Hamburgers for Thanksgiving

Elisa Benson '06

Over Thanksgiving break, I had the chance to meet up with my hometown best friends, eat a giant frosted cookie from Great American Cookie Co. and catch up with the latest relationship drama in each of their lives. I was most eager for word about Lola’s boyfriend du jour, since she is the perpetually single one in our group. Unfortunately, Lola is perpetually single in part because she has horrible taste in men, even after vowing to never again fall for high school drop outs, drug addicts, men with small penises, alcoholics or “cheating whatevers.” Despite the large percentage of the rural Ohio population this eliminates, turns out Lola’s new man – a college student and a substance user, not abuser – is also divorced. Although there’s nothing intrinsically flawed about having been lawfully wed, finding out that your 22-year-old boyfriend once had a WIFE is like finding out post-graduation that your high school cafeteria served soy meat instead of hamburger (true story). I mean – it shouldn’t really matter – but you can’t help feeling like you’re getting the second rate version. And then there’s my friend Audra. And her boyfriend. Steve. Who may be the only boyfriend in history that makes my art history reading look interesting. It’s not just that he’s painfully dull, short and dopey – it’s that Audra is fire engine red nail polish, handmade handbag, life of the party, knee high stilettos. She’s also been burned one too many times in past relationships that now she’s clutching onto the first thing that calls her on schedule like it’s the brand new purse she made over break. My friend Kristin has been with her boyfriend since the soy meat days – so long ago now I’ve lost count. They tried to go their separate ways when they both entered college, but eventually decided to re-get-together. I like Charlie, I do. Except when he spends all day playing video games, obsessing over his dragon collection or pouting at Kristin over some insignificant incident. Kristin is his girlfriend, not his babysitter. But the problem here isn’t that these relationships are problematic, because Lola really is dating a divorcee, but he’ll be old news by the end of the week. Steve really does remind me of a lovesick “oopsey daisey” Notting Hill-era Hugh Grant, but he also bought Audra a bouquet of daisies (her favorite) and had the florist spray them blue (her favorite color) just because. And even Charlie, with his Tenacious D CD collection and Spiderman boxer shorts, like most boys, will grow up one of these days. At least a little bit. The problem here isn’t other people’s relationships, the problem is me. I want everyone else to be in a miserable relationship. I want everyone else, even my dearest friends, to have horrible partners. The problem is that a few weeks from now, after we finally get snow and finally take our finals and finally get a month to sleep again, my boyfriend will board a plane for Wales and stay there for a semester. Brad and I met on the first day of class freshman year, and I’ve kind of gotten used to having him around. I know I’m twenty and I know I’ll be fine, and we’ll be fine, and things work out the way they’re supposed to at the time they’re supposed to and even if they don’t, that’s okay too. I know these things. But sometimes, when life hands you soy meat, you just feel a little bit better if everyone else is eating it too.