Friday, February 20, 2009

Renee is the sweetest person - she’s 100% USDA certified organic cane sugar sweet. She looks like a girl in an Urban Outfitters catalog, too. Neither of these reasons is exactly why we no longer talk. In fact, I don’t really know exactly why, except that we haven’t in so long that to do so again would be out of the ordinary. There’d be too much catching up to do, and someone would have to explain the lapse.I met Renee at this Harlem charter school where I used to work. We were both new teachers at the school with only one year of experience under our belts. In the early days of classroom arrangement and teacher orientation, it seemed like we’d be great friends. We liked the same music and shared the same views. The only difference was that Renee was hip in that easy, Cat Power-listening, “I feel so much more centered when I’m vegan,” lush long-haired kind of way. Meanwhile, I had stringy bobbed hair and a hankering for Taco Bell.We worked together for a year, drifting closer or farther in the tide of chaos, field trips, and paperwork. When she broke up with her live-in boyfriend, I was the first person she called. I was in my own floundering relationship at the time. We’d bonded before about guys - how funny and difficult they are, how we worried about our tendency to give them such central places in our lives. I hoped the experience meant we’d be closer friends, but everything pretty much remained the same.Post-breakup Renee was different, though. She said she wanted to go back to school to become a dance therapist. She started dating a hipster with sexual dysfunction. Every conversation was predicated on the fact that her life and goals were nebulous and unfulfilled. Though unintended, the message I took from them was: I am tragically hipper than thou.I quit teaching after that year, desperate to use my brain more than my vocal cords. Renee got a job at a school in her Lower East Side neighborhood. I broke up with my boyfriend after vacillating about it for months. Renee and I talked at least once a week. When we hung out, though, I was always distinctly aware that she was on a schedule and had plans following whatever we did. Some guy friend who had an awkward crush on her had asked her to a movie. Her sister was coming in for a concert. I felt like I was a pitstop on the way to a much cooler destination.The last time we were supposed to hang out, there was a sudden torrential downpour. I didn’t feel like schlepping around in galoshes, but before I could cancel, Renee bailed on me. She said her sister was in town and that they were going to hang out instead. This might be understandable if her sister was unexpectedly visiting from far away. But she lived in New Jersey and visited a few times a month! Why not also invite me, since we already had plans? This wasn’t the first time she’d done something like this, but it was the last.Renee’s voicemail said we should make plans for another time. I never called her back, and she didn’t call me back either. She was the Lower East Side; I was the Upper West. Perhaps we both knew it
Bethany. I met her at a bar shortly after my wife and I separated, at a meat-market bar whilst I was totally on the rebound. I should have seen it coming. She picked me up by using some not-so subtle lines that I should have listened more closely to. Then, when she decided to tag along with some friends and I later that night, became increasing more confused and less coherent as the night went on. Sadly after not being able to lose her the whole night, she ended up passed out in my bed. The next day I couldn't get rid of her either, but was lonely, so eventually just decided to go along with it. Six months later, she had sucked every dime out of me, as well as my will to live. Any attempts to break up resulted in a breakdown and a revelation with some kind of too dramatic to be true story of pain and suffering. She would CONSTANTLY talk about her recently estranged husband - would even mention him during sex (though any mention of him was in a negative light) - and would just genuinely suck the warmth and light out of any room she entered. She went through several jobs during this time, never staying for very long for being fired for "political reasons". The rest of the time I had to support myself AND her, including her rent, utilities - right down to cat food for her poor cat she never saw since Bethany was always at MY place. I should never have been such a pushover: but after 6 mos, $3000 in loans, a laptop, a trip to Mexico, and more meals than I can count, I finally got rid of her. Until it was time to do her taxes. And again to send me pictures of the fabulous trip to Australia her new boyfriend had taken her on. Sure could use that $3000 dollars right now, you hunchbacked, snaggle-toothed leech!!