As the DJ cued up such songs as Joan Jett’s “Love Stinks,” K-Mart handed out blank sheets of paper and permanent markers for those who wanted to shred an ex but hadn’t brought anything to feed into the machine. “Loser! Fake! Likes to Take Advantage of Women! No Morals and No Conscience,” read one note. Others were epithet-laced, pure fury.
“She made me wear underwear, go to the opera, go to church and wear black socks. She picked out my clothes. She read my
e-mails. And all I wanted to do was watch football [and] drink beer,” said a 42-year-old Arling-
ton garbageman, who said the wounds were too fresh to give his name. His friends egged him on as he wrote her name on a piece of paper and shredded it with a look of grim determination.
“I couldn’t be myself,” he said. “I don’t want to get married. I don’t want kids. I never want to have a booster seat in my car. I’m single, and I love it!”
A 31-year-old Maryland woman at the other end of the bar had discovered that her boyfriend of several years regularly cheated on her. “I feel great!” she said after shredding a note about him. “I’m over it!”
“Well, you’re a work in progress,” interjected a happily married friend.
James Alston, 28, of Alexandria, couldn’t decide whether to shred the name of his ex. He thought she was “The One.” But after eight years together, she dumped him recently. His friends had written her name down and urged him to shred her, forget her and move on. But Alston wasn’t ready.
“I’m 50-50 about shredding her,” Alston said. “The past is the past, but we had good times, and that counts more. I believe in love, and if it’s not meant to be, it’s not meant to be. You can’t pressure it.”
As the night wore on, Alston was still undecided. The jilted 31-year-old woman with the cheating ex was busy answering a survey to find the perfect mate. The survey was designed by a man named Jeffrey who had shredded the ex who hadn’t spoken to him in a year. The garbageman left the bar alone, and Patel and Jarrett were laughing and talking to a single man named Bill.
“He’s from one of those K states,” Jarrett said “Kentucky? Kansas?”
Patel smiled. “Maybe my soul mate isn’t in Miami after all!”