why maturity is a good thing
If you know me, you know the gist of this story, so feel free to roam along other parts of the Internet. But in keeping with the theory that nothing I could make up is as funny as the stuff that really happens to me, I’m gonna give you the skinny on what Senior year of college was like on the dating tip for yours truly. Fair warning---it gets ugly, but about 87% of this actually is true. The other 13% should be readily apparent.
I’m telling the story because I’ve been having quite a few conversations lately with not only the parties involved, but those around me at the time. And without equivocation, we’re in a much healthier place as a group. Different lives, different parts of the globe, all with certain setbacks to go with the advancements, but yet all with a sense of, “Well, yes, that was fun, but I’m certainly glad it’s done.” A Very TS Eliot “Wife in ‘The Wasteland’” type of vibe, is what I’m driving at. We laugh about the old times, mostly because we actually somehow still talk after all of it went down.
Names protected to save the innocent.
So November, 1997. I start dating this girl Sue. Sue and I are the result of about 5 weeks of sexual tension while I am dating this other girl Sally with whom I would have had a perfectly inconsequential 6 week thing except that she cheated on me so of course I blew up like Pompeii. Sue and I had one of those romantic starts you look forward to telling the grandkids about: hot and heavy in the basement halls of a dorm. This wasn’t any basement though mind you. The basement of this particular dorm (Adams House for your Harvard-ites out there) is lined with hundreds of yards of murals painted by the students every few years or so. Each student gets roughly a 5’x8’ section that they can do pretty much whatever you want. Add on the fact that we were ostensibly supposed to be at the Halloween dance upstairs, you have two costumed folk pressing each other alternately against Gaia, Winnie the Pooh, and random lyrics by Jim Morrison. Just as romantic as a splinter in the eye.
Two months or so go by. Sue is the producer of a production of “Antony and Cleopatra” directed by Commander Foley. Sue becomes increasingly convinced that the girl playing Cleopatra has the hots for me. Having not yet entered fully into the levels of jackass that were to follow, I dismissed her jealous claims (God bless Sue, but she was even more jealous than myself, and that’s saying something.) But Sue was right, “Jessie” was indeed staring at me. She had seen the work I did light designing a dance production in December and just decided I was juicy, I guess. Hey, it happens to the best of us.
Yet I was clueless. At the cast party I brought a mix tape I had made which told the entire play through modern day songs (yea, geek, guilty as charged). Jessie tells me that if I make her a copy, she’ll make a mix for me. Clueless Boy sees no problems with this. Jessie’s mix tape is nothing but trip-hop, slow grooves that beg the libido to come out and have a party. Idiot Man cheerfully accepts tape and leaves her room. A week later Jessie comes over to watch a movie and basically, by the end is spweing subtle phrases such as “I….I want you. Is that bad to say?” Still a bit stunned, a ask her what on earth she sees on me. “I dunno, you just have such…I dunno, passion.” And I didn’t even have to give her Franzia, which was the usual way in which I convinced girls to shower me with such praise. Now of course the dilemma is clear---I am dating Sue but little lithe Jessie is pretty much going to attack me at any moment. I could
A) Say “thanks but I have a girlfriend”
B) Kindly talk for a few hours about the pros and cons of why this may or may not be a good idea.
C) Say “Bring it on” and sloppily make out and get your eventual swerve on
I am at this time a 21 year old man-boy who has an incredibly attractive girl telling him she’s hot for his bod, so Option A is out. Neither of are Harvard lesbians so option B is out. So the trip hop tape gets played and Option C is played out to the hilt.
(By the way, I’ve never seen people talk the fun out of hookups they way my lesbian friends did. My God it was epic. They are the best contraceptive known to man. Put them in a room of horny teenagers on Prom Night and you can guarantee no shotgun wedding the following Fall.)
(By the way again, I’ll never ever outgrow the phrase “get your swerve on”. I’ll be 87, in a wheelchair, wearing a diaper, and asking my great-grandkids if they’ve gotten their swerve on lately. I’ll be the hippest man in dentures, I tell ya.)
So, here we have it, a guy who wouldn’t speak to Sally for roughly 8 months because she cheated on him goes and cheats on his next girlfriend. I am fully aware of the irony throughout the entire encounter yet keep going. The charade goes on for about a week. Normally you would think I would simply break up with Sue and go my merry way with Jessie. Well, that would be sensible, and dear readers common frickin’ sense took a hibernation during my Senior Year. So I wait until Sue is finished her exams, and with tickets in hand to Blue Man Group for me and Jessie in hand, I break up with her.
(Amazingly enough this was only the third worst breakup I pulled off in my college days. Let’s run them down, TRL Style.
“Hi, my name’s Larissa, I’m from Staten Island, and I’d like to vote for the time Ryan cheated on that girl for two weeks, bought Blue Man Group tickets for his new girl, and made the breakup itself as short as possible so he could hop on the T and not miss the show. WOOOOOOOOOOOO!”
