This morning the Professor and I broke up.
This is impressive, because I have known the Professor only three weeks and we have been out on fewer than four dates (and that’s only if you count my being in his bed as a”date”) and we have never even discussed a relationship aside from that one time he brought it up and I threw up in my mouth a tiny bit.
The Professor believes in love at first sight and a few Fridays ago apparently I was the first thing he ever saw. It’s funny, in a way, because he doesn’t know me at all and in fact doesn’t even want to know me. He simply loves me and that is that. And when I tried to relay to him a disturbing and also perhaps humorous anecdote about this time in junior high when I accidentally got drunk and mooned the principal, he shushed me and said, “I just want to look at you…” which is code for, “Please shut the fuck up because when you speak it totally destroys the version of the person I want you to be.”
While it didn’t take me long to figure out that the Professor and I were going to be short-lived, I thought maybe we could play it out until after the holidays. But when he told me that he was planning to buy me an iPhone for Christmas, I was forced to call it off right then and there. To me, there is nothing that screams “lifelong commitment” louder than the gift of an iPhone.
“I’m sorry,” I told him. “It’s just that I’m retarded.”
“Did you really just say what I think you said? Do you have any idea how offensive that is to me?”
“But I was talking about myself…”
“Listen. I used to be a volunteer softball coach for children with Down Syndrome, okay? And when you use that word you sound completely clueless.”
“But I wasn’t even talking about that. I wasn’t calling anyone else a retard, I was just…”
“COULD YOU PLEASE STOP TALKING?”
And that was pretty much Break Up Number One.
Break Up Number Two came three nights later, when he showed up at my door drunk and crying.
The Professor told me from the beginning that he was the single most emotionally healthy person he knew. Considering that I am really only partially functional, and even then only with a consistent dose of anti-anxiety pills, I found that daunting. I wasn’t even sure what it could mean.
As it turns out, “emotionally healthy” means that you let your emotions spiral completely out of control and you cling to a woman you barely know as though you were a drowning man and she a little plastic bottle floating by, which might be buoyant if kept above water, but there is no cap and in your manic state you keep shoving it under as you try to mount it and it is just filling with water and sinking and it was never going to save you anyway. You dumbass.
During Break Up Number Two, the Professor forced me to be mean.
He had shown up with his big, beautiful St. Bernard, Everest, and when I sternly told the Professor that he had to leave, he actually said, “Everest is confused because he is not sure if you are saying he can spend the night or if you are just not sure yet.”
The next morning the Professor called and acted as though nothing had happened, and wanted to know why I was talking to him as though I were a grocery store clerk.
“I don’t even know you, and you showed up here drunk and crying last night with your dog…”
“Listen. Could you please not call Everest ‘your dog’?”
“He has a name. It just sounds so coarse to hear you talking about him like that.”
I didn’t even break up after that. I just started hoping he would go away.
Let’s back up a little here, because I’m starting to feel like a jerk. To be fair, the Professor has the most beautiful teeth I have ever seen; he blithely runs eight miles a day; at some point in his illustrious past he was apparently a volunteer coach for mentally challenged children; and according to some weird paperwork from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that he just happened to leave lying around in his bathroom, he has a genius level IQ.
He has all of those things going for him. And I’ll be the first to say it: that’s a lot. It really is. The only really problem for us, then, I think, was that he was emotionally very fit.
Oh, and maybe the part about my not being allowed to talk.
Okay. So anyway. The Professor just kept calling and sending me texts saying he loved me and I mostly ignored him but I might have done a little French prostitute number that possibly complicated things somewhere in there. Break Up Numbers Three through Five quickly followed, and were all as equally muddied and inconclusive as the first two.
By Break Up Number Six I didn’t even care anymore and I simply sent a text that said, “Dear Professor, I regret to inform you that I will no longer be attending your class. Ever. However, I think I still deserve an A.”
And just to be clear, I am not his student.
There were a couple of days of nothing in there, and I figured it was finally over. This morning I got a generic “Happy New Year” text and I thought it was sweet. Being completely fucked up, I really appreciated it, even. But the Professor was just waiting until my guard was down to flex those huge emotional muscles in my face.
“We need to see each other. Tonight.”
I quickly responded as though I had not yet seen the second text.
“You too! Happy New Year to you and your dog from the retard!”