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The Literary Girlfriend: Good Cop, Bad Cop

December 29, 2013

cover of Ultimate Elektra:Devil's Due and cover of The Awakening

It was tough to act normal around Daniella when I knew I’d have to break up with her soon.  Before I left my parents’ house the morning after Christmas, I wrote my brother a couple checks, and these wiped out my savings account.  Without the money in this account, I’d have to hit my credit cards to pay for all of Daniella’s bills.  I knew I couldn’t do that for long, so I figured that was it.  I’d try to enjoy the last few weeks as much as I could.

Since I was normally a quiet guy, I didn’t want to be even quieter, so I overcompensated by talking too much.  I drank too much coffee, and it was the coffee that made me talk.  We were at the mall post-Christmas shopping (Daniella didn’t like Christmas, but she had nothing against me buying her post-Christmas stuff) when the caffeine hit me hard, and while she lingered from store to store, I talked.  Once I began, it was hard to stop.

My friend Kirk had broken up with Linda (if you believed Kirk’s version of the story), but Linda claimed that she had broken up with Kirk.  I was friends with Kirk, and Daniella had become friends with Linda, and Daniella told me everything that Linda had told her, but I had kept my mouth shut about Kirk for over a month.  At first, it annoyed Daniella that I wouldn’t discuss what Kirk had said to me.  Then she respected me for being able to keep a friend’s secret, but then she became annoyed again.  From her point-of-view, enough was enough; I was her boyfriend, so I had to tell her what she wanted to know.  With a few cups of coffee in me, I told her everything.

I talked about how Kirk was back to having one-night-stands with drunk women.  I told her about how he thought it was good that he had broken up with Linda because he thought he would have eventually cheated on her anyway.  I even started talking about how Kirk and I were roommates in college, and how I had a cot set up in a friend’s room for the times when Kirk brought in a one-night-stand.  Kirk had some good qualities, but he liked his one-night-stands.  That was his character flaw.

While waiting in line at a department store, I told Daniella a few stories about Kirk’s college exploits.  The line was for three cash registers, and a couple dozen customers were in front of us, and it was a long post-Christmas line with loud kids and couples annoyed with each other.  I entertained Daniella with the story about the time Kirk staggered into our dorm room in the middle of the night with two women and told me one was for me.  Neither of the women looked healthy (I wasn’t a one-night-stand kind of guy anyway), so I declined and left for my friend’s room, and both women stayed with Kirk.  The room got kind of rowdy that night.

“You ever been with two women?” Daniella asked loudly enough for others in front to hear.  A bunch of conversations ahead of us stopped, and nobody looked in our direction, so I figured we were getting listened to.  I held on to Daniella’s items, a pair of jeans and a couple low-cut sweaters.

“At the same time?” I said.  “No.  Have you?”

“Two women or two guys?” she asked loudly.  I saw other people in line raise eyebrows at each other.

“Uh… I…I don’t think I want to know.”

Daniella locked eyes on me with her cheese-eating grin.  “I don’t do things like that,” she said with an innocent tone.  “I don’t know why people think I do.  I’m very careful.”

She had on her thick black glasses.  Her hair was pulled back.  She carried around a hardcover of Jane Eyre.  Strangers thought she was a librarian when she dressed like this and then would be shocked when she talked loudly about things librarians didn’t normally talk about.

“Well… you did sleep with me on the first date,” I said in a whisper.

Daniella’s grin disappeared.  “No, I didn’t,” she said slowly, confused.

“Yeah, you did,” I said, realizing that I had just said something stupid.  Stupid, stupid, stupid.  “I mean, that’s not what I… I don’t mean…”

“It was our second date,” she said decisively, the grin returning.  “After our first date, I went to work.”

“And then you came back that night,” I said.  I knew that I should have bailed out of this conversation, but I couldn’t help clarifying what she meant.  Stupid caffeine.

“I came back the next morning,” Daniella said.  “And that was our second date.”

“There was no date involved.  You just banged on the door, yelled at me, took a bath, and…”

“That was NOT part of our first date.  Once a person leaves, the date is over.  And I left.”

“And then you came back.”

“It was the next day when I came back.  When you come back the next day, it’s a different date.”

“Only a few hours had passed.  It was an extension of the first date.”

“It was a completely different day.  Different day means different date.”

We were next in line, but Daniella’s back was to the cashiers as we argued.

“I don’t know why you want to convince me,” she said.  “Do you really want to date a girl who sleeps…”  Daniella suddenly turned around and yelled out, “HEY!”

A woman with two toddler daughters had passed us and walked up to a register where the cashier was almost done.  The store quieted down again, and people from several clothing sections stopped what they were doing.

“You cut in front us,” Daniella said, pointing her finger right at the mother.

“There’re two other registers,” the mother said, gesturing to the other clerks who were still ringing up items.

“This line is for all three,” Daniella said.

“What line?” the mother said.

Daniella and I looked back, and we were the only ones in line now.  We hadn’t even realized it.

“We’ve been waiting here for ten minutes,” Daniella said to the mother, who turned and gave a bunch of items to the clerks.  All three clerks kept their heads down and rang up items.

“BITCH, DON’T ACT LIKE I’M NOT HERE!”

