The Donut-Cheeseburger Moment

I knew. I knew this was an omen, a sweet and greasy sign that things were over.

There is a moment in all failing relationships when you know things won’t last. For me, that moment was the donut-cheeseburger.

After two and a half years, I was slowly coming to accept that things were stalled. I wanted more, I wanted to change the past, I wanted things that were never going to happen. I wanted to drag things out as long as possible.

And then there was the BBQ.

BBQ’s in San Francisco are different. Owing to the cold and fog, many of our BBQs take place indoors, with only the grill master and a few die-hard cigarette smokers socializing outside.

It was a frigid spring day and everyone was crowded into the kitchen. We’d been drinking beer and snacking on the ubiqutous brie and hummus. A good time, but nothing spectacular. I was making more salad when I heard frantic shouts of “Molly!” Sensing emergency, a burn victim or other certain disaster, I moved toward the cachophony that was heading up the back steps.

It’s Richard*, they shouted. “Richard’s eating a cheeseburger between two Krispy Kremes!” Men were high-fiving, everyone was laughing. Except for me. My first thought was, “Now I know how Marge Simpson feels.” Then I felt my heart sink. I knew. I knew this was an omen, a sweet and greasy sign that things were over. There was no turning back to the time before the donut cheeseburger.

In my circle of friends, this moment of clarity has come to be known as the donut-cheeseburger. My tale is one of consolation and understanding for friends who are at the end of a relationship. I have been introduced to people at parties who ask, “Wait… Molly of the donut-cheeseburger Molly? I love that story! Let me tell you when I knew things were over with my ex…”

I am on friendly terms with my ex and now I can laugh about the donut-cheeseburger. It’s a popular and often-requested parlor story. Sometimes it’s a double-cheeseburger between the donuts, and maybe once it was a bacon cheeseburger. But its role is clear: there is a time when we know things are over, and we cannot ignore the sign.

*name changed to protect the guilty

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