She had always believed that when she met the right man, he would uncover the real her. She wasn’t sure if someone told her this or if she read it in a book but she decided early on that it made sense in a fairy tale sort of way. From high school on, every time she met a man that had potential she made sure to become a very different person than she’d ever been before just in case he was the one.
She would laugh at everything, she would laugh at nothing, she would be very emotional, she would be unavailable. Slut. Virgin. Naive. Cynic. Outgoing. Shy. Each man required a completely different combination. On top of the butterflies she felt when she saw an attractive man there were a few additional winged creatures stirring in her stomach at the thought of who she might become. As the years went on it became harder and harder to invent someone totally new to be and especially difficult to stay in character as the budding relationships developed.
Sometimes she forgot which personality went with which guy.
By her mid-20s she had personas that were pyromaniacs, kleptomaniacs, and garden-variety maniacs. Sometimes a relationship ended not because she didn’t like him but because she didn’t enjoy being who she was with him.
I would mention what her friends thought about this romantic strategy but by then she had no friends. Even her oldest pals had to give up on her. Some people disappear when they are in a relationship and blow off their friends but she was worse. She hid in plain sight. None of them would listen to her when she tried to explain that she was just trying to find the right Mrs. Right lurking inside her so she would be damned if she was going to make an appointment at $100 an hour to explain it any of the numerous psychiatrists they suggested. She did keep the cards though and ended up making bits of artwork with them, all in the vein of macaroni art.
She was very proud of them but nobody was ever allowed to actually see them.
Ironically enough the next man she met that she identified as having potential was a psychiatrist. Without realizing it she quickly put together a group of characteristics and quirks that actually mirrored herself. If she had time to think about it, she would have been angry because to end up being who she was all along would have been very anticlimactic but there seemed to be no danger of that. The man bringing her home from the bar quickly identified her as a crazy person and never bothered to call when he was done with her.
He didn’t even stay the night.
She’d never been a stalker before so she added that to the list of features she had hastily thrown together making up her current incarnation. Because she’d never been a stalker before, she was bad at it but the psychiatric found it quaint. He was used to the hard-boiled naturals so her attempts at stalking came off as almost endearing so he asked her out again and they repeated this scenario a few times before she realized that she hated stalking and she moved on to another persona with a truck driver from Wichita.
His body was found near Omaha.
She realized that she was running out of people to be and the ones that she hadn’t tried were getting less and less savory so she went back to stalking and she and the psychiatrist were married the following spring.
His last name was Wright.