In the spring sunshine, her hair shone honey blond. Over those months from September, my fingers frequently ran through it, the silky strands filling the spaces between my fingers. I thought to myself, she must use decent hair products, none of the cheap crap. Probably something like TRESemmé, the stuff professionals used.
If I was honest with myself, I lost it a little. Or maybe I lost it a lot. Meeting her filled the space in my life which had yawned despite my desperate attempts to fill it with the infinite entertainment presented by my Xbox. I used a MasterCard to woo her, presenting lavish gifts in attempt to seal my place in her thoughts and her heart. A mere month into our relationship, I bought her a Pandora bracelet with a single silver bead in the shape of a heart. I did, after all, want the moment to be an unforgettable one. As I clipped the bracelet around her slender wrist, my lips brushed by her left earlobe, already adorned with a silver Tiffany and Co. earring from her generous parents, and I whispered softly that I loved her.
She stammered that it was too much, but she kept the gift nonetheless, and I loved the way it flashed whenever she raised her wrist.
Her friends hated me.
“He may pretend to be one of us, but he’s not,” her best friend Nat proclaimed. “I think he’s tacky. Fake. And without class. He’s like a fake Fiorelli, made in some foreign sweatshop, just pretending to be a handbag made from fine materials.”
She didn’t defend me, and her eyes filled with worry. She cared too much what other people thought. That was one of her flaws, but I was too blinded with naïve affection to see how it could end us.
Her happiness was my priority so I upped my game. I bought myself new shoes, Doc Martens with sturdy, stitched soles. As the salesman explained, because the sole was attached with stitches as opposed to melded plastic, it could be replaced at a cobbler’s whenever necessary. It was a shoe that could last a lifetime. The leather was full grain, and the padded sides providing more than adequate ankle support. I bought my first pair of raw denim jeans from a trendy online store. The jeans were advertised as being ‘No Brand’, and as promised, when they arrived, stiff and new, they were unmarked by any label or name. I researched raw denim thoroughly and made sure that I never washed them. Occasionally I would place them in sunlight, hoping the UV rays would adequately disperse any bacteria residing there. I bought myself a pair of Ray Bans, and I began to sport crisp Tommy Hilfiger shirts. I wanted to be the ‘cool guy’ for her, someone she could be proud of, someone her friends would like. As you can imagine, I never did win their approval. I could try as hard as I wanted to, but no amount of gadgets and brands could make me the person they wanted me to be.
The expenses became too much. The fine dining, the gifts, the lavish dates, my attempts to impress her; my debts rose, as did my concern. Eventually, I acknowledged that I would have to cut back. I stopped spending and got a job down at the local bowling alley, spending my weekends serving drinks, wiping glasses, and replacing bowling balls instead of taking her out to new, expensive places. She didn’t like the lost time, or the fact that I had stopped spending.
“You were so much more romantic when we first met,” she pouted. “Now we don’t even spend our weekends together and you never buy me any of the sweet little gifts you used to.”
I wanted to explain that the ‘sweet little gifts’ had more than bankrupted me, that I was in fact in quite a lot of debt, but I could never bring myself to confess that I had tried to buy her love.
By autumn, we had reached breaking point.
“Michael, I don’t want to do this anymore. I’m sorry.”
And then she was gone.
The winter seemed unusually long and cold. I continued to work off my debt, but in the evenings, I drank. Seffe, Duvel, Maredsous Blond – mostly pale ales, though I occasionally turned to stronger liquors. It was only in the following spring that my heart would mend.
She had hair as black as a raven’s wing. She must be using a decent product, I thought to myself, probably something light and fruity. Perhaps Garnier Fructis, sleek and shine…
[NOTE: This story is the result of the r/WritingPrompts subreddit from Reddit. The relevant prompt was ‘A love story with as much product placement as possible’.]