Marley and Me

I went out for lunch the other day with N, one of my straight male friends. I have enough gays and girls to give me love advice, most of it, “You deserve everything you want,” but sometimes it’s nice to get a straight boy’s point of view, typically, “You’re overreacting, calm the fuck down.”

We sat down at Vynl in Hell’s Kitchen, and he made it clear he had no time for any of my drama.

“G hates me,” he began, ordering a mimosa.

G is a beautiful Jewish goddess we know, all pale skin and brown curls and bright blue eyes.

“What do you mean?”

“I finally asked her out. I decided I’d tell her about this music festival: It’s going on for five days. If she says she ‘can’t go’ to all five days, she’s just not interested, and I’ll move on. She was busy dog-sitting on the Upper East Side, but said she’d text me Monday.”

“OK.” The waiter brought two mimosas, and I ordered truffle mac ‘n cheese. “Go on.”

“So Monday comes, nothing. Then Tuesday. Wednesday. Finally she sends me a text on Thursday: ‘Sorry, I’ve been sitting Shiva, and I’m exhausted.’ So I said OK, cool.’ And then she stopped texting me.”

I choked on my drink. “Do you know what Shiva is?”

He cocked his head. “You mean the dog?”

“…No. Shiva is a Jewish tradition to mourn when someone dies. Sitting Shiva.”

N went pale. “Oh my God.”

“She hasn’t texted you back at all?”

“No… Fuck. She told me someone died, and I said ‘OK, cool. Nevermind then.’”

“Nevermind then?”

“Yeah, I said that too. Fuck!”

It seemed like such an Ian-Michael moment: misreading a situation, getting upset and saying something stupid, then hating myself. I burst out laughing: N downed his drink and ordered another.

Once I calmed down, I realized how self-centered I can be. I asked N to lunch so I could get advice, but now, sitting across from him, I couldn’t even remember what I wanted advice on.

“Why are you smiling?” he asked me.

“I’ll fix this,” I said. “Leave it to me.”

Later that day, while G and I walked Cassie the Corgi on the UES, she laughed through the entire story and agreed to let N take her out (to prove himself as a decent human being, if nothing else). Marriage-obsessed me couldn’t help but think what a great story it could be at their wedding, and I reminded myself that I’m not the main character of every romantic story.

While they were on their first date, I was home alone, pretending I was the matchmaker from Fiddler on the Roof, but singing Hodel and Chava’s part: “Night after night in the dark I’m alone, so find me a match of my own…”

Ian-Michael Bergeron

Iowa-born writer Ian-Michael Bergeron has written his weekly column in Get Out! Magazine since 2015, as well as editorials and interviews. He lives in New York City in a one-bedroom with two cats, Alexander and Thomas, and spends most of his income on shoes.

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