FUNNY WOMEN #7: In Retrospect, Dating That Speed Freak Wasn’t All That Bad, Comparatively


God, he was smart! He had a mind like a hummingbird, he had read every book there was to read, his tongue was sharp, he was funnier than anyone else at the party.

You stayed up all night talking, and when you were with him, he didn’t need to be anywhere. Sure, when you weren’t around he was probably still up all night talking, and it wasn’t so much that he didn’t “need” to be anywhere so much as he didn’t “have” anywhere, but—wait, listen, when you’re an intellectual, “material possessions” and “jobs” aren’t important: you’ve got masterpieces to write in your own blood and coffee tables to sculpt out of garbage by dawn. And those couple of months when Speed Freak Boyfriend (SFB) was bartending, you always got free drinks, even if in the end it got him fired. He understood sacrifice. SFB gave.

Your fights with SFB were so much more cut and dry than with all the rest. When you ran into him that January evening and wondered why he was cursing and twitching, smelling like a library of regret, wearing slippers and your denim cut-off shorts, he acted like he didn’t even recognize you; his eyes flashed, and he screamed for you to get away. It even sounded like he was speaking Chinese, which is, from what you understand, an incredibly challenging language to master. He understood that everyone has deep-seated issues but that it’s not always fair to burden one’s partner with them. Why is it, anyway, that we are always the most cruel to the people we love the most?  He knew that was wrong. His apology was real sincere, too; besides the six increasingly urgent voicemails, you came home to a care package: a novel he said you could borrow for one whole week, ¾ of a joint, and a jacket he found on the street—he even remembered that you like blue, which the jacket sort of was, once you washed it.

And the sex! Wow. You have never slept with anyone else who shook and sweat like that. One time he even had to go to the bathroom to vomit afterwards but thought of you and brought you back a glass of water. He was never “too tired,” and his enthusiasm was absolutely boundless. He never wanted that tender sex that Paternal Clock Boyfriend (PCB)—who may also be classified as Sensitive Older Boyfriend (SOB)—was so fond of, and post coitus, you never had to have exhausting, inane conversations about feelings and communication issues. Not that SFB didn’t like gentle affection. SFB held you tight. Really. Tight.

Your breakup with SFB was easier than with Commitment Issues Artist Boyfriend (CIAB), who needed time to think and focus on his art, but really was very sorry for misleading you into relocating for him, but needed to be on his own for a while, and it wasn’t easy for him either, which is why he very nearly almost cried when he broke up with you, for his art. Your break up with SFB was monumentally easier than with PCB, who needed long-term promises and a vacant womb; SFB was proud of you for flossing. PCB (a.k.a. SOB) invented elaborate dances to perform upon your heart post-breakup, such as coming back from vacation practically engaged. Whereas, with SFB, after you voiced your concerns about realistic longevity, he just punched a cop and went to jail for six months. This fostered a healthy period of thinking and a natural sense of closure.

You never have to wonder whether SFB was the one who got away, and all that potential you saw in him follows a steady decline at a rate of 3.5. You were the best thing SFB ever had; you will never Google his new girlfriend (fiancé?!) to find she is a successful filmmaker. At best, SFB has an apartment, a relatively clean pair of sweatpants, and a fifth of rum that cost more than ten dollars. Even if on a particular night you’ve had one too many and know he’d be up and probably willing to listen to your sincere concerns about spending the next five to ten years alone, perhaps even delving into your feelings regarding SOB and your sincere shock that you had so deeply loved someone you knew from the start you shouldn’t have, which is exactly what happened with CIAB too, you will not call SFB. Are you kidding? That guy doesn’t even have a fucking phone.


Original art by Ilyse Magy.


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Kathleen Alcott’s first words were “Ooh, the lights,” and they will probably be her last. Her debut novel, The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets, is forthcoming from Other Press in September of 2012. She came of age in Northern California, studied in Southern California, fell in love with San Francisco, hid for a while in Arkansas, and presently resides in Brooklyn. Her work appears or is forthcoming in The Rumpus, Slice Magazine, American Short Fiction, Rumpus Women Vol. 1, and The Bold Italic. A copywriter by day, she is currently at work on her second novel, a book that traces the lives of four tenants of an apartment building in New York City and their rapidly deteriorating landlord. Excerpts and thoughts at More from this author →