Thursday, September 06, 2007

Chapter 3: Stretch Goals


SugarKookie: Good morning :-D :-D

RedFoxx85: how was it??????

SugarKookie: took me to his friends 40th bday party

RedFoxx85: hung with the old dudes eh

SugarKookie: i swear i was the oldest girl there

RedFoxx85: lol

SugarKookie: huge buffet, chinese food, sushi, open bar

SugarKookie: he got drunk, i had to drive him home

SugarKookie: in his lincoln navigator :-)

RedFoxx85: nfw

SugarKookie: way

SugarKookie: felt like i was driving a tank

RedFoxx85: so you drove him home...

RedFoxx85: and?!

SugarKookie: so how was your night O:-)

RedFoxx85: what happened????!!!

I can't read any more. All I want is to walk into the middle of that party and look at her, stare at her face endlessly until she realizes what she is doing. If I could just see her, talk to her, I know she would come to her senses. But I am powerless to stop any of this. It's in the past.

Now, I can only sit passively and experience every excruciating second of her betrayal, knowing that, although the pain is fresh, whatever has happened is done and over with. I can't change it any more than I can change yesterday's weather.

I sleepwalk through my day at work, watching myself like a disinterested third party as the hours melt away in a blur of phone calls and meetings. I go through the motions, say all the proper things at the correct times, but none of it affects me whatsoever. It's like eating a meal that I cannot taste.

"You still here?" Todd asks at 6:30.

"Yep," I sigh.

"What's wrong, Eric?"

I want to tell him. I want to open myself up and pour out every ounce of pain in my body. I want to scream aloud that I do not deserve this, and then I want to collapse into a blob on the floor, sobbing like a widow. I've been bottling this up for too long. I need to talk to someone.

But Todd is my boss. What would he think of me if he knew how upset I was? Would I seem like the kind of person who cannot keep his personal life under control?

"Nothing. Good night, Todd."

* * *

If I go home, I'm just going to end up checking Emily's IMs. I'd rather be anywhere else.

I drive aimlessly, angrily changing the radio station every time a love song comes on, until my car finds its way to my mother's house.

"Oh good. You can help me hang a picture," she says.

"Did you call the landlord to have that carpet stretched in your living room?" she asks as I hammer a picture hook into the wall.

"Not yet."

"You really should call. That carpet is buckled. Buckled!" she hisses, showing two rows of beaver-like teeth.

"I know, mom."

"Ugh. It's horrible! I don't know how you can stand that gigantic... bump in the floor," she says, running her hand over an imaginary mountain.

The bump is half an inch high. Actually, half an inch would be a lot. Coming over here was a mistake. Mom does not have much to do these days, so every mundane issue is magnified to 10,000 times its normal size.

In a way, it's good that the Emily thing is happening, because serious problems make me see just how insignificant the buckled carpets of the world truly are. If I can just resolve this, somehow, I'll be the most nauseatingly happy guy you've ever met.

"That picture is crooked! Look at it, it's all cockeyed!"

I push up on the bottom right corner. The picture moves a millimeter or two.


"It's all wrong. It's all wrong there. We've got to move it, honey."

Suddenly it hits me. I'll win Emily over. I'll woo her, just like I did when we first met. I'll surprise her with no-reason gifts, take her on romantic getaways, and lavish her with fawning attention. Why didn't I think of this before?

They say that men cheat for sex, and women cheat for love. After three years, maybe I'm taking her for granted. Maybe she's had one too many drive-thru dinners, and she's frustrated. I've been busy at work lately, but if I'm going to be serious about my relationship, I need to make it more of a priority. That's just what I'm going to do. Maybe this will work, and maybe it won't, but if we break up, I don't want it to be because of mistakes I made.

"Higher. Higher, Eric!" mom is screaming. "Hello! You're a million miles away!"

"Sorry, I was just--"

"Give me that," she snaps, snatching the picture out of my hand. "Never mind. I'll handle it."

"I think I'm gonna take off, mom."

"Damn carpet is two feet off the ground," she mutters to herself as the door closes behind me.

Next...Chapter 4: An Insufficient Gift