Samantha was waiting. "You didn't know?"
"Didn't know what? That he thought dating me was an act of courage?" I attempted a sardonic snort. "He should try being me."
"So you didn't know he got a job at Moxie."
I flipped to the front, where Contributors were listed in thumbnail profiles beneath arty black-and-white head shots. And there was Bruce, with his shoulder-length hair blowing in what was assuredly artificial wind. He looked, I thought uncharitably, like Yanni. "'Good in Bed' columnist Bruce Guberman joins the staff of Moxie this month. A freelance writer from New Jersey, Guberman is currently at work on his first novel."
"His first novel?" I said. Well, shrieked, maybe. Heads turned. Over the partition, Betsy was looking worried again, and Gabby had started typing. "That lying sack of shit!"
"I didn't know he was writing a novel," said Samantha, no doubt desperate to change the subject.
"He can barely write a thank-you note," I said, flipping back to page 132.
"I never thought of myself as a chubby chaser," I read. "But when I met C., I fell for her wit, her laugh, her sparkling eyes. Her body, I decided, was something I could learn to live with."
"I'll KILL HIM!"
"So kill him already and shut up about it," muttered Gabby, shoving her inch-thick glasses up her nose.
Betsy was on her feet again, and my hands were shaking, and suddenly somehow there were M&M's all over the floor, crunching beneath the rollers of my chair.
"I gotta go," I told Samantha, and hung up.
"I'm fine," I said to Betsy. She gave me a worried look, then retreated.
It took me three tries to get Bruce's number right, and when his voice mail calmly informed me that he wasn't available to take my call, I lost my nerve, hung up, and called Samantha back.
"Good in bed, my ass," I said. "I ought to call his editor. It's false advertising. I mean, did they check his references? Nobody called me."
"That's the anger talking," said Samantha. Ever since she started dating her yoga instructor, she's become very philosophical.
"Chubby chaser?" I said. I could feel tears prickling behind my eyelids. "How could he do this to me?"
"Did you read the whole thing?"
"Just the first little bit."
"Maybe you better not read any more."
"It gets worse?"
Samantha sighed. "Do you really want to know?"
"No. Yes. No." I waited. Samantha waited. "Yes. Tell me."
Samantha sighed again. "He calls you....Lewinsky-esque."
"With regards to my body or my blow jobs?" I tried to laugh, but it came out as a strangled sob.
"And he goes on and on about your...let me find it. Your 'amplitude.'"
"He said you were succulent," Samantha said helpfully. "And zaftig. That's not a bad word, is it?"
"God, the whole time we went out, he never said anything..."
"You dumped him. He's mad at you," said Samantha.
"I didn't dump him!" I cried. "We were just taking a break! And he agreed that it was a good idea!"
"Well, what else could he do?" asked Samantha. "You say, 'I think we need some time apart,' and he either agrees with you and walks away clinging to whatever shreds of dignity he's got left, or begs you not to leave him, and looks pathetic. He chose the dignity cling."
I ran my hands through my chin-length brown hair and tried to gauge the devastation. Who else had seen this? Who else knew that C. was me? Had he shown all his friends? Had my sister seen it? Had, God forbid, my mother?
"I gotta go," I told Samantha again. I set down my headset and got to my feet, surveying the Philadelphia Examiner newsroom -- dozens of mostly middle-aged, mostly white people, tapping away at their computers, or clustered around the television sets watching CNN.
Copyright © 2001 by Jennifer Weiner
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