Going to the Movies in L.A.

by Erika Anderson
March 12, 2012

“He’s a fucking idiot.”
“You’re fucking adorable.”
“You have beautiful legs.”

Back Story
The ring came off in July. The court date in November. Now it’s January, and this is all I’ve got.

I’m supposed to say ex now, but it sounds too conventional, even worse than the original. My ‘ex’ is too short, too nothing, too teenager. And ‘my’ supposes possession, but I do not possess him now. Never did. And, anyway, he has a name: Jon.

I left him. That’s supposed to make it easier. I’m supposed to be happy. We all are. So here I go, not living out my mandate, my manifest destiny.

Christmas Eve: A Love Story
More of a hook up. But it’s close enough to Hollywood that we’re editing as we go. Equally drunk, we make out at a party in downtown LA and then we’re back at his place in the Miracle Mile, going through one condom then two then forget the condoms. I eat up his words. I’m hungry for our play-by-play. I tell him about Jon, how I stayed because I didn’t know how not to. And that’s when he says the first line, delivered with the certainty I crave but do not own. This is the one I can least let go of:

“He’s a fucking idiot.”

Why do I need these words? Because I wanted Jon to fight. For me, for us. Not that I would have stayed. Not that it’s fair to want it. But he let me go. Said he wouldn’t have taken me back anyhow, not after the month we lived apart. Said it was over when I told him I was moving out. One conversation, done. Nine years, done. Flip a switch. Girlfriends said it was just posturing. I think I know better.

Why do I need this? Because I need Jon to be wrong. I need him to have loved me differently. To have cherished my body, my lips, the way this stranger does. I know. Stranger doesn’t have staying power. Meaningless anyhow. I live on a different continent—fake Swiss girl, he called me. He said he’d fuck me in Zermatt, but that’s when he thought it was Vermont spelled backwards, that I was too drunk to talk straight. Stranger also has a name: Sam.

“You’re fucking adorable.”

My need is more obvious. But adorable is different than beautiful, cute, pretty. It’s not merely a statement. It suggests an act: adoration. God, how I want that. Because your adoration will save me. Because I’ll use it for my own. As a stand in. As proof.

“You have beautiful legs.”

“Thank you very much,” I say.
“Why are you laughing?”
“It sounds so formal.”
“Right. Like, thank you for the sexual intercourse, it was enjoyable.”

Four days later, after he drives me to his favorite café (“I have good news and bad news,” I say, “and it’s the same thing.” “I know,” he says), takes me to the airport (flight cancelled), brings me back to his bed, helps me find a new flight, picks me up from my sister’s in Santa Monica, invites me to dinner, escorts me to Culver City for a final goodbye with my best friend, ushers me to the airport a second time, I say, “This is the best four-day relationship of the decade. Actually, this is the best four-day relationship of my life.” “I win,” he says. We kiss under the Delta sign at LAX. Really kiss. Kiss the way I always wanted Jon to kiss me. But Jon was too scared. Too controlled. Too something.

While I stand in the security line Sam texts: It was very nice spending time with you.
I text back: And the sexual intercourse was enjoyable.

Sam, a man I didn’t know
Jon, a man I didn’t love
Written word as defibrillator
The courage to jump


Erika Anderson’s work has appeared in Offshoots 10, a biennial anthology of the Geneva Writers’ Group which published her poetry and Offshoots 11, which published an essay. She writes a book review series for the literary magazine Hunger Mountain, interns at the Franklin Park Reading series as well as the Bettina Schrewe’s Scouting Agency. She has recently relocated to Brooklyn after spending much of the last ten years abroad, most recently in Geneva, where she worked in communications at the United Nations, and previously as a journalist for the Chinese news agency, Xinhua.