First of all, I need you to understand: Glen was just an OK boyfriend. Merely acceptable. He was not, and I have to stress this, superior. For example, he never sent me roses on my birthday, which I happen to feel is a basic requirement of a “real” relationship. He felt that flowers are corny, even on Valentine’s Day, and only Midwesterners send cards.
“I am from Indiana,” I pointed out.
“You are so funny,” he said.
You see what I mean? OK, I’m an accountant, but I need more. Anyway, the problem was how to break up. There hadn’t been much of a spark in the first place, so I couldn’t exactly say it fizzled out—and we were a fixture at the office. As the song goes, breaking up is hard to do.
So one day, Glen treated me to lunch at a fancy place downtown—and Glen never picked up the tab. I had a mouthful of wild salmon when he announced, “I think you should know, I’m not a guy. Or I won’t be soon, which is more or less the same thing. I’m a woman.”
“Hey that is fantastic,” I said, and I meant it. “This merlot is fantastic, too, very well-priced.”
“I wanted you to be the first to hear,” he said, and added, “Chilean, always a bargain.”
“Be who you are,” I said, finishing up the bottle and, I hoped, our affair. I hate scenes, which was another reason I hadn’t broken up with him.
“So we’re good?” he asked.
“More than good,” I replied cheerfully. “I need to get back to work.” It was April, and tax time is always insane. You wouldn’t believe the lies people tell on their tax forms, it’s very stressful.
But getting back to Glen and me, I was thinking we’d be friends-- although even as a friend, Glen was only average. We talked about taxes or football, but not about mothers or how life can be totally pointless. I’d call him limited on the spiritual level.
Anyway, whoever that cosmetic surgeon is, she did a fantastic job. Super-high cheekbones, pouting lips that would make Mick Jagger proud, lashes to the moon. Glenda was like a super-model/accountant. Guys rushed to get her coffee, you get the picture.
Not that I am “looks conscious” but I prefer my female friends to be in the same glamour ballpark. A little prettier but not too much. But I was cordial. I made sure to compliment Glenda, like “nice jacket,” “great eye shadow,” stuff like that. Thoughtful comments, in my opinion. Most women enjoy a compliment now and then—which, by the way, Glen never understood.
About a week after she’d returned, Glenda found me in the ladies’ room. As we both applied lipstick, she said, “What about the Knicks game tonight? I got great tickets.”
“Glenda, to tell you truth, I hate basketball. I always have.”
“What are you saying? You don’t want to go with me?”
“Well, yes, I mean no, I don’t want to go. I mean, we’re not a couple.”
I shouldn’t have used that loaded word, I admit it. That was insensitive.
She leaned closer in a menacing way—she had about a foot on me, six inches in height, and six more in Manolos. “What do you mean we are not a couple? Are we breaking up?”
“Glenda, I respect you. I celebrate your choices. But we are no longer a “we.” You are you, and I am me. We are both strong individuals with separate lifestyles.”
That set her off. Her face turned turquoise and black and maroon, reflecting the colors of her eyeshadow, mascara and lipstick. Then she started howling. “Just when I need emotional support. You’re always all about you! You are such a narcissist!”
“Can you calm down…please,” I said. My boss’s office was not far away, and she’s one of the world’s quiet, harmless people.
“I will not!” Glenda screeched. “I can’t believe you don’t love me anymore.”
“Hmm, even when you were Glen, you were never my type and now…you’re a woman, and you’re even less my type, like the total opposite of my type of guy.”
“I am NOT a guy,” she insisted, which was true, of course, but didn’t help.
“Right, but either way, we’re incompatible. Oil and water, really. Plus, you ought to watch that temper of yours, Glenda.”
“Temper!” I had no idea a woman could yell so loud—but I guess the surgery hadn’t altered her vocal register yet. Come to think of it, I wasn’t sure what the surgery had or hadn’t accomplished. It seemed rude (and impolitic) to ask under the circumstances which, let’s face it, were rather strained.
An army of pastel-suited accountants marched into the ladies’ room. They began to hug Glenda in a fit of feminine solidarity, and accompanied Glenda back to her desk. Every hour or so, someone went over and hugged her or blew her a kiss, and then glared at me with undisguised enmity.
It was a long afternoon.
Well, hope springs eternal in the human breast. The next morning, bright and early, I placed two dozen red roses in a vase on Glenda’s desk, along with a sugary pink Hallmark card. I waited until she arrived, Starbucks in hand. The pastel-suited gang held their breath, and Glenda stared at the flowers. She was too angry to speak, I guess.
I said in a gratingly sweet, loud, voice, “The flowers are for you. My sincere apology if you’ll accept it. Please."
“How corny is that,” Glenda said. She tore the Hallmark card into shreds and then trashed it.
“This is corny,” I said, dumping the contents of the vase on her blonde head. Water dripped all over, and her mascara, once again, ran down her cheeks. “You should really buy waterproof, Glenda.”
“So we are good?” she asked, with a happy smile.
As they say, breaking up is hard to do.
Carla Sarett's work has appeared in numerous literary and humor magazines, such as Crack the Spine, Loch Raven Review, Blue Lyra Review , cahoodaloodaling , Skirt! and others. She has a Ph.D. from The University of Pennsylvania and has worked in TV, film and market research. You can read more at carlasarett.blogspot.com , or follow her on twitter @cjsarett.