Thursday, December 02, 2004

Why Am I Single? Let Me Count The Ways

Five: Crashing and Burning Part I

I debated about what I should write next, mostly because, well, some of it would just be a long litany of..er..crimes and not really add anything to the "why I am single" except to re-enforce the last chapter. I think a large amount of those two years in New Jersey could be summed up by a popular song of the day:

IIIII... wanna Rock'n Roll all night
and party everyday


Did I date during that time? Well...some. As you might also have noticed from the last chapter, I took on a role in our little group after that night. It was basically "the one who kept us out of jail and got us home safe at night". I still had limits. My up-bringing had instilled in me a very real sense of responsibility. And, believe me, there were some nights that came in very handy. Occasionally, it blew my cover as "cool", but at least I can honestly say I never had to be bailed out or woke up some place going, "where the hell am I and who is this guy sleeping on my arm...eeeww."

Oh, hell...Who am I kidding, guys still scared the be-jebus out of me. Something else I have to thank my dad for as well as say, "you were right, dad." How often in life is anyone going to admit to that?

When I was about sixteen, I think, and just starting to notice guys and be noticed, my dad sat me down and had about a five minute talk with me about "men". I don't remember exactly every word, but I remember one line and it stuck with me. Needless to say, during the entire five minutes I was embarrassed as hell, but it worked. I was sitting on our couch and my dad was standing over me doing the "authoritive cop" stance and smoking a cigarette. I just wanted to jump up and get the hell away from there. He paused for a minute and I thought I was in the home stretch and then, he turns to me and says, "Kat...guys only want one thing from a girl. I know, I'm a guy."

What? Huh-uh. Nope. Didn't hear that. Oh, gees, dad. I'm sixteen. I'm your daughter. I don't want to think about you, you know, uh..doin' it. Eeeewwww.

I was traumatized for years after that.

I recall one of our infamous house parties. We called it "house party" because we would open the doors to the upstairs and downstairs apartments and people would just roam around either area, party upstairs, party downstairs. On this particular occasion, there was a super hunky guy at the party. I mean, all the girls were ga-ga over him. Me, too, sort of. I was nervous as hell and figured I didn't have a chance in hell talking to this guy. He was like a young Robert Redford.

Next thing I know, he's standing beside me leaning on the kitchen counter and we're talking. Oh, God. I was so nervous. I remember I was sipping a wine cooler of some sort and my hands were shaking so I gripped the bottle with both hands. I was like, "Oh. My. God. Robert Redford's talking to me. Oh. My. God!" I don't really recall our conversation, except for the end. After about fifteen minutes of general bullshit about how I came to be in New Jersey, his car, his dad's company...ok, obviously, I remember something...he turns to me, Mr. Smooth, and says, "So, what's back there?"

Huh? "Uh..Where?" Now I'm blinking and the stars are starting to fade out of my eyes and the warning lights are going off, "Danger, Will Robbins. Danger."

"Back there." He said again, tipping his beer bottle towards the long hallway behind the kitchen.

Uh..Yeah. Like he didn't know what was back there. We were standing in the kitchen and the living room was in front of us. Gee..I dunno. What ya think? "Ummm...well...uhh, there's the bathroom," he's looking at me expectantly, "and Tracy's bedroom," I was holding mine out for the last, "and my bedroom," quick swig of the wine cooler.

I remember he had this little smile on his face, "Soooo, why don't you show me?"

Cough. Cough. Spew. Uuggh...knapkin, as I go into a hacking fit from the cooler I had just swallowed wrong, "Oh...oh...Sorry. Did I get anything on you? I'm so sorry." Oh, God. Can the floor open up and swallow me now? At the same time, I was desperately trying to decide what the hell I was going to do. I mean, he was cute and everything, but, I was still, umm...square and I didn't know this guy from Adam. I mean, we HAD only been talking for about fifteen minutes.

He was still looking at me expectantly and I could feel my eyes darting around the room looking for, I don't know, a gracious escape maybe? But, everyone else was busy talking and doing there own thing, "Well...I...umm...the party's out here and I'm a hostess so, I think I should...um...you know, stay out here?" Now he was looking a little agitated. Probably wondering why he had just wasted fifteen minutes of his time talking up this chic from Kansas when there was a whole room full of chics he could have been talking up.