“Hey, what’s happenin’? Tanya here. Wanna give my props to Brooklyn. I’d like to vote for the time Ryan went to breakup with his freshman year girlfriend in January, only to find out upon arrival she had bought him a jacket and a bound copy of “henry V” over Winter Break, and with said objects in hand dumped her anyways. REPRESENT!”
“Yo yo yo, Darren here on the flip side. I gots to vote for Sophmore Year, breaking up with that nice girl by telling her he thought he was in love with someone else, while the nice girl was still recovering from her hospital visit after getting her stomach pumped after drinking the tequila he bought for her, and then her making him come back AFTER talking to the would be next GF, who of course didn’t like him, and he knew it, but had to tell her anyways to get over her, so trudged twenty minutes in the to have it told to his face, and then trudge twenty minutes back to talk to a girl who couldn’t even hold down solid food yet. HI MOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Like I said, I am very glad I am not in college anymore.)
So Jessie and I ride high. Nothing can stop us. Everything is great.
For five whole days.
Then yours truly blurts out THOSE THREE WORDS.
Which comes as much of a shock to her as to me. Just an awkward, awkward moment. I’ll never forget the feeling right before I said it---it was a slight cold spot in the back of my throat. And I just KNEW. Never happened before. Hasn’t happened since. Doesn’t mean I haven’t loved anyone since, just means that this was a unique experience. After a day of “Wow McGee, even for you that was supremely dumb,” she comes to my room, verbally reciprocates, and all is good.
And 24 hours later she recants and alternates between “I never said it,” and “I didn’t mean it.” Neither explanation sat very well with me. Ugly. We’re talking Philip Seymour Hoffman covered in Crisco ugly. We talking “Spice Girls Unplugged” ugly.
Since God wasn’t done slapping me silly that week, he organizes a cast party for 3 days later. Both Sue and Jessie are going to be there. I really wanted to test that “Not enough liquor in the world can dull this pain” theory for myself. I’m miserable, I’m single (which for some people is a redundant statement), and I’m ready to consume my weight in Cossack brand vodka. I remember as clear as day writing the Commander an email which almost verbatim read:
“Man, f$ck women. F$ck them all. If this were 2002, I would invoke Mary J Blige and ask for no more drama in my life. But since that song hasn’t come out yet I’ll make more a chronologically sound reference. Man, mo’ money, mo’ problems. Only substitute “money” for “women” and you’ll get my drift. Anyways, no mackin’ for me at the party this weekend. Just keepin’ it real with the boys. The only way I’ll hit on anything is if Julie shows up wearing her outfit from the show.”
Julie played, among other roles, a gypsy dancer in the play. Having designed enough dance shows and having seen more than my share of warmup routines, needless to say I was intrigued by dancers’ flexibility.
So God, enjoying watching me bounce from side to side like a pinball against the bumpers, sends Julie to the party after I had consumed, by my estimation,
---6 Cider Jacks
---4 shots of Goldschlager
---2 drinks consisting of a double shot of vodka, 2/3s OJ, and 1/3 cranberry juice
and of course she is dressed as the gypsy.
What happened next is really like a slide show. I have strong recollections of individual moments frozen in time as clear as day. The rest of the night is as lost as a person with Alzheimer’s driving cross country.
I remember the following:
---Seeing her and uttering under my breath, “No good can possibly come of this.”
---Us inexplicably dancing 5 minutes later
---Her on my lap, with a blanket being thrown over us by Antony
All this of course in plain view of Sue and Jessie.
The Commander, who wisely keeps his liver pure of liquor, filled in the rest the next day. Apparently we put the Lambada to utter shame in terms of its “Forbidden Dance” title, eventually working our way to what seemed, in our drunken state, to be an isolated corner. We did not see the Commander trying to escape as he returned from the bar with his Coke. We did not hear his initial cries for help as we cornered him with our sloppy making out. We really didn’t hear his utter cries of desperation as the hookup went from the Disney Channel to Skinemax right in front of him, all the while confounding his every effort to escape the porn he suddenly was an unwilling actor in. Finally, with an earth-shattering, “FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S HOLY, SOMEONE SAVE ME” Antony swooped in, saw the scene, retrieved what was later dubbed “The Blanket of Iniquity” (I think Tim burned it soon after), covered us like we were victims of a 5 alarm fire, and brought Tim to safety.
I’d love to say that all of my bad kharma was purged then. But I was still 3 months from this all playing out. Stay tuned, more to come tomorrow….
Adddendum courtesy of Commander Foley
BTW, you missed, for a second time, the highlight of the party. Caesar was ridiculously drunk. And clad in a Canadian flag. And someone decided putting on "Justify My Love" would be a good idea. He then proceeded to dance right in front of you and "Julie" and do his best to justify his love, just short of dry-humping the both of you AND YOU STILL DIDN'T NOTICE.
Now me getting cornered up against a wall and you not noticing is one thing. Me shouting for rescue and you not noticing? Perfectly understandable. But a drunken Canadian in a flag-toga attempting to give you both a lapdance not registering on your synapses? This fire water is a strange mixture indeed!
Undeterred, Caesar then proceeded to hump the wall. So at least he had a happy ending.