Happy endings aren’t for cowards. I’ve been alive for how many years, and I’ve just figured that one out.
I learned to be unfaithful from my parents. Not infidelity in the classic sense—but I was always prepared for the unhappy ending, which made me less willing to work toward a happy one. I was unfaithful to the idea of a well-adjusted future.
My name is Ruby Capote. Ruby Capote. I am Ruby Capote. Capote. Capote. Ruby Kiley Capote. Have you ever written your name, or seen it printed somewhere, and thought it looked unfamiliar? Like maybe you spelled it wrong or something? It used to happen to me all the time. But then again, I’m only the strangest person I’ve ever met. So much for a positive image, you may be thinking. But the truth is I’m kind of happy with the way I turned out. I mean, things could be worse. I could be boring. Or unhappy. Or, like, I don’t know, Canadian or something.
Imagine settling for a life you can have because you don’t have the courage to go after the life you really want. That’s what made me do it—make one of those decisions—the kind that bends your future in a whole new direction.
Every day the opportunity exists to change your life. But most days, the idea of having to change the big things in life just seems like too much work. Should I lie on the couch and watch a movie, or should I confront my personal demons? You get the point.
Anyway, I’ve done it. So I’m getting it down on paper, before the memory evaporates. Because that’s what people do—they move into their new life and disassemble the old life in some ungrateful way and leave it out by the curb. Like it never served any purpose at all. Like self-preservation is some frivolous little thing. Doug
I met Doug on the six-thirty p.m. Delta shuttle from New York to Boston. I was returning from an interview at the United Nations Building. My subject, the U.N. interpreter for Moldova, who is originally from Back Bay of all places, didn’t have much to say. But I guess interpreters don’t . . . unless they’re interpreting. Anyway, I’m on the shuttle, and this adorable guy is sitting next to me. And when he wolfed down his peanuts, I gave him mine. And then when he finished those, the old lady next to me handed me hers, and I quickly, deftly, passed them off, like a baton in a relay race, to Doug. And the old lady and I smiled at each other, practically high-fived each other, as he ate the peanuts, like they were poisonous and we’d tricked him into ingesting them. It was cinematic, baby.
He waited until we landed and we were safely at our gate and the seat-belt sign had been turned off before introducing himself. His cautiousness was completely sexy to me. And during the walk from the gate to ground transportation, he asked me to join him for dinner. That brings us to where I am now. Kind of. That—meeting Doug—happened a few years ago. And now I feel like a refrigerator has fallen on me and I’m pinned underneath it hoping to escape but in the meantime my life is sprinting ahead of me, assuming I’ll catch up. Escape
I really need to get out of Boston. I don’t feel like this all of the time, but I feel like this too much of the time.
For a few years now, I’ve been writing a humorous (their word, not mine) lifestyle column—single girl on the edge, ledge, verge kind of thing. I like it mainly because it’s all about me. When my friends get tired of listening to me, our readers get to read about me. A clear win-win—for who? Me! For the longest time I kept thinking, Wow, someone is paying me to write this? I’ve hit the jackpot! Then, once the flattery wore off—admittedly, this took an embarrassingly long while—I realized that the someone who was paying me to write the column was barely paying me at all.
So I made copies of some of my greatest hits and sent them, along with my résumé, to The New York News. And here’s the part that tells you all you need to know about me: The next morning—literally, not figuratively, the next morning—I was disappointed that I was not awakened by a phone call begging me to come to New York to take a job at the newspaper. I mean, the letter probably hadn’t even left the state of Massachusetts yet and already I was disappointed.
First, I know what you’re thinking . . . since when does The New York News print humor? Exactly my point. They don’t. This is the part where I fill the great void. No one even needs to be fired in order for me to start working there. Tea Cozy
At work, I write my little column. And in my downtime, I read the wires to see if there’s anything strange happening. I’m a nut for stories about women who have cysts removed that weigh in the neighborhood of a hundred pounds. I mean, how does a person avoid a doctor that long? Not to mention the finger-pointing and not-so-kind stares of strangers? Or skydivers who mistake you for a target?
One of my favorites was about a “fertility tea cozy” that miraculously made six women pregnant. It raised all sorts of questions, and answered none of them. We put these stories in our paper when we have a two- or three-inch hole to fill. They are an afterthought. They are my favorite part of the paper.
For a while I saved these articles in an old Hermès scarf box. Then I got worried that I’d die and someone would be cleaning out my junk and find the box filled with odd stories and that would somehow end up defining my life. So I threw them away. For a while after that, I was a meticulous housekeeper, just in case. “Dead but scrupulously clean” is not such a bad way to be remembered. Fate
A week goes by and I don’t hear anything from The New York News. I call, I am laughed at, and then am hung up on. Two weeks go by. I call again, and this time I leave a message for the news editor, a guy named Michael. He never calls me back. Three weeks pass, I call, am put on hold for three complete recordings of “Don’t Be Cruel,” and then get disconnected again.
Four weeks pass. I can’t bear to be hung up on again, so I don’t call. Then a fifth week passes and I don’t call. I’m in temporary love with Doug again, so my ambition to leave Boston no longer exists. I know, I know. I’m terrible.
I wait six weeks. Six weeks! No response. I’m thinking the envelope is stuck in the mailbox. This strikes me as the only logical explanation. I believe it so much that I go down to the mailbox and take a look for myself. And I take one of Doug’s golf umbrellas in case I’m going to have to do some prodding. Of course, mailboxes are designed in a way that prevents you from seeing inside. What are they hiding in there anyway? I mean, besides my résumé.
Not even a phone call to tell me that they hate me and my columns. How rude is that? I mean, couldn’t they at least call and say, “Look, we’re sorry, we hate you, but at least you won’t have to wait by the phone for us to call you and tell you we hate you because we’ve just told you.” I could respect that. But it’s as though I just tossed the envelope into the trash can . . .From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from Girls' Poker Night by Jill A. Davis. Copyright © 2002 by Jill A. Davis. Excerpted by permission of Random House Trade Paperbacks, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.