I honestly don't remember how we parted, word wise that is, but I do recall he had a rather pissed off look on his face. About two minutes after that, he was gone. I remember standing there, feeling a little deflated. That's it? I don't "put out" and he's gone? That's all he was interested in? And part of me was warring with the other part of me, "chicken", "am not", "are, too", "maybe I should of...", "no way, I don't know that guy," and so on and so forth, "your a square", "shut up", "squaaare, squaaare", "SHUT UP!"

Maybe part of me recognized, deep down, that I was worth more than a fifteen minute chat up or that he was a giant ego walking around on two legs. But, at twenty one, I was still struggling with trying to be "cool". Which ever, at the end of the night, we were cleaning up the house and my roommate is looking at me, "I can't believe you turned down Robert Redford." That wasn't his name. I'd like to say that I changed his name to protect the innocent, but, really, I just don't remember it and, really, I wouldn't spare him if I did remember.

"How do you know?" I mean, NOBODY was paying attention when that happened. They were doing their own thing and she had definitely not been near by.

"He was going around the whole party telling everybody that chic from Kansas turned him down." What? Now I was getting angry. What the f* was that about? "I can't believe you turned him down. You know his dad owns blank-blank and he drives a blank-blank? You know how many girls would have liked to've traded places with you?"

At that point, I would have given just about anything to have traded places with one of those girls. "Whatever. He's obviously an asshole." And, had I gone back there in that room, I would have been just another notch, another story he told his friends. One thing was for sure, I wasn't being anybody's "story".

Then Becky and Lisa came down and Becky was laughing, "Kans-ass. You turned down Robert Redford?" What the f*? He did tell everybody. "Probably a good thing. He's an asshole."

Ahhh...sweet absolution.

I was struggling, you know. I was free, I was twenty-one and I was far, far away from home. Nobody would know what I did. Except me, of course. "Me" was still trying to find my footing, find me. I was trying to balance my up-bringing with my new found freedom. I could see that there was a line. A line I saw everyone crossing, but I couldn't. It was the "girls gone wild" line. I would walk that line, sometimes dip my toe across it, but I just couldn't do it.

Not that I didn't have many opportunities.

Seeing as how I was a complete novice at dating or meeting guys (not men, yet; we were still too young and they were definitely not "men", they were somewhere in between "boys" and "men"), I had to get my lumps the hard way.

I remember another occasion, almost like it was yesterday. One of our friends was talking about a little podunk place out in the pineys. The "pineys" was what the New Jersians called "the woods", the "back and beyond" (the woods were full of pine trees). It's also what they called the New Jersey version of a "redneck", a "piney", because they always had pine tar on their shoes. This place was called "The Alpine" and was purported to have a live band. We were always looking for a new place to go, so we jumped into Lisa's little Escort (recall that my car was only a two seater) and scooted over to this place. I can say now, with all due respect, that it was a cheesy dump. But, it did have a live band.

We were there about an hour when these three guys came over to our table. On this occasion, it was only Lisa, Tracy and me. Brad was hitting on Tracy, the tall, lanky guy was all over Lisa and that left Burt talking to me. I cannot tell a lie, Lisa and Tracy were hammered. After the first drink, I had switched to coke. We were waaaay out there and I was determined that we were going to get home in one piece.

The place was finally closing and we were leaving. Tracy gets it into her head to invite all of these guys back to our place. I was thinking, "we just met these guys." I know. Square. Whatever. As we are leaving the place, Tracy is trying to give them directions. But, she's hammered and finally she just says, "Follow Kanshes," as I was going to be the designated driver of Lisa's Escort, obviously. Then Tracy decides that she is going to ride with Burt and Brad, to follow us, and tall, lanky guy can ride with Lisa and me. I was a little nervous about that arrangement, but I figured if I could keep their headlights in my rearview mirror, it would be okay.

As we are walking to the Escort, Lisa says, "Kanshes, are you okay to drive?" It was dark, wet and foggy out.

"Er..yeah, hon', I'm good to go."

"Are you suuure? I kin drive, ya know."

Riiiiggght. "No, no. I'm fine." Thank God I already had the keys.

"Sheerioushly. I'll drive if you want me to."

"No, no. You go on and get in the passenger seat. I'll be fine." I hope.

