Imagine the Perfect Person for You. This Person is everything you have ever desired in a Partner. If life were a genre romance, this is the Person you would go on a Quest to save and your Story would be inflicted on generations of high schoolers. Probably you’d make yourself sick by loving this person. Yes, that One. Perfect in every way except for One Thing.
This is the game: Make or Break.
For instance: this Person is perfect for you in every way, except when you’re within ten feet of them you become functionally illiterate. Or they have face-blindness – just for you. Or they can only speak in rhyming couplets.
You get the idea.
It’s a great icebreaker, or a good way to pass the time when you only have one bottle of wine to share among four people, it’s a Tuesday night, there’s no reason to go out, something vegetarian lies mostly-eaten on the table and there’s no other alternative than to have a pleasant round of one-up-man-ship. Usually, this gets dirty fast. Most people can’t help it. After all, we’ve all played Apples to Apples. Or it just gets too personal (“They’re perfect for you in every way except they’ve slept with Elyot… I mean…”)
Or people take it too seriously.
K, M, and I were driving down Claiborne on the way back from Work when, in a few moments of silence, I suggested the game and explained the rules. M had the windows down and so we had to shout over the hot, late, Caribbean fall wind. It hadn’t been a Bad Day, and so we were talkative.
“They’re prefect for you except that they believe you’re an imaginary friend,” I said, “ala Fight Club.”
All Considered this one for a moment and concluded that this would be problematic, but Interesting. Ultimately, the relationship would Fall Apart. Preferably before they had you duct-taped to a chair on top of a skyscraper, pressing a gun into your mouth.
“What if they lived across the country?” M said, making a sharp turn for the realistic. “No matter what effort you made to get close to them, their work always took them somewhere else?”
“That sucks,” I said with conviction. “And that’s not in the spirit of the game.”
M was undaunted. “What if she had a much more adventurous sexual history than you and her name is Amy?”
“Isn’t there just supposed to be one flaw?” K asked, flicking a cigarette into the street. A line of ash erupted across the pavement and then Disappeared.
“I’m just speculating,” M said.
We turned down St. Bernard, past the Circle Food Store that has remained closed since Katrina – in fact, most of that corner looks like the Nuclear Holocaust passed through fifty years ago. It’s difficult to imagine a time when this was a shopping area where Families came to get groceries and chat and sit in the shade of trees on the concrete benches and envy the people who could live so close by in the now dissolving wood, decaying paint, angles of disrepair and stretches of house-shaped, once-life-shaped lots.
“Make or break,” K said slyly. We pass over a significant bump, but on one is fazed. “She’s an alcoholic.”
I considered protesting this one, but already my brain was at work. All the alcoholics I’ve ever known suddenly sprung to mind along with Empathy and a deep Reluctance to Dismiss them outright. They have all been good friends. I love my Alcoholic Friends.
“Well,” M said, “What kind of alcoholic?”
“Or is she a classy, 1950s drunk?” I asked. “Can she still hold a cigarette holder, quote Ginsberg, and walk in on high heels when she’s shattered?”
M made a dangerous pivot in his seat to look at me and show the measure of his false-disgust. “You would ask that, wouldn’t you?”
“Whatever kind of alcoholic would be most problematic for you,” K clarifies.
“Well, that’s tough,” M said, returning to the relevant topic. He was going now, in his Routine. “I mean, are we talking functional? Or does she vomit blood every night?”
M pulled down our street. “This is a terrible, terrible conversation. Thanks, Sam. You’ve made us all terrible people.”
“I do what I can,” I said.
“I know. And it’s about time you stopped.”