Breaking up has inspired creative expression since the beginning of mankind. The seemingly endless supply of poetry, music and books dedicated to heartache and misery are persistent reminders that this special form of disappointment can be debilitating.
As creatures built to survive, we have good reasons to avoid the whole messy situation if at all possible. So when my relationship of 15 years started to take a sharp turn toward a steep cliff, she and I made a deliberate effort to avoid the ugliness of an emotional disaster and work through the issues as best we could. Now, years later, we’ve gotten to that spot where dinner at a restaurant is a plan to look forward to, but visits to the apartment can still be slightly uncomfortable.
Some of what was formerly “our” stuff is now officially my stuff, there are lots of pictures around of me and my new lady and my housekeeping immediately goes under the microscope. When my ex walks in, there’s an undeniable evaluation process going on as she strolls around trying to figure out how my new life works.
This is basically how everything was going down when she stopped by last week. No problem. And then I felt a slight churn in my guts. A familiar sensation, but somewhat inconvenient considering the circumstances.
“Excuse me, I’ll be right back,” I said, feeling slightly embarrassed as I headed down the hall to the restroom.
A minute later I discovered that we were completely out of toilet paper. Of all the times to fail at meeting the most basic expectations of the world, I’d found one of the most sensitive. I’d made reservations. I’d swept. I’d walked the dog. A candle was burning and the laundry was done. But I’d managed to overlook one basic requirement of modern man.
I came up with a quick solution (not worth going into)—and wound up telling her the story after dinner as we strolled down the sidewalk near the neighborhood Walgreens. We laughed about the whole thing and for at least ten minutes or so we were just two people, without any baggage, making poop jokes. An unpleasant and somehow perfect end to the evening.