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If you could pretend that you can love her even though you don’t really, or at least not yet, and what the hell is love anyway? Is it really a substance that you can grow or get high on? Can you overlook the alpha male’s perspective of the outrageousness of a woman’s unshaven armpits? Isn’t it so brazenly sexist of you? Creep. If you could pretend that there is some kind of hope when the bus passes you by in a downpour that leaves you wondering if being unfortunate is not the essence of water. Keep telling yourself her reflection is everywhere and this must be some kind of fate, fucked up, but not without an element of astrological kismet. If you could contain your scream as she bites so hard into your flesh as if at least one of you is fucking a beautiful bipolar monster. Always think pretty thoughts, to paraphrase Dr. Eleanor J. Koff, on her syndicated talk show, her controversial views about the correlation of how much a woman talks with the quantity and quality of her infidelities. “Trash trash trash,” say the left-wingers who voted last time for a Populist candidate. Such fatalism.

If you could pretend that you can forgive her for her lust for big hairy men who are reduced to little children missing the toilet when they pee. Or when she wants to be bad like the boys—sleeping with your second best friend just to show him he couldn’t last more than five minutes and to torment you that she has a “secret” with that devilish glint in her eyes. And not telling you until after you come with an overly dramatic sigh. Or sending you a package of unopened tampons (rushed delivery and price tag intact) with a note, You’re not getting any from me until you apologize, O Yuppie piece of cream cheese. hehe. Still love you. —Guess Who

If you could pretend that her bouts of silence, deeper than pubescent longing, as she sits across from you at the Russian Tea Room with that little girl pout, are not serious, are not meant to torment either you or her. If you could convince yourself that you and this woman have at least one fucked-up quality in common—of never being loved by anyone for very long. That you and her were meant to last at least another year, then you are a fool. A fool with hope. And if she can convince herself that maybe there is something between the two of you that can last the downpours and the bus drivers who splash dirty water against your freshly pressed clothes and the emptiness of day preceding day and another night without redemption—then maybe there is hope for you both.

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