“A woman happily in love, she burns the soufflé. A woman unhappily in love, she forgets to turn on the oven.” Or so says the Baron Saint Fontanel to Audrey Hepburn’s Sabrina in the eponymous film.
Let me say that throughout most of my twenties I never burnt a single soufflé. What I did do was date.
Things didn’t work out with Pony. He was too much of a stoic. He was also a vegetarian which wasn’t a problem in and of itself except that we would fight about it. We would argue about hypothetical holiday dinners as I was unwilling to serve our unborn hypothetical children tempeh at Christmas and he wasn’t about to sit a table that had a roast animal on it. I got him hooked on Judy and Bing while we dated. Post-break-up he sent me a text message, “I’m playing $10 worth of Judy Garland on the jukebox right now.” I’m sure his soccer buddies at the pub loved that. Like most long distance relationships ours had no chance in hell. It didn’t help that his was the toughest shell to crack. Finally, when I got to the center, I realized I didn’t want what was there. He’s the one I wanted to be something else.
Cap’n America. In fifth grade, he decided that he wanted to be a Christmas Elf or a comedian. At 29, he wrote scripts for cartoons. He was like a golden retriever puppy that only wanted to please. Which could seem endearing except that he consistently embroidered the truth to make himself appear the good guy. Or sometimes he’d just flat out lie. Like when he told me he was going to Vegas because he had seats for a fight that he didn’t know I knew was taking place in Madison Square Garden. Imagine Eddie Haskell as an Abercrombie model. Can’t stand him, right? Eventually, neither could I. His charm was his best and worst quality. He played Scrabble with my 90 year old Great-Grandmother. He talked sports with my uncles. He entertained all the young children in my family until their various bedtimes. One day he freaked-out about how different we were. He said, “I wear jeans and Chuck Taylors.” To which I replied, “So do I. What’s the difference between your Chucks and mine?” He got very serious then said, “Mine are functional. Yours are just ironic.” I tried to soothe him. “No, they’re not. My Lacoste is ironic.” He’s the one that chased me out of the village I didn’t even want to be in.
Cracktor. That’s a portmanteau of crack-head actor. He loved gifting suites, leased luxury cars, and cocaine. He was Italian-American and had sparkly blue eyes. Or at least they sparkled when he wasn’t on drugs. The first time I heard him play piano I cried. The passion that pounded through him and into those keys was overwhelming. He liked to dance to Louis Prima in the kitchen. When he got wasted, he’d tell me, “This is me being totally honest. I’m so vulnerable right now.” Seldom was that the case. He just liked delivering monologues. Once after we stopped seeing each other, he called to say he was tripping his balls off and about to rip out his hair and that he needed me to come play Florence Nightingale. Like a self-flagellating masochist, I came to his rescue. When I got to his house with sandwiches and San Pellegrino, he crawled into my lap like a kitty and cried. His Blackberry kept buzzing with text messages from a certain CW starlet who wanted to know what happened to him? Where did he go? When was she going to see him next? In the middle of all this buzzing he said, “I hate you, Misti. I hate that you’re the only person I wanted to call. I hate that I want to see you everyday. I hate how you have the correct answer before I’ve even asked the question. I hate how comfortable you make me feel because it’s uncomfortable being so comfortable. Mostly, I cherish you and that only makes me hate you more.” Yes, that’s all verbatim as I recorded his ramblings on my phone. He’s the one whose post-breakup call I never should have answered.
Grandpa. He was great on paper and if you couldn’t guess, he was a little older than me. 16 years older. He claimed Gypsy roots and said his family hailed from Eastern Europe. He was an ex-rocker turned screenwriter who liked playing Norman Mailer to my Norris Church. He had never been married or engaged. That should have been my first red flag. By design, real intimacy was never an issue. He created the busiest schedule for himself so he didn’t have time to let anyone get close. When not writing, he’d fill the rest of his days with all kinds of lessons and activities–acting, French, music, pilates, boxing, whatever. He would call when he missed me. And that’s when the vicious cycle would start again. He would wine and dine me and talk about moving out of L.A. and maybe having babies. Then when he’d start to feel himself falling in love, not that he ever said he loved me, he would disappear only to call again after a few months–generally after having just spent a weekend with his married friends and all their charming children. He was a recidivist romantic and as useful as a trapdoor on a canoe. He’s the one who liked me best living in the margins of his life.
One year, on the 4th of July, Grandpa fully stood me up. For hours I sat in a silk, slate blue, Catherine Malandrino dress, eating steak and heirloom tomatoes, drinking champagne by myself while the gardenias in my hair wilted and died. The tableau was that of a Tissot painting gone horribly wrong. Darkness fell and I scooped up my dog and took her outdoors. Apropos of the occasion, we were dancing around to Animal Collective’s Fireworks when all these glittery colors streaked across the sky. That’s when it hit me. I was sparkly enough on my own. And to be honest, really quite happy not having to share any of the ginger peach or dark chocolate cherry pies I made earlier that afternoon.
When the pyrotechnics ended, I scooped up my dog and went back inside. We snuggled in bed with the rest of the champagne and watched Sabrina. And when that famous soufflé scene came up, I noted the Baron St. Fontanel forgot something crucial when addressing Miss Fairchild. A woman’s only options are not to be happily or unhappily in love. She can also be happily not in love and eat all the soufflé (or pie as the case may be) until the right man who deserves a taste comes along. And that’s exactly what I did until I went to London the summer of 2009 for what was to be a 10 day trip from which I never returned.