The Weird and the Strange III: Nancy Sendate

{Disclaimer: The name Nancy Sendate is arbitrary.  I do not know a person named Nancy Sendate, and any similarities to anyone named Nancy Sendate are coincidental. This story Nancy Sendate is a work of creative nonfiction.}

“I’m lonely,” Nancy Sendate would say to nullify whatever sense of accomplish I absorbed asking for her phone number, and asking her out in that phone call. I’m not sure how long after agreeing to be seen with me that she said it, but this characterization informed me that whatever it was we were going to do in the coming days, and weeks, would be conditional, short-term, and almost solely based on fortunate timing on my part. Once that characterization of our relationship was complete, she congratulated me for mustering up the courage to ask for her phone number and asking her out.

“That had to have been difficult for you to do,” Nancy said. “Congratulations!”

 ”I’m not to be excited,” I said. “Check!”

If you’re reading condescension in her compliments, you’re not a genius. She intended these compliments to serve as a foundation for our relationship and to frame the course of the events that would follow. ‘I’m not dating you, because you’re gorgeous, or in any way attractive, those ‘I’m lonely’ words entailed.’ I’m not agreeing to have others see me with you based on some sort of charm or charisma you’ve exhibited. I’m dating you, because I just happen to be fresh off a divorce, and I’m lonely, so lucky you.’

After congratulating me, she offered a moment of silence for all parties concerned to reflect on the humanity and generosity she was displaying to the downtrodden, those of us of average appearance. Had I issued an ‘All hail, the power of the beautiful woman!’ sentiment, I’m not sure she would’ve laughed. I was in no position to do so, for while there was some exaggeration on her part, regarding our stations in life, there was some truth to it too.

To those men that suggest I should not have dated this girl, based on the insults and the level of condescension that she directed at me. They also suggest that they would not have been able to do it. To these people, I have but one rebuttal: “You didn’t see her.” She was mean to you though, is something I’ve heard. She was, but I dare say that most men, with any degree of fortitude, would’ve been able to endure it, if they received the smile I did shortly after asking for her phone number. If they heard the excitement in her voice, when she agreed to go out with me, they would’ve been able to overlook everything else. If these men witnessed the effect her presence could have on a restaurant full of patrons, and they were able to maintain that stance, I take my hat off to them and concede inferiority in this arena. I never experienced like that before, and I never felt the ‘What is she doing with him?’ thoughts directed at me before. If you’re like me, and you haven’t experienced anything like that before, I say you cannot know what you’d do in similar circumstances.’

I did not know that any of this would occur in my initial pursuit of Nancy Sendate, of course, but I did know that she was beautiful, and that I wanted to be see with her. I saw her as the type of woman that the movie star pursues in those romantic comedies we all love and live through vicariously. We all know that there’s nothing special about that male star, and we love to think we could date that woman too, but on another level, we all know that that woman is unattainable to the majority of us, no matter how ‘feel good’ that movie is. She was the type that other people date, the jocks in high school, the guy with the unbelievable chin, and the stout nature that is not conceivable for most body types. She was the prom queen type that dates the jocks in high school, and leaves the rest of us with nothing but rumor and hearsay to try and undercut their otherwise enviable prestige. She was the vindication, however brief, for those that informed me that I would have to lower my expectations if I wanted to date more often. She was my Holy Grail.

When I write Holy Grail, I mean that she was the best-looking girl I dated, until I met the woman that would put an end to my dating life. I didn’t care that she spoke down to me, and I still don’t. Even in the aftermath of all that I’m going to detail for you here, I still say that it was all worth it to have people see me with her a handful of times. Is it superficial to say such a thing? It is, and it was. There was no other reason to date Nancy Sendate, and while I would not go so far as to say that the people that condemned me for dating her were jealous, or that ‘if you say you wouldn’t have dated her, you’re lying’. I will say that those that cling to the idea that beauty is only skin-deep were most certainly right with her, but the very idea that a man would tell someone as beautiful as Nancy Sendate to go pound sand after they saw her smile just doesn’t make figure in my knowledge of the world. I think that most people and men in particular, are so visual and superficial that I would say that nine point five people out of ten would leap at the chance to date someone as beautiful as she was regardless what the rest of the details are.

