February 6, 2018
Best Served Soft:
A Rejection Story
I'm sitting at a bus stop on a steel bench. Everyone else is standing except one girl who has her face cupped in her hands. I can see her back trembling and a small stream of clear liquid dropping off her wrists.
See, Serbians don't believe in sitting on cold surfaces due to the belief that it harms their reproductive organs. I once went to a house party where I sat on the carpeted floor. Two men started yelling at me, demanding that I sit on the couch. I asked them what the problem was, they said that it's not good for my vagina. Okay, they didn't say that... they pointed at their dicks while shaking their finger at me saying, it's not good for that. I said, since when are you concerned with my vagina? They didn't say anything and handed me an old sheepskin rug instead. I grabbed it, slide the sheepskin under my ass and for a moment, I felt what it would be like to have someone concerned about my vagina. It felt nice.
I look to my right, the chick's still sitting there, silently weeping to herself. I wept while sitting on a bench once. Bench weeping is an all-time low. I can't remember why I was crying on a bus stop bench. Actually, I lied. I know exactly why I was weeping on a bus stop bench. It was when the guy I was seeing decided to send me a Google translate "I love you but I can't be with you" text and then erase me from his life over the course of two minutes. A Google Translate break-up text - as you can imagine, it's hard to process.
As I slowly freeze my reproductive organs on this bench, I feel my phone vibrate in my pocket. I take it out staring at the screen numbly. He fucking texted me, that fucking "I love you but I can't be with you" douchebag actually texted me. No fucking way. It's been six months since he disappeared and didn't get on his flight to see me. Six months since he deleted me from everything, ignored my anxiously desperate and tear-filled calls. Six months since I couldn't say the word 'turkey' without counting to three with a quivering voice. And now, he texts me. I read the message. "Hi. Did you call me?" I put my phone back into my pocket and continue sitting on the bench in silence, surprised by the lack of emotion I have towards his opening line. Did you call me? That's you're opening line? What a pussy, fuck him.
The chick next to me is still weeping. Though the sound of her offbeat weeping irritates me, I have a hidden love for sitting next to people in sorrow, it just makes me feel me accomplished as if I 've evolved from bus bench weeping. I now weep while I wash the dishes or at off-leash dog parks.
The more attention I pay to her weeping, the more my nose crinkles and flinches with irritation. I begin to get up off the bench, preparing to stand next to an old shivering baba but I quickly realize that I've invested too much time warming my seat up and she has a pension, so fuck her. I clear my throat and place my hand on the weeping girl's shoulder, "are you okay?"
She lifts her head up and turns towards me, wiping the mascara smeared from her eyes with her knuckle, "No."
"Do you need help? Do you need me to call someone?"
"My boyfriend," wipes her snot into her sleeve, stuttering, "left me."
I momentarily close my eyes, letting the air release from my chest as I ask myself why, why would you ask her if she's okay. Just say something moderately inspirational and go on Facebook.
"Don't worry," patting her shoulder, "it's going to be okay," slowly reaching into my pocket with my other hand, digging for my phone.
"No, it's not, you don't understand," turning her body towards me, "it's been two months since he left me...I miss him so much, I just can't get him out of my head...he broke my heart."
"How old are you?"
I flash back quickly to my days of being twenty-one. I spent most of my time either in a suburban nightclub called The Mirage or trying to figure out how to wear clip-on hair extensions that I bought online from China while watching The Jersey Shore.
She pauses, digging into her pocket and pulling out a Kleenex, "I don't know what to do. I feel horrible...and you know he left me because he said he-he-he didn't want to miss out on the u-university experience, like are you f-f-fucking kidding me?" She blows her nose, taking a deep breath, "we were living together for two years and then he does this," her face starts to crinkle as water gathers in her eyes, "I-I don't even understand how he can see other people after this, I can't even look at another guy. A-a-and he told me it's not about having sex wit-with other girls, he just didn't want to be in a relationship." She pats her eyes with the snot-filled Kleenex, "I feel like if I'm worth anything, I mean i-i-if I was truly worth something wouldn't he want to keep me?"
She stares at me while her bottom lip trembles, I try to make an empathetic face, however, I keep thinking about how she just used a snot-filled Kleenex to wipe her eyes. I make a mental note of Googling 'eye snot diseases'.
