I arrive back at the party to discover my girlfriend hugging some guy in the backyard, and it seems to me like an inappropriately passionate hug. Their faces approach each other on an impact trajectory. Eyes close. Hands grip waists. ‘Seems overly friendly to me,’ I think to myself. ‘Seems ominous.’
My friend Matt says, “Brad, we should leave. You don’t want to see this,” because he assumes we’ve already broken up, but, no sir, we have not.
“I want to witness this atrocity,” I say.
Their faces move closer, ever closer together — then moosh! Face mooshing!
“Hmm,” says Matt.
I stride up through the crowd and lean in close, maybe a couple inches away from ground zero of Ultimate Perfidy. Moist smacking, sucking, spitting noises, fingers running through hair — for the longest time, I hover there, eyes narrowed, hands on my hips, and I’m wondering how long will I stand here before they notice me? I survey the people around me, searching for some kind of validation that this is actually happening. Does anyone else see this? I am watching my girlfriend kiss this anonymous nobody male right in front of me. They are still kissing. Still kissing. The mind detaches from the situation, not because I’m so devastated, but because it’s too cinematic to be real, too much like a scene from a book.
Morbidly fascinated, I want to see how close I can get inside the smooch zone before my presence is detected. Then I go, “Hello! It’s me, your boyfriend!”
She looks up, and I gaze into the dead eyed stare of the chronic blackout drunk. “Hiiiiiiiii!” she says, and attempts to throw her arms around me.
I repel her lunge, and say, “No, we’re done, see? You just made out with some guy in front of me. So, like, that’s not good.”
Meanwhile, the anonymous nobody male sidesteps out of frame, lost to time and memory, though he needn’t have worried. By his dumbfounded expression, it’s clear he had never met my girlfriend before this moment and is therefore exempt from my ire. Most likely, he was as surprised as I was to have this lady all up in his mouth.
I begin to unload my moral outrage onto her while she stares blankly back like a television tuned to static. “How could you do this to me? Why would you do this? What were you thinking?” and many other questions are asked without any discernible response. Occasionally, she leans in to try and kiss me, but I recoil, saying, “No! Does not want!”
Although I can feign astonishment, all signs pointed to “potential two-timing harlot” from our earliest encounter. At a Halloween Party, she flitted up to me dressed as a fairy and, without a word of introduction, proceeded to suckle my neck flesh. Then she vanished into the crowd, leaving me thinking, ‘Wow, what a nice girl with lovely qualities. She must have a sparkling personality.’
On our first date, I drove up to discover her deep in discussion with a tall man on a bicycle.
“Who was that?” I asked when she got in the car.
“Oh, that was Darren. He kept me company while I was waiting for you. Gave me his phone number to hang out sometime.”
“How nice of him! What a friendly man!” I said in boisterous confusion/ fear.
At parties, I would often lose track of her, only to find her again, conversing with some anonymous nobody male. Often, in my opinion, the guy seemed focused on the conversation about bunnies or pancakes to a greater degree than the subject merited. Fortunately, I never get jealous; I comfort myself in the notion that any girl who consensually dates the pale terminal cancer patient/ concentration camp ghost has a peculiarly idiosyncratic taste in men only I can fulfill. Grown men who still get carded at the movies do not come around often. We are a rare and exotic breed like arctic tigers or white rhinos.
In the middle of my tirade about her inexcusable infidelity, she suddenly registers I’m yelling at her. She does not know why. She does not understand the content of my words. She only recognizes a vitriolic tone being directed at her, and that the tone initiates bad feelings, which she wishes to extinguish. So she shouts, “F-ck you! You don’t know! You don’t know anything! F-ck you!”
“No, this is wrong!” I say. “I’m the victim here, and you are the morally bankrupt person!”
“F-ck you! You’re such an asshole!”
“That doesn’t make sense! I’m the good person in this scenario!”
After what seems like hours of this, I finally head home. The next morning, she calls me: “Hey, can you give me a ride to work?” It’s as though the previous night had never happened. Her tone is so nonchalant, I become suddenly certain the whole incident was a dream or a vivid hallucination.
“My dear, do you remember what happened last night?”
“No, what happened?”
“Oh sweet Jesus…”
“Is it something bad?”
I realize either she doesn’t remember any part of last night or she’s an extremely convincing liar. When I detail her crimes against humanity, she cries, apologizes profusely, and expresses horror at her behavior. Am I going to break up with her? Is this the end of our relationship? That would be the reaction of a reasonable person with self-respect and dignity. But I don’t want to break up with her, so I justify it like so: I wouldn’t punish Jason Bourne for the murders he committed before losing his memory. Neither would I punish Bucky Barnes for his time as the world renowned assassin Winter Soldier. They weren’t in their right minds; they were brainwashed by evil organizations to kill without remorse. Replace Treadstone/ the Soviet Union with alcohol (and whatever mysterious pills she may have taken in conjunction), and my girlfriend is no different. Plus, here’s something I can hold over her head forever for when we get into arguments.
My mistakes here are so great in volume, severity, and blatancy, I need not even bother spelling them out. In a bad relationship, reality can become a funhouse mirror of twisted logic and wacky rationalizations. I’d had my one chance to get off the train to Crazytown, and I wouldn’t get another.