Daniella didn’t scream it, but her tone was so venomous that everybody froze.  She shoved her Jane Eyre onto my stack of her items and then gave me her glasses.  The two daughters stepped behind their mother.  The mom turned, her eyes widening.

“Whoa, whoa,” I said, stepping in front of Daniella and juggling everything.  “She probably didn’t know we were standing in line.”

“Are you taking her side?” Daniella’s eyes were narrow and getting red, and I knew I’d better phrase this carefully.

“You don’t need to get like this,” I said.  “It’s just a line.  We’ll be done in a couple minutes.”

“But she’s acting like we…”

“She has two kids,” I said.  “Even if she did this on purpose, you can’t fight over that in front of her kids.  It’ll mess them up.  A place in line isn’t worth it.”

“But that’s her fault for…” Then Daniella turned her back to the registers.  “Okay, you’re right.” She breathed in.  “You handle it then.”

I was going to pay for everything anyway, so I just walked right up to the next register which had miraculously opened up.

“The line was long,” I said to the cashier as I placed the clothes on the counter.

“I’m sorry about that,” the clerk said, but she looked tired and really nervous and kept glancing at Daniella.  The clerk was in worse shape than we were.

After the price came out to $70.23 (it was 20 years ago, so that probably wasn’t the real price, but I needed a good number), I gave the clerk four 20s and the 23 cents.  I monitored Daniella while she kept her eyes locked on the mother.  The cashier folded/bagged all the clothes and gave me the receipt.

“Thank you,” she said.  “I’m sorry about the wait.”

“Uh…” I said, suddenly uncomfortable again.  “I was supposed to get $10.00 in change.”

The cashier seemed perplexed.  “No sir.  You gave me exact change.”

“I gave you exact coins, but I gave you four 20s.  I should get 10 dollars back.”

“I counted it, sir,” she said.  “You gave me three 20s and a ten.”

I started to breathe hard.  I had counted it myself, and I hated getting ripped off.  “I know I gave you four 20s,” I said, my voice trembling.  I turned to Daniella.  “Didn’t I give her four 20s?”

Daniella shrugged.  “I’m still pissed about that bitch cutting in line.”

“I know I gave you four 20s,” I said to the clerk.

“Sir, you gave me exact change.”

“I want to talk to your supervisor,” I said.

Daniella put her hand on my arm.  “Jimmy, don’t be a dick,” she said.

“But I gave her four 20s.  I know I did.”

“It’s ten bucks.  Who cares?  Her manager might fire her if you complain too much.”

“But…”

“I don’t care about the ten bucks,” Daniella said softly.  “Don’t be a dick.”

“Okay,” I said, grabbing the bags.  The mother who had cut in line was gone, and a bunch of clerks were staring at us from their counters.  “But I know I gave her four 20s.”

My heart rate was still up as we walked through the parking lot.  “I promise you, I gave her four 20s,” I said.

Daniella giggled.  “Have you been drinking?”  At least one of us had calmed down, I thought.

“What, am I that bad?  It was ten dollars.”  I could really have used that ten dollars, but Daniella didn’t know that.

“You kept me from being a bitch,” Daniella said, brushing against me and sliding her arm around my waist.  “And I kept you from being a dick.  That’s the sign of a good couple.”

Good couple.  I thought maybe Daniella was teasing me with the irony.  I paid her bills, and she pretended to be the type of girl I could fall for, and somehow we were right for each other.  The truth was, I was getting attached to her, even if I knew that the relationship was temporary.  That moment, I regretted writing my brother those checks, but it was too late.  I unintentionally sighed, and Daniella glanced at me but didn’t ask anything.  We were a good couple, I thought, at least for a few more weeks.

++++

To be continued in… The Literary Girlfriend: The Designated Driver .

And to read “The Literary Girlfriend” from the beginning, start here.

9 Comments
  1. I had a similar experience with a cashier – but only to realize that I was wrong (I was sure I’d given her a $50 bill, only to find it still in my wallet 30 seconds later). That was really, really awkward.

  2. sbdiaries permalink

    dude, i’d still want my $10. Even if it’s just $10….
    call me weird.

  3. BIZAMBAMBA permalink

    Well, when you say Jane Eyre I just feel thrill cuz it’s the best book ever to me. However there are many amazing books.

  4. Is this me, because I just start reading this in the middle, or is this the weirdest book ever? Don’t get me wrong, I’m intrigued, I totally dig it. But it’s bizarre. Well done.

    Who is Jimmy Norman? I know who Samara is. I’m about to post a stupid awards thingey that tells you all about me. But Jimmy Norman is a compleeeeete mystery. He follows my blog on New Year’s Eve. He might be a woman. (Except that he writes in a man’s voice).

    I’m home, too. But I’m hungover from last night. They let me out of my cage for my yearly night out. WHO IS JIMMY NORMAN? I’m never going to have closure on this. But that’s what’s so cool about it. 6,252 people, and no one knows. Or do they?

    This is the coolest blog I’ve read in a while. I’ve decided to spend New Year’s eve reading this entire blog. Happy New Year, Jimmy. If that’s your name.

  5. This was hugely entertaining. Awesome job!

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