Dear Cordelia,

I know - I just know - you think I'm a world-class bitch. That I walked out on him at the worst possible moment. That I made him miserable.

You'd be zero for three there: I've never been successfully bitchy, he pretty much booted me out, and I'm positive he was too busy being miserable about you guys (not to mention your once and future boss) to spare a lot of anguish after our breakup. I'm betting I got one night, max. Maybe less if he had to run out and save the world some more.

You, on the other hand, are extremely successful at being bitchy; I think that's what it takes to hold your own among a group of men, however well-intentioned. Sooner or later, they all think they know what's best for you better than you do. My father certainly did. And Wesley was just starting to think that way, which is why I didn't fight the whole breakup thing harder. "You're going to break up with me" is like a spell or a summoning: it comes true when you say it. Besides, I liked the idea of a genuine, adult relationship complete with dignified mutual breakup. I just didn't realize it would hurt so much.

Don't tell him that. He doesn't like hurting people; that's one of the things that attracted me to him, since most of the people in my life have been just the opposite. I don't like hurting people, either, which is why I'm not sending this letter to him - I'm still a little too angry, and I never learned how to be angry and comforting at the same time.

Besides, I'm curious. How do you do it? I know you feel how much pain people go through - I remember your telling me about that at the premiere, making a big joke of it, right before you passed out and we spent the trip back to my place wondering why our mothers never taught us anything useful about stain removal. In retrospect, I think it's what women are trained to do anyway - be nurturing, be sensitive, be perceptive, be weak and rescueable. (Is "rescueable" a word?) But you're all that in spades and still, still, you stay bitchy enough not to give them whatever they ask for. You keep a little something back for yourself. I never got the hang of that; I was the girl who couldn't say no because I wanted to make everyone happy. It took me years - not to mention a near-death experience - to say no to my father. And I didn't say no to the stupid plane ride because it would make Joshua happy. I never liked small planes, and finding out first-hand how easy it is to crash one wasn't really what I had in mind for my rebound relationship.

I'm not particularly proud of most of the men I said "yes" to - one way or another - but I still care about each one of them. Wes was special; I'm proud of what I accomplished with him. He knows he's a wonderful lover now, he knows he can succeed in fighting evil on his own terms if he likes, and he doesn't know he has a rent-controlled apartment worth his weight in cocaine. (Don't tell me you didn't wonder how he could afford it. I do - well, I did - have some connections left over from playing hostess at Daddy's cocktail parties.) Remind him of any of that if he forgets, and remind him that I loved him, and that I died in a garden-variety accident from which he couldn't possibly have saved me. Comfort him if he needs it - and stay angry if he deserves it. He probably will, off and on.

But the most important thing I want you to do for me is this: if you figure out how you manage to feel and still stay bitchy enough not to give in, tell every woman you meet.

Best wishes,



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