I think it was Jesus who said something like, “If everyone’s saying the same thing about you then it’s probably true.” If it wasn’t Jesus then it was Marcus Aurelius, or someone like that.
My father, my mother, my brother, and pretty much everyone who knows me tell me I have few redeeming qualities. The only person who doesn’t tell me that is my girlfriend Grace.
She says, “Write a list of your redeeming qualities. It’ll make you feel better about yourself.”
It seems like a good idea, so I grab a piece of paper. I search around for something to write with but the only thing available is the pencil Grace has wedged under her breasts. “Do you think my boobs are getting saggy?” she says.
“They’re perfect,” I tell her, which is true. I don’t think she really thinks her breasts are saggy. I think she just likes posing for me in the middle of her parents’ living room with no top on. “Can I borrow the pencil for a moment?” I reach under her breasts and remove the pencil. I try not to make contact with the warm skin, because I need to write the list, and if I touch the skin I won’t get around to writing anything for a while.
A car passes outside, Grace puts her hands over her breasts and leans sideways so she can see out of the window. I don’t think it’s her mother’s car, but nonetheless she bends forward, still with one hand over her boobs, and retrieves her bra from where it’s lying on the couch next to me.
“One last look,” I say. She takes her hands away, does a kind of shimmy, then fastens the bra around her waist, spins it around so the claps is at the back, then puts it on. I don’t know which I like better. The way she takes her bra off, or the way she puts it on.
She buttons up her blue shirt, then settles on the cushion next to me. I hand her my list. She squints at it. She’s pretty blind. “One,” she reads. “I haven’t murdered anyone.” She gives me her confused look. “Is that it?”
“It’s a work in progress,” I say. “It’s a start.”
The really fortunate thing about this moment is that I don’t realize that I will never ever lay eyes on Grace’s boobs again. If I’d realized that at the time, I would have wept, and I don’t like weeping in public.
Also I will shortly have to strike the ‘not-murdering’ item from my list. But, don’t worry. It isn’t Grace who gets murdered. This is a sad story, but it’s not that sad.
How Grace came to be my ex-girlfriend.