I spent the night on Harvey’s couch feeling like shit because I wasn’t with Arlene. But when she asked if I loved her and would always love her, something inside me wanted to be honest.
“I don’t know.”
“What a dumbass thing to say,” Harvey reminded me for the umpteenth time. “What are you – some kind of moron?”
I looked away, like a puppy caught soiling the living room carpet.
He wouldn’t let up. “I thought things were going great with you two?”
“They were. I never met anyone like her before. We can talk for hours. She laughs so hard at Louis CK routines she loses her breath. The sex is great.”
Harvey kept at it. “And she must feel the same way. She let your skinny butt move in with her.” He opened the refrigerator and grabbed two cans of beer, handing me one. He popped his and took a long swig.
In a voice so quiet, I could barely hear myself, I said, “We even started talking about marriage.” Now I needed a drink. I had never told him that before.
He puffed his cheeks and blew the air out slowly. “You knew what she wanted to hear you say. Why the hell didn’t you say it?”
Something weird started happening. My nose tickled and my vision grew cloudy. I couldn’t catch my breath. I didn’t know if I was going to start bawling or have a heart attack.
I could tell by the way his voice had changed he was worried I might freak out. “Look, man. If you’re afraid, I understand. Things got serious awfully fast.” He reached out and put his hand on my shoulder, removing it quickly. “You know you can stay here as long as you want.”
I managed a “thanks” and then it hit me. I wasn’t afraid of being with Arlene. I was afraid of not being with her. I wanted to love her and tell her she was the one. I wanted it to be real. I didn’t want to screw this up.
“What the hell is love, anyway?” I asked my buddy who had never been in a relationship long enough to share last names.
“How the hell should I know?” He went silent, and I caught my breath. “But I’ll tell you this. You got it bad, my man. No use fighting it.”
And just like that I knew he was right. I changed from a single guy with a girlfriend who felt good about his life to a guy scared shitless.
I grabbed my cell to call Arlene. This had to be love.
published 27 June 2013