The first sign of trouble was when I answered the door and read “I’ve made a terrible mistake” scrolling across the retinas of his startled eyes like a flashing news crawl on the giant screen in Time’s Square.

We met months ago at a party, his friends and mine overlapping in a raucous blur, ending with a messy sidewalk kiss and a request for my phone number.  The memory dissolved into a haze of other parties and messier kisses, and so much time had passed by the time I heard from him he was a whisper of a brown-haired specter.
“I’m so sorry, I wanted to call sooner” he implored, “I lost your number, but then today I was cleaning and found it, I swear it was lost though” he went on, earnestly and desperately wanting me to excuse the long IMG_2740radio silence. It seemed disproportionate to our history. I didn’t recall a profound love connection, certainly nothing that would require such fevered pleas that he be forgiven for this insult to our happily ever after.  I checked my pasty, hungover image in the mirror and ran a tongue over my un-brushed teeth. Perhaps I had underestimated my charm and awesomeness.
Seriously, I lost your number” he punctuated again after we made plans to see a movie the next afternoon.  I hung up the receiver wondering how I had missed my half of this great romance.

The moment I saw him standing in the hallway outside my apartment door I knew that he thought I was someone else. He had met the love of his life and called me thinking it was her, and now his happy reunion had been reduced to an awkward death march we both had to endure because neither of us knew what to say. I got my coat.

We walked the five blocks to the theater in the drizzly chill of New York City struggling to make the smallest of small talk. The weather was unpleasant enough that we could really linger on the topic, the rain matching his bland, damp conversation.  He was detached, his mind probably scanning the corners of his apartment for the number of The Girl Who Got Away while he went through the motions with The Girl Who Was Here.  He paid for us both to see Oliver Stone’s JFK despite my attempts to use the opportunity to call shenanigans on the whole situation, pay for myself and change the vibe to “two MV5BMTY4ODI3Njg5N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODgyMDUxMDE@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_AL_people going to the same movie.”  His eyes stared down at the ground as he handed me my ticket, dashing my hopes that we could have a good laugh and digest our popcorn in tension-free stomachs.

With a running time of three hours and twenty six minutes, JFK offered a long time to sit in the dark in silence, and we took full advantage of it.  I fantasized about whispering in his ear “what do you think she’s doing right now?” or “you still haven’t called her, do you think she’s mad?” but without the lubrication of a sense of humor it would have cracked jarringly through the air like the shotgun reports on that fateful day in Dallas, 1963.

Finally released back to the sidewalk I breathed in the cold air and soaked in the well-acted, conspiracy theory-infused and cameo-laden epic film we had just witnessed.
“What do you think happened?” I asked him, sensing a bounce in his step as we rounded the corner, freedom now in arm’s reach.
“The way the Warren Commission says it happened” he answered in a monotone, as if we hadn’t just had two thousand other possibilities paraded before us like a suspicious option buffet, lovingly served by the delicious Kevin Costner.
I could forgive the case of mistaken identity, I could even get over the forgettable, unimaginative words-in-a-row he passed off as chatting, but just accepting the government’s version of the JFK assassination  without a question despite three and a half hours of dramatic slo-mo and heavy handed background music? This I could not abide.

We reached the stairs of my building as the weak light of day was fading, a glance at my watch told me it was 5:30, otherwise known as “the end of this date.”  I turned left up the steps as he continued straight ahead,  searching for his dull dream girl.

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