“Do you want to go get a beer?”
“No,” I scoffed. “Do you?”
“Yeah. I had a beer in New York.”
And just like that, Mr. Waffle’s ten years of sobriety was over. He’d told me weeks ago that he was worried about his mental state, that he was afraid he was going to drink. Still wanting to save him, I urged him not to. However, when he went to New York to help his sister through her surgery, and out from under my watchful eye, he treated himself to a Sapporo, but just one.
“So you’re going to drink again?”
“Well, I’ve been miserable sober and I’ve fucked up the one thing I still cared about—our marriage. I just want to be able to hang out with my friends.”
“Fine, fuck it. Let’s go have a drink.”
We walked to a neighborhood bar and ordered a beer and cider. It was a bit strange, and I was feeling fragile, but I wasn’t sure what to say. I finished the cider and he ordered me a second. The second drink loosened my lips.
“Was I really such a terrible wife? Am I really that repellent to you?” The questions and the tears flowed freely and furiously.
He told me he refused to take full blame for the downfall of our relationship, and said that I can be difficult to love. He’d tell me later on what that meant—thanks to my childhood and personality, I am not accepting of compliments, so he felt it was difficult to convince me of his love for me, which frustrated him greatly.
We shot barbs and loaded questions back and forth, and then we walked home in silence, punctuated by my sobs and sniffles. I collapsed into bed, still crying, and he stroked my back. I calmed down enough to breathe regularly. Then he left.
A few minutes later he texted me, “Hey honey, I’m going for a walk. Be back in a bit!” Smiley face.
Twenty minutes went by. Then forty. “Where are you?”
“I’m at Axel’s having a Stella and listening to music. See you in a little while!” Smiley face.
Then another text, this one from the friend he’s obsessed with: “Hey! Do you know our coworker’s number? I think I left my keys in her car.”
I sent her the number, but nothing else. She was the last person I wanted to be talking to at the moment.
“Thanks! I’m fucked. I’m walking down Grand to my friend’s house, I can’t get into my place.”
Axel’s is on Grand. Fuck.
Suddenly I was a super sleuth, and the clues were all falling together. I texted him, “Are you with her.” Not a question, an accusation.
“You said she doesn’t like me”
“So what? People lie.”
To her: “Are you with him?”
“Just answer the question. He took off to drink and I want to die.”
“Honey, I am so sorry. This blows.”
He came back home, and wordlessly crawled into bed. Exhausted, drained, and still drunk, I too slipped off to sleep.
I spent the next day with friends, recounting the shitty night before and my horrifyingly embarrassing crazy ex-wife episode. I texted the friend but didn’t hear back for the better part of the day. She answered later, and asked if I’d take her to find her keys. We laughed about how strange it was that we played a part in each other’s recent break-ups. I can’t hate her, she’s too magnanimous; of course, I kind of hate that about her.
On Sunday, he and I tried once again to go to a bar. We were able to joke and have more of a heart-to-heart. I didn’t cry this time, despite us laying out our feelings for one another while agreeing that we need much more space, and that the romantic component of our relationship is dead.
I wonder if Jerry and Elaine went through this.