Breaking up with My Sidebar Ads

by a contributor

a brief encounter by Lucy Huber

Around the 2nd or 3rd year I had been listed as “In a Relationship” on Facebook, the website started to get impatient about my marital status. I imagined a man sitting behind a giant switchboard, because that’s my understanding of the internet, carefully selecting all the wedding dresses and engagement rings I might be interested in. There were ads for antique wedding dresses, custom made jewelry, linked silver wedding bands. When my relationship status never changed, the man behind the switchboard started trying to tempt me with babies. He thought I wanted to see as many ads as possible featuring little cherub cheeked things. Sometimes they were normal babies, sometimes they were strangely tiny babies, propped in the palm of someone’s hand, sometimes they were lifelike ultrasounds of not yet born babies. But one thing was for sure: the man behind the Facebook switchboard was sure my boyfriend and I were going to get married, settle down, and produce newborns.

When my boyfriend and I broke up two months ago, all the wedding dress ads disappeared. There were no more sparkling engagement rings sprinkled on the right-hand corner of my newsfeed, no more palm-sized babies. The imaginary man who once had so much confidence in my relationship, started to run pictures of good looking men in flannel shirts, perched on barstools with captions that said things like, “Looking for Wilmington singles?” I was glad the he wasn’t too disappointed, he had faith that I could start anew. But I wasn’t so sure. When you break up with someone you imagined a future with, you lose so many little things you took for granted. That red pie pan we bought together, someone to sing Johnny Cash to my June Carter in karaoke, reasons to go out for a fancy dinner on a Tuesday. I missed the wedding dress ads. It was always nice to think, even though my boyfriend and I had barely talked about marriage, that somewhere out there someone was imagining that life for us. An imaginary man was watching our relationship grow and rooting for us to succeed. Now we had let him down. Of course, there was no man, only a series of logarithms based on my age, my status, the secret times I browsed for wedding dresses online. And now just me, my new single men on barstools, and all the little things I lost.

Lucy Huber is a third year MFA candidate and teaching assistant at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She is studying Creative Nonfiction.