Image by Reem Ali-Adeeb
Cynthia finds her boyfriend Max’s journal. Hilarity ensues.
Performed by Cynthia Lotze and Peter Lang-Stanton. Written by Cynthia Lotze, Peter Lang-Stanton, and the L+R staff. Inspired by The Perfect Woman by Jess Shane, which originally aired on the CBC’s Love Me podcast.PLAYLIST
Artist – Title – Album
Fennesz – Tom – Station 1
Peter Lang-Stanton – Bokeh – Soundcloud
Sasha Funke – Mango – Mango
CFCF – Orage – The River EP
Ursula K. LeGuin & Todd Barton – A Music of the Eighth House – Music and Poetry of the Kesh
Lucrecia Dalt – Shergotite Rain – Anticlines
Cynthia: Hi this is Cynthia and I have a secret. So I was cleaning up in my boyfriend’s home office the other day and I found his journal and I know I’m not supposed to read it but I guess, you know, I was curious when I found it so I did, I read it. And a lot of it was this like supercritical stuff about me. I mean it wasn’t major, but, I think that’s not really the secret. I read it and I thought about it and I think the real secret is I’ve decided to just kind of run with it. Maybe use the journal as a guide to sort of change myself for the better. And I guess that sounds kind of crazy, but I have good reasons for wanting to do this, and anyway, I hope this secret is secretive enough for you. And if you want to call me back you can reach me at 804-(beep)-66. Love this show. Bye.
Nick van der Kolk: From Radiotopia, you’re listening to Love and Radio. I’m Nick van der Kolk. Today’s episode: Points of Egress.
Nick: Hi, is this Cynthia?
Cynthia: Yeah hi.
Nick: Hi this is Nick van der Kolk from Love and Radio. How are you?
Cynthia: Oh, hi. Haha.
Nick: You left me a voicemail.
Cynthia: Uhuh, yup, I did that.
Nick: Is this an okay time to talk?
Cynthia: Yeah, yeah it’s fine oh, I left you a call back number right and I hear you are with the calling. I was just getting some stuff done.
Nick: Cool, so is it, I guess first of all is it okay that I record the call.
Cynthia: Yeah, yeah, no it’s totally fine. Are you recording now?
Nick: I am.
Cynthia: Aha, so, haha. Glad you asked, okay.
Nick: I was just wondering if I could ask you a couple questions about the voicemail. What’s your boyfriend’s name?
Cynthia: Max is his name.
Nick: Okay. And how long have you guys been together?
Cynthia: Uh, we met about a year ago, and we moved in about four months ago, I guess kind of quickly, but it just was kind of right and things are great. I think there’s just been a couple things that are getting to Max maybe.
Nick: Yeah well I guess that’s what I was curious about, if you could kind of talk a little bit more specifically about what those things are.
Cynthia: Oh, um.
Nick: I mean, would it be okay if you read some of it if it’s…
Cynthia: Like from the journal?
Nick: Um yeah. Only if you’re comfortable with it.
Cynthia: Yeah, I think it’s fine, it’s fine. I’ve just gotta get up and go get it. Okay. Um. Bear with me here. Alright, so… Here we go, here’s the thing. So some of them are just like really small things like, he says this I mean it’s, this is legitimate, “She does this one thing. I have a calendar in the kitchen, she’s welcome to use it, I told her that, so she’s taken to writing in her Zumba classes but she takes up the whole square. It’s at the same time every week. My question is why does she need the whole square?” I mean, that’s legitimate. But like other stuff, so this entry from July, so he says “Grey day, woke up early, a low ceiling of clouds on the rooftops.” Some like German, he’s German. “I went for a run across the river and back before Cynthia woke up, she was tossing, that’s why I kept waking up all night. Sleep is fragile enough as it is, I wake myself up all the time, it’s only two months since she moved in and I’m not used to someone else waking me up too. I said Queen when she moved in, she said let’s try the full. Hmmm.”
