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The Literary Girlfriend: The Lull

April 16, 2014

Emma and Literary Girlfriend

Most of the time, I could understand why Daniella was dishonest. She lied about her job, telling everybody that she was a paralegal when she really danced topless at Nero’s, but I understood that because she didn’t want my friends to think of her a certain way. She also lied about all the classic novels she read, but I did that too, so I didn’t have a problem with it. All those lies, however, were directed at other people. Now my boss was telling me that he had met my girlfriend at our church’s Thursday night Bible study. Daniella had been telling me she was picking up some other dancers before her shift at Nero’s.

This wasn’t the time to think about it. I was at my cubicle talking to my boss with a bunch of co-workers standing around. I didn’t want them to think I was clueless about my own girlfriend’s religious activities, so I tried to play it off.

“Bible study? I’d forgotten about that.” I hoped that I sounded convincing.

“Your personalities are very different,” my boss said. I knew he meant that Daniella was hot and personable while I was average-looking and boring. “How did you two ever meet?”

“Library,” I said. That was better than explaining the whole laundry room story. “Both of us read books.”

My boss and co-workers nodded. My boss patted me on the back.

“Maybe we’ll see you at Bible study tomorrow night,” he said.

“I… uh… maybe,” I said. Everybody laughed, including my boss.

I wasn’t sure how to handle this revelation. If I had found out that Daniella had been cheating on me, or had maxxed out my credit cards, or had stolen furniture again, I would have had a reason to be angry, but this was going to Bible study. How could I get angry that my “soul mate” girlfriend was going to Bible study?

Maybe I could ask her about it, maybe I could tell her how I’d found out about it, but then Daniella would have to explain why she was going, and that would cause a new problem. If she wasn’t telling me about Bible study, then she wouldn’t want me to know why. I was pretty sure she wasn’t interested in the Bible.

Now that I thought about it, something else gnawed at me too. Darren B. Smelley, the defense attorney with the obnoxious television ads, was leaving messages for Daniella on our answering machine about twice a week. He never said what he was calling about. He just kept telling her to call him back.

“What did he want?” I had asked once, trying to be casual.

“I think he expects me to get in trouble again,” she had said with a grin. “Can you believe that? Me? Getting into more legal trouble?”

Part of me wanted to be suspicious. Smelley had money and notoriety, a combination that was an aphrodisiac to women like Daniella. At the same time, I didn’t want to be that kind of boyfriend. How could I be a soul mate and then make accusations of unfaithfulness? It would be very uncool. But if she was lying about going to Bible study, maybe she was lying about Smelley too.

Between the Bible study and the Smelley phone calls, I could feel the paranoia stirring inside me. But instead of acting suspicious, that evening I stopped by a local bookstore (this was in the early 1990s when there were more local bookstores) and bought the new release of a trashy romance by Daniella’s favorite author and stuck in a few bookmarks, since I didn’t approve of the way Daniella folded the corners of pages. I figured if I surprised her with a new book, she wouldn’t wonder why I was being so quiet, and I knew I was going to be unusually quiet, even by my standards. This whole Bible study thing left me with a lot to think about, and if I tried not to think about it, I wouldn’t be able to stop.

“What are you trying to tell me?” Daniella asked when I gave her the book. She waved the book marks in my face.

I just laughed. I had just bought her an overpriced hardcover, and she was ticked off at the bookmarks.

Daniella tossed them aside. “The store charges for these.”

“But they have such positive messages about reading on them,” I said. The bookmarks had only cost a nickel, but that wasn’t the point. It was the principle of the bookmark that bothered Daniella.

“If it makes you feel any better,” I said, “I swiped them when the cashier wasn’t looking.”

“Really?” Daniella asked, eye-balling me.

“A nickel for a bookmark is highway robbery,” I said. I was lying about stealing the bookmarks, but she was lying to me by omission about the Bible study, and probably lying about Darren B. Smelley, so I figured we were even.

“You’re full of shit,” she said sweetly.

“It was the least the bookstore could do.”

Daniella hugged me around the waist. ”You stole something for me.”

“You’re a bad influence.”

“You’re fun to corrupt,” she said. “Let’s go roll a homeless guy.”

“They don’t have any money,” I said flippantly. Then I thought about her comment. “Wait a minute! Have you ever…”

Daniella didn’t say anything, and I’m pretty sure her expression didn’t change at all except for a little lip tightening, but I knew as soon as I asked.

“You have,” I said. “You’ve rolled a homeless guy!”

“It’s not like that,” Daniella said, tightening her hug. “I was in high school, I swear. I was with some guys, they were drunk, and we didn’t hurt him, I swear.”

“I can’t believe you did that,” I said. I knew Daniella’s history of violence, and I knew her other victims had deserved what they’d gotten. But a homeless guy? “Did he threaten you or something?”

“No, I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t hang around those people anymore. I’m with you.”

Things were going so well between us that the homeless guy thing didn’t bother me. After all, it was in her past. And I had decided early on that I wasn’t going to worry about Daniella’s past.

In fact, arguing about bookmarks was about as serious as our conflicts got. Live-in girlfriends were supposed to be hell on guys once the girlfriends took over the apartment, but Daniella wasn’t like that. We never had the screaming, raging fights that couples were supposed to have. We watched the same movies, read quietly (or pretended to) at the same time. I didn’t make fun of her trashy romances, and she didn’t make snide comments about my sword&sorcery books with paintings of half-naked women on the cover (there were also barbarians and monsters, but that wasn’t where the eyes went first). We agreed where to eat out, and she didn’t complain when I cooked. Daniella never even asked me what I was thinking. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that Daniella was turning into the calming influence that my mom had mentioned at Christmas. But in the back of my mind, there was always the lying.

I wondered, what kind of woman has a shyster lawyer leaving messages a couple times a week? And what kind of woman lied about going to Bible study? A part of me didn’t want to find out.


To be continued in… The Literary Girlfriend: The Good Break Up .

If you want to read “The Literary Girlfriend” from the beginning, start here.

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  1. nice book love it

  2. Still gripping:)

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