Snow Globe Romance

by Anna Chan


Two Minute Emotional Whirlwind

She is wearing a satiny dress colored in the very lightest of blues, and she looks stunning, absolutely stunning.  The dress pulls the blue from her eyes, and its sheen plays beautifully on her lightly tanned skin.  To add insult to my injury, she has the thick, flowing, naturally curly hair I’ve always wanted.  The cut of the dress reveals her bare back halfway down, clings to her backside, and dips low enough in the front to confirm that her body is rather luscious.  She looks stunning, and I don’t know her name.  But it’s obvious why the man holding her by the waist replaced me with her.  Without proper protocol, in my opinion – he could have at least dismissed me cleanly before taking up with her. 

I knew that attending my friends’ tenth wedding anniversary bash would not be easy.  It would not be enjoyable.  These were mutual friends, and since they refused to ostracize one of us over the other, I felt it was only fair to appreciate the friendship and honor their invitation. 

I’m sure he knows that I’m here.  My strategy is to avoid contact with them, to avoid close proximity.  This forces me to have to watch and pay close attention to their whereabouts.  It’s really distracting from the little fun I could be having tonight.  So far, there hasn’t been any eye contact or sign of acknowledgement.  I pray to the Fates that I manage to avoid them all night.

Two hours later …. Love didn’t work for me, and apparently now Luck isn’t either.  I came out of the bathroom, round the hall into the entertainment room, and almost smack into him.  I guess he wasn’t watching out for me, keeping tabs on my locus, the way I was with them.  I open my mouth to apologize, then realize who I ran into.  His smile vanishes, replaced with an expression that I can’t really define. 

Our friends stand frozen, staring at us.  She beholds me without any animosity, scorn, or recognition.  I realize that she doesn’t know who I am.  Apparently he wants to keep it that way.  My ex-fiancée mutters, “Oh, sorry about that,” and turns to lead her to the party outside. 

My heart is pounding.  I feel like I can’t breathe.  I’m ready to die.  My head feels hot, my body feels hot.  I feel dizzy.  My eyes are stinging.  Now they’re blurring, and my tears feel hot.  I fight to not break down in front of anyone until I can compose myself.  Back to the bathroom I go, only I can’t get in, because someone else got there before me.  Where to go now?  The door opens, and a very attractive man steps out.  He looks at me, surprised no doubt at the sight of a woman who’s struggling to keep dignified composure. 

“You look like you could use a shoulder and an ear.  Maybe even an arm.” 

My heart is pounding.


Dinner and a Fight for Two

I met Tommy yesterday, during an unflattering outburst of emotional upheaval.  He apparently has the power to calm my storm.  I feel at peace now.  Tonight, we are meeting for dinner, and I am hoping that it’s the first date of many.  I don’t know him, but I like him already. 

Seated across from each other at Martinelli’s, I know we’re dissecting each other in psychological fashion.  However, fragrances of rich pastries, simmering soups, and bubbling pasta dishes float from the kitchen, to join dancing candle lights.  They alternately waltz and tango to the tunes from the Old Country.  I stop analyzing Tommy, concentrating instead on the cozy comfort of good food and the thrill of meeting someone new and alluring. 

“I didn’t tell you this yesterday,” says Tommy, “but I actually know your ex.  We had a couple of classes together, and we’ve been at some parties together.  I don’t know Darrin well, but I do know him.”

“Oh.”  What else is there to say?

Tommy folds his napkin, and lays his hand over it.  “We also dated some of the same girls at Penn State.  Two.  Nothing serious for anyone.  More like messing around, really.  But I felt that I should let you know this.”

“Oh.”  Feelings are enveloping me.  They churn in a kaleidoscope of jealousy, horror, shock, dismay, and indifference.  “Were you friends?  Enemies?  Rivals?”

“We weren’t anything.  We just had some mutual classes and friends.”

And flings, I mentally annotate.  Then I decide that my prevailing emotion is indifference.  “Well, thanks for telling me.  It doesn’t bother me, if that’s what you wanted to know.”  I fervently hope that he’s not building up to backing away.

“Good.  I like your company, and I’d like to keep seeing you.”  Tommy settles everything with the waiter.

