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I was seventeen when a new millennium reset the world. I started it by drinking a bottle of cinnamon-flavored liquor at my own New Year’s Eve party and passing out in my room, sleeping right through the ball drop. In the morning, my mother woke me with the dregs of the bottle in a shot glass, the sickly sweet, spicy fumes like smelling salts under my nose. She told me to drink the shot or get grounded for being an asshole. I drank the shot and slept the entire first day of the year 2000.

“I’ve already told you: the only way to a woman’s heart is along the path of torment. I know none other as sure.” —Marquis de Sade

Stop shaking your head. Gimme a chance to explain…

Long distance relationships open like pop-up books. Her pop-up book is in Manhattan.

I like stealing stuff—if I like you. I case every woman who catches my eye trying to see what they’re hiding.

You can’t give your phone number without giving something of yourself. Every little hair on a woman, even the peach fuzz, is a fuse.

I watch some guys staring at their girls like kids staring at a candy store window. Which gets me wondering–––along with the girl in most cases–––is he making that sweet expression at her or to himself in the reflection? So the girl looks over at me and sees the crowbar in my eyes. I can’t hide it.

But every time it feels the same when it clicks with somebody. I pick the lock and break into their life and instead of trying to steal everything, I end up wanting to move in.

I’m in full-on burglary-mode when all of a sudden I find myself liking the way you crookedly hang that painting, the way your bookshelves lean, that you’re a pack-rat for every letter an ex sent you and you’re amused I burned everything I had with my first kiss, that you kept a lock of your hair from when you were six and now your hair’s a different color, how you had a street portrait artist embellish your likeness when you were going through an ugly phase and everybody pretended you were really that pretty, you were entirely frigid with one boy and put out on the first date with another and you don’t know why the difference, that I thought my first girl was the one until we popped each others cherry and I knew she wasn’t and told her so, that you want a dad and your cute little boy at the same time out of a husband—oh yeah—and the guy you’d risk all that for to cheat with, you want to have your blueprints for the rest of your life approved of, you want your history to be a rumor that you spread, you want me to cast my net at you swinging over and over and never get more than half your butterflies, you want to be my private petting zoo, you want me to pry you down from your ivory tower over the intercom, I want a muse who fucks like a whore, you want to be able to hurt me and build me up, you want me to trudge through your sewers and step out onto your penthouse balconies, you want to take your top down in conversation and have my breeze run through your hair, I want you to kiss the stretch marks and cellulite on my brain, you want me to contemplate every guy who ever wanted to get into your pants, you want jealousy, you want me to be loyal but only because you’re amused that I’m a born serial-cheater, you want the church of your heart to have the choir on fire and neither of us willing to piss on them, I want you as a cookie jar, you want to get our plans on wheels, you want somebody with no plans, you want Monopoly on weeknights and Risk on weekends, you want somebody who can fuck people up but also listen, your personal angelic caveman with a daunting reading list, you want me to be fucked-up but lucid, you want our kid as the final jury on us, I’m not sure you really do, you want relativity here and there but stuff that comparison can’t touch other places, you want love letters and suicide notes and me to pretend with a straight face like I know what the fucking difference is, you want your melody to feel like a symphony, I want my note to feel like a melody, you want me to wonder how many inches it takes to reach your heart, I want you with telescopes and microscopes and a club and a cave and no viable heat source but me, you want me to accept that Brinny can still fall in love 10,000 times but it doesn’t have to be with 10,000 different girls it can just be with me, over and over, like some karma on spin cycle and no tag-backs, and we can be off-key, and every soliloquy can be one long stutter, and why the hell am I inventorying all this shit, oh yeah I’m nervous about Thanksgiving, I just mean… my garbage and maladjusted apparatus wasn’t flammable until I met you, be my pyromaniac and I’ll be your kleptomaniac, we’ll get the hang of it, epileptic embrace, be each other’s Rosetta Stone, here, this is a piece of chipped paint off my Davega Bicycle, we can be cigarette train wrecks in each others ashtray, you can sign letters in lowercase so I’ll imagine you on your knees and try to map out more ways to sweep you off your feet, now you’re making me a little nervous for not having wiped this thing’s nose, and I better stop cause everything else’ll feel like drinking from a bent straw but yeah, do we have a deal?

