*Names have been changed to protect the identity of my cruel, bitchy friends. Everyone knows I'm heartless so that's no newsflash.
Revelation can be a cruel and beautiful thing. There is a moment in every relationship that declares "it's over". The unraveling can be slow and often go unnoticed, like a sweater with a loose thread. One day you slip into your beloved cable-knit turtleneck and notice that you are wearing a dickie. That initial haze of being twitterpated has come to a bitter end and the ugly truth is revealed; you are lost in a relationship with no sight of the person you initially met... and you are holding onto mere remnants of the past. The ending of a relationship is usually marked by a new found knowledge of self; in turn a boundary is crossed and a standard is raised. Then, in a 10 second flash of greased lightening, that dickie gets thrown in the GoodWill bag and sent back out into the world, with hopes that someone else finds it useful.
Two of my girlfriends had joined me for martinis at a girls' night out. We had all suffered many break ups throughout the years and we were swapping our war stories of stale relationships and divorce. Every story shared a similarity: that moment of knowing that pushed us over the edge.
Chelsea said, "I knew it was over with my ex-husband when I watched him eat a Whooper."
We all laughed.
She shuddered, "I could hear him eating it. There was slurping involved. It was offensive down to my core. I have a problem with certain sounds... shit, I can't even handle saying the word moist'." She continued, "When I saw the grease run down his face, I knew at that moment that I would never have sex with him again."
We all nodded in agreement. We had seen her ex husband and wondered how she mustered up enough gumption to get two kids out of the deal. It's not like we expected perfect health or fitness as we sat there inhaling our calorie laden martinis, but a little maintenance and self-awareness will go a long way. If you need to eat a Whooper, have at it. Just be aware that you are a human, not a pack of hyenas on a zebra carcass.
Amy had a similar story, "I was dating this guy who made what he called his 'Special Cheeseburger'. It was literally dripping with goopy goppy topping. He basically needed a bib to eat it. In fact, he put on his 'special sweatshirt' before he ate it, which come to think of it, was his bib." We could see a look of disgust cross her face as she remembered the scene. "Grease was running all down his face and all over his bib shirt. Suddenly, I wasn't hungry... for any of him. I called it quits."
I put my hand on Amy's pristine white sleeve to comfort her from the foul memory. There was no way someone as well-dressed as herself could be in a relationship with a man who owned a sweatshirt designated for sloppy cheeseburger eating.
I sighed. I knew it was time to share my grisly grease tale. "It was my college boyfriend, "I said. "He had the three C's that led straight to my heart. He was Charming, Clean-Cut and Cute. I thought that he was the one. I was sure that we would eventually get married and have a family." I shook my head, "Then he started hanging out with a group of rather scuzzy dudes. I wasn't particularly fond of any of them. He grew out his hair like Tom Cruise in Interview with a Vampire, except his was stringy; probably because he was constantly touching it to tuck it behind his ear."
"Not sexy," Chelsea offered.
"Not at all," I agreed.
"I should have seen the complete change," I said, "but I was too caught up remembering the way he was before, the way we were before. Honestly, we had both changed, just not in the same direction." I looked into the distance as I remembered, "It was a crisp fall day when he showed up at my house to visit. I remember, because almost all of my breakups happen in the fall. It seems to be a good time to clean out the dying feelings. When he walked into my kitchen, I immediately noticed a change. It was his hair. His hair was downright dirty. I asked him, 'When was the last time you washed your hair?' and he replied, 'Yesterday'. I told him, 'There is no way in hell you washed that oil slick yesterday,' and he responded, ' Well, I ran out of shampoo two weeks ago so I have just been using conditioner to wash my hair.'"
The table was silent as my friends stared at me, aghast.
"I know," I said, as I dropped my head into my palms.
"I sat there and argued with him about conditioner for... way too fucking long," I said. "He must have spent 20 minutes trying to convince me that conditioner had 'cleansing properties' and I held onto my view, which was that he was just added layers of clean grease to a foundation of old, dirty grease."
"So what happened?" asked Amy.
"We agreed to disagree on conditioner, and that is when I knew it was over," I explained. "I didn't want that head full of grime leaning against the back of my GoodWill red velvet couch that I bought for $20. It would leave a grease stain... and I loved that couch."
We clinked our glasses in celebration of those 10 second moments of knowing. If we hadn't made those decisions, all of us could have been trudging through the murky, swampy, oily waters of unfulfilled relationships for the rest of our lives. Those 10 seconds of knowing our personal abhorrence to grease had led us all to our to our current states of paradise- complete with clean shirts, clean faces, clean couches and not a dickie in sight.