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118# A tasteless gentleman

Updated: Dec 10, 2020

- I thought about what you said

- And?

- I’ll stop smoking weed if you stop talking about your problems

- !!?

I wanted a relationship. A partner I could lean on when times are hard. I asked Karleen to put a label on what we had and she gave me her terms. To deserve her, I had to make a compromise. I had to give up a proven, unwavering source of relaxation and joy. The choice was simple: Weed or Karleen.

The more I pondered the angrier I got. I wanted someone to love me the way I was, period. I felt pity, even disdain, for people who stop what they love to please their partner. Stopping a habit I enjoyed only to please her would mean giving up my freedom. Fuck that. Weed won by default.

I had to find the words, a trick to convey the message without sounding like an insensitive douche. The reason I smoked weed when I was with her was to escape dreadful conversations. Karleen liked to open doors I barred a long time ago. Everybody went through shit at some point, that’s life. How is talking about the past make it any better?

Karleen had a different approach, she loved to dig up the past. She needed to know why people behaved the way they do, what triggered their actions. She needed to understand the WHY. The present has its own share of problems, no need to carry extra weight. So, whenever she stirred the conversation toward her past issues, I smoked weed and zoned out.

I agreed to give up weed if she gave up rehearsing the past. No useless therapy sessions, no weed. A fair trade I thought, but Karleen did not like it. She wanted someone to share her problems. I wanted someone to share my jokes. Truth and misery or delusion and cheerfulness. We went apart. I chose cheerfulness.

The weekend went by. On Monday Karleen texte me, she wanted to talk, to understand. We met at the coffee in front of my house for the sunset. There was an unusual stillness in her face. I was joking about our differences, that we were as compatible as ice and fire. She drank my words in silence. I saw the pain crystallize in the corner of her eyes, turning the white to red. A tear ran down her cheek.

Karleen was crying in silence, as proud and beautiful as a melting iceberg. I apologized and took her in my arms. Her sadness was so raw I could almost taste it. We cried together, a sad honest embrace of two strangers dropping their masks for the first time.

The week after, we went to Karleen's favorite Italian restaurant for her birthday. She was telling me about an issue she had with an older employee who undermined her authority. I listened as she dwelled forever on why that old lady would not listen to her. Boiling with impatience, I yelled:


- “She’s been working there for 15 years”

- “Give her a warning first, then fire her. Do it publicly to send a message”

- …

- “It’s what I did with that useless building manager in Montreal. No problem since. No more bitching either. It works like a charm!”

She finished chewing, swallowed, and said in the coldest tone:

- “You make me want to puke”

- “Haha yeah do that! Then we could blame the chef and get a free meal!”

An awkward silence ensued. I offered to talk about anything she wanted, without joking or evading as a way to make it up. She looked at me with judging eyes. The cold eyes of the executioner. We left the restaurant and walked to her place. Her silence cut deeper than words.

I gave her a goodbye hug and left without a word. Her emerald eyes were swollen and red. In one week, I managed to make her cry twice, both times unwillingly.

Something was broken. And despite all my good intentions, I did not know how to fix it.


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