FIERCE FEATURES: The Things Wrong With Me... by Christina M. Rau
The Things Wrong With Me or The Reasons Any Man Will Leave Me or The Reasons He Left or The Reasons He Told Himself to Leave or What He Came Up With After A Few Weeks Of Being Asked For At Least One Reason or Reasons To Hate Me or Things I Should Apologize For or Things I Should Have Apologized For In Advance or Why I Make A Horrible Wife
Christina M. Rau
1. The Television Problem
I never saw The Wire. We watched Game of Thrones, caught up and then watched it because that other couple was watching it. We binged Breaking Bad. The episode with the fly was his least favorite and my most. He asked, What do we watch next? He said, There’s so much to catch up on. He said we should watch True Detective. I told him he wouldn’t like it; they talk a lot. He said we should watch True Detective. We watched. We didn’t understand it. I fell asleep on the spike mat on the floor as he complained that it was too slow and said they talked a lot. He said we should watch The Walking Dead. That other couple was watching it. We watched The Walking Dead. I said I would stop watching if Glen died. Glen died. I stopped watching. He kept telling me what was happening after I stopped watching. I said it sounded violent for violence sake. He said he liked violence. He watched Sons of Anarchy. He said I’d like it. I never saw True Blood. We watched Big Brother. He asked what we should watch next. He said we needed a new show. He said I should go on Jeopardy.
I started Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee as my new elliptical show. It was the day after Super Bowl. I walked into his office after the elliptical to tell him I’d found a new elliptical show. He had a choking fit. I rubbed his back, and he asked me between chokes to not touch him.
It was the tv. I watch too much tv. He’d never watched tv before me. Too much tv. Too many channels. Too much to choose.
Interlude I: The Goldbergs
I have to send a picture. It’s for the investigator. Can we stop here for a moment? Can we realize how ridiculous this is? This is a movie. This is real life.
He looks like Adam Sandler.
Here’s a picture of his face. I can send a picture of Adam Sandler, too. I can send the investigator a Sandler DVD collection. Here in this picture he’s wearing the Hawaii hat. No, not Sandler. This is him. See? Yes, they really do look alike.
No, he’s probably not living with the Goldbergs. The Amazon delivery. I can’t explain. No, I don’t have another address for him. I got this one from the bank statements. He forgot I can see the account. Who are the Goldbergs? They’re at that address. It has an apartment. The investigator said they saw a single man. He left shortly afterwards. They don’t seem to be lying.
The house does not look lived in. He doesn’t know the Goldbergs? I’ve never heard of the Goldbergs.
I do know a Christina, though. She has a son. She made my Christmas gifts. She’s his assistant.
2. The Problem With The Food
Peanut butter and jelly on Wonder Bread: Peanut butter goes on both sides. Jelly squeezes out sticky. Sticky fingers need washing immediately. Pizza: Domino’s delivers. Gino’s does not. Have to really want the Sicilian slice to go get the Sicilian slice from Gino’s. Otherwise Domino’s with a charge for delivery no matter the order. Burgers: Never homemade. Always fast. Wendy’s makes the good stuff. Sitting down: Chicken Francese when fancy. Filet mignon when fancier. It has to be fresh. Takes too long from kitchen to plate. Only okay from the hibachi now. Must be that fresh. Staples: Coca Cola by the litre. Fruity Pebbles by the box. Oreos. Peanut M&Ms. Also: French fries. Five Guys. Burger Fi. Chocolate Lava Cake.
He asked me if he could try the tea. Green tea. Tea bag never left the cup. Steeped until bitter. So bitter the ceramic could crack. I asked if he was sure. He said he wanted to try. We both held the mug as he tipped it towards his lips. He let go when he jerked away, which is why I was also holding the mug. He did not like the tea.
He said, You eat at 5 o’clock on the dot.
He said, We don’t eat together.
He said, We don’t eat the same things.
He said, You eat at 5 o’clock. On the dot.
I eat sweet potatoes. I eat when I’m hungry. I drink water.
Interlude II: The Fiancée
He slowly left her. One pair of shoes, one empty drawer at a time, he slowly left. Until he wasn’t living there anymore. He left the dog, too.
That was different.
He was working. She was not working. She was home. She didn’t do anything. She didn’t clean and didn’t cook. She bought scratch-offs at the corner store.
They’d had an engagement party and got all the gifts. No one got their gifts back.
They weren’t even in their twenties.
She’s dead now. Before she died, she was a lesbian. That was after he left, but probably also before and during.
