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Cross-cultural Romance

Ooblat love can be so sad

For a while I dated an Ooblat girl. It didn't work out.

After the first date, her father visited. He brought a dove, slaughtered it in the bathtub, then gave me a wreath made of figs. I accepted the figs, he embraced me, and all of her relatives moved in the next day. They built bunks into the walls of my studio apartment. Tama's grandmother had a real hatred for Neil Young, and threw herself wailing onto the floor whenever I played his albums.

Then came their holiday season. Everyone, even the babies, wore pearl buttons on their shoes. I'd wake up to see them performing that odd chattering dance, like a tango mixed up with raquetball.

I would try to kiss Tama, but the grandmother would see and attack me like an angry monkey. Then Tama's mother stole all my money and used it to buy thirty pounds of baking soda, which she spread all over the floor. I still don't know why.

Finally, I sat Tama down, and said "I don't think it's working out."

"Ammy, harajoo," she replied.

"I'd like you guys to move out."

"R'notchik zobel."

"We're still friends, right?"

"Harjan szobobny."

I smiled, a little sad. Later that night, they left for Thursday service at their pink church, and I stayed home. Enjoying the quiet, I piled their belongings outside the door, changed the locks, and listened to my favorite albums.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

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