Screw the Meet-Cute. Can Someone Please Write Me a Breakup-Normal?

I’ve been seeing this list floating around Facebook recently. It features the names of 10 men, with the headline “The Top 10 Names of Men who Make the Best Husbands.”

How nauseatingly adorable.

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 12.54.34 AM

Seriously. Even TIME Magazine wrote about it. And TIME once linked to my blog, so hey — they must be experts.

So I perused it with great interest. Shockingly, neither of my ex’s names made the list.

Go figure, right?

Yet my father’s name? On it, and he’s been married for 51 years. As in, five fucking decades — plus one year for good measure.

My brother’s name? There, married for 21 years.

My high school crush who is now a high school teacher seemingly living a normal, lovely, delightfully stable life? There, and yeah, he’s married — to his high school sweetheart.


Now, keep in mind: I am certainly no indiscriminant believer. I don’t heed warnings in horoscopes, have never feared dying because I failed to forward a chain letter to 12 people and don’t believe tea leaves, the “science” of lines on my palm or Magic 8 Balls as predictors of the future.

But even you have to admit: That list of names? That’s some crazy shit right there. Maybe there’s some validity to the idea that people with certain names — highly traditional names, you’ll note — are more likely to have stable, successful, long-term relationships.

Which made me think: What if those of us with atypical names are born into chaos because of the sheer nature of our monikers?

What if it’s our birthright? Our signature, if you will?

So maybe, just maybe, there’s a list of names of people who are most likely to have their marriages end  — let’s just say — poorly?

If there were, here’s what I’m convinced it would look like.

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 1.03.04 AM

Anne. As in, the one who got all beheaded and whatnot. I suppose her story could compete with mine.

So I was at a meeting the other day, and a few of my colleagues were discussing how they happened to bump into their ex-boyfriends while they were mingling at a work function.

And I got to thinking: Both of my ex-boyfriends? They’re my ex-husbands.

Which further got me thinking: I’ve never had a normal breakup.

Both boyfriends — both resulted in marriages.

And both marriages — both resulted in epic blindsides, one with a brick, the other with handcuffs.

And not of the fun, kinky variety.

Let me put this another way: I have only truly broken up with two men in my life, and both are about as atypical as they can be.

Which THEN got me thinking (and yes, admittedly, I do a LOT of thinking these days) about the meet-cute.

You have heard of the meet-cute. Right?

You know, it’s that formulaic romantic comedy trope that allows two star-crossed lovers to somehow meet in a cute way.

Hence: meet-cute. Creative name, wouldn’t you agree?

So there’s the man and woman who both reach for the same pair of cashmere gloves, sparks fly, then they write their names in a book and decide if they’re meant to be, one will find that same book at some point in the future and solidify their destiny.

There’s the good-hearted hooker who, while trying to make rent for the month, gets propositioned by a jaded workaholic corporate raider to navigate Beverly Hills and learn how to drive a sportscar down Rodeo Drive.

There’s the ice salesman who walks into a general store during a snowstorm in the middle of summer in search of carrots for his best-friend-reindeer, who happens to encounter a woman looking for warm clothes in the same store who is searching for her sister in an effort to stop a magical eternal winter.

Such adorable meet-cutes.

And all of this has made me come to a conclusion: I need a meet-cute, but totally opposite.

I need a breakup-normal.

But I don’t need Nora Ephron to screenwrite this one. I just need a normal guy to tell me in a normal way that he’s just not that into me.

And really, this breakup-normal can be anything. I’m not picky. He can even utter, “It’s not you, it’s me.”

I’d be down with that.

In fact, here’s a possible list of seven acceptable breakup-normals. Any one of these would do just fine. Because in reality, every one of these is far more normal than my past breakups:

  1. He flips a coin, and tails: We break up.
  2. Stan, his dog hates me; Stan wins.
  3. He falls in love with his ex-wife’s new husband.
  4. He tags a picture of me on Facebook and captions it “my ex.”
  5. He sends me a text with two simple words, one direct message: “Fuck off.”
  6. He writes me a breakup haiku.
  7. He fakes his own death.