The long and short of this is that I wanted to date a beautiful woman. Did I want to do other things to her, of course, but I would’ve been a fool to think that she would date me long-term, or whatever it was that we did would’ve eventuated into marriage, but how many rational human beings –that have any experience in the dating world– enter into a date with long-term plans? If there are such people, how many of them are currently on anti-depressants as a result? I simply wanted to be with her as often as possible, so others would see me with her, and I was perfectly willing to take all the slings and arrows that came with it to do so.

Nancy did say she was looking forward to our date, because I appeared to be what she called “normal”. That description would prove to be the second best compliment she would give me. I was not a passive participant in this conversation. I cracked jokes. I said things like, “Gee thanks!” to her condescending description, and I said something like, “I knew if I ate all my peas, and listened to my ma, that one day some girl would tell me that I appeared to be normal.” She didn’t laugh at that. She simply used that as a pivot point to her description of why she decided to others see me with her. She said she thought she had the smell of the ‘D’ word all over her. The ‘D’ word being divorce.

“How else can one explain the fact that only the wackadoodles that have the courage, (and she did say courage) to ask me out,” she said.

“I’m going to guess that a couple of them.” She paused to gather her thoughts. “Make that three. I forgot about Gary, Gary the maintenance guy. Make that three guys that have asked me out, that I assume are now on some kind of watch list.”

She told me that everybody at her clinic hated her. She said one of them, a girl called Liz, actually suggested that she might be barren. Another woman, a Holly, called her a bitch.

“They don’t even know me,” Nancy Sendate, the nurse, said. “Where do they get off thinking they know me so well that they can say such things? Happens all the time to me.” She said the latter to imply that people reserve such judgments for her, a representative of the beautiful.

She said people didn’t speak to her about casual matters.

“The overwhelming amount of things I say in a given day, are to my patients,” she said. “They’re my peeps.

“As for my fellow employees, there’s a lot of down time in clinics,” she continued. “People sit around filling out paperwork, filing, what have you, and people shoot the shit. I come into a room, and the room goes silent. People hush. You ever had that feeling that people are talking about you?” she asked. “Happens all the time to me.

“I truly don’t care why they won’t speak to me,” she said of her fellow employees. “They have nothing interesting to say anyway. Never have. You’d think that common decency would prevail at some point though. You’d think that when seated next to someone, for a couple hours that some conversation about some stupid TV show someone watched last night would come up. You’d think some ‘my husband is such a jackass,’ ‘my kid did something so cute the other night,’ or a ‘my dog took a shit in my shoe again’ theme would arrive. Never do with me. We sit there in silence and file, and fill out blanks, and my day is almost entirely silent.”

As if to prove the point, this girl talked. She spoke, as if she hadn’t said a word all day, on every date we had, for the month that we saw each other. She spoke as if she bottled up her thoughts all day, and that certain events had shaken her, until they exploded all over me. I said some things, but they were in reaction to what she told me. She didn’t even know any of the particulars about me for the first couple of weeks. She displayed no interest in where I worked, and she didn’t even know my last name for the first couple weeks. She said she looked forward to our little outings, after the first couple weeks though, because I was a good listener. She enjoyed the company. She was lonely, she said.

Most people don’t admit to being lonely as often as Nancy would. I suspect that the ability to say one is lonely is a luxury exclusive to the beautiful woman. Regardless how good looking a man is if a guy says he’s lonely, there is little sympathy for him. Regardless, how much money a man has, or how confident, he hears the response, ‘Well, get off your ass and get some’. If another woman says that she’s lonely, the room silences. They know why, but it’s not proper to discuss the reasons why. A beautiful woman is afforded such luxury, because she does not have to fear the assessments people might make of her, she does not have to endure the condescending condolences that include a line like,’ You have a lot to offer Shelley. Some guy will come along and see that.’ A beautiful woman says she’s lonely, and her audience is just as shocked as she is.

