by Evelyn Everlady
It’s been a long time since we’ve heard one of Evelyn Everlady’s horrifying true stories about The Worst Boyfriend in the World. So before we leave you for the long weekend, and to wrap up our welcome to summer series, she’s baaaaack. Why? Because now it is Negroni Season. Think of this as a reminder to drink and date responsibly this weekend.
It was the spring of 2005 and I was living with the man that I, a bit stubbornly perhaps, had decided was the love of my life. The thing about choosing to live with a rapidly-approaching-bottom alcoholic is that there are just so many ways to distort reality and find seemingly logical explanations to make your slowly spiraling out of control life look and feel somewhat reasonable (just ask Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse!). This is true even though you aren’t the one who is drunk all the time.
So, anyway, when I wasn’t Googling “codependent” and “enabler,” I was busy coming up with increasingly bizarre ideas to set the train back on the tracks. Like when I tried to institute a thing called ‘Sober Sundays.’ That’s right, Sober Sundays. It was exactly what it sounds like. And was, awesomely, a giant failure once I figured out that the Gatorade bottle the Boyfriend always had with him was, in fact, mostly vodka with perhaps a splash of Lemon-Lime. By the time May rolled around, I had given up trying for anything as simple as Sober Breakfasts.
I also decided around this time that I was no longer interested in drinking. Just trust me on the grossness of sleeping next to someone whose overnight sweat was probably 80 proof. (That said? The 2010 version of me looks back on this non-drinking era of mine and laaaaaaughs). We were at an impasse: I had stopped drinking and didn’t want to be around him when he was drunk, and he wanted to be drunk all the time.
And then Kimberly started showing up.
But let me back up: a year earlier there was a stretch of time when I was sleeping quite regularly with the Boyfriend, however he was not yet officially my boyfriend. I can’t really remember if I was aware of this fact because it was all swept up in that dangerous first flush-of apple picking and singing songs in the car and holding hands and chasing lobsters and oh-my-god-you-think-so-too conversations that went inanely on till dawn. You know. So I didn’t know that the not-yet-my-boyfriend-but-sure-as-hell-seemed-to-be was also sleeping with another New York City-based lady-let’s call her Kimberly-on alternate weekends. I unfortunately discovered this after he moved to town and into my apartment.
I first sensed something was amiss when she came over for chili and to watch the Superbowl (both she and the Boyfriend were rooting for the New England Patriots, which I now recognize as very dire foreshadowing). I was rather taken aback when she burst into tears at the end of the night.
Now here’s what I knew about Kimberly: she and the Boyfriend had worked together for a few summers, and one of those summers involved some sex and maybe something more, but as far as I knew this was all ancient history. Her being in my apartment and eating my chili was as a friend-plus conventional wisdom is that super cool girlfriends don’t get jealous. So there we were eating chili, and complimenting each other’s shoes and hair and stuff. But then she started to cry and the Boyfriend helped her collect her things and escorted her to the subway. When he came home, he hung up his coat and started to do the dishes without saying a word, and then feigned surprise that I was so curious about it all.
After some prodding I learned about the still-sleeping-together business and how when Kimberly learned he was moving to New York, she was under the impression that they were going to be together and was slightly put out to hear he was moving in with some other woman that she had no idea existed. During the many (many) hours I would replay this conversation, turning it over and over again looking for its silver lining, I admitted I felt a little badly for Kimberly.
“You won,” the Boyfriend said.
Let the record show that I was so far gone at this point that I was actually-and yes, kind of smugly-comforted by this. But I didn’t exactly follow the boyfriend’s logic that he should continue to hang out with Kimberly, as friends of course, since it was the least he could do. When I started to raise some objections, he took the position of new-to-New-York-can’t-deny-him-friends-stop-being-so-insecure-and-controlling, and guess what? He convinced me.
We all have parts of our personality that we’d like to lead behind the barn and beat senseless with a shovel, right? Well here’s one I’d really like to bash in-the part of me that decided the best course of action would be to befriend Kimberly. If we became friends, I believe the thinking went, then maybe we’d all start hanging out and I wouldn’t feel so left out or threatened. Because those two sure did love to drink together. And then, drink some more.
“We’re just drinking buddies,” the Boyfriend was fond of saying.
As for my relationship with Kimberly, we developed a fairly cordial and passive aggressive email relationship. I helped her write a cover letter for a job she applied for, she recommended a good hair stylist. We touched base about what to do for the Boyfriend’s approaching birthday. We were very, very careful with one other.
So Memorial Day weekend rolled around, and all the telltale signs added up to mean that an epic bender was underway. I hoped that the Boyfriend wasn’t about to be fired (again). He had gotten work tending bar at a fancy SoHo restaurant; before his shift he showed up outside my office building smelling like a homeless person and inexplicably wearing a Superman t-shirt. We argued-who knows about what-and he went off to work.
