Although I imagine most of my family and friends consider my first break-up to be the one when I was 19 with a 23-year-old who wanted to marry me, teach me Navajo, and live in a hogan for the rest of our days, it actually took place with Mark over the telephone.
Also I was eight.
The phone calls started completely at random — he’d call, pleading with me to not break up with him. I’d turn to my parents at the dinner table and say, “He doesn’t want me to break up with him! What do I do?” Because what you need to know right now is that I did not have a boyfriend named Mark. I was, after all, eight and crushing on probably John Kim, who’d been my love interest since first grade.
But Mark was inconsolable and persistent and would not take my explanations of not actually being his girlfriend to heart. So evening after evening, right at dinner time, I’d get another call. I think he even cried one time because, wouldn’t you know it, after much investigating and some speculation, Mark was the 12-year old older brother of one of my church friends. Being dumped in sixth grade is kind of hard on a fragile boy.
So my mom intervened — explained to Mark that he had the wrong number — but that wasn’t reasonable to him, either. Clearly I was avoiding him at all costs, sitting there in the house, motioning that under no circumstances would I speak with Mark, my recent ex. But really, I was eating dinner and preparing for some quality Barbie time.
Finally, after one particularly desperate call, I got through to him. Suddenly he realized I was telling the truth — not only was I the wrong Mary, I didn’t even know what he was talking about. He promptly hung up and never called again, which was actually kind of surprising because his Mary, the one whose last name was nearly identical to mine, had a phone number merely one digit off from ours. Because of course. OF COURSE she’d basically have my name and number.