Not too long ago, I read an article by someone who wrote that he had never been dumped. As I considered his story, I realized that I, too, have always been the one to instigate a break-up. Always, that is, except once.
It was at Venice Beach, California in 1987. I met Karl (not his real name) at the restaurant where I worked. The restaurant, which is no longer there, sat at the corner of Brooks Avenue and the boardwalk.
Karl was a guitarist in a hardcore band and lived further down the boardwalk in an apartment he said was sublet from a well-known hardcore singer. It was Venice Beach, it was the 80s, and I really had no reason not to believe him.
After all, I had met and spoken with the singer at length myself in Phoenix and I knew he was a real person who would live in a real place somewhere when he wasn’t on tour. Why not sublet to another musician?
The first time Karl took me to his place, I made us lunch while he played his acoustic guitar and sang for me. I had heard his band on tape, and I remember being surprised when I realized that he was singing those same songs in a much slower, melodic way.
When I listen to hardcore or heavy metal, I don’t always know exactly what they are singing about, because I can’t understand the words. At least, not right away. This band was singing about peace, love, and hope in the same voices others sang about anger, war, and despair.
I was impressed. It made me happy. I thought I was in love.
This was really pretty stupid considering I had only recently broken away from a really bad marriage and was in the midst of self-discovery and growth. Nevertheless, if nothing else I had a crush.
If I’m fully honest, it wasn’t the first time I felt that way about a musician who was kind to me, paid attention to me, and gave me the impression he might like me. I didn’t actually date most of them, though. I admired them from afar, imagining scenarios where I was dating them, and writing bad poetry.
Karl and I saw each other a few times, but we weren’t in a committed relationship. After the day we had lunch at his apartment, a week or so went by and I hadn’t seen him. I remember writing one of my terrible poems and leaving it for him on a windowsill at the apartment, hoping he would find it.
I was working at the restaurant a couple of days after that when Karl walked in with one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen. She was tall, blonde, and fresh-faced. She was model beautiful, but there was something wholesome and friendly about her.
I felt my heart jump. My face flushed. Then, I smiled when they walked right up to me, because what else could I do?
“Suzy, I want you to be the first to know. I’m getting married.”
Karl went on to introduce his fiance to me. Her smile was genuine as she held her hand out to shake mine. The three of us chatted a bit before my boss began to look like I better get back to work.
Karl’s fiance was from Norway and had a child. They were all going back to Norway, where they would be married. They had been dating for a while, but only became engaged in the past few days.
Karl handed me a folded piece of paper, which I tucked into my pocket as I returned to work. They waved goodbye and I wished them well.
At the end of the day, I sat on the beach and unfolded the piece of paper. It was a poem about love and friendship. It was a poem about compassion and hope, and it was written just for me.
I still have that poem somewhere among my papers. I would love to share it with you, but I couldn’t do that without Karl’s permission. I have no idea where he is, and that’s okay.
I still think about it sometimes, and get the warm fuzzies. I’m not sorry Karl broke up with me. In fact, I’m thankful.
How many other women can say they were dumped in such a nice way?
This story first appeared in Bouncin and Behavin Blogs on Medium.