Thursday, November 04, 2004

The return of Lila

Tuesday, October 26.

Buzzzzzzz, goes my phone. Lee calling, it says on the readout screen.

WTF does Lila want?

Usually I go through a ritual every time I break up with someone: I purge her name from my cell phone and BlackBerry, and place any belongings she has left at my house into a duffel bag or pillowcase and bring them to her. I even let her keep the bag! Just my way of saying, "Thanks for fucking the Steverino! Please accept this lovely parting gift!"

I haven't quite been able to bring myself to "purge" Lila yet.

Maybe I won't answer the phone. But my curiosity is getting the better of me. And I really do want to hear what she has to say. I want to try and be her friend; usually, I break all ties and never think about them again.

It's on the 3rd or 4th ring. "Hello?"

"Steve." It's strange hearing her voice again. I haven't seen her in weeks.

"Hey! How are you?"

"Ok." She sounds sad. Sad I can deal with. Angry is harder.

"What's up?"

"You left your boom box here."

"Keep it, honey."

"I don't want it."

"I want you to have it."

"Steve, I'm just gonna throw it out."

"OK, I'll come pick it up."

"I'm going out at 7 tonight. Can you come before that, like around 6?"

"Yeah. Are you ok?"


"I wanna be your friend," I say.

"I know. It's just hard for me. I still think about you sometimes."

"Me too."

"How are your dad and your brothers doing?"

"OK. They're all asking for you. They're pissed at me 'cause we broke up."

"Tell 'em I said hi."

"OK," I say. "I..."


"Nothing. I just... I miss you."

"Me too. Do you know what you said?" She sounds like she is smiling.

"Huh?" I say.

"Do you know what you said before?"


"You called me 'honey'."

"Ohhh. Sorry."

"It's ok. It was nice."

"I'll see you later, ok?" I say.



7:15. I am running late. She said she was leaving at 7.

I ring her bell. Sophie answers. "Big Steve!" she says.

"Hey, Sophie. She still here?"

"Ummmmmm," she says, looking uneasily towards the kitchen.

I walk in. There's a guy standing there. "Sup, dude?" He says.

He's about 6'3", with a deep tan and curly brown hair. He definitely works out: His triceps are finely chiseled, and his shoulders bulge against his green polo shirt. He's got the puffed-up chest and thin waist of a two-hour-a-day gym rat. He's wearing jeans and $150 Nike sneakers.

I introduce myself, first and last name, as always, and extend my hand to him.

"Duuuude, how's it goin', dude? I'm Trey." He shakes my hand. Hard, like he's trying to rip it out of the socket.

Wow! Two 'dudes' in one sentence! This must be some kind of record!

"How do you do, Trey."

"You're her ex, right? Dude, man, she had it baad for you, man. I'm makin' her forget you, though," he smiles.

Lila comes in. "I thought you said six!" she says, obviously annoyed.

"Running late," I say, winking at Trey. "Trey and I were just chatting."

"No, we were just LEAVING," she says. "You know where the boom box is." She leaves the room. Trey rushes after her.

"Later, dude!" I say.


12:30am. I can't sleep. Seeing Lila really made me think.

I feel like I should be looking out for her. I feel like I should be more protective over her feelings.

I feel guilty for.....ruining her life.

That's the phrase that comes to mind. Not that Lila was particularly well-adjusted when I got ahold of her, but I sure as hell didn't help.

She's been through some shit in her life. Guys turn into sick fucks when they're around girls who look like Lila, and she really is a little screwed up because of it. Still, it bothers me that I left her worse than I found her. Her relationship with me is going to taint every other relationship she has in the future; the least I can do is maintain a friendship with her so the taste I leave behind isn't quite so bad.

Seeing Trey actually made me a little jealous, too. I admit Trey is better-looking than me. He's more of a match for her, physically, and more her age, too. I never traded on the "gorgeous guy" thing. I'm not gorgeous. I clean up well, and I think I am handsome in an ethnic way, and I do very well for myself, as you know. But it does bruise my ego to know that some muscle-bound dude is probably popping the hell out of her right now.

Would she take me back? Could we make some kind of compromise? Shouldn't we have talked it out more than we did? Don't we owe each other that?

But what about Stephanie? What about the great start we got off to? Isn't Steph a better match for me than Lila? Don't Stephanie and I have a connection that Lila and I could never have?

I know the answers. They're obvious.

I pick up the phone and dial it. She answers.

"I need to talk to you," I say.