1. Black suit, white shirt, red tie
A serious suit for a serious matter. Let her know I mean business.
But what if it just makes her scoff? How boring, she might think with a self-satisfied smirk.
The first time I took her to my law firm’s holiday party, I warned her that everyone would dress conservatively, blacks and whites and such. She wore a turquoise dress and looked ravishing. We arrived and lo and behold, everyone wore blacks and whites and such. She kicked her head back and laughed, sudden as an alarm clock.
I laughed, too, and she said, “Well, you did warn me.” I put my arm around her waist, and we walked toward the buffet and all the people dressed in blacks and whites and such that she was supposed to meet.
Fast forward twelve years. Holiday party. She wears a black dress and a pearl necklace and fits right in.
“Boring,” she says. “As expected.”
When did the road of our lives fork? Had we always traveled along different paths, and she didn’t realize it until then?
2. Wedding ring?
We once stayed in on a rainy night and streamed the movie Inception. Near the end, she said to me, “Did you notice that whenever Leo is in the real world, he’s not wearing a wedding ring, but in his dreams he is?”
“No,” I said.
“That’s your problem. You don’t notice things like that.”
But I did notice how even though she used to sit with her bare feet to her side and her arms around mine, this night she sat cross-legged, arms folded in her lap. I wanted to point this out, to tell her that, yes, I noticed these things, but I feared how she might respond.
So do I ditch the ring, let her know I’m moving on?
The truth is this: I tried going out without my ring once. I kept tapping my fingers on the bar, a nervous habit, but the clink of the ring against the wood never sounded, and the emptiness rang like a horn blast.
3. Shiny blue shirt
She got it for me on my last birthday. It looked like something young people wear to clubs — nothing like what I’d ever worn, certainly not at work.
“Wow,” I said. “Thank you.”
“You can wear it dancing,” she said.
“I think you’d look good in it.”
Her words inflated me, and I promised I would wear it.
I never did. For several months, whenever we went out, she would say, “You should wear your birthday shirt.”
“Not tonight,” I’d say. “I want it to be perfect.”
“Whatever you say, dear,” she’d say.
If that was the line she threw me to rescue our marriage, I missed my chance to bite — I didn’t even notice the hook.
Of course, I could wear it to our meeting, but I can’t look desperate.
But oh God do I want her back.
published 26 March 2016