One drunken night, I texted my favorite people on the planet. The text read, "You are one of my favorite people on the planet, and I love you."
Sadie was pissed.
"I meant it platonically," I clarified, and it was true...but that wasn't her problem.
"My boyfriend and I haven't said 'I love you' yet," she explained, "because we don't want to say it until we mean it," her voice hovered between shame and pride, "and it's not fair for you to say 'I love you' before my boyfriend does."
They're living together now. They still haven't said "I love you." Sadie insists that this is ideal, because they're taking it slowly.
It makes sense. Her turd of a boyfriend has commitment issues. Before getting with Sadie, he was engaged for eight years. And he's only thirteen years old.
Sadie has commitment issues, too. We were all-but-married, and then I cheated on her and moved across the country.
Let's rewind. Sadie and I were together for two-and-a-half years. Soon after we broke up, she started dating a turd.
If you were dating a turd, wouldn't you want to know? I would.
So I told her.
It was a few months before we started talking again. Our first conversation back was weird, but not for the reasons you'd expect. "I think I have food poisoning," she sobbed, "but my mom's freaking out because she thinks I'm pregnant."
I rolled my eyes. Sadie's mom, Rebecca, is an alarmist. When we were dating, Rebecca spent weeks grieving over her cat, because it had a tumor on its spine. Finally the veterinarian touched the tumor, and it turned out to be a clump of old fur.
So I was glad to hear that Rebecca caused Sadie's panic; it meant that all I had to do was reassure Sadie while using my NPR voice. I crooned, "Okay, well, we know that your mom is ridiculous. Are you pregnant?"
"No," Sadie whimpered. "I mean, maybe? I dunno."
I already knew she was having sex with the turd. She boasted to our friends. Her sex life was hard to avoid. I'd heard that he "really appreciates" her blow jobs, for example.
But unprotected sex?
She had turd milk up her canal! There was a cocoa puff in her oven! She'd be chained to that vacuous Eddie Munster look-alike, anticipating the newest Transformers sequel and cracking jokes at Paris Hilton's expense until her dying day!
NPR voice and reassurance, I reminded myself, NPR voice and reassurance.
"It may be time to go to the hospital. Then at least you'll have some answers, and it won't be so scary."
She called me back to let me know that the turd was going to drive her to the hospital. She recapped their conversation:
Hi, I've been leaking every fluid from every hole for a week. I would appreciate it if you would drive me to the hospital, please.
That blows, yo!! Hope u feel better!!
I don't think I will feel better without receiving medical attention, and I can't drive when I'm sick.
"You can't drive when you're well," I interjected.
"Shaddup," she said, and continued.
I can't pick u ^!! R Date Nite's on Friday and I didn't plan 2 c u till then!!
Yeah, well, I can't drive.
But I have 2 get ^ early 4 work 2morrow!!
I need to go to the hospital.
OK OK I'll b there in 20!! Jeez lol.
Okay, so maybe that's not a transcript. But Sadie did have to guilt the Turd into taking her to the hospital.
I don't know what happened after she hung up. I mean, I know that Sadie's still alive, and she's not sick any more...but I never got a call back. So here's how I imagine the rest of that night:
INT. THE TURD'S CAR - NIGHT
Sadie is curled in the passenger seat; small, pathetic. The Turd drives up to the curb of the emergency room, and unlocks his car's doors.
Sadie takes the hint that she's being dropped off.
Where will I meet you?
The Turd is too busy rocking out to his mix CD, which is either playing "Tubthumper" or "Gin 'n Juice."
Hey! Where will I meet you?!
I'm off 2morrow @ 5, so call n let me no ur aight!!
The Turd offers his fist, which Sadie proceeds to bump.
ON THE CURB
Sadie crawls out of the Turd's car and collapses on the sidewalk, panting like a lungfish.
The Turd's car peels out and drives off, leaving Sadie in a pall of smoke.
