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Question One: In a paragraph or two, briefly outline three of your previous romantic
A. He didn’t have me at hello.
1. He was bigger than his photos.
a. Which seemed to me a form of lying.
b. Which seemed like he could crush me.
i. Did I want to be crushed?
2. As we walked to the restaurant I noticed he had a gimp.
a. I wasn’t good at hiding my stare.
b. He noticed me noticing his off-kilter walk.
c. He didn’t explain it.
i. Which seemed to me then also like a form of lying.
ii. Today, I would not think it was lying.
3. When we were seated he said: let’s get the gourmet cheese plate.
a. That’s when he first had me.
b. Later that night he had me.
i. I asked him if he thought less of me because I wanted to have him have me. (He said no.) Weeks later he wanted to introduce me to his out-of-state sister. That’s when
c.he won all of me over.
i. Even the part that was skeptical.
ii. Even the part of me that so desperately wanted to know what happened to his leg.
iii. So when he stopped responding and never called and his sister’s visit came and went I didn’t believe it.
(a) Even when my friend tried to break it to me gently.
(b) Even when she said, sometimes he’s just not that into you, like the movie.
(c) Even when she said, you’ve been had.
A. He would only be seen with me at the café.
1. He’d drink a black coffee.
2. I’d eat a wheat bagel with vegetable cream cheese.
a. If the café ran out of that cream cheese, I’d get the low-fat plain kind instead.
i. They ran out often, because that establishment was notoriously bad at
knowing what quantities of items they needed.
3. I pretended like it was normal, this situation.
a. “This situation” being: us not saying hello to each other when passing in the hall.
b. “This situation” being: us going at it at night.
4. I pretended it was normal that we did it in his friend’s beds instead of my own.
a. He didn’t want to meet my roommates.
b. His room was too far away (he said).
B. The first time we did it, he told me: that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
1. The second time we did it he pushed me into every position conceivable.
a. My body was sore and aching.
i. My legs hurt.
ii. My back hurt.
iii. My arms hurt.
iv. My neck hurt.
b. After we finished, he said: see, now THAT’s the iceberg.
A. I can’t envision his room from any perspective other than from the bed.
1. The bed took up most of the room.
a. His studio apartment was just one room.
2. We spent most of the time in that bed.
3. We would eat in that bed.
a. Often it was pizza.
i. Delivered from the place down Belmont.
ii. I don’t like much cheese on pizza.
(a) Even though I like it on everything else.
(b) He’d eat my cheese, plucking it off my slice.
(1) Like he plucked the guitar strings when he sang the Decemberists songs to me the first time I came over.
b. After we finished eating—my two slices, his four—he’d kiss me, sometimes.
i. His lips would taste like oregano.
ii. His kisses would make me cry.
(a) I cried to him when I had to go back to school.
(1) He sighed really heavily.
(2) The heaviest sigh I’d ever heard.
(3) Maybe it was because I’d watched The Notebook that night.
(4) Maybe it was because I was twenty-one and that’s what you did.
B. We made promises before I went back to school.
1. I drove back to my university feeling calmer.
a. I went to parties and didn’t flirt with any boys.
i. Sometimes I wanted to
ii. All the time I wanted to.
2. He sent me an email.
a. He didn’t even call me on the phone.
b. It said: I’m going to get back with my ex-girlfriend.
c. I opened it when I was in the library. Everyone around me saw my tears.
3. I thought: what am I going to do now.
a. I thought: maybe this is karma.
i. Four years ago I broke up with this senior, A, via a MySpace message.
ii. Four years ago I was a bitch.
b. I thought: screw you.
c. I thought: I’m going to take a nap now.
C. On New Year’s Eve the next year, he texted me.
1. He was drunk.
2. I was drunk.
3. He apologized profusely.
a. He groveled at my feet, really.
b. I milked it for all it was worth.
i. He told me the ex-girlfriend he got back together with “kicked his heart’s ass”. He said he deserved it.
(a) I agreed.
(b) What is a heart’s ass?
c. I told him I was in love now.
i. I wasn’t sure, then, if this was true or not.
ii. I said it anyway.
Jami Nakamura Lin is an MFA candidate in creative nonfiction at the Pennsylvania State University. She is a nonfiction editor at Revolution House magazine.