Let me just set this up for you. On a scale from 1-10, this woman is a 20. She's tall, thin, beautiful, with blonde hair and bright blue eyes. She's gorgeous. This guy is maybe a high 4.
Anyway, that was relevant, whether you think so or not. So, she called to tell me she had to cancel her engagement party. She didn't sound well on the phone. In fact, she could have just texted me. She then said she wanted to pay me for the ingredients or the cost of whatever I've already bought by giving me half the money. If the party was back on in the future, I could consider it a deposit.
That's not my style. I told her not to worry about it, and to just let me know if they went through with the party at a future date. She kept insisting I take the money and I kept insisting that I didn't want it. It's about 7pm at this point, and I was ready for my Sunday night lineup. She kept pushing, saying that she was in my neighborhood and maybe we could go to a diner and she could pay me. Again, I'm not in the business of holding people's deposits, and I really didn't want to get dressed again to go out.
She finally broke down and said she wanted someone to talk to, and I've always been a reasonable headed person in the office and she would really appreciate it if I could step up and be a friend this evening.
So, I found myself at the Omega Diner (whoop-de-doo) sipping a hot cocoa and nibbling an overpriced grilled cheese and bacon. Wow. Talk about de ja vu! She ordered a BLT that she wasn't touching and a hot tea, and then a Jameson's on the rocks. (I almost went for her BLT but it was smothered in mayo.)
Well, I assumed this was about why her engagement party was called off. She caught her fiance with another woman. Not sleeping with the other woman. It was one of those things where she's been spending a lot of time in Mineola at her parent's house, planning the wedding and engagement party. Her fiance has been left in the city at their apartment in the Upper West Side, left to his own devices. To make a long story short, he said he was home working on stuff, and she found out he was out with another woman. I don't need to get in on the nitty-gritty, like she did for nearly an hour. That was the gist of it.
"Are you going to be okay?" What else could I ask her? I don't know her very well.
"No. Yeah. I don't know. I mean...I've waited so long to be married and now it's going to happen. My parents are elderly. I want my mother to see me married before she dies. That's the crux of it."
"But, you don't want to get married to the wrong guy just for that reason....do you?"
To me, this answer would be obvious. But, looking at her face, I don't think my obvious answer was the same as her obvious answer.
"I can get over this. I can. I'm just in shock right now."
"I don't want to be the devil's advocate or anything, but if he does it and gets away with it the first time he's caught, what's to stop him from doing it again if there are no consequences for his actions?"
"I didn't catch him in bed with someone else. He was just out...."
That's when I realized I was dealing with a future Stepford Wife. My buddy certainly fits the role. She's the perfect image of a beautiful, smart society wife. And her Irish immigrant parents expect her to be married to a good man with a fruitful job and breed more gorgeous blonde-haired and blue-eyed babies. That is the route her life was supposed to take. And then this happened. Something tells me that if she caught him after the whole wedding thing, it wouldn't be so bad. But here she is, struggling with a trust issue but knowing she's going to marry this guy anyway.
"Okay. Well, it seems to me that you have your mind made up. So you don't really need to know what I think about it, and it shouldn't matter anyway. It's between you and him. Are you going to be alright with your decision?"
I think I hit the nerve. She just stared at me. She started tearing up again, and I've never seen a woman cry pretty before like she did. I mean, her big blue eyes watered up like large animation eyes, and perfectly clear, round tears started to roll down her cheeks, not messing up her make up and leaving the most flawless trail of tears. I was mesmerized, to be honest. And I was also irritated, because it felt like I was wasting time. I wanted to get home to watch the Season Premier of The Walking Dead. This woman already knows what she wants to do. So, what the hell was I doing there?
Admittedly, this could have gone very wrong.
"Look, S," I started with no empathy whatsoever in my tone. "I think you're going to marry him despite what happened this weekend. I don't know either one of you well enough to say if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but I can see you're not done with him. All I have to tell you is that no matter what choice you make, just be sure you can live with it. And I don't mean that in any ominous way. I just mean that you need to be able to look at yourself in the mirror every morning and be okay with the person looking back at you."
She started picking at her BLT, much to my consternation. I had already finished my hot cocoa and grilled cheese, and I was still a little hungry, but not hungry enough to really order anything else. I opted to just steal her pickle instead and she seemed fine with it. Why let a perfectly good pickle go to waste, right?
"You think I can do that?"
"Do what?" I completely lost my train of thought. What did I tell her she needed to do?
"You know, get back together with him and be okay with myself for doing it?"
"I don't know. No one can answer that but you. But, let me just tell you from experience that you can't force a bagel into a pop-up toaster. Maybe you can mush it down and shove it in there, but you're not going to like what comes out IF it can even pop out when it's done. I've broken up and gotten back together with men all because it hurt too much to let them go, even if it was the right thing to do. And the story always ends the same way. I'm just saying that whatever decision you make, you need to be okay with it for yourself and your life. Whatever your priorities are, and I'm not judging, but you need to make sure your decision follows your priorities."
"Like, maybe crawl into my comforter for a couple of weeks and cry it out, then come out reborn like a butterfly?"
I tried not to let the grimace on my face look too obvious because her example seemed to perk her up. I'm not big on butterfly metaphors and I don't get why women love them so much, but I wasn't going to argue. If that's what she felt like, then I wasn't going to search my mental references to find a simile for something I preferred.
"I don't think that's a good idea. If you're feeling strong now and you can make a choice you're happy with, then why purge yourself into the whole depression thing? If you can skip that, I suggest that you do. I'm gonna quote Finnick Odair right now and say 'It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together then it does to fall apart.'"
With that, I also slid her cole slaw towards me and started on that. I wasn't impressed with the cole slaw, but it was just what I needed to finish my meal. I looked up at her and she gave me a blank stare.
"Who's Finnick Odair? Does he work with us? Is he Irish?"
"No, dude. He's from District 4." I started cracking up. "The Hunger Games. He doesn't come in until Catching Fire. Anyway, if you need to clear your head, it's a good series to read. It's a fitting quote....for you, I mean. If you don't need to fall apart, then don't. Like a house of cards. It takes hours and hours to put one up, and it takes one second to send it crashing down, and it will take hours and hours to put it back up. If your house isn't demolished, then don't bring it down. Don't let yourself crash down to that ugly place. It's a hard pit to climb out of."
"Oh. I'll get it for my kindle. Thank you, Katherine. You're a lot wiser than you let on at work."
Well, hell! If that wasn't a backhanded compliment, I don't know what was! If I was such a non-wise person, why did she drag me out of my warm bedroom and fuzzy pj's to come out into the cold night, into a mediocre diner to sit there and tell her she should do what ever she wanted to?
Either way, she looked a hell of a lot better and she wolfed down her BLT, her tea, and then her Jamesons with melted iced. She made the waiter bring her another cole slaw and pickle since I ate hers. She was kind enough not to bitch about it. Since she's pretty, they brought it out for her in record time without any fuss.
I have a feeling she's going to tell me her party is back on. So much for crumbled cookies. I think her cookies are going to be just fine, and her dude will throw some extra frosting on there just to sweeten the deal. I think her fiance is a really lucky guy. She can do so much better than this douchebag, but who knows why women do the things they do?
Anyway, thank you to Suzanne Collins for writing such awesome words!