i’m pretty sure the right adjective for that is ‘unrequited’.Posted: November 8, 2009
It’s past midnight, the sky is a light gray and a quiet rain acknowledges pedestrian faces every few moments. Three figures are standing at a table under a vinyl canopy, surrounded by people they will never see again. In the middle of the table sits a glass ashtray, surrounding it a mixed drink and a pint of Guinness for someone to cry into. One of them, standing behind the Guinness, is recognized to be Simon, a hopeless romantic in his own over-exaggerated way. He scratches behind his ear, almost elbowing a girl in a short red dress passing by their table in the process. He breaks the silence. “Have you ever been emotionally invested in someone?”
“Isn’t that what the sappy types like to call love?” From the dim neon light, a sandpaper voice and the end of a cigarette slowly glowing brighter. He was the reason the three were outside; a nicotine addiction that took root when it was cool to do so. It proved to be both magnetic and off-putting for the opposite sex. A paradox that is never acknowledged, never questioned. He is wearing a “Hi, my name is Marshall” sticker on the left side of a white shirt. The others presumed a pretentious attempt at irony, though Marshall had in fact gotten back from an ill-advised attempt at speed dating.
“Well, yeah, but that’s not what I mean.” Simon takes another gulp from the dry stout, holding back the urge to cough it up. He was never one for Guinness, and yet one had produced itself in front of him. “Have you ever found someone that was completely amazing, who just fills your mind to the point that you can’t think about anything else?”
“Seriously, that sounds like love.” A tall, capricious brunette who exuded a sultry charm that required years to perfect. Her style was impeccable, her standards unattainable, and yet she associated herself with a jaded, chain-smoking asshole and a hopelessly trepid romantic. If things were any more cliche, she would have found herself in a television melodrama or a piece of fiction.
“But it isn’t, Robin. It really isn’t, see? Because they’re too oblivious to tell, and you’re too bashful to say anything of it, so you settle for being the one guy that listens to her complain for a little bit, or talk about the latest happenings somewhere or another, without ever fully knowing whether or not she talks to anyone else the same way?” Simon slightly stumbles over the last few words, or at least, he seemed to do so within the realms of his mind.
“You switched from ‘someone’ to ‘she’. Obviously, you’re speaking from experience.” Marshall takes a five second drag, taps ashes loose from the end of his cigarette and steals various sips from Robin’s mixed drink. She slaps him on the arm, but does nothing more of it.
“Shush, let the kid speak.” Robin says, as she is hitting him. “He’s making a little bit of sense, for once.” She continues, acknowledging Simon’s tendency to ramble.
“I can’t even focus, anymore.” Simon takes another large gulp, before continuing on. “So many times I’ve met people, gotten to know them, and then come to the realization that I’m putting all of this effort into someone that doesn’t quite care as much as I do, acknowledge the fact, then continue to listen to them talk or complain or whatever until they fade out of my life. It’s not like I don’t want to create something more meaningful with that person, it’s just that there’s a wall in front of me erected by either her or my own neuroses. I want to walk away–every fiber of my being tells me that it’s absolutely pointless to even try, but I can’t. There’s something that’s telling me to keep going, even though she’ll just fade away, like all of the others. That’s what I mean by being emotionally invested in someone.”
“That’s… a pretty heartbreaking way to put it, Simon.” Robin, her eyes wide, finally says after a few beats of silence.
“It’s when you put all of your eggs into one basket, when you try your damndest to get to know someone, to sweep them off their feet, and actually start caring for them even though they don’t care much for you; that’s when it hurts the most.” Simon finishes, holding back the one thing people who are supposedly adults should never do in public.
“Oh, you have eggs. Ovaries, too.” Marshall quips.
Robin draws a black plastic cylinder from her drink, spilling drops of it onto the plastic table. There is a slight breeze, much like the calm before a duel in the Old West. “I will stab you with this drink straw, Marshall.”
The three share a laugh, the rain picks up and once again, the night returns to what all nights end up being.