“Have I gotten really fat?” I ask an old lover who’s in town for the weekend.
Last time I saw him, he was helping me and Peter move into our flat together. Now fast forward five years and he’s a qualified teacher and I am… well, I’m not a qualified teacher, let’s put it like that. And now, he’s buying me tapas. The great thing about being mercilessly dumped is that it inspires the Stingiest People in the World, i.e. German men, to invite you out for dinner and stuff. It’s brilliant. You literally actually get invited out for dinner more than when you were in a relationship, especially if you were in a relationship with The Stingiest Person in the World.
“Yeah,” he says. “A bit. Your tits are great, though. Your tits look amazing.”
“Oh, you’re just saying that,” I say coquettishly.
“They look much better than they did when we last had sex,” he says.
“I’m seeing Peter tomorrow,” I say. “Maybe. At a party. Australian Mike’s having a party.”
“Don’t go,” says my old lover.
“Are you mad?” I ask. “Of course I’m going to go. Everything’s fine now. I don’t even slightly love him anymore. I just feel this general kind of sorrow that six years of my life have ended, but I really don’t want him back. Like, imagine if he wanted to come back. I would literally say no. Anyways, Australian Mike will be really gutted if I don’t go.”
“You are insane for going. You’ll get drunk and cry on the balcony. I know you.”
“I will not,” I say, all dignified, “get drunk and cry on the balcony. You might know me but I know myself. So there.”
“Make sure you wear a low-cut top,” he says.
“Okay,” I say. “I want to look nice.”
“Anyway,” he says. “It doesn’t matter what you look like. You’re famous now. You’re the most famous person I ever had sex with. Fame is more important than beauty.”
“Yes,” I say. “I know that. Thank you. That’s the nicest thing you’ve ever told me.”
He drives me home after tapas and just as I am about to get out the car he grabs my fingers and whispers: “I don’t think you should go. Tomorrow. You’re an idiot for going.”
“Don’t be silly,” I say haughtily. “Australian Mike will be counting on me being there.”
The next day, at Australian Mike’s party, I am in brilliant form. I keep on congratulating myself in my head for not having boycotted the party on spurious Might-Have-To-See-Ex-Boyfriend-Peter-Grounds. I tell my ex-boyfriend Peter and Australian Mike a really funny story about Angela Merkel and the NSA and Barack Obama that doesn’t involve phone sex, because a German feminist I follow on Twitter says it’s sexist to make Merkel phone sex jokes and I suspect she might be right. I make Peter laugh so much and so hard that I totally forget he’s not my boyfriend anymore. For a few seconds at least. I start asking his advice about loads of articles I have to write and stuff like that.
A Dutch girl enters the party. She asks if we’re together. I say no. She says to me: But you’d like to be together, wouldn’t you. I start crying. Peter leaves. Immediately. I cry five times. Four times in the living room, once in the bathroom. Everyone says it’s fine to cry. I say: “I hate being a cliché.” A woman I don’t know says: “But clichés are universal.” On the way home I cry three more times. As I put my son to bed, he says to me, angrily: “You cried eight times today, and all because of Peter, and actually, it’s your fault he left.” I kiss him on the forehead and say I’m sorry for crying, I just couldn’t help it. He says when he saw Peter in the Treppenhaus he was glad he wasn’t my boyfriend anymore. He calls him a person. He says: “I was glad that person wasn’t your boyfriend anymore.” I say: “well, that’s good isn’t it?” Then I go into the kitchen and send my ex-lover a picture of the top I had on via Facebook. He sends me a message: “You need to buy more low-cut tops for the next time you see Peter.” I phone him up on his mobile. He answers even before it rings one whole time through, it must be right next to him, his Handy, I think to myself.
“Anyway,” I say. “You were totally wrong. I didn’t cry on the balcony. I cried in the living room. On the sofa. Four times. And once in the bathroom. Australian Mike’s bought a really good sofa from Ikea. Only €229.”
“Remember, Jacinta,” says my old lover. “Fame is more important than beauty.”
“I’m not even that famous,” I say, bitterly.
“You are,” he says soothingly, “the most famous person I have ever had sex with.”
“Oh God. This hurts. It hurts really bad. When will this stop hurting?” I say. “Will it ever stop? Will this pain ever end? Or is just gonna go on and on forever, like the stupid meaningless fucking stupid fucking Palestinian-Israel conflict thingimajig thing?”
“You’re such a drama queen,” says my old lover. “It’s not even hurting that much. You just like the attention.”
And I’m not sure, but I think he might be right, although I must say that it really didn’t feel like that while I was crying.