Three drinks into our thirty-year reunion at a Springfield Suites event room twenty miles from the jock-sweat halls of Chamberlain High School, I decide to tell you the truth. You’re drunk and won’t remember—and, so what if you do? You live your happy life with your happy wife, three kids, and a poodle two thousand miles away, so what’ve I got to lose?
No, I haven’t forgotten you. You were the reason I dated Andrew first year of college, and the reason I let him kiss me anywhere but on the mouth. You were the reason Tim—with his soccer legs and English accent—found his way to my bed faster than he should have, and stayed longer. I hear you in Hall and Oates, wear you in Wayfarer sunglasses, and taste you in every single stick of Juicy Fruit. You are the reason I practiced kissing my arm, why I break up with boyfriends before they break up with me, and why I’m not smiling in my senior picture.
My therapist says I suffer from a bad case of imprinting and suggests exposure therapy, so here I am huddled around a high top holding a rum and coke in a cup nowhere big enough in one hand and a prosciutto-wrapped cucumber in the other. The sweaty DJ serves up Boyz II Men, and suddenly it’s prom night all over again. You lip sync “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” with a smile—your haircut and the song both now decades out of style.
My feet hurt from teetering in heels and the years spent tip-toeing around your temper. The ridiculously expensive full-body spanx force me to decide between breathing and laughing at your jokes. It’s never been an easy choice. You tell me about your hobbies and I listen with evergreen ears. Turns out, you’re here alone tonight, asking to dance, asking to make it up to me, asking is there any way we can go back in time and start again. Then you show me pictures of your family and that’s when EMDR therapy and the open bar finally kick in.
You can keep playing your Fender Jaguar, learning bluesy chords to every song Townes Van Zandt ever sang. You can keep chewing Lorazepam every night, puttering around in your underwear eating cheese puffs. You can keep claiming your wife is too cold to notice you pounding your pud to lesbian porn on her hand-me-down desktop she keeps paying the neighbor man to fix because she’s too cheap to buy a new one. But you can’t text me at two in the morning and you can’t keep telling me you love my face.
Marissa Glover teaches writing at Saint Leo University, hosts Friday Night Open Mic, and shares her thoughts more than necessary, which she considers a form of charitable giving. If it counted as a tax deduction, she’d be rich. Follow her on Twitter @_MarissaGlover_.