I was convinced Jenny was reading my emails.
I had no proof or evidence of any kind, but my mind was made up.
Call it a hunch. A hunch based not on reality, but rather the overly-active imagination of a ridiculously jealous and insecure man.
I had been going out with her for almost six months when I conceived “the Jenny test”.
She was beautiful, but didn’t rest on her beauty to get her through life. She was intelligent and charming. At parties, everybody gravitated towards her. She was interesting and well-spoken. My friends and family, upon meeting her, would take me aside, grab my arm and with a stern look, tell me that this woman was amazing and I had to do everything in my power to keep her happy and not screw this up.
She was perfect.
Too perfect, if you ask me.
The only flaw or imperfection I could find with her was that, for some reason, she was in love with me.
Well, I’d teach her to settle for less than she deserves!
We were scheduled to go on a road trip to Santa Barbara in a few weeks, so I knew I had to act quickly.
I hatched my diabolical scheme over six days, working non-stop. I quit my job so that I could devote more time to the plan. That way, I could come home and spend my evenings with her, so not as to arouse any suspicion.
It worked like a charm. Sweet, trusting Jenny never suspected a thing.
The night had arrived and as I took my place in the closet, I felt the electricity in the air.
After half an hour, I began to get hungry and thought about scrapping the whole thing. Maybe I would try it another night? But no, there would never be another night as perfect as this! Dammit, why hadn’t I grabbed a fruit roll-up or something?
Just then, I heard the front door unlock. She was home!
“Hello?” I heard her call out.
“I’m in here, Jenny,” I whispered, “waiting for you… to betray me!”
I laughed diabolically in my mind. I heard her approach the bedroom.
“Hello? Eric? Are you here? You’re not hiding in the closet again, ready to jump out and scare me, are you? I saw your car parked out front… what’s this?”
My panic subsided, as I realized she had taken the bait.
Through the slats of the closet door, I could see her in her work clothes, bending down by the bed, a puzzled look on her face.
She picked up the book. The book I had left for her. The one I had so carefully placed, to seem as if it had been shoved under the bed in an attempt to conceal it. The book marked, “Top Secret List of All the Women Eric Has Had Unprotected Sex With While He Was Going Out With Jenny: DO NOT READ”.
She read it and laughed. Most likely because she thought, “oh, now I’ll just open this book and see proof that Eric has been cheating on me and then I won’t feel so bad about sneaking into his computer to read his emails.”
But the joke’s on you, bitch.
As expected, she cracked open the book, shaking her head (probably at her good fortune, or so she thought), when she tripped the 127 decibel book alarm I had bought off the internet.
“Jesus Christ, that thing is loud!” I yelled, as I put my hands over my ears.
Now, doubly startled, Jenny threw the book down on the bed while jumping back from the closet in surprise.
“Eric?” I think she said, though there’s no way to be sure about the actual contents of our conversation that night.
I opened the door, not in the triumphant “gotcha!” fashion I had imagined. That fucking alarm was making my ears bleed.
“You thought you could get away with this betrayal forever, didn’t you?” I asked.
“What?” she screamed, “Oh my god, Eric, please, turn that thing off!”
It was really, really loud. I tried to make it stop by using my elbows but soon I realized I was going to have to try and disarm it, which meant removing my hands from my ears.
I threw the book on the ground, covered it in blankets, stomped on it and did everything in my power to make it stop. Oh god, please make it stop!
“I don’t know how to turn it off,” I confessed.
Jenny reached under the pile of blankets and pulled out the book. I doubled over in pain. Then it stopped.
“You have to turn the switch to the “off” position,” she stated, matter-of-factly.
Above the ringing in my own ears, I could hear police sirens in the distance and dogs and cats all over the neighborhood making quite a ruckus. People in the building across from mine were swearing and shouting threats.
“What is this, some kind of joke?” she asked, holding up the now-silent book.
“There’s nothing funny about your constant invasion of my privacy,” I responded.
“What are you talking about?” she asked.
“I’m talking about you reading my emails, I’m talking about you coming across a piece of my private property and being so overwhelmed with nosiness, that you just had to crack it open and take a look at my innermost thoughts. That’s what I’m talking about, Willis.”
“I’ve never read your emails, Eric, I swear to you. As for this book, I thought it was a joke. I mean, I’m guessing if you were going to cheat on me, you wouldn’t keep a list documenting the fact that you were. And if you did keep a list, you wouldn’t put it in a book that had it explicitly labeled as such on the cover.”
“You know, I had a feeling you weren’t really reading my emails,” I felt kind of stupid now.
“Yeah, I knew you hadn’t figured it out! I knew it!”
“What?!” I had been right all along?
“What? No, I mean… oh shit…”
I had never seen anyone melt before. I mean, not on TV, but for real. But now, where once had stood my girlfriend of six months, there was nothing but a pile of clothes covered in goo.
“Well, that’s the story of my most meaningful relationship and how it ended, Doc. What do you think?” I put my paper down on the coffee table and took off my reading glasses.
The doctor looked quite stunned. He sat there in his blue polo shirt and his khaki pants and stared back at me in silence.
“Um, so is that a “no” on the extended warranty?” he asked sheepishly.
“Doc, I told you–”
“It’s Brian,” he corrected me.
“Fine. Brian, I told you, there’s no point in me shelling out the extra dough for an extended warranty when the manufacturer has me covered for the life of the plasma screen. We both know that. Weren’t you listening to the story?”
“Besides, I don’t have any money anyways.”
“No money. I’m not buying a TV. Not from this place and certainly not from you.” Uh oh, he was mad.
“So you just spent–” I had to cut him off.
“Let me spare you the brain cells, Bri Bri. About a month ago, I came in here and bought a 12 pack of AA batteries. When I got them home, they were dead. I tried to return them, but your manager told me I was a liar and that I had merely gone home, switched the new ones with some dead batteries and tried to return them.”
“Right…” He wasn’t following. It didn’t matter.
“Well, I swore I would get revenge on him and his stupid store, so I rented this suit, took my Chrysler LeBaron to the car wash and showed up here today and read you this story while you tried to finalize the sale of that $2300 television over there. It seems pretty straight-forward to me.”
“You really just wasted 45 minutes of my time? You know we work on commission, right? I mean, I didn’t sell you those batteries, I didn’t call you a liar. I’m just a college kid working part-time so I can pay for school,” Brian said with a mixture of anger and pity. I knew that look well.
By this time, a large crowd had gathered and the manager strode over to me, grabbed me by my suit collar and pulled me from my chair.
“Get the hell out of my store, you bum!” he said, to uproarious cheers from the crowd.
As he ejected me from the store, he threw in a “and don’t come back!” for good measure, as if he was some sort of third-class superhero.
Well the joke’s on you, dude. I did switch those batteries out with dead ones!