell that much, so I was just gonna light up a cig and crack the window and pretended it didn’t happen. But then I opened my big mouth.
“Well, you win.”
“I just did it,” I said. “I finally let one go.”
He looks over, digs into his lefthand pocket. He pulls out a box and hands it my way, flipping it open.
Oh, shit. It’s a diamond ring.
Now, I don’t know about all the single ladies out there wanting a ring put on it, but I’m pretty sure that my idea of getting proposed to didn’t involve letting one fly on a 27-hour car journey from Vegas to Chicago. It was a pretty dumb way to propose to someone—almost as dumb as asking someone you’ve been dating fewer than six months to marry you. And there was no way I was ready to get married.
“Um, so I think we should really just live together before we get engaged,” I said.
And, man, did that not go over well. In fact, it went over so well, that Bar Charm decided not to speak to me throughout the entire state of Nebraska—and if you’ve ever driven through Nebraska, you know that’s a long-ass time to give someone the silent treatment.
And it didn’t get much better once we got to Chicago. I pretended to be engaged for a month or two, and then we just didn’t talk about it anymore, the ring (and a quite nice one at that) stayed in its box at the bottom of my sock drawer. I spent the better part of that year living in a hell I couldn’t unravel—no job, then a shitty job with a crazy bitch for a boss, coming home to Bar Charm, who I’ll just refer to as Piece of Shit now, because that’s pretty much what he turned into, daily regaling me on the State of Me and how fat, ugly and stupid I was becoming—“Look at your head. You’re a fucking Pumpkinhead! Your head is too big for your body,” “You’re a shitty writer. You were just lucky to have a job.” Etc. “Where’s my saltines and hot dogs?” he’d yell after I’d come home from the grocery store, but he’d never go himself. “Goddammit, you spend $100 on food, and there’s no saltines and hot dogs!” He’d get drunk and belligerent—he even pissed the bed one night he was so hammered. Sweet Christ, I could go on and on…
Anyway, after about a year of this, we were sitting at the Empty Bottle in Chicago one night, he was blathering on about his stupid job that he hated, and I had had enough. I turned to him and said, “I hate you.”
“I hate you, too,” he said.
“So, let’s break up,” I said.
“OK,” he said.
We clinked our bottles of Old Style to the agreement. And while he still claims that he broke up with me—which I call bullshit—I will never forget that the closest I came to getting hitched was to this guy, who just so happened to end up marrying one of his ex-girlfriends he’d go on and on about during our entire relationship. “So-and-so is so great. She would never wear something so ugly.” “So-and-so is so great… she would never do something that stupid.” He’d constantly talk about all his exes, and how great they were, and how I was failing him as a girlfriend. So when I found out, via the Facebook, they’d gotten hitched, I asked him about it, and he sent me, I swear to fucking God, an extensive, numbered list of the stages leading to his marriage. It was truly an e-mail that still, to this day, I think about slapping up on the blog word-for-word just so others can witness the clusterfuckery of it all.
“I give it 18 months,” I wrote him back. He has since de-friended me on the Facebook.
So, what did I learn from all this? I’m still figuring it out, but several years in therapy, thousands of dollars later, studying why I tend to date dickbags, I am single, but decidedly so, and, for better or worse, I don’t put up with any jackass behavior from anybody. And I look around and still see so many women who do—and I think…
“Why are you letting them get away with that?”