Nick: Is that news to you?
Cynthia: It is! Yeah, I guess maybe I thought he was getting up in the morning to run because he enjoyed it. And like maybe that’s not true. Yeah. So I have to figure out what to do with that.
Nick: Is there any part of you that regrets having read it.
Cynthia: No, not really. I mean I don’t know, if you were me don’t you think you would have read it?
Nick: I, I mean, to be totally honest I don’t think I would.
Cynthia: Mm. Well.
Nick: I don’t mean that in a judgy way.
Cynthia: No, it’s fine, I get it.
Nick: I had a girlfriend in college, and this is the true story, but I had a girlfriend in college who was cheating on me and was acting really weird. She would just seem very distracted and like kind of emotionally distant, and she would ask me to leave the room and then like invite him over and they would have sex with each other. So we were like–
Nick: Yeah yeah yeah, that was pretty, pretty rough.
Cynthia: Sorry, there’s a cat here if you were picking up the meow.
Nick: Oh, I didn’t hear it but–
Nick: That’s fine. But anyway, yeah so long story short, like she was acting super weird and then at one point I found her diary. In retrospect I wonder if it was one of those situations where she left it out in order for me to find. And I had a real reason cause I was like what the hell is going on in this relationship, why does she just feel so distant. But I didn’t, I didn’t do it, and I couldn’t tell you why, it just sort of was like, well that doesn’t…
Nick: And it’s funny, cause I’m someone who like very, I like having clearly like a, somebody who set up a Secrets hotline, I like hearing–
Cynthia: Yeah, I was gonna say–
Nick: I like hearing people secrets. And I think it’s important for people to unburden them, but for some reason it felt like that wouldn’t have helped the situation or something. But maybe, or maybe I’d be afraid of what I’d find, you know.
Cynthia: Yeah, no, I get that. The one thing I would say, I don’t feel bad about reading his diary, but I think that I would like to see if we can do like some calibrating of this relationship via me trying to shift some of these things. George Costanza does the opposite of it all. Nothing else has worked.
Nick: Sorry, what is that?
Cynthia: Do you know this episode Seinfeld?
Nick: I mean I know, I know of Seinfeld but I don’t know what you’re referring to.
Cynthia: Okay, so, this episode of Seinfeld where George decides that everything he’s ever been in his whole life, like all the decisions he makes oh, and all the actions he takes have all been wrong and led to an unsuccessful life oh, so he is going to by virtue of that do the exact opposite. And it starts to be outrageously successful. In some sort of like related way, I’ve had all these relationships that just haven’t worked out, and I’m really happy and fulfilled in this one so I’m kind of willing to take the notes. I’m a little bit older and I want this to work out. So I’m in. Does that make sense, it sounds nuts to you right? Haha.
Nick: I mean, I assume you’re not planning to tell him.
Cynthia: No, mm mm.
Nick: I mean doesn’t, isn’t there an onus on him to bring these things up to you?
Cynthia: Sure. Sure, but this is way easier.
Nick: You feel like you’re looking out for your happiness too?
Cynthia: I think so, yeah, yeah I am happy and while like some of this stings, I’m really happy in this relationship I think it works, it’s functional for me, I’d like to make it more functional for him, I hope it, I hope it is.
Nick: Moving forward, like how do you imagine that this is all going to pan out? Like what’s your, what’s your hope, what’s your goal? Are you going to keep, are you going to keep reading them?
Cynthia: Yeah. Yeah yeah yeah, I’m going to. Um, I mean, come on, the ultimate goal is that my life ends up perfect and we’re together and all the things I want become true. But like realistically, I’m not an idiot, I know that that’s not necessarily how things are going to work out oh, and I really I think that ultimately what I get is learning how to live with somebody better, like being a better person. There’s some really concrete ways that I can get better.
Nick: We’ve talked a bunch about like kind of, your relationship through the lens of having complaints. I mean you keep saying that you’re happy, and I’m curious sort of like what are the positive aspects of the relationship?
