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The Literary Girlfriend: The Sunset Rises

March 10, 2014

Old Man and LIterary Girlfriend

“How do you kill yourself by putting your head in an oven?” Daniella asked once when we were just sitting around in the apartment.  “Wouldn’t that hurt too much?”  Daniella had started reading poetry a couple weeks earlier, including some Sylvia Plath.  “Seriously, how could she keep her head still while her face was burning up?  Jesus Christ, it would have been easier just to jump off a bridge.”

“Gas,” I said.  “Oven.”  I breathed in deeply.

Daniella processed the information and then snapped, “You didn’t have to say it like that!”

With poetry, Daniella had finally found her thing.  She admitted that she had never been a good reader or a good student.  She barely finished high school, and she never went to college.  To her, it had all seemed pointless.  But now that she had incentive to read, she went full force.  Daniella wanted to maintain that soft, educated image she had with my friends and the churchgoers at St. Luke’s.  Jane Austen novels were a bit much for her, so instead she devoured poetry by female authors.  By “devour,” I mean that she actually read a couple poems from each book.  She had purchased (with her own money, not mine) an Emily Dickinson volume, and collections by Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, and despite my opposition, she wore a dark beret while carrying the poetry with her.  The beret might have been pretentious on most women, but it worked for her.  Maybe I was just biased.

Daniella was also determined to fit in at church.  She swiped a copy of The Book of Common Prayer from St. Luke’s and memorized the order of the service and a few prayers so that she could look like she knew what she was doing.  She checked the psalm list at the beginning of each service so that she could familiarize herself with the words.  She couldn’t read music, but after the first verse, she could sing the rest of the song.  She had to be a member of the church to be in the choir, and she had to get confirmed, and she was strongly thinking about that.  So as the weeks went by, Daniella became familiar with church and poetry, poetry and church.

Daniella even began writing poetry of her own:

“I grind my ass on a sweaty guy’s crotch/

I dream of getting drunk on the beach and watching the sunset rise/

The sweaty guy hands me a twenty.”

I told Daniella that it was a good start, but it wasn’t fair for her to recite poetry about Nero’s while at the same time she kept telling me not to dwell on her job.  I also wanted to ask her about the phrase “watching the sunset rise.”  I wasn’t sure if the wording was a mistake or something deep.  With Daniella, it was often tough to tell.

One night as I was drifting off into sleep, Daniella whispered:

“My naïve boyfriend sees an angel/ Oh, how I have blinded him.”

What? After thinking about it for a few minutes,  I sat up.  Daniella was already on her side snoring, but she might have been faking, and I knew what would happen with my angel if she were truly asleep and I woke her up.  I wasn’t going to take that chance.

I was making breakfast the next morning when Daniella startled me from behind.  She was wearing my Judge Dredd t-shirt (this was before the horrible Sylvester Stallone movie when Judge Dredd was a respectable comic book that was funny and relevant), but she had cut off the sleeves and the bottom of the shirt.  This was blatant showing off, and part of me was annoyed that she had cut up my shirt without permission.  Usually when girlfriends cut up boyfriends’ clothes (it had never happened to me), it meant that the relationship had come to a melodramatic end.  But if the girlfriend was still wearing the cut-up clothes and looked good in the cut-up clothes and knew that she looked good in the cut-up clothes, something else was going on.  The jeans shorts she wore were hers.  She never wore my shorts.  She’d worn my boxers before (after they’d been washed), but never my shorts.

Daniella wrapped her arms around my waist and squeezed hard.  Even though we weren’t in love with each other, Daniella could be affectionate.  With all of her over-cursing and trouble-making, sometimes I forgot how affectionate she could be. I’d never had such an affectionate girlfriend before.  My previous literary girlfriends may have actually read the books they carried around, but sometimes they could be reluctant to show affection.

“What’s going on?” I said, trying to lean into her and maintain control of my scrambled eggs at the same time.

“I’m just feeling you this morning,” she said.

Daniella was about to break up with me so she could find a rich guy to marry at church, and she was suddenly “feeling” me.  Her hair was messed up, she hadn’t brushed her teeth, and she had cut up my Judge Dredd t-shirt without my permission, but I didn’t care.  Daniella was feeling me.

