I guess if I can’t give Jackie credit for anything else, I can credit him with my most epic breakup of all time.
It all started on a Friday night in early April of 2008. I was visiting Jackie as usual on the weekend and had just arrived at his house in Palo Alto. I had been working all day under my terror of a boss, and suffice it to say I had dwindling patience for, well, anything.
This particular Friday, we had been planning on attending a house party being thrown by one of Jackie’s friends. But when I arrived in Palo Alto after a grueling one-and-a-half hour drive down from Martinez, I was hardly pleased to see Jackie, lounging on the living room couch playing video games with his friend Sam, not bothering even to look up to see I was there.
“Hey, can a girl get a hug around here?” I said, trying to be positive.
“Yeah, hey, what’s up?” Jackie responded half-heartedly, eyes glued to the TV screen.
“Wow, you could at least pretend to be glad to see me,” I commented, checking out what he was playing, and then turning back around to look at him.
He sighed loudly. “Can this wait?”
I rolled my eyes then spun around, walked into his room and slammed the door. Jackie followed a minute later.
“What is your problem?” he started.
“What’s yours?” I threw back.
We argued about nothing in particular, then finally, sick of bickering, I kicked him out.
“Go back to your game,” I snapped, pushing him out the door. “I’m taking a nap.”
“Fine,” he retorted, stomping back to the living room and picking up his game controller, as if in victory.
Angrily, I threw myself onto the bed and screwed my eyes shut. It was one of those naps where willing myself into dormancy only carried myself further and further away from blissful unconsciousness. Nevertheless, I realized I had actually drifted into insentience in the midst of worrying whether I was capable of sleep at all when I was briefly awoken from my tormented snooze by the sound of Jackie opening the door.
“I’m going to the party with Sam,” he announced. “Have fun.” Then he left. I went back to sleep.
At around 2 a.m., I was rudely awoken by the sound of someone crashing into the front door, then groaning loudly. My immediate thought, even in my sleepy haze, was, Please don’t let that be Jackie.
I heard someone fumbling with the keys. Then I heard Jackie’s doorknob slowly turning and watched as the door was pushed open. Jackie walked in through the door and over toward the bed, all without difficulty.
Thank God, I breathed a sigh of relief. He’s okay.
And then all 5”11 and 200 pounds of Jackie collapsed on top of me.
Just then, Sam poked his head in through the door. “Oh shit,” he exclaimed, seeing Jackie on me and assuming the worst. He immediately left.
“Sam!” I gasped. “Get back here and help me get him off.”
Sam came back, looking sheepish. We managed to roll Jackie off me onto the other side of the bed. After Sam left, I sat up and looked at Jackie.
“Jackie, Jackie,” I said, trying to get his attention. Jackie was so drunk he couldn’t even open his eyes or speak. Instead, he grinned wide and gave a drunken, sluggish giggle.
I paused and stared at his open mouth. My body went cold. Something was definitely amiss, missing. I started to pray someone had been serving dried seaweed treats at this party when I saw the black space where ivory should have been.
“Sam,” I call again. Sam, who had been making his way back to his own room, backtracked and poked his head back in through the doorway. I turned my head toward him but kept my eyes on Jackie’s mouth.
“Sam,” I started again. “Where the hell is the other half of Jackie’s front tooth?”
I heard Sam rush over then felt him leaning over my shoulder to look at Jackie’s mouth. He let out a guffaw.
“Oh shit! He broke his tooth?” He started laughing.
I frowned. “It’s not funny. Weren’t you with him the entire time?”
Even still laughing, Sam looked almost apologetic. “I mean, he disappeared for a little bit, I didn’t see him until after he got really shitfaced.”
“You don’t know where the,” I almost choked, “other half is?”
“I wasn’t with him the entire time,” he protested again.
I shook my head. “Never mind. We’ll worry about it in the morning after he’s sobered up. Fucking idiot,” I add, glaring at Jackie who’s still grinning at nothing in particular.
