Are you a con man? I had asked, my eyebrow cocked. Because you must realize, I am a terrible target, I have nothing worth stealing.
When I agreed to let him stay with me, I had been fearful of what he might take from me. As the most expensive thing I own is my bed, which would barely garner $100 on craigslist, I feared he’d steal my roommate’s computer. I also considered the possibility of him stealing my heart. Yet I naively failed to consider that he might snatch away my ability to trust. Rob me of the optimistic and hopeful outlook that is intrinsic to my sense of self.
After reading the diary that revealed he had lied and cheated on me, there was a brief moment where I considered ignoring the whole thing. Bargaining: #3 in the Five Stages of Grief. I’ll pretend I never read it. It never happened. I can still visit him in Barbados. I won’t have to hear a chorus of “I told you so” from my friends. My fairytale fling can have a happy ending. No one will ever know. Except me. I would know. And just like that, I realized I could never do it. As much as I hate confrontation, lying to my face and putting my health at risk are two things you just don’t get away with.
I wanted to plan exactly what to say to him. Ten years ago, I would have been forced to write out a script and follow it during a phone call, hoping his South African accent didn’t distract me from my purpose. But it’s 2011, no one calls anymore any way. I confronted him over text message, telling him I read the diary and calling him a coward. I couldn’t sit still while I waited for a reply, adrenaline was pumping through my body.
I ran to my roommate’s room.
“I just read Safa’s diary!” I confessed, adrenaline making me sound excited.
“What!” exclaimed my roommate, “Whoa! What did it say!?” I told her the long, sad story. “I can’t believe it!” she said (I wanted to hug her for not saying “I told you so!”), “He seemed so great! What an asshole!”
“No, we’re not using that word,” I said, telling her of my theory that men actually like being called assholes.
“What a shithead!” She revised.
“Bastard!” I contributed. I liked this game.
“What are you going to do?” she asked.
“Kick him out!” I said, “I’m going to get all his shit together and leave it with the concierge.”
“Good for you. Wow, he really fucked up,” my roommate said contemplatively, “He had such a good deal going on with you. And all to ‘shag’ a fat girl? I mean, no question here, it’s his loss. I wonder what he’ll do for his last four days here.”
“I don’t care!” I said, trying to mean it. I did still care, but that didn’t mean I was going to let him stay with me. Hell no.
My phone buzzed. His response to my text message!
I read it aloud, “‘Oh shit. I’ll be back later to grovel.’ What kind of response is that? Does he think he can talk his way out of this? What an idiot!“
I didn’t respond right away. Instead I went in my room and began throwing stuff in his bag, starting with the pants still soiled with my vomit. Haha! Gross! Serves him right! I thought maliciously. I wanted to make sure nothing was left behind, no shirt left in my bed clothes that would bring tears to my eyes when #4 Stage of Grief: Depression commenced. I scanned the room. On my dresser, next to the box I keep all my make-up in, my eyes fell upon his money clip. Seriously? I looked inside. Two Ben Franklins: $200. You can’t, said the half of my brain that had initially told me to not read the diary. Oh yes you can! said the other half.
I slipped out one of the bills. “I’m taking a hundred dollars from him!” I yelled gleefully to the next room.
“No way!” my roommate yelled back.
“He left his money clip here! I had no reason to trust him, why does he think he has any reason to trust me?”
“That’s awesome!” she came bounding into my room.
“Ok, he was here 15 nights,” I said looking at my calendar, “So 100 divided by 15…”
I left a post-it note: Took $100 for rent. That’s $6.67 a night! Still a great deal! This helped ease the feeling that he used me for my apartment. I considered taking the full $200 but I was pretty sure this was his entire savings. Even in my revenge I’m not heartless.
My room was clean. All his shit thrown haphazardly in his bags, the only thing left was the diary. “Is that it?” my roommate asked, pointing to the little blue book blended into the blue of the comforter on my bed. That’s it. I said, and showed her some of the offending passages. Then inspiration struck.
“I’m going to write an entry. You can help me.”
“Taking $100, writing in his diary? I’m glad I’ve never fucked with you! This is awesome!”
I wrote it entirely from his point of view, as though he were writing it. “Oh shit,” I began with his words, “[Insert My Name Here] read my diary. While it was an invasion of privacy, I had no reason to trust her as she clearly had no reason to trust me.” I continued on, making it clear that it was the lying that was the real issue, more so than the cheating. I even threw in some friendly advice: “I really hope I don’t get an STD. I’m really setting myself up for one. I realize now there is no such thing as truly safe sex because condoms break and PEOPLE LIE ABOUT THEIR SEXUAL HISTORIES.” I closed with a confidence boost I was greatly in need of: “I really fucked it up with an amazing girl who was sweet, smart, sexy, and HONEST, who let me stay with her rent-free
and gave me loads of great sex. And I ruined it, all for some fat girl. I’m an idiot. And now I’m homeless.” I ended it “PEACE OUT, COWARD!” and signed my name.
It felt great to have everything in writing, a note he could read over again and again.
I finally texted him back, “I’m not waiting until later. I will meet you now. Where are you?”
Immediately he responded “Meet me in Times Square in half an hour?”
“Ok.” I replied. I grabbed his bags to leave with the concierge.
“Good luck!” called my roommate.
“Going somewhere?” the concierge said, eyeing the bags.
“No, these belong to a guest of mine.”
“A guest? It looks like someone’s moving out to me.”
“Fine, you’re right. I’m kicking him out. You want to hear the long, sad, age-old story?”
The man was silent.
“I didn’t think so. He’ll pick them up before 10pm, if he’s not here by then, you can trash them. Thanks. Have a good one.”
I left the building and made my way to Times Square.
[To continue The Safa Boy Series, click for Part Seven]