Marnie, the deadringer


marnieFive seconds of eye-contact with Marnie got me in my first car accident in a decade. I was leaving a grocery store in Glendale when I saw her, walking the opposite direction across the street. Immediately, she reminded me of a girl I’d been torn up over in Montreal, though I knew it wasn’t her. We had an intense moment as I drove past, eyes locked, unflinching. Marnie slowed her pace and I tapped the breaks trying to make it last a little bit longer – I was maybe going 5 miles per hour, headed towards a stop sign.

Before I knew what happened, I had rear-ended the car in front of me into the car in front of it. I looked behind me at Marnie, who had stopped to watch the scene. The other drivers were pulling over to the side of the road, so I did the same and turned my car off. Instead of getting out to exchange insurance with the other drives, a freaked out Armenian woman and an equally freaked out Nicaraguan woman, I sprinted across the street to Marnie.

“Hey, I just got into a car accident because of you.”

She gave me this exasperated half-smile, eyes wide open in shock. “You’re blaming me for getting you in a car accident?”

“No, I mean, it was totally my fault. But you’re gorgeous, and you kind of remind of someone I used to know, but in a good way, and I don’t know what you were thinking when we were making eye-contact back there, and I should probably get back to the accident but listen – can I call you?”

Marnie was a little flustered, but there was no way she could say no to me. She intoned this to me a few days later, over a cup of coffee in South Pasadena.

“You were just so out of control, fleeing the scene of an accident to come chase after me and then blaming the accident on how pretty I was.”

“I’m sure I’m not the first person to suggest you were pretty enough to stop traffic,” I said, smiling, reaching across the table for her hand.

She smiled back, “Maybe, but you’re certainly the first person to prove it.” Marnie was studying to be an architect, but it was her summer off, so she had moved back in with her parents and was doing some half-assed internship downtown. I was living off of unemployment and planning my next move, so we started spending a lot of time together. Biking the path along the LA river or going for hikes up in the San Bernadino mountains. It was a relaxed relationship.

We’d dated maybe six weeks before I realized how uninterested in her I was. She may have looked like the girl in Montreal, same posture, same demeanor, same giant brown eyes, but in the end, I couldn’t will myself to get hung up on Marnie, and for a hopeless romantic such as myself, that can be a problem.

I broke up with her on a walk through Griffith Park, gave her the age old, you’re-not-crazy-enough-for-me line. She seemed to take it pretty well, even though she put up a fight.

“Don’t you think you need someone to balance you out?”

“Maybe,” I said, “But the balance is off.” We hugged and said goodbye, and I thought that was the last of it. Then, a couple days later, my car blew up in front of my house. I knew it was Marnie’s doing – I’d made my peace with the mob – and I realized while I thought it was her who hadn’t pushed my buttons, maybe it was me who hadn’t pushed hers.

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