Till Death Do Us Together
BY JOSH ELMETS I January 24, 2010
My girlfriend and I finally called it quits three months after she died. Well, I called it quits. Her head fell off her body after the maggots had eaten through her neck and I assumed that was her way of just not objecting to my decision. She never accepted the burden of decision making, not before she died, not after she died, not after our relationship died. Looking back, I should have listened to my friends and family and buried her after an untreated case of hepatitis took her at the age of twenty-five. (I can't remember if it was A, B or C, but it wasn't the one contracted from dirty water.) Really, what enticed me most while looking at her dead, browning body, was the guarantee that she would remain faithful to me, but I knew it was the wrong decision when I couldn't get the awful smell out of my bed sheets.
Even though I know better now, when I'm completely honest with myself, those last three months were some of the best we ever had. The very best I'd say, but I can't make that official without her input. She neither said nor did much, and we must hold the record for longest span time span without a domestic dispute because when I really rack my brains, I can recall us having only one argument in that post mortem period. That was when my parents had us over for dinner one night and she kept slouching at the table. Dead or alive, my mother would say, if there's one thing I can't stand it's a girl with bad posture. My girlfriend never got along with mother, so I forcibly pulled her shoulders back against the chair. Moments later, her face came crashing down into a steaming bowl of minestrone soup and remained that way for the rest of the meal. It was as if to say to the rest of the family: The woman your son loves does not require air. It stung a little bit, but never again did she flaunt her deceasedness (for lack of a better term).
As a man of tremendous depth, I was more in it for the companionship than the sex (in fact, I've been averse to sex ever since I started judging women based on their personalities). I had hoped this would suffice for her as well, but I knew I had to protect our sanctity from her insatiable drive for sex. So, to keep her self-image at a cripplingly low level, I replaced our full-length mirror with one I took from carnival's fun house, which made anyone who looked in it appear seventy-five pounds heavier than they actually were.
The mirror had none of its intended effect and it didn't take long before she explored the pleasures of bigamy without telling me. Even after I confronted her about this, she couldn't bring herself to stop. She once told me I fulfilled her desire for a creative equal but what she really longed for was a physical equal. At first, she had a thing for models, albeit models with amputated appendages that featured prominently in PSAs warning about the dangers of smoking (she never did have much going for her in the self-esteem department, even before the mirror was replaced). Every time I found a strand of fake hair on her clothing or a prosthetic nose in her coat pocket, a little part of me would curl up and die inside.
These binges of infidelity went on for months at a time. One day, during the second binge (more about that later), I found a tattered plastic bag at the foot of our bed and thinking nothing of it, tossed it in the garbage. An hour later, the doorbell rang. It was a man who by all outward appearances did not live anywhere in particular and identified himself as "Filet Mignon, King of Beef." He tried to make small talk by asking if I'd ever tried him at a restaurant before cutting to the chase. He had come to reclaim his lost shoe, and with preternatural instinct, gravitated straight to our trashcan and thanked the heavens before slipping his bare foot into what I had mistaken as a torn grocery bag.
After that, I told her with finality that I did not believe she could love me while doing these things with other men. She broke down, confessed everything. The first time was a minor slip up, it just happened. After that, she felt so guilty over what happened it was like she'd done it ten times over. So then she did it ten times over just to get her actions in line with her level of guilt. If I weren't such a great guy, she told me, she never would have felt so bad. Really all that cheating on me was out of admiration for my character.
But it didn't end there. She had to make it up to me and resolved to put her personal needs, her self-esteem on the backburner; it was all about me now. The next wave of physical relations was taken upon to atone for those first few mistakes. How could she have slept with men who were so inferior to me, she asked? So she took it upon herself to sleep with men well beyond my league, second comings of Napoleon and Jesus Christ, even a most prized cut of beef, to show how highly she thought of me as a person.
Her reasoning made perfect sense. After all, I loved her and I didn't know it at the beginning, but cheating on me was part of her character — through thick or thin, she always remained true to that. It wrenched my guts to think of her with other men and when she and Filet Mignon died within weeks of each other, it was bittersweet for me. Yes, she was dead, but for the first time she was completely mine.