The Blurt Diaries #2: A Broken Breakup

If hindsight is 20/20, I’m pretty sure that some of my former boyfriends wish it was more like 20/300. I don’t mean to diss my younger self. I’m just saying—certain experiences could stand a bit of dementia blur. From where I stand now, what happened with “Humphrey” (not his real name) is pretty darn hilarious.

X-ray of a male chest showing one broken red heart

I met Humphrey at a club in Minneapolis, shortly after a burst appendix landed me in the hospital, followed by 30 days of bed rest. So sick of lying around, I took a friend up on her offer to hit the town. I was 22, and hadn’t yet had my first alcoholic drink. (Calories. It’s a long story.) This night called for let-loose-age.

Naive girl’s dating lesson #1: Never judge a date by your drunken brain’s perception.

There I was at the Gay Nineties, watching male performers with legs and dance moves I’ll never hold a candle to, when this cute, muscular blond (think surfer dude, with a preppy haircut and dress pants) sat down beside me. When he offered to buy me a drink, I chose what seemed like the healthiest menu option—Long Island Ice Tea. (Hello. Antioxidants!) The alcoholic hodgepodge gave me a free feeling I’d never before experienced. The world appeared softer, sparklier and lighter. So did I. During an otherwise turbulent time body image-wise, I could look at my reflection in a bathroom mirror and think, “Damn! I look HOT!”

The next day, Humphrey called, thanking me for the wonderful time. Though I couldn’t recall many details of our shared time, I’d retained that sense of wonder. I also mistook it, as Humphrey did, for falling-in-love type chemistry. On our first official date, we sat across the table from each other at a restaurant, me talking, Humphrey listening. The quieter he was, the more gregarious I became, and vice versa; I suppose I felt the need to fill the air, or balance things out. Once the alcohol started flowing, Humphrey spoke up and my boredom dissipated. (Welcome back, wonder!)

Every date with Humphrey played out similarly. And soon, signs of our incompatibility cropped up like a weed-plague overtaking a rose garden. He was an accountant; I was a psych. major/artist not-otherwise-specified. He envisioned marriage and children; I dreamed of backpacking through India and starting non-profits. He loved steak; I preferred legumes. He was a night owl; I preferred dawn. When we had sex, it was as though we were in separate rooms, trying to make love to a person we couldn’t find. Alcohol was our only mutual path to “enjoyment.”

After a Valentine’s date gone wrong, I knew it was time to part ways. So I did the logical thing. I wrote him a breakup song.

The next night I arrived at his place, clutching my guitar, feeling brave yet tender. It was time, I told myself, and though breakups are never fun, we could handle this like responsible adults—move on and chalk our time together up to shared learning experiences. Surely he felt our dissymmetry, too.

With perspiring hands, I plucked the strings on my guitar and chirped my “Dear John” letter-like lyrics, avoiding eye contact. I’d envisioned him holding me afterward, saying “thank you” and that he understood. Perhaps we’d shed a few tears then share one last kiss, knowing we’d closed the book on a story that should’ve ended at the preface.

I strummed my last chord then looked up at Humphrey. He was…smiling, and blushing. And silent. He finally broke the quiet, saying something about being speechless. I was right about the thanking and holding me bit. And our last kiss was probably our best.

Presuming that there was nothing more to say, I left, feeling relieved. The following night I performed with Propinquity, a folk-rock band I was part of during high school and sporadically after. I stood up on stage and introduced my new number, Came and Went (I still can’t believe I failed to recognize that awkward pun…). “I also call it the ‘breakup song,’ because that’s what it is,” I explained. I heard a “huh?” type sound from somewhere in the audience, then watched in horror as Humphrey stood up, his jaw slightly ajar.

Mid-performance I realized what had happened. After the show, it was confirmed. Humphrey had no idea that I’d intended the song as our breakup. He thought we were still together. (Youch, I know.)

When my own hindsight kicked in, I looked back and saw countless additional flaws in our partnership, some of which reduced the guilt I felt over the not-quite-obvious-enough breakup. Of course, those flaws weren’t fully clear to me until I wrote them into a song.

What’s the wackiest breakup you’ve been through? What lesson did your younger dating self teach you? What’s your take on breakup songs? (I may have matured, but I still see the value. ;)) Share away. I love hearing from y’all. Oh, and in case you missed it, the Blurt Diaries is a series in which I let my blurty mouth and fingers go wild.

Leave a comment


  1. Hahahahahahaha! I love that he had NO idea. Your #BlurtDiaries are like my #SoWrong moments. I have a zillion. And they just keep coming.

  2. Commenting just because Propinquity. ❤

    Ha, I vaguely knew this story but had no idea the song didn't take. How long did it take for that to become hilarious (which it is) rather than mortifying?

