It’s Hard to Write a ‘Dear Jane’ Letter When Your Hand is Shaking in Fear [Half a Man]
Polly was crazy. I wasn’t positive of this until my father, never one to mince words or use words to speak unkindly about another person, called to say, “Son, I think Polly is crazy.”
This isn’t the typical “oh she’s crazy” excuse men use to dismiss relationships. In those instances, crazy is defined as –
- A person who fails to meet certain expectations and criteria in a relationship, usually in a manner unbeknownst to the person
- To act in a way that is a turn-off to another -- “She called almost every day, she was crazy.”
- To act rationally irrational -- “That girl was crazy, she wanted me to meet her parents after only a couple months.”
- To irrationally overreact to a situation which the other person deems rational: “She got angry when she found out I was sleeping with her friend. She was crazy.”
- When a person flat out just isn’t interested in dating you but there are no better words to describe your behavior.
In this instance, crazy is defined as [copy and paste actual dictionary definition of crazy here.] Polly was crazy.
The old man wasn’t calling randomly to bash her. He was actually calling to complain about the terrible New York Giants’ secondary. He started the discussion with her sanity and cited a specific example of why the girl I’d be seeing for the last few months was [copy and paste actual dictionary definition of crazy here].
My father, bartender to many a local cop and listener to all their stories involving their time in uniform, spoke at length to a long-time friend and patrolman who just that morning pulled over a young woman for a busted tail light and expired inspection sticker. After a few minutes of playfully flirting with the officer with pleas to “let her off this time” she grew angry because he “wasn’t going to let her off this time” because a quick run of her plates showed she’d been let off more than a few times, and here she was again.
As he wrote the ticket, Polly went [copy and paste actual dictionary definition of crazy here] and called him not only every name in the book, but a few names too filthy to include in even the rough draft of the book.
The girl, her car, and the cop’s description of her being “way too good looking for her own good” rang the bell in my old man’s head louder than at last call.
“Her name Polly?” he asked the cop.
“Yeah,” he replied in amazement. “How the hell did you know that?”
It wasn’t as if her behavior were out of left field, mind you. I knew she was crazy. The problem, as it is in many a movie and book about the topic, is that getting rid of a crazy person isn’t always as simple as “having an honest talk” or “dumping her out a second story window when she attacks with a butcher knife in the final scene” because I’ve tried both. Oddly I’ve found the latter is easier than the former. The phone call from the old man was like pushing the Fast Forward button on this live-action version of Swim Fan. I’d have to do something concrete to show her that our relationship, or whatever this thing was called, was coming to an end.
I met her at my house to tell her how I felt, and after about an hour of sex, left her in bed to retreat to the couch to figure out how to actually tell her this was all coming to end.
It was in the middle of the night when inspiration hit. The solution was simple.
Now, moving had been in the plans for months, I had just never shared all of the details with Polly. Telling a girl you’re putting your condo up for sale and house-hunting sounds like an invite to ANY woman, especially a woman who is, what’s the word I’m searching for, [copy and paste actual dictionary definition of crazy here]. I casually mentioned in previous conversations my thoughts on moving into a bigger place, but I never mentioned actually going to open houses (about 11 miles up the interstate), didn’t hint I was serious about the idea (signed the papers the day prior), and was unaware I was actually moving (four weeks from that day).
The night before the move, I thought of all the places she’d show up looking for me. The only place I’d still have to actually show my face was at my office. In that situation I’d call security and burrow under my desk until the Rent-a-Cops signaled the “all clear” sign. It’s really quite roomy under the desk, since it’s L-shaped and allows for a ton of legroom, which translates to maximum cowering space. I wouldn’t frequent the bar where I met her, the bagel place I took her to on the mornings she stayed over or the shopping center where I tried to leave her because conversation in the car turned to the Fergie song on the radio and I’d mentioned she was “attractive in a featured dancer” kind of way and she exploded because I “talked about being attracted to another woman right in front of her.” I’d ignore the phone calls and the problem would slowly fade away.
This was where I should have felt relief, but instead I felt like a true piece of dung. I felt bad. I felt less than Fergilicious. Everyone, even the crazy ones, deserve a little closure. Perhaps one too many guys vanishing was what was to blame for her [you get the point of what goes here], and I was just piling another one on to a long list of letdowns, no-shows and relationships gone wrong.
The Things They Carried, long overdue at the local library, topped a stacked pile of last minute errands I had to run before leaving town. One item that many of the Vietnam soldiers carried in their backpacks were letters from the life they’d left in the States. Dear John letters are a sad reality for soldiers of any war. While many letters from home remind G.I.’s of the reasons to make it out, Dear John letters remind soldiers maybe there isn’t anything left to fight for back home. It’s an awful way to get heartbreaking news, but at least it’s something.
A Dear Jane letter was in order.
I was honest. I was forthcoming. I explained how I rushed into things too soon after a five-year relationship, and how it’s probably for the best we go our separate ways. I stretched it to two pages (double-sided, college ruled loose leaf) and even mentioned some of the good times. The ones that didn’t involve driving around a crowded parking lot yelling “I DON’T EVEN F**CKING KNOW FERGIE!!!” out the driver side window. I wished her well.
I just needed a closer. An ending that would mean the actual end, and not “let’s stay in touch” or “sex is still open” or “don’t make this come down to me pushing you out a second story window.”
There’s a spot in my kitchen, next to the fridge, where I look out the bay window and see who’s knocking on the front door of my condo, without the person at the front door noticing I’m watching their every move.
I stood frozen in that spot as she knocked again, making a plan. First I’d hide the letter, and then I’d have to find a spot to hide my entire body.
If only my desk wasn’t jammed into the back of the moving truck.
Chris Illuminati is the editor-in-chief of GuySpeed. He’s written three humor books, ruined many personal relationships and still cries during thunderstorms. His “Half a Man” column appears every week. You can read more of his work here or follow him on Twitter.