Sleeping on the floor did wonders for my backache. It also produced a wonderful clarity of mind and no-nonsense, no-bullshit attitude that I needed to survive the next day and a half.
Or maybe I could just see the light at the end of the tunnel now.
I informed Michael that morning that I would deposit him by the PATH on Saturday at noon. I would not accompany him all the way to Newark International Airport.
“But why not?”
“Because I don’t have the cash to make a pointless trip into Newark. That’s why.”
“If you want to buy me a round-trip ticket, I’ll go with you,” I offered, knowing he wouldn’t.
“Anyway, I have shit to do in Manhattan today. You can occupy yourself for a couple hours, can’t you?”
So I prodded him onto the subway with me, again unwilling to leave him alone in my apartment all day. Not so much because I owned anything worth stealing, but more for the principle of the matter. My apartment was my home, and you, Michael, are not welcome to make yourself as comfortable as you like and sit around naked on my couch watching Netflix.
On the subway, he pawed my hair. I yanked it back from him and put it back into its rightful ponytail. He ran a hand up my leg. I slapped it away.
“Why do we always have to take the subway? Why can’t we take a cab?”
“A cab from Bushwick to Midtown is going to run at least $30. If we’re lucky. The subway, to any part of the city, is just about two bucks.”
“Thirty dollars for a cab is not that much.”
“Oh, so you want to pay for cab fares all over the city?”
“What is it with women wanting guys to always pay for them?”
“I’ve paid all your subway fares thus far. That shit adds up. Unless YOU are going to pay for the damn thing, we are not taking a cab.” I pulled out a thick book and flipped it open. “Any further questions?”
We met up later, again, at the Barnes & Noble in Union Square, because he apparently knew nowhere else in the city. I’d been wearing heels in the morning, but I changed into sneakers and carried the heels in a bag. Michael griped at my footwear. He preferred heels, heels were so sexy, why couldn’t I just wear the heels for him? Pretty please?
Only masochists wear heels to walk around on the sidewalk, I said.
We ducked into a pizza joint on our way uptown to another screening.
“You know, I’ve been meaning to have a talk with you about your lifestyle,” he said.
“First of all, you don’t get enough sleep. You also drink too much alcohol and eat too much meat. I’m afraid that if you don’t fix those things – and also start eating only organic produce – then you’re going to age really fast.”
I took a deep gulp of my diet coke. He also had a thing about artificial sweeteners.
“First of all, I’m in grad school, and I work full-time. I’ll sleep when I graduate. Also, remember right now that I am drinking for emotional reasons, and a gal needs her protein.” I paused. “Also, fuck organic produce.”
I bit into my slice of buffalo chicken pizza.
“Don’t you care about how you age?”
“Only to the extent that I live a happy and healthy life. I’m not particularly bothered if I look 30 in about five years. Are you?”
That evening, we attended another screening. Michael hung back in the corner, looking at coffee table books and rebuffing other people’s attempts at friendly conversation.
After the event wound down, he wanted to walk all the way back to Brooklyn. I refused. We were in the upper 60s, and that would take forever.
Well, fine. Couldn’t we at least walk down through Times Square? He wanted to take in the sights and sounds.
Michael hadn’t wanted to take in any of the sights and sounds of Brooklyn, mind you, and for some reason didn’t see Times Square for the overpriced tourist-trap shithole it actually was, but I conceded him this demand because I wasn’t going to put out once we got back home anyway.
Hoping to hammer home his men’s rights, evolutionary psychology bullshit, Michael decided to point out to me any young attractive woman he noticed with a much older man.
After the sixth or seventh time, I said to him, “You know, if we were in Brooklyn, you would probably see a lot more attractive young women with attractive young men around the same age.”
“Yeah, but nobody really wants to live in Brooklyn. Manhattan is where it’s at.”
“Seriously?” I dodged a man selling double-decker bus tours.
“Seriously. Hold on, I’m going in here for some coconut water.” I waited outside the Duane Reade while he shopped.
“Here. Try this.”
“Tastes like shit. I don’t know how you can drink this stuff,” I mocked.
“Is that really necessary?”
“Are YOU really necessary?”
“Whoa. Cool it with the attitude. I’ve been a perfect gentleman ever since I got here.”
Here it was. The proverbial straw. This camel was sick of Michael’s shit.
“Perfect NOTHING. You come to my home, you get in my hair – literally – you insult my friends’ films, you insult my gender, my parents, my life!” My volume rose as I continued. “You ARE DRIVING ME FUCKING INSANE AND I CAN’T WAIT TO GET RID OF YOU TOMORROW!”
I reached into my bag and chucked those damned high heels at him.
“If you think these are so fucking sexy, YOU CAN WEAR THEM!!”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa.” Now he was all apologies as I marched away from him toward the subway. I folded my arms across my chest and waited by the vending machine as he figured out how to load up a MetroCard.
“You’ll need two trips,” I said. “One to go home with me tonight. One to come back tomorrow so you can get on the PATH.”
He obliged. We got onto the train and wound our way back to Bushwick. He tried to explain himself on the way, but I largely tuned him out. I rolled out my makeshift yoga mat bed when I got home and slept soundly.
The next morning was quiet. Peaceful. Michael pulled his stuff together. I offered him coffee, which he accepted and then didn’t drink. I accompanied him to the PATH.
“I’m an acquired taste,” he said to me, by way of apology or explanation.
“Whiskey is an acquired taste. You are just a confused human being. I think you need therapy.”
“You’ll come back. They always do,” he said. He pecked me on the cheek, patted my hair, and headed into the PATH.
After Michael’s departure, the summer got off largely without a hitch. I began production on a film I felt proud of, I met a guy I liked, and I returned to school in the fall.
On New Year’s Eve, Michael called me, but I was preoccupied with kissing my boyfriend. The next day, he sent a barrage of angry text messages.
In the last of these, he threatened, “Nobody will ever love you like I do.”
To which I could only reply, “No? Well, thank fucking god.”