"I don't know what to do, I don't want to go out...I don't wanna see my friends. And like an idiot, I've been reading all these articles, st-t-upid fucking articles about how to get over your ex-boyfriend and I'm trying everything, b-b-but nothing's working."
My eyes had glazed over about halfway through her speech, I blink, refocusing my attention, "Mhm, one sec, what website did you read those articles from?"
Even her sniffle sounds confused, "w-what?"
"What was the article about?"
"I-i-it was...umm, on how to get over your ex-boyfriend."
"What site was it?"
She leans back slowly, unsure, "umm well, I don't really remember...I read so many," pausing to think, "I read one from C-cosmo and there was, uh, the one from Bustle and, umm, oh yeah, the one from Love---"
"Aha, yeah," nodding proudly, "I wrote that one."
"Yeah, that's my article. I wrote the last one, uh...the one about getting over your ex-boyfriend."
She sniffs up the excess snot from her nose and clears her throat, "Oh my god," her eyes brighten up with hope, "are you serious?"
"Yeah, I'm Natasha," mumbling as I point to myself.
She readjusts herself and gives her nose one more good wipe, "I read your other one about getting your ex-boyfriend back and I'm really a huge fan of yours... you know, I was thinking --"
"Don't read that one, it's not really meant for anyone...it's not for you," staring at her swollen face, "I mean, at this point...in time...maybe later..."
"This is so crazy," she says with bright-eyes, almost as if she never was dumped, "...like it's a sign, we were both at this bus stop and I read your articles, and you asked me if I'm okay, it's like...like what are the chances."
"Yeah, yeah, the universe is crazy and now we're waiting for this fucking bus," I bend over, looking down the street, "why isn't it here by now? Do you know when it's going to come by the way?"
The bus turns the corner, I stand up, my ovaries are cold. Fucking Serbs were right, "this your bus too?"
She stands up and smiles. Great. The bus stops and we both get on, sitting down across from each other in corner seats.
I straighten out my jacket that's bunched under my ass, "I don't know how many stops you have until you get off, so I'm going to tell this to you straight up."
"Right," she says, holding her used Kleenex eagerly, "I'm here, I'm listening...tell me everything I need to know."
"You're not going to like this," I say slowly, "but don't selectively hear what I'm going to tell you, okay?"
Her eyes widen as she waits for me to continue.
"Your ex-boyfriend wanted to break up with you so he could fuck other girls without having to feel guilty."
She stares at me, eyes drooping with disappointment.
"See," shaking my head, "I told you-you're not gonna like it, but now, you have to keep focused, okay? You passed the hard part. See? It's not so bad right?" I laugh anxiously. "You just need to accept that, it's gonna take you a while, trust me and I mean, you're probably going to try to erase from your mind what I just said because you don't want to hear it but in reality, it's pretty nice of him, you know...in the long run for him to do that."
I pause for a moment, okay, okay, there's a better way to say this, Natasha. "To put this nicely, your ex-boyfriend is about to enter an ice cream shop, but one with 300 different flavors and he can't decide which one he wants. And though his usual flavor is chocolate, meaning you," smiling sincerely, "cause chocolate's the best, he knows he wants to try strawberry, maybe even vanilla or be like, a little risky and try pecan or pumpernickel," momentarily irritated with analogy, "I don't fucking know the flavors, I haven't eaten ice cream in a year. The point is he loves chocolate and it's his favorite, but he wants other flavors." I run my finger through my hair, combing it onto one side, "...by other flavors, I mean pussy."
I cringe in front of her as I realize what I just said, "I'm sorry, uh, I'm, uh... I can't say this in a nicer way, you need to hear this." I lean in forward, looking at her straight in her swollen eyes, "listen, your ex-boyfriend just wanted to have sex with other people." I pause for a moment, rethinking what I said, "yup... that's basically it. I mean, it sucks right now, but if you think about it, he cared about you and himself enough to not want to cheat on you...that's why he broke up with you and is now your ex-boyfriend."
Her knee starts to shake with anxiety, "will he realize that chocolate is the flavor he needs? Is he gonna come back?"
