EASY ON THE EYES
By Sorcha Blaine
I’ll call him Max. His parents were Austrian
and he inherited blonde hair and straight features
as his birthright. He looked like Brad Pitt.
We began as co-workers, then became
friends. I gave him a hard time at first because
he was so good-looking: prove to me you’re
more than just a pretty face. And he did.
Max had traveled a lot in Europe and told
hilarious stories about his trips. He especially
liked to visit churches and referred to one as
“The Church of the Sacred Dusty Bits.”
Very funny guy.
Believe it or not, I fell in love with him
because he made me laugh.
He was also smart.
And a talented writer.
And a good cook.
And incapable of fidelity.
After we’d been together for a while,
I heard that he was going out with someone
else. I asked him and he denied it. He was
my friend, remember; he knew honesty was
important to me. He’d never lie to me.
About a month later, I was at a party
when Max showed up with the woman I’d
been told he was dating. I caused a scene,
demanding to know why he’d lied to me.
“You’re my best friend,” he said,
“I didn’t want to lose you.”
Now before you start thinking this
is yet another article by a woman angry
at a man who’s done her wrong, let me
assure you it’s not.
Because the decision to take Max
back was mine.
Despite my common sense, my friends’
outrage, my sister’s disapproval and good
advice from every woman’s magazine,
I forgave him. I did it after swallowing one
bitter pill, though: my decision was based
on his looks.
You see, I’d begun to enjoy being the
woman with the handsomest man at the party.
When we walked into a room, everyone
looked - at him, yes, but I basked in his
reflected beauty. He had picked
Max was a regular guy but women
treated him like a movie star. They pressed
their phone numbers into his hand, spoke in
sexual code, brushed up against him when they
walked by. Sometimes they did this in front
of me. He didn’t react. He was never
disrespectful. He made jokes about it. When
I was with Max, it was like going on vacation
to Calcutta: you had a really good time if you
could find a way to overlook what was
happening all around you.
One night I’d had two too many tequilas
and asked him: “Why did you choose me?”
“You’re the only one that doesn’t treat
me like a piece of meat.”
It was moments like those that kept
Eventually, I found some self-respect
and couldn’t ignore the wandering. I mailed
him a letter telling him I never wanted to hear
from him again. He respected my wishes and
didn’t try to contact me.
I moved away and fell in love with
someone else but I thought about Max over
the years. I felt badly at the way I’d ended
it without giving him a chance to say his piece.
I knew I’d used him and that I owed him an
apology. (He may have owed me one, too,
but that was up to him to decide.) One night
I called him. He was glad to hear from me.
He’d hit a rough patch in his life and was
eager to talk. I told him why I’d called.
“It was wrong of me to just send a letter
breaking up with you” I said. “It wasn’t fair.
But I want you to understand it was the best
I could do.”
He was very quiet on the other end of
the phone. “Thank you,” he said finally, his
We began to talk about the years between
then and now. He’d gotten involved with
Alcoholics Anonymous and had been “clean
and sober for 16 months.” He’d started
working at a halfway house for recovering
alcoholics. The pay wasn’t great and he
lived with three other men from AA.
Max had a masters degree and could speak
three languages, couldn’t he find something
that paid better, I asked.
It was a long time before he responded.
“You haven’t seen me for a while,” he said.
“I weigh almost 300 pounds. Nobody
wants me now.”