Sometimes, it’s best not to be friends with an ex-boyfriend. But in other cases, like Margaret Littman’s, it’s a case where her ex is her best friend. Now if only his wife would understand this…in “On Exes and Thin Mints,” she tries to plead her case.
“If I were in Hollywood, I’d be sitting at a typewriter with the stereotypical trash can overflowing with crumpled drafts, the balled-up papers dotting my office floor. My literal and metaphoric missed shots laid out around me. That’s how many times I have started this letter to you. But I’m not a scriptwriter, and this is still my awkward real life. So I’m doing yet another Select All, Delete, on the laptop and trying again. After all these years and all the ways in which our lives have intersected, we still don’t know each other that well. But I have always tried to be sympathetic to your point of view, even if I could not be empathetic. I know it must be weird to have your new-boyfriend-then-fiance-then-husband-then-father-of-your-child be best friends with his ex. Particularly when your first husband cheated on you. While you had a newborn. I know that you’ve witnessed people justifying their very bad behavior because they were “following their heart,” as if that is a Get Out of Jail Free card that excuses everything. I am thankful to have never been in that situation. I appreciate that I will never appreciate how an experience like that breeds mistrust. And I appreciate the school of thought that says you keep your husband away from exes for the same reason you don’t keep Girl Scout cookies in the house while you’re dieting. No need to fight temptation. But Thor isn’t your ex, and I’m not a temptress…”
MARGARET LITTMAN is a freelance journalist who splits her time between Nashville and Chicago and wherever else her assignments take her. Her essays have appeared in the Seal Press anthologies Woman’s Best Friend: Women Writers on the Dogs in Their Lives and Cat Women: Female Writers on Their Feline Friends, although she much prefers writing about other people’s stories than her own. She is the author of The Dog Lover’s Companion to Chicago and VegOut Vegetarian Guide to Chicago and is the editor of several other guidebooks. Her articles have been published in magazines ranging from Wine Enthusiast to Art & Antiques. She is now at work on two book proposals, including Dog-Friendly Life: A Guide for Those Who Want to Live With Their Dogs, Not For Their Dogs. Read more of her work at www.littmanwrites.com.
Read more of Margaret’s letter, and 35 others, in P.S. What I Didn’t Say: Unsent Letters to Our Female Friends, now available on Amazon!