I don’t know if you noticed, but a few years ago Johnnie turned around. He used to be walking left; now he’s going right.

When pressed, the Johnnie Walker company explained that leftward leads to the past, while to the right lies the land of the future. And if there’s anything Johnnie stands for, it’s the future.

Trust is an elusive thing.

It’s hard to know when to let down your guard with someone, to let them see who you really are. And when you’re hurt or betrayed by someone you love, it becomes that much harder to open up to someone else.

But what, exactly, defines betrayal?

In this particular case I’m talking about romantic relationships. What constitutes a breach of trust? Is it when your partner tells someone else one of your deep, dark secrets? When he or she makes a big decision without you? When they sleep with someone else? When they break up with you?

For me, sharing sensitive information with others is probably the biggest violation. If I tell you something that is understood to be sensitive, and you tell someone else, I will probably never again share anything important with you. And yet, there must be situations in life where sharing a piece of information like that would ultimately be the right thing. So how to know what is right?

What if someone leaves you? Breaks your heart? Does that constitute betrayal? Marriage isn’t the institution it once was. No-fault divorce makes it easier to end a legal union. Conservatives might cite the decline of marriage as damaging to society, but what is better–ending a corrosive relationship or suffering in it for years?

Why do some people claim they will never trust anyone again after being dumped? Is the person who fell out of love somehow guilty of betrayal? Is there blame to be placed when love simply dies?

And what about infidelity?

Many relationships end because a partner strays. Imagining the love of your life in the arms of another is enough to make anyone squirm.

If you found out your partner was cheating on you, would you leave them?

Based on the blogs I read, most people seem to answer “yes.” But when actually put in that situation, not every scorned lover ends their relationship.

Recently I saw a news story about spyware designed to help determine if your spouse is cheating on you. You can record every keystroke your lover makes on the computer, see every page they visit on the Internet. Read their emails.

Even before the Internet, suspicious spouses could review phone records, credit card statements, even follow their lover around in the car.

I did this sort of thing once. Read someone’s email. Listened to their voice mail.

Never have I felt so sneaky, so oily as a human being. It served no purpose except to enrage me.

If your relationship reduces you to espionage, is it worth it?

I’m not going to pass judgment on infidelity, either for or against it. Every situation is unique, and I’m uncomfortable with absolutes.

Personally, I’d rather be cheated on than play detective.

If you were in a happy, fifty-year marriage that fulfilled you in every way, and after your partner died you learned he had slept with someone else in the ninth year of your marriage, would it damage the love you’d felt for your whole life?

I mean, you’re not going to be happy about it.

But to characterize all cheaters as worthless humans misrepresents our animal ancestry. Our natural impulses. If infidelity is so wrong, why does it happen so much? Why are their web sites available to help you cheat?

Hey, you might say. If you can’t control yourself, don’t get married. I pretty much agree with this.

But if you look at the divorce rate, if you consider how many people cheat, it seems that marriage isn’t the right choice for many of us. In the U.S., 2005 marked the first year more adults were single than married.

Is marriage an institution that can’t keep up with modern society? And if so, what does that mean for children? Many of you grew up in fractured households. My parents are still together. Am I any better off than someone whose parents divorced when they were a kid?

What if you have ten five-year relationships instead of one fifty-year marriage? Are more relationships inherently worse?

I don’t know because I haven’t been in that situation. You can’t ever really know, can you?

What if medical breakthroughs allow people to live for hundreds of years? Does “‘Till death do us part” mean 150 years of marriage?

I am friends with both men and women who have cheated on their spouses. Men may be more prone to stray, but not by that much. It’s not just a disease of the man with roving eyes.

In the end, whichever side of the fence you fall on, no matter how much or little the possibility of cheating bothers you, isn’t spying on your partner kind of absurd? If you’re reduced to playing covert operative, why not just leave?