Should Have Seen This Coming by Cynthia Mason

When I was 19, I had a friend who worked as a bartender. On certain nights the bar was without a bouncer, so off my friends and I went for a night of underage drinking. While there, I met this guy who was just too hot. He was 25, he bought me drinks, he bummed me cigarettes. I was smitten. And so I met the guy who I would date throughout college.

The guy was not good "on paper." He had been released from a two-year stint in prison for dealing marijuana only a couple of months before we met. Even though our lives were completely different, I thought he was cool in a bad-boy way, and I didn't care. I was taking pop quizzes, he was taking piss tests. I was at a university, he was on probation. You get the picture. I was that girl.

Two years in, things started to sour. Our age difference was starting to affect us -- he was interested in marriage, and I was now barely old enough to drink. He was also a jealous person, and as a result I began to isolate myself from my friends. I spent all my time with him and his buddies. My friends hated him and started ignoring me, and I was starting to resent that. I wanted my friends back.

There were other things, too. I was sick of having to drive him to his probation officer (he didn't have a car), tired of having to forge signatures for his unattended rehabilitation meetings, and really sick of him borrowing money from me and using my credit cards to buy himself a PS2 and new clothes. He also started dealing marijuana again, but this time he was doing it out of my house. People would come at all hours, sometimes angry because they hadn't gotten their money. I was sick of it. I wanted to be a normal college kid, not someone's mom. But I stayed with him.

By the time I was 22, I had graduated from college and was excited about starting my new adult life. I wanted to travel and meet new people. I had lots of plans, but none of them included him anymore. Our relationship was O-V-E-R, and it had been for at least a year. We fought all the time. His jealousy made me feel that I had to lie to him all the time, even though I was doing nothing wrong. He called me constantly when I went out and read my journal when I wasn't around. I didn't know how to get out of our relationship, even though I knew I had already "checked out."

I had received a trip to Europe as a graduation present. I did the things everyone does when they first go to Europe, including hooking up with a European...many times. I gallivanted around Europe for two months, and my new fling went everywhere with me. Museums, cafés, bars -- it was all so romantic. I knew it would end when I went home, though. It was just a fling, but when I started having this affair, I knew that I was officially ending my relationship back home. It was a conscious decision, and I even wrote about it as such in my journal. When I got home, I needed to end my relationship. After a little over four years, it was time.

When I got home, I didn't even have time to unpack. My leave of absence from work ended that day, and I had to return to work early the next morning. I was still working at my college job at a department store. I went back to work grudgingly, but happy to be generating income and to see my friends again.

Midway through the shift, I saw my boyfriend, and he looked pissed. I knew what had happened right away. He had my journal in his hand, and he started yelling at me in front of a store full of customers. He was calling me "slut," "whore," and "liar."

I told him he had to leave and threatened to call security. "This is something that needs to be dealt with at home," I said. "Screw you!" he shouted back. I picked up the phone at my register and pretended to call security. I was embarrassed...and a little pissed, to be honest. He left the store, and when I got home, he broke up with me. I was glad.

To this day, I still consider cheating on him to be the cruelest thing I have ever done to anyone. It was the first and only time I have ever cheated. The relationship had been over for some time, and I think we both knew it. Yes, he was jealous, irrational, and a drug dealer, but he didn't deserve that. I think I cheated on him because I wanted him to break up with me, since I wasn't strong enough to do it myself. But, hey, I was only 22.

We tried to stay friends but soon learned just how little we had in common. Our lunches were forced and awkward, and eventually we went our separate ways. I moved out of state and lost touch with him years ago. The last I heard, he'd had a baby with a 19-year-old and was back in prison.

Tell us the story of your breakup and/or date from hell and we will publish it and pay you ($100 for 500-2000 words).

E-mail story to [email protected] Or mail to: San Diego Reader/Dumped Box 85803 San Diego, CA 92186

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