Confessions of an Ex-Girlfriend

BOOK: Confessions of an Ex-Girlfriend
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“Sometimes an Ex-Boyfriend is just an Ex-Boyfriend.”

—Sigmund Freud's Ex-Girlfriend

This book is dedicated to:

My mother, Marianne Nappo.
You gave me not only love, but courage. Congratulations
on finding your soul mate.

My father, James Curnyn, for always believing.

Rose Nappo and Lillian Curnyn, the original city girls.

Linda Guidi, my redheaded sister,
and most inspired and inspiring friend.

Tony Chiaravelotti, my love, my friend,
my “Dear,” and my Ex-Boyfriend Extraordinaire.

Confessions
of an
Ex-Girlfriend
Lynda Curnyn

Special thanks to the following people for advice and endless support:

Joe and Joanne Scotto di Carlo, for believing in the magic of the Skinny Scoop man. My lovable brothers, Jim and Brian Curnyn. Kim Castellano-Curnyn and Trina Palumberi, who not only had cool NYC apartments, but snagged great guys.
Dave Webber, the great guy who snagged my mom mere moments after I penned the proposal.
Linda Jean Curnyn, whose struggle to maintain sanity on the home front did not go unnoticed.

All the city girls, ex-girlfriends all at one time or another, who lent their womanly wisdom: Anne Canadeo, Lisa Sklar, Jennifer Bernstein, Alison Stateman and Karen Kosztolnyik.
My editors, Joan Marlow Golan, whose encouragement and creative spirit guided me through this first writing adventure, and Margaret Marbury, whose hipness I trust emphatically and whose solid advice I came to count on. Margie Miller, for creating the coolest cover!

My wise, dear friend, Roberto Lugo, for keeping me not only blond but sane.

Laura Wilkes and Todd Smith, the most lovable lawyers I know, for helping me keep the details straight, and for cheering me on. And let's not forget Bismarck (the rabbit), of course, who, like Lulu, may just have matchmaking qualities. You never know….

One

“Ex-Girlfriends are made, not born.”

—Emma Carter, recovering Ex-Girlfriend

Confession: I should have seen it coming.

 

M
y friend Jade claims that if you're dating a serial killer, he will, however subtly, let you know his intentions from date one. And if you are especially attracted to said serial killer, you will merely nod and smile at this admission, then promptly forget it.

It's true that on our first date Derrick told me he'd be moving to the West Coast just as soon as he sold his first screenplay. But since this comment came just moments after our first kiss—complete with a sunset view of the Hudson, along which we were romantically strolling—I did not register that he would one day be leaving me but only that a) he was an amazing kisser, and b) he was a writer, which essentially translated into soulmate for me. I was a writer…of sorts.

Now it's a horrible fact of New York City life that every man you pine for is either too ambitious, too creative or too desired by the rest of the world to even have the time of day for you. Yet somehow, after spending the past two years of weekend nights curled up with Derrick on the futon in my rent-stabilized studio, I had mistaken us for a couple Meant-To-Be. Especially considering how we got together against all odds.

We met on the West 4th Street Subway platform, the uptown side. The main reason I noticed Derrick was that we were dressed similarly, in black T-shirts and jeans. And there was something so
stumbling and shy about the way he was trying to catch my eye, I could hardly resist. “Hi,” he said, meandering closer.

For a neurotic instant, I thought of those nutballs who had lately been pushing unsuspecting women onto the tracks, but when I saw his neatly trimmed goatee, I felt an odd sense of security. There was something soothing, yet edgy, about a man with a goatee. I also remember being startled by the clear blue color of his eyes behind his wire-rimmed glasses. Oh, and the glasses got me, too. I love a man in glasses.

It was summer, and the air hung thickly around us. “Hot down here,” Derrick remarked.

“Like an armpit,” I replied, not thinking.

This was exactly the kind of blunt little vulgarity Jade had warned me against time and again. “There are some things you just can't
say
to a guy if you ever hope to have sex with him.”

Derrick did look at me rather oddly, then gave a half laugh and proceeded to move on to introduce himself, “I'm Derrick, by the way.”

“Emma,” I blurted, as the subway car pulled up, rescuing us from our awkward dialogue.

In fact, the thing I loved about Derrick immediately was that he was so “unsmooth”—so unprepared to seduce me that I was immediately seduced. “Heading out of town for the weekend?” he asked, eyeing my oversize pocketbook.

“No,” was my less-than-scintillating rejoinder.

“Oh.” He studied my bag with a frown. “I am. Jersey shore.” And he held up a bag which, to
me,
looked like it would barely hold a bottle of suntan lotion and a change of underwear. But then, I was talking to an attractive man—this was
not
the time to mince words.

