"Nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter quite like unrequited love."
– Charlie Brown
I watched love implode last night. It was horrible to see; to witness love denied; to virtually hear the tortuous rending of a heart broken into a thousand sharp pieces.
It must have started with honest and devoted intentions. However, as Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153) said in the 11th century (yes, he said it first, and was later misquoted), "Hell is full of good intentions or desires." This, my friends, was about to be fresh hell; pain with the half-life of uranium-238.
I was at a bar with friends one night. A thunderstorm of epic proportions had unleashed its worst and blown out to sea. It was warm and muggy. The wind had whipped and battered and chased tourists off the beach and into the chain restaurants that line A1A, but the bar was relatively empty. Two older gentlemen sat drinking to my right, waiting for their steaks. We chatted with them, engaging in the mechanical conversation people strike up with strangers when bonding over drinks. In town for Bike Week, they had waited out the crowds and stayed for a while before returning to their home up North. They had just come from one of the local strip joints and were planning to go back after a dinner break.
A slightly-built, somewhat forgettable young man, with dark hair, glasses, and an air of barely-legal, walked up and sat down at the left end of the bar. He placed his smart phone in front of him and asked the bartender to pour him two Chardonnays. He was expecting someone. Ten minutes passed, and as the once-chilled wine glasses began to sweat, a somewhat memorable young woman with long, dark blond hair joined him, drew her wine glass to her glossy lips, and drank.
“Oh, that’s really good,” she said as he kissed her briefly on the cheek. She drew back a bit without looking at him. She set her phone in front of her, checked her texts, and took another long swallow of the wine. They began to talk distractedly, their eyes frequently straying to their smart phones, at the others at the bar, into the restaurant. Just before she drained her wine glass, the young man ordered another round.
Our conversation turned to travel, vacation destinations – Italy, Greece, Portugal – where to go, where to stay, what to do. After a few minutes, we noticed that the couple's conversation had become less stilted and quiet. The boy called for the wine to be poured again and the conversation became more animated. World problems were discussed and solved; playlists compared and debated. Still the wine flowed. It became difficult not to overhear them.
The young man tried to convince her of something; she argued against it. He moved closer; she backed away. Their conversation became distinct as he insisted that he was going to tell her father that he wanted to marry her. The alcohol had made him bold. Their movements were loose and their words, blaring and blurry. He pled his case to her; she denied him satisfaction of similar feelings. Suddenly he became aggressive:
“I know what I want, and what I want is you,” he slurred stupidly.
“Well I’m sorry if I’m only 25 and don’t know what I want,” she retorted defiantly, bitingly.
She rose unsteadily to go to the restroom.
“Give me your cell phone,” the man said.
“No way!" She shook her head violently, her voice rising. "I’m not giving you my cell phone!”
He demanded compliance. “Give me your cell phone!”
“No!” she shouted and left the bar, her gait loose-limbed and uneven.
We sat, stunned. The boy took off his glasses and hung his head, as though the world no longer existed. He was destroyed. I wanted to put my arms around him and tell him that she wasn’t worth it; that he had plenty of time to find someone who would appreciate him. One of my male friends wanted to slap him upside the head and say, “You idiot! Why are you acting like such a putz?” We both have sons.
It was almost 11:00 PM. The dining rooms were empty, chairs on the tables. The gentlemen from up North had made their goodbyes and departed for the strip joint. The restaurant was getting ready to close.
We looked at each other, stricken by his possessiveness; his fear that she would text her friends or call home or whoever and tell them what had happened and laugh at his ridiculousness and naiveté and escape out the back door. His desire to control her was terrifying. We doubted she would come back. I whispered that I hoped she had not come with him. Someone said they had come separately.
She did return, and they left together, but we could not stop talking about what had happened. I still think about them and how it had ended there; wondering how it eventually had played out. I imagine the drama, the rage, the tears; the final scene.
I have too vivid of an imagination. Sometimes I hate it.
Love is like a mirror; when shattered,
’Tis far better to leave it in a thousand, jagged pieces
Than to bleed, laboring to put it back together.
May your muse be just around the corner
and put a smile upon your face.
- Mona L.