The best relationship advice I ever heard came from a white-sneakered septuagenarian strapped next to me on a transatlantic flight from Boston to Rome. We were held captive by the lit seatbelt sign, snug between tray table and knobby blue seat. My boyfriend at the time was collapsed in slumber next to the window, drooling on a pillow the flight attendant brought him five minutes after boarding.
We sensed in one another a kinship – both descended from the Tribe of Chat. She asked the first, polite question – nothing I remember. And then we were off -- two women desperately in need of muzzles. Three hours later, we’d each knocked back four tee-tiny airline bottles of wine, and she was flagging down the attendant in hopes of scoring us a few shots of Bailey’s.
I think it was after our second shot (or was it third?) that she confided in me a secret. She was a bride of one month, she said, when she decided her husband’s hours as a doctor left too few moments for her. And so she packed a bag and went home to her mother and father. Her parents brewed a pot of coffee, sat her down, and her father said this, “Your marriage has a price. And only you can determine what that price is."
She said she went to bed that night, and the next morning went home to her husband. By the time she was speaking to me on the plane, she’d been married more than 50 years. She decided that the price she had to pay (time without her husband) was worth the sliver of time she did get to be with him.
That advice stuck with me. It’s simple and puts things in perspective. I think of it today – as yet another boyfriend – who started out so funny and fun -- is about to bite the dust. (He’s smothering me to the point where I want to paint my face blue and run across an open field waving a flag with a giant vagina on it, screaming Freeeeedddooooooommmmm.) I've decided the price of his opening doors and picking up checks is not worth this persistent feeling that a dwarf is sitting on my trachea.
For me, it's helpful to think of relationships in economic terms. (Is the weight of a dwarf worth free Buffalo chicken sliders at Ruby Tuesdays? I think not.)
Even better, I think, what if women could buy or trade one another’s past relationships on eBay or Craigslist? What if we could make a little money off our past love lessons and heartbreak? And you know what they say, one woman’s clingy psycho is another woman’s treasure.
48-hour fling with incredibly good looking, 40-year-old Peter Pan-type narcissist. Let him take you to his favorite haunt on South Beach. Look at your reflection in his designer sunglasses as he prattles on about himself and try to remember why you are here. Buy now for $25. Will also negotiate for a Starbucks gift card or a coupon for two free Nachos Belle Grande.
Six month relationship with world’s fattest tri-athlete. Get up at 4 a.m. every six weeks to shout “Go! Go!” as he waddles into the surf. Try to ignore that a perfectly innocent bicycle seat disappears beneath his giant ass. Then sit trapped in the car with him as he yells at you for talking in the transition area – which is the ONLY reason he came in last. Buy now for $50. Will also trade for a used Billie Holiday CD and a bottle of Pinot Noir.
Tequila-fueled, one night stand with smoking-hot Turkish filmmaker who spent two years working on a 120-minute documentary about hands. Obtain during said evening the best compliment you’ve ever had or will ever have. Buy now for $5,000 or trade for similar.
Two year relationship with the British version of Woody Allen. Listen to him worry incessantly about everything and nothing in “adorable” “smart-sounding” accent. Tell time "he's not really losing his hair. Really." Buy now for $200. Will also trade for one night of Salsa dancing and cocktails with sexy Latino.
10-year friendship with world’s best guy ever. Date him five years, plus five years of miraculous friendship. Watch him save your ass time and again. Bounce nutty ideas off him time and again. Be amazed as he surfs the crazy in your life like Kelly Slater. Buy now for $5 million. May trade for kidney or organ of similar importance.
Labels: ex-boyfriends, relationships, the price of relationships