You Do the Math

“He wants,” she chokes on the end of her sentence, “to get married.”
“Ok,” I say carefully, not really understanding her hesitation. “And this is.. not good…?”
“I’m gonna need more information.”

Binx pulls hard on her cigarette like it’s giving her life breath, and I only allow her to smoke it in my prescence because she looks like shit.

“I’m not ready.”
“After 5 years Binx?”
“I’m so young.”

And this is true. Binx is only 24.

“Well, yeah you are. But you guys have been together forever. And happy for all of it,” I counter. She sighs at my assesment.
“Yeah, yeah. That’s true. But I don’t feel like,” another drag,” I’m in any position to be someone’s wife.”
“But you wouldn’t be someone’s wife. You’d be his wife.” She smiles at that.
“Yeah, but 24 is a little young don’t you think?”
“Maybe for some. But it’s not neccessarily about age. It’s about where you are in your relationship. And only you can judge that. This certainly isn’t some fly by night relationship that came outta nowhere. I’m sure that yall are safely outta the warm and fuzzy honeymoon stage of the relationship long enough for you to both have a clear picture of who the other is and will be.”
“You’re right. I know you are. But he makes me feel young.”
“Does he make you feel young or are you just accutely aware that you are much younger?”

It should be stated at this point that the boyfriend in question is about 10 years her senior.

She continues in a pained voice, “He’s so-“
“And I’m so-“
“Not.” It’s the first time I’ve seen her crack a smile since I sat down.

Binx is the consumate artist. Brilliant and illusive. Nomadic. Flaky. Intense and passionate. Impulsive. Things I envy about her half the time. She’s the type of girl that will move to New York on a whim, run into a guy randomly at a diner who’s looking to sublet his funky loft in Chelsea, and sign a lease that very same day, paying rent that can only be described as a fairy tale in New York.
I hate her for that shit.

She wears colors I’d never think to put together in real life. Her long dark hair is accented with a streak of magenta in the front, her nails various shades of purple. Her walls are adorned with various paintings, ceiling to floor, done by her own hand, her decor a mix of random pieces we found at off-the-beaten-path shops in the village and things her boyfriend has built for her. With his own hands.

She’s also the last type of girl you’d think would fall for a goddamn corporate lawyer.

10 years her senior.

“I think he’s more than well aware of what your life is like.”
“Yeah. He’s been in it long enough.”
“So then what’s the problem Binx?” I ask, waving smoke from her third cigarette from my face.
“The problem is,” a big sigh from her red stained lips, “is that I don’t feel like I’m where I should be to be with him. I don’t feel like I have anything to offer him at this point. You walk barefoot in his place and your feet are on beautiful hardwoood floors. You walk barefoot in my place you’re endanger of getting paint on the bottom of your feet or stepping on a nail. His wardrobe costs more than my rent.”
“That’s because your rent is so absurdly low that I’m sure you’re blowing the guy that’s subleting for a discount.” She punches me hard in my arm.
“Seriously though, do I look like someone’s wife? I mean, I see how his friends look at us. Oh my god and don’t even get me STARTED on what it’s like going to his company shit.”

I can only imagine. Binx shows up in a turquoise dress surrounded by a sea of conservative black and white. Sure, she’s pulled her hair back but it’s still streaked with magenta. Her makeup is probably old Hollywood siren and less “I-paid-my-dermatologist-alot-of-money-to-make-my-skin-look-this-flawless” bare. She’s the youngest in the room, I’m sure. She’s the little girl playing grown up in a room full of people who do this everyday.

“But he’s getting to that point you know, where he’s thinking about it. He wants to settle down. And I can’t help but feeling like even after all this time I don’t fit in his world.”
“So let me ask you this, if you were closer in age, would you feel more comfortable? Because to me, that’s really not a fundamental relationship issue in as much as a psychological hurdle you have to find a way to surmount.”
“I’m not sure.”

It’s funny how your life is so unextraordinary, how every day people are finding themselves in the same situation as you. It should be said now, that the only reason Binx feels comfortable having this conversation with me now, as she hasn’t in the months leading up to this emotional outburst, is because Bob is older than I by about 7 years or so. “Now you understand my pain” is what she says to me.

It used to be that my liberal side wouldn’t let me subscribe to the adage that there are certain fundamental irregularities that make May-December relationships difficult.