Cynthia: Oh yeah. Um, we have really fun time together. Nothing we do is boring when the two of us are there, we can make something interesting out of anything, and it’s easy. You know, it’s easy to laugh with him. I really appreciate that.
Nick: So, can you give me an example of a good time you had together?
Cynthia: Um, sure. Um, I guess I’d say… I think it was our second date. So I wanted to find this place, it’s called the lost city of Richmond– we live outside of Richmond Virginia. So during World War II, the city in order to sort of build a, or like create a decoy for itself in case, like in case we got bombed, they built this like perfect replica of the city right outside of Richmond and there were like structures and a whole grid of streets and buildings and lights and the whole thing and there are ruins of it left out in the woods allegedly. So we went to look for it.
Nick: And did you find it?
Cynthia: Yeah, we did. I mean, there was like some cement and some falling down structures and whatever, but we found it. And it was great. It was great, we had a great time, every minute of it was lovely. I think that’s where we fell in love.
Nick: So do you mind if we just sort of check back in in a few weeks and sort of see how things are going?
Cynthia: Yeah, yeah, sure of course.
Nick: And um, I just had this idea, I’m just thinking out loud but I’m just wondering if there might be a way that like maybe I could interview him as well, is that something you’d be comfortable with?
Cynthia: Um, well, I mean you wouldn’t tell him but I’ve been reading the diary, would you?
Nick: No, no, of course, I just want to get a better sense of kind of how he’s experiencing it. I mean he is the other half in this equation, you know.
Nick: Again, like if you don’t feel comfortable with it, don’t worry about it.
Cynthia: Okay. Yeah, yeah. I think that would be okay.
Nick: So, maybe you could just float the idea of like, I mean is he familiar with the show?
Cynthia: No, not in the least.
Nick: Okay, um, you can tell him something along the lines of like, this podcast to listen to is doing a show about relationships and this guy wanted to interview you about the experience of like, moving in together.
Cynthia: Yeah, okay. Great.
Nick: Cool. Okay. Um, well let’s, we’ll check back in in a few weeks and, yeah, good luck.
Cynthia: Alright. I’ll talk to you soon.
Max: Hello, this is Max.
Nick: Hey, Max this is Nick van der Kolk from the podcast Love and Radio. How are you?
Max: Uh, hi, good, good.
Nick: Cynthia told you I was going to be giving you a ring?
Max: Yes, she did mention something of like a radio, like this is a, a live thing or like you gonna edit this or what?
Nick: Oh no, the, so it’s um. Do you listen to podcasts?
Max: Uh just, Comedy Bang Bang.
Nick: Okay, so yeah, it’s, I mean it’s kind of like that.
Max: Uh, hey. [dog barking] Hey, come out here. Come on here. Okay, sorry about that.
Nick: That’s fine, um, so how, how did you guys meet?
Max: So, Cynthia, we met a little less than a year ago. I asked her out, well she said yes. Like I was very attracted to her on the first date, but I wasn’t really over the moon about it. She sends me a text like one week later, I haven’t heard much, and she asks me if I want to go find the lost city of Richmond. It’s like a fake City in the woods. And so we meet up and we drive back through the small roads, it’s very rural back there, we start walking, just through the woods, and we get to this road with overgrowth on it and it’s just like going straight out into the woods, we’re just like talking and laughing the whole time even though it’s like quite creepy and I have no idea where we are. We sit down on these tires, she takes out a thermos with a little bit of tea that she brought, roobis, rooibos, I don’t know how to, say it, but it was just like so good. Then she says, you know what I’m imagining, I’m imagining it’s World War II, you are like a German air force fighter pilot who was bombing the fake City, but then you got shot down, but you survived, and I was out in the woods like collecting sticks or something, and you jumped out from behind a tree and captured me because you thought the Americans would come for you, and I’m your prisoner, but every once in a while you like stop against a tree and you cough, and there’s blood coming out, and you’re like really hurt from your crash, and you think I’m your captive, but I could totally get away if I wanted to, and I’m totally like Stockholm Syndrome for you, and like loving it. We laughed so hard at this. And I just thought like wow, I’m really into this girl, like I think I love her.