Knowing it was probably pointless to try to get Jackie to drink some water, I let him curl up on his side of the bed and flipped over myself to catch some Zs.
About half an hour later, I heard Jackie starting to heave. Then he climbed over me and fell onto the floor.
Immediately, I popped up out of bed and rushed to grab the trash bin. “Here Jackie,” I said. “Throw up in the trash.”
“Mruur,” Jackie groaned, shoving the trash bin away. Then he grabbed at his laundry basket and pulled it toward him. Panicking, I tried to kick the laundry away from him with my foot and thrust the trash bin back at him.
“Just throw up in here,” I urged.
This time, Jackie punched the bin away then embraced the laundry basket with both arms. Then he let spill the contents of his stomach into the laundry basket and onto the floor.
I closed my eyes. Although I couldn’t see him, I could still hear sour liquid hitting cloth and wood. Then I heard Jackie spitting, and a thud as he struggled to lift himself up and tripped over his own legs. When I opened my eyes, I saw Jackie lying in his own regurgitation, trying to roll back onto all fours so he could climb into bed again.
“Oh no, you don’t,” I grumbled, gently pushing him away from the bed. Drunken Jackie obliged, sinking back onto the floor and into sleep.
Feeling somewhat guilty but not willing to forego a sanitary bed, I told myself to get some rest myself and deal with the situation in the morning. For an hour I lay there, coaching myself back into slumber and terrified that Jackie would wake up and come near me. I did my best to trust Jackie wouldn’t try and get back into bed with me.
For an hour, I was somewhat pacified by the sound of his snores wafting up from the floor. But suddenly the snores stopped.
Abruptly, Jackie stood up, leaving me petrified that my worst fears of the moment had come true. Horror quickly turned to perplexity as I watched Jackie amble over toward his desk. Then he just stood there, swaying slightly. I heard a zipper being unzipped.
Is he trying to pee on his own desk? “No, no, no,” I shouted, shooting out of bed and rushing toward Jackie. I quickly opened the door, pushing Jackie out toward the bathroom. I prayed he hadn’t unpacked his equipment yet and that he’d be able to resist the urge to purge for just a few seconds longer.
Jackie made it as far as the kitchen. From behind Jackie, I saw liquid spraying everywhere, coating the black and white tile of the floor. No surface was left uncovered: Jackie swung side to side for the duration of the catharsis, as if it was essential every inch of the floor was watered. In a cruel joke by the heavens, soft moonlight lent a pearlescent sheen to the fluid now drowning the kitchen.
During the entire expurgation, Jackie moaned like a foghorn, sounding like an animal in heat. Now drained but satisfied, Jackie went silent and, without even tucking his goods back into his pants, stumbled back into his room and collapsed on his bed.
I stood gaping at the pool newly formed in the kitchen. I was tempted to abandon the crime scene as was and leave, but I hesitated thinking of the hapless roommate self-assuredly walking into the kitchen in the morning to fix himself a cup of coffee and dunking himself in excreta instead. Guilt prevented me from departing right then and there: I had to clean it up.
I thought about what I could use to soak up the urine then turned to go grab Jackie’s used towels. I took one big step—right into Jackie’s lake.
As I picked up my foot and watched pee drip off my toes, my eyes welled up with tears. Never in all my years, I thought, did I think I’d live to see the day when I step into a big puddle of my boyfriend’s piss.
I managed to soak up most of the fluid with towels. Thoroughly sickened by the stench of alcohol-infused bodily discharge, I scrubbed my hands fastidiously with soap in the bathroom. Then I returned to Jackie’s room and began transferring all my things into the trunk of my car. After that was done, I returned to Jackie’s room, hopped onto his computer, and loaded up Microsoft Word.
Dear Jackie, the letter began (in hindsight, I should have thought to save a copy). Here’s what happened here tonight…
I ended the letter with, And this is why I’m breaking up with you. Don’t call me. Irene.