Yes and No

On a perfect Sunday afternoon in June I bike across the city to the park.  Life is good.  The world is full of happy people holding hands, pushing kids in strollers, soaking themselves in the spray from fountains, amusing themselves with the fanciful art.

I have everything to make me content; a comfortable bench to sprawl on, a cold lemonade to sip and popcorn to munch.

My bubble of contentment bursts when I spot him striding across the plaza, headed right in my direction.  Chet, the guy I broke up with months before (Breaking Up is Hard to Do).  Chet, holding hands with a woman, both of them beaming.

I should be happy for him, right?  Pleased that he isn’t still nursing hurt or anger over our failed relationship.  That would be the charitable response, right?

But no, instead I shove my sunglasses back on, sink even lower on the bench, fearful that he’ll see me.  I clutch my stomach in sharp distress.   Cold and nausea spread through my body.

How can it be?  How can this possibly happen?  How can a man who desired me, who professed being intoxicated by my many charms, how can this same man smile blissfully while holding the hand of such a common woman?  Aggressively ordinary describes the woman he beams at.

The answer comes to me after they’ve passed safely by, after my distress subsides.  It’s quite simple, really.

I kept saying, “No.”  She said, “Yes.”

9 thoughts on “Yes and No

  1. Georgia,

    Short but so sweet. What struck me most was your ending; I kept saying, “No.” She said, “Yes.” For some reason, known only to the cosmos, the word “yes: took me back to Molly Bloom’s final soliloquy in James Joyce’s novel Ulysses:

    “…I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes. ”

    I find it interesting that the last word in Ulysses is left to the female voice Penelope (Molly).” The final episode of Ulysses both begins and ends with the word “yes,” a word that Joyce described as “a female word” and that he said indicated “acquiescence and the end of all resistance”. For those who are sensitive and caring, the word yes, when spoken within the boundaries of a relationship, has profound meaning so must be used with respect, love and caution.. There are those who take the easy path and say “yes” without regarding the consequences. Chet is lucky to have been told “no” by you as a “yes” would have created a very sad ending to the story.

    Great writing Georgia.


    • Hi Martin: Thank you for sharing the ending to Ulysses, which always leaves me breathless. Thanks, also, for probing beneath the surface of my bit of fluff and finding depth.

  2. Maybe he found someone who better matches him in her “aggressively ordinary” way?
    Still, I’ve found myself in these situations wondering whether I stand up to scrutiny of past relationship expectations. Why do we do this???

    • Hi Bob: She was clearly a better match. Part of my discomfort in this encounter was realizing how long it took me to acknowledge that we were such a mismatch.

  3. Anyone and everyone beats themselves up when spying an ex in this or similar circumstances. Imagine now that she was a knockout, an over the top beauty. It would only change certain dynamics of your self-flagellation. You may be right in your conclusion, but the fact is -you don’t know. It’s much easier to thwack yourself when you fill in the factual blanks yourself.

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