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“Why,” she said, “do you like me?”
I leaned back on the couch and let my head hang over the edge so my face looked up to the ceiling. It’s the conversation again. This is the conversation we have every other day. Since I know that it’s coming, you’d think I would have prepared something by now, but no, my answers are still terrible.
“I’m a crazy perfectionist, I stress over everything, honestly, I’m not even pretty…”
Just for the record, she is really, very pretty.
“… Sometimes I’m not very nice,”
“Shush!” I say. “If you’re not very nice then I’ve got to be a total jerk.” And this is the extent of my consolation abilities.
“But it’s true!” she says.
My normal response here would be, “No it’s not true, you aren’t crazy, perfectionism can be good, you don’t stress over everything, you’re very pretty, and you’re the nicest girl I know.” I would then tell her I liked her shirt that day (which is always true) and then ask her if she wanted any ice cream. Except for that today I need to think of something better than that, because I am so tired of having to have this conversation over and over again. Especially, since she really is amazing. Exhaling slowly, I run my fingers through the fur of my cat. Robert, my cat, only has one ear. He has a slight limp and other people would never even look at him in a pet shop, but I think he’s adorable. That’s when it hits me.
“Do you remember in sixth grade when you helped me get Robert?”
“Yes of course,” she rolls her eyes, “how can I forget?”
“Then you remember, that the shopkeeper thought I was crazy.”
“Yes. There were plenty of other absolutely adorable kittens to choose from. There was the orange one, the little brown one with stripes, the tortoiseshell kitty with the big green eyes, and so many other ones, but you just had to have the cat with one ear and a limp.”
“Robert was the cutest cat in the whole shop and –“
“To you maybe!” she interrupted me.
“As I was saying, Robert was the cutest cat in the whole shop and I could just tell that he liked me. Just as important though, he liked you too.”
As if on cue, Robert got up out of my lap and padded over to hers. He yawned a cute little cat yawn and fell asleep. Smiling, my girl started scratching is head.
“The shopkeeper,” she picked the story back up for me, “offered to show you more cats. But you just wouldn’t put down Robert. ‘How about the one with the little white booties?’ he asked.”
I snickered, her imitation of the shopkeeper was spot on.
This coaxed another grin out of her and she continued her imitation, “How about the one with the yellow eyes? How about the one with the black around the nose? You know if you choose that one he’ll take much more taking care of.”
“Remember what I said after he told me that?”
“What did I say then?”
She looked up at me. “You said, ‘So what? I like this one.’”
“Oh so you do remember!”
“Yeah so what? What does this have to do with anything?”
“Well we were getting to the point in our ‘Why do you like me?’ conversation where you’d start talking about how there are a ton of other girls that I could potentially go after, and that you thought they were better than you and therefore it confused you that I didn’t go after them. And then I’d tell you that I really didn’t want to go after any of the other girls. And then you’d get exasperated and say, ‘Why on earth not?’ And then I could never figure out what to say. But I finally know exactly what my answer is and I thought that this lovely little story would be a great introduction to it. And now you know my answer to your question, ‘Why on earth not?’”
“There really are a lot of other girls who probably deserve you more than I do.”
“No one deserves me more than you do.”
“But there are still plenty of other girls around here.”
“So what?” I said putting my arm around her, “I like this one.”