So Why'd They Break Up?

Story Sent in by Christopher:

Patricia and I met online. We talked for two weeks before we met in person, and I had no indication at all that she was anything other than sweet and thoughtful. We talked about the little things like how our days went, and the big things like future plans and those late-night "why-are-we-here" sorts of questions. I liked her.

When we finally did meet, though, for our date, the first thing I noticed was that when I hugged her, she didn't hug me back. At once, I was nervous. I asked, "Are you all right?"

"Yeah," she said, in a tone that indicated anything but honesty, "Let's just have dinner."

It was our first time speaking that day, and it was a Friday, so maybe she had a bad day at work. She worked in a university's astronomy department, and I knew that she had a hot-and-cold relationship with her supervisor. I hoped that the truth would come out at dinner.

She was unresponsive and quiet throughout the meal. Despite my efforts to sympathize, change the topic, or make her laugh, I couldn't pry out what it was that was bugging her. I wondered if it was something about me. My online photos were all current, taken within six months at most. At one point, I even asked her, "Is it me?"

She replied, "No. That's the point."

A-ha. A clue. I asked her, "Could you just tell me what's wrong? I know I can cheer you up."

She brushed it off, as she had several times before, "It's personal."

We hadn't had trouble discussing personal things before, but I was tired of trying to figure it out. I went through the rest of dinner reporting on minor bits of news or talking about this movie or that book.

The clincher came when she didn't offer to help me with the check and didn't thank me for paying. Where the girl I had fallen for over the past couple of weeks had gone, I didn't know, but this wasn't her. I was anxious to bring the date to a close, and we walked out together.

I gave her a hug goodnight and she said, "I can't believe you. You really couldn't figure it out?"

I said, "You mean, why you were unresponsive and rude throughout dinner? That's not my job. I'm not a therapist. You could've told me what was bothering you any number of times."

She laughed. "Of course, it's my fault! Blame everyone but yourself." She cleared her throat. Here came the explanation. "It's the anniversary of my last breakup. I dropped at least a hundred hints throughout dinner, and you didn't pick up on one."

I replied, "I don't recall a single hint, and why drop hints at all? Why not just tell me?"

"Because it's personal!"

"But you just told me, now! What makes it suddenly permissible to tell?"

"Because you're supposed to hold my hair back as I vomit! That's what a normal guy would do!"


"It's the anniversary, I loved this guy, he broke my heart, and you just sat there and talked about movies and bullshit! I should kill you! I hate you so much!"

Okay, then. I walked away. The next words out of her mouth, though, were pure comedy:

"Where are you going?"

I didn't take the bait. She must have sent me a thousand emails and called me off the hook for the next several days, but for some reason or another, I simply couldn't bring myself to respond to her. Maybe you can figure out why.


  1. Masterfully handled, though I would have done more than hint to get her to pay half the bill.

  2. That was nice of you to pay the bill. And man, really, she expected you to guess THAT? And hold her hair. Strange.


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