Lovers and the losers living in the past

“Wow, that was a terrific date, Rachel.”

“Yeah.”

“This is your place, huh? Pretty cool.”

“Yeah.”

“I’m just glad you finally agreed to go on a date with me. I’ve had a crush on you ever since the first day of geology class. Most guys would have given up after the first couple attempts, but when you sense it’s someone really special . . . I mean, with you, Rachel, I just have a gut feeling that-“

“Sorry to interrupt, Mike, but could you please not sit there?”

“Not sit where? On the couch?”

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“Yeah, especially that corner of the couch. That’s where Todd always used to sit.”

“Todd?”

“My ex. Every time he was here at my apartment, he would always sit right on that corner of the couch and cross his right leg over his left. Mike, could you please stop doing that? It just brings back so many memories.”

“Sorry, Rachel. I didn’t realize. How about if I just, um, stand here next to the couch?”

“Well . . . you know. Todd used to stand there when he was feeling anxious.”

“Then how about if I stand over here next to the TV?”

“But then you’re blocking the enlarged photograph of Todd from the night he took me out to see ‘Mortal Kombat 3’ for the sixth time. How about if you stand over there between the radiator and the potted palm?”

“Sure thing. I’m sorry to bring back unwanted memories.”

“Oh, that’s all right, Mike. I mean, it’s not your fault that Todd just waltzed into my life and ravished my poor, innocent heart, is it?”

“Um . . . no.”

“Is it your fault that he shredded my naive romanticism in the garbage disposal of his callous cynicism and left me so devastated that I didn’t leave my bedroom for six days and survived off candy corn and powdered milk? Is it? Is it!?!”

“Well, no, I guess not.”

“Of course it isn’t! I mean, is it your fault that some heartless bastard named Todd deceived me into believing that I was the only one for him when secretly he was cheating on me in my own bathtub with a blonde botanist named Bernice who had chronic body odor?”

“He was?”

“He told me he needed 20 minutes in there because he didn’t eat enough fiber!”

“Gosh. What a rotten thing to do. I’m sorry. You and Todd must have had an intense relationship.”

“Oh, yes! They were the three most amazing months of my life. But I’m totally over it. I mean, it’s been three years since the breakup and I only think about him, what, 17 to 24 times a day? I’m completely over him. I never even think back on the funny things he used to say or how he always forgot to button the middle button on his cardigan sweater or his endearing habit of borrowing my car without asking and the adorable way he used to leave his muddy shoes in the middle of my living room carpet and the cute little belch he always let out after he finished eating or the way made me melt when he said that I would be the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen if only I had bluer eyes and a butt more like Jennifer Lopez and more rounded lips and was about a foot taller and lost the gap between my front teeth. I’ve wiped all that from my memory. It’s like he never even existed.”

“Well, good for you. Do you think I could get a glass of water?”

“Sniffle.”

“What?”

“Todd used to drink water.”

“Don’t cry! I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to make you cry! Gosh, Rachel, I feel like I’ve made an awful mess of things.”

“You couldn’t have known.”

“Well, for what it’s worth, I think you’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen in my life. Period. Without any changes or alterations, and I think I would be the happiest man in the world if I were just able to spend some more time here with you, just talking about whatever you wanted to talk about, you know? Just hanging out together.”

“Oh, Mike. That’s so sweet. But you know, actually I’d really rather you left.”

“Oh. Okay.”

“It’s nothing personal. It’s just, what if we’re hanging out together here and all of a sudden the phone rings and it’s Todd and he’s decided all of a sudden he wants to dump his new fiancee, Bernice, and take me back? If he found out you were here he might feel like I was going behind his back and call it off. I’d hate to spoil a good thing.”