Rit­ual L’Homme

Hello Mr. Magazine - - LOVE AND LET GO - By Blair Mish­leau

Ev­ery morn­ing, I spray on the cologne my exboyfriend gave to me. Ev­ery morn­ing, I have a half-mo­ment of stabby heart pain (sim­i­lar to heart­burn, some­times I’m un­sure) and I sigh.

Most people would get rid of the cologne or at least box it up. I guess I’ve kept it for two rea­sons: I’m cheap as hell, and I feel that I de­serve a small re­minder each day of what that re­la­tion­ship was to me. It’s a re­minder that, Wis­con­sin-born lad that I am, a long-term, long-dis­tance, monog­a­mous and “love”-ut­ter­ing re­la­tion­ship is a pos­si­bil­ity for me.

See, I’m kind of an ass. Not in the “trip you down a flight of stairs” sort of way. More so in a “I’m not good at so­cial or emo­tional cues so I’m just go­ing to awk­wardly stand here while you cry on my shoul­der” sort of way. They may very well been what at­tracted Michael to me in the first place. It’s cute, at first. I have this en­dear­ing so­cial awk­ward­ness that is some­how in­no­cent, con­fi­dent, and open all at the same time.

It ap­pears, though, that it doesn’t work well for re­la­tion­ships. When your boyfriend cries, you’re sup­posed to coo gen­tle things. Or “ac­tively lis­ten,” with a look of em­pa­thetic love and con­cern on your face. As a last re­source, an awk­ward shoul­der rub could also work. Ask­ing, in a ro­botic tone, “Are you sure you’re in a place to be in a re­la­tion­ship right now?” and claim­ing that the boyfriend isn’t be­ing so­lu­tion-based enough isn’t where it’s at.

When he tells you his as­pi­ra­tions, you’re sup­posed to be sup­port­ive, or at the very least op­ti­mistic. Claim­ing that med school is a ter­ri­ble op­tion with lit­tle ev­i­dence, alas, isn’t the best idea.

Dur­ing my quo­tid­ian cologne-spray­ing/re­flec­tion time, I’ve come to the con­clu­sion that some people must be born with this in­tu­ition. I envy them. These are things that my fam­ily sim­ply never taught me. That, or I didn’t pay mind.

Af­ter all, when hor­ri­ble things hap­pen in my fam­ily, we do one of two things: laugh our asses off, or talk about it loudly and with limited em­pa­thy. Ev­ery­one’s as­pi­ra­tions are treated as a dan­ger­ous bug that must be quickly killed. I just thought that’s what people do. That emo­tions bull­shit? That’s for people who watch Life­time.

Still, though. There must be some­thing more to it. As ev­ery morn­ing, I briefly pon­der if there was a “win­ner” and a “loser” in the re­la­tion­ship. Did I dodge a thin-skinned guy with too many emo­tions, or did Michael dodge a heartless bas­tard? Or, thought of thoughts, did we both gain some­thing? I quickly spray away this silly no­tion with a burst of La Nuit de L’Homme and run to work.

Ei­ther way, I leave the house smelling pretty. Blair Mish­leau is a me­an­der­ing 23-year-old teacher and writer liv­ing in Minneapolis, Min­nesota. He’s a fan of cheap beer and home­made cook­ies. Help him fig­ure out what to do with this life @blairthe­blur.

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