When the train pulled into Penn Station—his stop—just moments after I had explained that I was headed up to 85th Street to check out the Guggenheim exhibit on “Phallic Inevitability and the Surrealist School”—a conversational gambit that earned me an eyebrow raised in admiration—I made my first tactical error. Al
though Jade had advised me endlessly never to make the first move, I jumped off the train right after Derrick. What could I do? Seeing him on the platform fumbling for a pen to take my number as the doors stood temptingly open but in serious danger of swinging shut at any moment—destroying my every hope for happiness—I panicked.

“Oh, I thought you were going…” he began, puzzled.

“It's better if I transfer here,” I replied quickly, hoping he wouldn't realize this didn't exactly make sense.

With a look that resembled relief, he produced a pen and a small scrap of paper and handed it to me. When I was done, he wrote his number down on the same paper before nervously tearing it in two and handing me half. Glancing at his watch, he mumbled a brief but endearingly warm goodbye. Then he was gone, leaving me dreamy-eyed on the platform.

Dreamy-eyed for all of three minutes.

Because as I stood there contemplating the two of us entwined in intimate conversation over drinks at some hip little boaîte downtown—maybe Bar Six or Lansky's Lounge—I felt a flicker of doubt. To verify that I did, in fact, score an incredibly cute guy's phone number, I glanced at the folded scrap of paper still clutched in my hand. With sudden horror, I realized the number I held was my own.

“Made for each other,” Jade said when I told her the story. “Neither one of you is ever going to get laid, judging by the number of attempts you probably have between you.”

I turned to my friend Alyssa for comfort, instead. Unlike Jade, Lys always managed to see a brighter side to things. When I explained how I hadn't even given him a last name so he could look me up, she said hopefully, “Maybe he'll take out an ad in the personals, looking for you. You know, some people do that. They even have a page devoted to things like this in the
Voice.
You've seen the ads: ‘Saw you on the A train. You, brunette, soft green eyes—'”

“My eyes are hazel.”

“‘Shy and sweet.'”

“Me?”

“Well, on first impression you can be!” Once again adopting the voice of the man she had never met but believed capable of such grand romantic gestures, she continued, “‘Me, writer looking for a beauty like you. Thought I found you but you got away. Please call….'”

“Not a chance. Guys don't do that sort of thing.”

“Then
you
do it, Em. Take an ad! C'mon, what have you got to lose?”

“My sense of self-worth?”

“What are you talking about?”

“I used to read those ads, Lys,” I explained. “All the time. I used to think they were romantic, too. But the more you read the personals, the more you realize there are a lot of pretty desperate people out there. I mean, c'mon. To think that somebody might mistake a random encounter—the equivalent of stepping on someone's foot in a crowd—for Kismet. Gimme a break.”

“Oh, here she comes. The cynic.”

It's true I was a cynic in the pre-Derrick period. But who could blame me? At the time, I was twenty-nine years old, and had dated enough men to know that my soulmate would likely turn out to be nothing more than a good-fitting pair of shoes.

But then, destiny intervened. Two weeks after the hapless sub way encounter, as I shared coffee and the Sunday night blues with Alyssa at the Peacock Café, I spotted Derrick, sitting two tables away and wearing the most perfectly faded pair of Levi's I had yet to find in my own endless thrift-store searches.

“Hey,” he said, jumping up and almost knocking over the tiny table in front of him. “It's you.” And suddenly he was standing over the table looking down at me in amazement.

I stood, too, staring at his adorable face in disbelief and leaving Alyssa to gawk up at us, a smile spreading across her features.

“I can't believe what an idiot I was that day,” he said.

“Me too.” I replied, Jade's warning voice a mere whisper as I
stammered through a ridiculously elated dialogue about how absolutely retarded I'd felt when I discovered the mix-up.

“I told you it was fate,” Alyssa said dreamily when he left our table fifteen minutes later, my number safely tucked in the pocket of his denim jacket.

Fate. This had come from the very same Alyssa who days ago had officially declared Derrick the man I needed to put out of mind. Forever.

 

Confession: Contrary to popular belief, I am not better off without him.

 

Even Derrick had the gall to attempt to come up with reasons why I should be happy, even though he was leaving me. According to him, I had a dream life. How many people, he argued, could claim that they had spent the better part of their twenties in the best city in the world?

“If it's such a great city,” I argued back, “why are you leaving it?”

Then he explained once again, in the calm, rational voice I had begun to abhor in him during those last, angst-ridden days, that all his career opportunities were in L.A. That now that he had sold his screenplay, the studio wanted to hire him on as a script doctor. That he was better off on the West Coast.

