Anecdote

Fatal Attraction came on last night, reminding me of Lyle. It was one of many movies we had rented over the course of the indictment, I suppose as a way of keeping our minds occupied. In one scene, Michael Douglas warns an unstable Glenn Close to leave his family alone and stop calling, to which she responds pointedly, and with a touch of hysteria: “I will not be ignored, Dan.” Something in the line’s delivery–its cadence or fervor–had struck us as funny, and we went on to use it whenever we felt the other wasn’t paying attention.

I’ve been trying to reach Lyle for the past week, but he doesn’t answer his phone. I hear through mutual friends that he’s changed quite a bit. He follows a new crowd and spends his weeknights dressing up in drag and patronizing gay bars, things he never did while we were together but which, when I think about it, seem to fit. I can easily picture Lyle (or is it “Lynda”?) hanging from a bar stool, in a bad wig, gesturing with a cosmopolitan as he rehashes to a rapt audience the time his boyfriend (“ex-boyfriend,” he’d emphasize) went to prison for child pornography. There’d be gasps all around. “Oh, honey! You poor thing, you!” And Lyle would wave the condolences away with a bangled hand and declare, bravely, that he is fine, he has moved on with his life, he is so over it.

Scrutinizing his rouged face in a compact, he might add: “It just goes to show you never really know a person.”

I suspect I’ve become an anecdote for a lot of people, my old coworkers especially. I can see them standing around the Kuerig, filling in the new intern:

“And then there was that one guy, what’s-his-face. . . .

“Oh! Let Jim tell it! Jim’s great at telling it . . . he does the voice. . . . “

“So we had this one kid–real quiet guy–on the interface team, right? . . .”

“Boy, what a fiasco that was! . . .”

“HR had to escort him out of the building. . . .”

“I always said it–didn’t I, Audrey?–I always said there was something weird about that guy.”

I suppose the reason I’ve been trying to call Lyle is because I want to hear he misses me. Ideally, I’d like for his life to be falling apart without me. In that way, I could be reassured that I am not simply an anecdote to be trotted out at dinner parties, that despite whatever faults I might have, I did something good in our relationship, something worth pointing to: “Well, he might have liked kiddie porn, but he was a damned good cook.”

Unfortunately, his not answering the phone would suggest that he’s doing just fine; his life, sadly, is not falling apart. Still, I’m tempted to write him a small note, if not for a reply then to at least make him smile. I was good at making him smile. The note would read: “I will not be ignored.

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