The Art of Getting Really Dumped
by ALISON AGOSTI
So, a good while back, I got really, really dumped. In part because I didn’t see it coming, but mostly because he did it by stopping by my apartment with an iced coffee and saying “I think I need to wrap this up.”
The tough thing about writing about this is that I’m going to make the guy look bad. Cold and insensitive and manipulative, and that isn’t fair. We’re all just people. We’re all just trying our best. And breaking up is a painful and necessary part of dating, etc. etc.
To be fair, I did sort of see it coming, you always do. There was nothing about the relationship that didn’t feel like pretend: it was overly intense and it never, ever felt real and it only lasted three months. The whole time, he felt like something that could float away at any moment; carried off at a whim, which was eventually what happened. I never felt comfortable with him, but at the same time, I loved being around him. I know, it doesn’t make any sense. And I’m telling you man, overly intense and short term is the perfect combination if you’re looking to end badly and get hung up on it. He’s really more of an enigma to me at this point; I don’t really remember him or what being with him was like, but Lord knows I still think about it a lot.
As for being surprised by a breakup that I saw coming: I guess I just didn’t expect it that day? Or for it to play out the way that it did. After the initial amazing “wrap it comment” (I am not the kind of person who can turn her brain off, and after he said that, I remember thinking to myself “Okay, this is going to be a very sad and difficult for you, but REMEMBER ‘wrap it up.’ Because it’s hilarious.”) We continued to break up for another five hours. We broke up for so long, that he had to stop breaking up with me, go move his car, and then come back to break up with me some more.
I wish I could tell you there was some reason for all of that time; that we discovered something about ourselves and left with a deeper understanding of the human condition and each other, but there isn’t and we didn’t. The timeline is roughly four hours of me saying, “Why don’t you like meeeeeeee?” and him saying “I don’t knooooooow,” while we looked at our feet. Followed by forty-five minutes of me trying to have sex with him and him turning me down, capped off with fifteen minutes of him trying to leave while I continued to try to have sex with him.
The breakup shouldn’t have taken longer than fifteen minutes, maybe a half hour tops. Because here were the facts: he had started dating someone else, who, thanks to the Internet, I was able to look up and then have a very philosophical conversation with my cat about which Disney princess she most looked like. Later that night, I would sit in my dark bedroom, mussed hair and red eyes, carefully analyzing her facebook and critiquing her music taste to the army of coffee cups that have taken up residency on my desk. The cat had long since grown tired of me asking, “She’s probably a cunt, right? No one this pretty isn’t a cunt.”
The Other Girl is very, very pretty. Not even a contest in that regard. I cling to the idea that she is insufferably dumb and maybe has a serious STD. It’s all I’ve got. She’s probably perfectly fine, but don’t take this from me.
But that should have been it, “Hey, I’m more interested in this other girl, I should have told you sooner. Sorry about that. Sorry about the ‘wrap it up’ comment, but people are people and as you start to process this, you’re going to realize this was inevitable. See ya.” And that would have been it. But no one ever does that, because we want to spare feelings and be gentle with people that we cared about. No one wants to be the bad guy, even when they’re kind of the bad guy.
I am not a breakup expert, by any means. Never hope to be. But here are a few things NOT to do. During a breakup, you are NOT allowed to say, “I’m confused,” you are NOT allowed to take five hours, and you most certainly are NOT allowed to tell me the girl’s name, even if I totally already knew.
For the sake of the story and you as the reader being on my side, please imagine him as a cruel villain with a cape and a mustache and a grand, unsettling laugh. But he is not that at all. He is, in most ways, a very good and caring person who I miss very much. Smart and charming and all of that. Even now, on the very rare occasion that one of us sends the other a two-sentence email, it almost feels okay. But mostly it feels like two people who used to know one another.
He did eventually escape, and I remember the door closing, and I just sort of stood there waiting. It’s a weird thing, when such a significant part of your life changes so quickly. It was my first, "Okay, I might never talk to that person again" breakup. I leaned up against the nearest wall, and just sort of slid down it, because it felt like the most Party of Five thing to do. Even at that very raw moment, under that top layer of sadness and anger, I was relieved and I know that he was too. I sat on the ground for I don’t know, maybe ten minutes, which was enough time to text him, delete his number and then re-enter it again. I realized I couldn’t be alone in my apartment with a cat, so I got up and drove to the nearest bookstore, where I scoured the self-help section for the most embarrassing breakup book.
I went with “It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken.” With a big fucking bucket of ice cream right on the fucking cover. My favorite thing in the book? This quote, and I shit you not: “Let’s turn that husk into a tamale.” I’m never going to be a tamale. I didn’t want to be a breakup warrior, I just wanted to get over this thing as quickly as possible. And hey, the book totally helped with that!
It took me a week or so to start reading it, because there were a few mistakes I had to make first, but if I overlooked the constant use of the word “girlfriend” and skipped the directions for how to make brownies, there were some good messages like:
Hey Alison, instead of spending a day figuring out how to break onto the roof of your apartment, maybe go for a walk.
Hey Alison, instead of getting super stoned and watching the series finale of Six Feet Under seven times in a row, maybe go to the gym.
Hey Alison, instead of sleeping with a friend of friend based solely on you both loving the song “Midnight Train to Georgia” DO ANYTHING ELSE.
And I did. I look back on that post-breakup time fondly, even though I was miserable. Because you have to overcome an unreasonable feeling, or batch of ‘em. Jealousy, embarrassment, anger, sadness. You’ve got to take them and work through each and every one. And sure, sometimes you have to fuck someone who’s also going through a Gladys Knight phase.
"Felt Up" - Expensive Looks (mp3)
"Nothing More" - Expensive Looks (mp3)
"Nightfalls" - Expensive Looks (mp3)