3. The Risk Factor
$ Joint $ Bank $ Account $ His $ Bank $ Account $ My $ Bank $ Account $ His $ Bills $ My $ Bills $ His $ Savings $ My $ Savings $ My $ Parents’ $ Savings $ His $ Mom’s $ Credit $ His $ Aunt’s $ Loan $ His $ Seven $ Names $ So $ Funny $ We’d $ Had $ A $ Good $ Laugh $Now $ Not $ So $ Funny $ Funny $ Money $ He $ Made $ Hanging $ Clothes $ Lines $ In $ The $ Bedroom $ To $ Dry $ Who $ Calls $ The $ House $ Who $ Collects $ Who $ Owes $ Who $ Bails $ Out $ Whom $ Who $ Takes $ Who $ Fumbles $ Who $ Antes $ Who $ Spins $ Who $ Rolls $ Who $ Books $ Who $ Cooks $ Who $ Buys $ Lunch $ Who $ Scratches $ Who $ Takes $ The $ Interest $ Who $ Transfers $ What’s $ Owed $ Plastic $ Debt $ Hustle $ Scribble $ On $ Legal $ Pads $ For $ Hours $ Who $ Has $ A $ Beautiful $ Mind $ Who $ Has $ A $ Five $ Year $ Plan $ Ten $ Year $ Plan $ Who $ Can’t $ Get $ Out $ Of $ Whose $ Way $ Who $ Leaves $ A $ Business $ Walks $ Away $ Who $ Leaves $ A $ Boss $ Who $ Steals $ He $ Ain’t $ No $ Good $ No $ More $ Who $ Breaks $ A $ Door $ Open $ With $ A $ Credit $ Card $ Work $ Five $ Jobs $ Get $ A $ Refund $ Spend $ A $ Refund $ Refinance $ Under $ One $ Name $ Who $ Has $ Risk $ Who $ Has $ A $ Pension $ Who $ Does $ The $ Math $ Who $ Has $ Nothing $ Left $ To $ Gain $
I don’t take enough risks. I have only two names. We would never be able to get rich at this rate.
Interlude III: The Packing
All your stuff is in the garage so you don’t have to come in. I know you don’t want to come in. You took the suitcase?
I thought it was mine.
My parents got it for you when they got the other one for me.
I thought it was mine.
Make a list of all the things in the garage and send it to me. And send me the budget sheet. And send me a reason.
I’ll get back to you.
The treadmill is yours. I know it’s big, but it’s yours. Can I keep the Surface for now? And the PS 3? I don’t know why I’m asking. I don’t want any of it either. I want you to stay here.
I’ll get back to you.
Come back any time. The door is always open.
I’ll get back to you.
4. How To Poke A Bear Is Also Not How To Turn On A Woman
Follow the instructions on the package. No, not what you think she wants but what she actually wants which is not much and you think not much is too little.
A body shuts down when it feels unsafe. A body shuts down when it goes through grief. You think she did not want you anymore. She wanted you to not poke her. She wanted to not be grabbed every time she was within reach. She even made a list: This is what turns me on. Poking was not on the list. She wanted her father to not be dead. She wanted you to not try to have sex when she was thinking about her dead dad. You wanted to not wear condoms. You wanted to not have a baby. You wanted every contradiction.
I couldn’t take care of two men at once. One dead and the other surviving. I was living. Living proof of being alive.
Interlude IV: Third-Party Assessment
He’s clearly unhinged, she said. He seems unwell, she said. We need to be careful that we don’t scare him off now that we have him, she said. His lawyer won’t accept the papers, she said. She said, that’s unusual. He said he would accept the papers at the address where the Goldbergs live, she said.
Yes, I’m positive, I do not know the Goldbergs. I’m almost positive he does not live with them.
We want to be very precise, she said. The retainer has run out, she said.
Here’s another few grand. I’m using this new travel credit card. I will get points. I will take a free trip.
5. Marriage Is Work But Only If You Work It
The Divorce. Not a divorce. The Divorce. Married. My wife. I was My Wife. He was The Husband. We were single. Then we were married. He didn’t call the clerk. He made his sister call the clerk. I found Judy. I found the park. He gave me the ring for an engagement. He would not wear a ring for engagement. I wore the same ring for a wedding ring. He wore a wedding ring. He lost a wedding ring. He got a new ring. He fidgeted with the ring, and the ring went flying. We were married. We wore rings. The Divorce came up. The Divorce went away. He asked if I talked to a divorce lawyer. I explained that yes, he said The Divorce so often that I talked to a lawyer. He said he wanted to stay. We would not get The Divorce. Then The Divorce came up. I found his ring in the snow.
We could go to counseling.
No, The Divorce is happening.
We could work on things.
It’s different this time. The Divorce is happening.
But first, The Leaving. The Disappearing. The everything that goes with it.
She said, he has been served. She said, we will move forwards cautiously.
We will meet, she said.
Do you want to talk before we see each other, he said.
She said, Sign here. So I did.