ST. PAUL, MN—In a chance meeting at a St. Paul grocery store Monday, area resident Erica DeGrath, 23, announced to ex-boyfriend Kevin Hollander, 24, that she was glad to have bumped into him.
According to witnesses, DeGrath—who on Jan. 1 abruptly announced she was breaking up with Hollander after nearly three years of dating and two years of cohabitation—spoke with Hollander for several minutes in the canned-vegetables aisle of the Pic-N-Sav supermarket. In closing the conversation, witnesses said, her exact words were, "I'm glad I bumped into you, Kevin. It was really good to see you again."
Hollander responded by telling DeGrath he was glad to have bumped into her, as well. Several hours later, however, Hollander openly questioned the sincerity of his ex-girlfriend's closing remark.
"Was she really glad that she bumped into me?" Hollander said. "It's better than the 'I don't love you anymore, and I'm never coming back' I got a month ago, but I don't know if she meant it. But what if she did? Maybe she wants to get back together."
Alex Murphy, a co-worker of DeGrath's at a downtown St. Paul Barnes & Noble, said that, in all likelihood, DeGrath was not actually glad to bump into her ex-boyfriend.
"A few weeks ago, Kevin came by the bookstore and asked for Erica," Murphy said. "When I told her that Kevin was in the store looking for her, she hid in the back and told me to tell him she was out to lunch."
Other sources close to DeGrath agree that she was not actually glad to bump into Hollander, pointing out that ever since the breakup, she has adopted a strict policy of Hollander-avoidance.
"Erica told me that if Kevin calls, I'm supposed to tell him that she's not home," said Andrea Epps, DeGrath's new roommate and longtime friend. "And if she's home alone, she always lets the answering machine get it. I kind of get the feeling she doesn't want to talk to him."
Cheryl Reiner, DeGrath's best friend, agreed. "She just totally doesn't want to deal," she said.
Whether or not DeGrath was actually glad to bump into Hollander, the remark was clearly effective in terminating the unexpected encounter.
"After Erica said she was glad to bump into me, that was about it for our conversation. It was sort of like, 'See ya,'" Hollander said. "I was thinking about asking her if I could walk her to her new place and see how our cat Felix was doing, but after I got the 'Glad I bumped into you' line, I figured that would have just sounded stupid."
Hollander went on to relate how strange it was not to be awaken by a hungry Felix scratching at his bedroom door the morning after DeGrath moved out.
DeGrath, who did not give Hollander any specific reasons for moving out, is described by friends as cheerful and well-adjusted since the break-up.
"She's doing great," Reiner said. "She's dating a lot, her job is going really well, and she's lost like five pounds since she dumped Kevin. I'm really happy for her."
Close acquaintances of Hollander were unable to comment on his current state, as they have not spoken with him in weeks.
"That guy has been a total recluse," said Steve Woczynski, who has been friends with Hollander since high school. "He never returns anyone's phone calls anymore. A few weeks ago, I was driving, and I saw him crossing a street, just wandering around. He looked like shit."
"I really thought we were going to get married," said Hollander, who last showered Jan. 10. "But I guess it was nice to see her at Pic-N-Sav, if only for a few minutes."
After sitting silently for several moments, Hollander excused himself and walked to his bedroom, closing the door behind him.