I Regret Everything: Reading His E-Mail

“She licked his balls,” I said as I took a sip of coffee and looked away. My eyes darted around the restaurant for a place to focus. It was brunch, and this was brunch time conversation. Kathleen just stared at me. At first she pushed the final bites of her banana pancakes around on her plate, then she summoned our waiter.

“I’ll need another one of these,” she said, as she pointed to her almost empty glass of wine. She took her final gulp. “How do you know this?”

“Because he told me,” I explained, “Friends tell each other that shit.” I was halfway between laughing and crying. “You know what kind of girl licks a guy’s balls on a first meeting?” I asked, “A tart, a stupid Swedish tart with blonde hair and long legs, orange legs… the girl has, like, Lindsay Lohan orange skin.” And it was that fact, right there, that led to the biggest, and pretty much the only regret of my life.

My relationship with Swede has always been one that I can’t explain, define, or even justify to my friends. I’d say it’s complicated, but it really isn’t. I’d say I’m confused by it, but, honestly, I’m not. I could declare him the love of my life, but he’s one of many in a long list that consists of cupcakes, Jamie Bell (currently), and martinis. He’s definitely my soulmate, to a degree, someone with whom I’ve slept with on more than a few occasions, I’ve cried to when things have fallen a part, and relied on to make me relatively happy even with his incessant picking on me.

However, mostly, and predominately, he is – despite our arguments – one of my best friends in the world. I’d go so far as to say that he probably knows me better than most. I can’t lie to him, because he knows it, and I’m a great liar. I don’t have to make comments about the other women in his life because he can already recite what I’ll say – skanky, too young and stupid – and I can take his brutal honesty with the knowledge that deep down, in that cold Swedish heart of his, he does, in fact, love me, care about me and will be the one to shoot the fiery arrow into my floating boat during my Viking funeral.

But the problem I’ve always had is the ability to share my friends. I have gone through my life initially despising other friends and boyfriends of my friends, because I want to keep my loved ones all to myself. I know it’s selfish and it doesn’t make sense. So when Swede spends time with another, my jealousy isn’t based on what the gender of that person is, or even if there was ball-licking involved, it’s merely the fact that he was with someone who wasn’t me. What do you mean you went to brunch with Elena and Amos?! What part of you being MY toy do you not understand?

So when the random Swedish girl crept into my play dates with Swede via gchat and texts, and he’d have to stop to respond with a smirk on his face, a fury was set in motion and the girl in me, the side I try to suppress, went into overdrive.

At the time, Swede was temporarily staying at my apartment and since his computer was unable to get internet, he was using mine. He also made the mistake of leaving his email up.

I have absolutely never, ever been one of those girls. Even when my friends were checking the emails of boyfriends, ex-boyfriends, lovers and roommates, I was always the one who pointed out what an obscene violation of privacy it was. Granted, if anyone were to read my emails, I wouldn’t care because they’d be bored to death, but for some people email is a private world, and a world that should be kept sacred – like a journal or a pretty pink diary with a lock and key.

And since this girl was invading my life, threatening to take away my friend, although she was a continent away, I took it upon myself to read his email, or more specifically, tried to translate it via a free translation website – which of course, is totally useless and basically came up with him running for president or something equally ridiculous because Swede doesn’t have any political ambitions to my knowledge.

All was well and good, but being a ditz, I forgot to close out the translation site and my dirty, horrible secret was revealed. In that moment, I betrayed a trust that I have been trying desperately to earn back the past year and a half of my life. While Swede has zero qualms about helping himself to my computer when he’s over, I’m always careful to ask permission to use his – it’s my little way of saying: “yes, I fucked up, so watch me with a hawk’s eye, if need be.” Every time I sit down at his computer, I’m reminded of the trust I broke in a matter of minutes almost two years ago, and inside I cringe and part of me re-dies.

Swede, despite the drama that has always encircled our friendship, has always been a great friend to me. He has stuck by me when others would not, and even when I betray him, and make a mess of things and we go for months without speaking, it’s always he who makes the first move to come back into my life. I sometimes wonder why when he sits across from me at lunch staring at me in utter shock at some of the things I do or say, but I guess he needs me, if only to prove to himself that there’s someone else in the world just a wee bit wonkier than he.

