I am watching my ex-girlfriend’s new husband do stand up comedy and honestly it’s not bad. It’s not bad for a video on the internet, I mean. I found it a week ago but I saved it for right now, for when my current girlfriend is sleeping upstairs because I have played out the scenario of explaining this whole thing to her and I’d just as soon not.
What’s this, she’d say. And I’d tell her. And she would say, Oh and in that sound would be the first sentence in a story that ends with her leaving. It would happen even though I’d tell her it’s not what she’s thinking and she’d say, Okay so what am I thinking.
So I am watching it alone.
He’s short, but she’s short too. He does a whole section about my ex girlfriend except, you know, he doesn’t call her that. Every joke is a joke about how pathetically in love they are. He says that when they met she told him she was from Wisconsin and he said, Let’s go. He said, Let’s go to Wisconsin because I want to beat up everyone who was ever mean to you. It gets some laughs and I think, Why didn’t I say that.
They’re young to be married, first of their friends to get married and now he is riffing on their courthouse wedding. A courthouse! We used to babysit her nephew and we’d push him around in a million dollar stroller and right before we’d get to the park she’d whisper, Let’s pretend he’s ours and that is the same girl who got married in a courthouse to a comedian. Except he’s not just a comedian, I discover. He’s also a butcher. A butcher! He does a couple jokes about meat and I think, Why didn’t I do that.
We gotta talk about this guy she used to date, he says. The most boring guy in the world.
In the 1950s in Erie Pennsylvania a newspaper interviewed my father. He was six. I don’t know why. The clipping used to be pressed in a book on a shelf in a house in Arizona but when my father died it went in a box and arrived six months after the funeral on my front step and inside was all this shit and tucked somewhere was a yellow piece of newsprint and on it was an interview with my father, little Bobby, a first grader, who’s bike is broken and who sent a girl in his class three valentines even though she didn’t send him one.
Imagine carrying that with you, holding the story in your hands like a perfect apple and sharing it with your girlfriend late at night in hushed tones walking home after the bars close. So when this guy makes some joke about how his wife’s ex boyfriend wasn’t very interesting, it’s like, okay. That can’t be me. It’s someone else.
Thing is, it’s his best stuff. The first true blue guffaws of his set.
This guy, he says, oh man this guy. This guy, he says over the laughter, he was so boring that he just disappeared one day from her mind. Poof, like that. They didn’t even break up, didn’t even have to, she just erased him, can you believe it.
Yes, I say to my computer. I can believe that.
This guy, he says, this guy was like a ghost in a movie who doesn’t know he’s a ghost. Know what I mean?
Yes, I say. It’s only eight minutes or so but I’m watching it on a loop and I’m on my seventh or so time through when I break a wine glass and shout, Goddamnit which wakes up my current girlfriend and soon I can hear her coming down the stairs. I can feel her walk up behind me but I’m not ready for whatever we have to talk about, not yet, so I don’t turn around but instead I restart the video. Pretty soon she’s going to ask me what I’m doing and I’m not going to have a good answer. I can hear her lips part and the muscles in her throat flex. Any second now. Here it comes.
Kyle Seibel is 36 years old and lives in Santa Barbara, CA. He works as a copywriter and his stories have appeared in The Masters Review, The Daily Drunk, and Barren Magazine. He tweets @kylerseibel.