Sarah, the fine print


sarahasianI hadn’t seen my sweetheart for several months when I met Sarah.  I missed her very much and Sarah looked a lot like her.  I called my girlfriend just about ever day and we wrote back and forth; however, it’s just that when all you get is black letters on white paper and a machine representation of someone’s voice over the telephone, it slowly becomes more and more abstract.  Distance makes a big difference; you end up being in love with an idea more than a person.

Sarah was separated from her husband and always wanted to drink, which I of course didn’t mind.  Having married at 18 and now 30, she said she felt like she’d missed out on her 20s all together.

“I feel like I’ve been in my 20s my whole life,” I said.  “It’s really not all it’s cracked up to be.”

“Maybe so,” she said.  “Still, I wish I could’ve been miserable just like everyone else instead of settling into the unnerving comfort of my marriage.  I had no idea what I was getting into—it was like the first time I used a credit card.  One moment you’ve got something—you know, the false promises of large print; next thing you know, something’s jamming writs under your door and calling you three times a day.  I should have paid more attention to the fine print.”

“I’ll drink to that,” I said.

Sarah always asked me about my girlfriend, how she was doing.  I found I never had much to say, despite the glamor of it all.  I might have mentioned that my sweetheart had just got a speaking role in a Hollywood blockbuster, but it all felt tired and disconnected to me.  Sarah’s life seemed more interesting because it was here and now, not far away.  And besides, I knew my girlfriend was just waiting for the Next Best Thing—whether it be a man or a job or whatever.

As time passed, Sarah and I met up nearly every day.  Once or twice we woke up next to each other, having fallen asleep fully clothed on my couch, drunk and watching old episodes of Northern Exposure.

Then, one morning, I read in the tabloids of my relationship’s imminent demise.  He was taller, more handsome; famous and rich.  I was broke and drunk with visible scars.  I didn’t bother telling Sarah, but she knew.  She made me a dirty martini and we played cards until Van Morrisson’s “Madam George” came on 104.5 FM.

“Dance with me,” she said.

As we slow danced in her living room, she breathed in my ear, “I’m glad we can do this; I’m glad we can be friends.”

“Me too,” I said, completely agreeing, though feeling something else.

We held each other close until the radio advertisements came, shattering the moment with promises of zero percent interest for something neither of us wanted or needed.

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