The ‘I’m lonely’ theme also arose in her discussions of the aftermath of her divorce, “Hey, I tried to make things work. He didn’t. Que sera sera.” It arose during one of her numerous explanations for she decided to date me. “Hey, I’m not saying you’re ugly, because you’re not,” she said to conclude one of those explanations. That was the greatest compliment she ever gave me. It was the point of that particular discussion, and the conclusion.

That assessment of my physical appearance may have shattered another man. It might have led them to begin proceedings on the breakup, but to those that continue to badger me regarding the idea that, at the very least this girl was not nice, I ask again if they’ve ever had an entire restaurant go silent upon their entrance? Have you ever had tables near you go silent, as they attempt to hear what gorgeous women discuss? We’ve all heard about this phenomenon, but have you ever witnessed it firsthand? Have you ever “been with” a product of such fascination before? Until you have, I say, you can’t tell me what you’d do.

When Nancy attempted to lay me out with her self-serving assessments, based on her greater insecurities, I laughed most of them off. Her plans involved total domination. One of the reasons she dated me, I can only guess, was that she grew tired of being around those that wouldn’t talk to her, those being her pets and her co-workers. I think her domination plans centered on the idea that she had superior physical traits. When that didn’t work as well as she planned, she decided to take it up a notch.

“If you can guess my last name, I’ll go to bed with you tonight,” she said.

Nancy said that at a restaurant, before our meal had arrived. It’s impossible for me to know if Nancy knew the effect she could have on a room, and if I’m going to be objective, I have to admit that the extent to which the restaurant went silent in lieu of her presence, may be exaggerated. If it was as real as it felt, however, I have to believe that she was more aware of it than I was. Nancy’s challenge, I assumed, was her attempt to reassert her dominance in the room. If that was not the case, I thought, she was attempting to reassert her physical dominance over me, in lieu of the fact that her psychological games weren’t working as well as she thought they should have.

Prior to that challenge, the table to the right of us, behind Nancy, had been discussing a matter. I did not know what the subject of that matter was, of course, as I was paying attention to Nancy. Other than the fact that I knew people were there, I didn’t pay attention to them in any way, until their conversation came to abrupt halt in the aftermath of Nancy’s challenge.

As a well-grounded man that dabbles in conspiracy theory for entertainment purposes, I did not immediately suspect that this abrupt halt in conversation in front of me, and behind Nancy, occurred because of her challenge. I thought it was a coincidence. Even as the silence continued and gained strength, I stubbornly refused to believe they were listening for my answer. As hard as I tried to be objective about this moment, however, the fact that the entire restaurant did not go silent, just those within range, became difficult to deny. Then, as if to confirm my greatest fears, a woman at the neighboring table began to speak. I think this woman was oblivious to the challenge Nancy issued, and she thought a lull occurred at her table, nothing more. After this woman’s initial sentence received no response, she spoke again. That second sentence trailed off, as if the group had overtly, or subtly, silenced her in a collective manner.

“Sendate,” I said, as if this was nothing more than a test of my memory, on par with a woman’s challenge to have her date tell them what color their eyes are.

She appeared insulted. Her head clicked into a ‘c’mon, think about it!’ angle that suggested I just insulted her intelligence.

“You think I’d make it that easy for you?” she asked. “That’s my married name. I kept it, after the divorce, because I like the way it sounds. I’m talking about my maiden name. I’ll give you a hint. It reminds you of one of the most popular horror movies of the 80’s.” I expressed some confusion, regarding how that narrowed the field down. “Just guess,” she said. “There’s a lot on the line.” 

I guessed. I wasn’t even close. Nancy informed me she would give me three more chances.

“Three strikes and you’re out,” she said. She laughed. 

