You Might Eat Organic, But You’re Still Full of Baloney

Alia Luria

My aunt, you know, the former probation chief, says that they probably served you a white bread sandwich for dinner and maybe powdered eggs for breakfast. She speculated that it probably had two pitiful scraps of nutritionally devoid bologna between the stale, tasteless slices. Subsistence fare. I hope you looked at that sandwich, in all its over-processed, non-organic, carbohydrate-filled glory and regretted every decision that brought you to it. You probably didn’t eat it. It didn’t come from Whole Foods.

Still, I know regret is a lot to hope for. I looked at your mug shot today when I had to circulate it around the office for notice purposes. Thanks for that, by the way. It’s always been a personal goal to explain to my co-workers that my entire weekend was a stress-fest of dealing with your mistakes and why. You didn’t look contrite to me. Your brown eyes stared straight into the camera like it was a Sears Portrait Studio shoot, and your lips had that slight curl, that sarcastic non-smile that graces your face in most photos. You didn’t appear overly bothered that you were being booked into jail for stalking.

Perhaps in your mind, I was completely unreasonable for reporting the hand-written note left in my mailbox while I wasn’t home, a note that came four months after I asked you never to contact me again. In the fairytale to which you are central, you’re entitled to my time and consideration, even though I ended it between us in January. I can only imagine the dumbfounded look Officer Kim bestowed on you when you told him that you just wanted to see if I’d respond. After all, Officer Kim read that text from February where I outright told you that I had called the police and that you needed to leave me alone or it would escalate. It was blunt. It was unequivocal. It should have been the end.

Then again, you did think I was pathetic for calling the police on that evening. That was a nice touch for the judge. I’m sure when he ordered probable cause for arrest with no objection or discussion from the public defender, he noticed the gaslighting, the guilt-tripping, and the projection in those series of responses, and it all was crystal clear to him even if not to you. I didn’t even look at you to see your reaction. I kept my eyes focused on the judge. My mom and aunt watched the bail hearing on the public livestream. My aunt said you were stoic and maybe compliant. My mom thought you looked a little cocky. I’m inclined to believe Mom. Jail can’t get you down! You’re indomitable!

But I meant what I said when I told the judge I bore no animus toward you. I have not rejected communication with you because I’m hurt or spiteful. It’s because no amount of discussion will make you understand your fundamental lack of respect for me. I don’t hate you. I just don’t have time for you. Find someone else to teach you how to be a considerate person. Or don’t. I don’t care.

You probably still think that I was intolerant of your alternate lifestyle, but our time was already coming to an end. Your unspoken decision to be polyamorous – you know, the one you didn’t mention until after you had slept with your ex-girlfriend on New Year’s Eve – was not the reason we aren’t together anymore. I was content to let you think that at the time, since it was as good a reason as any to break up. Certainly, having intimate relations with Tiffani put a nail in that coffin, but it doesn’t seem to have occurred to you that me not caring to spend New Year’s Eve with my boyfriend is the coffin. Tiffani is just a nail. Her untreated herpes is just another nail. Your need to lie about it is a nail too. And your tearful entreaty that you loved both of us was just the lacquer on the box.

Salute that box, stick it in the earth, and sprinkle the ground liberally with salt. Nothing will grow from that wreckage, buried in the depth of your blindness. I don’t think you noticed that I didn’t cry as I ushered you out of my house and my life the night you buried us. If you had just seen me, you would not have spent the night in jail.

Yes, you probably think. If Alia had seen me instead of ignoring me, this wouldn’t be happening. She did this to me.

But you are wrong. If you had seen the woman I am when we were still together, not the short, small woman with a fine-boned and freckled face, but the me under the slight exterior, you would not have put yourself in jail over this. You would not have given yourself a criminal record. You would not have suffered that bologna sandwich or those powdered eggs. I may be anxious, but I am not weak-willed and soft. I may be open, but I am not a doormat to wipe your feet on. I may look small on the outside, but I am strong. Also, I’m a lawyer. And maybe you shouldn’t have screwed with a lawyer. We keep detailed written records. We document. Our whetstone is preparation. Our words or lack thereof are our blades.

You should not have texted fourteen times to no response, not called twice to be ignored, not showed up at my house uninvited, not contacted me on Facebook messenger to be blocked, and not sent me two cents on Venmo. That was an amusing birthday present, by the way. Two cents the day after my 40th birthday, a birthday I was so looking forward to. I almost didn’t block you just to see if you would keep it up. Maybe I could eventually have gotten a latte from your random blathering.

Finally, you should not have left that hand-written note in my mailbox on Friday night telling me to meet you for coffee on Sunday with your name and phone number included. It should not require a judge and a no contact order for you to understand that I am uninterested in friendship, uninterested in your emotional baggage, uninterested in being in your menagerie (look it up if you’ve forgotten what it means) of ex-girlfriends with whom you routinely socialize. Say hi to them for me! I’m sure you will tell them in detail about what a horrible person I am. After all, you told me how crazy they all were, even though you still meet them for dinner or to hang out. Come to think of it, they are all probably lovely women.

Some movies and novels praise the persistent lover who never gives up. He is the hero. He gets the girl. She realizes how much she loves him and how she could never have been happy or complete or fulfilled (yadda yadda yadda) without him. He was there all along in his awkward but angelic perfection waiting for his moment of glory. But we do not live in the fantasies of writers and directors. We live in the real world. In the real world, I said, “I do not want to speak to you or maintain any contact. Please stop texting, calling, messaging, and do not come to my house. You are not welcome on my property.” If it sounded wooden and formal when you read it to yourself, it was. Three cops helped me write it while we all stood around my living room. After that, they asked me a bunch of personal questions about our sex life. Yes, I did tell them about that one time that thing happened. It seemed relevant. Best night ever.

You are not John Cusack with a boom box in the rain. You are not Tony Robbins psyching yourself up to reach your goal at any cost. I will admit that I haven’t consulted Tony directly, but I don’t think he would have been on board with your plan to get arrested for stalking. In any case, that is not how this works. I am the one with agency over my mind and my body. I choose who belongs in my life and who does not. I am the one who decided not to respond to you. You are the one who decided that no means keep trying. You are the one who decided that the pursuit of the dead and buried was worth a night in jail.

You are not the love of my life. You are not the one who got away. You didn’t break my heart. You are not even the bane of my existence. You are just a guy who had to spend the night in jail and probably stare at a disgusting bologna sandwich until he discarded it, all to hear from a judge what I already told you. Leave me alone.

Alia Luria is an attorney, a novelist, and holds an MFA from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Her first novel, Compendium, won the National Indie Excellence Award in Fantasy and a Reader‘s Favorite Silver Medal. She has contributed short pieces to Toho Journal and Wingless Dreamer. Her second novel, Ocularum, is forthcoming from Something Or Other Publishing.