Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Why Am I Single? Let Me Count The Ways

One: The Trauma of Adolescence

I was responding to somebody's email, and they know who they are, when I realized I was writing over a page of "stuff" and some of it was funny so I thought, "What the hell?" I'll post it on the blog. That way we can get the funny and the serious out there.

Starting with the already known, I was a nerd. A very well built nerd, but apparently IQs of over 126+ (depending on who's test you use) and grade point averages of 3.7 just scare the crap out of highschool guys. I mean, strikes them blind so that even a +++bust size does not stir the retina back to life. That and the fear of a police baton shoved up their ass.

On the other hand, when you have a grade point average of 3.7, sometimes, all normal hormonal activity is delayed and it does strange things like strikes the owner of said grade point average blind, deaf and dumb while still being able to function. It's a strange scientific phenomenom and, with all the money people waste on studying how long a rat will watch TV, if they really wanted to understand human psychology, they'd put away their Freud and Jung and actually record the life of teenagers like a national geographic show and air it on TV. Then, and only then, might some young man or woman be saved from the trauma of adolescence. If they only knew how many other kids suffer along with them.

I also had an image problem. The girls at school were size 6 or less. When I was in highschool I was a size 10. Then, of course, there were the very large girls, but that wasn't quite the number as we have in today's schools. I was not quite "in". Ok...I thought I was fat. Now I look at those pictures and wish to the almighty I could have that body back again. Not that I'm rolling in the fat now, mind you, but I haven't been a 10 in at least 10 years. Damn depressing.

Anyway, the teenage me did not know how good I was looking. And I don't mean that braggingly, but in the way that many young girls and boys experience adolescence: totally unaware of their own appeal and lacking in self confidence. In which case, the more out of sync I felt with the rest of them, the more I read. I absorbed myself in books. Not just fiction: history, art, biographies, whatever I could get my hands on. Before I had a car, my mom would take me to the library and drop me there for hours and I would get the limit on books (10 I think) and take them home and read them in less than the two weeks alloted and then I would beg my mom to take me back again. I loved our library. It had little cozy nooks with overstuffed chairs and side tables where you could sit and read for hours.

Uh..ok, getting off on the single part. So, in highschool, I didn't know I had something other than a brain and the answers to the questions somebody needed for a math lesson or a history test. Then I met up with the mensa people. I never tried to get in to the actual organization, but I hung out with those people. I must say, they were not exactly like the Revenge of the Nerd people. However, one thing about them, they were all insecure like me.

And, I was a "daddy's girl". No doubt about it. I was perfect in the eyes of my father and he was always reminding me and my brothers not to disappoint him. So I did my best not to. Which meant of course that boys were trouble and meant to be avoided.

At least until I got the afforementioned car. Until then, I was the epitome of the Adam Ant song:

Goody two, goody two, goody goody two shoes
don't drink, don't smoke, what do you do?

Well, now that you're asking, I drove fast. Very fast. I will tell a big secret now. The only reason I didn't have any tickets, compared to my brothers, was that I had electric windows, tinted. Ok..how does that make a difference? Think like a male police officer who walks up to a car he is expecting to see some young punk guy driving and the dark window slides down and..poof...it's a chic with big bachugas.

Ok...I can't tell a lie. I really didn't know it was that. I thought they knew my dad was a police officer and that I was his daughter. Remember, I have no idea that I am actually appealing at 17. I still have a bag on my head and can't see past my chin. At least until my Dad comes home from shift one night and asks me what I was doing up on State Ave that night. Umm...nothing Dad. Cruising like we always do, why? "You were speeding. Don't let me find out you were speeding again or I'll take the car away." Of course, now I'm pale and thinking, "crap, that asshole cop told my dad I was speeding."

Er...not quite. It seems that the officers were sharing their nightly stories of favorite traffic stops in the locker room and one of them was telling the others about this chic in the orange firebird and making some referrences to interesting body parts and another recalls that he had me pulled over on Turner Diagnol two weeks before and then dad walks in, overhears part of their conversation and then they recall that his last name is "H...". "Hey, H...you got a relation that drives an orange Firebird?" Which confirms to my dad that the chic in the firebird they are all making nasty remarks about is his DAUGHTER.

How do I know? I was walking to the bathroom about 1 AM in the hall that night and I could here my dad telling my mom about the assholes in the locker room and how he told them to shut their mouths before he kicked somebody's ass.

