Welcome to My Ex-Boyfriend Orientation

Welcome to my ex-boyfriend orientation! Please take a baked good and a pamphlet. It’s important that you sit in your assigned seat. I’d like to avoid a repeat of the Connolly Brawl of ’09, when two brothers realized I’d dated them both. That was my bad. In my defense, they had chiselled jaws.

The cinnamon buns are a labor of love. But I’m used to labor—like, for example, off the top of my head, all the emotional labor that predominantly fell on me during our courtships.

I see some confused faces in the Situationship Corner. Unfortunately, you all have to go through this orientation as well, despite your insistence that cuddling every single day and meeting each others’ parents is simply “what friends do.”

That’s David in the back, the original ex—or, as my therapist calls him, “the blueprint.” Wave to them, David!

Adam, I like that you grew out your beard again. No, I’m pointing to the other Adam. Nice flannel jacket, Gabe! Would you mind passing it to the front? Thanks—I’ll toss it into my ex-lover stolen-flannel pile. Wow, it’s big enough to fit a James Baldwin book in each pocket. No need to clap, I know that all of you love Baldwin. Raise your hand if you didn’t bring up Steinbeck on our second date. Yeah . . . that’s what I thought.

Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of time to talk afterward about how much you love Frank Ocean, doing the bare minimum, and prioritizing your needs over others’. I don’t mean to imply that you’re all the same. Of course you’re not. Some of you have glasses; some of you got Lasik. Some of you are allergic to flowers. Some of you are allergic to sending me flowers. Anyway, I’m going to go through a few basic rules. Feel free to ask questions—I know that listening to me is tough for some of you.

One: Please don’t contact me. Don’t text me. Don’t D.M. me. Don’t e-mail me. Don’t try to communicate with me through an HBO account, Spotify blend, or Goodreads. And definitely do not place an ad in an indie magazine saying that you miss me. I already know that. If you want to know how I’m feeling, just do the normal thing and go through my Twitter likes. They are, as always, an elaborate, coded message for you to interpret. And if you want to know if I’m dating someone, snoop on Venmo like a mature adult.

Two: This is an update to the previous rule—you may contact me in these, and only these, circumstances. One of your friends or family members whom I liked has been in a serious accident or has joined a cult; you ran into Bella Hadid or Greta Thunberg; you got those eighty-per-cent-off coupons to Anwar’s Kitchen; you got the goss on what happened with that shady guy Jed from work; Rihanna released another album; you suddenly remembered a time when I was right about something; you figured out how to replicate the GameStop stock thing; you’re finally ready to admit that “yowza” is not a Scrabble word.

Three: Delete the nudes. Yes, even that one.

Four: Every person that you met through me is no longer your friend. I’d better not catch you reaching out to them. I win full custody. However, if they reach out to you of their own free will, that’s out of my jurisdiction. And vice versa. So don’t get mad at me when your mom calls me for advice.

Five: I recently established the Todd clause, wherein you no longer have access to my mechanic, Todd. I’m sorry, but I’m sure there are other cantankerous old men in this state who are also car-whisperers. Find them. Leave Todd alone.

Six: Every time you use something that you learned from our relationship to be a better communicator, date planner, or romantic or sexual partner, please donate ten dollars to a charity of your choice.

Seven: Get a colander. That’s not really a breakup thing—just an idea.

Eight: Do not laugh within a twenty-foot radius of me. If you receive really good news and we happen to be near each other, wait until I’m in the bathroom to celebrate.

Nine: When can we be friends? Let’s take a look at this simple equation. When we can be friends equals length of relationship divided by two. Then subtract the number of times you forgot my mom’s name. Oop! We’re in the negatives, huh? So, maybe never. It’s not you, it’s PEMDAS.

Ten: You may bitch about me as you please, as can I about you—it’s our First Amendment right. But if it gets back to me through the grapevine? Just know that the First Amendment does not protect your bitch ass from consequences. (Also, seriously, how dare you say whatever you said when all I did was love you?!)

Thanks for being here. And please continue to like a selfie here and there. I need to be reassured every once in a while that you still think I’m hot. ♦

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