Nick: Wow, that’s amazing.
Max: You think that’s, you think it’s funny?
Nick: It’s just, it’s a really beautiful story.
Max: Hmm. She, she–
Nick: So how, so where did–
Max: She’s just like so, she’s so, she doesn’t, like she breaks rules but she doesn’t think makes sense. She just like doesn’t care about crossing some lines, and like I really appreciate that.
Nick: So like how did you, how did you move from that into moving in together?
Max: Well, after that, we’re seeing each other like, I don’t know, three, four times a week. And then what happened was her lease coming up. It’s only been like 5 months or 6 months or something, but, she says to me one night, we’re cooking dinner, what if I just move in here? And this is what I mean, like, she just says that and it’s like in one way like totally bold, but it’s also like so refreshing. She’s just so honest like that. And so I say, uh, well I have to think about it but, I think you’re right, I think yeah. Let’s do it.
Nick: And how’s it been?
Max: So far great. I haven’t really lived with a girlfriend before. I have to say it’s like quite smooth, and it’s great. I love it.
Nick: So what, what have been, like have there been any challenges or, I guess that’s too strong a word but, have you had to make adjustments to living with a girlfriend for the first time?
Max: Not really, no.
Nick: But I mean, there’s gotta be something where you had to sort of change your behavior or your lifestyle, I mean especially if she moved into your apartment, right?
Max: In terms of like, I don’t know, all these kind of problems that people have, it’s not really a problem.
Nick: Well I, like I know, for myself, when I first moved in with my now wife then girlfriend, she turns around a lot at night. We ended up having to get like a bigger bed. Like anything like that?
Max: Uh, no.
Nick: Okay, um. Interesting, um, so just a back up a bit. You had mentioned sort of like one of the things that you like about Cynthia is that she kind of crosses boundaries, and I’m wondering if there are other examples in your experience where that’s occurred.
Max: Um… Well… Okay, so maybe I shouldn’t tell you this, I don’t know, but there’s one thing. Um, I don’t know if, like this something she’s going to hear, or what, what is?
Nick: I mean, if you want to speak off the record, I mean that’s fine by me.
Max: Yeah, we can, yeah we can do that. At least, I’m not sure, so yeah let’s, let’s off the record. Uh, recently I found that she is reading my journal.
Max: Yes. I think so.
Nick: When did you find that out?
Max: So I write in my journal every day in my office downstairs, I just, I have a desk, and the journals always in the drawer on the left. I came home one day from the studio, and I found like, it was a little bit diagonal, and I thought like, that’s so weird because I always usually like push it to the back and so it’s square, the edges are square with the drawer. The real thing is that sometimes I just need to like take a break from work, go for walks, and I will pick up different leaves that I find. And so I, I like put these to flatten them in the pages of the book. One of these leaves was just out in the drawer. And I thought like, okay, I definitely would not do that. So, definitely somebody touched it or somebody broke in and read my journal, or it’s Cynthia. And so I just know she’s reading it.
Max: But, but the, the next thing is that she’s reading it, and then she’s doing what I write.
Nick: Like what?
Max: Okay, this is just like a very small thing, but I like to say very organized, and I have one calendar I’ve always had, it’s right in the kitchen. Cynthia is moved in, she takes Zumba class, so she has this class like same time every week. Every time she has it she writes huge letters like Zumba. She does like Zum-ba, like she can’t even write the entire word, she has to like dash and write the -ba below the Zum. It takes up the whole square, so it’s like okay, that’s the only thing that’s happening that day I guess. I wrote about it, now the calendar on Wednesdays it’s like completely open. Another thing is like, if we’re going up an escalator or like a walkway at the airport, when she gets off she just stops like right there when the escalator ends, and then it’s like a pile up on the highway of cars. So I like wrote about this time we were at the airport and she did it. Now she goes up escalators and she walks like a few feet to the right and she doesn’t block it anymore. Yeah before she just wasn’t aware of points of egress.
