(Editors note: We do not condone bad/sad relationships, but we know they happen, especially, it seems, with comedians... All opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily of COC)
This doesn’t really have anything to do with comedy. No one gives a fuck about comedy. It’s kind of funny, though. You know, in a sad way.
Driving is hard now. So is trying to get to sleep. Basically, anything that involves me staring into space and doing some mindless activity allows my brain to leave its tether and follow itself down whatever rabbit-hole it decides would be for the best. My brain has shitty judgment about what’s for the best. It likes to think about her. It likes to remember what she smelled like. How she laughed. Songs we sang together. Eating Chinese food and watching Simpsons at midnight. My brain doesn’t like to remember the shitty times. How mean she could be. How self-involved she could be.
It’s a weird thing the brain does after a break up. It likes to focus on the good stuff and not the bad stuff. It likes to remember the relationship as something perfect, as the thing that could have fed your insides for the rest of your life if only you had gotten your goddamn life together and kept her. I don’t know why it does that. I’m a firm believer in evolutionary psychology; I believe that aspects of our thought process can be passed down through heredity, and as such elements of our psychology that benefit us in some way can become optimized through generations via the process of natural selection.
But wouldn’t it help us move on if we just thought of these failed relationships as good riddance; as shit rightly left on the side of the road so that we can move on to better things?
It sure seems pretty fucking nice right about now.
One time she sent me a recording. Well, she sent me a lot of recordings.
I was working at a shitty office gig for a while. Running someone else’s tutoring business. It was fine.
Free coffee, plenty of time to mindlessly surf the internet while the boss wasn’t watching. In retrospect, perhaps that’s why they shit-canned me. Who knows? I spent a lot of time with headphone on. I told her that and she said she would send me recordings to listen to. She would play ukulele for me sometimes, and sing for me. She has a beautiful voice. Listening to her sing was one of the few times that I felt calm, that I felt that I didn’t have to prove anything to anyone. I was outside myself. Just listening. Beautiful music is, perhaps, the best thing we’ve done as a species. She sang wonderfully.
She would send me songs. Little mp3s she recorded onto her computer. My favorite was a cover of “Rose Parade” by Elliott Smith. Fucking Christ, what a gorgeous song. I have no idea why, but when she sang “It’s just that everyone’s interest was stronger than mine,” I would tear up a little. Such a sad, sad line.
I listened to her recording maybe a hundred times. I’m not exaggerating. I have since deleted it. I deleted everything related to her. Every e-mail, every recording she made, and every script she wrote every video, every photo. I took her number out of my phone. I blocked her on Facebook. I can see how this could come off as some juvenile, petulant act. “Fuck you!” I whine, as I piss into a wind that could not possible care less. But, I assure you, this is not the case. I wanted to remove every possible avenue of reminding myself about her and/or contacting her. Because I knew I would. But I can’t forget her e-mail. I try to. It’s just her name, and it won’t leave my head. So I e-mail her about every three days. Here’s the last one I sent, in its entirety:
“I can't sleep. I’m just reading your tumbler. I know I was mean to you. You didn't deserve that. I have a lot of problems and shouldn't be in a relationship. I'm sorry to subject you to that. I don't know where you are in life right now, but I sincerely hope that you're happy. You remain, by a wide margin, the smartest, funniest, most beautiful women I have ever met. Maybe someday, another time, another place, another life we can be together again. Who the fuck knows? Life is long. Never say never. I love you, I love you, I love you. Be well.”
She has not responded. She never responds.
We remember the first time we met differently. Well, it wasn’t exactly the first time we met. I have a shitty memory, and I’m kind of an asshole. I’m sincerely not proud of it; it’s just an aspect of who I am. So she had seen me at a few shows, and thought I was cute. So she found me on Facebook and asked me to hang out. I saw her picture and I thought she was beautiful. Busty, redheaded, Jewish. It was like someone attached a 3D printer to some combination of my heart and my cock and made the perfect woman for me. We tried to arrange a date for a while. She was always busy, always canceling at the last minute. In retrospect everything seems like a sign, but maybe this actually was. Finally, one night, we were supposed to go get a drink and she just tells me that she’s tired but I can come over to her apartment if I want.
She says that I showed up, said hi, and then picked up her guitar and played and sang (“horrendously off-key”, she liked to clarify) for thirty straight minutes. I remember playing her guitar a bit and having a conversation with her at the same time. The normal shit. Where are you from? What do you like to do? Will you just fuck me and then tell me it’s ok? I love you. Eventually I move over to the bed she’s sitting on and kiss her. She tells me later that she thinks this was horrible, presumptuous, and borderline rapey. But at the time she just says she has class in the morning and I should leave. I say bye and go.
I keep texting her. Eventually she relents and gives me another chance. We date for a year. I ask her to marry me. She says she likes the idea. Later, she dumps me because she says I’m too crazy.
Other shit happens in between.
We date for about two weeks before people start telling her about me.
“People say you’re an asshole,” she tells me. “They say you’re mean, and you pick on people.”
I ask her who these people are. She gives me names. I have never actually spoken to any of these people. The next time I see one of them at an open mic I go over and introduce myself, just say “Hi, I’m Collin. You’re [NAME REDACTED], right? I’ve seen you around; I don’t think we’ve officially met.” [NAME REDACTED] simply looks at me weird, and then walks away. I don’t care for her.
“I think dating you in bad for my career,” she tells me. I cry. She tries to comfort me.
“Fuck you,” I tell her. “You’ll never love me. I’m old and I’m fat and I’m a fucking crazy person and I’m going nowhere and I don’t wanna drag you down with me fuck fuck fuck.” She recoils. She looks at me with fear. I’ve seen that look before.
“You’re scaring me,” she says.
“You should leave.”