I imagined myself at that plate, with three chances. I imagined that the men in the audience –those that identified with my overall lack of talent­– were telepathically sending me messages of support. I imagined them thinking I was being afforded an opportunity that those of us without talent –those of us that are “not ugly”– are never afforded, and that they were putting a lot of stock in me getting it right. I swung again.

This swing was symbolic. The swing was equivalent to a swing the untalented make just to show their audience that they tried to hit an eighty mile an hour pitch that every man thinks they should be able to hit, but most know they can’t. The swing was of the futile variety that leads the untalented to wonder if everyone can see how truly untalented they are. I looked around. No one was looking at me. I swung again. The silence from the surrounding tables was now so palpable that Nancy’s eyes swiveled back to them, while pumping her eyebrows at me. It would prove to be the only recognition she would make to the idea that the surrounding tables were listening in, counting on me, and prodding me to find that needle in haystack.

It was an impossible task. How many popular, horror movies of the 80’s were there? I swung again. I landed on my proverbial keister, in the manner Reggie Jackson would in the 70’s when he would put everything he had into a swing and missed. There were no groans, or audible sounds, but the pressure in the room lightened, and what filled that vacuous hole was silent disappointment.

Geist,” she said, as if that should’ve been one of the first thoughts in my head. “As in Poltergeist?” 

The conversations that had occurred prior to Nancy’s challenge resumed. I still had some trouble believing that the tables surrounding us went silent in the manner I thought they had. Even with all of the evidence, I now had to back that up, coupled with Nancy’s recognition of it, I still couldn’t believe it. I had never experienced anything like that before, so it seemed implausible, until two different guys, at different parts of the large party table before me, sent me smiles of encouragement. Those smiles suggested that they recognized how futile that effort was, but that they had been pulling for me. Another man tightened his lips in a smile and shook his head with disappointment. All of these smiles confirmed to me what had just happened, and it confirmed the sentiment that the men had been sending me for my effort. The final, tight lip smiler confirmed to me how much disappointment they all felt for my failure to succeed. That smiler’s look and nod suggested that he didn’t think I would ever be ready for someone like her.

That smile and nod led me to believe that my inability to answer this question correctly had caused a diminished morale among the troops. It felt like a moment that I needed to address, in a sanctimonious manner equivalent to an’80’s movie monologue. I flirted with the notion of standing up and mounting a defense along the lines of: ‘I’ll take your arrows. I didn’t get the answer, but I have to ask you smug smilers to ask yourself, how many of you would’ve done better? How many of you, when hit with a similar question, out of the blue, could have come up with the answer, without the assistance of a smartphone?’

As the old saying goes, though, when one window closes, another opens for the true opportunist. The true opportunist will wallow in the disappointment of failure for only so long. He knows what every farmer knows about the nutrients that can result from burning the fields for a future harvest. He knows to capitalize on those benefits. My window of opportunity would not open on that date, but when it did, at a minor league hockey arena, I would capitalize. When I would capitalize, I would wish that I could go back to the patrons of that restaurant, and that tight-lipped smiler, to inform them what I did with that failure.

First, I would have to deal with the pedal to the metal pressure this woman put forth. She would tell me of a previous date she had, a date I call the short and happy date of Francis Becker. By her account, Francis Becker was a wonderful man that opened doors for her, addressed her properly, and he even asked if she was comfortable in his car, on the drive to the restaurant. Francis Becker, by her characterization was the perfect characterization of a man that she considered dating, until he made the fateful decision of asking the waiter for a doggy bag.

“Do I even need to say what happened next?” Nancy asked with a look of incredulousness that I should’ve mirrored. “Nothing. Nothing is what happened. I never saw the guy again, and for all intents and purposes that date ended right there.”

I was so sure what was about to happen next, that an overwhelming majority of my attention was diverted to watching Nancy Sendata eat, or should I say nibble at a high-priced meal for which I would end up paying about two hour’s wage. The inevitable was so set in stone that at one point I considered asking her to talk less so that she could eat more of her meal before it went cold. I knew it would grow cold, and I knew she wouldn’t deign to eat a meal that assumed anything less than room temperature. I determined, by the ratio of her cuts, and the pace with which she was eating, that she would only finish a quarter of her meal. I didn’t realize how obvious my focus was, until she invited me to help her finish her meal. I knew that should I accept this invitation I would suffer the same shelf life of Francis Becker. I ignored my impulses. I said no.

