One minute, you’re walking along through life, trying to figure out what it is you’re going to do for dinner — maybe you’ll be really ambitious and buy a cookbook, or maybe you’ll just order Chinese food because that other thing sounds like a lot of work. Maybe you’re just sitting in a coffee shop, minding your own business, playing your favorite game. My personal favorite is called “Let’s Lie to Everybody!” and the rules are very simple: When someone asks you what you’re doing with your life, you say, “I’m working on a screenplay!” It’s a lie. You aren’t.
Or maybe you’re in the shower, listening to your boyfriend brush his teeth — because you’re so close that you can both be in the bathroom at the same time — thinking about how great it is that your ingrown toenail has sorted itself out. Then your boyfriend pointedly clears his throat. He finishes brushing his teeth. He says, “Look,” clears his throat again, and breaks up with you. While you’re in the shower.
“Oh my, wait, this can’t actually be happening, can it? This is something that only happens in Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” you say to yourself as your boyfriend breaks up with you while you’re in the shower. “I was gonna order Chinese food,” you whisper, stark naked and dripping wet, standing in front of your boyfriend who just broke up with you while you were in the shower. Then he starts to pack his duffel bag. He starts to leave with all of his worn-out T-shirts that you really love sleeping in, and you’re just not ready to part with those T-shirts. You’re just not ready.
You try bargaining with him, naked. “Chinese food! I’ll pay! Totally on me!” But he doesn’t want to do that because he thinks that eating dinner together after breaking up would be inappropriate, and also, you are naked. You start threatening him. “If you leave now, I will make sure the Chinese food place knows that you broke up with me while I was in the shower and they won’t ever serve you again!” And then he’s gone. And the shirts are gone.
You don’t move for a while. You stand there, air-drying, not quite sure what to do. You wonder for a brief moment if you’re dead. You move your arm, but suddenly realize that that thing isn’t your arm anymore. Maybe it was your arm before your boyfriend broke up with you while you were in the shower, but surely in this brave new world, there are no arms. There isn’t anything. There’s just this numb pit where your stomach used to be. “At least it was a clean break,” you say to the empty room, and expect to laugh. But you don’t.
Then your phone goes off, and suddenly you’re alive and you have arms and you’re vaulting yourself across the room. It’s a text from Your Boyfriend Who Broke Up with You While You Were in the Shower! “I left some old takeout in the fridge, you’re welcome to eat it. Sorry.” You realize that eating his old takeout is the closest you’ll ever come to having dinner with him again, and in that moment, your heart splits.
Some days you wake up and you’re fine, then you see a romantic Verizon advertisement plastered on the side of a bus and you turn into a human black hole of despair. You walk out of your apartment on St. Patrick’s Day and it smells like beer, and Your Boyfriend Who Broke Up with You While You Were in the Shower drank beer sometimes, so you cry. You’ve become prone to these random, irrational crying sessions in public. When that happens you usually duck into a Starbucks and start cleaning the condiments table to distract yourself. Inevitably, one of the employees asks you what you’re doing, and you leave. You’re running out of Starbucks locations close to your apartment.
You used to be terrified of construction sites, but now you begin walking under them on purpose, fingers crossed that something will fall and your injury will serve as an excuse for feeling this way. You try to go to the gym, but suddenly you realize how depressing your entire iPod is. You’d think you have clinical depression if you didn’t already know that you have clinical depression. You watch Something’s Gotta Give three times in a row and begin to feel that maybe Diane Keaton is your spirit animal, so you buy a bowler hat. You wear it once and take it back. You start watching the It Gets Better campaign videos and pretend that they were made specifically for you and not at-risk gay teens. You stop showering. The shower is where the bad things happen.
Your friends tell you that this is a great thing, really. Now you can focus on yourself. But you have zero desire to focus on yourself. You look in the mirror and try to happily say, “Yay, I’m single! Now I can paint my nails whimsical colors and eat cake without being judged!” but it doesn’t take. You worry that your cat is depressed because she misses Your Boyfriend Who Broke Up with You While You Were in the Shower — she’s sleeping all the time, overeating, and spending a lot of time by herself. Then you remember that she’s a cat.
One afternoon you go and see Jack the Giant Slayer by yourself, but start crying uncontrollably at the movie trailer for The Host. You cry even harder at the Man of Steel extended trailer, and suddenly deeply identify with super villains. “DO THE WRONGED NOT HAVE A RIGHT TO SEEK JUSTICE?” you whisper out loud to the three other people who are seeing Jack the Giant Slayer at 3 in the afternoon. They have, almost certainly, also recently been dumped while in the shower.
Then, a few weeks later, you go out to a bar. You sit there and drink by yourself, and you feel a little bit liberated and powerful. You’re not wearing your favorite turtleneck for once, so you think maybe your alluring collarbones will attract an off-duty food truck owner or an intramural sports star. A guy buys you a drink (a cute guy, which makes you suspicious). He doesn’t mention your collarbones — strike one — but he’s funny and his drink doesn’t have any fruit on the rim, so he might even be straight. And then he tells you that his name is Molar and he makes toys for a living. You sprint home and decide to never drink alone (in public) again.
Your therapist tells you to look for the lesson this breakup has taught you. You think that’s a wonderful thought, so you go to a yoga class to center yourself and find peace. You walk in and see a guy who looks nothing like Your Boyfriend Who Broke Up with You While You Were in the Shower, but this guy is still wearing a shirt, which reminds you of those shirts your Boyfriend Who Broke Up with You While You Were in the Shower took with him when he left you forever. You silently begin to cry and walk out, desperately looking for a Starbucks to tidy.
You go to a palm reader to see if she knows what the lesson you’re supposed to have learned is — also you just want to have another human touch you in any capacity, even if it’s tracing your hand wrinkles. You might go in for a hug at the end; you are paying her 20 bucks for this sham. She tells you that you’ll travel to Europe and find love there, so you pull up your bank account statement on your phone and wave it in her face saying, “EUROPE? REALLY? EUROPE? REALLY?” You ask her if there are any nearby construction sites. She doesn’t know.
And then one minute, you’re walking along through life, trying to figure out what it is you’re going to do for dinner — and there’s Your Boyfriend Who Broke Up with You While You Were in the Shower, walking down the street right toward you. You wonder if the person walking next to you would mind if you used them as a human shield, or briefly switched bodies with them, or would be willing to just kill you. You think about yelling “Fire!’” You start bargaining with a higher power, offering your fertility, your job, your soul in exchange for an asteroid to strike the planet and save you from this moment. You think about jumping in front of a bus. You think about a bus jumping in front of you. You are not thinking clearly.
Before you can think of a way to avoid it, you’re standing in front of Your Boyfriend Who Broke Up with You While You Were in the Shower. Then something very remarkable happens: You talk to him. You don’t melt into a puddle of depressed semi-matter, no buses jump in front of you. You just do the unthinkable and talk to him for a cordial 30 seconds, and then you each go your separate ways. Maybe you cry afterward. Maybe you don’t. Either way, you go home and take a long shower.
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