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Monica’s Story: The Funny One

I’ve always been attracted to the funny ones.

I met him backstage at a popular sitcom. He poked his head inside the dressing room. “Hey youse guys,” he said. Wow, I thought. It takes a certain kind of guy to pull off that phrase. And he did. Perfectly.

He asked me out instantly – in front of everyone – mostly for entertainment value. I don’t know if I was embarrassed or flattered, but I knew I was intrigued. And when I learned he was a stand-up comic – my heart beat like a bunny’s. He was funny and brave. I always admire people who do what I’m too scared to try.

Our first date was a collision of two worlds. I was raised in tract housing in Huntington Beach. At that time, the people were as homogeneous as the houses. He was a Guido from Queens. He said bada boom, bada bing – and not in the ironic way.

I had been a sorority girl at UCLA. He had dropped out of high school.

We were both full of so many questions. I asked him if he had any siblings. He asked me what the word siblings meant.

I was raised by a woman for whom correct grammar was the measure of one’s worth in the world. If I said, “snuck” instead of “sneaked”, my mom’s face would contort in the same horrified way that I imagine Mrs. Kaczynski’s did when she found out her little Teddy was the unibomber.

He didn’t care nothin’ ‘bout no grammar and mangled most words with more than two syllables. He would say “nonnegotionable” and “comeraderdie”. And for some reason – those two words seemed to come up a lot. A lot.

He also spoke of bustin’ people’s balls. Wow. Queens talk was so much more colorful than Orange County talk. I was completely and utterly enamored.

The first time I saw him on stage was exhilarating. He was on the main stage at The Comedy Store and people were laughing. Really laughing. He killed with his bit about his mom’s old-fashioned sanitary napkins being so big that they used them as cots for over-night guests.

I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but he blew me away. He was kicking ass at something that I thought was one of the scariest ventures on earth – standing in front of a room full of strangers and trying to make them laugh. I couldn’t have been more captivated.

At some point, I completely let go of my own life. When friends and family would call and ask how I was doing, it was always, “He got a guest shot on a sitcom. He got a blurb in USA Today. He was on Entertainment Tonight.” I knew I was trying to live his life. But I didn’t care. His life was much more exciting than mine.

I never missed a taping of a sitcom on which he guest starred. I accompanied him to celebrity golf tournaments. We flew in friends’ private jets and cheered from the pits at Indy races. But when it was just us, we couldn’t have lived more simply.

He lived in a furnished studio apartment at an Oakwood complex and firmly believed he was living the dream. We were regulars at Sizzler, and it was the first time he returned from the salad bar balancing a shamefully high pile of kidney beans smothered in ranch dressing that I realized I was in love. I absolutely unabashedly adored this man.

I was already in too deep when I realized he was a full-on spotlight whore. Not just on stage, but everywhere. There wasn’t enough attention in the world for him. I gave him everything I had, but his constant need for adulation far exceeded his need for me.

All I ever heard was, “He’s so funny; you’re so lucky.” All I could do was smile. Little did they know they were the lucky ones. They got only his funny, entertaining side. They didn’t wake up with a deeply depressed and abusive boyfriend. The happier and funnier he was the night before – the deeper his plunge into darkness the next day.

I stopped working so I could follow him across the country. I’d seen how women reacted to celebrity comics. They would throw themselves at Quasimodo if he had a solid six-minute set.

After a couple years, our relationship devolved into my traveling with him to his out-of-state gigs just to ensure he wouldn’t cheat on me. I would sit and watch his same 50-minute act. After the show, I would sit across from him and gorge on crappy diner food into the wee hours of the morning. Then I would sleep the next day away and not want to face the world. At last, I was truly living his life.

My friends were bothered that he had no idea I was funny. But I don’t think he really knew me at all. I had forfeited my personality to make room for his. It was massive and had no boundaries. Thus, it was a case of simple physics. There was no room for anything or anyone else. His personality was infinite and we existed in a finite space. As his ego expanded, I morphed from a funny girl to a quiet wallflower to a virtual mute.

And just when I thought I’d never escape, it happened. We were on the phone. When he took a breath, I pounced on my chance to speak. I merely mentioned that it was my birthday. His response was, “Oh, it’s all about you, isn’t it?”

That punch line was the show-closer. I decided it should be all about me and taking my life back – my boring, quiet, uneventful life. And I wasn’t just bustin’ his balls – our break-up was nonnegotionable.

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