    I wrote a post-breakup, let's-get-back-together poem, and now we're married, so I guess I'm pro-breakup songs too, at least on theory.

    • Aw. Glad you have a soft spot there, too.

      I’ll have to ask my old roomie how long it took to see mostly humor. Pretty sure it happened while filling her in on the details, a chat turned giggle-fest. Friends rock like that. 🙂

  3. Oh, my. I- … Oh, my. lol 🙂

  4. Never had a break-up song. My wildest break-up was the wife who simply announced she was leaving. No warning, no argument. Straight out of the blue. Of course, she took a bunch of my stuff when she left. (We didn’t have anything worth arguing over in a property settlement.)

  5. August – there used to be an TV advert for milk with the strap line “Watch Out Watch Out There’s A Humphrey About!”. I got dumped by a girl after watching The Commitments – the irony was never lost on me.

  6. Poor guy. At least he was there in person, though, instead of just getting the news in an email.

  7. Awkward! But hey it happens right? We just move on from it lesson learned.

    And, by the way, Susie sent me!

  8. Can’t. Stop. Laughing. Poor Humphrey. He was probably telling people all day that his girlfriend, his amazing, beautiful, talented, soulful girlfriend wrote a song for him. HIM! And then he found out it was a break up song. In front of everyone. Ooops. Sorry Humphrey. That’s just too darn funny. I’ve had some wacky breakups, but none as great as that one. I’ll have to ponder this for a bit. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to think of break ups… I hope Humphrey laughs about it now.

  9. “Came and Went”?!?! Shut up, Mike…c’mon, shut up…don’t, Mike… 🙂 🙂

  10. Back in the day, we seldom broke up. Guys usually quit calling or we stopped answering… It seems to be so much more dramatic now. I did have a few in your face break ups and one time I flat out told off the guy after he broke up with me and then became the captain of our city league basketball team. One of us had to go and I went. We had been on and off for years. I am not sure what he thought when I told him how egotistical he was!!!
    Thanks for bringing this to the party!

  11. Oh, August. LMAO! Classic. I had a break up song, but never had to use it. I wasn’t talented enough to have written it myself, but it was James Ingram’s “I Don’t Have The Heart”. As for my awkward break up? The most awkward one I can think of happened in Jr High. The boy I was seeing was very insecure…so sure I was going to dump him at the first sign of interest from one of his classmates who was a friend of mine. He kept talking about his insecurities until it drove me nuts. I finally looked at him and snapped. “Since you’re so sure I’m going to dump you anyway, consider it done. You’re dumped.” (Oddly enough, we’re still friends…told him that he should’ve had more faith in me. If I’d wanted to be with his friend, I would’ve.)

  12. patriciasands

     /  April 25, 2013

    August, I love how you pull us right into the middle of the story with you. Poor Humphrey!

  13. Great story. My favorite line: “And soon, signs of our incompatibility cropped up like a weed-plague overtaking a rose garden.”

  14. Raani York

     /  April 26, 2013

    Poor Guy, August! *grin* Thanks for sharing this!
    One of my absolutely weirdest breakups was with a Guy I was together for about 2 months. I kind of realized I was together with him because I was bored to death and he was together with me because he needed someone to get his laundry done.
    We both kind of found out it didn’t work when A) I was even MORE bored with him and B) I didn’t even think of doing the laundry of a Guy who just nearly bored the hell out of me…
    Unfortunately not even the sex was good…
    Young, naïve and to be honest pretty rudely I told him that we shouldn’t see each other again… and even let him know the reason – bluntly and without sensitivity.
    He was shocked… and then – he talked me into “proving” that he can do better – in bed…
    Uhm… we didn’t have to go to the bed… it started on the couch with kissing… and I have to admit he really did his best… but there was – nothing from my side.
    There’s no denying the truth: just when he was “ready” I was so bored I got up, got my clothes in order, told him that I just “don’t feel like it anymore” – and walked out the door…
    I’ve never seen him again…
    By thinking back – how bad was I? *sigh*

  15. Talk about being on different wave lengths. Didn’t catch the song’s purpose…probably didn’t catch the lack of engagement..uh, boredom either. A real youch situation.

  16. I tell you what, my worst breakup is, actually, bad enough that it deserves a post and I will post it tomorrow night at 10 pm (Tuesday). Thank you for the idea. It may be a tough one for me to go through, but I will try.

  17. Oh I absolutely love this. A breakup song…so inventive and brave 😀

  18. LOL, that poor guy! But yeah, I’d say you guys definitely had a communication disconnect there. I came over by way of Susie, glad I did!

  19. Kourtney Heintz

     /  May 4, 2013

    LOL. August, that’s Venus and Mars to the the extreme. Those terrible breakups do make for funny stories down the road though. I once broke up with a guy who wanted visitation rights with my dog. We’d only dated a few months and neither my dog nor I were that attached. 😉

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