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The Matinee Cure: A 1st World Solution to Heartbreak

(I am working on a bigger piece for Feministe, but thought I would post a few of my favorites from my “other” kind of writing in the mean time, which is to warn you that these are creative stories about dating, parenting, and other Los Angeles adventures.)

[Trigger Warning: Sexual Content]

My child’s classmates regularly turn a year older, as kids are wont to do, and their parents throw elaborate parties, as they are wont to do. I’ll spare you the details of societal traditions and modern obligations of inviting everyone in the class. I suppose it’s the thought that counts, and it’s supposed to be fun. But, honestly? I really hate spending money on a kid that I don’t know, and that my own kid may not even like, and I really hate spending time at these events, because no one talks to me. Okay, to be fair, occasionally someone talks to me. And it goes like this:

Other Parent: “Blah blah blah MY HUSBAND blah blah blah REMODELING THE KITCHEN, blah blah blah JULIA ROBERT’S LANDSCAPER blah blah blah WE DRIVE A PRIUS”

Me: Gosh, it must be neat to have a husband; do you two make-out? I haven’t made out with anyone in years. Also, I’m thinking of getting a new tattoo.

Other Parent: “WELL, WE DRIVE A PRIUS”

My daughter was super excited about this party in particular because it had a Super Hero Theme. While I am very much against this new modern thing of making your kid the coolest version of yourself, dressing them in miniature hipster shirts from Amer-Appar and teaching them songs by the Pixies instead of, say, Raffi, I have to say: I feel pretty lucky to have a little girl who loves super heroes and comic books. She dressed as the red Power Ranger, insisting that red is just like pink. We buy a Batman Toy of some sort, wrap it in Avatar wrapping paper of some sort, and go to the party.

It’s a pretty great party. Members of the Justice League were in line for face painting, X-men were rocking the egg-toss, there were miniature Avengers stuffing their faces with cupcakes, and my daughter – the only girl to dress up, by the way – fit right in with the other Power Rangers in a jump house. They even had a real live adult Spider Man come and play games like pin-the-pumpkin on the Green Goblin.

I brought a cross-word puzzle with me and sat in a corner.

But I didn’t get a single box filled out, across or down, because—I’ll skip the details, except to say he was the father of the birthday boy—there was Bob. 130 lbs of punk rock single dad-ness. Chuck Taylor’s. White tee shirt. Tattoos.

And—I’ll skip more details, except to say that he asked for my number right in front of his girlfriend in the guise of a “play date,” and then broke up with her later that night—we had coffee. And by coffee I mean that he also came over for some beer and we made out. And it was awesome. But also, it was like, awesomely confusing.

Hanging out with another parent is a TRIP. He could ask me if I wanted more children on our very first date and it was no big deal! We could talk about our exes and it didn’t mean we weren’t ready to move on! We could talk about the trials and tribulations and love of our children without freaking the other person out that it meant we just wanted to settle down already. Because we are. Already. Settled down. So this was all much more intense than I anticipated.

This thing was totally happening, and I was so overwhelmed and excited because I wasn’t expecting it, but also I was so totally overwhelmed because I wasn’t expecting to feel so SCARED. I was looking at him, and he’s looking at me, and I know we’re both thinking the same thing: PUNK ROCK BRADY BUNCH.

And, deep down, sure, maybe I knew that the coolest suburban fantasy to ever rock Silver Lake was possibly blinding us a little from reality, but in the moment, I was thrilled.

It all seemed too good to be true.

A few days later, very uninteresting, albeit technologically advanced, exchanges were had via “instant messenger.” I said I wanted to see him. “I would like to see you again.” He responded, seconds later. “Me too.” And so on, and so forth. A face to face meeting occurred . We had coffee. And this time, by “coffee,” I mean we exchanged real intimate vulnerabilities, and by THAT, I mean we had sex all night. It was fantastic.

Clarification: the sex was not fantastic. The light was on, and while I am not generally the hide-under-the-covers-kind-of-girl, I hadn’t expected the night to take such turns. I wasn’t shaved! I wasn’t waxed! And…his penis was too…big. (It IS possible.) But it was fantastic to be HAVING SEX with someone who UNDERSTOOD ME. Who I UNDERSTOOD. It was all happening.

We jumped up together at dawn and had coffee–real coffee this time–he had to get home and get his kids to school, I had to get my own kid to school, we talked briefly about play dates, homework and child custody, and then he kissed me on the forehead and zipped away, leaving me exhausted but blissful.

A few hours later, at 7:50 AM, while I was driving my daughter to school (the same school that she attended with Bob’s kids!), I received this text message: “Eve, for reasons I will not explain, I can no longer continue seeing you.”

So…that was that.

Man oh MAN. I was so shocked. I thought girls were only dumped after a night of sex in old 90210 episodes and in the Christian morality books my mom gave me when I got my period. Not in real life! And I was angry. And embarrassed (Was it the lights? Was it because I didn’t shave? Was my vagina too small?!) And hurt. And offended. And sad. And, like, so pissed. I mean, A TEXT MESSAGE?! And dumping ME?!?! I held it together while I dropped my daughter off, and then parked around the corner. Sitting in my car, I cried a little, and when that felt okay, I cried a whole lot, which felt even better. When I could catch my breath, I called a good friend, who is really more of a mentor. “What you need is the matinee cure.”

In between sniffles and gulps, I whimpered, “The matinee cure?”

“Oh, honey. Every girl needs to know the Matinee Cure.”

The Matinee Cure: A Sure-Fire Treatment for Dealing with Tragedy

1.Choose an early showing of a movie that demands your attention. Foreign films with subtitles are best, Wes Anderson coming in at a close second. Stay away from blockbusters like “The Expendables 2.”
2.To stash in purse: Non-Junk Food; protein and starch, for energy and dopamine. Water for hydration.
3.Call 5 good friends, and leave the following message: “I can’t talk right now, but I need some love later.” (If they answer, make it quick; avoid details.)
4.Turn your phone OFF and leave it in your car.
5.Park at least 5 blocks away. The walk will do you some good before having to face the box office.

Goddamit if she wasn’t right. Driving home, I could see my feelings for what they were, and see the Text Message Incident for what it was. There is no excuse for his method—I mean, really, WHO does that?—but it sure did answer questions about the unknown, about Bob’s character. And, really, it was mostly painless. Our relationship was only days old, so I had very little over which to reminisce, and he didn’t know anything about me. Not really. He knew about being a parent, that connection wasn’t unreal, but he didn’t know ME.

My favorite color is orange, and I love olive sandwiches. I love “Star Trek the Next Generation.” I take long baths, and I cry at movie trailers that I watch habitually on I have been through a lot in my life, including a childhood in an evangelical Christian home and the death of a sibling. The best year of my life was spent in France. I believe accidentally getting pregnant in college saved my life. I love dancing, and my dancing is terrible. He didn’t know ANY of that. He had nothing of me. My ego was bruised, but my heart wasn’t broken. I have a box of secrets, in which one will find that I am afraid of growing old alone, and I would love for someone to come take care of me. The Text Dumping Incident was a one-two punch. After the movie, though, it was easier to realize that although the wind was knocked out of me, I was alive and could fully stand up again. And I had—count them—five voicemails reminding me of how loved, and how NOT alone, I truly am.

I wish there was a matinee cure for everything, and I wish crises only happened during Oscar season. The movie, “Pineapple Express” (which may not have been as cerebrally challenging as one might hope but was good enough) helped me escape my Dark Dwelling Place for just long enough to remember what is important, and who I really am, instead of just how I feel. Yes, I was really dumped with a text message, but I am really better off without him, I am loved by amazing friends, and I can always bring a cross-word puzzle to the parties.

35 thoughts on The Matinee Cure: A 1st World Solution to Heartbreak

  1. I know it’s not the point of your story (which I really enjoyed, btw), but this:

    “Eve, for reasons I will not explain, I can no longer continue seeing you.”

    Wow. Just wow. What an asshole.

  2. I misread this as the “Manitee Cure” and kept waiting for the part where you went scuba diving in Florida. Good story, and good advice.

    1. It was not until I read your comment that I realized it was Matinee and not Manatee. I get a pass cause I’m from Florida, right? lol!

    1. In case anyone’s wondering what I was talking about, the awful comment I was responding to was just deleted. Fortunately!

      1. I did catch his comment. I wonder if he’d reserve the same vitriol for an actual messed-up failure of a comedian like Daniel Tosh.

    2. I think this shows a problem with the commenting system. Without clarification it looks like Donna is complaining about the OP or something… very confusing deleting a post like that. Maybe better to replace with “post deleted” once there are comments?

      1. imo the new way of commenting is very confusing — how there’s different colours and things. at first i thought it was assigning people colours based on what they wrote or something but i guess its just random.

        also maybe bad comments could just be hidden away so you have to clikc to see it like on youtube. that way we wouldnt have to be all curious about what got deleted.

      2. Perhaps a way so that a comment _box_ remains, with the name of the poster, but then in italics “this post was deleted”. Would give some context.

    3. I thought your comment was about Eve’s post and I was like, “DonnaL, I respect your desire to engage but that is very harsh.”

  3. This piece was beautiful and funny and honest. I loved it.

    Going to the movies alone (and a pack-a-week smoking habit) served as therapy, escapism and pain relief when I was too broke for cable, worked like a dog but had no health insurance or extra spending money to show for it. Even when I finally was able to swing an internet connection, I still went for the matinee cure (so good when you are a waitress!) because I could cry all over myself, escape my life for an hour and a half and no one would care except me and the other two people in the theater.

    1. The matinee cure notwithstanding, I spent a year “by myself,” which is to say that I committed to celibacy and learned how to “be my best boyfriend.” It was a wonderful lesson in learning how to meet my own needs and Be Alone. It was great — I learned how to buy myself flowers, take myself to massages, and eat at restaurants and go to the movies alone. I knew, when I was ready to date again, that I was looking for a partner because I WANTED one, not because I NEEDED one.

  4. Would the breaking up with his gf the same night he asked for your number in front of her not, perhaps, have been an indicator that the guy was a jerk?

    I love this line:

    “I have a box of secrets, in which one will find that I am afraid of growing old alone, and I would love for someone to come take care of me.”

    1. I’m sure someone will eventually post a comment along the lines of, “Why would a so-called feminist like you go out with an obvious **** like him?” Clearly feminists are supposed to be perfect and infallible, like Pope Benedict.

    2. Yeah, when I got to that part, I was all, whoa, slow your roll, classy man.

      But it’s possibly to re-write a warning sign like that into the narrative of “this is how into me this guy is” and follow it up with, “And clearly he’s honorable because he broke up with her as soon as he met me and realised how awesome I am.”

      Which is to say, the excitement of new beginnings and interest can be distracting.

      Also, “Punk Rock Brady Bunch.” Awesome.

      1. But it’s possibly to re-write a warning sign like that into the narrative of “this is how into me this guy is” and follow it up with, “And clearly he’s honorable because he broke up with her as soon as he met me and realised how awesome I am.”

        Which is to say, the excitement of new beginnings and interest can be distracting.

        And delusional! We all want to believe our own mythologies.

        So, so, so many of my failed relationships are hilarious in hindsight. Maybe Eve could host a “that banal moment I realized I totally hated my SO/this person I was dating” series, so I can share my “he handed a wad of crumpled up ones to the worker in the drive through at Burger King after specifying his order ‘to go'” story.

        1. That would be the greatest post ever. You must make that happen. Also, I just realized that nearly all of my contributions would involve treating people in the food service industry poorly.

    3. Hindsight is always 20-20, and I can definitely say to you, with a nod of the head and eyebrows raised, he was definitely a CLASS ACT.

      He contacted me a few years ago (the text message incident was a few years before that, truthfully), and wanted to know if we could date again, AFTER telling me that he was dating someone.

      “I thought you said you found love…?” I said.

      “I did,” he replied, “but she’s married, so I’m waiting for her to make a decision.”

      So…needless to say, I declined.

      If I were invited to diagnose his condition, I’d say it had something to do with an insatiable ego, an addiction to drama, and maybe…sex?

      No thanks! Dumping me was the best gift.

      1. “I did,” he replied, “but she’s married, so I’m waiting for her to make a decision.”

        WOW. That’s a special kind of arrogant ballsiness.

    4. Yeah that is what I was thinking. When he treats the ex like trash, chances are he’ll treat the next person like trash. It’s isn’t necessarily them, it’s him.

      But then I remember, she does say it all moved pretty fast so I don’t think she was expecting *anything* to come of the two of them until it did.

  5. I really enjoyed your piece. A punk rock Brady Bunch sounds perfect. But, I just want to suggest something and I hope I don’t sound too snotty; I think the word in the first paragraph you’re looking for is ‘wont’, not ‘want’.

  6. I watched a matinee of the Japanese version if Shall We Dance everyday for over a week the sumer my life fell apart. Not quite your matinee cure but it reminded me that my life was not uniquely tragic.
    Not to be pissy, but the phrase is ” children are wont to do,”, not “want to do”. I say thus only because I like your writing.

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