The Predicament of the Week from October 26, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I was rather honored to have been the elected The Predicament of The Week the last time I wrote. I write again to update you on the latest development. I’m sorry to take up so much of your time.
I don’t know if it was a coincidence or a divine intervention of your Superhero-ness, but after I last wrote, I met this incredibly interesting woman who is in many ways similar to Golden Girl (scary thought, isn’t it?) except that she’s Japanese.
I have a very tight-knit group of friends who are acerbic, iconoclastic, with oh-so strange senses of humor and she fits right in, like fresh cod in steamed spring rolls. She can take it and she can dish it, so to speak. She can drink all of us under the table, and yet, look so damn elegant at the same time. This is a woman with “passion and intelligence born of living and the ability to move or be moved by the subtleties of mind and spirit.” This is a woman to whom the difference between a pasture and meadow seemed important. Words just flow out of her lips like “the silver apples of the moon/the golden apples of the sun.” This I describe with the utmost objectivity I can muster, I swear.
Here’s the catch. She is relocating away, for economic reasons. What seems inevitable is a choice of pursuing a long distance relationship or “fogeddaboudit.” I have a feeling that she had been understandably holding back on her feelings because of the impending move. I too did not pressure her to say anything for or against a possible relationship. What’s the point, really? You can’t give an answer when you don’t have it, right?
I have continued sending her flowers and cooking her pasta and going for classical concerts with her in the meantime while the uncertainty hangs in the wet and humid air. Generally opening up my heart as per your advice, I find myself on a cross road again, seeking more advice. I’m mature enough to let someone “go” and resign myself to treasure whatever time I can spend with her before her departure. But my heart sinks as I stand here again on my balcony, the wind chimes are motionless, but Puccini is on the radio. They say when you fall in love you hear Puccini in your head, but the music is somewhat static tonight.
In my own quiet way, I continue to love her. On the surface, I put up a cheerful face and try not to burden her with my sadness of the impending loss. Inside, I wonder if God is testing me (yeah, like, for sainthood?). Is it always THIS difficult? Will too many good byes kill a man?
— El Duderino
Dear Duderino Dos,
Back on the balcony, huh? Well, I will say that your muse sounds like a truly righteous babe. And I am so sorry she’s splitting. That SUCKS.
But now I need to get a little more hardcore. With all due respect, Dude, your prose is as purple as the fresh eggplant in Breakup Girl’s favorite dish at Lemongrass. I am not saying that it’s not often lovely and evocative. And I am not criticizing you as a writer/editor, I am trying to help you out as a superhero. Because if we take to heart the truism that language is thought, then what I am saying is that if you edit down your prose — that is, not so much in your letters to Breakup Girl, but in the way you tell yourself the story of your life — then you will edit down your angst.
See, to quote myself, it “sucks” that your Mimi is splitting. It just “sucks.” No poetry there. No iambic pentameter, no opera seria, no symbolism. It does not MEAN anything. It is not a “test” or anything else otherwise epic or fateful. I said to open up your heart (whatever that really means); I didn’t say the very next person who enjoyed your risotto would, like magic, step in. And remember, I also diagnosed you as an artist at heart. And what you are doing now — still — is Artifying Life. Heck, fair enough, that’s why we have … art. And, of course, you’re doing your job as a sentient human, which is: to ascribe make-sense-of-it meaning to stuff. But what if your approach were a little more … Mamet? Life and love have enough drama all by themselves, without your punching up the script.Don’t lose the passion and beauty and richness of everything/one you love and enjoy, but do break down the fourth wall.
So if you actually do want to declare your love, I warmly invite you to do so. Why not? It’s not some divine hand that’s making you a lonely martyr; it’s the one you’re writing with. So if you do go for it, do both of you a favor: don’t send her up to your balcony so you can Romeo your plea from below. Just: tell her.
PS And should you need additional practical advice, read my column on long-distance relationships.