I remember going back to my room kind of stunned and looking down thinking, "Really? That guy thought I was sexy? I mean, he was ooold. He had to be like 35 or something, but, WOW! I'm cute and sexy." Bling. Light goes on. I'm almost out of highschool and finally realizing that I do have more than a brain. Which is sort of funny later on, but, back to the story.

So, I'm all hopped up thinking the next time I get pulled over, I'll make sure that I am doing my best "Miss Daisy" pose. Three weeks later...the cop comes up to the window and doesn't bend down like they normally do. All I remember seeing is his belt and holster. He puts his hands on his hips and says, "Does your dad know where you are?"

Psssshhhht...There went some air out of that ego.

I've come to realize now that cars are not just an extension of a man's..ego. It's an extension of the owner's ego, regardless of gender. Its like an accessory. Like clothes. It says something about the owner. I know damn well my car was supposed to say: cool, sexy, fast. At least I know now. Then, all I was thinking about was: sexy. I'm sexy. Yoo-hoo. Over here. Sexy over here. Hey, dumbass! What are you, stupid?

Sheesh...Now I drive a pickup truck, black, extended cab with four doors, bed liner, running nerf bars and chrome wheels. What the hell does that say? Independent, sturdy, almost ready to settle down, not easily scratched, accessible, wannabe a sports car? And the motorcycle in the garage? I still wannabe cool, sexy and fast.

Well, one out of three ain't bad.

So, guys in highschool. What is there to say? I had a crush on this boy named Keith Buck. He had a nice build, good tan and white teeth plus he was in my college bound classes so I saw him all the time. Yes, I did write stupid things in my note book like "Mrs. Keith Buck" with a heart around it. I was a teenager you know?

We were having a dance at school. Totally stag. Everyone comes alone and then you pick your partner to dance with. Like Sadie Hawkins' Day, but a little looser than that. Of course, if you were dating, you came together anyway. But, me and the mensa gang were eminently single. I knew Keith would be there, so I made my mom help me pick out a dress and shoes, do my hair and make up. I have a picture from then and I think I looked about 20 something instead of 18. Good for me, probably not good for Mr. Buck. I got to the dance and I was feeling really good. I even had a little "thinking of you" card.

Yep...I went from barely noticing that I was a girl to full fledged "I need a Maaan!"

So, I drive up in my super cool car, with my super cool dress and super cool hair and give them my ticket. I walk in and there are my friends hanging out, so we get together and I'm keeping my eyes peeled for Mr. Buck. I'm a newly liberated woman doncha know. I CAN and WILL ask a guy to dance with me. About which time one of my brother's friends comes over and asks me to dance. His sister is actually one of my friends too so I am being nice and go dance. It was a slow song. Bon Jovi. Never say good-bye. Everyone else is doing that slow, arms around the waist and neck turning in a circle. Well, no way in hades was I doing that dance with Brian Cahill, so I hold out my right hand, which he looks at confusedly for a second and then I grab his left hand with mine and put his right hand on my waist. High on my waist and we start dancing in circles. You know the dance? Your legs are kind of stiff and locked at the knees while you rock back and forth, one foot basically staying in the same place while the other moves back or forwards in a circle.

We don't talk. I'm busy looking for Mr. Buck. Brian, I realize later in life, is traumatized. He is dancing within inches of a person that he has had a crush on for a better part of a year. I don't know that at that point. I thought of him as my younger brother's friend. Right then, aside from searching for Mr. Perfect, I notice that Brian's hands are moist. Not just moist. Sweaty. Gross sweaty.

Now, had I been a person with more self esteem and self confidence, I probably would have handled the situation better. Instead, I look down at him (yep, he was shorter than me. Maybe the proximity to interesting body parts had something to do with it?) and say, "Dude. What's up with your hands? Wipe them off or something." Not realizing until I said it that he is pouring sweat everywhere. He quickly pulled his hands back and wiped them on his jeans a couple of times while I pulled out my, clean white handkerchief (from the place that all women, who go out for an evening, according to my grandmother, carries one-get your mind out of the gutter, it was up my sleeve), wipe my own hand off and then place it on his right hand and put it back on my waist. "Ok, that's better." Please, God, can this dance be over? How many times can Bon Jovi sing "Never say good-bye"? I didn't say that last part out loud but I was thinking it. After I made him wipe his hands off, I'm sure he was thinking that, too.

Ok..I was a stupid teenage girl with a crush on another boy. I probably traumatized Brian Cahill for at least a year or two of his own adolescence. Maybe longer.