Nick: I mean the way that you’re talking about it, it sounds kind of like you view this as a positive thing.
Max: Oh yeah, of course it’s a positive thing. It’s actually like a superpower for our relationship.
Nick: How so?
Max: Okay, how can I explain it. In a relationship, you have two kinds of problems, you have really big, really deep problems, and then you have little shit problems that are totally nothing. but these little problems that are not big enough to bring up and have it be a fight, can actually grow over time and make a very dark relationship and weigh it down. Cynthia and I have this back door so that I can write all these problems and then they’re just solved. Like magic. Our relationship has never been stronger because of it. And also, the things that I write are better for Cynthia. They’re things that she can improve herself with. So, it’s really great for everybody.
Nick: But do you not feel any sense of violation that she’s been looking for your private diary?
Max: No. I mean at first of course it’s a little bit shocking but I’m very confident and she’s choosing thing to do it and now we have this happy perk but all these problems are being solved so, I think it’s fine.
Cynthia: Oh hey Nick, how are you?
Nick: I’m good, um–
Nick: So, I just wanted to see kind of how things are going with the project.
Cynthia: Yeah, I’m kind of excited to tell you about it. It’s great, it’s wonderful, we’ve gotten to this place where everything’s smoother and more efficient. We’re being like nicer to each other. Like the other night I came in from a late seminar, I was just like wrung out, I came to the door, and he had been making this beautiful curry dinner all day long. We just sat down and had this beautiful meal together. And it was like we held hands, and it felt new. I’ve gotten more intuitive, I kind of now know what he needs before he tells me in any way at all.
Nick: So you don’t need the tire anymore, is that what you’re saying?
Cynthia: Oh no, definitely still using the diary.
Nick: I mean if things are going well why do you feel the need to read the diary?
Cynthia: I think there’s still work to be done, right? Things are going so well this way, why would I sacrifice that, why would it just say oh I’m done drawing on this unbelievably Rich resource that makes my relationship wonderful? No. I’m definitely going to keep reading the diary.
Nick: So what kind of stuff is in the diary now?
Cynthia: Well I can, it’s in the other room, if you wanna actually hear it?
Nick: Yeah, if you don’t mind.
Cynthia: Okay. Alright. Alright. Let me find it. Alright so, this is part of an entry where I was in the kitchen and he says um, “I bent down to get the blender out of the cupboard, I noticed her unshaven legs.” I don’t shave my legs. “I know she doesn’t shave her legs, I found it interesting when I first met her, but the novelty has been slowly wearing off, and in that moment I felt, I hate to say it, but disgust. It was the first time I was actually disgusted by something about Cynthia.” I think when I first read that, I mean it’s not like it didn’t hurt. But this is absolutely something that is negotiable for me, and it’s just such a small thing, it’s kind of a pain in the ass, but like what isn’t about being in a relationship with another human, you just have to have these negotiable moments. Also, you know the added benefit is that he’s more interested in sex when I have shaved legs, so it’s fine like, the, the ensuing entry after that, like my results on this, would you like me to read them?
Nick: Uh, yeah, sure.
Cynthia: He says “We got into bed later and she slid her legs over mine smooth and silky, had sex and went to sleep.” It was easy, it was simple, he was happy, and I was happy too. So yeah.
Nick: When you go back to the diary, is there, I mean is there any indication but you’re making headway? What do you feel like the number of complaints have gone down or anything like that?
Cynthia: Um, well, so I think I take issue with your premise. I think I wouldn’t use the word complaints. These are legitimate issues he has, so I don’t really see them as complaints.
Nick: What’s the word, if we’re not gonna use complaints, what word should I use? Areas of improvement?