“You still luuuuuvvvvv me, don’t you?” she said.

I smiled and scrambled the eggs.

“What if I got fat?” she said and released me.  “What if I grew a mustache and my arms and legs got hairy, and I turned into a giant, furry blob?  Would you still luuuuuuuuuvvvvvv me?”

Her hands were on her hips, and she stuck her chest out so that the shirt tipped up and I could see her navel.  She was serious.

“I don’t think you’d let that happen,” I said.

“What if I got pregnant?” she said.  Both of us were silent for a moment.  Then she said, “You’d marry me, wouldn’t you?”

I knew not to ask the question that I wanted to ask, I knew not to, but a woman can’t drop the rhetorical pregnancy bombshell like that and not expect a question about it, but I was pretty sure she wasn’t pregnant and that she was going somewhere with this interrogation, so I resisted the urge to ask.

“I’d probably offer,” I said.

“But you wouldn’t want to,” she said.

I almost laughed.  “I can’t see us married.”

“But you’d do it.  Even if you didn’t want to.”

I didn’t like the sound of this.  The pit in my stomach started flaring up.  Something was going on.

“I’m not pregnant,” she said.  “I was thinking about making you think I was.  But I won’t do that to you.”

“Thank you,” I said.  I was still nervous.

“I don’t want to get married to you,” Daniella said.  “And… I don’t want to get married to a rich guy just to divorce him.  And… I decided that I don’t want to break up with you yet.”

I was blindsided.  This was our whole plan, to break up so that she’d marry/divorce a rich guy.  I knew that Daniella tended to improvise while I liked to stick to a plan, but this was more than improvising.  This sounded like she was abandoning our plan.  If she didn’t want to marry a rich guy, and she didn’t want to break up with me, then I had no idea what was going.  I didn’t mind not breaking up with her, but I wanted to know what was going on.

“What?” she said.  My face must have had a weird expression.

“I’m out of money,” I said.  “And if you’re not using me to get into an Episcopal church, then what good am I?”

“I’m still using you,” Daniella said in such a sweet way that I couldn’t get offended.  “I have a new plan.”

A new plan?  This didn’t help my stomach pain at all.  Daniella had a new plan.  I had no clue about what she had just come up with, but I was pretty sure her new plan was going to be a really bad idea.


To be continued in… The Literary Girlfriend: Feeling You .

If you want to read “The Literary Girlfriend” from the beginning (it’s gotten kind of long), start here.

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  1. I love the twists and turns of this. I don’t know why, but it just popped into my mind that this would make a great serial radio play. Or a Youtube play, if such a thing exists.

  2. Veronica permalink

    Damn you, Jimmy Norman… and your stupid cliff hangers!

    • Ouch… that was a little harsh. Ha ha!

      • Veronica permalink

        Take it as a compliment. You write very well. Case in point: I read The Writing Prompt in one sitting.

        • Well then, thank you! And if you’ve read The Writing Prompt, then you can curse at me all you want. Not that The Writing Prompt causes people to curse at me. It’s just that if a person spends money on an author, then the person has the right to curse at the author (to an extent). I think it’s a fair trade-off.

  3. tamsinblogspot permalink

    this girlfriend looks like a bookworm hoe

    • “Bookworm ho”? I’ve never heard that phrase before. Did you make that up, or are there enough “bookworm hos” for there to be a category? If somebody were called a “bookworm ho,” would it be an insult? Would Daniella get mad and take off her earrings?

      • tamsinblogspot permalink

        I made that up.. and it can be both good or bad, depending on how you look at it. im saying the girl needs to put her cleavage away just a bit, but shes awesome 🙂

  4. Dammit! Why did you stop? Nooooo! What’s the plan?? I hate your cliffhangers.

    • Why am I getting cursed at on my own blog? This is the second time today that a commenter has “damned” or “dammitted” me. I think I’ve been cursed at on my own blog once in two-and-a-half years, and today it happens twice in one day. What are the odds?

      • Well, this is one time you can say it is a good thing. Your cliffhangers make waiting around for the next installment murder. This is why I don’t watch TV. I’m impatient. But really, what’s the plan? 🙂

  5. Hahaha, I love having twists in stories that I read. Its exhilirating!

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