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A Memo I Wish I'd Received
By Jackie Cohen

TO: Jackie Cohen
FROM: Your Neighbor, Justin
DATE: December 24, 2004
RE: Your Sanity

If you see that my light is on tonight DO NOT knock on my door. Even though it is Christmas Eve and you have just returned home from a horrendous party for Jewish singles that your friend dragged you to, and all you're looking for is someone to talk to, DO NOT choose to talk to me. Call a friend instead. You may be aware that like you, I too am Jewish and don't have anything to do tonight, and therefore am home watching It's a Wonderful Life alone. Still, this is no reason to knock on my door.

If you knock on my door, I will be charming. I admit, I will be pleasantly surprised that my neighbor across the hall is bold enough to offer me a late night snack when really all we've had up to that point is polite neighborly banter about our jobs and good neighborhood hardware stores.

DO NOT be wooed by the fact that I know how to make a labor-intensive Caipirinha with Cachaca, of which I happen to have six bottles that I brought back from Brazil that time I led a month-long expedition there. Furthermore, DO NOT be impressed that I led a month-long expedition in Brazil. I am not that cool. If you happened to accept a Caipirinha and find it delicious, DO NOT accept another one. Even if we get along really well and I trick you into thinking I have a sense of humor, it's only because you find most people funny when you're drunk. I am not funny. I'm actually not all that smart.

When I knock on your door the next day, DO NOT get excited. I will be nice to you, but that's only because I want everyone to like me. And if we happen to spend the entire week after Christmas together, running errands, meeting each other's friends, finishing off bottle after bottle of Cachaca, DO NOT think that I am going to be your boyfriend. If, at the end of the week, I invite you to my brother's for New Year's Eve dinner as my date, DO NOT take that as a sign that we are dating.

Even though I may call you ten times a day, PLEASE NOTE that I will not call you on Valentine's Day. I will be no more busy on that day than I am on any other day. After a few days, when you have cooled off from being mad, accept NEITHER my apology NOR my invitation to dinner. And when we go out to dinner and I offer to pay, please notice the passive aggressive manner in which I make you feel guilty when I reach for my wallet.

Even though it is a very couple-y thing to do to go to the gym in the morning together, DO NOT think that we are a couple. Other things that do not mean that two people are a couple include: getting breakfast together every day before work, kissing goodbye when we go our separate ways, waking up at 9 on a Saturday to watch you run a race, meeting your parents, allowing your parents to take me out to lunch, telling you how much I like you, holding hands when walking down the street, sex.

Your friends who tell you that I'm not very interesting are right. Your friends who tell you that I seem like a nice guy are also right. But please consult a dictionary for the definition of "seem." Your friends who tell you that you should stop spending so much time with me are so very right.

And when I tell you that I have to go out to dinner with a friend of my mom's daughter who's visiting for a week from Brazil, it would be advisable to think something of it. And when I tell you that she's a model, don't think that just because my hair is beginning to gray, I'm short, and have a large gut that she won't be interested and won't be a threat to you.

Avoid spending time with me if, in the future, you DO NOT want to associate the following things with me: the café on 18th street, the framed photograph I took of the view out your window that's now on your wall, the Nike Dunks that I convinced you to buy, your favorite show The Office, anytime someone quotes or mentions The Office, anytime you are in an office, the nation of Brazil, your apartment.

And when I tell you that I booked a trip to Brazil, please be sure to end it with me right there. In case you fail to do so then, another good time to do so would be after I show you the Tiffany's heart necklace that I'm taking to Brazil, which is not just a house gift. When I return from Brazil three weeks later, DO NOT forget how nice it was not to have me around. In case you do forget, I will be sure to remind you with my announcement that the model from Brazil is going to be visiting me for a few weeks.

And a few days into her visit, when you realize that there's nothing you can do about it, that it's just the three of us in the only two apartments on the third floor of our three-floor walk-up, DO NOT open your door anymore when you hear me walking up. Turn your TV up loud. Force yourself to stay out later than usual. Spend a long time shopping at the all-night deli, if necessary. Invite guy friends over for dinner who have loud voices. Or, in a pinch, order food and make sure the delivery guy talks loudly. Because when those few days turn into a few weeks, and those few weeks turn into a few months, and those few months turn into live-in model girlfriend, you can't say you didn't get the memo.

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