I was back at the gallery; back at J_’s show. At this point I had been immunized to any sort of hospitality. I was a feral cat. I wanted to attack or be left alone. I was not capable of realizing that the “real” guests were arriving and we as “the help” (even though I wasn’t allowed to touch anything) were to put on our smiley faces and become gracious hosts.
When the photos had been hung, the wine was brought out and I overheard someone say “Let’s get drunk.” Even though I like a drink, maybe a little too much sometimes, the one thing preventing me from being a full-blown alkie is the fact that in moments of great mental strain, I actually prefer sobriety. I like to concentrate on the searing white heat of my anger; I can’t concentrate on anything else. I can’t enjoy being wasted.
Earlier in the day, my girlfriend at the time D_ had mentioned that we might head back down to the city that night. You can bet your ass that was the first thing I brought up the second we were alone. The answer was a wonderful ambiguity, the type I would have to try really hard to achieve. I always wondered how others could be so casual, so tentative about things they tell other people. Why do I always keep my word or at the very least have a good reason why I can’t? “I need to stay here so probably not” she told me, her attitude and temper strained from the previous two days of stress and work.
“So it’s like that.”
“Yeah, I guess so. Why can’t you be more casual? Why can’t you just go with the flow? Why do you have to be offended that B_ didn’t give you a tour of her house?’
“Because that’s what hosts do. I sat there and listened to everyone talk about how awesome the kitchen was, about the fucking built in Cappuccino maker and I don’t get shown the kitchen. What, do they think I’m gonna rob them? Jesus Christ, why are people who move out of New York City the most prejudiced of people from the city? Why did you say that we might go back tonight?”
“Well, uh you can go back if you want to.”
“I would never do that, leave you here.”
“Well, you’re obviously miserable.”
This opened up the full flood gates of my emotion, my temper would be inadvertently taken out not on the villain B_ but on my girlfriend who in retrospect was just another pawn in the B_ and J_’s little superiority game.
” Yeah, I’m miserable” I said as I pointed my finger at her, directing my anger at her. “And you fucking owe me!”
This outburst did not get the desired effect. D_ burst out into hysterical tears. I suddenly realized I was wrong. As inconsiderate as she was, she still worked her ass off all weekend and instead of support, I was giving her shit.
I felt terrible and apologized profusely but there are some things you just can’t take back. I knew then that was the end, that she would probably never look at me the same way again. Just as the tears had begun to subside and my attempts to apologize were beginning to register, J_’s contractor father BJ appeared. How long had he been standing there?
He took mercy on me and merely made with the small-talk. This guy was so Brooklyn, so comfortable in his own skin. He had realized a long time ago that a happy home was worth putting up with his eccentric wife. I thought to myself that any man married to B_ should have been up for a Nobel Peace prize.
I found it in myself to put a stop to my reflexive pretension. I managed to have a half-way decent time at J_’s party. Her friends were all into their VW’s. The talk was of head gaskets and replaced clutches. I managed to come across as amicable. I had a nice conversation with B_. I met J_’s ex and smoked a joint with him. The ex-boyfriend. I knew then why I was able to relate to him so easily.
Even though D_ and I hadn’t broken up yet, I knew it was over. Maybe it was over the second we got in the car. The second we attempted to leave the magic of New York City, of Brooklyn. Ours was a relationship that depended on the supernatural. Our bond just wasn’t strong enough for the Interstate, nor the back roads of life. This weekend was a signal, notifying us as a traffic light does when it turns red. Our love was the Prospect Expressway and just as the Prospect does, it would end shortly and abruptly.