When I was in highschool I had my first and only girlfriend. She shared her name with a pitted vegetable, and we began to date because she drove me home everyday from school in her tiny grey car. It was ornamented with all sorts of items, such as banana peels and tissue wads and crumpled up letters addressed to Danny DeVito, never quite expressive enough to send.
We drove out one day to the girlfriend beach where anybody is allowed to go, as long as they are considered your girlfriend. I realized she thought of me as such a thing on the drive out when we passed a big billboard that read “THIS IS A SIGN.”
“Olive,” I began. “Am I your girlfriend?”
She glanced away from the road to give me a softdimpled smile, accompanied by a nod.
“And as far as girlfriends go,” she reported, “you are the best.”
I considered this for a moment, wondering how far girlfriends could go. I considered the two of us arriving at the beach and continuing to go. The two of us in the tiny grey car driving into the depths of the ocean. The two of us tangled in an octopus, with her still controlling the radio, everything a song by the Smiths. The two of us, sinking deep past submarines and beluga whales and broken things, continuing to go go go.
When we arrived at the beach, I bought us two strawberry flavored ice creams, because it was as far as we had gone and I was the best. We walked along the shore and she collected several creamcolored shells, new decor for the tiny grey car. We sat before the ocean and looked it in the eyes. It remained calm and rhythmed.
“I’m thinking of ending things,” I told her, slightly heartbroken. “What with the strawberries and the shells and the car, I think this is as far as we, as girlfriends, can go.”
She shed salty tears and shrunk like a dried clump of seaweed. “But we never even kissed!” were her final words to me. Then, like anyone who is no longer your girlfriend, she hurried back to the tiny grey car and penned a quick letter to Danny DeVito before peeling down the street to wherever ex-girlfriends go.
Embarrassed and alone, I tried to wave to all the girlfriends strewn along the shore, but none of them would look at me. I was useless, and they were too busy etching I LOVE MY GIRLFRIEND in the sand.
I, no longer belonging on the beach and no longer belonging in the car, dove into the ocean, suspended in salt and sea with nowhere else to go.