We don’t have to do this.
You don’t have to smile, act surprised, blush as you say “Thanks,” and then tell me that you got them in Ethiopia, where you lived for 18 months teaching english to small villages.
You don’t have to seem interested enough and carry on a first conversation about everything and nothing at the same time.
You don’t have to mediate the lull in conversation perfectly by asking what I am drinking and then look inquisitive as I answer, “Mezcal. Just on the rocks.”
We don’t need to dance all night, even. We could both just as easily smirk and walk away right fuckin’ now.
There would be no laughing or flirting or secretly poking fun at everyone else in this place.
And if all that never happens, certainly I don’t need to give you my number at the end of the night.
And then you’d have no way to text me the next Monday something simple but cute, making an effort but nothing too forward
hey it’s Ashley
You definitely don’t have to put a winky-face after
when I casually wait two hours to text you back
The one who went all the way to Ethiopia for 18 months just for some earrings?
We don’t have to go on a first date and we don’t have to pretend like we are going to remember everyone’s siblings names and age and occupations after one conversation.
You don’t have to ask seemingly thoughtful questions with the underlying agenda of figuring out if I have my shit together or not.
I don’t have to act relieved when I find out that you have a great relationship with your family.
And you don’t have to tell your friends about me or invite me to meet your mother.
We don’t have to wait two more dates before we have sex and we don’t have to tell each other that it was amazing.
And after we both realize we don’t have much in common, we don’t have to meaninglessly carry on the conversation because neither one of us wants to feel more guilt in “giving up on” the relationship.
We don’t have to keep having sex together in an act of perpetually squelching of the fear of being unloveable with the physical validation of being desired.
We don’t have to move in together after 7 months because we spend more time at your place than mine and it will just make everything easier.
And after that, we don’t have to start arguing about where we are going to spend the holidays or even where we are going to get food that night.
I don’t have to be on my best behavior and act like it’s not annoying that I make most of the decisions even after trying to get you to think of something new and different even if it’s something as simple as what to eat for dinner.
…why we stopped having sex so often (even when you make an otherwise insanely sexy first move)… and you don’t have to act like it’s OK.
We don’t have to go about our days the same way and hoping the other person has something interesting to talk about while we continue down the same path of our couple-friends until we realize that it’s just not working out.
That way, I don’t need to spend months alluding to spending time apart and conversations on increasingly awkward demeanor.
So⏤because none of this ever happened, we would have successfully avoided all sorts of awkward pre-breakup conversations only to ultimately have you ‘officially’ break up with me after all.
In this case, I wouldn’t need to move things back into a friend’s spare bedroom for a while as we figure things out. And you don’t have to act like that is what you want and that you’re okay with it.
And I don’t have to write an essay documenting exactly how it all happened and how it all made me feel.
We won’t have to quietly sob at the sight of the empty apartment as we close the door for the last time. And after that, we won’t have to have that heart-shattering, long, last hug where we are both bawling our eyes out thinking, “How’d we get here?” as our whole relationship flashes through our memories in a single instant. Neither one of us wanting to pull away first because we both know that a hug like comes but a few times in life; and though we both feel our hearts writhing to escape the straight-jacket that is the middle of our throats, we know that our silence in this moment will be last shovel of dirt on top of this casket of memories.
No, no, no…
I don’t need to catch your eye from the bar. I could very well just pull out my phone and pretend to check my email or send a text as I wait for my drink.
Or even better, when you do get over to me, I could just lead with some overzealous opening line and say, “I love you.”
That would get it all out of the way first and you’d walk away thinking I’m weird, but we’d both be spared…
But Dear Blonde-Bombshell-Also-Sitting-Alone-At-A-Friend’s-Wedding-
“Hi. I like your earrings.”