“Will you be needing a take home box?” the waiter asked after we had concluded our meals.

“No,” Nancy said with force. She said that in the midst of a sentence that she had not concluded. She said it as if there had been no interruption. “No thank you,” she said after completing that prior sentence. Nancy did not extend this pleasantry for my sake. She didn’t want to appear rude to the waiter.

I assumed, at that point, that she would continue eating, but Nancy gave the plate a subtle scoot to the center of the table. Her meal was one-fourths finished.

If this particular date did not end right there, and it didn’t, I don’t recall anything else from that date. I don’t remember what was said, and don’t remember how we parted ways. The only thing I remember about the tail end of that date was that one-fourths finished plate. I would think about that plate throughout the night, the next morning at work, and for the rest of that week. I would think about how delicious each of those bites could’ve been for me, had I the courage to help her finish that plate. I didn’t think of how beautiful she was, how charming, or how much I looked forward to our next date. I thought only of the food that she had wasted.

When I did manage to put that incident behind me, I made what turned out to be the fateful decision that our next date should occur at a minor league hockey arena. I like hockey, but I don’t love it. I had no loyalties to the game, or the idea of attending a game of any sort. I just thought it would be something different, something memorable. Nancy Sendate wasted no time complaining about the venue for our second date, and this continued throughout our one-hour drive to the arena. Her near-hour long rant concluded with what I describe as that window of opportunity opening once again.

“No matter how this goes,” Nancy informed me, after we found our seats in the minor league hockey arena. “You’ll always be the guy that took me to a hockey match for a date.”

“Do you know what that machine cleaning the ice is called?” I asked, after the first period concluded.

“Does it even have a name?” she asked.

“It does,” he said. “And it’s well known in the hockey community.”

At this point in our relationship, unbeknownst to me, my opportunities were dwindling. Nancy would later inform me, in our exit interview, (a post-breakup phone conversation) that the hockey night was the beginning of the end. She stated that the reality of attending an actual hockey match had begun to supersede the joke of her forced attendance. The hint she provided me of this eventuality occurred in the following rant:

“Seeing as how I’ll never be attending another hockey match for the rest of my life, a sport I’ve barely heard of, and seeing as how it’s cold, dirty in here, and Canadian. Isn’t this sport Canadian? Yeah. Ick. Seeing as how there are about ten college graduates in this audience tonight, and this is what these people consider getting dressed up, I’m guessing that I’ll never be a part of the hockey community, if I can avoid it, and I will try. So, you can just go ahead and tell me the stupid answer to your stupid question, because I’m not going to be able to guess the answer if you give me a million guesses.”

“If you get it right,” I said. “I’ll go to bed with you tonight.”

This was my introduction to the power of one line. The powerful slam of my window of opportunity closing, that first night in the restaurant, such that it echoed throughout the establishment, was just as loud as the slam of the window of opportunity opening with the delivery of this line. No one else heard the line, unfortunately, and even if they had, they wouldn’t have understood the true import of it. Nancy heard it, of course, and her shocked expression was one I still live with. I can still see her face go through contortions of laughter, confusion, laughter, surprise, and laughter again. The face she gave me informed me that that line challenged every assumption she made of me prior to that point.

“You copied me,” she said in a feeble attempt to take back the reins. She couldn’t, and she knew it. She examined my face to see if I knew how clever that comment was. She looked at me in a manner of newfound respect that suggested that while she was not ready to place me on an evolutionary plane she had designed for suitable suitors, she had just discovered that I was not a chimpanzee.