The tall, lanky guy crawled into the back of the Escort. It was only a two door and he had to fold himself up kind of painfully to get in the back. Finally, Lisa is in and I crank the car over, turn on the defrosters, windshield wipers and lights and wait to see the lights of the follow on car pull up before I go.

Tall, lanky guy had scooted forward and had his head between ours, ostensibly to suck on Lisa's neck or something. Whichever it was, there wasn't much space in the front of the car and his head was really big in the rearview mirror. "Dude. Sit down." Yeah, that was me. The sober, mood killing girlfriend. "Dude. SIT DOWN!" Lisa and I both put our hands on his head and pushed him back, hard. If he hadn't have been so drunk, I'm sure it would have been a whole lot more difficult.

I turned out on the road and started going, trying to watch in my mirrors for the car behind me, watch the wet, windy road and keep tall, lanky guy from crawling into the front bucket seats with us. "Dude, dammit, sit your ass down!" And I reached back with my right hand, stuck it on his head and gave him a big shove. Lisa was laughing, the guy was laughing as he fell back in the seat.

I had taken my eyes off the road just long enough to see where I was putting my hand. I glanced back up and there was the biggest, ugliest, bristling opossum I had ever seen frozen in my headlights. I reached down, threw the car out of gear and slammed on the breaks. The car came to a screeching, fishtailing stop about two feet from the opossum. I sat back in the seat, breathing loudly and, finally, looked in the rearview mirror. Thank God they had been keeping that big ass boat they were driving several car lengths behind us or we would have been creamed.

"You suuure you don' want me t'drive?"

I just gave her an evil look, glanced in the rearview mirror to make sure tall, lanky guy got the full effect, too, put the car into gear (the opossum had run off by then) and drove us home. Fortunately, I think the little incident scared tall, lanky guy into some semblance of sobriety because he kept his ass back in the seat the rest of the way.

When we got back to the house, we went into our apartment and everybody "paired up" going to different parts of the apartment for..um..privacy.

Me, I was still..you know...uptight a little and I think Burt recognized it, so he sat down on the couch in the living room, grabbed my hand and pulled me down next to him. We talked a little bit. Kissed a little bit and...um..details, details.

Oh, hell...That was about it. Finally, Burt stands up and yells for his brother to come on. He asked me for my number. I was really nervous and excited at the same time. A guy was asking for my number! Cool! They finally left and Lisa, Tracy and I stood around giggling and talking (yes, giggling; we were still girls) before finally going to bed. I was floating. A guy asked me for my number. Right here in River City.

Seventy six trombones caught the morning sun,
With a hundred and ten coronets right behind.
There were more than a thousand reeds springing up like weeds,
There were horns of every shape and kind.

There were copper bottom tympani in horse platoons,
Thundering, thundering, all along the way.
Double bell euphoniums and big bassoons,
Each bassoon having his big fat say.


RrrrrrrRRRRrrrrrrtttttt.

Yep. That's the sound of the needle being ground across the record.

The next morning, Sunday, we get up and go upstairs to have breakfast. Tracy is telling us about riding in the car with Brad and Burt. She noticed that Brad, the guy that she was trying to hook up with, had a gold necklace with a "P" on it. She asked him what it stood for and he told her it was his middle name, "Paul". He is named after his grandfather, he says. Tracy related that the "P" was kind of a girly looking script "P".

Uh-oh. "Tracy, that doesn't sound right. That sounds like a girl's necklace." The kind a girl would give a guy as a memento and the kind a guy wouldn't wear unless she was important.

"Well, I'm going to find out. He's supposed to be over here tomorrow night for dinner and I'm going to ask him." Riiigght. I'm sure he'll be more willing to spill the beans tomorrow. Uh-huh.

I am still waiting for a phone call. I get one that night and it's the basic first phone call.

"Hey. What're you doin'?"

"Nothing. Watching TV. What're you doin'?"

"I just got off work and I thought I'd call you."

"Cool."

"So...you wanna go out sometime this week?"

"Yeah! I mean...ahem...Yes, I'd love to."

"Okay, then. I'll call you later this week and we'll set a day."

"Great. Can't wait until then."

"Catch ya' later."

Monday night, Brad "Paul" comes over and I make myself scarce upstairs with the other girls. He finally leaves and I go downstairs. Tracy was in a weird mood, I could tell, and I didn't ask her right away what was wrong. Finally, she just tells me, ""P" stands for "Paula"."