Usually he got home around 2 a.m. That night I was awakened at 3 a.m. by the phone, and the Boyfriend slurring nonsense. Something something about meeting up with friends, be home soon. He sounded more terrible than usual, and trailed off, hanging up in mid-sentence. I was now awake enough to be worried as it rolled past 4, and then 5 a.m. Would he get punched in the face when he inevitably was an asshole to the wrong person? That had happened. Would he get arrested? That had happened, too. But what if he was killed? What if he passed out in the gutter somewhere? And were there even gutters in New York City to pass out in? And so on. I tried calling and it all went straight to voicemail. I gave up on going back to sleep and smoked all the cigarettes in the apartment till it was morning. Still no sign of him. I called his best friend who was kind, gentle. “He’ll be o.k.,” he said. “He always is. How are you?”
Two hours later I was back at work. His cell still went straight to voice mail. I emailed Kimberly a short note asking if by chance The Boyfriend had happened to be out with her last night. Maybe he had passed out on her couch? It wasn’t easy-okay, it actually physically hurt to have to write her-but, you know, desperate times. I hit send before seeing that I had just then received an email from Kimberly. It was super chatty, picking up the threads of one of our previous conversations. It didn’t mention anything to do with the Boyfriend or the night before. Super embarrassing! I quickly emailed her back, apologizing for the previously sent message, explaining that I shouldn’t be so worried and ha ha ha, he always landed on his feet, didn’t he?
Fifteen minutes later she wrote me back. “Actually, he is asleep on my couch. It’s Negroni season, and you know he makes the absolute best Negronis ever, so we may have had a few too many and he slept here. Sorry you were worried.”
I’m not proud about how any of the rest of this went down. I broke one of my own cardinal rules and snooped through the Boyfriend’s email. I learned that Kimberly had already forwarded my original email to him with a note that read, ‘I’m sorry, I had to tell her.’ My mind rebelled past the idea of the Boyfriend cheating on me, and kept returning to this Negroni Season business. I wasn’t even sure if I knew what a Negroni was — how could it have a whole season? I sat in my boss’s office, who was a real grown-up, who wore blue blazers and aftershave, and told him everything. Did he know anything about a Negroni Season? He looked down his glasses at me. “Only a total boozehound whore would even dream up such a thing as Negroni Season,” he said.
When I returned home, the Boyfriend was there, tail between his legs, awaiting punishment. He had emailed and called a few times that afternoon saying how sorry he was, and I had ignored them all. I asked if he had sex with Kimberly and he said no. I didn’t really believe him. But I was so tired! And so fed up. Oh, and I had drank a bottle of wine with a friend after work, on an empty stomach, no sleep, zero tolerance mixed with high emotional turmoil.
“Hey,” I said. “I know. Let’s go drink Negronis.” The Boyfriend looked at me, in that hey-crazy-lady, no-sudden-movements kind of way.
“I’m really really sorry I put you through so much worry,” he said.
“I HEAR IT’S NEGRONI SEASON,” I said. “Let’s go drink some fucking Negronis!”
He cleared his throat. He fidgeted and blinked a few times. “Um….so…I think you might be really mad at me?” he said. “Maybe we should just stay here and talk this out.”
“FUUUUCK THAT,” I said. “I just want to drink some motherfucking Negronis! Whoo-hooo! It’s NEGRONI SEASON! I LOVE Negroni Season! It’s the BEST season of all! FUCK FALL!”
The Boyfriend now looked sort of panicky.
“Neg-ron-i Season! Neg-ron-i Season! Whoooooo!”
“O.K. I get it,” he said. “You’re totally right to be mad. But what can I do besides apologize?”
“HEY, we’re wasting time talking when it’s NEGRONI SEASON! We should be drinking Negronis during Negroni Season! NEGRONIS! NEGRONI SEASON! YAY! I’m FUN, I can go out and drink NEGRONIS. Especially when it’s NEGRONI SEASON!!!! NEEEGRONI!”
This went on for quite a while. I became louder and more adamant about how a) it was motherfucking Negroni season and b) I was super “fun” and could drink Negronis till dawn. Blah, blah, drunken blah, you don’t know shit about me, buddy, I love Negroni Season. I wait all year for the Negroni.
He finally gave up-I’m sure he needed a drink. We stumbled across the street and he ordered me a Negroni. It was disgusting. I drank it fast. I drank another. And maybe one more? I think I might have tried to pull him into a bathroom to make out with me. It was all terribly messy.
“SEE?” I slurred. “I’m SUPER fun. I’m, like, all UP in the Negroni.”
And then we came home, and I went straight to the bathroom and threw up for about an hour-nasty, Campari-vermouth-gin smelly poison. And then I cried. Big, heaving, pukey tears.
“I can’t do anything right,” I said. “I can’t even drink Negronis. And it’s Negroni Season.”
Perhaps the most amazing part about all of this is that we did not break up that night, or anytime soon after. We were together for another three years! But anyway, for those who are interested in such things, Negroni Season is upon us. Enjoy!
Evelyn Everlady is the pen name of a young professional woman in New York City who has moved waayyyy on and can laugh about all of this now. A Negroni, typically, is one part gin, one part Campari, one part sweet vermouth and pretty much all disgusting. Photo by mariobonifacio.