After I delivered that line, Nancy Sendata began allowing me to complete my jokes without feeling the need to interrupt me and inform me that my punchline was probably going to be stupid and juvenile. She even offered me a one-time opportunity to finish one of my stories. She considered those stories stupid and juvenile, of course, but they were out there, and I wouldn’t have been able to tell them without the smooth delivery of that one, timely, clever line.

The fact that she didn’t like what she heard in those jokes, or that story, was not evident in the minutes of the transcript I scoured in the aftermath of our breakup. For in the aftermath of that one, clever line, the window of opportunity that had been closed that day at the restaurant proved to be reopened by a quick-thinking, impulsive line that appeared to be well thought out.

On the next, and final date, Nancy decided to inform me that the reward for last week’s opportunities was a one off, and she decided to punctuate the point by insulting the scent tree I had dangling from my truck’s rear-view mirror.

“What man has a multi-scented tree in his car?” Nancy asked me.

“I didn’t realize that scent trees had gender orientation,” I said.

“I didn’t either,” she said. “Until I saw this one.”

No matter how many times Nancy creative insults I heard throughout the weeks that we dated, I was not going to take the bait. Hindsight informs me that such comments were bait, and that she wanted me to grow frustrated, insulted, combative, or unnecessarily defensive of my multi-scented tree. I didn’t. I thought most of her insults were an attempt at humor. I thought that she might have been trying too hard to be a fella. Every male I knew bonded through insults. It’s what we did on Saturdays, at the bar, surrounded by pitchers of beer. With this error, I unknowingly deprived Nancy of what I now see as her attempts to make a ‘good guy’ exit out of the relationship. She had made several attempts prior to that one, to find a ‘good guy’ exit by declaring that she couldn’t handle my ‘awful temper’, an assessment she made about me without seeing any evidence to support it. I didn’t know that she had been searching for a way to end it, and that just about anything I did could’ve lit the fuse, but the futility of her search ended when I made the ill-advised decision to snap at her cat, a physical snap, as opposed to a verbal, one.

We were seat on her couch, watching a movie. Her cat was sitting between the blinds, holding two of them open. Nancy hated that. She feared onlookers. She asked the cat to move. She plead with it to make a decision other than the one it had. Nancy did everything but offer the cat a suitable alternative in its sitting pleasure.

“Boopy,” she said calling the cat’s name. “Come here boopy!”

Boopy didn’t so much as turn.

Prior to this night, Nancy had warned me that her pets’ opinions of me would be a ‘deciding factor’.

“These are the people I live with,” she said on that prior night, and she did say people. She had two boxers and a cat. She may have had more pets, but I didn’t receive a formal introduction to them. I’ve never had trouble with dogs. Cats and I, however, have had a strained and estranged relationship that is beyond repair. I’m not sure if I violated some tenet of one cat’s constitution, and word spread throughout the cat community, but whatever happened can never be undone. “I spend more time with Boopy and the boxers,” she mentioned each boxers’ names. I forgot them soon after she said them on that prior night. “So, what they think of you will define what I think of you.”

“C’mon Boopy!” she continued to plead, on this night, to the point that it was became uncomfortable and embarrassing.

“Why don’t you just move it?” I asked. “Do you want me to?”

 ”No!” she said. “If I force Boopy to do something she doesn’t want to do, she will never learn how her mommy wants her to act. She’ll just think she’s bad. I want her to make a decision in line with mine, and you will not do anything to damage that nature of our relationship.”

She resumed her pleading with the cat, until I grew embarrassed for her. The resumed pleading took this episode outside the parameters of the joke. To this point, I was beginning to understand that it was not a joke, but she was so good looking that I afforded her great latitude in judgment. The beautiful are generally the ones that make the decisions for our culture. If a beautiful person decides that a foppish, 1970’s Marc Bolan hat is due to be back in style, we all drive to our local thrift shop searching for the rare commodity. If they decide that a terrible show has redeemable qualities, we may give their opinion far more cachet than we would an average person. The culture conditions us, via TV, movies, and other repetitive messaging to believe that the beautiful are more in control of their facilities and that they are more in tune with the culture. Even if they’re not, their opinion matter more to more people than ours does. Thus, when Nancy began pleading with Boopy beyond the point that I considered kitschy or quaint, my embarrassment for her led my natural problem-solving instincts to kick in. My reaction was impulsive, and it ignored her previous warning.