"What?"

"'P' stands for "Paula"."

"Oh."

"He says it's his "ex" girlfriend."

"Uh..I dunno Tracy. That still doesn't sound right. Why would a guy be wearing his "ex" girlfriend's necklace unless he was still with her or still had a thing for her?"

"I found her picture in his wallet."

"Umm...how did you do that?"

"I asked him if I could see his driver's license picture. We were talking about how bad they were."

"Oh." This is where I get to say, "doh". What a bonehead that guy was. He hands his wallet with a picture of his girlfriend in it to the girl he was trying to hook up with. "Doh".

"It had her first and last name on the back. When I questioned him, he grabbed the wallet, took the picture out and tore it up."

"I don't know. That still doesn't sound right."

"Well, I've got her name. I'm going to look it up in the phone book and see if I can find her. Make sure that they are broke up." Yeah. Not quite as stupid as he was hoping, I'm sure.

The next night, the phone rings and it's Burt for me.

"What're ya doin'?"

"Washing dishes. What're ya doin'?"

"I just got off of work."

"Oh. Where are you at? It sounds like cars are driving by."

"Yeah. I'm on the pay phone outside the garage."

"Oh."

"So...you still wanna go out this week?"

"Yeah. Just let me know what day and time. What about Friday?"

"Well...umm...Some of the guys were going out Friday and I was thinking about going with them."

I took the phone away from my ear and looked at it for a second. What the hell? I'm playing second fiddle to his guy friends? "Well, I'd kinda like to know so I can make plans with my friends as well. What about Saturday?"

"Well...I dunno. I need to see what's going on."

"What's goin' on?" Now I'm getting irritated. Are we going on a date or not? "Whattya mean?" My accent was starting to come out.

"Yeah. I don't know. I need to figure it out. Can I call you later this week?"

"How about you give me your phone number and I'll call you?" I was already getting suspicious.

"Well..uuhhh...my phone's disconnected and the only way you can reach me is at work or at my mom's."

Warning lights, "Danger, Will Robbins. Danger." "Fine. Give me those numbers."

"Uuummm...Why don't I just call you?"

"Dude, are we goin' out or not? Pick a day and tell me. I'm not gonna sit around all week why you try ta "figure something out"."

"I told you, I don't know."

"Fine. I know and the answer is, "no". Good-bye." I hung up the phone really hard and started washing the dishes, splashing them around.

Tracy comes out of her bedroom, "Who was that?"

"Burt."

"Are you guy's goin' out?"

"No."

"How come?"

"Because I think he's an asshole. Did you find Paula what's her name?"

"Not yet. I'm still calling. Six people so far and nobody's heard of her."

"I think you'd better find out." Yeah. I was really suspicious by then, but I didn't want to rain on Tracy's parade. Not to mention she was always hard headed and had to find things out for herself. You couldn't tell her anything.

The next day, Tracy finds Paula What's-her-name. She and Brad were NOT broke up. At least, not until she got that phone call and Tracy tells her where she met Brad and how she found out about Paula What's-her-name. I'm sure about ten minutes later they were. Broke up that is.

"Burt's married, by the way." What? Son of a...I knew there was something wrong with that guy. "And his wife is nine months pregnant."

Oh, yeah. Burt was an asshole and I had my first lesson in "crash and burn".

11 comments:

Jason Rubenstein said...

Wow, you got the big whammy, first time out. I know guys like that.. drives me nuts. Married, kid or kid-on-the-way, and the wedding ring goes into the pocket when we enter the pub. (not friends of mine, but co-workers at wherever I was working at the time). And as soon as I am talking to some woman, one of them walks up and crashes the conversation, eager to "steal the action" because its all about the competition, right? [/sarcasm].

Ok, you asked me to share, I'm gonna share!! (heh!!)

