A Midnight in Quito

I had convinced myself that intelligence might not be the most important quality. When my lady friend expressed her concern for the conflict between South and East Korea, I thought– well, at least she was interested in geopolitics. When she asked me to remind her of the difference between “heterosexual” and “metrosexual,” I tried to admire her lack of pretense. When she read from a book on the 20th century and expressed her wonder at how much she had missed over the last 12 years, I simply bit my tongue. As her boyfriend, I needed to boost her confidence. And it would be unfortunate for me to overlook her more intriguing qualities: her kind smile, her long limbs, her plasticine chest. She was unique in her own ways.

She claimed that I reminded her of Woody Allen, who bemused her endlessly. She would watch a Woody Allen movie almost every weekend, perched within a foot of the screen to better view the scramble of subtitles that seemed to delight her all the more, the less she understood. In effect, this curious habit led me to the hubristic notion that I could do no wrong in this relationship. I could enjoy the intellectual freedom of making little sense to this exquisite model and I would potentially be rewarded for it. So when she would drink herself into incoherency, grow jealous, and do such mildly malicious things as asking strangers if I was, in fact, gay, I convinced myself that she just needed more attention.

Ultimately, however, I could not give her that attention. She would complain that I worked too much and that I didn’t actually love her. I had to agree and, after nearly three months together, we began the slow process of breaking up. The process was expedited when she found among my old Facebook photographs a picture of me from 2006 with my ex girlfriend. Perhaps in that moment she considered the notion that I didn’t work too much, but rather spent my time trolling the bars and brothels. In any case, she took the precipitous step of de-friending me on Facebook. She demanded that I return all possessions she had left in my apartment. The following morning I put a collection of blouses and high-heels in a shopping bag and delivered them to her workplace. In turn, she handed-over a blanket, a pair of Woody Allen movies, and, perhaps emphatically, a bag of sausages. I had every reason to believe that was the end.
She rang my neighbor’s door at 2:30 am. It may have been one of the few times that bell had ever been rung, and so my neighbor ambled down to the bottom floor in her night gown and told my furiously drunk lady friend that I was at home– and that I was with another woman. She held the door open.
I awoke to a tremendous pounding on my apartment door. I had only but cracked the door when I took three or four jarring punches to the head. She threw her ring aside and came at me again. As I slouched backwards into the darkness, she changed direction toward my bedroom and shrieked, “who are you with?!” An old friend from the U.S. who was backpacking through that day, found herself crouched in our guest bedroom, not making a peep. My lady friend didn’t find a woman in my bedroom, and so she began to break anything else within reach. She hurled a camera at me and then, kicking my legs, demanded that I return her books. She could not name the titles or the subjects and smacked me ever more fiercely for asking. I had her in a head-lock for a short time, but that was a little like trying to pull the claws out of a cat, and so I danced over to my bathroom to take refuge, holding the door shut behind me. She tried to pry it open, but then re-directed her rage towards my room again. The clamor of tipping furniture and flying books and papers reached a climax and slowly quieted until she politely asked that I let her out of the apartment building.
I had some difficulty falling asleep after taking that beating, or what my friends came to refer to as my “garrotiza” (clubbing). I lay awake trying to remember the photograph of my ex girlfriend that had catalyzed the frenzied collapse of my relationship. I was struck by the realization that in the year 2006 I had not been dating anyone. In fact, the only photograph on Facebook that I had in that year was one I had sophomorically uploaded from the internet. The photo flashed into my mind’s eye: an anonymous couple posing on Miami Beach, the dark-skinned woman in a bikini and the pale man in a “mankini.”

I did not bother to communicate to my newest ex girlfriend that I was not the man in the mankini.

She wrote me a short e-mail the following morning– “I don’t want to be with someone, with someone who doesn’t love me.” I paused to wonder about the significance of repeating “with someone.” Then, my attention froze on the cat-scratches on the backs of my hands. I thought, “and all I had to do was fall in love with her…”


She later wrote to apologize for her actions, adding that she did not regret them. A few days passed before I received two threatening phone messages in which she described me as “even more disgusting than my roommate because at least you have the face of a reasonable person.” Another week passed before she wrote to ask if I would like to give our relationship another shot.



I am not the man in the mankini.