Cynthia: I think reflections is probably a good way to think about it. Yeah, that’s how I’m going to look at it.
Nick: Okay. Reflections. Alright. Any other reflections?
Cynthia: Let’s see. Um, hmm. Here’s one, I’ve got it. “I cannot stand Jess. She’s superficial and obnoxious I can’t seem to control how loud she talks–”
Nick: Sorry, who’s Jess?
Cynthia: She’s one of my closest high school girlfriends. We’ve been friends forever.
Nick: Okay, sorry, sorry keep going.
Cynthia: “She can’t seem to control how loud she talks. She’s a dangerous combination of ignorant and opinionated. I know that she and Cynthia went to high school together, other than that they have nothing in common. The worst part about her is how much Cynthia changes when she’s around. As soon as Jess is here it’s like Cynthia gets a complete brain transplant, I don’t know if Cynthia is returning to her high school personality or what, but I don’t recognize her at all. Cynthia feels it too, I can tell. As soon as Jess leaves, without fail Cynthia has something bad to say about Jess. I see that as an obvious sign that a friend is no longer for you. But whenever I offer this to Cynthia she says something about knowing each other forever and drops it.
Nick: Well, so what, what do you do with that?
Cynthia: I mean, I have been coming around to how does and I don’t really work anymore either. I don’t think it’s good for me either, and I think Max is really interested in what benefits me. He says I see that as an obvious sign that a friend is no longer for you oh, and I think he’s right.
Nick: So, so you’re, you’re not hanging out with Jess anymore.
Cynthia: No, not really. I mean, we’ve been friends for a long time but sometimes things have just run their course.
Nick: Did you have a conversation with her, or like how did that?
Cynthia: She doesn’t really need to have conversations like that, that’s not really our relationship. She’ll just kind of get the hint. You know, I canceled a plan with her the other day. I wasn’t worried about it or anything. And I think she’ll understand, I need to spend more time on my relationship. You know, it’s been a long time so I think she’ll be fine.
Nick: So you’re gonna ghost on her basically it sounds like.
Cynthia: I mean, that may, that may be how it looks, I don’t think that she’ll take it that way though.
Nick: So where do you see things going from here?
Cynthia: Well, who can ever know, right, we can’t say these things, but I do know that it is working. I’ve never been in something that operates so well. This is a well-oiled machine. I can see, I mean I don’t wanna say, I don’t want to say necessarily that we will definitely get married, but I’m starting to see that that might happen. I’m happy. I’m just really happy.
Nick: Hey Max, it’s Nick.
Max: Hey Nick, how’s it going?
Nick: I’m good, is now an okay time to talk?
Max: Uh yeah, it’s okay I’m just putting in some laundry in the wash. Okay.
Nick: Yeah so, it’s been a few weeks since we last spoke, um, I just wanted to see how things were going with Cynthia.
Max: Mm. It’s um, not great actually.
Nick: Like she’s not following the journal entries anymore? Or what’s um?
Max: No, no, the opposite. So whatever I’m writing, she’s doing that thing. Like of course, I’m doing these journals and at first it’s going great and we don’t have to have arguments or anything, it’s just like points of egress, perfect. We can go up escalators all over town and there’s no problem. She takes a side step to the right and everything’s great. I was writing about her hair on her legs becoming quite furry. Just the next day immediately, like she is just, it’s just smooth, like baby’s bottom smooth legs. And her friend Jess, who I just think is the Mephistopheles incarnate, I write something about her and she’s not coming around anymore. And I’m thinking like it’s, this is great, this is exactly what I want, I think that woman Jess is just toxic sludge, but I’m also thinking, is Cynthia doing this because she thinks it’s good or does she, she just following orders? Does she have any will of her own?
Nick: Do you feel like she has agency in this? Like does she have a will of her own?
