what i learned

A Short List of Things My Boyfriend Was Right About

Blackout series. Illustration: Jules Julien

As a stubborn Leo with lifelong authority problems and a Philip Roth–ian strain of Jewish anxiety, I have long put too much stock in being “right.” In my worst and least self-aware moments, I enjoy believing that I have perfect and unassailable opinions about certain things: movies, TV shows, pasta brands, types of acceptable shorts for men, organized religion, vacation spots, whether a dog has human eyes that indicate they are a person trapped helplessly inside the body of an animal. To admit I am wrong about anything means I could be wrong about everything. I try to avoid that kind of existential crisis.

However, with time unspooled in front of us all like a long, gritty tongue, I’ve begun to realize that my extremely patient boyfriend of 15 years has actually been right more often than I may have previously recognized. When I admitted this out loud to him last week, he responded, “I know,” calmly and without any “told you so” energy, which is really just another thing he was right to do. Here is an incomplete list of things that I now realize he was unimpeachably correct about:

Motorcycles. Adam grew up riding motorcycles cross-country with his dad, and I grew up with a paranoid doctor for a grandfather who looked me in my toddler face and said things like, “You know, a lot of kids have suffocated in sandboxes.” In my family, even bringing up the idea of riding a motorcycle was a horrible betrayal, an ungrateful “fuck you” to life itself. When I met my boyfriend in college, he spoke dreamily about getting a motorcycle like his dad’s one day, and I recoiled in horror, as if he had just told me he eventually planned on murdering me in cold blood. A motorcycle was my line in the sand (and the sand was not in a box, for safety reasons). But as we face potential years of having to avoid crowds, Ubers, and public transportation, a motorcycle is, suddenly, one of the most responsible options for getting around. Anyway, I send deepest regrets to my entire family: We are probably getting a motorcycle.

Purses and floors. The Man has long kept women down by refusing to give us big pants pockets and forcing us to carry purses, slowing us down both literally and figuratively. I hate carrying a purse, but I love having 92 things with me at all times. My solution? Cramming a purse full of ChapSticks and cash and hurling it away from my person whenever I arrive at my destination. My purses have mingled with approximately 400 bar floors, underneath hundreds of restaurant chairs, in shallow puddles of mud at parks, and then, eventually, on my bed at my apartment. My boyfriend, who prefers that his bed not have the same chemical makeup as a bar floor, has objected to this more than once. Three months into a global pandemic, I am willing to concede the point, and I have permanently pivoted to fanny packs.

Mustaches. I love and respect beards, but I have never enjoyed a mustache on its own terms. Men with long, flipped-up-at-the-ends mustaches and no beards have always struck me as either child predators, old-timey ghosts, hipsters a few years behind schedule, or all three. My boyfriend has always had a beard, but never a mustache, probably because I kept saying things like, “I think men with mustaches and no beards might be malevolent visitors from the spirit realm.” Over the course of quarantine, my boyfriend decided to grow a mustache and shave down his beard. At first, I was disturbed. One week later, I was like, “Actually, this mustache is cute.”

Karaoke mics. Karaoke has long been one of my favorite pastimes, and part of the fun is getting intensely into character (I have frightened many a stranger with my rendition of Evanescence’s “Bring Me to Life”). I tend to forget that the microphone has been slobbered on by 400 people before me, and I treat it like it is my own personal lollipop, to my previously established germophobe boyfriend’s horror. Like most people, I have now learned far too much about communicable diseases, and I shudder to think of my formerly reckless karaoke self.

Sports. I used to think that sports were pointless, but now I realize that everything is pointless, and I was being unfair to sports by singling them out. I enjoyed The Last Dance, and I am sorry about that one time in the ’90s that I was so bored at a Sox game that I started sobbing, wondering if I would ever experience another emotion again.

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