Somewhere, in the big book upstairs, I'm sure there's a little mark on my rap sheet that says, "Caused Brian Cahil to become woman hating mysoginist. He was divorced three times and now lives alone with a dummy he has dressed up like his mother and pretends to argue with her about women."

Well, the dance was finally over and Brian and I parted ways. It was a mutual decision I think.

I began looking for my crush. Several fast songs are on and a slow one starts again. Just then I see Keith standing to the side talking to some of the girls he was on committee with for the dance. Did I mention he was the class vice president? So, I gather up all of my courage and walk purposefully over to him. Before I know it, I'm standing in front of him. Crap. Now MY hands are sweaty. I think there are stars in my eyes. "Er..um..Keith," I'm holding the card in one hand, "I was wondering...er...that is..uhh..would you...umm..." then I let it out in one big gush, "would you dance with me?" Can you say "cow eyes"?

He is standing there with a pained expression on his face, half way between panic and resignation would be my guess. I didn't know what was wrong. Suddenly, Jamie Ferris, who was one of my friends in Junior High until she moved up to "IN" in highschool, walks over and saves Keith from his most embarrasing moment, "Keith, you promised to dance with me." She takes his hand and pulls him away. The other girls follow behind a little and they are giggling and looking over at me while I'm standing there like a big goober. I can feel my face turning red.

I finally get myself together and walk back to my friends who are like, "What happened? Why is he dancing with Jamie?" Need I say that I'm devestated? The questions weren't helping and the whole evening was ruined for me. All that fixing and I still got nothing.

A short while later, I tell my friends I'm not feeling well and I'm going home. I realize I still have that stupid card as I'm walking towards the door and I was determined to throw it in the trash. But, who is in the door? Mr. Buck. Now I get to play my favorite part from Gone with the Wind. No, it isn't Scarlett. I never could identify with her stupid arrogance and whiny, bratty ways. I always liked Rhett.

So, I'm walking out the door and he's standing there and sees me coming. I'm not looking at him at all. Just as I come abreast of him, he starts stuttering out some apology which barely registered through the pain and anger I was feeling. (Now I feel bad for the guy. How could he have known he was sticking a big hole in my ego? But then, I was just seeing red. Or, Rhett.) I stopped next to him and said, "Thanks for nothing." And I tossed the card at him, which he caught, and I stomped off, jumped in the car and tore out of the parking lot.

Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn.

Ok...I did. I got home and cried my eyes out. I was ugly after all.

At least until the next morning. Then I got up, washed up. Put the dress away, pulled out the shorts, went to the car wash and washed my sexy car. Where I was immediately accosted with cat calls and wolf whistles.

Bing. Ego, partially re-inflated.

Then my brother catches up with me while we're cruising that evening, "Dude,"(it's the 80's, everyone was "dude"),"why were you so mean to Brian?" Uhh..I was mean? It took me several moments to realize he was talking about the sweaty palms episode.

"I wasn't trying to be mean. He had sweaty palms. His hand kept slipping down to my butt. What was I supposed to do?"

"I don't know, dude, but he was all, like, crying and everything. He had his mom iron his shirt and fix his tie before he came." I remember he was wearing a dirty gold terri cloth tie that was cut square at the bottom. You know the style I'm talking about? Now I was feeling bad and strangely good at the same time with a little bit of "gross" thrown in. I mean, the guy was still two years below me in school. "He's had a crush on you forever."

"Uh...like, dude, how was I supposed to know?"

"Dude, why do you think he's always hitching a ride over to our house with Eric?"

Good question. "Uh...like, he's your friend?"

Now my brother is rolling his eyes. Did I mention he was cooler than I was? I mean, he had his car and everything, but his friends were the "cool" people in his class. The other guys with muscle cars. The girls that went with the guys with muscle cars. He made some hand movement or something like "your hopeless", "Dude, if you'd, like, get your nose out of a book once in awhile, you'd, like, knooow that they're there, like, ALL the time."

Ok, at that point I was starting to get creeped out because it was dawning on me that these guys WERE over at our house almost every day and Eric (from previous post)was always trying to help me take out the trash, or clean up whatever, or just standing behind me. It was creepy because I still didn't have my mojo, you know? Thinking about three sixteen year old guys mooning over me was still not exactly baslm to the ego. Frankly, it scared the hell out of me.