"You won't want him back," I take a deep breath, "okay okay, I see that you're focused on getting your ex-boyfriend back, uh, I think the ice cream was a bad analogy, uh...let me try this again. Okay, I know you want him back but you can't take him back even if he came back. See, I know it's stupid but men realize things too late, you have to know that and that's his problem. So, even if he did come back and he probably will because he's a guy...it won't be for a while. Like, I'm talking six months minimum. Like seriously, when it comes to this shit, they're not fast movers. And right now, he's dick deep in every pussy and he's not thinking about you. I know you're thinking he's sitting there and having this epiphany that he realized he made a mistake and wants you back... but that's not happening... buuuut," I look at her as her eyes start to water, "n-n-n-n-no, no, no, don't get upset," I quickly take the sleeve of my jacket, patting the teary bags under her eyes, "shh, it's okay."
Ah, fuck. I take a deep breath, "Just wait, wait, wait, calm down. Here's the thing, they'll be one night six months from now when he's alone or having some random chick in his bed, trust me, and this chick doesn't really understand him or laugh at his jokes and he'll feel this cramp in his chest," hitting my chest with an open palm, "almost like a feeling of nausea and that's when the wheels will start turning. That's when he'll think of you. But by then...then it'll be too late and you'll feel differently about this whole situation, so it won't matter. It doesn't matter if he comes back, cause you won't want him."
"Will I ever get over him?"
"Listen, you'll get over him, you're just going to have to ride it out. The next couple months are going to fucking suck but really, they're going to suck. But just go through it. By summer you'll start to feel better and you know, you'll probably meet some guy and fuck him on the beach or whatever, so all you have to do is just get through the winter, that's your goal."
I uncross my legs, readjusting my jacket, "but you won't fully get over it." She looks up at me surprised, "you get what I mean?" She looks at me with eyes of a dog that's just been hit by a bicycle. "You won't think about him so much and soon he'll just be this memory, he'll just be this thing that happened in your life. And I know you don't believe me right now because I didn't believe people when they told me that, but it's weird, he'll fade away, the memory of him will just become...nothing, almost like it never happened. But, at the same time, it never goes away. The break-up, that part of the relationship was traumatic, so you'll keep some part of that experience inside you, for sure. But the rest of it just moves to the back of your head."
She looks confused.
"Okay, for example, there was this guy I really liked, like, we really liked each other and one day he just disappeared. He left me with some bullshit note saying he loved me but he couldn't be with me and that was it. Basically, I was left with nothing, no explanation, just fuckin' nothing and that was months ago and I can tell you right now, I'm not over it. See, I got over him, I don't think about him, well, I do sometimes, but like only when I'm eating Turkish food or like when I think about fucking music festivals," clearing my throat, "that's where we met. But anyway, the thing is when I meet someone now, I don't even expect them to show up to the date, I just assume they're not going to come and if they do show up, no matter how much they like me I assume whatever we have won't last. And that's what I was left with," scratching my nose, "do you get what I mean? That's what stuck with me. The memory of him as a person faded and our relationship ended but the act of him disappearing, throwing me away...like abandoning me," my chest stings momentarily, "that stayed and that fucked me up, you get it?"
"So, how did you unlove him?"
I shake my head, letting out a slight sigh, "you know you can't unlove someone, you just push them in the back of your mind. They just move into the storage space and other things like school, work, new guys - they just pile on top and bury the memory of him and he just becomes another ex-boyfriend."
She lowers her head, shaking it in despair, "I just thought he was the one, you know? And now I'm just scared that I'll never be able to love again."
"I really want to tell you that you'll love again, but I'm like a horrible example of love, so, I really don't know. But everyone around me has fallen in love again, so, I think you will," nodding my head, "look, you're extremely sweet and sincere, like...like someone who would make awesome cookies with extra chocolate chips and you could cure a cold just by cuddling, so, this isn't something you should worry about...plus you're twenty-one, you have time."
I lean and grab her hands, holding them firmly. It's the only way I know how to hold a hand. "Listen," I say softly, a tone I rarely use, "he didn't know what he had in his hands, okay? And if someone doesn't know what they're holding, they don't fucking deserve it...he didn't see you, do you understand? He did not fucking see you. Your ex-boyfriend, he's young....he's horny... and I know you think he's the one and I know you want him back, but come on girl, do you really want to be with someone who doesn't see who they're standing next to?"
She tucks a strand of loose hair behind her ear, ever so slightly nodding her head. "Do you think your ex-boyfriend will come back to you?"
The bus stops, I look at the name of the station hanging above the bus stop, it's my station. I quickly stand up, laughing as I step over her feet to the bus doors, "girl, there's no point even asking that." I jump out of the bus and turn around, yelling from outside of the bus, "they always come back."