When Bad Things Happen to Good Girlfriends

At the five-month mark in a relationship, she always forgets to do one important thing: dump her boyfriend. Sadly, he never forgets to dump her.

I leaned against the door, looking through the peephole as my boyfriend of nine months turned into my ex as he disappeared down the hall. Once he was far out of sight I slid down right where I was and sat on the floor, hugging my knees. And I stayed there for a long time after he left.


Is it so hard to imagine that a reasonably marketable twentysomething girl would stay with a guy when, nearly five months into the relationship, she couldn't come up with one good reason why she was still with him? All I can offer is that the power of good memories is seemingly limitless when it comes to carrying a dead shark far out to sea.

I would guess that in most cases, relationships are not all category 5 from the get-go. Singer and I had some good times—which is what clouded my understanding that things were not ideal.

A mutual friend had introduced us at a club. When I met him the lighting was dim with a dark-blue tint. The pop music was deafening. I could barely hear Singer when he spoke. Truthfully, it would often be this way—with margaritas and gin and tonic and dancing and mood lighting and indistinct conversations between us.

Singer belonged to a tight-knit group of frat guys–gone–financial analysts known as the "Yale boys." They were smart and funny 24-year-olds. They were dapper and polished, even when they were sloppy drunk. They wore expensive jeans and sunglasses. They were fit and smelled great.

Most of them had girlfriends who welcomed me instantly. Soon I had a new, young, New York City family. We crowded into sidewalk cafés for brunch and watched football on Sundays (though I usually read while they watched and screamed at the widescreen TV).

Evenings we went out to dinner— reserving several tables and ringing up long bills. Late nights we hopped the bar-and-club circuit.

Singer's family welcomed me as well. I met his parents for dinner at their home; I met his extended family at a Korean restaurant in midtown, where we cooked strips of meat over an open flame.

Singer met my family at my grandfather's funeral.


In the week or so before he died, my grandfather lay in a coma at St. Luke's hospital, after a stroke. My grandfather had it written in his will that he did not want to be kept alive by life support, and the grandchildren didn't know that at first, myself included. So when our family sat us down and explained it to us, they waited several seconds for our reaction. It was my cousin who cried first.

We brought my grandmother to visit him at the hospital. I watched her as she held on to my grandfather's fingers, turned his wedding band round and round.

After the tubes were removed my family and I slept in hospital chairs next to his bed, praying for him to wake up and waiting for him to die. The nurse would come in and add morphine to the plastic bag that dripped into his arm.

In my grandfather's last days Singer met me outside the hospital. He brought food for me—he knew we hadn't left my grandfather's side for a meal. We sat on a park bench in spite of the rain. He didn't mind that I sat there in silence, or at least he didn't let on that he did. During one visit he turned to me and said, "You are so strong."


It was because of times like these—moments of solidarity—that I often swept the hints of doom, or painful mediocrity, under the carpet. Looking back, I even ignored my own prophetic moments.

A few weeks after I met Singer I wanted him to meet Neetika, my best friend. We had arranged to meet at the Rink Bar at Rockefeller Center. Neetika and I were already there.

I was nervous then, because meeting Neetika is the equivalent of meeting my family, my father even. My boyfriend must have strong family values, high moral repute, and impressive career ambitions, and he must display gentlemanly behavior and he must adore me. Yup, Singer might as well have been meeting my old-world-Spaniard father.

But minutes, then hours passed and Singer never showed up. At one point I thought I spotted him on the balcony ledge that overlooked the bar (which is actually down below, in the ice-skating rink). I pointed out the figure to Neetika. We stared, I think I even waved, but it wasn't him.

Finally I called him, and he said he was stuck at a business event (which turned out to be a beer fest at a nearby outdoor bar). He said, "Tell Neetika I'm sorry." I got off the phone and apologized. I said to her, "You're disappointed."

"I'm disappointed because he disappointed you," she said. "I'm disappointed because you thought you saw him and you got excited and it wasn't him."


About two months later, Singer and I were across town from his apartment when it started to rain, thunder, and lightning. We were running east, across 52nd Street—all the cabs were claimed. Not another soul was out.

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