When I get down about love, sometimes I just really have to remind myself of one thing: There are plenty of fish in the sea!
My mom told me this a long time ago when my bus driver wouldn’t be my date to the big dance and then she told me again at the dance when my bus driver showed up with my best friend. She just leaned in close while we were slow dancing and whispered in my ear that there are plenty of fish in the sea. These eight words, placed sequentially, still hold the same meaning to me now as they did when I was having an allergic reaction to both my mom’s hairspray and my blue polyester tuxedo.
I’m reminded that no matter how much you love someone, they will inevitably become bored of you and force you to do things that you find unsavory or morally objectionable, and then they will leave. And there will always, always be another one after that.
I’ve loved my share of women. Perhaps not as much as I’ve loved some other things. I don’t really think I’ve ever considered a woman to be “good enough for me” or “worthy”. That sounds harsh! Putting it into perspective, though, I really really love judo. And not one of my exes knew judo. What the hell!? By god, though. Did I ever love some of them almost enough!
Take Burn Ward Bonnie, for instance. Now there was a good listener. I would just go into her room and sit down and talk and she was always there to lend what was left of her ear. The reassuring sound of her ventilator, whooshing in and out, really made me feel like we were making a connection. She didn’t say much. Like I mentioned earlier, she was there to listen. When she did speak up, she didn’t even have to say real words, even if she could have. Her grunts and slightly anguished moans always seemed to echo exactly how I was feeling.
It was a whirlwind. Her parents didn’t approve. Neither did mine. Nor did the hospital administration. More than once I was told to “Leave that poor woman alone” or to “Get back to work”. But so magnetic was our attraction that I just couldn’t keep away. It became very exciting, both of us feeling like we were in some romantic and tragic Hollywood story! At least, I think that she felt that way too. She really didn’t have much of a range as far as facial expressions went.
I would hide my mop in some dark corner, late at night, and creep into her room. She wouldn’t see me come in, what with her fused-shut eyelids, but I knew that she could smell the mixture of my cologne and industrial sterilizing solution just as well as I could smell her own mixture of soothing ointments, excrement and small animal caught in car engine. As I approached her bed, I would always hear her heart monitor start to beep just a little faster. Sometimes I would just sit beside her and tell her about my day. Sometimes I would cuddle her and nuzzle her neck, listening to the delighted little “puhhhh” sounds that she would make.
One day… It all came to an end. She was just gone. I had come around lunch time, like I always did, to blow her secret kisses through the glass window of her room, playing it off as a sneeze whenever anyone would see me. I got to the window and she was gone. Bed made. Still surrounded by all of the nice gifts that her parents and family had given to her. To us.
When I had given her the ring, how was I to know? Sliding it down onto her right pinkie finger, (I didn’t think it would stay on the remenants of the ring finger, and I wanted to play it safe. Rings are expensive!) overcome with the joy of having heard her respond “huuuuuhhhhnnnn” to my question. I really didn’t see it coming, what happened. Look, I suppose I could have looked into getting a new ring. But like I said, rings are expensive. And I suppose I could have checked to see if it was “tarnished” or “rusted”. And I suppose that I could have thought through the prospect of putting a rusty ring onto a finger that was essentially just a skinless open wound. But I didn’t. Who thinks clearly when they are in love!? Who, I ask!?
If you had have been in my shoes, you would have done the same thing.
So, the septic shock - or whatever they said it was - ravaged what was left of her immune system and it ended just like it always does. She left me. Now, I’m not one to play the “blame game”, but honestly - what ever happened to being a fighter? As I was stuffing all of her gifts and other shit into my duffel bag, I was really heartbroken. Again. Plus, they had gotten rid of the body already so I couldn’t get the ring back. Double bummer.
Then, with a sigh, I brought myself to thinking about what my mother had said. “There are plenty of fish in the sea, son. Your bus driver is a whore.” And I felt better. In a way, Burn Ward Bonnie will always be a part of me. There is extensive black staining that remains on my teeth, lips and gums, and I really don’t expect it to ever come off.