Love Letter Day X
In high school, a guy friend told me that my gal friend tasted like old ketchup when they kissed and so even though he had a crush on her, he just couldn’t imagine continuing to be with her. He stopped calling and she was sad. They were both good friends of mine, and I saw both sides of their arguments but it didn’t seem like drama. Of course I understood she had every reason to be upset, but I really did feel the gravity of his disgust. The taste of old ketchup as a repulsion, resonated with me, and I didn’t think much of their brief interlude or breakup except that I left thinking “god I hope I don’t taste like that to anyone.”
That boy and I made out a year later. It was really hot and heavy. Though I don’t think we tasted like anything, he stopped calling me, too. We kept running into each other because we had so many mutual friends, and when we did, he tried to impress me by quoting Beat writers, and smoking more cigarettes than he really wanted. We maintained enough innuendo that he’d take me to concerts like they were dates (I would never call them that but that’s another story). But we weren’t kissing anymore and that confused me. Though I had only a superficial interest in his intellectual touch points, I was so prepossessed with winning his affection again that I tried to keep up in equal measure. I never said anything to him about feelings, but I was agonizing.
One day after graduation months later, he left a letter at my front door; one in which he apologized for being a jerk. It was enough that he said sorry, because I don’t remember anything else he said for the remaining several pages of handwritten regrets. And well, the apology worked or time heals shallow grievances, because I was truly over it only after reading the letter.
Several more years later we were living in New York City at the same time and I met his new girlfriend. He joked to her that we’d made out “when we were kids” but that we were better off as friends. I think he was trying to impress her. Since we were in the joking mood, however, I then mentioned that right after making out he stopped calling me. This apparently bothered the girlfriend enough to dump him. He told me with a modicum of rancor that I ruined his chances with her by making him seem like a playboy; that they’d really had something going on. I just said, “but you are a player. Why wouldn’t she know that?”
We are still friends, and thinking about him does absolutely nothing for me today, but I think about the girl who tasted like warm ketchup to him all the time. What must it be like to want someone, court them, show off to them and then find out your mouth chemistry simply does not agree? I doubt he’d tell me if I did, but that’s because we’re friends. Not because it’s disgusting.
I cannot fathom anyone I crushed on tasting bad. Is it actually possible that anything one wants could be so disappointing as to give up on completely?
When I first met my husband I was a full-time smoker. Ironically, I was a smoker because I was madly in love (albeit not with him, yet). I find that the two behaviors complement each other very well. Well, at the time, he refused to let slip that he was an avowed non-smoker and actually hated the smell and taste of smokers. It was enough for him to abandon any date that did. When I found this out about him through a mutual friend, it hit me like a hundred bricks that he must really really like me. Why else would you do that to your mouth chemistry? The first Valentine’s Day after we started dating I said I was going to quit smoking for him. I joked that for V Day I was giving him my heart. He said “I am not asking you to quit, though.” Swoon.
He hates that I am smoking again. Doesn’t really know the extent to which I do. I don’t owe anyone an explanation but I guess if he can’t tell anymore that I have the occasional nicotine tipple, I also don’t want to explain why.
I just hope I never taste like ketchup.