I Want To Talk To Your Ex
It looks like we might get into a relationship. I’m equal parts excited and tentative. There’s a lot of hope, but there’s a lot that can go wrong. Obviously all my previous relationships ended. How can I be sure you won’t hurt me? It’s a risk I’m willing to take.
That being said, I feel like I’m trying to put the jigsaw puzzle together without any idea of what the complete picture is supposed to look like.
My point is: I want half an hour to interview your ex.
Okay, so that’s cheating. Maybe it is. Think of it this way: We’re embarking on a new journey together and I want to interview your last adventure partner. I want to know if you’ll forget the belays or want to climb down the mountain halfway through or if I need to pack you extra water or if you’re afraid of snakes. I don’t want it through the filter of your own self-perception. I want an unbiased (somewhat) opinion. I want to understand you from someone who’s been there. I want to know the dirt.
Is that weird? I feel like your ex has all the information I need, all the spoilers, everything that would save me grief and time and pain.
I need her insight. I have so many questions for her. It’s like I’m opening a book that she knows the ending to already. If I had her cheat codes, I could cruise along happily instead of dealing with everything blind, veering off course, careening forward.
I’ve heard your side, your stories, your trials. “She was crazy.” “She made me drive 10 hours to Virginia with her.” “She hated Motown music.”
But you know what? Now, I want to hear hers. I want, “He drove me crazy by never committing to freakin’ anything ever.” “He offered to drive and then berated me about it for 10 hours.” “He never asked me what I wanted to listen to.”
I don’t buy the concept of the “crazy ex-girlfriend” unless she like, shot your dog and burned down your apartment. I’m much more inclined to be suspicious of men who say their exes were “crazy.” I wonder why they’re brushing off a nuanced relationship experience by writing off her emotions. I want to ask, “What did you do before she became crazy?” because usually, there’s a tipping point. I had a friend recently ask if it was “crazy” to call a guy who she’d just called on Saturday. It was Wednesday. That is so much time between calls. Why would you even think that was crazy? It’s because the dude is making her feel like she’s crazy when she’s being super reasonable. So. I want to find out if your ex is actually crazy or if you did something to her. Is that what you’re going to do to me? Is the next girlfriend going to hear about how I went “crazy?”
Maybe your ex can even give me spoilers for our relationship:
“Well, around week five he’ll get really anxious about spending too much time together because when he was in college this girl broke up with him five weeks in out of the blue. So expect that and maybe counter it by ignoring him for a few days. He really responds to mind games.”
“I would say that yes, he does pull that guitar-playing sensitive BS with every girl. If he plays you Weezer, it means he’s being playful but if he starts in on ‘Lost Cause’ by Beck, I’d say you’ve got about two weeks left.”
“When you’re on the phone, he’ll make faces at you and try to get you to laugh. It’s something he’s learned is charming and he uses it on all his girlfriends.”
“At around 7 months, he’s gonna try to put it in your butt. He’ll apologize and blame it on the beer but it’s sort of his move.”
“He never answers text messages. He’s a d-ck about that.”
“He complains about PDA because his parents are divorced, but if you get him high, he’ll want to snuggle.”
“If he starts crying while telling you about his mom, don’t feel connected or special. He does that with 6 out of 7 girls.”
“A few weeks in, he’ll introduce you to The Wire and insist you watch all of it so he can talk to you about it. But if you don’t initially like it, he will judge you.”
“He’ll cheat on you because he’s insecure and needs validation. That’s usually how these things end for him.”
Actually, you know what, dude? Never mind. You can go screw yourself. I’m gonna find your ex and befriend her. She seems cool.
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If you’ve been looking for a chance to say something then this very well could be it.
I wish to God I’d had a list like this when I was 23.
Answer phones better than anyone else has answered phones before. Relay messages so brilliant, they bring people to tears. Turn the coffee run into the choreography of Swan Lake. Become best friends with every intern and every underling and every taxi driver you encounter.
I remember taking the pen and notebook from that woman outside the courtroom, flipping to a clean page in the book, and writing, JESSICA IS SAD in big, bold, uncoordinated letters. “My sister is going to be a good writer someday! Look at how nice her lines are!”