Today is clearly going to be one of those days where I don’t get a whole hell of a lot done– I’ve spent the day at OtherJob surfing the Web, babysitting the blog, and intermittently going outside to whack the crap out of the ice in the parking lot, which I’ve managed to upgrade from “moderately dangerous” to “safe” over the course of the day. I have a fair amount of grading and other school stuff in my bag with me and a Robert Jordan book to finish (I’m resisting the urge to write a post called “Re-re-re-considering Robert Jordan“) and I think by now it’s clear that I’m not doing any of those things.
On the plus side, I have a couple of regular customers and a small horde of eleven-year-old girls in the building, so at least I’m not lazy and alone.
But anyway. I want to write something, so I did something I’ve never done before and took a look at WordPress’ Daily Prompts website. And I think I’m going to do today’s:
Ever been dumped by a boyfriend or girlfriend? Was it a total surprise, or something you saw coming? Tell us your best worst breakup story. Never been the dumpee, always the dumper? Relate the story of a friend who got unceremoniously kicked to the curb. Change the names to protect the innocent if you must.
I’ll not need to change the names, as– compounding the correct feeling that you’ll get while you’re reading this post that I may be a terrible person– I’m discovering right now that I can’t remember hers. That’s… dag, that’s a shame. I seriously can’t remember her name at all.
We met online, on some sort of dating site. I was in grad school at the time, so this was around 2004 or 2005, and the majority of my dates were coming from the Web in some manner or another. By the time I convinced her to go out with me I was in full-blown mercenary mode about Interwebs dating, well past the point where I had the patience for a couple of weeks of emails or phone conversations. If I found someone interesting, I moved to “let’s get coffee someplace” almost immediately. We met at a diner for an hour or so and made out rather ferociously in the parking lot for a bit afterwards; only the revelation that she had a roommate and I had two cats (she was terribly allergic, and never once set foot in my apartment) kept me from taking her home for the night. So there was some chemistry.
The chemistry lasted, oh, three weeks? A month? I dunno. There was nothing wrong with her– and I was saying this to other people when it happened, too; this isn’t 20/20 hindsight– we just weren’t going to be a thing. But we’d gotten into that weird place where we’re not really official, but if we’re going to stop doing the unofficial thing that we’re doing we need to actually stop doing it, officially. Does that even make sense? I dunno, it did to me at the time.
I had never broken up with anyone before. (Wait, no! That’s not true. I’d never broken up with anyone well before. But that’s its own story.) This, as it turned out, was going to be a problem.
I went home over Christmas. I’d seen her the night before I left and promised to call her on Christmas day. On Christmas eve, my brother got abominably, violently ill from what he thought at the time was a poorly-chosen piece of mall pizza. My dad and I spent the evening with him in the hospital. Christmas day, I didn’t call her. I honestly, truly and completely just forgot. I went back to Chicago the day after Christmas, getting home just in time to go to my job at a local music store. Right around the end of my shift, I discovered that my brother had not in fact had food poisoning. That he was, in fact, contagious. I got so sick so fast that to this day I don’t remember how the hell I got home.
Whereupon I collapsed into bed and died. She called me at some point in the next 12 to 18 hours, where we had a horrifying, hallucinatory conversation where she got on my case about me not calling her and my response was something along the lines of “Oh, sorry– how about I never call you again? Will that make it better?”
In my defense, I was unbelievably sick. And the story is going to get worse before it gets better. So, yeah. Broke up with whatshername, I guess. And when I came out of my coma a bit later and realized what I’d done, I found myself in the terrible position of wanting to apologize— again, there was nothing wrong with her; she was perfectly nice and didn’t deserve what I’d just done. But I had in fact wanted to end the relationship, right? You can’t call somebody and be like “I’m really sorry about how I broke up with you, but… yeah, we’re still broken up.”
My roommate asked me what had happened. I gave her the story as best I could, but found that I couldn’t remember the conversation very well. And, worse, she kept calling– a couple of times a day for several days. I ignored the calls and deleted the messages, unlistened-to. This was before text messaging was really a thing (Wait– wow, really? Yeah, that must be true. Is text messaging that recent a development?) so it wasn’t that hard to avoid hearing from her. Again: the band-aid had been ripped off, and I was a bit of a coward about the whole thing, too, if I’m being honest– I just didn’t see any point to having the conversation again. And it had only been a month or so. Maybe less.
I said it’d get worse? Sure. I worked at a music store, remember? She didn’t know exactly where I lived, having never been to my apartment due to the horrifying contagions produced by my cats, but she did know where I worked.
I was working in the back room restocking some CDs one day and turned around and she was there. In my stockroom. At my job. And she looked very, very, very angry with me.
I came very close to calling for security.
Then something terrifyingly confusing happened. She started yelling at me for not calling her after Christmas. Which… what? I didn’t not call you after Christmas. Well, okay, technically you called me, but… what? How do you not remember the phone call we had where oh holy fucking shit.
Suddenly a whole bunch of things fell together. The fact that she’d been broken up with brutally and had continued to call me seemed out of character for someone who had only been marginally with someone for a month. The fact that, the day after the conversation, I’d not been able to properly recall how it went when describing it to my roommate. The fact that I had never once been exactly sure precisely when the breakup conversation happened– that, at one point, I’d thought maybe it had been in the middle of the night, or early in the morning, when she’d have been at work. That “twelve to eighteen hours” thing? Calling the conversation “hallucinatory?” Not minor exaggerations.
I had either dreamed or imagined the entire breakup. It had never happened. As far as she knew, I’d gone home and then just never called her again. Those calls? They weren’t from some jilted lover or some shit who had been broken up with and was trying to restart a relationship. They were from someone whose friend had disappeared and was trying to convince herself that he wasn’t dead.
When I get home tonight I’m going to dig out my old blog archives and find the place where I told this story for the first time, but I’m pretty sure I’m ending it the same way– to this day I have no idea what the hell I said or how I got out of that room alive. It may be that nothing more than the nearby presence of several of my co-workers and an actual gun-toting off-duty Chicago police officer kept me from getting my ass kicked, and I’d have deserved every second of it. She ripped me up one side and down the other, and I took it standing, because I deserved every damn word she said– and, as it turned out, she was not terribly interested in getting back together.
Beat that shit. I dare you.
(Links to other responses to this question after the jump)
Continue reading “In which I do a terrible thing to a nice person”