He was in grad school; he studied robotics, electronics, logic, and sintering.
She was an artist with outspoken dreams and a practice of grounding and centering.
I was the only friend they had in town at the time, as their marriage was splintering.
He carried pain knowing he couldn’t please her no matter how he tried to compensate.
She carried pain being tied down to someone she realized she failed to appreciate.
I carried pain from some stillborn relationships out of which I could commiserate.
He had a job doing part-time programming — their budget was quite the compartment.
She had grown up with a lush Boca lifestyle; earning was not her department.
I’d come from class to etch circuits with him at the table right in their apartment.
He took the blame when the etching solution cost them their deposit by leaking.
She rued the day when she’d married a man who was clumsy and constantly geeking.
I said we might’ve gained access to lab space if we hadn’t minded some sneaking.
He complained that he had lacked sex for ages as she lacked all signs of libido.
She said that sex was too messy, so she wanted him to just stick with Aikido.
I kept my silence — why should my opinion count more than that of a mosquito?
He was unhappy to work out at nights and leave her in a lonely condition.
She said his show of concern was a covert attempt to change her disposition.
I said that loneliness isn’t so bad for an artist: to some, it’s tradition.
He brought a puppy to be her companion; he kept it behind a partition.
She feared the landlord would eat them alive as the puppy chewed up half their kitchen.
“Do he eat dirt?” the kids asked on our walks as the puppy dug, tail all a twitchin’.
He felt unwelcome at home and was saddened to watch how their marriage was ending.
She felt most utterly bored and alone; as for marriage, she was done pretending.
I felt my solo pursuits lacked companions with whom time I’d rather be spending.
He said: why not take her out on the town — and he promised he wouldn’t be jealous.
She said that idea was fine, since she hadn’t the choice of less weird, geeky fellows.
I welcomed her to make me her art project, for looks make the geek, so they tell us.
Thus it was settled: on Saturday evening I knocked and she came to the door.
I drove her down to the mall, and she led me to her favorite men’s clothing store.
She picked some loose-fitting shirts and said, “Wear these — you’ll be cool like never before.”
I bought them all and wore one. She said, “That makes a difference that’s potent and slick.”
I said, “Well, what would you like to do next?” She said, “How ’bout we go catch a flick?”
So we saw Dances With Wolves and then walked out in silence; she no more was quick
To offer suggestions. A look of composure was all I could read on her face
As if where she’d spend the night was for me to decide. Either choice meant disgrace:
Would she have two geeks that she never would love, or would one take the other one’s place?
I left her back at her apartment. I’d no extra bed, plus what struck me as sad,
As I’d sat by her side in the dark, was that geeks in cool shirts were the best thing she had,
Along with a cold sexless home, all because she felt certain that geekdom was bad,
And so I swung by there once more for her help with my last newsprint personal ad.
By the time it had run, she had run back to Boca and taken the dog with her too.
When he went after her later, the dog was long lost, and their marriage was through.
He was heartbroken: a life with a geek was the one thing she just couldn’t do.
He found there a software job for me; she found me a place with her sister’s boyfriend.
One day I told him I’d met a cute Russian I’d marry. He said, “Don’t depend
On that girl to love you. She’ll just want a green card.” I told him, “I hope time will mend
Your capacity to make some sense, for your life and for others’, or you’ll go berserk.
Both you and I have known worse things than marrying someone who might just want work.
Whether she’ll love me or not, time will say; meanwhile I won’t behave like a jerk,
Since she’s moved in and seems happy enough. What is marriage but formality?
So come to the wedding. You’ll be my best man and do all of the photography.”
Yet she and I were all through thick and thin before he went to his home country,
To raise a family with someone home-loving who didn’t demand the fancy
Style of his ex-wife, with whom I’ve not spoken since back in my long lonely years.
I yet wear loose-fitting styles she’d felt suited me, unlike some of my peers
Who, if they perceive me as cool, haven’t said so, but still I breathe easier. Here’s
To you, my old friend. May your art often tend to bring comfort and spill-proof careers.