Age: 25. Met incredibly cute bartender, talk to incredibly cute bartender, play gigs at bar where incredibly cute bartender works. Do this for a month or so, get to know each other, get invited to bartenders' apartment one evening after close. She and I made out, and (fast forward blurry pic and cross-fades of delighful evenings spent doing delightful things...) finally she comes over to my place with more and more stuff, and starts to live in my apartment. Warning signs? Hell no, I was willingly blissfully blind to any flashing red lights. Hey, she used to walk around practically naked.. I'm a guy, how much thinking did I really have to do (especially at that age)??.
[soundtrack: Steely Dan, Haitian Divorce excerpt: ".. Some children grow in a peculiar way.."] So, I learned my lessons the tough way. I earned them. Anyway, so.. one day, after 3 blissful and creative months, I come home from work and she's packing her stuff. (It turns out she'd been kicked out by her roommate for not paying rent months before, and she moved in with me because she knew I was a pushover). "Whassup?" I ask. Her reply: "Oh, my boyfriend moved back to town from NYC, and I'm moving in with him. Thanks for everything, you're really nice. Bye!"

Poof. Gone. First lesson in giving my heart to an unworthy soul and getting it roasted and smoked to a crisp over a slow flame.

OOPS. But, I was wiser from that point forward, I can tell you!

Kat said...

Yeah...I thought I was wiser, too. I had to get one more lump, though, before I had the whole gig totally figured out. But that's for "Crash and Burn" part II. Later. Much later. And for once, the girlfriends' radars weren't working to well.

Dude, that really sucks about the girl user. Although, I unfortunately had a friend that was just like that. She set me up to be her alibi without asking. I was really pissed off. I thought her current boyfriend was just a tad bit on the bum side, but he was actually nice otherwise and I felt really bad. Not that I didn't cover her ass, but when she got back she had to get an hour long lecture from me and she never did that to me again. Unfortunately, it didn't make her behave differently with her next three boyfriends. She was one of those kind that wouldn't leave the other boyfriend until she was sure of the next boyfriend and every guy fell for it.

Of course, she was gorgeous and came from money. Some things can really blind people. including emotions I obviously.

Jason Rubenstein said...

Huh.. funny, this gal was stunning and from money as well. And the combination of my naivete, willful blindness and the desire for a regular g/f was enough for me to fall for it.

The next couple of g/f's were OK..normal, 'lets see where this takes us' kinds of things where you figure it out as you go along.

I didn't really get scorched until recently, and that wasn't anyone's fault per se, it was really the clash of two psychologies that never should have connected in the first place. More on that some other time.

Michael_the_Archangel said...

Allow me give you a great big THANK YOU - I have two teenage daughters, one is 17, one is 15 - they are a junior and a freshman in high school so they have a little ways to go. They ONLY take so much advice and information from mom and me - HOWEVER - taking it from a total stranger, heck that's a completely different situation (I know, they have no axe to grind, no power trip, etc). So I'm taking your posts and editing (just a bit) and passing it on. Like you, I know (their mom and I were both there) they will end up in situations where the internal warning alarm is going off. I know that they will wonder if they should listen to that alarm or what. Time for them to learn that "Yes, you SHOULD listen."

My youngest and I have had several very interesting (to me) talks recently about sex, boys, etc. She asked me to use one word to explain boys - I said horney, that they are very simple creatures and figure that 99% are just out to get what they can get from you. My one word for women was stupid. I explained it was because they tried to make men more complicated and tried to read more into men than what there is (remember horney?). I told her that when she runs across one that treats her like a queen, even though she isn't putting out - she's got someone to look a little deeper into.

My wife and I are from the 80's era, you're from the 90's era; and nothing really changed. My guess is that in the new century nothing has changed either (when you get down to the basics).

Kat said...

Michael...feel free to use it. I would love to see what "parts" you edited. :)

I just want to see how much you think your girls don't know. So I can tell you what to leave in next time. LOL

In regards to things not changing, they don't people are the same kind, trying to grow, trying to find their place. Human nature doesn't change with hairstyles, clotes, music or cars.

By the way...if you think this is good, wait until tomorrow when I talk about drugs and the terrible things it did to people I knew and how it impacted me even though I didn't do any personally.

Maybe I can sell this whole story as a must read for highschool girls and up on how to deal with the world? Why it's ok to be single (hahahaha), stay out of trouble, deal with heartbreaks (I haven't even got there yet) take care of your finances (cause when your 18 you have no idea how important a credit score is)...and on and on and on.

A real life person's memoirs, not a movie star or a victim, etc. It's funny how many people read the enquirer or people magazine to learn about the "exciting life" of celebrities when their own life is right in front of them and it's just as exciting, crappy, happy, sad as Brad Pitt's or Jennifer Aniston it's just that nobody is writing a sensational story about it.