OK, that last one — perhaps a bit extreme.

But you get the point.

Or better yet: What if my breakup-normal has ME initiating the breakup?!?!

Now that’s just crazy talk.

Perhaps I’m the one who falls out of love.

Or maybe I decide that I’m worth more.

Or what if I — gasp — happen to want to spend more time with me, not with him?

I know, right?

So, yes, my life is the stuff of screenplays. I’ve often lamented that I fear seeing Lifetime’s made-for-TV movie version of my life starring the always embattled, consistently tear-stained Meredith Baxter-Birney.

But someone needs to help with the end.

Because no one would believe the sheer weight of the breakups I’ve had. Plus, audiences crave that warm-fuzzy feeling at the end. And this story doesn’t really have one.


And yes, I see the inherent comedy of the fact that I’m thinking of the breakup. Because there’s not even a prospect of a meet-cute, meet-convenient or meet-in-any-way-shape-or-form in my future.

I mean, seriously. I’m such a total package. Who could possibly resist, what with my two exes (bonus point: one in PRISON!), two teens, one baby and enough baggage to fill every overhead bin on a Southwest jet?

But the fact is: I miss him.

And when I say “him,” I don’t necessarily mean I miss my ex. Though I’ll admit, in some of my darkest moments, I absolutely and wholeheartedly miss that man I used to know. The man to whom I never even said the words “goodbye.” The man who walked out of my house as my husband and now is my ex, without so much as a word between us.

But I miss holding hands. I miss getting a text with the words “Hey beautiful.” I miss hearing the soft sounds of breathing next to me in bed.

That’s the “him” I miss.

And I’ll admit: It’s an epic, profound sadness I feel. Because I can’t even imagine how I’ll ever meet another man. I can’t imagine how I’ll have the time. I can’t imagine another man ever taking a chance on me, given my track record.

But if I do happen to meet “him,” perhaps I’ll save him the trouble and suggest the following haiku for our breakup-normal:

Oh how I loved you

My sweet and fair Mikalee

But we should break up.

Seventeen syllables of concise yet potent termination, with nary a stone shaving, engraved message, prison bar or orange jumpsuit in sight.

What a titillating prospect.

So please, friends — share with me:

  1. Any other breakup-normal ideas for my fantasy alternate ending?
  2. Do you personally have any good breakup stories, preferably one that can give my engraved brick or posse-with-an-arrest-warrant a run for its money?
  3. Ideas on how I can meet someone to hold my hand, call me beautiful, breathe in my general presence for a short while and then write me a breakup haiku?

9 thoughts on “Screw the Meet-Cute. Can Someone Please Write Me a Breakup-Normal?

  1. Kristen says:

    The part about missing who you thought you had made me cry – been there. I also thought I didn’t have time or karma or whatever to meet cute and then I did. There’s a bright breakup-haiku-free future somewhere out there 🙂

  2. freakinghappy says:

    Hmmmm…I’m thinking these names are more popular than most names and therefore statistically these names are linked to long ‘successful’ marriages.
    I am a big spiritual and metaphysical NUT, believing in ideas that you would laugh at.
    Having read your experiences, I understand why you’re not a believer in ‘the laws of attraction’. We all endure devastating experiences…some more than others. It doesn’t mean we are creating these situations or attracting these bad things to happen ‘to’ us, for sometimes we just don’t have that kind of control over EVERYTHING. But we do have control to navigate our route with the smaller tangible things in life and more times than not-these smaller things turn into the bigger things in life…in which helps mold our direction, our happiness, & our everyday lives.
    So, When you’re ready to date again – I wouldn’t search for a Daniel or a Paul unless your ‘instinctive’ Horoscope tells you to do so 😉

  3. hrhdaf says:

    Hey Hey Mikalee. Well lets see.. first my thoughts on the names lists. My first and horrid husband was a Chris and my second and nice husband (been married for ages) is a James therefore I’m calling hokum. As for your second list I do know an Anne that’s been married for an extremely long time, which says to me it can happen for Mikalees too!

