It was a weekend right out of a Neil Diamond song, I’m afraid.
Friday night I met my friend CombatGirl for coffee for the first time in a couple of months, and she filled me in on her recent breakup with the guy she had been seeing for the past year. I knew she had been on the fence regarding this relationship for a while, but apparently the deal breaker happened a few weeks after Christmas, when the boyfriend asked my friend why her father hadn’t shown up for the family Christmas gathering at her house.
Given that my friend has been estranged from her father for years—which she had told the boyfriend all about—and given that she had, not long before, experienced a difficult emotional episode related to her estrangement from her father—an episode which the boyfriend had witnessed part of—CombatGirl was understandably surprised by his question. She promptly introduced herself as the woman he had been dating for the past year, and then broke up with him.
I’m thinking she made the right call.
The next night I had dinner with Dr. Dave, who was in town for a few days, and who, coincidentally, is also fresh on the heels of a breakup. A woman he had met here in Minneapolis started pursuing him via e-mail shortly after his move to Maryland last summer, and at first the effort of trying to do the long-distance relationship thing had seemed worthwhile. They shared a number of common views on things like religion and politics and buying locally-grown produce, and she even liked baseball.
But, over time, he grew concerned that she was a few years younger than him. And that she seemed a little bit closer to her parents than most adults he knows. And also, that she had a habit of taking in wounded or abandoned animals. Her menagerie of pets included a three-legged kitten and a couple of parrots, and while Dr. Dave doesn’t have a problem with animals specifically, there seemed to be a lot of them, and he began to find it a little bit odd that she treated them more like children than animals.
Then, after a couple of back-and-forth weekends, it seemed like she was maybe a smidge more invested in the relationship than he was. And, he learned, she had a funny way of turning every conversation around until it was all about her. And so, after much deliberating, Dr. Dave decided to break it off.
Still, when we met on Saturday, he was not 100% sure he had done the right thing. Much of our conversation during dinner was about just that, and it continued in the car as I was driving him to the airport after dinner.
Finally, he said, “...and she sleeps with her parents.”
“What?” I said, horrified. “Like, in the same bed?”
“Yes,” he said. “Birds. In the bed.”
I realized then that he had said “parrots,” not “parents,” although I couldn't decide if that was better, or worse.
“Is that weird?” he asked. "That's weird, isn't it?"
I imagined little feathery heads nestled into fluffy pillows, with a comforter snuggled up under beaky chins, and Dr. Dave and his girlfriend tucked in on either side.
“I could have saved you a lot of time if you had told me about this months ago,” I said.
But, apparently, he hadn’t known about the birds in the bed until very recently. And I did not ask him for the details of how, exactly, he had learned of the birds in the bed. Because I have learned from experience that one should not ask questions that one really, REALLY, does not want to know the answer to.
I'm pretty sure he also made the right call.