Make-Believe Girlfriends

Several years ago, an attractive young woman began working in our office. When I say attractive, I’m speaking in general terms. It’s not like we sponsored an annual beauty pageant or anything. But this story involves only this particular young woman. She was special, unique, for no other reason than because she inspired an idea—a movement, if you will—that has endured for the other men who still work there, long after I moved on. And I suspect the concept she inspired shall be passed down as a socially awkward and testosterone-fueled tradition for years to come.

This young woman was 100% American, although obviously descended of Asian heritage. I couldn’t tell you her name. Not because I’m a class act who wants to protect her identity, but because I don’t know it now, and in fact I never did. What I can tell you is that she had dark hair that fell just past her shoulders and was clearly professionally cared for in expensive fashion. She wore designer clothes that smelled faintly of money (which suited her). She was tall and thin, striding with that quiet confidence betraying a woman who always knows where she’s going and what she’s doing. She would place each foot methodically, toes down first, turned out slightly, in a manner hinting she had likely endured thousands of dance classes as a little girl. The softness of her presence brought a faint light into the the otherwise bleak grayness of our nondescript, industrial hallways and vast cubicle maze.

One day, I was walking down the hallway with several of my coworkers (all men). I don’t remember the precise nature of our errand, but because there was a large group of us together, I rather suspect we were headed out for a traditional fast food lunch: sub sandwiches, cheap tacos, or perhaps even Greek. She passed us going in the opposite direction. After she was well out of earshot, and we all remembered to start breathing again, one of my friends said simply, “Wow.”

Without thinking, I said, “Yeah… You know she’s my girlfriend, right?”

About eight sets of eyebrows raised, and shiny teeth displayed all around me. “Reeeeaaallly?”

I’ve always thought fast on my feet, and thus was borne the inspiration. “Well, I mean, she’s not now. She was, but we broke up.” I then proceeded to regale my friends with the concept and principles surrounding the make-believe girlfriend. Make-believe girlfriends are the best kind—and in fact the only kind—morally available to a principled man who also happens to be married…

I explained to them how we had of course met at work (not really). She was immediately taken not by my looks, but by my dazzling intellect, rapier wit, innate confidence and deep sense of life purpose (whatever). We had long conversations about books we enjoyed (except that I don’t enjoy books) and about the meaning of the universe (also not really). She liked the same video games I did (what?), the same music (not so much), all the same foods (nuh-uh), and she didn’t care that I was a sloppy dresser. (That last one is very likely true because I suspect she didn’t actually know that I existed, let alone what I wore.) Our make-belationship sadly lasted only a few months, as I soon grew very tired of her affinities for shoes and candles and also designer cheeses. Although she adored me (pffft), she would never stop talking about herself (the pompous windbag). So I unceremoniously threw her over. It was easy because (a) it was all her fault, and (b) she didn’t know, so there was no messy emotional entanglement, no big scene with her crying and swearing at me, etc. In our pretend break-up, I had to pretend-remind her that nobody even knew that we pretend-liked each other. (This is another part that is actually true—unless of course she did actually like me. But that would be her problem, not mine. Also, since she didn’t even know me, that would mean she was some kind of weirdo or something.)

I suppose it surprises no one that some guys occasionally imagine themselves in inappropriate fantasies with attractive women. Let me be perfectly clear: This is absolutely not like that and is definitively not what I’m talking about here. Our faux-riendship was pure in nature, entirely comedic, and in fact the make-believe girlfriend idea had never occurred to me about this girl or any other before that very moment in the hallway. So just let go of that notion if you have it.

The beauty of make-believe girlfriends is that in fact the same rules can apply to anyone you choose. I’ve since had dinner with Bono (he’s funnier in real life, fatter than I expected, and his jacket smells like chamomile). Michael Jordan and I once shared a delightful car ride between Oklahoma City and Tulsa during which we discussed primarily economic policy (he’s actually even taller than you’d imagine, his jaw makes this annoying little click occasionally when he’s speaking, and he curses not so much like a sailor as like a pirate). As soon as I can, I’m planning to visit with Michelle Obama because I want both to raise her awareness of human trafficking and also to get her mother’s recipe for seven-layer dip.

Do you have any make-believe friends—girlfriend, boyfriend or otherwise? (Remember, the rules state that you can’t count them if they know.) What would you ask if you had just one question? Dr. Joyce Brothers once said talking to yourself is a sign of very high intelligence. Do you think she just said that because she did it and didn’t want people to think she was, you know, cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs?

6 Responses to “Make-Believe Girlfriends”

  1. Mark Morris October 6, 2010 at 8:30 am #

    Having not attended your wedding, or did I? I cannot recall. I would strongly suspect that your marriage were in this category, had you not reiterated the “they can’t know” clause and I believe that Kendra is a actually aware that you believe yourself married to her, although I have not heard her say it herself, so….

    • Brannon October 6, 2010 at 10:30 am #

      Honestly I don’t remember. I considered that day to be largely about me, so I stayed pretty wrapped up in myself. But she’s my life partner, at least. (And not just an elaborate Internet hoax that I’ve been concocting and building for the past 20 years.)

  2. Bea October 6, 2010 at 12:45 pm #

    I’m really more into REAL friends…….

    • Brannon October 8, 2010 at 8:59 am #

      …she wrote on the Internet.

  3. Natalie Witcher October 6, 2010 at 4:05 pm #

    I’ve had conversations with Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt. Good thing they took my advice and called the whole thing off. Too bad Brad did not listen to me about Angelina. You try to warn a guy…sheesh.

    Also, I have already preached world wide with Beth Moore, strangely enough, in the comfort of my own shower. And finally, I’d agree that talking to ones self is most certainly a mark of high intelligence, seeing as how I can keep a conversation going with myself for DAYS regardless of the fact that I am, indeed, cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

    (I think “the pompous windbag” was the funniest point in the whole thing.)

    • Brannon October 8, 2010 at 9:01 am #

      Wow. You’re really weird.

      (He wrote, with no sense of irony or internal conflict whatsoever.)

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