I was looking at shoes today, and while I was browsing, the store phone rang.

“Don’t call here or the other location anymore,” the young woman working there said with an authority I never had at her age (somewhere in her mid 20s) and she quickly hung up. She then explained that the caller was the ex-boyfriend of her coworker, “an upper east side loser who still lives with his parents and doesn’t have to work to pay his rent,” who was practically stalking her, showing up and calling, pleading to get her back.  The object of his attentions, predictably, was moved by his entreaties, and was considering returning to him. “And he dumped her!“  said she shoe saleswoman, incredulous.

It has been a long time, but I have been that woman. I was she and she was me several times in my 20s, mistaking a guy’s intensity that bordered insanity as something that had to do with loving me. Whatever was going on with those various guys, I may have inspired it, or, rather, triggered it. But it now seems outrageously obvious that their rash acts had way more to do with their own fantasies about some mythic perfect woman who got away, fear of loneliness, or as-yet unrecognized neurotransmitter reuptake issue.

I guess I needed to make that mistake a half-dozen times before I got over myself enough to realize that none of it was about me and that in fact I wasn’t a character in a Maroon 5 video, not that the members of Maroon 5 were even in middle school by then. I was just a girl who was all too eager to be swept away by the force of someone else’s emotions, so that I didn’t have to develop any genuine feelings of my own with a person with whom it might actually work out.

Hopefully the girlfriend of the psycho caller will figure it all out soon enough, and I can’t expect a total stranger to have learned from my mistakes. Still, it was a teeny bit depressing to see the same show still playing after all these years, like the 18th season of Cats. But I suppose if you’ve never seen Cats, even if you saw it in its 18th season, you might have found it fresh and scintillating. That young woman evidently still found her boyfriend’s performance quite compelling.

As for me, I’m going to leave at intermission. I’m so glad that that show finally got old.