As a rule, I try to avoid former girlfriends, particularly the ones I cared for.
Such as Mié?
Such as Mié, yes.
So, the two of you never met again after that night?
No, not even once.
And if you were given the opportunity?
To meet Mié again? I would probably take a pass on that.
Because old girlfriends (past flings, too) are in a sense time capsules, vessels containing the memories, hopes, desires, and pains of the time you dated or slept with them. And anytime you meet an old girlfriend it’s as if you are uncorking the capsule and letting it all come spewing out again. It can be . . .
Unsightly is more like it.
Well, suppose I bumped into Nahoko.
That was the young college girl who dumped you after sleeping with you once . . .
Yeah, that’s the one. The girl just vanished right off the face of the earth, and, well, as hard as that was to take for a few weeks, it really was for the best. Nice and clean, like a surgical cut. Now, suppose I had bumped into Nahoko six months or so later, after I had gotten over the disappointment. Meeting her again, I’d probably discover that she wasn’t nearly as pretty or intelligent or engaging as I had built her up to be. That reminds me of a saying in Japanese—nigeta sakana-wa ōkii (逃げた魚は大きい)—which means “The fish that get away are big.” Well, this fish, Nahoko, that wiggled out of my arms starts getting bigger and bigger and bigger in my mind and the regret of not being able to reel her in, so to speak, also grows and grows. But then I bump into her and, now that I can look at her with fresh, objective eyes, I see that I had been tormenting myself all this time over a girl who was at best mediocre.
Mediocre? That’s a tad severe, isn’t it?
Reality is fucking severe.
As for Mié . . . Mié, on the other hand, truly was a lovely thing . . . special . . . But, let’s not kid ourselves: over two decades have passed since we parted and Time is not very kind—it can be especially cruel to a woman after she’s had children. But that Mié I fell in love with, that Mié who broke my heart all those years ago, she is, in my mind at least, still a woman only twenty-six years of age, full of life, hopes and potential; she is still agonizingly beautiful. The reality, I fear, is probably very, very different.
Speak of the Devil and she’s sure to appear.
I had no sooner written the above piece for a novella I’m working on when I noticed that Facebook was suggesting one of my ex-girlfriends as a friend. Not sure what algorithm Facebook was using, but in spite of “Umé” and I not having any mutual friends nor my having worked at the university where she studied, we were being asked whether we knew each other, and if so, whether we would like to “friend" one another. Yes, we did know each other, in the biblical sense, but, no, I was not interested in friending her.
It’s been over ten years since Umé and I dated. It was during a rocky patch I was going through with the woman who would become my wife, that Umé and I had our little fling. She was going through her own rough patch with the man, I assume, became her husband. He was a resident at the time, terribly busy with his training to see Umé who turned to me out of loneliness. (Or was it desperation?) At any rate, Umé is now a mother of three.
The last time I saw Umé was about two years after we parted. She was pregnant, about to explode, and my first thought was: “Aonghas, you dodged a bullet there."
Seeing her in photos again after all these years, I must admit that she has aged fairly well despite the three kids. (I wish I could say the same about myself after only two.) Funny thing, though, as I looked at her photo I kept saying things to myself like “Was her chin always that pointy?” “Was her mouth always so small?” At the time, Umé seemed like the cutest thing I’d come across in years. I just wanted to eat her up. As for now? I’d have to say, my wife was a much better catch.
Just yesterday, I came across yet another former girlfriend, one I dated Lord only knows how many years ago. (I am reluctant to specify as I don’t want to needlessly self-incriminate myself.)
“Miki” and I dated briefly and sporadically. Nevertheless, there are things about her that I will never forget. One of the lasting images I have of Miki is when she stripped down to her bra and panties which had a dalmatian pattern on them and barked playfully, “Wan-wan! Wan-wan!”
Miki, in spite of the years, hasn’t changed much either, though she is not quite as slim as she once was. As for wanting to stop her and talk about old times, I passed. The very last thing she said to me was “Hikyō!” (卑怯)
I didn’t know what the word meant at the time and had to look it up. The dictionary will tell you it means “cowardice”, but, judging from her body language, a better translation might be: “You fucking arsehole!”
It’s true. I was an arsehole back then. But no more! Mark my word; I am no longer an arsehole.