Without me,
I thought in silence that followed his speech. And as I considered throwing myself at his feet and begging him to take me away from this glorious city, he changed tactics.

“You have so much here,” he argued. “Your own apartment. A
career.

Now this statement requires some clarification.

First, my apartment. If the words “walk-in closet” send a tremor of longing through you, think again. My walk-in closet contains a bed, a dresser, a desk and a bookshelf that has seen better days. Oh, and did I mention the Barbie kitchen along one wall? Yes, that's right. My apartment
is
a walk-in closet. Of course, there is something to be said for the fact that it's not only rent-stabilized
but below 14th Street—the only neighborhood really worth living in, in my opinion.

Now as for my career…when asked the inevitable “what do you do?” question at parties, the answer I give is that I am a writer for a national women's magazine. This is not a lie, though my job is hardly as cool as this sounds. In truth, I am a contributing editor at
Bridal Best,
where I compose captions, headlines and—with ever-increasing frequency—articles on such subjects as “Hot Honeymoon Escapes” and “Wedding Dresses You Can Breathe In.”

At best, my illustrious career at
Bridal Best
could be called a happy accident, for it started as a two-week stint as an office temp which turned into a permanent position when Carolyn Jamison, the senior features editor I work for, took a personal interest in keeping me on. How could I resist all her encouragement when, up till then, the master's degree in Creative Writing I had gotten at NYU had resulted only in a handful of unpublished stories and a full-time waitressing position?

Now, as I sat filled with self-loathing in an editorial meeting on the Wednesday morning of Derrick's departure, counting the minutes until his plane left the ground and carried him away from me, I began to wish I hadn't resisted the impulse to call him at 3:00 a.m. to let him know what a heartless bastard he was.

Looking up from my cloud of despair, I saw Patricia Landers,
Bridal Best
's editor-in-chief, stand up to give us her weekly address. “At
Bridal Best
our editorial mission is to speak to the bride in
every
woman,” Patricia began, “whether she is simply dreaming of that special day, or taking the first steps toward making that day happen.”

Step 1: Don't let your boyfriend leave the state.

I sighed, suddenly weary of the wedding planning mantra that was sure to issue forth from Patricia's thin lips. As I studied her wispy blond hair, pale face and crisp blue eyes, I wondered if this would be my fate. To be the ultrathin, somewhat prim yet rather well-kept editor-in-chief of a national magazine. A career woman
who needed no man, only a fat paycheck and enough take-home assignments to make her forget that there was so much more to life than work.

Then I remembered something else.

Unlike me, Patricia was married. And as dubious as that marriage was rumored to be, it set her miles apart from a manless and struggling contributing editor like myself.

My eyes moved frantically about the table, where the illustrious editorial team of
Bridal Best
sat, seemingly transfixed by Patricia's words. There was Rebecca, the only office colleague I deigned to call a friend and who shared my enthusiasm for taking pott shots at the powers-that-be. But Rebecca had a boyfriend—worse, an incredibly perfect boyfriend, who not only had a high-paying accountant job but came from money. Big money. Then there was my boss, Caroline, of course, who was round with her fourth child, compliments of the hardworking husband she kept back at her sprawling Connecticut home. The other three senior features editors were married, too. Sandra, whose wedding to Roger two years earlier had been almost as splashy as Patricia's; Debbie, pushing fifty and married for so many years no one even remembered what her husband looked like; Carmen, who not only had a husband but—according to our production assistant and resident office gossip Marcy Keller—a boyfriend on the side. Janice in production was married two times over, despite the hairy mole on the side of her face. Who was left among us single folk but the editorial assistants, who were too young to care?

I glanced down at the end of the table and swallowed hard as I caught sight of the strange trio who sat clustered there: Lucretia Wenner, the angry copy chief who neither woman nor man could truly love; Nancy Hamlin, the bodily pierced and butch admin everyone suspected was a dyke; and Marcy Keller, who spent so much time studying everyone else's personal life she barely had one of her own. I quickly closed my eyes, shutting out the hopeless look in their eyes that not even their bitter smiles could mask.

Oh God, was
this
what I had to look forward to?

 

Confession: I am not ready to be an ex-girlfriend.

 

This fact became glaringly apparent on my first real weekend of singledom. Derrick had flown out only three days prior with a promise to call once he was settled, though we had agreed that from now on, we were strictly friends. I will confess right now that he is the only “friend” I have ever had whom I secretly wished would fail miserably. In fact, I was practically preparing for the day when he would return to NYC, tail between his legs, begging me to take him back.

BOOK: Confessions of an Ex-Girlfriend
4.4Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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