Please, ask me to go somewhere else, I’m not ready to end this night with you, yet.  Aloud, I say, “Such a beautiful night!  The sky is so pretty!”  This is a lie.  Cold wind and gray overcast are feeding a gloom, dark and damp.

“You up for a drink?” he asks. 

Approaching the doors, we see Darrin and his new girlfriend walking in.  I learned yesterday that her name is Carli.  She recognizes us, but she still doesn’t know who I am, I bet.  I would expect her to react differently.

Darrin’s having trouble deciding whether to focus on me or on Tommy.  He goes for Tommy.  “Hey, she’s off limits to you!”  His explosive temper is clearly brewing.

“What?!” we three sound in unison.  Carli turns to Darrin, confused and apprehensive.  I stare at him with pure venom.  Tommy regards him with faint amusement.

“She’s off limits to you!”

They shout about something.  A breach into the personal bubble is imminent.  Signor Martinelli and another man reach them, and try vainly to keep them apart.  The guys are finally close enough to lunge for each other.

Bartender, a round please.


Second Thoughts

The two men grappling are my ex-boyfriend Darrin, and a man who seems to share something of a history with him.  That man Tommy is also my dinner date.  It occurs to me that I should feel embarrassed, or upset, or even distressed.  Where my faint detachment spawns from, I have no idea. 

I turn to Darrin’s new girlfriend, Carli.  Her face delineates a picture of dismay and shock that I should be sharing.  I extend my hand, wondering if she’ll shake it.  “Hi, I’m Marlissa, Darrin’s ex.”  I refrained from adding, “I’m the one he dumped for you.”

Carli turns to me and mechanically shakes my hand.  “Oh.”  The writhing wrestlers are overloading her capacity to process reality.  Her eyes remain on me but without focus, and she forgets to close her mouth.

The pity I feel for her confirms to me that I have purged Darrin and Bitterness from my system, and I am whole again.  Now, with perverse timing, I almost feel cheerful. 

Darrin and Tommy have sweat beads forming on their faces.  I don’t know much about wrestling, but apparently neither of them is gaining any significant ground over the other. 

After being knocked down twice, Signor Martinelli and another man have both disengaged from attempting to intervene.  Signor Marintelli, swearing heartily in Sicilian and Yiddish, shouts into his cell phone.  I know he’s not on the phone with the cops – things aren’t handled that way in this part of town.  However, when his friend runs to the kitchen, I do feel some urgency.

The guys go for another roll, and Darrin’s cell phone hops free from his pocket.  I watch Carli regain enough wherewithal to retrieve it. 

“Give me that!”  Darrin’s face betrays his panic.  Reclaiming his property clearly takes priority over debating his machismo with Tommy.  His struggles shift to breaking away from the fight.  “Carli, give me my phone!”

I walk up beside her.  She and I read the text that just came through.  Carli’s evening is dissolving into a tragedy, and by now, I really feel bad for her.  Her relationship with Darrin is following a runaway train off the tracks.  When she turns her attention from phone to Darrin, I recognize signs of an imminent derailment.  Carli doesn’t speak to him.  Emotional paralysis accounts for her delayed reaction, but the stormy rage of betrayal is brewing.  It occurs to me that Mt. Carli will display a most awesome eruption. 

Darrin breaks away from Tommy and rushes at Carli.

Carli hauls back and hurls the phone forward.

It streaks over Darrin’s head.

The thin stained glass window barring its flight shatters.

The sounds at impact assure us that Darrin will have to get a replacement. 

Signor Martinelli is livid, and fixates on Darrin as the sole vandal.

Darrin is embroiled in a fresh altercation with kitchen staff-turned-crime fighters.

Tommy grabs me.  “Let’s go have that drink!”

I tug at Carli’s coat.  “Let’s go have a drink.”



Double Dating

Gilley’s Pub is in its usual frenzy, and we get to practice the fine art of shouting to be heard without spraying the other with spit.  Tommy orders beers and shots for himself and I.  Carli chooses a vodka martini.  She alternately stirs and sips in mechanical fashion, and I’m sure she’s replaying the past hour.  I am definitely rehashing the almost 20 second wrestling match between Tommy, my date, and Darrin, a recent ex-fiancée. 