I will, for the rest of my life, be haunted by my actions that day in my bedroom, with my computer on my lap, feverishly trying to decode an email in a language I’d never understand. It will be, by far, the greatest regret of my life – and not so much because I read someone else’s email, but because I read his email, and considering the huge space he occupies in my life and heart, it was the worst thing I could have done.

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    • JJ

      Well said!
      I have to admit I used to read my psycho roommate’s email and have zero regret because I was convinced she was stealing from me – and she was. But as women we’re prone to curiosity that borders on jealousy and because of that I don’t think you should torture yourself forever over it.

    • Ms. Pants

      Okay, so I’m curious. Are you in love with the Swede?

      • Amanda Chatel

        No, I’m not in love with the Swede. Just because I choose to write about him, like a lot, doesn’t mean love… it means an affinity for his taste in music… or something.

      • Ms. Pants

        I asked because I had a similar friendship with my own Swede, who isn’t Swedish so I will just call him Brandon (because that’s his name). Incredible friendship that transcends any sort of description. People often gave us the O_o looks when we’d insist we were just friends. (I also didn’t want to share him either. Sharing is often quite overrated. Hmph.) I think we could have fallen in love with one another if we’d ever gotten around to it, but honestly–I think what we have is better than that.

        So I get it. I was just wondering where your head was in terms of the whole love thing. It’s clear to me that you two have that sort of connection that defies description. And I think it’s pretty cool that you can both get beyond the email thing, and that you’re specifically conscious and respectful of it when using his computer. He may not say anything about it, but I bet he’s noticed and that it’s appreciated.

      • andrea dunlop

        I also had a Swede once. Totally wasn’t in love with him. Except I was actually…

      • Amanda Chatel

        To be truthful… I’m not sure how to answer your question, so I apologize if I came off too sarcastic. Some days I think I am, other days I’m pretty sure I could easily kill him and drop his body in the East River.

        PS. One of my nicknames is “Ms. Pants,” so I partially want to tackle you to the ground for being another one… like you said “sharing is overrated.”

      • http://bigapplepants.com sarahnoid

        Well, while I am known for being Ms. Pants (or even just Pants), the system wouldn’t let me have it as a username unless it was all one word– mspants, which looks weird to me. So I’ve gone with my other moniker instead so that I don’t have to constantly fill in the doodad. There are a lot of Pants around, I’ve found. And we’re all pretty cool people. But the tackle-instinct always does pop up. Truthfully, I think it kinda sounds fun, but I’m scrappy like that. :-)

    • LF

      What’s this Swede-business about? What’s the point of mentioning nationalities here?

      As if Americans ever were able to distinguis between Sweden and Switzerland…

      *Wondering Swedish citizen*

      • Magpie

        I believe it’s the author’s way of not using his name. A cute pseudonym – do they have those in Sweden, Wondering Swedish Citizen?

        And while *some* Americans may not be able to distinguish the difference between Sweden and Switzerland – although god help them if they don’t – it’s kind of like how some Swedes know that “distinguish” has an “H” on the end – and well, some don’t: ex. YOU.

    • Chats

      I know so many people who have done this…every single one of them regrets it!

    • erin

      i don’t know– i think if that’s really the worst thing you’ve ever done you must be a pretty good person. while it’s a violation of trust and while i can list about ten relationships that have been broken up by this behavior, it’s far better than a lot of the terrible things some people do to each other.

    • Patricia

      I never did this, and to be honest, I was never really tempted. The one time an ex did this, I didn;t feel as much anger as I felt sorry for him. I guess when my parents told me to treat others the way I like to be treated, I took it to my 4 year old heart and it has stuck all these years.

      That is not to say I don’t understand the impulse behind this behavior. I guess it’s the same one that makes us drive by the by the guy’s home at 3 am to see if he’s out. Not that I ever did that. No, that was my sister, we just look really alike.