Just a hint of conversation would have made a difference. One sentence even, warning me that our relationship was about to change. Even those dreaded words, we need to talk, would have given me a heads up. But I never saw it coming.
We’d been so happy for so long! I felt listened to. Understood. Not judged at all for my preference to cheesy movies. I thought our relationship was perfect, actually.
I’m not proud of the way it started. It was dark. I was lonely. My husband was out of town, and I succumbed. Yes, I watched a romantic comedy lovingly chosen just for me by a Mr. Net Flix. There was no espionage, no car chases, no murders committed by twenty-year-olds in bikinis. I didn’t have to rewind to figure out what was going on. It was obvious that J. Lo was going to end up with Ben Affleck even though he was engaged to her client, so I relaxed and enjoyed myself.
I knew immediately after that one sordid episode I was goners. He nailed it! Even though we’d only been together one time, this Nettie, as I lovingly began to refer to him, not only knew me like no other, but actually encouraged me to be myself. He dropped everything and brought me Tortilla Soup andSabah. Instantly.
At first I was reluctant to try some of the things he suggested. The handful of dramas and foreign films I’d done before had left me dissatisfied. But he gently plied me with things I’d always wondered about, nudging me with a subtle love notes: new suggestions for Ferris. Who was I to resist that?
As our relationship deepened, I found myself looking forward to things I never would have chosen on my own. Lars and the Real Girl. City Island. Winter’s Bone. There was no doubt Nettie was adding a new dimension to me. I was growing!
It was only after I’d fallen head-over-heels in love with Mr. Flix that I realized all my other relationships (the ones I’d been perfectly satisfied with before) were lacking. They all took too much effort on my part, and I was tired of the constant give and take. These others wanted chips and dip while watching some buxom spy being stalked though Mother Russia, or a two-way conversation.
Not so with this guy. No sir. It was all about me, me, me. What do youlike? How much do youlike it? Look what I have for you tonight!
It was like that every minute. All Nettie wanted to do was to find out more about me, and please me! And all that was required of me was to touch a particular button every now and then. But only if I felt like it.
I talked about my new relationship openly. I began every conversation with a recap of my previous evening with Nettie. My sister quickly asked me to arrange an introduction. Surprisingly enough, my parents were not only supportive of this relationship, but actually wanted to meet this character themselves. I told them it was too complicated (actually they can’t turn on the computer).
While I was in the throes of this love affair, I didn’t realize how controlling Nettie could be. I guess I mistook it for flattery, but if I hovered my mouse over a movie he didn’t approve of, he let me know immediately. Ferris wouldn’t like this, he’d whisper, taking pains to spell my unusual name correctly. I trusted him implicitly for years, not daring to watch anything he didn’t bring to me personally.
My husband was intrigued at first, and I was shocked at this new side of him. He’d always been so conservative! But soon he was threatened by Nettie, and began to throw his weight around.
“Order The Goodbye Girl,” he demanded. “You’ll love it.”
My husband didn’t give me a specific score, so I had no idea if he meant a 3.2 or 4.9 when he said I’d like it. Until Nettie, I’d never realized how inadequate my husband was.
I hovered my mouse over Marsha Mason, humoring him. We’ve been married twenty-five years. I owed him that at least.
Nettie seemed to be equally threatened. “2.3!” He doesn’t even know you! Nettie’s words suddenly seemed shrill, or was it my imagination?
I guess the timing was right. My relationship with Mr. Flix had gotten out of hand.
Apparently my precious Nettie felt the same way. Maybe he was tired of our relationship being so one-sided, of always being the one calculating what I wanted based on hints I’d given, and constantly trying to please me. He never brought me just one thing, always at least eight for me to consider. I can see how this might be exhausting, but he should have just said so!
I didn’t even get a ‘Dear John’ letter. Not a word of explanation, much less an adult conversation about what was bugging him. About what he wanted to change. Even my husband knows better than this!
Instead I got a bill. Actually it was a charge already on my credit card. (I know, I was actually paying him for services rendered, but he made me feel so, so understood!)
I tried to contact Nettie. I wanted to force him to talk. I wanted to tell my side of the story, to wail and cling and gnash my teeth. We’d been together for so long!
But my email came back unread, and there was no phone number at all. The absolute nerve!
My husband said it was for the best. I had been giving him overt hints about watching Legally Blonde, but he didn’t even notice. He just looked up from Live and Let Die and asked if I would mind making some dip.
I know I shouldn’t, but sometimes I still miss my perfect little Nettie.