Max: That is a really good question. And I don’t know the answer. So what I did is designed a little experiment to find out. I asked myself the question, can I get Cynthia to do something that I don’t even care about. Something totally nonsense, just see if she’ll do it. Like I write something in my journal, blah blah blah, I went to work, everybody knows you shouldn’t drink water with dinner. I want to find out if she’s going to drink water with dinner or not drink. So it’s the next night, she just till 6:30, and I decide to get home a little bit early, I stop at the grocery store and buy stuff for chicken curry, and I make it with like extra salt, like it’s so so salty, just so she would be a little more thirsty than usual. So she comes home, serve everything, and I bring the plates, set them down on the table. We sit down oh, and she doesn’t go get water. I don’t know if I can be so clear about it to you, but she drinks every night, like she always drinks a glass of water from the same glass every night. The night after I write it, she doesn’t drink. I ask myself, okay now I need to go even more. Actually remembered once I watched a Tedx Talk about an experiment, um, they put people in a dark room or like a cave or something for months without sunlight, an interesting thing with that without sunlight, people actually go to a 25 hour day, not a 24-hour day. And so I thought like okay, this could be perfect. And so I write it in the journal, and I write, oh this is a very good schedule for, especially for women. And I just still can’t believe this, but she does it. She actually starts doing it the next day, she goes to bed one hour later, and waking up 1 hour later, and she’s completely, her day is shifting, one hour, one hour, one hour. And until she is coming home late, she’s eating dinner at 3 a.m., she’s exhausted, she has huge bags under eyes, but she just keeps doing it. I just am so fascinated by this, that she’s actually doing this. So.
Nick: So and, so where do you go from here, I mean, are you guys going to break up?
Max: No, no. No, we’re not going to break up. I just have to see where it goes. Do you understand?
Nick: What, what do you mean? What’s next then?
Max: Well, what’s next, Nick. This journal entry will be about how you can live perfectly fine with only one kidney, and something like hundreds, 20,000 people need kidney every year in the us alone, and it’s totally fine you can live with only one perfectly healthy, you just can’t drink so many Manhattans as Cynthia drinks. But otherwise it’s a very good thing to do, don’t you think?
Nick: So, you’re going to get her to donate a kidney.
Max: That’s right. And the best part about it is that if she doesn’t do it, then we know that she has limits, that she has self-respect, that she can know what’s good for her, and then I think that, maybe we have a future. But if she does do it, then I know that she has absolutely no self respect. We can’t be together, no matter what. And somebody gets a kidney, so everybody wins.
Nick: Cynthia, how are you?
Cynthia: I’m okay. I mean, yeah, I’m okay.
Nick: Why, why, what’s going on?
Cynthia: Uh, well. Things are getting kind of weird here, to tell you the truth. Okay, well, let me catch you up. So after I hung up with you last time, I thought about it a lot, all the things we had been talking about, and just sort of like the impact of going about this project. I started to have second thoughts about it. Like things like, later that night Jess texted me, it’s like the fourth missed text. I felt unkind, and also not good for me to dismiss a lifelong friendship. The whole thing started to feel wrong. So while I was feeling like that, I went to the diary a couple days later, and there was this entry about, you’re not supposed to drink water with meals. And it was bizarre, it was arbitrary, and I was already, you know like ready to be done with this. But then I started thinking more about it, it wasn’t just that it’s arbitrary, it doesn’t make sense with Max. He’s like this incredibly scientific empirical person, he’s not into this pseudoscience stuff. So I, I was really kind of tripped up on that. And I thought, I just thought this is gotta be over, I’m done with this, it’s gone to a weird place. But then I had this other thought. It felt planted. Like he was doing it intentionally.
Nick: You think he might know that you’re reading this stuff.
Cynthia: Oh, I know he knows. Because, okay so, what happened next was that, I went to the diary again a little while later. He had put this ridiculous thing about a 25 hours sleep cycle in, and he absolutely was putting it in there to fuck with me. Like no doubt about it. And that really changed everything, and I was pissed. So I decided to do it.
