Photo by Shawna Stanley
Photo by Shawna Stanley

Assisted Living: True Romantic or Homewrecker?

by / Dec. 23, 2015 12am EST

Editor’s note: As frontman of Every Time I DieKeith Buckley has traveled the world gaining insights about the universe. In this bi-weekly column he’ll use those insights to guide our readers with heartfelt and brutally honest advice. Have a question for Keith? Send it to

DEAR KEITH: I’ve recently gotten in touch with a woman whom I had met at a job several years ago. At the time we both had significant others, so we didn’t want to pursue our mutual feelings towards one another for fear of hurting their feelings. During that time she had become pregnant, married and eventually we decided to part ways. Fast-forward to today and she is still married, with two girls. After talking to her, it appears we still have the same feelings towards one another. I am currently in a rocky relationship of three years. My girlfriend has discovered these feelings for this other girl and the other woman’s husband has also, and basically threatens me on a daily basis. But right now they’re still just feelings. We haven’t acted on anything. I probably know the answer to this question, but do I pursue the married woman and take a chance on “true love” and several broken bones from her husband or do I leave the rocky relationship and the married woman and just hop on my motorcycle and, I dunno, move to Seattle? –I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING


Despite an impressive list of situational variables so outrageous that Larry David would smash Jerry Springer’s face with a sledgehammer in Thunderdome just to acquire the rights to your intellectual property, your dilemma is basically a porn spoof of the conflict between “Classic” and “Romantic” schools of thought. I would have used a motorcycle as a perfect example of the battlefield where these two mentalities collide, but your psyche has already recognized that prevailing dynamic so thoroughly that it brought a literal motorcycle into your physical world, which makes this seemingly complex situation as common as a dense, lumpy, human piece of shit at a Donald Trump rally. 

On one side of the white picket fence is your adherence to social values and a need for a very logical progression of carefully measured steps through the overwhelmingly dangerous world of relationships—steps that have been fossilized in time by countless others who went the same way and ones that impart a sense of control over the potential that love and motorcycles have to veer off the road and plummet into total chaos. This “Classic” side of your heart needs to read a definition of something in order to understand it. When you tune and adjust your motorcycle according to the instructions, logic says it will run perfectly because the role of each part is defined according to practicality and the hierarchy is thereby understandable. Rules are in place and they can be applied, more or less, to every single thing we value in order to assure they continue to serve a purpose: motorcycles, people, the Pink, etc. This part of you wants to respect the rationale of your emotional mistress. She is following her instruction manual and you obviously believe you should follow yours too. No respectable person wants to draw ire.

The other side of your subconscious is the one that has seen way too many John Hughes movies and probably likes that fucking Adele song without even grasping that the lyrics reveal her to be be a sarcastic, manipulative, spiteful bitch. The “Romantic” half that sits equipoised to the “Classic” pledges to disavow logical mechanics entirely and burst into this lady’s suburban home at the behest of a reckless heart that might have fluttered when you saw her again. It is the motorcycle out of the shop and on the road. It is primal and desperate and irrational but it is unmistakably full of something that the classical side isn’t: soul. Like Seth MacFarlane’s success, soul utterly defies logic yet it is undeniably there, and for that reason we modern humans have put a lot of stock in it, so much so that people like you will risk broken bones and marriages and jobs just to see where it leads us. 

So, when all the bells and whistles of morality and function are stripped away, your impossible issue can be solved by providing an honest yes or no answer to one very simple question: Wouldn’t jerking off and going directly to sleep be a lot easier than wrecking someone’s family? I mean really. And moving to Seattle? Christ. Go to bed. 

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