Comedian Jen Kirkman shares a particularly misguided attempt at reconciliation
Spring came and went. I found myself still thinking about Thomas and doing drive-bys past his apartment complex. I know that when someone in Los Angeles claims to do a drive-by, that person usually has gold teeth and a hit rap song, but I just mean that I was circling his block to make sure his car was in the driveway so I could come to the auspicious conclusion that Thomas was home, forlorn and missing me.
On our first date Thomas had told me that his most cherished book from childhood was Judy Blume's Superfudge. The night that Thomas and I ended our relationship (aka when he dumped me as I cried snots out of my eyes on his bedroom floor and begged him to reconsider), he told me that he wanted to reconnect with his childhood and that he had lost himself.
One evening in May, after not having been Thomas's girlfriend for eight weeks, six days, and four hours, I decided that I'd cement myself as a shoo-in for the Museum of Most Romantic Gestures. I went on a hunt for a hardcover copy of Superfudge. At the Barnes & Noble cash register, my eyes welled up as I thought about the very John-Hughes-movie moment I was about to enact. I sat in my car outside of Thomas's house, inscribing the inside front cover with "Dear Thomas, you haven't lost yourself. He was here all along." I took a moment of silence to be moved by my sentiment—and briefly wondered whether he would have preferred it written in my blood.
I walked up to his door and at the last minute realized that just dropping the book off would leave our fate up to chance. I wanted to present the one-of-a-kind Superfudge to Thomas in person, watch him read the dedication in front of me, and then collapse into my arms with cries of, "You've changed my life! I was such a fool to let you go. Come inside my apartment and come inside my . . . heart. We'll set fire to the Hallmark Hariette nightstand and build our own future with a nice bedroom ensemble from IKEA. Listen, we can't afford anything better right now, but surprisingly they have many bedroom furniture options that don't look like plywood and thick cardboard that's been Scotch-taped together. I may have a nervous breakdown about my lack of manhood when I'm forced to assemble the nightstands with three beers in my system and a faulty Allen wrench, but we'll get through it!" I knocked. Thomas opened the door, saw me, and slammed the door in my face. I heard him frantically affix the door chain.
He yelled from behind the safety of this barricade, "Give me a minute!" I heard whispering. I heard a hysterical girl accuse, "Who is that?" I heard Thomas answer, "Hariette, go into the bedroom. This will only take a second." Thomas unchained the door and opened it. He looked at me and whispered loudly, "What?" I handed him the book. I guess I thought that it was worth a try even though it was probably not the best idea to rekindle a relationship with someone who had another girl over and who had just slammed a door in my face.
He took the book and studied it. I started to explain. "Thomas, you once said this was your favorite book from childhood and—"
"Oh, Jen," he said. He didn't say "Oh, Jen" in a romantic "Take me, Jen!" way, but more like I had just spilled oatmeal on the floor from my high chair. He pitied me and knew that it was pointless to yell because I clearly didn't know better. "It's over, Jen." He handed the book back to me. I became indignant. If you would just reread Superfudge, Thomas, you would know that you and I were meant to be together. I have no idea what the fuck even two words are from Superfudge, but I have my heart set on this dramedy I've written in my head and there can be no rewrites.
Thomas shut the door and I heard him twist both dead bolts. He said, "Hariette? Hariette? Come here, honey." I got up and left Superfudge on his doorstep. It was just like when I threw a copy of the Albert Camus book The Stranger to Robert Smith onstage when I saw the Cure in high school. I'd read that their song "Killing an Arab" was based on that book and I wrote a wistful fan letter on the inside flap that was more of an argument as to why I was Robert Smith's only living soul mate and how unfortunate it was for him to have gone this long without me in his life. In both instances I never got a response. But at least I'm spreading to many men the joy of reading.
One night shortly after the Superfudge debacle, I got offstage after my set at M Bar and headed to the bar. A married male comedian—a friend of mine—stopped me to chat. I didn't think this was anything out of the ordinary; he always loved to talk comedy and give advice. He said that a bunch of people were going next door to a bar for a postshow drink and I should come by.
When I got there it was just him. He started to confess that being married is hard and he wanted to know my opinion as a single woman on this complicated issue. Before I could answer, he asked me whether I thought that his jerking off in front of me would be considered cheating on his wife. I wasn't sure of the answer, in part because he was a dozen pounds overweight and wore a crooked hairpiece that resembled a golf course divot. I wasn't attracted to him. If he were Robert Downey Jr. and RDJ wanted to know whether I thought his jerking off in front of me was cheating, I would have said absolutely not. Not only is it not cheating, I think it's good for America if you show me your cock. And if you are at all tired from touching yourself, please allow me to do it for you.
But just as I was about to say, "Look, you're really funny but I have no interest in seeing your dick," I heard a familiar voice behind me say hello. I turned around and saw Matt. He said jokingly, "I know. You don't remember me. But I'm Matt. We've met. I'm not a DJ."
That was the moment. He called me on my shit. I laughed. And I realized that for the last ten years I'd been wearing a sheet over my head like a shitty Halloween ghost costume and that's why I kept picking the bad candy out of the bunch.
My comedian friend immediately pulled out pictures of his kids from his wallet and acted like, "Oh, hey, everyone. You walked in just in time. I was just telling Jen how great my family is. Here's Johnny on his fifth birthday. Isn't he cute?" I subtly turned my back to concentrate on Matt.
It turns out he was from a small beach town in Massachusetts, and I bonded with him by telling him I was from a suburb near the city. He reminded me that we had already discussed this several times. I was starting to think I either had multiple personalities or was just a complete asshole. Apparently it's hard to pay attention to the guy right in front of you who is ready to create a story with you when you're busy obsessing about what to write to a guy who doesn't like you in a copy of Superfudge that he didn't ask for.
From I CAN BARELY TAKE CARE OF MYSELF by Jen Kirkman. Copyright 2013 by Block of Cheese, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc.