Chocolate Tootsie Pops Suck

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One day I stood across the altar from the coolest guy I’d ever met. He was pale and a little too young for his tuxedo, but he smiled at me despite the hundred eyes that watched our moment.


The smile that made his eyes crinkle. The same way they did the first time we hung out.


We sat across the living room carpet from each other. Laughing, with a playoff game ignored in the background. I was high and jittery from having a guy in my dorm and had a hard time making eye contact.


Two laptops and two writers too eager to share their stories.


I knew that he wasn’t the one and told him so in an email. He didn’t agree, but stuck around to be my friend anyway.


I was fine. I didn’t need some guy in my life. Everything was cool. But I didn’t like it when he laughed with someone else in Narrative Cinema.


No else one looked that good in a black leather jacket smoking a cigarette. No one else I knew had real tattoos; detailed art that signified a hard life and not just a drunk night or an itch for ink. No one else had hands so open, gentle, and strong.


Still, he wasn’t the one.


One day I stood across the doorway from the coolest guy I’d ever met. I handed him another box filled with crap from my dorm and ran back to the car for more. Until that point I’d lived my whole life in one house. And now I moved into his.


I was addicted to the laughter of racing through the city streets for late night candy and cigarette runs. His arms made me invincible to the mentals and drunks who frequented the sidewalk outside of our door. We lived rich on a squatter’s salary.


Then one night, as we approached our stop on the Orange Line, he nudged my arm and whispered for me to stay seated. I looked up. Two huge guys I hadn’t noticed blocked the doors and stared at us. When had everyone else exited the car? At the next stop, he leaned over and whispered, “Run. Don’t look back. Don’t worry about me. Just run.”


Precisely the moment when I realized that running was no longer an option.


A few useless people mulled around the train when we exited. They each turned away when they saw the look on my face.


I ran towards one of the exits.


Three sets of fast, heavy footsteps raced off in the opposite direction.


I turned and watched them chase him out.


Out of the subway and away from me.


I ran all the way home and waited for him by the window. He looked angry and disheveled when he entered and wouldn’t talk about it. I threw my arms around him and knew I’d never ask.


One day I stood across an old shag rug from the coolest guy I’d ever met. In between us: a one-year-old temper tantrum whose heart broke for the second time in ten minutes. Unable to absorb the screaming, I felt hung-over. His eyes were closed and his hand was on the doorknob.


He turned to me, looked me up and down and smiled.


I blushed.


For that moment, there was no one else in the room.


Then he leaned down, picked up the impassioned child, kissed me over her flailing arms, and escorted her to the car. Leaving me alone in a quiet house with enough time to enjoy my coffee before leaving for work.


How different my life would have been if he had agreed that he wasn’t the one. If he had listened to the teachers and friends who said he was too young to get married.


If he hadn’t made me laugh when he handed back the chocolate tootsie pop I offered him just minutes after we first met and said, “Lollipops aren’t supposed to be chocolate. These things suck.”

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