As far as breakups went, ours was Chernobyl.
I thought I’d navigated every kind of romantic scenario, until the Dame tried breaking out the Estella Havisham playbook on me. She torched my curtains and shotgunned my floorboards, most impressively.
It was a couple days after the breakup when Dan told me she was writing all manner of crazy shit about it on her blog. Her Venti vitriolic provided ironic symmetry to our relationship, seeing as how I’d fallen for her writing inside another rant about another guy. I was shocked, annoyed and pissed. I’d called the whole thing off, after which she provided me with every single good reason as to why I was right to do so.
I had no desire to get into a war of words with someone who was using our relationship as the battering ram for everything that had come before it. I wasn’t fool enough to believe her rantings were all about me. I had simply provided her with the necessary antagonist for her latest act. I knew that before long, she’d expend herself, find someone new and move on. Me? I’d use all that emotional fuel to write like a madman. Which is exactly what I did since passion is a muse, no matter the emotion it gets dressed up in.
To say this was a heartbreaking time in my life would be a lie. The proverbial ‘broken heart’ is how we portray bad shit in heart form. And for the purposes of bacon cheeseburger brevity, I use it interchangeably here. But it wasn’t that, it was more significant than that. What it had done was introduce me to the real me. I was a romantic journeyer, searching for the temporary salvation of another but unwilling to pay sticker price. If things hadn’t gone sideways, would I have spent the rest of my life with her? At the beginning of us, I would have issued a resounding yes. But as time went on, it became a very hard maybe.
After it was over, I stopped reading her. Cold turkey. Curiosity kills more than cats, and peeking on someone you’re no longer involved with always struck me as creepy. Instead, I drank wine, I listened to love songs and yes, I cried a few times. There was no use in letting the toxins fester, I had to loose them.
As for the blog, Dan had returned. Of course. He jumped back in with a vengeance, as if expecting me to kiss his ass for coming back. All it did was remind me how important I had become to this fledgling enterprise. Dame had called our blog a “sparrow shit operation” in one of her last emails to me, and I liked that one a lot, even if her intent had been to knee cap me with it. The moniker fit.
The blog karate kicked its way out of our old dojo. We had been gifted a brand new, interactive theme- by one of Dame’s pals ironically. He did it for us gratis while Richie kept planning some grand design for us from his bachelor pad bunker in Jersey. And now we had a podcast to add to the mix. This is where Chris came in. He was Dan’s pal. We’d gotten off on the wrong foot when I refused to post his stuff on the blog. But shit if his writing wasn’t wooden and predictable.
The podcast brought out his Dr. Jekyll. Chris’s voice was the kind of butter that had the girls swooning, and his delivery was a Greg Maddux diamond studded fastball. I would write up a script for the show and email the guys and then we would broadcast from two different locales- Me from my crib and the fellas from Chris’s place.
I remember being a complete disaster in the early innings of our first show. I had zero timing and none of the heat I possessed on the blog. Chris picked up the slack and made it all work, perfectly. During a commercial break, I scarfed down a cigarette and a couple shots of tequila I didn’t know I had. Beer wasn’t going to do the trick, so I made some haste and got back to it. Provided with a salty launch pad, I settled in and found my rhythm. Dan played better on the podcast as well.
Drinking and smoking became a weekly tradition on the podcasts. We expanded to an hour after a couple shows because we were stretching out the material with all the improvised banter that was happening. As with the blog, no topic was off limits. Well, except for one: I’d issued a moratorium on any talk of the Dame.
As the blog’s popularity bled into the podcast, with listeners and our own interactive chat room during podcasts, things were looking more promising than ever. I kept busy, writing more than ever before. I’d also procured the phone number of a girl who tended bar at the Irish pub we frequented. She was my Till Tuesday insurance policy in that she was too young, too nice and she had two young kids. But she made a strong drink, she had a great smile and we clicked. And besides, there was no crime in keeping my options open. I’d have been ashamed at myself for not taking the chance when presented.
It was New Years Eve when she sent me a text wishing me well, and I shot one back in patent fashion. I decided not to follow it up, instead dropping in on a family get together on my way home. It was a couple minutes after midnight when I received a phone call, after which I started formulating excuses as to why I couldn’t meet Till Tuesday. And then the area code punched me in the face. Chicago.
I should have let it go to voicemail. Or turned my phone off . . changed my number . . burned the fucking thing until it was goop. Any of those options made more sense than the one I was about to choose, but it didn’t matter, because I was doing it anyway.
Just like that.