Price Breaks And Heartaches
A journal of retail and failed romance
Remaindered, Rejected And Irreconcilable
Tallulah's family was staying in town this year and my Mom's side of the family insisted I stick around to enjoy what was being planned as a more intimate Thanksgiving holiday.
Of course you and I know that an 'intimate Thanksgiving' meant something very different to me now.
There was no sign of my Aunt, Uncle or cousins, which could have meant that they were off enjoying an intimate Thanksgiving of their own but I knew what it really meant.
“So we're all not speaking to each other again I guess.” I said.
“They asked for it.” My Mother dropped a plate of food down in front of me.
“What- what is this?” I asked, my head was already spinning with questions and I still didn't know that my brother was wearing a back brace yet.
“It's chicken friend steak.” My sister Greta explained, “Our Aunt was supposed to bring the turkey and other food this year and the fight happened so fast Mom didn't have time to pick up replacements.”
I looked back to my Mom, “Is that true?”
Mom started handing out her hastily improvised side dishes- bread instead of dinner rolls, mixed vegetables instead of stuffing, jelly instead if cranberries. “I'm sorry Al but I can't say. I'm not talking to your sister right now either.”
“Well since she's sitting right next to me I'm gonna have a Hell of a time getting my fair share of the franks and beans.”
“It's their own fault.” My stepfather explained, “We did all that work on the boat-”
“You mean the one that they paid for and owned?”
“-we did all that work and suddenly they don't want us around any more.”
Greta shrugged, “Then maybe Phil shouldn't have been sneaking into the boat house to have drunken orgies.”
“Hey!” My brother pounded his fist on the table, “That was just me and two chicks, orgies are for fags.”
“And what do they care?” my Mom said, “He kept the vinyl covers on the seats.”
“Truly.” I said, “A gentleman's gentleman.”
My grandmother said, “Everyone just needs to calm down and stop being ridiculous with all this fighting when we all know it's Cousin Buck's fault.”
“It is the music all the devil music they play on the radio,” my great grandmother said but then again she believed any music from the post Lawrence Welk era was the work of the devil so I think we can all feel safe with our Metallica/Barry Manilow mix tapes.
What? I can't be the only guy that had one of those.
I have always been a fast eater, perhaps because of the fact I have spent so many years trying to get nourishment on a half hour lunch break. This time of course I had another reason, Tallulah and I were going to the movies, I was going to meet her there. We were going to see Scrooged . It was snowing lightly and I was speeding slightly and I ended up doing a little bit of a spin out right in the middle of Central Avenue. It took a few minutes for me to catch my breath and as you can imagine I was late and missed the movie.
We went out to grab a bite to eat but I noticed that the old frostiness was returning again. I didn't know what to do so I kept acting like things hadn't changed. If anything I was trying harder and harder to get her to laugh, just to smile. I carried around a strange feeling of unease in my stomach all the time. We made love one last time and I couldn't help but notice that my desperation was matched by her disinterest.
Finally, as the first week of December everything started to fall apart.
My room was dark and I had Kate Bush's album The Hounds of Love playing on the stereo. Tallulah and I hadn't spoken for days- mostly because we couldn't say two words without getting into some kind of an argument but I kept trying but the times between attempts were getting further and further apart.
I was sitting on the floor with the phone in my lap. I was determined to get through to her this time to make her see what we might lose. Most of my life I had played roles; the clown, the dutiful son, the victim, I was something a little different to each person in my life.
But with Tallulah (and Lily before her) I had been me, or as close to who I thought me was. I finally felt comfortable in my own, admittedly roomy, skin.
It took me a few moments to get my confidence up, and then I dialed her number.
“Hi.” I said.
“Oh hi. What's up?”
I decided to get my groveling off to a good start, “I miss you.”
“Haven't you been busy with school?”
“Never to busy for you my love.”
“Oh please.” she said with a groan.
“What's- what's happening to us?”
“What do you think is happening to us?”
“I don't know.” I sighed, “You know I love you right?”
“You sure as Hell keep saying that a lot.”
“Well I do!” my shouting angered the Shih Tzu's my mother had wandering the house. They barked and barked and barked and barked, then barked some more.
“You say it so much it doesn't mean anything. What do you want from me? A partner, a friend, someone to fuck?”
This was going worse than I had imagined, “I want you.”
“Do you want someone to spend your life with or someone to take care of you?”
“Can't I have both?”
“You just don’t get it.”
“Then explain it to me.”
“I shouldn’t have to.”
“Well you damn well better.” I said, “Because I would like to know the Goddamn reason we’re about break up.”
There was a long pause, “Oh. That’s how it is.”
“I don’t know how it is.” I growled, “What do you want from me?”
“What do you want from me?”
That tore it, “I give up. I’ve got plenty of blood relatives lining up to make me miserable. I don’t need it from you. Good bye.”
I slammed the receiver down and then spent the next hour praying she’d call back. She didn’t of course.
I didn’t sleep much that night, I knew this was one of those moments when my life had changed forever but couldn’t accept it. I listened to her favorite songs and leafed through my copy of one of her favorite books.
Again and again I asked tried to understand how things could have gone so wrong. I hadn’t been a jerk to her, unlike most of the men in her past; in fact I had been obsequious to her, so obsequious that I’d had to look up the word to figure out what the Hell obsequious meant.
Had everyone else been right? Was the only way to make a girl love you was to be an utter prick to her? How could that work? What did that say about love?