The Betty Notebooks

Shocking, unexpurgated true-life tales of female lust and anomie -- from the generation so WILD they called it "X"!!!

Illustration by Polly Becker

Some weeks ago, by means we cannot disclose, SALON came into possession of three spiral notebooks. Although unprepossessing in appearance, these tattered red, yellow and blue volumes proved to contain a treasure-trove of fin de siècle relationship lore: The Betty Notebooks.

The Betty Notebooks are the actual journals kept over a period of two months by three San Francisco women in their mid-20s. The three authors -- "Bitter Betty," "Bad Boyfriend Betty" and "Heartbreak Betty" (not their real names) -- passed the journals back and forth, allowing them to comment on each other's love lives.

The subject of the Betty Notebooks is young love in the '90s -- sacred, profane and pissed-off.

1994-'96 Love Stats for the Cast of Bettys:

Heartbreak Betty: Three six-month relationships, three brief flings, six broken hearts.

Bitter Betty: One one-night stand, one one-week stand, one one-month stand, few hearts involved.

Bad Boyfriend Betty: Up to bat 16 times with the same guy, trying to quit contact sports altogether.

Bitter Betty

So Valentine's, the day of shrink-wrapped shmaltz, is upon us, and the only appropriate response, according to the Fiercely Independent Woman's Handbook, is utter disgust. Only a spineless bourgeois ninny could fall prey to that evil behemoth Hallmark and its sap-slinging cohorts, Whitman and FTD. Avert your eyes from the lovelorn masses, ye of much free will and little need of man!

But shit, as much as I know better, I'm not immune to the hype. One day of the year, happy loving couples stand out like the mountainous areas on a relief map, and I'm left to roam alone in two-dimensional solitude. The only difference this year is that I don't envy them anymore. After three years of being single, when I see happy pairs holding hands I just think about how sweaty their palms must be. I see them kissing on street corners and think only of halitosis.

I sure would like one of those huge troughs of chocolate, though. Maybe I can get one half-priced on the 15th...

Bad Boyfriend Betty

What I wanna know is, why is sex always best right after the breakup? It must be a closure thing, because the end seems remarkably similar to the beginning, or maybe it's because a sense of possibility has returned to the whole affair. Maybe I should have waited until after the 14th to technically end this relationship, but I'm sure I can cash in on some leftover love and affection if I crumble to the pressure of VD, a.k.a. Valentine's Day, the worst form of sexually communicable diseases.

It's been a whole three weeks since the breakup, and I woke up this morning at his house with a hangover so heavy it was rivaled in weight by only my sense of self-loathing. Staring at the ceiling, I pieced together scattered memories of the evening before, trying to track the path that led me to this bed. Drinks and dinner after work, more drinks with more friends in the Mission. Somehow, hanging out drinking with a bunch of people I don't know that well really did seem preferable to staying in with the one person who knows me best.

Even though I had an early flight to L.A., I agreed to drive around town with Heartbreak Betty and some guy named Elvis in his '57 Chevy. At that point, I was still thinking to myself, "It's good to be single again."

I don't remember taking the 90-degree turn on that sentiment and onto Haight St., but next thing I know I'm headed to HIS house like a homing pigeon prepared to deliver an arsenal of rationalizations. I have a 6:30 a.m. flight, if I stay here, I'll be more inclined to make it. Yeah, that's it, do the Early Bird Special -- in after dark, out before light, you park for free.

I know the right thing to do is not see him for a while, but I'm sure I don't want to do the right thing. Why shouldn't I cash in on a little post-partum partnering...

Next page: In praise of dorks