The Sentimentalist

“It is life or death if I lose it,” Marv implored.

Tess laughed in her boyfriend’s face. “The only thing life or death to lose is life. This is a paper clip, you can let it go,” she said before sipping her green tea.

“But, it was part of my life, therefore, I’ve lost part of my life, therefore it is life and death.” Marv sat in the leather Starbucks chair across from her, massaging his cup of coffee.

“You can’t care so much about one paper clip.” Tess was tiring of the conversation. Marv was just warming up.

“What about two paper clips, or three, or six, or twelve, or twelve million and six paper clips? When do you start caring?”

“You don’t. They’re paper clips. Let them go. If you care so deeply over paper clips, then, what are you going to do when something really bad happens?”

“Like what?” Marv really couldn’t imagine anything more important right now than the fate of his paper clip.

His girlfriend shook her head, “I’m really not in the mood to get in a bad mood, but, just look around the world and pick your sadness du jour. There are much bigger things to be sad about.” Tess sipped her tea. It tasted slightly sour.

“Are you sad?”


“You don’t look sad.”

“Cause, I’m trying not to think about what’s happening in Japan, Libya, Myanmar, The Ivory Coast, Haiti, great, now I’m really sad.”

“You really don’t look really sad.”

“I’m trying to enjoy my tea.”

“Are you?”

“No, and you’re not helping, freaking out about a paper clip I threw away.”

“I wanted to keep it.”


“Cause, I said, it’s part of me.”

“It’s a paper clip!”

“It’s the paper clip in my life right now. I hate losing it, now I have to go out and find another paper clip.”

“I can’t be having this conversation. This is wearing me out. You are. Wow. Do you know you’re crazy?”

“I’m not crazy.”

“So you don’t know. Ok. Ok, I think I’m going.” Tess stood. She finally found the resolve to get out. She had let Marv be so obsessive compulsive because usually it was directed at her and she found he could be almost excessively loving and romantic. But, then there were times like this.

Marv was up in a shot. “You can’t leave. You’re the you I’ve got right now,” Marv gripped her arm.

“Can I have my arm back, please?” Even as a hostage, Tess was polite. She was rewarded the return of her right arm. “Thank you, now I’ve gotta be going, and-”

“No! You can’t go! Who will be my you?” Marv was on his knees in the middle of Starbucks begging Tess to stay.

Tess could feel the eyes of the other customers bearing into her. “I gotta get going, thanks, though. Have fun.” Then she left, leaving, Marv writhing on the floor, missing his girlfriend and paper clip. He had to have one of them back, so, he got to his feet, and dumped the garbage all over the freshly mopped floor.

“Sir, what the hell are you doing?” Chad, the Starbucks manager tried shouting professionally.

Marv ignored the manager’s shouts and waded through the garbage searching for the paper clip. He found it, but found he felt no better, worse, cause now he’s lost hope of feeling better. He put the paper clip in his pocket, took Tess’s half finished cup of green tea, and walked away from the protests of the cafe manager.

When he got home, he put the cup and the paper clip into a shrine to the past that you and I would see as a big pile of garbage in the closet.


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