The Absurd and Amazing Adventures of Cafe Girl: The Anatomy of Demise

January 25, 2011

The Anatomy of Demise

Anatomy (from the Greek ἀνατομία anatomia, from ἀνατέμνειν ana: separate, apart from, and temnein, to cut up, cut open)
By the time he shows up for your date dressed like a homeless person, you realize that it might be a little too late to save what you hope might have been a relationship. Albeit a little early, demise has, once again, arrived.

You realize that it's not just because he looked a little filthy that you knew demise had come. It was really that sense of not even trying that was your clue. Afterall, the same scene played itself out in an evening, two years ago, when you put on that pretty cocktail dress to go to the theater and he showed up in jeans and a plaid shirt. And though you looked and looked and looked, you couldn't, for the life of you, find the horse that came with said plaid shirt. Or the shirtless cowboy who wanted it back.

You masked your disappointment then, you smiled and you went to the theater anyway with the Plaid-Clad-Man-At-The-Time. Two weeks later he ended things - then had the balls to say it was all about you.

(As it turned out, those were the only balls he had. But that's another story for another time.)

You claimed you didn't see it coming. Just like you claimed you didn't see it coming two years before that, when demise was the long-distance call that shattered your first ever hope. But demise, though quiet, and often stealthy, is never silent. And demise is certainly never hazy.

Demise is the emails gone unanswered, the messages gone to voice mail, that piece of communication you wait for but never comes, and never comes, and never comes. Demise makes no eye contact, can't hold a conversation with any feeling, will never give you a straight answer.

Demise is funny. Oh, how funny it is! It is full of jokes, one-liners, quips, and witticisms. Demise will make you laugh, and even as you do, you can feel that sharp pain in your heart, that catch in your throat. But still you laugh, and laugh, and laugh. Because you know the moment you stop, the tears will come.

Demise starts to get very busy. There's work, other commitments - going to the gym, running errands, doing laundry, cleaning house. Demise is often unavailable to chat, unavailable to spend time, or simply unavailable with no explanation at all.

If you do not pay attention to demise, it starts to get nasty. It's critical and cold. Demise talks and talks, and talks, and never lets you get a word in edgewise. Or demise is silent and grunts every once in a while in response to the question, "Are you alright?"

When you cut open demise and look at it with the cold eye of a surgeon, it all seems so simple. You want to slap your forehead and yell, "Doh!" Homer Simpson style. There is it, clear as day, how could you not have spotted the symptoms? How could you have been so foolish?

The problem with demise, why it is so hard to spot, so hard to pinpoint, is that it can start from anywhere. One bruised ego, one stupid story told, one careless comment, and demise can set in. Sometimes, demise has no reason at all. It just arrives, unannounced, and stays like an inconsiderate relative. And like that inconsiderate relative, it invades your personal space. It's hard to ignore demise, hard not to let it into the rooms of your heart, hard not to hear its whispering insinuations. Once demise arrives, it is near-impossible to fight off. Trust me, you've tried, and it feels like swimming in molasses - dark, thick, suffocating.

So when you look over to him and see the long, dark shadows cast across his expressionless face, you feel that familiar flicker of fear. You realize that you've been holding your breath, just as you were two years ago, and two years before that. The dread is hauntingly familiar. Demise has indeed arrived. In fact, it not only has arrived, it has settled itself on the couch and put up its feet on your coffee table.

Maybe it's a little extreme. Maybe there's a very good explanation for everything that's happened, maybe there's room for benefit of the doubt. Maybe, maybe, maybe...

But enough is enough. You leave.

You know that there's a strong chance your resolve will soften, that you'll come up with some reason, true or not, to explain it all away. It'll probably happen, you'll probably go back, you'll probably be wrong, and two years from now, you'll probably be writing all about this moment and its ensuing emotional baggage. But that is all later.

For now, in this singular moment, you've recognized demise and chosen not to play in its sand box. For now, you have the wealth of choice about who you are and how you want to be. Savor it, for now.

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