I never envisioned that I would sit and have friendly drinks with the woman my ex dumped me for.  She doesn’t feel like a rival, because I understand that Darrin is a womanizer and manipulator period.  With big sisterly affection, I ask Carli if she needs to crash at my place tonight. 

Darrin, I know, will be in a fury when he sees her.  It will be Carli’s fault that she caught him cheating on her.  Carli threw his phone and broke it.  The phone smashed an expensive, stained glass window that will likely cost him at least a couple hundred to replace.  I know that what will rankle Darrin most, are the facts that he was busted in front of people, and that he is the one getting dumped.  I wonder if I should warn Carli that Darrin will try to resuscitate their relationship so that he can ultimately be the one to break it off with her. 

Tommy rubs his left shoulder.  “I haven’t wrestled like that since college.” 

The memory of him and Darrin rolling around in a sweaty heap thirty minutes ago makes me smile.  Darrin is 6’3” and sculptured solid.  His intimidating size seems to quell most potential opposition.  He failed to emerge victorious from his grapple with Tommy, and I know this has jarred Darrin’s universe.


Three bundled figures join our table.  As warm layers peel away from faces, Carli introduces her sorority sisters.  “This is Mina,” she points to a friendly golden haloed girl.  “That’s Laylee.”  Lilac eyes and lips framed by plum tresses smile at us.  Before Carli gets to the third girl, Yessina throws her arms around Carli and envelops her in a bear hug.  Yessina grins and introduces herself.  We finish our first round of cheer.


Six feet of long legged, red headed femininity squeeze between Tommy and Mina. 

Tommy gives the name to the striking figure.  “Everyone, this is Regina.”  We go around the table again for introductions.  In a few moments, Tommy turns to me.  “She’s my ex, but we’re just really good friends now.”

I don’t know what to make of this.  “Oh.”

Conversations swirl.  I can hear what people are saying, but I can’t focus enough to join in.  Tommy orders a round for the table.  Carli is pouring out her soul, while Yessina comforts her.  The way she tucks Carli’s hair back behind her right ear has me thinking that Carli has found her balm of Gilead for the night.

Regina, Laylee, and Mina are comparing notes on the opening of a new deli in town.  They work in the same bank building.  Tommy adds his opinion.  He jokes about the location.  He and Regina both engage in banter only found between two people who have shared close intimacy.  I’m guessing that he will end up spending the rest of the evening with her, long after I’ve gone home.  Long after I’ve gone period.

Suddenly, I register that Darrin is staring at us.  He is standing across the street. 

The night, while not exactly unpleasant, has turned disappointing.  It’s Darrin’s fault.  If he would have followed the standards that he demanded from everyone else, I would not be a stranger tonight, squeezed at a table with ex’s and rivals.  My life, my emotions, and my stomach would not be like flakes in a snow globe – all shaken up.  We would be at our loft, cozy and satisfied.  Our three years together would have stretched into a lifetime of comfortable and familiar.  But Darrin’s appetites need plenty of side dishes to accompany the main course, and I am not a buffet item.  This is all his fault.

A hand on my right shoulder and a voice in my ear recall me from lapsing into absurd regression.  “Are you okay?” 

Studying Tommy’s face, I realize he is not asking from superficial formality.  I nod.

He leans closer to ask me, “Got dinner plans tomorrow?  I’d like to try this again.  Hopefully we can have dinner and drinks without the drama.”

The prospect of a quiet dinner tomorrow with Tommy recalls the euphoria I felt earlier tonight, when I first sat across from him at Martinelli’s Restaurant.  I realize that I get to have a first date all over again. 

Carli and Yessina make eye contact with Darrin.  Yessina whispers almost lovingly into Carli’s ear, as her arms lock around Carli’s shoulders again in a tight embrace.  The looks on their faces make it clear that Darrin’s grip has been broken. 

Darrin dangles keys in a clear gesture that he is still a force to be reckoned with.

Carli answers back with her middle fingers before sauntering off with Yessina.

Mina and Laylee leave us to join Regina’s office party at the pub next door.

Tommy leans back in his stool and exhales. “Such a beautiful night!  The sky is so pretty!”  This is a lie.  Cold wind and gray overcast are feeding a gloom, dark and damp.  My heart is pounding.  Tommy orders beers and shots for himself and I. 

I have purged Darrin and Bitterness from my system. 



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