"Dude, tell them to stop it, ok?" My brother just rolled his eyes and got in his car.

Next Monday, at school, Cindy Cahill comes over to my locker during lunch hour. I'm thinking she is going to give me an earful for having slapped her brother down on the dance floor so I'm kind of leery. "Hey, what's up?"

She was all smiles, "I just wanted to say "thank you"."

"Huh? For ..ahh..what?"

"For dancing with my brother."

Now I am so damn confused, but I'm trying to be cool. "Oh..yeah. Like, no problem. He's a nice guy." With sweaty palms.

"Yeah, well, it's, like, all over school that he asked you to dance and, like, you danced with him so now he's, like, you know, cool or something."

Cool? I had the shittiest night of my life and I dance with one underclassman and he's cool?

As an adult I can now understand that he wasn't only cool, but he had balls of steel. I mean, for a non-car driving underclassman to ask a senior to dance takes some balls in the first place. Add to that, he had a crush for almost a year that most of his friends had harassed him about and that means balls of steel. At least in the world of highschool society.

One card: .99
One dance: balls of steel
Cool for the rest of the year: Priceless

Post Script:

I was parking late one night at a store. No one was in the parking lot so I just scooted in and took up a couple spaces, parking crooked. I got out, locked the door and started walking in. Another car had pulled in right after me and the people were walking behind me. The guy called out, "Hey, you can't park worth a shit." Yeah...whatever. I kept walking. "Hey, I said you can't park worth a shit." I'm thinking...f* you, asshole, but I kept walking. "Kat H.... you can't park with a shit."

Now of course I stop because this guy knows who I am. I turn around and look at him and have no idea who he is, but he is walking with a woman. He's huge and he comes over and gives me a big bear hug. I'm freaking out a little bit because, obviously, I should know who this is. "Hey, how are you? Where've you been? Longtime no see." We exchange pleasantries and I act like I know who the hell he is even though I don't have a clue.

Then he says, "You know I always had a crush on you." His wife/girlfriend punches him in the arm. "It's true. She was always helping me out with my homework and stuff in Mr. Johnson's class (advanced history). Kept me playing. She was cool."

Uh..I didn't know this guy from Adam, but a really weird thing happened. It was like all that freaking trauma from adolescence was for nothing. A guy in my own class thought I was cool and had a crush on me.

I wanted to shout to the world for a second, "I was cool! Did you here that world, I was cool!"

But I didn't. I just laughed a little and said how hard Mr. Johnson's class was. I still didn't know this guy, but he did look a little familiar. I kept thinking "football" but no name or position. Finally, she told him they needed to get back to the house so I shook hands with both of them and told them I'd see them around.

Soon as I got back to the house, I whipped out the year book. Scott Taylor. Receiver.

How damn cool is that?

Teenagers should come with warning labels for both parents and other teenagers:

Warning: This object appears bigger in the mirror than in actual life. It can cause damage to self and others.
Do not store in warm places after 14.
For instructions on how to use this product safely, please write:
PO Box 777
St. Peter's Gate, Heaven.

No refunds, no returns.


Peter said...

Kat, THIS is what you should be writing! It is funny, well-written, personal and speaks to the reader with a sense of recognition - "I was there, I did that, I knew a girl like her" - The dialogue is natural, the characters are real, the time and places are right, and the story flows both naturallly and expectantly.

I am looking forward to the next chaper of this piece.

Cigarette Smoking Man from the X-Files said...

Great story, Kat. I can relate to a lot of it from a male perspective, because in high school I had no concept of a remote possibility of any girl thinking I was attractive, even though sometimes a girl would ask me out, and I would think it was a practical joke brewing somewhere. Religion really screwed me up in those years too, where "they're all Jezebel" if they show a modicum of genuine interest. I was 20 before I finally grew out of both the shyness and religious mutation, and was able to enjoy life.

School and church dances for me amounted to sitting in a corner watching other people dance, and attraction to girls morphed into imagined rejections, and imagined rejections grew into anger, and anger grew into a desire to listen to angry music, like punk and/or metal. Girls were the devil, the subject of every angry song I'd blast in my stereo, even though I wanted to sleep with them. Given the volatility of my personality in those days, it's probably for the better that I didn't "hook up" during those years.

MichaelH121 said...

Hi my name is_______ and I’m a geek, nerd, Blogger, etc.

I build PC’s as a hobby, but I ride Motorcycles, I am a dead aim with pistol or rifle. But I write poems.

