Real stories about dating and relationships in New York City. Truth is more interesting than fiction.

The Toe of the Elephant

Getting it together. Little by little. I promise. And look, I have a treat for you today. A guest post by the always fabulous Hilarity in Shoes.

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The Toe of the Elephant

A story that isn’t about me, but could be.

Nancy wasn’t too big on Thai food.  Didn’t hate it, didn’t love it.  Sid craved pad thai regularly, but every time he suggested it Nancy wrinkled her nose and said, Maybe Indian? OK, Sid would agree, but he dipped his naan in bitterness as well as coriander chutney with each bite. Sometimes, even though he really really wanted spicy basil chicken, he would suggest that they order pizza from the good gourmet place, because he knew she loved the pie with feta and tomatoes.  She always agreed, of course, and they would split a medium. It made him feel good to anticipate her needs and meet them.

Sid was more of a pepperoni man, though, and he really loved drunken noodles, and one day, after they’d been living together for a year, she texted to tell him she’d ordered Indian again and he just snapped.  There was more to the story, of course–there always is–but it came down to take-out.  I just want some fucking Thai food, he told her.  Why is that so difficult?  I eat your greasy Indian food and that abominable feta pizza all the time; is it too much to ask, just once, that you might think about what I want?  Why is it always about YOU?

Nancy was flabbergasted.  It’s not like she hated Thai food; she just didn’t love it.  She liked Indian food and yuppie Greek pizza, but she loved Sid, and that’s what she told him.  I’m sorry, she said.  I had no idea this was such a big deal.  Of course we can get Thai food; we can get whatever you want.  We can make a schedule and rotate–or hell, you can be in charge for the next year.  If I’d known you were upset about this, I would have fixed it ages ago. But you have to speak up, baby…I can’t read your mind.

Sid didn’t have much of an appetite at this point anyway.  Read his mind?  The Thai food was the tip of the iceberg, the knee of the cypress, the toe of the elephant in the room. This had nothing to do with mind reading. It was common courtesy to anticipate your partner’s needs; he did it for her without even thinking about it. Since the first night she ever slept over, he kept her favorite green tea in the house and made sure there was always shower gel in the bathroom. Did she really fucking think he sat around sipping tisanes and exfoliating when she wasn’t there? And she never even said thank you. Every stomachache he ever suffered he suffered for love, and what did he get in return? Fucking feta on his pizza.  If she loved him, she would have known. If she loved him, he would never have worked himself into this bitter knot that no amount of of tears or soy sauce could loosen.

This is said Nancy. I love you, you know I do; I’m here every day, and I tell you, and I send your mother Christmas presents. Surely that outweighs some small   I didn’t even know we were having.

Sid shook his head. Her not knowing was the whole point.

Nancy moved out, bewildered and sad.

Sid was sad for a while, too.  He threw out the green tea and the shower gel.  Why was he so invisible, he wondered.  Why were the simple things he wanted–some consideration, some thanks, some regard, just to be SEEN–so hard to come by? He tried so hard to be lovable, to be open and giving and good, and he got his heart crushed underfoot every time.  He figured it must be mostly scar tissue by this point.

Six months later, when he’d finally stopped finding Nancy’s hair ties and stray socks, he went on an amazing date with Jenny, who lived on his block.  Miracle of miracles, she came home with him.  The next day, he made it a point to buy some soy milk and sugar-in-the-raw to keep around, because that’s how she took her coffee.

Nancy remained utterly flummoxed over how she could have lost him over something that seemed so small, and at the same time, how she could have missed something so huge.

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Pop quiz: Which one of the above characters do you identify with?  Which one do you think is nuts?


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4 to “The Toe of the Elephant”


  1. karen b says:

    Jenny is nuts. To go home with a guy after one date. Sid is nuts for thinking everyone knows what he wants without ever communicating his desires to anyone.
    Hopefully, Nancy will find another guy who doesn’t expect her to have superpowers but is still very generous.
    I can probably relate to Nancy the most since I lived with someone for 19 years who didn’t like to communicate or deal with conflict. He was very good at getting his own way, though only after he asked what I wanted and explained, in great detail, why that was wrong in every possible way.

  2. Argent says:

    I can identify with all of them. I’ve been all three at some point in my life. There is so much going on here that it’s hard to pick just one thing that was wrong. If I had to pinpoint something, it would be an underlying unspoken dissatisfaction Sid has with himself. Sid’s an insecure fellow and doesn’t appear to have a grip on how to communicate with women (or anyone, for that matter). Is Sid a “yes” man outside of relationships with women? How much you wanna bet he learned to say “yes” and internalize his feelings at the feet of Mama?

    Sid needs to graduate to big-boy pants and learn to speak up. He needs to learn the value of straight-shooting articulation; the value of saying “I don’t like that” or “No” or “how about a compromise?” Shrugging and saying “okay” all the time, when you don’t feel like saying “okay” will kill a relationship faster than drunken noodles can squeeze through elephant toes.

  3. Opinion of a man says:

    I think it is a compatibility issue, though the issue can be fixed if Sid is willing to give it a second chance. I believe Nancy is the type of person who is not sensitive to social cue and she has to be told straight face, while Sid is overly sensitive and trying to avoid confrontation. They all need to learn and work on their relationship to get better. But under the assumption that none of them will change much, they will need to find someone else that fits the bill.
    It is a fact that couple fights. Small fights at none frequent rate is better than no fight at all. A give and take fight is better than onesided win fight. A couple that does not fight or always oneside wins hides the ticking time bomb that will explode eventually.

  4. Two of Us says:

    I can identify with all of them. People should be considerate and people are not mind readers.
    Two of Us recently posted..Major Signs He Isn’t the OneMy Profile