Day 3 on The Ex-Boyfriend Cookbook meditation challenge: Today’s story was “Poor Donald’s Chicken Enchiladas.” Donald was a blind date who had just done mushrooms before the author picked him up. He wouldn’t let go of her hand, insisted that she stay overnight with him, and his cat gave birth to kittens on her stomach.
The lesson for today: Sometimes, beautiful things can come out of going along on someone’s bad trip.
“Poor Donald’s Chicken Enchiladas” is my favorite story in the whole book.
It’s so awful, so ridiculous: you agree to go out with someone you haven’t even met, and he doesn’t even have the decency to try to put a working foot—much less his best foot—forward. As I try dating again, it is simultaneously so laughable, so painful to have something like this happen. It’s like somehow it’s become socially acceptable to agree to go out and make zero effort. “At least I tried,” such an effort seems to squeak, from its separate corner in the room, far, far, from your corner. But I guess I’ve never had someone show up on psychedelics before. Once, when my high school friend Amy was in town, I convinced her that it would be fun to pick up my new kind-of-lover and go watch the fireworks on Fourth of July. When we got to his house, he was drunk. I don’t remember what Amy said, but I think the phrase “Real Winner” was uttered.
Nothing beautiful came of that particular experience, and it was a hard meditation to impose on my day. I suppose it could apply to the fact that, in a bizarre twist of fate, I only have one person in my spring freshmen composition course—ONE—and I have to figure out how to make it interesting and less painful for that poor, intelligent, stranded student. She’s good and we are getting along, but no kittens on the stomach yet.
I suppose I could use the story to consider a new angle on my new sometimes lover. As I mentioned in the previous post, I have trouble with “sometimes.” While he’s actually very present and is neither on mushrooms, nor is he clinging to my hand and insisting I don’t let go, I find MYSELF clinging. I am Poor Donald. He reminded me last night that he has, in fact, done multiple things to show me he cares about me; in no way am I being left to go on my own bad trip, completely by myself. I oscillate wildly between kittens on the stomach and sick to my stomach. I enjoy our new, silly games; this morning, we composed a track listing for an album all about necrophiliac love songs. The album title? Necromantic, of course. But then I can’t help wondering how I will ever meet someone who wants to spend as much time with me as I like spending time with him. The new lover likes me; he’s just got other enchiladas to make, other kittens to fry. “You already see me one and a half times more than anyone else in my life,” he said.
It’s not that I doubt I will ever fall in love again or meet anyone again—with regards to THAT stuff, it’s kittens on the stomach all the time. I excel at finding love. It’s just that Eli and I met on my front lawn and literally didn’t separate for months. Over the years, I could count on him to meet me wherever I was, at whatever happy hour we were, with whomever I was. Now, I am trying to remember that there are, potentially, a lot of Poor Donalds, but the kittens will be up to me to find, sometimes. And I have to try not to BE Poor Donald—so wrapped up in your own trip that you don’t recognize when you have held onto someone’s hand so tightly it’s turned white . . . even if there are kittens in compensation.
The thing I like some much about this story is that it makes me think I would love the author: a woman who, like me, is so easily reeled in by the unexpected, so startled by the miracle of a shared experience, that she would overlook the insanity of the trip it took to get there . . . a woman easily blinded by all those kittens.