    As for break ups, a friend of mine ended up divorced, not only cos her other half got sent to prison but he pulled a gun on her just before that, which being in the UK is a rare thing to have lying about your house in the first place. She had no idea he’d been up to anything naughty either. I think what I’m saying is however crappy your recent split, it could have been slightly worse.

    There’s always time for a meet-cute. Another friend of mine met her current boyfriend when he knocked on her door to try and get her to subscribe to an animal charity, and if it doesn’t work out I’m pretty sure they’ll have a breakup-normal.

    I dunno if that gives you hope or not, but it’s good to see your still alive and kicking 🙂

  4. Mark Petruska says:

    Well, I had a woman fake a pregnancy so I wouldn’t break up with her.


    And both times, it worked. She went so far as to doctor up a home pregnancy test. Red line or not, when that baby still hadn’t popped out 17 months later, I was onto her.

    I’m not making this up so you’ll feel better. It happened. And I’m ashamed I bought it for even a second.


    The point is, you may have had some bad breakups, but I’ve had some bad…umm…anti-breakups?

    Good luck. You’ll find love again. You’re too awesome not to.

  5. freakinghappy says:

    P.s. My ‘instinctive’ horoscope told me not to give my number to my ex and I did anyway because I thought I was being ‘too picky’.
    My instincts told me not to call them back, but I did anyway. My instincts told me not to go on that first date, but I did anyway. My instincts told me not to commit to a relationship with them, but I did anyway. My instincts told me not to move in with them, but I did anyway. My instincts told me not to believe their lies after lies, but I did anyway.
    8 years later, I chose to trust in my instincts and just change my route … Saying goodbye to my relationship that ended long after its true expiration date.
    I know you have shared that you didn’t have instinctive feelings or signs along the way, to give you you the heads up or to alert you to back away … Slowly.
    But, sometimes we are so blindsided along the way because our cores are so dissimilar to theirs…so we can’t understand the clues at the time or we are ignoring the clues.
    I still have flashbacks of instances many years later to situations that just didn’t make sense then and now it all makes sense, as I am out of that environment. I can see clearly now. I can now understand all the clues were there, but I just refused to accept them as clues. I wanted to believe that I was just weary and doubtful, as I was a worry wart and too overanlytical…I know now that I am not those things. That was just me wanting to make excuses for myself and being afraid of the truth.
    You’re hard on yourself with insuating that men should be afraid of getting involved with you because of your ‘track record’. That upsets me because I used to feel that way, as though we are in the wrong…as though we are not worthy…as if we are lucky to have someone love us, with our ‘track record’.
    Now, I know after being happily married to the love of my life — that the silver lining is that I had to learn my way through the obstacles to get to where I’m supposed to be.
    You were supposed to be a Mommy and that’s at least one of your silver linings.
    Your experiences and gained strengths along the way is what will get you to your new direction to the route of your happiest destination…you’re on your way…you’re on the road… 🙂

  6. Monica Lee says:

    Good break-up story? My ex-husband’s name is Steve and we broke up over chocolate martinis when he confronted me about having an affair (for once, it was ME having the affair instead of him!). Alas, can’t stomach chocolate martinis anymore.

  7. The Guat says:

    I know you wrote this months ago and you’re probably in a different place now, but just wanted to let you know that I understand missing the “him” part totally feel you on that one, and now that it’s been a few months you might already know this, but in case you don’t, if you wanted another man in your life you could totally meet someone for sure, and it might even be a cute-meet. It happens. It does. Even when you’ve had rough mind-blowing breakups like yourself. It happens. Breakups for me? Had plenty it’s-not-you-it’s-me moments, but nothing mind-blowing … Not yet. Hope you’re doing better.

Leave a Reply to Mark Petruska Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s