When their parents’ marriage falls apart, some kids turn to drugs or promiscuous sex or self-cutting. She turned to church and, weirdly, made Jesus her opiate.
The first time I slept over, we were sober and did not make love. But in the morning, there was warm skin under the covers, then coffee, then trust.
The photographer showed one of her works to her lover and asked what he thought the people portrayed in it were like. She quietly walked out a few moments after he—feeling flustered and taken off guard—replied, “I don’t think photographs can tell you anything.”
For decades, she tried to win over friends and lovers through the relentless pursuit of perfection. She was well into middle age before she realized that everyone she knew just wanted to be around people whose myriad flaws made them feel more comfortable with their own.
On their first and only date, he tried to compliment her, “I wish I’d met you twenty-five years ago, because, you know, you’re pretty now and all; but you probably could’ve stopped traffic then.”
She narrowed her eyes and cocked her head to the side as if examining him and then replied, “I can’t tell about you—were you ever attractive?”
Before boarding the train to a beach town, I once laughed heartily at a guy with oversized glasses and over-gelled hair. Weirdly, on the evening train back into town, he attempted a Back Street Boys’ medley in broken English and somehow won me over to the idea of sharing a gelato.
She entered the religious school a true believer. She graduated an atheist.
I confess that when this all started, you were like a picture out of focus to me. And it took time for my eyes to adjust to you, to make sense of you, to really recognize you.
I was trying to explain to a drunkard why we should remain friends and not venture into romance. After I found out he skipped town the next day to hop trains and avoid me and taxes forever, I felt nothing but relief.
There were well-meaning people in the support group who found solace in that mound of dirt above their loved one’s coffin. But she could never relate and seldom visited the cemetery.
He broke up with her on October 30. The next night, she threw on red devil horns, walked straight up to the cutest boy at the Halloween party, and explained that her costume was “Woman’s Vengeance.”
She dated around for years, and there were guys she probably would’ve married if things had gone differently, if they had stuck around long enough to ask. It wasn’t until Boyfriend #63 that she realized what a mistake and a misery that would have been and what she would have missed out on by settling.
She began eating organic foods in order to make herself healthier. She ended up with worms.
He was old, single, and never able to keep romance afloat for long, so everyone assumed he was secretly gay. The truth is, he was just really bad with women.
He had an intense fear of appearing conceited and took great pains to make light of his accomplishments or to avoid discussing them altogether. At first, she confused this with modesty and found the trait endearing; but eventually, she recognized it as the height of arrogance: he must believe himself to be a living miracle, given the amount of time and energy he expended in convincing people it was not so and worrying that his presence in the room might make them feel small.
All his life, he resented being born in a Catholic town in a Catholic country. Things came to a head when he sued the local parish priest, challenging him to prove the existence of God.
He read a book by an author known as the “Great Listener.” He was disappointed to find her reputation founded on the fact that she had nothing coherent to say.
The disease he contracted was not life-threatening, but it scared him enough that he turned his routine upside down and dramatically altered his diet. In the end, that brief scare and the changes it prompted added ten years to his life.
She used to dread going to the dentist and having her cavities filled. But after she fell ill and had surgery in the hospital, the idea of a quick, simple shot of Novocain seemed like a joke.
He charmed her by saying unusual things like: “You and I are like a block in a logic game, we have to go together.” They were so un-romantic that they felt genuine, whereas the tried-and-true romantic lines she’d heard so many times before from other men always felt forced and contrived.