Jason Rubenstein said...

Everyone has a story.. yep. Split Enz did a song about that... one of the Finn brothers put his life into lyrics, they did a song (on Dirty Creatures,I think) and at the end, he simply says that everyone has a story. . .

I will write mine for my nephew and nieces, as I've followed the less-trodden path to this point.

These posts of yours are getting saved, so my sister can show it to my nieces when they're old enough!!

And it's great to read the perspective from the other side - I always thought you women had the answers while us men staggered around in the dark, trying to figure it (and you!) out. Hell, I always thought you girls had us guys all figured out all along.. you mean it isn't true?!?!?

Michael: oh, boy - teach them well. It's been tough to watch some cool nice woman leave with some slug at a party and wonder "what the HELL is she thinking? That guy's an asshole. . ." watch as she discovers that yes, indeed, he's exactly that.

And please tell them there is no such thing as "too nice". There is simply "I'm not attracted to you" But "too nice" just sounds awful and makes the person saying it sound really stupid. Because the guys who aren't "too nice" end up this week's featured, er, guest-star on "Cops"!!!! ;-)

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

"Too nice" is a nice way to say "desperate", and desperate's not attractive to either sex. Even if it's a hot chick and you're a horny guy, if she's acting desperate that's gotta set off the warning lights. Case in point, hot blonde puts out to me on the first date, and while part of me is thinking "SCORE", ding ding ding, another part of me is wondering what the "catch" is going to be. Second date, she brings over her baby and baby crib, and starts sizing up my guest room to see if the crib would fit in there. Yep, THAT was the catch. ::does the sound effect of the needle ripping across the vinyl record::

Slight correction, Kat: it's "danger, Will RobinSON!" As in the Robinson family in "Lost in Space". I don't correct a lot of spelling, but when it's a core piece of key American pop culture, I feel it a civic duty. ;)

Jason Rubenstein said...

Cig..

Nail; Hammer; hit it square on the head. You're absolutely right. At least desperate or overly-eager, and there may not be much difference between the two.

Kat said...

Thanks Ciggy...I'll be fixing that. I kind of thought that was the case and that it was supposed to be like "Swiss Family Robinson", but then my mind started playing tricks on me and I started saying in my mind. I couldn't decide which was right and I was too lazy to look it up. But, since this is a ..ahem..serious piece of literature, I suppose I must make an effort to make it as accurate as possible. LOL

Now you see, there are somethings that are not different between the sexes. We want to be liked. sometimes, we think that the actions of the opposite sex mean that they "like" us when in reality their actions are pretty darn self serving. Of course, then we also learn that humans, in general, are pretty darn selfish people. We can't help it. It's like DNA that programs self preservation. It is what we learn socially that determines how far we are willing to go in either accepting that selfishness or practicing our preservation.

MichaelH121 said...

Okay Kat 2 more sections of the book at my place.


Next since everyone seems to have horror stories here's one and On my EYES it is the truth.

Going out with a girl for about 8 months. My Father at the same time was in the Hospital. SO I was going to visit him a lot. She called me one day and said its over not that it got a real start mind you. I asked why she said I was selfish. HUH! Okay my dad passed away about a week later. I'd known her for eight months.

At the Funeral Home which actually was only 5 blocks from were she lived she showed up that evening. I did not say one word to her. We buried my Dad the next day. At home after the Funeral My little sister answers the phone. It's her. She wanted to talk to me. I gave in, she said sorry about your Dad. I said thanks and my older sister whom I had not seen in 6 years was here so I had to go.

She called back the next day, she had started out friends with my little sis. She talked to her and told her, "Your brother is not really my type, but he is attractive and intelligent, do you think he would help me have a baby?" my sister said her head about exploded. She continued, "I think the baby would be cute and smart, he won't have to pay anything, I would not list the father." My little sister told her to go to hell.

She told me, my only reaction was that I was not a donor.

I gave my little sister my house. I gave her a 1991 Toyota. Built her a PC, which she just called me yesterday thanking me again for the PC she just got an A on her Nursing Class.

So I am a nice bro, but I AIN'T NO SPERM DONOR.

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

I can donate, community-minded person that I am...