My watch has been broken for two years. Sometimes the hands move at twice their normal speed, sometimes not at all. I've arrived at class two hours early, and I've missed it entirely. My mother recently said that my watch and my life are like a Dali painting: surreal and full of horrific surprises. I wish I could disagree.

The first time I saw a Dali exhibit, I was in Paris. My friend Alana was visiting from Budapest and demanded we fight crowds in Montmarte to visit the museum. Normally, I would've declined. If I had wanted to see Farside comics on shrooms, I argued, I would've driven to Tiajuana with an old copy of the New York Times.

But this wasn't normal. Alana and I share a sordid past. For fear of my life and my testicles, this history will remain (relatively) confidential. Let's leave it at this: the last three years have been like the 100 Years War. Periods of peace peppered with drunken phone calls ending with "bitch." There. I said it.

So there I stood, accompanied by someone who, given the opportunity, might impale me with a dull spoon. But now she was ecstatic. "They're elephants," I said, bored. "Yes," she replied, "but they're on STILTS." Noted, Alana. Duly noted.

Forty-eight hours later, we stopped speaking. She headed back to Budapest, I remained in Paris. The next conversation we had involved an answering machine, Jack Daniels and an unusually long string of expletives. She didn't call back.

Until recently. Last week, Alana called to confirm that I, like she, will be jobless come May. As the calls become more constant, I wonder when diplomatic conversations will once again deteriorate. Some relationships, I'm beginning to see, are like my watch. They play with your mind. All the factors work -- too well, in fact -- until they abruptly cease. You want to get rid of them -- to throw them in the proverbial garbage of unhealthy addictions. But you won't, because you can't. They're persistent.

-- Grant Ginder


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