The Pretzel by Elliot W. Lesser

Posted by on June 24, 2016

Everyone on Brown

Everyone on Brown

The Pretzel
Elliot W. Lesser

Our relationship, Emmy’s and mine, is like a 12-inch long, one inch in diameter pretzel. That’s how relationships can be . . . one long salted pretzel that looks like a cigar.

Of course there are many kinds of relationships just as there are many kinds and shapes of pretzels but these are other people’s affairs, not mine.

This situation – our connection – has been too long. . . seven years. The winds of change blow, the flowing stream slows and muddies.

“We have excitement but never enthusiasm.” Emmy said that, early on.

We are talked out and have (at this point) little in common. I became lazy and seethed with boredom. I guess the label couch potato fits.

Usually, after work on my way back to the apartment, I have to stop in at Bernie’s Bar for a glass — four fingers — of scotch . . .sometimes two glasses . . . just to endure.

We live on the Upper Easts Side of Manhattan. I guess you might say I feel that perhaps I need to atone for something that is nagging at me. There is an intrinsic uneasiness. I am seeing a therapist.

Yes, it’s true, I had used the word engaged a number of times but no ring was given, so you might say, I didn’t seal the deal with that sort of commitment. If a ring was not presented in seven years, I think my intentions were obvious.

This linkage with Emmy is not about love, marriage and a baby carriage. I was dumbfounded when one night during what she called “Pillow Talk” she asked if I thought that we were soul mates.

I wanted to say, we are roommates and sex mates but instead I groaned and pretended to sleep. What the hell is a soul mate?

Human beings never stay at a plateau for long . . .we either move up . . . or down. In this case, the movement is clearly down. And, when a relationship brings me down it is time to move on.

Out of kindness, I wanted to wait until after the holidays. As always she had signed our Christmas cards: Hank and Emmy which made me wince but I knew that breaking up, would not be easy.

She would be hurt and annoyed and I hoped that she wouldn’t cry or whine – that she would be adult about it.

It was delicious when it was fresh and new but everything is transitory. . . relationships are changing things. They go stale.

As a chemist I had long ago learned that the visual could make things clear whereas when using words only – the message can be ambiguous. I wanted to do this once…make a clean, sharp cut with nothing holding us. No guilt, no blame.

I had called her from Kennedy when my plane landed and suggested that we go to what used to be our favorite restaurant– Mario’s — and have a few glasses of wine together with fine aged cheese or maybe warm Brie.

I wanted to do this correctly, end with kindness and class. At this point, she knew nothing of my decision. She was not perceptive which, was part of our problem.

I had been in Atlanta lecturing at Emory for more than a week. That’s another thing, I am a research chemist and I found communication about my work difficult. I had to talk to her as I would talk to a three year old. She had come to the table with a beautiful face and perfect body but it wasn’t enough. Well, it was at first but fires burn out.

She was excited about going to Mario’s and said she wanted to sit in our favorite booth tucked away in a private corner. That was perfect for what I had to do.

We split a bottle of Ménage a’ Trois and were both feeling mellow. That’s when I pulled the pretzel out of my pocket. I had it wrapped in plastic wrap.

After I took the plastic off, I held the pretzel in my hand. It looked like a long finger in the candlelight.

She started to laugh and asked me what I was doing. I held it up over my head. Up…then down almost touching the tabletop. She laughed. I moved it up and down two more times. She laughed again. I moved it slowly to the right and then slowly to the left, like a priest holding up a cross, or a Buddhist holding up smoking incense.

I kept moving it…up and down and back and forth, this time as a Rabbi holds the Torah. And, then, I kissed it.
With pressure from both my hands I broke it in half. Snap! Crack! Done. It was neat and clean.

I gave Emmy half of the pretzel and put my half back in my pocket. I told her that this was the way to end a relationship. Snap! Crack!
Only, it did not work that way. Crying and screaming and accusations came with catastrophic hurricane suddenness and, she forced me to reveal, that yes, there was another woman.

I reminded her I did not vow to love her till death do we part nor to forsake all others or to be there for better or worse. I did not promise to cherish.

I wanted out.

Later, I walked down by the Hudson and threw my half of the pretzel bit by bit into the water. It was like the Jewish practice of throwing bread into the water during the High Holy Days.

It was getting rid of the things in my life I no longer wanted. This was going to be a new beginning for me, a new year, a new town, a new woman.

Image Everyone on Brown by MF and YXS


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