I put my naughty finger to my thumb and made the fateful decision to show Nancy and Boopy how loud one man could snap. I have received compliments for that snap. “That’s the loudest snap I’ve ever heard,” one person said. “How does one get a loud snap?” another asked. The latter asked that question in a manner of one seeking coaching advice for life. There is no answer, of course. “Some have loud snaps, others don’t, I guess,” I said to that latter person.

This loud snap caused Boopy to jump about three feet off the ground. Fear fueled this jump in a manner that increased the animal’s natural abilities tenfold. I was in the midst of putting a joke together regarding what Boopy could do if she learned how to harness that ability, and my planned punchline involved Boopy experiencing a short stint in the NBA. There was not enough time to deliver that joke, however, for immediately after the snap, Nancy began scrambling to her feet. She was attempting to be so quick to her feet that she tripped a little. It was embarrassing. I wasn’t certain if embarrassment reddened her face, or if it was the rage.

Whatever the case was, she managed to shout, “Get out!” before Boopy could dart from the room. I laughed. I didn’t laugh at the cat, Nancy’s trip, or the order that I vacate the premises, but the culmination of events led me to believe that she was punctuating the series of events with obnoxious randomness.

Nancy Sendate enjoyed talking about herself, as I’ve said. She told me everything about her workplace, her dating life, her maturation, and her life spent with Boopy and the boxers. In almost all of those stories, there was an element of seriousness. Intermingled with that seriousness was a self-deprecating joke that suggested that Nancy Geist-Sendata didn’t take herself as seriously as such descriptions might entail. As a result of that, I thought the mean expression she had on her face while looming over me and pointing at the door, was laced with over-the-top, self-effacing humor. I thought I should’ve received some points for taking charge of the moment and ending her embarrassment. I thought that she had lost some respect in her animal kingdom by pleading with them in such a manner, and I believed I had restored the humans in the room to dominance with one simple, loud snap. Even if I had read the situation wrong, I didn’t think I read it so wrong that she might be serious about her order that I leave, not without some sort of self-deprecating humor attached to it. My mistaken assessments of the situation were reinforced by her demand that I get out, coupled with the silent fury with which she continued to point at the door.

“You’re serious?” I said measuring her glare, awaiting the break of a smile. 

“I am serious.” 

We went through three or four of these attempts at clarification, before I could determine that she was, in fact, serious.

“Serious as a heart attack,” she said.

The arbitrary nature, with which Nancy ended our relationship, put me back a step. It appeared as if it was over. It appeared I could do nothing about it. I asked her why she ended it, during our exit interview (post-breakup phone conversation). She talked about the hockey match, and she attempted to list a number of other determining factors, including my fiery temper. In the end, my guess is that it was all about her wanting to end whatever it was we had, and her inability to find a plausible “good guy” excuse to exit that she could tell her friends, and her reflection in the mirror.

Every experience we have can provide a lesson to those that look hard enough to find it, they say. If that’s true, Nancy taught me that beautiful people don’t need a reason to break the hearts of women and men attracted to them, but they do need an excuse. They’re not immune to the fears that others might consider them mean, heartless, or in any other way a ‘bad guy’ for breaking up with another person for a reason that’s difficult to justify. Their justification allows them to sleep at night, even if it’s often not a very good reason. The rest of us know that if the reason we break the heart of one that wants to date us is arbitrary, karma will find a way to bite us in the tailbone that could lead us to being lonely, and everyone around us will secretly knowing why. The beautiful know that they can arbitrarily break up with the rest of us for whatever reason they dream up, because they know that if they do happen to go through lonely spells, all they have to do is call out “Now serving number 19” to those patiently waiting in line for us to be arbitrarily dumped.