I could try to check myself right now, or I could stop letting them do this to me. Julie is telling me to sit down, she wants me to stop making a scene in front of Theo. She’s wanted to drop me for like the last month. I’m almost sure she’s sleeping with him already. What does it matter. I’m done with her. She’s been having me watch Girls and keeping me on a leash. I mean, she’s practically had my balls in her hands since we’ve gotten together. And here she goes again, with the darting eyes and cocking head. She always puts on this act in front of people. She says “baby!’ a lot, swinging the second syllable up into screeching registers before letting the word melt into a weird kind of whimper and coaching her blushing face into a mask of saddened surprise. She’ll call me Michael, pretending she knew me before I was just Mike. Invoking my mother’s voice, like she can startle me into being agreeable. The whole thing is a gross display. I’m supposed to duck my head and slink back to her side. Because I’m supposed to be a nice guy. I’m supposed to be sweet or cute, like a kid. I wasn’t supposed to get a girl like her, even though we used to be right for each other. Everyone thought I got lucky. Big things don’t happen to Mike.
Now we’re that couple. We’re a nuisance to all of our friends, and entertainment to the people I met through her. We go places to fight in front of other people. I look like a joke. Her friends laugh. One of them leaves with one of my friends. Theo’s brow knits. He talks to Julie in private. He’ll just stare at me. I almost never get what he’s trying to say when he’s staring like that. I get that there’s no respect there, though. I always fall into line like I’m not a man, and he won’t ever have a real conversation with me. And he’ll probably take Julie home one of these nights. And this group of people won’t meet up again. Because she has to put on this act.
No. I know it’s my fault. All I feel anymore is anger. I don’t get happy. I don’t get sad or afraid, I just know the heat in my face and the dark edges of my vision and the tension in my arms when we go another round. I hate that I’ve started looking forward to this. It’s the bulk of our relationship, It’s kind of all we got.
Julie and I never really had feelings for each other. So maybe this whole thing was a farce. I’ve felt obligated to be with some girl for so long. There was no reason for us to get together, but this disastrous mistake took shape almost without our consent. Everyone around us had shifted, it seems, and we ended up in this cycle of hate., or jealousy, or whatever it was everyone thought we were doing. Their ideas always seemed to matter so much more than ours.
I feel, sometimes, like she doesn’t need this as much as I do. I’m really the reacher, no matter how you look at this. She can have this sort of audience whenever she wants, she’ll call up her girls and head out to go throw drinks in guy’s faces and pretend she’s capable of getting that upset. It would hurt, but nothing really does.
So she’s acting like I’m going to sit down and watch Parks and Rec and let her lean on my shoulder again while she traces the hems of Theo’s jeans with her toes. And I’m feeling like I’m about to break a dam when someone tells us to take it outside. So we do. And when I reach down to kiss her hard, I think for the first time that this might go on forever.