March 1998
s m u g
by Matt Sager

Dear Mom,

It was so nice to see you on Valentine's Day. Thanks for making me that great dinner, and for the pep talk. You were right, I think; things are bound to get better, and I will find something that resembles a functional girlfriend. I've earned it haven't I?

Wasn't it last year at this time that I, a grown man, had to take a girl back to your place to score? You were so understanding, you almost seemed proud of me. Of course the girl thought it was a little weird, but not so weird that I didn't get some. Pardon my lewdness, ma. Anway, she left abruptly in the morning and suggested we never speak again, but it was nice while it lasted.

I met Amy at the coffee shop around the corner from my apartment, where she worked behind the counter. You know how much I love coffee, so I was always stopping in. I became a pretty regular customer, and before long I was charming her. I was surprised when she seemed to actually start digging me, but before I knew it was out on a date with her.

Mom, you should have seen me I was nervous as hell when I took this girl out to see Fountains of Wayne. Thank god little Joe was there, you know my buddy who used to have a TV show?

When Amy looked me in the eye and told me point-blank that she wanted to go back to my place, Joe was there to give me emergency assistance. See, I had a live-in girlfriend back then, who I had tried to break up with but she just couldn't leave me or my apartment! I would have taken Amy back to her place, but she lived in this nutty boarding house that forbade guests after 10 pm. Nothing's ever simple, right?

But this was the girl of my dreams, throwing herself at me. In my hour of need, I turned to Joe for advice. Good old Joe and his pearls of wisdom: "Take her to your mom's place dude, it works for me". This is, of course, what I deserved for asking for advice from a 17-year-old. Who, by the way, never scores. Still, I was out of options. I gave her a b.s. story about my apartment being fumigated, and I took this poor woman to Mommy's house to get lucky. Thanks for being such a good host, and for corroborating my story. It's not your fault that she'll never talk to me again, don't give it a second thought.

Anyway, that whole experience convinced me that it was time to reign in my love life and straighten things out. I never wanted another experience that fucked up and weird. I finally got rid of the leach in my apartment, and made a decision to only date normal people under normal circumstances. That's when I met Sally. You know, Mom, Sally, the one I'm always whining to you about. The rock star.

We met in the subway station and had a great discussion about music. It turned out she was a fan of my dumb radio gig, and we bonded on the subject of glam rock. I know, that's not your speed. Just imagine you meet some professor and he's hip to like arias or something. That's just how smitten I was. And I got her number, with no resistance. I'm the biggest stud on the E train!

The next night we talked on the phone for hours, and she told me that she was a big rock star. I suddenly remembered seeing her video and being really into her. Mom, remember how cool I thought I was at that moment? I was the shit. We had a wild, romantic week together, during which I never left her house. It was at the end of that week that she told me she was nuts. Real nuts. Rock Stars don't have a reputation for being mentally healthy. When she came back from her European tour, she went straight to Bellvue for a month to mellow out. Now she takes lithium, but she has trouble swallowing so she has to put it up her butt twice a day.

I told her not to worry, I'd help medicate her anytime she needed it - You always did tell me I should learn when to keep my smart-ass remarks to myself. Bless your heart, mom, you were so right. But oh, we had fun. She tried to teach me to play guitar, and when she realized how futile that was she tried to teach me how to paint. When she realized how futile that was she had me sit still while she painted me in different outfits.

Anyway, like half of Sally's songs are true stories of fucked up guys who treated her like shit.. As the weeks turned into months, I decided to be the ultimate boyfriend, her night in shining armor. The only thing that stood in my way was what a raving psycho bitch she was becoming.

Well, not all the time. actually, when I was nasty or distant she was really wonderful and sweet. But when I'd call to say hello, or bring her flowers, or be at all nice and attentive, she would bite my head off. Sally was only happy when there was some sort of tension in the air. One day, while she was giving me hell over the phone, I ended it. I was just sick of taking her shit, and I called the whole stupid thing off. She was shocked. She started making excuses: "I'm under a lot of pressure, I've got to play 2 shows this month." I was not impressed. "I'm all stressed out cause I have to get ready for my vacation in Hawaii next week!" The heart bleeds, doesn't it Mommy?

I told her where to shove it where she keeps her lithium, then spent about 10 minutes dressing and getting ready to go to work. I walked out of my apartment, and bumped right into Sally, who was carrying a painting she had done of me. Not too awkward, right? Not to mention scary? What was it you said about dating people who live a block away from you? That you shouldn't ever under any circumstances? Boy you were really on to something Mom, I'm gonna start listening to you from now on. Not just humoring you like I do now, but I mean really listening and doing exactly what you say.

And maybe next year at Valentine's Day, you won't have to be my date again.


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