Don’t you love how you believe shit in theory that don’t exactly pan out in practice? Ah to be young and ignorant forever, lol

Truth is, we’ve had more than a couple convos about our age difference and the circumstances therein that they would apply. That helped. They’re still around. But it helped. So that’s my question to Binx.

“Have you talked to him about this stuff Binx?”
“Well that’s why it’s eating you up right there. You talk to him about everything. And the one thing that you don’t need to be discussing with anyone but him is the one thing you’re keeping to yourself.”
“You’re right.”
“I know.” She punches me again. Sighs.
“I dunno why I’m making it so complicated.”
“Because it is.”

Binx met the boyfriend on the street. Literally. She fell outta her ground floor window trying to hang something on the ledge and on to the sidewalk below as he was walking by. No makeup. Sweats and a tshirt with some trashy saying across her cleavage. I think back then her hair was red. Fire engine. They sat on the curb and talked until the sun went down. The next day he came back and took her to dinner… in Queens at his mother’s house. He said he knew from the second she fell at his feet.

“He loves you,” I say, patting her trembling hand gently.
“Yeah but is that enough?”
“I dunno. Is it?” She sighs at me again.
“You know I could get straighter answers from a shrink, and they get paid $100 an hour to question you in circles.” We laugh.
“You know I’m not gonna tell you what to do,” reaffirming what she already knows. Another sigh.
“I wish somebody would.”
“What are they gonna tell you about what you feel?”

I know she thinks she’s not ready because she doesn’t look quite as good on paper as he. He owns property in and out of the city. She rents a place from a guy backpacking through Europe with his lover with an unclear return date. He brings in a salary in the high six figures. She is excited to get her art showcased in a gallery uptown and living off an inheritance. He comes from a big Italian family of 12. She’s the only child of a reclusive photographer who long gave up any semblance of a “normal” life.

Who can define that, anyway?

See Slish, it’s not just men who talk themselves out of love for one reason or other. We all do it. We’re human.

A few weeks later my phone rings with a New York exchange I’m unfamiliar with.
“This is La.”
“I’m getting married.” I hear her smile on the other end. It makes my own lips stretch toward my hairline.
“That’s really good Binx.”
“I’m excited.”
“So you guys finally worked it out?”
“Yeah. Well, we fought it out. Then we talked it out.” I chuckle cuz I can only imagine how those first few convos went between the loud Italian and the stubborn artiste.
“So when’s the big day?”
“Fall 08 sometime. That’s all we know. How do you feel about lime green bridesmaids dresses?”
“I feel like I’ll see you in the reception line.”
“I figured you’d say that. He’s already vetoed green anyway.”

I know so many people for whom even the simple math of couting somehow became more subtraction than addition, complex theorems and formulas, the quantum physics just too much to surmount.
It happens.

I know even more people who have somehow been able to talk themselves out of love when it was so obviously present.
That’s what really doesn’t add up.

But sometimes, it’s reduced to something simple. Sometimes one plus one equals deep purple bridesmaids dresses for those who get to watch you marry a man big enough to think outside the numbers.

8 thoughts on “You Do the Math

  1. awww. this is a great story. your writing always amazes me. i’ve had this conversation with my best friend many a time. trying to talk herself out of a good thing is her forte. great post


  2. Jam I do too… but then again… I kinda hate her for this shit, lolStace you’re such a romanticChris, yeah, you’re right. I’m kinda fantastic, lolOk real talk, WHY do we do this though? Get back to me.Caesar I’m always so skittish about giving people advice because it implies a sort of responsibility for the situation right? But she needed a verbal hug.Welcome by the way.YHT you too huh? lol You are so my American Idol for coming up in here ruining the sappy vibe. I needed someone to do it. Be on the lookout for posters bearing your name and screaming fan (me).Thank you Rashan


  3. I really like your writing. that whole story is really great, too. I’m often giving my friends advice on their relationships too (though none to the extent of marriage) and you actually, vaguely remind me of how I sound when I talk to people (in person, not on that whirlwind of a blog I have).


  4. To quote the late great Frank White…”Uh…and another one!” You really are the queen of straightening out crooked paths, your girls are lucky to have someone like you to talk to. I think we’ve all talked ourselves out of something with potential because of the gray area in the situation when we think should be black and white. I know I’m guilty of such.


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