I’m entering the third year of my latest relationship. And like any long-term relationship, it’ s been full of laughter and tears, passion and strife, cheeseburgers and mac-and-cheese. Since freshman year, I’ve been dating Chartwell’s. And I think that now, as I enter my junior year, I might be ready to call the whole thing off.
Three years is a long time to dedicate to one entity. At first, we were tangled in the bliss of new love like a Caesar chicken wrap is swathed in a tortilla. I was a naïve college freshman, eager to fall for the first person who offered me tater tots and milkshakes.
But the more I see of the world, the more I realize that there are more options than just plastic cutlery that bends or shatters when you try to spear a baby carrot. To be honest, our relationship has taken on the feel of a bowl of day-old oatmeal.
We both have our downfalls. He gets cold and distant on the weekends. I nag and complain, especially when he’s out of ketchup.
Lately, he’ s been trying to win me back. He woos me with fresh ranch chips and assorted baked goods as varied and delicious as a heart-shaped box of chocolates. He’ s even started giving me free two-ounce cups of soft-serve ice cream, which seemed like a cute token until I realized his game. Two ounces is just enough to keep me craving for my next fix—he’ s trying to keep me trapped and dependent.
On top of all this, he’s moved to Facebook-stalking. Whenever I log on, I have 17 new event invitations from Chartwell’s. His date ideas are charming, I’ll admit. Sushi in the Roost. October tea tasting. Still, it feels like a last desperate move. He’s become increasingly needy, and I’ve been considering my other options.
He must know my eyes have been wandering. He’ s seen me with more exotic suitors, like Elmhurst Chop Suey and Chipotle. I’m only twenty, I can’t be tied down. But Chartwell’s-induced guilt makes my culinary exploits seem like the adventures of a cheap slut. Soon, I’ll be whoring myself out for the Taco Bell value menu. And as I sprawl on the curb with congealing nacho cheese spilling down my shirt, Chartwell’s will tell everyone I had it coming all along. The thing is, we both knew our relationship would be temporary from the start. I can’t live in the dorms forever. I’ll move off campus, and he’ll find some impressionable freshman to regale with alfredo sauce and chicken strips. I’ve considered our long-distance options, but I’m not sure if tater tot casserole holds a strong enough siren call to pull me back day after day.
Besides, it might be fun to explore single life. Buy a few sauce pans and a bottle of vegetable oil and embark on my newly independent culinary life.
The problem is that after I end it, we’re bound to run into each other. It’s a small campus, and he’ s involved in a lot. I’ll swing by to grab a bagel or a Diet Coke, and things will just be awkward. I’ll tell him I miss his apple cheesecake. I’ll admit I was rash and cruel in ending our fling, and that I’ve been surviving on Saltines and canned peas since I left the safe realm of the cafeteria.
He’ll smile understandingly, nod in his most knowing way, and hand me a coupon for a free two-ounce ice cream cup.