Nick: So you’re doing this sleep cycle thing.
Cynthia: Yeah. I’m doing it right now.
Cynthia: You know, because I wanna see how far he’s going to go.
Nick: You wanna see, I don’t understand.
Cynthia: Well, so, I’m never, bear with me. I’m never going to get this kind of opportunity, right?
Cynthia: Yeah, like–
Nick: What do you mean?
Cynthia: To really get to the truth of someone. Like eliminate the fantasy. Does that make sense?
Nick: I don’t understand what that means.
Cynthia: Well, so everybody’s got two selves, and the obvious one is the one someone falls in love with, right, the fantasy. Then there’s the one you hide, right? We all have this idea that the fantasy is the truth. But it’s not. We’re all just base at our core, and we agree to pretend like that’s not true. I think if I play along with Max, I got this chance to see what’s really true in him. And, yeah.
Nick: Like why do you want to see that though?
Cynthia: Because it’s actual authenticity. And seeing that about someone would be really beautiful in a way. I can’t back away from that.
Nick: Even if it’s also fucked up.
Nick: And, and that was, that was worth this, I’m not even clear on the, what this whole sleep cycle thing involves. But like I imagine it was like pretty disruptive to your life.
Cynthia: Uh, you know, I mean, it’s totally inconvenient, of course it is, every day I’m one hour more out of step with everyone else. But it’s not like as bad as it might sound. Obviously I’m still teaching, I’m not a crazy person. I’ve got a cot in my office, and I can just wake up, go teach, come back, get into my sleep cycle, so it’s working out.
Nick: So where’s the boundary for you? Like how far are you willing to take this?
Cynthia: I mean, I don’t know. I don’t know cause I don’t know what he’s capable of. The whole thing is so fascinating, and the contrast between the person I have been with and this person kinda, you talk to him, right? I mean, did you get any sense that there was this dark streak, like this other side? What do you think he’s capable of?
Nick: I mean, I. I don’t, I don’t know how far he’s willing to take things but… I mean certainly the fact that he knows you were reading the diary and he was putting stuff into it intentionally, like that’s a, I don’t know that’s a pretty big red flag.
Cynthia: But, from your conversations, I mean.
Nick: Yeah. Well, um. I mean he may have mentioned something about, the fact that he, that he knew you were reading it.
Cynthia: Were you planning on telling me?
Nick: Um, I mean I, I think in this kind of role, as a journalist, confidentiality is really important, and I didn’t feel like it was my place to…
Cynthia: Oh so, you’re a professional, excellent. How long have you known?
Nick: Just. I mean, it did come out in the first conversation that I had with him. Yeah.
Cynthia: So, what does Max know? You know what, never mind. I’ll ask him myself.
Nick: Cynthia, can you stay on the line for just one second? Cynthia?
Max: Hey Nick, it’s Max here. Just wanted to call and give you a little bit of an update. I talked to Cynthia last night for a long time, we stayed up late and figured out what our problem is. Do you know what it is? Our problem is you. We had absolutely nothing before you start to call and ask questions, and try to manipulate us and be a wedge between us. I don’t know what kind of show you’re having there come up but I’m sorry for you that it didn’t work. I love Cynthia. I love her so much. And she loves me. Our relationship is better than ever. Don’t call here, don’t call me, don’t call Cynthia. Good luck. And bye-bye, Nick.
Nick: That’s it for Love and Radio. This episode was performed by Peter Lang-Stanton and Cynthia Lotze. It was written by the performers and the Love and Radio staff. It was produced by Julia DeWitt. The story was inspired by The Perfect Woman, produced by Jess Shane, which originally aired on the CBC podcast Love Me. You can find it wherever you get your podcasts. Special thanks also to Mira Burt-Wintonick. Love and Radio is produced by Steven Jackson and Julia DeWitt. We are production of Radiotopia, whose executive producer is Julie Shapiro. I’m Nick van der Kolk, thanks for listening.