This is Part 6 of the story of How I Met Superman. To get caught up, you can find the preceding chapters here.
“Breaking up is hard to do,” says the song. But I didn’t know it would be so hard.
And it certainly never occurred to me that my boyfriend wouldn’t let me.
“Why?” Patrick said, pulling me out of earshot of my brothers, who were playing soccer in front of our house. We stood in front of my parents’ garage, Patrick frowning, seriously confused.
I mentioned the litany of name-calling and criticisms, but he shook his head. “I’m just kidding with you.”
I tried to stay strong. “I just don’t think we’re right for each other.”
He blew out a breath, pulled me toward his chest, told me I was being irrational. He convinced me to give him another try. It didn’t truly occur to me that calling me irrational was precisely the problem, but I told you I was weak.
“Maybe,” I said, in my traditionally wimpy way. “But only two more weeks.”
He nodded. “Done.”
He looked so confident.
I felt so hopeful.
But only a few days into our “trial period,” I had to remind him again: As we shuffled to English class, I had to shake my head. “Telling me I’m klutzy is not being kind,” I whispered.
“Of course,” he’d say. He’d take my books to carry them for me. He’d kiss my temple. He’d smile, and say he was a changed man.
But a day later, he’d slip. Again.
And I sadly realized that it just wasn’t in the cards for him to treat me kindly. This I suddenly — sadly — knew. …
Keith got on the phone with me one night and listened while I traced circles on my parents’ bedspread, running my finger along the edges where the moonlight shone. “I think he’s trying,” I said hopefully. “I think he wants to make it work.”
“He’s not going to change in two weeks, Laurie,” he said softly.
I sighed. I knew.
“He told me you deserve what you get,” he said, seemingly embarrassed for his friend. His words were halted: “He said you’ll break up with him and end up with someone like Sanchez.”
I looked up sharply and readjusted the curly-cue phone cord. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Patrick knows you watch him,” he said. “Chris can be a player, Laurie. You need someone who will be sweet to you.” I could hear him working on something on his end of the call. He was always tinkering with old phones.
“I think you have Chris all wrong. He seems very sweet.”
Keith laughed, low. “That’s what he would want you to think. Trust me on this one.”
I thought back over the details I’d gathered: I reviewed the smile. The troublemaking brother. The quiet intensity. I didn’t really associate him with any broken-hearted girls I knew, but I realized it could have gone either way. But something kept making me curious. He just seemed so nice. …
“What do you know about him?” I asked hesitantly.
“Not much.” Keith sighed. “Would knowing make you happy?”
“I’ll see what I can do. … But in the meantime, just know that Patrick is not going to change. You’re not going to last two weeks.”
And, as usual, Keith was right.
Two weeks with a boy you know you’re going to break up with is torture. I didn’t really want to make it work anymore. I’d received a boost of confidence from my girlfriends and from Keith, and some verification that any attempts to try again were mostly my attempts, and I kept telling myself that if Patrick had to work this hard just to be nice to me, I really needed to stay out of his way.
Debi moved at the beginning of that month, and I was devastated. I cried almost every day. On the weekend, Patrick brought me cassette tapes he’d made to cheer me, and an enormous tin of chocolate-covered Oreos. Neither cheered me sufficiently, but the effort, I had to admit, was sweet.
Yet – despite already losing a friend closest to me – in a strangely swift move, I broke up with him on my driveway three days before Christmas.
I’d gathered my courage. And being unhappy with him still seemed worse than being alone.
“Maybe we could be friends,” I said hopefully.
He looked at me like I’d just said I wanted to run his puppy over. “Friends?” he spit out.
“I don’t want to be your friend, Laurie.” He said the word like it was something disgusting.
I was sincerely confused. I think most girls are confused by this concept. To a girl, being friends is better than not speaking. To a boy, however, being friends is worse.
“So we won’t be friends, then?” I asked, a little skeptical.
He shook his head.
Again – clueless, me. I thought he was exaggerating. But he meant it. He walked away that afternoon, without looking back, and tried to never speak to me again. If it hadn’t been for Superman, actually, perhaps he never would have. …
Click here for Part 7: Sidling Up to Superman. …