“I’m so sorry. I’m crazy. I have a lot of problems. Please, I need you.”
“You have to go.”
I leave. I cry more. Two days later, she takes me back.
In retrospect, she’s right. I was too fucking crazy. I fucking hate retrospect.
She dumped me over text. She had been avoiding me for several days. She had been telling me she was too busy. Eventually I was doing a show downtown, about two blocks from her apartment, and I texted her and asked if I could see her. I miss you. I love you. She doesn’t respond.
I show up. She’s watching TV. She’s surprised to see me.
“I just texted you. I’m not really in the mood to see you tonight.” I turn around and leave. I don’t say anything. I’m very weird in general, and even more so if I feel rejected. I’m embarrassed to be me and just want to be alone. “Wait,” she says. I turn around. “Can I get a hug?” I hug her. I lift her off the ground a little bit. I always do when I huge her. I kiss her. We say goodbyes.
I wish I had hugged her longer.
A week later she dumps me. “Are we broken up?” she texts me. I don’t know what to say. “We haven’t seen each other in forever. I guess we are,” is her second text.
I don’t remember exactly how I responded, but my basic strategy was scorching the earth. Fuck you, fuck your friends, you have no talent, you’re ugly, you’re evil, you’re a piece of shit, I hope you’re miserable forever.
“This is why I’m dumping you,” she tells me. “I don’t have time for you and you do crazy shit like this.”
Keep that in mind if you ever feel sorry for me here. I love her, I still do, I don’t know if I ever won’t. But I am mean. I have hardness and coldness inside me, and that part of me does not like to be alone and does not like to be kept from happiness like some kind of shitty game of monkey in the middle. If you hurt me, I will fucking lash out. It will, ultimately, be impotent rage. I will be left in the rain, crying alone. Nick Drake and/or Dashboard Confessional will be involved. Not The Cure. The Cure is too happy. That’s for being in love.
“My handsome man,” she’d tell me. She’d stroke my cheek.
That memory still makes me smile.
I remember the first night we spent together. I came over at about 1:30 am. She asked me to come over whenever I was done with my show. I did an open mic after the show. I become obsessed with things, and that night it was performing. But she said to wake her up.
I did. We spent all night together. Talking, bullshitting, making love. I know, I know, you’re probably cringing right now. Grow the fuck up. Sex has been co-opted by juveniles and those generally appreciative of its more mercenary applications. But sex is beautiful. Being inside of someone, having them look up at you, smile, and whisper into your ear “I love you”, I sincerely don’t know if life gets better than that.
So go laugh and make jokes about semen somewhere else. Wait, let me establish something: I’m not above making jokes about semen. The day I stop finding semen jokes about semen funny is the day I stop doing comedy. But sex with her was something more. I honestly felt like I was saying things to her, things that there either weren’t words for or I didn’t know them.
The female body is beautiful. It’s so beautiful many men are scared of it. Try to belittle it or compartmentalize it. The arch of a back. The gentle curves of hips. Soft breasts. Plump lips. Long hair. Women smell amazing. She smelled amazing. She looked amazing. I have her burned in my brain. Every inch of her.
No one ever made me laugh like she would.
She would sometime just lay there, in my arms. We were just breathing. I didn’t have to say anything. I never felt like I had to say anything with her or prove anything to her. I could just be. I never felt that way with anyone else.
I’ve tried to have sex with other women since her. I can’t finish. I tell them it happens all the time, but it didn’t before.
I’m embarrassed to admit this. All of this.
“I think we’ll be married someday”, I tell her.
She smiles at me.
“How does that make you feel?” I ask.
“I like that.”
“I love you.”
“I love you so much. You know you’ll have to convert to Judaism, right?”
“My parents won’t let me marry a goy.”
“I’ve always wanted to be Jewish. All of my heroes have always been neurotic Jewish men.”
“I wish more people knew the real you,” she tells me.
We did a road trip to my parent’s house once. I was doing a show in my hometown. It was sparsely attended.
She met my parents. She told me that she was proud of me for talking to them. She said I did great at the show. She always liked watching me perform. Her celebrity crushes were always comedians. Seth Rogen, John Mulaney, myself for whatever fucking reason.
She played with my parent’s new puppy. The old one had died of a brain tumor a few weeks back. Sudden. Life’s weird like that. We talked about dogs. We talked about moving to Los Angeles together, getting a small house. We wanted to get an English bulldog. I had never wanted kids, but I meant it when I told her I wanted her to have my children. She smiled at that. But we mostly talked about the dog we would get. I wanted to name him Sherlock. She wanted to name her Agent Dale Cooper. This was never resolved.
We sleep in the guest room, in one small bed. I hold her all night. I cry thinking about it. We get breakfast the next morning, early, at my favorite little greasy spoon in my hometown. Does everyone have a favorite greasy spoon in their hometown? If not, get one. It’s one of life’s purest pleasures.
I don’t think we talked about anything substantial that breakfast. You usually don’t. Losing the love of your life hurts so much, you wanna remember and catalog everything and add important to even the dullest of events. But there’s beauty in the mundane. I sat and had coffee and eggs with this woman and I will remember it every day for the rest of my life.
I try to keep myself busy. I work out every day. I quit smoking, quit drinking, started eating better. Life goes on, whether we’re ready for it to or not.
It’s been several months. It hasn’t gotten better. I think about her every moment of every day. She was so nerdy, but so sexy. She was so driven, so talented, so smart. So goddamn smart. She called me out on all of my bullshit. She would always level with me, tell me when I was being an asshole.
I’m a 30 year old man. I’m not a teenager. But she made me feel like one.
Fuck. I miss the shit out of her.
Collin Bullock Web Site
Awkward Moments Podcast with Collin A. Bullock