The Stress Test: a Valentine's Story?
I remember Kathleen Madigan was doing a 30-minute special on Comedy Central. I've always found her really funny but it was not my intention at that time at all to watch her. I was in one of those hotel situations where they have enough channels to brag about the selection on their laminated info card but 95% of those channels suck.
I had been scrolling with robotic desperation, trying to find something, anything on the television that would make the clock tick faster. Home Makeover shows? No, too emotional. Forensic Files? No, too erotic. The hotel information channel? Seen it too many times before. After 5 or 6 passes through the entire selection, my now-husband but then brand new ex-boyfriend not so kindly told me to pick something, anything and we laid there in our hotel bed in Washington, D.C. on Valentine's weekend awkwardly close, yet painfully distant trying to figure out how we were going to pass the rest of the time until our bourgeois dinner reservation that was more expensive to cancel than to endure.
He told me he just didn't see it when he looked at me. There was nothing I had done wrong, nothing I'd said or been. But he didn't love me. If I'm being honest I could feel the chasm that was growing between us before this moment, the conversations halted by curt responses and split focus. I could feel the unease with which his eyes met mine when they had no other place to go. I could sense the emotional rigor-mortis that was hardening his attachment to me into stone.
But I was sprung and also confident that the fates that brought us together on gay dot com, solidified over above-average karaoke, over being electrified by the faint touch of our knee during a matinee showing of Harold and Kumar Escape Guantanamo Bay, over a mutual love for the Golden Girls, and a mutual distaste for the mosquitoes that bite you in the ass when you're getting busy outside in the woods of your alma mater would keep our bond growing always ever stronger.
This is the confidence that led me to spend a small fuck ton of money on this posh hotel on the most romantic weekend of the corporate year (posh being defined as having cucumber-infused spa water in the lobby). It led me to drive six hours in my 2004 Saturn Ion from the place in New Jersey we shared together way too soon in our relationship so we could spend some quality time. We planned an elaborate V-Day weekend that for some reason involved going to a 5-star Indian restaurant. A side note, especially to any people listening who may be into butt stuff. If you're planning on sexy times, don't eat this ethnic right before. You're playing with fire. You want to tone the spice level up in the bedroom, not the bathroom. But I digress....
Anyway, there we were in our lover's suite with several hours to kill until our scheduled culinary voyage to Mumbai. This is the part of the weekend where a happy couple would have been about to break into their second or third bottle of whipped cream, but not us. I was clicking through channels. He was getting tired of my clicking.
Somewhere during Kathleen's set we decided to have sex. It seemed easier than talking to each other and it was too cold in February in D.C. to just be aimlessly outside. If you've never had breakup sex, you're missing out. You do this thing where you try to screw your former lover so good they change their mind about leaving you. And you try not to cum because this will probably be the last time before that particular comfort zone turns into a danger zone. I wanted to look at him, but I also did not him to see me cry.
Unable to penetrate beneath the layers of his rejection, we eventually got dressed and headed to a pool hall in our "attempt to be friends" before keeping our dinner reservation. After blubbering through a 5-course pre-fixe meal that neither of us had the appetite to stomach we returned to our hotel where I stared at the darkness until morning came and I had enough energy and venom to propel us northward on I-95 on a journey back toward our newly broken home.
By the next day, he'd moved out of my place and in with a friend of his in the City. I sat in the old, creaky house where I rented a room across the river and a world away from the boy I knew I loved, the boy who did not love me back. I moped. I smoked a lot of weed. I searched for a sign or a text message that he had changed his mind.