Prelude to an Episode of Snapped
She sat through four hours of Snapped. That’s six episodes of woman after woman after woman who executed in some form the men they once claimed to love. It’s Sunday, and she briefly thinks, Should this be on today? But then she ponders something a little deeper, a little more profound, a little more introspective.
She scrolls through her mental Rolodex and stops at his name. It was 1992, and they were twenty-three. They exchanged numbers in the checkout line at Acme, and during week one they talked daily and hung out twice. Both were first year grad students who respected Coltrane but loved Boney James, and although each had acquired a taste for cappuccino, she preferred mocha and he black coffee. Week one turned into week four, and the more they talked, the more they laughed. Together they seemed good.
Within months they consummated their new friendship, and for the next year they did dates, game nights and holidays. That made them official, although it was all circumstantial. But that was par the course. Innuendos had long replaced formalities like the “Can you stand a chance? Circle yes or no” note.
It was sometime right before year two, as she was in the midst of making plans for the next level of them, that she first got wind of an indiscretion. Not one based on thoughts of whether she was worthy or pretty or good enough. Concrete. Her best friend had saw him embracing some woman a little too closely for a little too long according to her estimates. “It’s nothing,” he had said, “I just ran into a friend.”
Cell phones and texting weren’t heavy then. Just pagers and busy signals – that irritating beep beep beep you get when you call someone who is usually talking to someone else. So when his pager setting went from audible to vibrate to silent, and when she heard one too many times, “I didn’t realize the phone was off the hook” or “You’re tripping,” she became anxious. So anxious that she and her best friend – the same one that told her that antifreeze was sweet tasting and hard to detect – plotted a three-part covert operation.
First, they would decode his answering machine. The second random sequence of numbers yielded five messages declaring love and confirming plans. Next, they would tail him. His movements had been pretty mundane until the Starbucks. Finally, she would confront them.
Message number three had determined the day and time that she would show up and show-out. Like Columbo, without the wrinkled raincoat though, she would have just a few questions for both. Silence would not be optional, and any actions after that would be improvised.
As planned, she borrowed her brother’s car, sat shielded under a tree that was far away yet close enough, and waited. Before long he exited his home, duffle bag in hand. She put her key in the ignition, prepared to follow and entrap when he entered a car that wasn’t his. It was her. It was them. It was time.
But she just sat under that tree far away yet close enough.
When they pulled off, she just sat there. When they circled and rode right past her brother’s car, she just sat there. For seventeen whole minutes she sat under that tree, far away, yet close enough.
Finally, she pulled her car up beside his, retrieved the folded half-sheet of paper from her glove compartment and slid it behind his wiper blade. It was the letter she had written in all capital letters in permanent black marker well before that day. It was the letter that her best friend had called a cop-out, a simple letter with just two words: THE END.
* * *
She thinks it’s mostly funny now, back then not so much. She had run into him a few years back. He had married her and was doing well. He fumbled through an explanation. Said that he was immature, should have handled things differently, didn’t mean to hurt her.
He apologized profusely.
She, not at all.