INT. THE TURD'S BEDROOM - NIGHT
The Turd is asleep in bed.
He snores like a pious lumberjack.
A cricket stridulates outside the window.
Boy, the Turd sure looks comfortable!
EXT. HOSPITAL CURB - DAWN
At long last, Sadie crawls through the hospital's front doors.
INT. THE TURD'S BEDROOM - DAY
The Turd is still asleep. For a moment, it looks like he's going to wake up...
...but no, he's way too comfortable for that.
A bird chirps outside the window.
INT. HOSPITAL WAITING ROOM - DUSK
Sadie's finally made it to the sign-in sheet. She has just enough energy to write the word "TURD" under the 'Emergency Contact' section...
...and then she blacks out.
A NURSE sees that Sadie hasn't completed the form, and tries to wake her.
Miss? You haven't written your emergency contact's phone number. We need--
(she sees the word "TURD")
...oh, him. Nevermind!
Finally, Sadie saw a doctor. The diagnosis: she had food poisoning.
And she was pregnant.
And she had AIDS.
Fortunately, she got AIDS from the Turd, so its cells weren't smart enough to affect her immune system. They just float in her veins, ambitionless, like a trillion microscopic appendixes.
As for the pregnancy, the Turd got Sadie to pay for the abortion...but only after he pinky-swore to "cover the next one, yo." I personally believe that he would have kept the kid if its due date coincided with Date Nite.
And then he extracted the food poisoning from her mouth with his penis, which they both "really appreciated."
Sadie got the swine flu.
When Sadie's sick, she loves getting pampered. I used to fill our tub with chicken soup, and pinball from the bathroom to her sick bed to the kitchen (for more bouillon cubes) and back.
When Sadie got the swine flu, she didn't get pampered.
Sadie’s afraid of being alone overnight. When we were together, if I left town without her, I'd pay hobos to sleep beneath our bed. (They got extra to suckle her toes every few minutes. It's reassuring, y'know?)
When Sadie got the swine flu, she was alone in her apartment.
She was quarantined for ten days. Her roommates fled. Her mother panicked, and threw her phone out the window--just in case Sadie’s voice was contagious.
“And where was the Turd?” you ask. Ever chivalrous, he offered to “swing by” on his day off.
Which would be the sixth day.
Of ten days.
After six days.
Okay. Let’s step back. He can’t be so bad, surely. ‘Six days’ is better emergency-time reaction than George W. Bush, right? The Turd is a better human being than George W. Bush.
That’s a compliment, right?
Instead of painting messages like “PLEASE SEND A DUTIFUL BOYFRIEND WHO CARES IF I DIE” on her roof, Sadie called me. She was crying, lonely, bored, and scared.
“Can I send you a stuffed animal?” I asked. “It could keep you company, and you could get rid of it once you’re better.”
“No,” she sniffled. “It’d be weird if you got me a stuffed animal and my boyfriend didn’t. I may have him bring me one when he swings by.”
It was amazing how she made me feel like I was the one over-stepping a boundary. My pleasant conversation was in short supply, so I offered to read to her, instead.
We chose J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. For the first few minutes, she reacted to it: cooing at the cute, laughing at the funny, sighing at the sad.
Then she went quiet for a full chapter, and I assumed she was asleep...but when I wished her “good night,” she mumbled, “M'not sleeping. More reading, please.”
That became a catch-phrase. She assumed that every pause--even pauses between sentences--meant that I was giving up on her, so she mumbled, “More reading, please.”
So I took a deep breath, and I read the book as one long sentence, and I only stopped when I heard her snoring.
She called again the next night, and the next night, and the next. Each night I read to her, and each night she mumbled, “More reading, please.”
Of course, the exception was the sixth night. She called to let me know I was off-duty, since the Turd had deigned to “swing by.” Her voice was as warm as it had been, back when we were together.
On the sixth night, Sadie was happy.
No matter how many asterisks that sentence deserves, I’m glad it happened.