When I met The Boy’s parents, they took us to see the Broadway production of August: Osage County. He had seen it already. I had not. As the lights went down, he turned to me, as if realizing, and, with trepidation said, “You know, this might not have been a good idea.”
It was true. This play – while stunningly beautiful – is pretty much the story of the worst possible outcome of my life. It was two and a half hours of Steppenwolf showing me what might happen if I’m not very, very careful. By the end of the show, I was hysterically sobbing, unable to stand for the ovation. Unable to get up to let others exit.
It was not, needless to say, the best impression I could have made.
Now, it’s true that I cry pretty easily. Those ASPCA commercials kill me. As do Kleenex and long-distance phone service commercials – manipulative motherfuckers that they are. August was bad though. And since then, it seems as though The Boy has been very, very wary of showing me anything I might find upsetting.
For my birthday, he gave me a book of short story/memoirs, a book he was currently reading. “She writes like you,” he said. I’d like to think so, because she’s good, this Sloane Crosley, whom I kind of hate because she’s clever and funny and moderately famous for publishing all the stuff I think about but haven’t managed to get written down.
“You’ll like this,” said The Boy. “But … don’t read the one about the bear.”
“There are sad animals. Trust me.”
A day later he called me. “Also don’t read the one about the cat.”
Later he called again. “The last story! I want to prepare you! You have to know I didn’t know about it!”
“What are you talking about?” I was bewildered.
“The book! I just read the last story!”
“I didn’t know, I swear! It doesn’t mean anything!”
“Just tell me what you’re talking about.”
It turns out that the last story in the book includes a narrative of the author being cheated on and subsequently broken up with.
“Ok,” I said. “And why is this such a terrible thing for me to read?”
“Well, I gave it to you for your birthday,” he said. “And that’s not the kind of thing a boyfriend should give, with that kind of parting message. I didn’t want you to think it meant anything.”
It might be time to toughen up.