It always ends with a kiss…
You know, like in those romantic comedies we spend half our existence watching. 80-85 odd minutes blown waiting for the lead characters to lip-wrestle.
I’m in it for the music though.
The furious interplay of strings and piano keys – while the lead male character rushes to the airport to stop his lady love from leaving his life forever – always evolves into a gentler score once they finally see eye to eye. Then the music swells again slowly while they talk that predictable gibberish: “I’m crazy about you, wish I’d never let you go, yadda yadda yadeeda. Follow me home and marry me so that in two years we can fulfill the American dream by getting divorced in the worst possible way.” Finally, the icy chic thaws and we get that awesome full orchestra crescendo when the two lovers do the only form of relationship consummation that will allow the movie retain its PG-13 rating. Two sets of lips giving and simultaneously taking. Earth just seems to spin a little less hurriedly this way.
Anyway, how we met is irrelevant. All you need to know is that we did meet and there was the proverbial ‘instant connection’. See, I’m kind of a romantic cynic. Thus, the fact that I talk about all things pertaining to Cupid’s kingdom with a certain amount of blasé or aloofness doesn’t stop me from falling recklessly head over shoeless-heels for a three-and-a-half-foot pygmy with bad breath.
I liked her because she was… Dear Lord, I know not why I liked her. I just did. Granted, she was freakishly tall, (her 5 11″ beat my 5 9″) made dirty jokes and had perfect teeth. But the fact was that I couldn’t pin down that quality that set me heart all a-flutter.
She was a journalist by day and she loved her job. She wrote for some widely syndicated magazine that recently sprouted an extension in the country. By night, however, the closest she came to being a journalist was in editing the bulk of my sexual history. And my relationship history. And the history of my happiness. She gave everything to me.
The truth is that you can never really know if someone is giving everything unless you are giving it all in return. Otherwise, you’re left making slightly informed guesses at best. Two-way-streets ahoy! We didn’t like all the same things or share the same views on all subjects but that made it even better. Because the fights were just… awesome!
It was exhilarating to argue with a really smart, cool woman who was probably more sophisticated than you were but still respected you as a human but wouldn’t be made to apologize for her views as long as they were fair.
She comes to my house one evening after work with a wry smile which rarely happens. Her expressions are always vivid and honest. Something was up.
“I got an…” she sighed then continued, “…opportunity.”
Turns out she was so bleeping good at her darn job that when the magazine’s U.S. office needed a writer for their new ‘Foreign Accent’ column, which had nothing to do with accents by the way, they skip all their fancy European word painters for my one and only. Funny now how a word like ‘opportunity’ can actually TAKE something away. But I’m not one to whine too much (a minimum of once daily isn’t too much is it?)
So it happens that she’s gotta travel and travel soon. It’s short notice blah de blah de blah… She rambles off on this lengthy explanation which I’m figuring is a big fat bubble of placatory pie. And since any pie in a bubble is ultimately a bubble and… you know what? Not the most awesome analogy I ever came up with but the point is I just ripped right through the air blow and heard what I wanted to hear: ‘Honey, you’re awesome enough to make me drench you with all these lines about why this is better for me but I am going to go anyway.’
So hey, who am I to bitch about what makes me happy? It’s just my blasted sanity at stake, right? I just told her ‘ok’.
But here’s the weird thing I didn’t see coming: during the days before she was to leave, if at all possible, we became closer. Almost against our will. The talking was less about her impending departure and more about how we could make the most of it. I was due for at least three months’ leave at work and we figured I could call it all in and come for a lengthy visit. She made me download that loathsome Skype software (yes, I hate computers and the internet). I even began to make a list of ‘Americana’ stuff I wanted her to ship me once she hit God’s own country. Top of that list was leopard print underwear but that’s for another drunken evening’s gossip session.
Fast forward to the airport and I’m saying to myself: I SHALL NOT CRY. I AM A MAN WHOSE EGO IS LARGER THAN HIS TALLY-WHACKER.
Of course, this was not enough to stop me whimpering like a trampled Alsatian.
Once she’d travelled, I took it for granted that I’d lost her. It was just a matter of time, I thought.
She called often. I once wondered aloud to her how she afforded all the talk time. She proceeded to tell my stupid head how much she was earning after tax. Minus allowances. And sales bonuses…
Soon, she began to talk about Darren.
I wasn’t too surprised. It was, after all, the stuff of modern day socialist nightmares. Competition.
He sounded like the guy she wished I could be: exquisite dresser, neat freak, lover of children. And the clincher? He was 6ft 1″! While she told me his height over the phone, I silently cursed my mother for detesting beans and genetically passing that repulsion unto me. I also made a mental note to scout for a surgeon who could adjust my knees or something.
She suddenly stopped calling. She stopped Skyping. She stopped e-mailing. I tried calling her house and cell but I was greeted by her voice telling me to leave a message. Great. Awesome. Super freaking duper.
I was dejected. More like angry. I didn’t know what I felt and how I ought to feel it. I had been ditched like a curable rash. Not for the first time, but I really liked this one – although ‘like’ is a big euphemism: I once kissed her feet – and it wasn’t even during sex!
I re-enacted every scene in the soppy-movie play book: I went through all her things in my house and smelt them all day, I moped at work, I was cranky, I yelled at innocent people.
I’d been in this mode for a full week when I got a terse email:
“Sweetie, how u doin? I’ll be in town on the 8th. My flight lands @ 10.30 am. Cld u come pick me up? Thanks luv. Me.”
Predictably, I wasted no time in jumping for joy. I didn’t want to think about anything other than the fact that the words ‘Sweetie’ and ‘luv’ made it into the letter. I cleaned up my act, smiled at everyone and even resumed farting in public.
The 8th could have come quicker, you know. Every day was a new chance to bask in the awesomeness of her pending arrival. Her lines were still not going through but I complained not.
On the 8th, I was at the airport by 9.00 am (did I mention that I was whipped?) When they announced that her plane had arrived, my heart got in the Olympics and leapt. Yes, for joy. Ughh. I waited panting with my tail a-wagging while people streamed out the arrivals lounge. I almost missed her when she surfaced around 1.30 pm.
Oh, the sight of her. She waved once we made eye contact. She didn’t seem as cheery as I remembered. She seemed sandwiched and jostling between a Caucasian dude and some huge lady chewing gum. Fellow passengers, I figured. As she neared me, the huge woman found her way but the white fella stuck. Only then did I figure it out.
He was taller than her, rakishly handsome and was so impeccably dressed I almost swore he was gay. Darren.
My countenance soured rapidly while she made the last few strides to where I stood. I knew instantly that my single days were upon me once again. She was now in front of me. She placed her palms on my shoulders and closed her eyes. I didn’t understand it but I was glad again: God I missed kissing her! The movie had a happy ending after all. I closed my eyes and sighed expectantly. After a seeming eternity, I felt her warm lips… on my forehead. I opened my eyes and smiled wryly.
I died inside. Right there, rooted to that spot, I might as well have had a gun to my head because my life flashed before me. And I realized that my life indeed was like those movies I watched with cynical glee. No, there was no swelling orchestra playing in the background. No, I hadn’t just bamboozled some airhead with memorized lyrics delivered with enough simulated restiveness to make Hugh Grant pee up a storm in respect; and no, I definitely wasn’t setting up for a classy marriage ceremony in a garden with a violinist playing the wedding march.
But my life, like those grating romantic comedies had just ended… with a kiss.