Imagine Jillian’s surprise when, after a routine scrolling through Instagram, she came across a photo Mark had posted of three women’s backsides with the caption “Kardashian wedding.” Though Jillian and Mark rarely spoke these days and when they did it was the smallest of small talk that refused to address the elephant in the room, which was that they weren’t really together anymore, this picture hurt and shocked her. Yes, she supposed it was inevitable that Mark would move on now that they would be living in different cities, but she didn’t expect him to do it so freely and grotesquely. “Kardashian wedding?” It also had a bit of a gay flair to it. But, like most men of the present, Mark had an effeminate touch that could be confused with twentieth century homosexuality, but was now, in fact, twenty-first century heterosexuality.
Staring at the picture, Jillian tried to determine where he could possibly be (other than the obvious fact that he was at a wedding) and who these women were. Even if he knew them to a cursory extent rather than not at all, it would still be in poor taste to put up a backside photo. She remembered that when they first met, he had an obsession with A$AP Rocky’s “Fuckin’ Problems,” a song that, in retrospect, she realized was more literal for him than she thought. He wanted to be the type of person who could fuck liberally, but, at the same time, was disgusted and repulsed by those who did (especially women) and would therefore be a hypocrite if he actually engaged with the lyrics of the song on a practicing level. With the curse of hindsight, she apprehended that he struggled internally with wanting to thrust his flesh into a wide range of holes. But in the beginning, she thought he was different, capable of that wide-eyed, you’re the only one for me 1940s shit.
The longer she examined the picture, the more insane she became. She showed it to a number of different objective parties with the preface, “Don’t you think it’s perverse for a guy to post a picture of three women’s backsides?” Mostly, the answer was yes, but some tried to appear neutral.
Another friend, however, made the sharp assessment, “What else would this picture be of?”
“I don’t see anything wrong with it. It’s not that close up of a shot to their asses,” kindly remarked a person of the male gender who happened to be waiting in the same line for a smoothie as her. She gazed at it intently again. But it was close enough, they were the entire focal point of the mise en scène–how could anyone, least of all he, deny it? It’s not as though it was a tasteful photo of some females’ hairstyles (like the one pictured below). It was a photo of backsides.
Plagued for two days after it was posted, she decided she had to speak with him, to ask him what was intended by the heartlessness of this backside photo–which probably never even crossed his mind as being heartless because that’s how heartless he was.
He didn’t answer his phone. Maybe he was inserting himself into one of the fake Kardashian’s backsides at the moment. So she texted him, “I need to talk to you.” She would fly/drive/walk slowly cross-country to meet him for confirmation about the nature of the backside photo. And then, she would finally ask why he couldn’t just tell her it was over instead of setting off bombs in front of her face to iterate the point.
Four days went by before he was able to respond. “I can meet you at Joe’s Pizza. The one on Carmine.”
“Dk. Let you know.”
The time turned out to be at 3 p.m., or at least that’s when Jillian arrived. Mark, on the other hand, strolled up at 3:21, all sunglasses and aloofness. Jillian had already stress-eaten three pieces of pizza, but didn’t mention this to Mark as they both got in line to order a plain cheese slice.
“What did you need to talk to me about? I just got back from a really long trip, I’m pretty tired.”
“Where were you?” When she said it aloud, she comprehended just how little she knew about him anymore, not even on a basic scale. He didn’t care to offer up information about himself to her, which she knew meant that they were broken up for all intents and purposes, and yet, he had still never said it, which is why the backside photo stung so severely.
She gulped before taking a bite of her pizza to delay answering what she wanted to talk to him about, to swallow her pride with cheese and bread in order to bring herself to be blunt and straightforward about how his actions had damaged her. Then, she pulled out her phone to show him the image of the backsides. “Who are these women and why did you take a picture of their asses?”
He chortled. “What’s the big deal? It’s of the entire church.”
She should have known he would have an excuse, a deflection. He even went so far as to take out his own phone and show her more backside photos that were, in his mind, all-encompassing “church photos.”
She gritted her fingers into the pizza crust. “Mark, what am I to you?”
Mark rolled his eyes. “Not this again Jillian.”
“We’ve been together for a few years now, but it doesn’t seem like we are anymore, right?”
He sighed. “I guess we’re not, no.”
“Well, why couldn’t you have just told me? Why did you have to make me hold out hope for this long while you were away?”
“Look, Jillian, I’m sorry. I really am. But we can still be good friends, okay?”
“Just tell me why.”
Mark looked away from her as he bit into the final remains of his slice. “Do you really want to know?”
“I deserve to know.”
“For one, you have a booger that’s perpetually at the corner of your right nostril, you’re a drunk, you don’t like my parents and you’re annoyingly earnest.”
Jillian stood there pathetically, her mouth agape, her mind seared with a permanent slideshow of backside photos.
With that, Mark plunked his crust down on the plate and urged, “Find something new. Jesus.”