Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Skeletons on parade




Suddenly, this bustling beehive of commerce seems like a funeral home. Steph and I leave Sears and cross the mall, and all I can hear is my shoes against the tiled floor.


I really can't stand Kelly. I figured that, after she managed to get me an ass-whooping courtesy of Rob, she would have been satisfied that she had her pound of flesh. But not Kelly. I get the impression that, if we run into each other at a nursing home in 50 years, she'll be looking to put my bedpan in the freezer. Does she never give up?

Steph is not saying anything at all. Her face has no expression. She's waiting for me to talk first, I know. Then there is going to be an onslaught.

I know I have to start off with a joke. I think carefully for a minute, as we pass Sam Goody and Yankee Candle and Hot Topic.

"I gotta remember to start carrying garlic and a sharp stick," I say, finally. I like that one!

Steph looks at me, unsmiling.

"Steph, I wasn't always a nice guy."

"Is she telling the truth?"

"Yeah. Mostly."

"So you cheated on Lila with her?"

SQUEAK-squeak. "Yeah."

"Who's Taylor?"

"Kelly's friend. Rob's girlfriend."

She looks at me. "Did you sleep with her?"

I clear my throat. "Kelly is sort of bisexual. We had a threesome once."

"With another guy's girlfriend?"

"Yeah," I say, looking down at the floor.

She shakes her head, snapping her tongue.

"So you cheated on Lila twice that I just found out about, and I found out by accident. How many others DON'T I know about?"

"It's irrelevant."

"No, it's not, Steve. I'm dating you."

"So you don't trust me now?"

"I just don't like surprises. I wish I would have known. I hate finding out this way."

"Steph, I'm not gonna sit down and tell you every single sordid thing I did. I was screwing around a lot. I was having as much sex as possible. That was just me; it's not me now."

"Well, if you're not going to tell me, then you better be prepared for me to get upset when I find out."

"I know."

"You know what bothers me the most?"


"That you loved Lila. You loved her, and you still cheated."

"That wasn't love. I was emotionally vulnerable. My mother had just died-"

"DON'T blame this on your mother! Your mother didn't have sex with all those girls!"

BAD visual! Bad, Bad, I say!

"It's my fault. I take responsibility. I'm not giving you excuses, only explanations. But then again, what do I really have to apologize for? I was safe. And now I'm being faithful to you."

"So you don't think you have anything to apologize for?"

"Not to you."

"Why did you cheat on Lila?"

"I was being selfish."

"Even though you loved her."

"I DIDN'T, I said!"

"So you told her you loved her, but you were lying?"

Uh, excuse me, your honor. I'm gonna need a five-minute recess so I can go smash my head against a wall. Preferably ceramic tile.

Now I am fucked. If I tell her I was lying, she could extrapolate that I am lying to her, too. And if I wasn't lying, then I was cheating on a loved one. More extrapolation.

"I was confused." It's the best I can do. "It's different with you."

"I just don't see how you could do that to her."

"Well, I did. But I promise I won't do it to you. And I hope you keep trusting me, because I still haven't lied to you."

Her face darkens. She stares silently ahead as we walk, her eyes tired and defeated.