I was encouraged to write a Valentine's-related column to reflect the Love & Sex theme of this issue and replied, "Absolutely! I am all about Valentine's Day."
Valentine's Day has a special meaning for me. It means I get to agonize alone in my apartment over my recently busted marriage and simultaneously seethe with contempt for all those pretty, giddy lovebirds out there—flitting about the town as if they are in the middle of their own, personal movie love montages.
Well guess what people: Sordid Tales don't do love montages. Sordid Tales rejects Love. It detests Love. Sordid Tales thinks Love is for people who don't have Xbox. Sordid Tales wouldn't give Love the time of day if Sordid Tales owned a clock factory. That's why, for this Valentine's issue, the author of Sordid Tales is going to shit all over Love and write about divorce—specifically, the worst moment of mine.
It was August of 2015, several months after our separation, and I was sitting at Winston's Beach Club enjoying a beer when X (The Woman Formerly Known as W.) strolled in. It was the first time I had seen her in months and to suddenly be in the same room was enough to make my heart hit the eject button. But when I saw that she was with a date, well, words can not adequately describe what I was feeling. It was more like a:
...kind of feeling.
Now, let me just mention here that I have nothing against this fellow. I don't know him, don't hate him and certainly don't blame him for our breakup. He seemed like a nice enough sort, if you overlook the shreds of human flesh between his black, jagged teeth or the faces of the damned sprouting from his torso, or the veiny, kited wings he periodically flapped to provide a breeze for my fucking wife on this hot, July afternoon.
I have long suspected that women get over breakups faster than men. It's certainly not a scientific conclusion, but it really does seem to me that after a breakup, the section of a woman's heart where her love for you once resided becomes like a closed-off wing of an asylum—deserted, cobwebbed and padlocked because of something terrible that happened—ne'er to be entered or mentioned again.
Men are quite different. There's not enough whiskey in Waxahachie gonna help a man cope with the idea that his ex might be tra-la-la-ing around with the first financially solvent cocksman that crossed her path. I spent many desperate nights after the Winston's encounter trying to wrap my head around that. Why does our breakup seem so effortless to her? How could she have replaced me already? Could it be that women actually do recover from heartbreak more easily? So, I looked it up. And it turns out to be more than a hunch. At least according to the book, The Chemistry Between Us, by journalist Brian Alexander and Dr. Larry J. Young, chief of Emory University Division of Behavioral Neuroscience.
According to their research, humans in crisis release a hormone called vasopressin. In women, vasopressin tends to make them more social—encourages them to meet people, or hang with their girlfriends who, of course, will reinforce how smart and pretty and wonderful they are. Vasopressin in men, however, makes men less social—which is why we navigate the crisis alone, on the couch, accompanied only by our Xboxes, whiskey and the voices in our heads telling us how stupid and ugly we are.
Well whaddya know? All this time it was vasopressin that made me recede into my cave after a breakup. It was vasopressin that made me unable to talk about it with anyone. And I believe it was vasopressin that made me go to the computer again last night—steering clear of the porn and silly kitten videos (for even kittens and pornography seem humdrum now)—to gaze at X's Facebook page and see how she is reacting to the flood of vasopressin.
And, sure enough, it was a textbook response: There were all kinds of posts with photos of her going out and having fun with captions that read, "Here's one of Sandy and I dancing on the blackjack table." And, "Here's a picture of me and Jessica backstage at the Bruno Mars concert," and, "Here's me and the girls enjoying margaritas at _______ (fill in exotic resort here) with these boys we met from _______ (fill in exotic country where all the males are dark, mysterious and suave, here)."
Now compare that to my Facebook page: "Here's a photo of a dead squirrel I saw on the side of the road." "Here's a photo of me with a shotgun in my mouth."
O' vasopressin—must thou torment me? I mean, where's the testosterone when you need it? Testosterone would never put up with this wallowing. Testosterone would be all, "You pathetic worm! Get out there right now and nut some bitches!"
At which point the vasopressin would interrupt, "But Ed, the new Call of Duty map pack comes out tonight." And testosterone would go, "Shut up vasopressin! What kind of name is that anyway? You should be called Vaj-opressin' because your vagina is oppressin' our boy here!" Then they'd bicker, and vasopressin would shove testosterone and testosterone would pull out a shiv, there'd be a struggle and, well—that's the other thing that happens to men during breakups—they go a bit insane.
Write to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Edwin Decker blogs at www.edwindecker.com. Follow him on Twitter @edwindecker or find him on Facebook.
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