I am not normal. I am still single and methinks there may be issues.

In 5th grade the “experts” called in the “experts” because I was not doing schoolwork. They gave me an IQ test and I scored 100%. Then upon joining the Army years later and taking the ASVAB test I scored 95% and had to take it again. Scored 100%. But you have to remember it is on a 5th grade level.

Went Airborne, went Ranger, became a Scout simply because I have always been a loner. Had my first horse a Shetland Pony but at 10 that is a horse. Had Quarter Horses and a Palomino (my fave) and would spend dawn to dusk me my horse and my dog. Graduated to bikes and even if I was within a 50-mile radius of home I would put 400 miles on it easy.

In the Army I started taking tests. I was even sent an Application to MENSA. I wrote back that I was not a joiner. They wrote back saying I had joined the Army. I wrote back saying I joined the Army because of a deep sense within that freedom has a cost. And I was gonna chip in a few coins. And MENSA by it nature was a place full of arrogance and egos.

I am average looking at least to me. I have been looking at myself in the mirror for years and keep seeing the same face. I seem to get my share of flirting women while working but a girlfriend and me at my sisters talking, were saying that even when the UPS or FEDEX guy or whomever is kinda plain there was still something about a guy in uniform working. (Women. who understands them?)

I am comfortable with and around people but do not need company. I am loaded with confidence but have absolutely no ego.

Just remember M’Dear Kat, We ARE stuck with the SKIN we’re IN.

We cannot change our nature. We can change our looks, our attitude, our minds, etc.
But we will always be ourselves.

I AM a geek, a nerd, a Veteran, I have an artistic mind but my hands do not cooperate.

I am sappy, an incurable romantic. I write poems on a whim.

Give me “one word” and I shall write you a poem. Any word.

Kat said...

Mike, I've grown into me. It was a long haul with lots of detours, but I became me. Every once in awhile, I've wanted to be an "us", but it's been no go. Probably doesn't have a thing to do with looks, I'm sure. I've been comfortable as me for awhile.

But yes, I am still an over achiever, who, by the way, owns a Bersa .380 ACP and can take the heart out of a target at 25 ft. It get's a little more touch and go after that. Probably because I don't practice enough.

My youngest brother is the computer guy. He built my last two computers. Right now I am using the work laptop because I traded the last computer to my dad for the Bersa.

It's interesting about how many of us probably wished that we were professional writers. Something about this venue lets it out. We don't really know who is reading it, but that's cool too. SOMEBODY is reading it. Somebody can relate.


That's your word. Awesome.

Kat said...

Ciggy, it is so damn hard to be a teenager in the first place, trying to become an adult. You are supposed to act like one, but be subservient to your parents at the same time. Throw in a little ultra religion, image problems, a bad hair day and, wammo, mixed up people walking around trying to be a grown up.


I am so glad that you are enjoying this writing. Believe it or not, I'm kind of glad I started writing this. The other story is still in my head, but I got a little lost on where I was going to take one or two of the characters. I feel like let this stuff flow is starting to pull the other stuff together.

Hope you enjoy the rest. I can't guarantee that it's all funny, but I promise that some of it is. Freaking hysterical as a matter of fact.

I'm waiting to get some good horse stories from you by the way. Then I will share some of my more humorous ones. Like the time the horse went into the pond and wouldn't come out until a water mocassin crossed it's path...then all hell broke loose. And that is just one part.

Michael...I almost forgot. Sometime soon I'm going to post the whole story of my 2500 mile ride into hell on that suzuki. It includes things like, "Dude. Is he dead?" "Louis. Wake up and tell us if you want to go to the hospital."

You can imagine what I was saying during this episode...LOL

MichaelH121 said...

For some reason I could not comment this morning. I sent Email but who knows if it went through. Here is the Poem Kat.

All and Awesome

We ponder
The future, the present, the past
We wonder
How long we mortals will last
The thunder
Of storms in the distance we hear
Look yonder
The rainbow as the summer storms clear

We know
There is something more up ahead
We see
The potholes, go forward, leading not led
We’re free
To decide, our path every day
We grow
With each presence we meet on the way

We fall
Dust ourselves off and start out once more
We give
Of ourselves, and accept what’s in store
We live
With the knowledge that there is HE above
We call
When we need His guidance and love

We are
All and Awesome, a wonder each one
We stay
For a while, as a bright shinning sun
A star
In the sky, to guide us at night
We pray
We are warmed by His presence and light