Letter to My Ex: To the Men Who Broke My Heart

By Pamela Dittmer McKuen

Dear Eddie, Franco, Pooh Bear and Harv:

They say that living well is the sweetest revenge, but how are you going to know how great my life has been since you dumped me if I don’t tell you? Clearly, these turn-the-other-cheek enthusiasts fail to comprehend the concept of saccharin retribution.

I, with more guided vision, fully intend you to regret your misdeeds. The where and when of this epiphany has provided me inspiration for the staging of many a chance meeting. The storylines vary, but the endings are the same. You, typecast as the cad, fall to the floor and tearfully beg my forgiveness, declaring what a fool you have been. A mysterious smile unfurls across my ivory complexion, which has finally cleared up, and I dismiss you with glee: ‘We agree on one thing—you are indeed a fool! Good riddance.’

My favorite scenario is where I am wearing a mauve silk bustier, sipping a Kir Royale on a yacht. This one, however, poses certain characterization problems because I can never figure out how you could plausibly enter again a scene where I’m scantily clad. The yacht part I could rewrite, but the bustier, never. You know how good I look in mauve.

How about this one? I’m a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers, plugging my new novel and am acclaimed as a ‘sensational newcomer who is not only sensitive to the human condition but delightfully charming.’ You’ll be watching, home in bed with a second, sub-prime mortgage and a retired cheerleader who tried to make a comeback in show business with her country and western adaptation of the school song.

The catch is, I’d have to write the freaking book I’ve been talking about for eight years. Too much work.

Enough of the fantasy. You always did accuse me of being overly dramatic, all of you. Instead, I shall fully accept the fact that we will not marry and live happily ever after, and will merely offer an academic report of what I’ve been doing since you ruthlessly reclaimed your portable hard drive and the blue denim shirt I liked to sleep in.

Here then: I redecorated my River North condominium in 19th Century Italian antiques and purchased a champagne-colored Tesla that precisely matches my hair. My syndicated column bumped Carrie Bradshaw’s ‘Sex and the City’ from a hundred newspapers countrywide, and I can’t decide how to invest my royalty checks.

I would report these ventures except for one thing. They aren’t true. They should be, though, after everything I went through to get you to change your mind about leaving. All those lunches with your personal trainer I popped for, pumping her for information about your schedule. All that poetry I wrote, using stupid words like ‘thou’ and ‘prithee.’ I even spent one rainy night crouched on your balcony just to be near you.

Remember how you exited my life a week before the Train concert I’d been dying to see? And I went to the performance anyway, just two rows in front of you with that hot-looking guy who is four inches taller than you and doesn’t have a bald spot? The one who kissed my neck all night? I know you saw us. That was my cube-mate’s brother, Jared, who likes men.

Such an interesting pastime, loving someone who no longer loves you. Interesting, too, how over time the hurt and indignation do a slow fade and the tragedy loses even my own audience. I still revert to the fantasies sometimes when I can’t sleep. I know all the lines by heart and reciting them is a monotonous drill, like counting the proverbial sheep. ‘On a yacht, wearing… a mauve…,’ my mind drones.

I don’t recall exactly when Sting’s ‘Desert Rose’ became pleasant background music rather than prompt an emergency call to my therapist. Or when I saw my therapist the last time. When did it happen that in recounting my woeful tale of violated love to every stranger I could corner, I began skipping over parts of it and then stopped bothering with any of it?

Somewhere along the line, my future emerged as more important than our past. I began to divert the energy I gave you long after you forgot my middle name.

The truth is, these days I take yoga class and eat fiber. I went to Grand Ole Opry for a long weekend with my mother. I got that tough paragraph written, the one that goes under ‘Chapter One.’ It’s not the stuff that invites movie accolades or takes me viral, but it’s, well, living well.

My dreams of revenge shelved, I will settle for the last word. I know I’ve told you before—several times—that you’ll never hear from me again, but this time I’m serious about letting go. Today I cancelled the standing order for the dozen roses that have been delivered to you each year on the anniversary of the day we met. I removed your mother and sister from my Christmas, birthday and email lists. Just one last word, and it’s a wrap. I promise.

Eddie: I concede. Your secret recipe for Mediterranean pizza is the best in the world. My friend Anya put it on the menu at her new bistro and all the customers agree.

Franco: Somebody did, too, publish something I wrote.

Pooh Bear: Harv said making love to me is NOT like making love to an ironing board.

Harv: But making love to you is.

All the best.



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