Ah, Raqi? Could you come in here a sec, please? Yeah, I know Ali G is on in three minutes, but we need to talk. Yes, there’s a problem. Ahhh … OK, look, I’ll get right to the point: this isn’t working out. Yeah, “this” means "us"—our relationship. I’ve given it five years now and I, ahhh … I’ve had about enough.

Well, for one thing, you’re just too needy. You seem to need me to take care of everything, from feeding the cat to rebuilding war-damaged infrastructure. Isn’t it about time you stood on your own 55 million feet? Oh yeah, minus a few hundred that got blown off. Really? Seventeen thousand? Whatever. Sorry.

Also, you tend to blame me for everything. Which is pretty much the same thing as being needy and dependent, if you think about it. The shower drain clogs up? My fault. Weather forecast turns out to be wrong? My fault. Eighty-seven slain by marketplace suicide bomber? Yours truly, back in the defendant’s chair. Foot blown off? I’m getting sick of it! I’m only human, you know.

And another thing: you’re driving me nuts with your dysfunctional family. Yes, dysfunctional. There, I said it. Well, why is it always me who has to talk to your stepmother, Britt, when she calls? Why is it always me who has to patch up your spiteful quarrels with your sisters Sunny and Melisha? Come on, you’re a grownup—it’s time for you to learn to get along with your own family, for Christ’s sake. Oh, sorry! Yes, I know you hate it when I say that. Hey, I said I’m sorry!

No, there’s no one else. My ex? I still see Ghani once in a while, but just as friends, you know. We meet for coffee and pastry. Or tea and little hunks of dried-out flatbread if she’s buying. I listen to her problems and maybe hold her hand for a while, but that’s as far as it goes. Well, OK, we did have a kind of a thing a couple of weeks ago. You know, a “thing.” A “fling.” It’s nothing really. Just a little caressing and kissing and flushing a few hundred Taliban out of a mountain stronghold near Kandahar. No, I’m not leaving you for her. Don’t be ridiculous! Not exactly. I’ll still see her now and then, but I’ll still be around for you, too. If you want.

Hey, don’t get mad. Come on, I’ve seen you making eyes at the next-door neighbor over there. What’s-his-name—Ronny, Percy, whatever. And sometimes I find his number in redial and his spent mortar shells lying around the hulks of burnt-out armored vehicles. Don’t think I don’t notice stuff like that.

So, look, long story short, I want out. Well, maybe not right away. I don’t have to pack up tonight. We still have those Pina Bausch tickets, and then there’s the uprising in Sadr City we could try to quell together. I want to be sure you’ll be OK first, but pretty soon I’m out of here. Listen, you can keep the ring. And the books. But I’d like the DVDs and the oil. If you don’t mind.

Please don’t cry.