As a person with a largely unfortunate track record when it comes to relationships, I feel qualified to make the assertion that being broken up with can make you think like a crazy person. And I say that not in the context of “crazy girl for expressing valid emotions.” I say that in the context of…crazy person. Like, small-time criminal crazy.
Recently I was dropped like a hot coal by someone I, at the time, really liked. The details aren’t important, both because this isn’t about internet slander, and also because frankly details just don’t matter for the purposes of this illustration. One detail that does matter though, is that his car was kind of a mess. We’re talking, “Wait a second while I get in the driver’s side, you can only open the passenger door from the inside”, “I hope you don’t mind having the glovebox sit open on your lap because it doesn’t latch” and “Yeah, I know pretty much every warning light that could be on is on – I swear it’s fine” kind of a mess. Not to mention the first time he picked me up for a date, I walked up to him pouring water in some deep recess under the hood. I didn’t (and still don’t) care, though. My car has its own idiosyncrasies, and I’m not one to judge based on what you drive. However, I am one to file away little tidbits of information and later to recall them in opportune moments. Like the fact that his trunk, much like the glovebox, doesn’t latch properly. As in, you don’t need a key to open it.
When I was dishing with a very dear friend after I read the “yes, I’m breaking up with you” email, this fact resurfaced. And yes, to derail the story momentarily, that email was in response to a legitimate question from me, because our in-person conversation was so vague and evasive that I wasn’t sure if I’d just been dumped; for those of you who watch Parks & Recreation, it was a real-life Ann Perkins/Chris Traeger “breakup,” only far less frighteningly positive and earnest. I also don’t think he said “LITRALLY” once.
Anyhow, I half-jokingly mentioned the broken trunk latch as a means for revenge, and my friend said, “I think you should just throw a dead fish in his trunk. Ruined forever.” Our reasoning was that doing so wouldn’t actually HURT anyone; it would just be really really disgusting. And honestly, we were joking when we said all this, but deep down, I started to think, “Hmm…if I went by there reeeeallly early one morning…” Scary.
There are other examples. Another friend and I plotted to steal all the underwear from a guy who tossed me aside – that’s still one of my favorites. Because, honestly, it’s one thing to dream about sending vindictive emails or sabotaging any future relationships he might try to have. But it’s an entirely different and far more hilarious thing to think of the guy chafing uncomfortably while he tries to figure out why all his valuable electronics are intact, but all of his underwear is gone. Dreams about stealing and defacing personal property are not only much more satisfying, they’re also somehow more emotionally healthy. I encourage healthy delusions in my recovery processes.
But then sometimes, life hands you a gift on a shining silver platter.
For a little over a month, I dated a Princeton PhD student. Things just sort of fizzled ultimately, and I was mostly ok with how the nascent relationship ended. But I went – and still do go – to the town of Princeton fairly frequently. And for some time after the end of that relationship debacle, I was nervous every time I walked down Nassau Street. Take someone who already has minor paranoia about running into people unexpectedly, compound that with having the potential run-in be someone who broke up with you, and the result is a person who looks more like a felon on the lam than someone leisurely wandering down the street. I don’t hide my anxiety well.
A little over a year later, I was driving down one of the roads that runs perpendicular to the main drag in Princeton. Incidentally, that road also cuts through part of campus. Consequently there are several pedestrian crosswalks within a fairly short distance. I always try to be really cognizant of this and stop to let the walkers cross – you know, trying to build up good pedestrian karma so maybe people will actually stop for me when I’m the one walking (not to mention it’s the law). I had gotten through two stoplights and was coming up on the last crosswalk before I turned off the road, and I saw a handful of folks walking toward the crosswalk, so I slowed down. This put me as the car right in front of the crosswalk. And as I glanced at the couple of people who were walking across, I saw this guy loping behind a bit, so I figured, ah, ok I’ll wait for him to cross too.
I did a double-take. It was HIM. It was the PhD student, who I know for a fact doesn’t even live in Princeton anymore. But there he was, crossing the street right in front of my car. And I had this moment. It was a moment of disbelief and, well, evil.
“What would happen if, right now, I just let my foot off the gas? Just a little. Just enough to scare him and make him look up and see me grinning like a demon? Not going to commit manslaughter, just startle.”
It was a long moment.
Yet, in spite of overwhelming temptation, I didn’t do it. I kept my foot firmly on the brake pedal and let the pedestrians – even the flaky goof – cross unharmed and unfazed. But I smirked to myself in knowing that I, for once, was in a position of supreme power. And as much as I’d like to think that sort of attitude isn’t really like me, I know it is. Because while hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, crazy hath no truer manifestation than a woman spurned.