overhaul / undertow

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

a long and very expository and revealing story about growing up. iffen' you're innarested.

One of my very best friends had her birthday last night. True to form for her, she had forgotten until midday yesterday when she glanced at a reciept from the market and noticed the date: I can almost see her cartoon-like double-take. She's not a space cadet; rather, she just doesn't place much value on birthdays, she isn't the kind to make massive event plans beforehand.

So she called me a few hours after this magical discovery, whooping it up and very happy, and telling me I should meet her and the guys--our old crew, so to speak, at our old hangout, the "Ye Rustic Inn" in Los Feliz. Which, translated, I think means the abysmally meaningless "The Happy." [I know very few people who live in the area who are actually happy, but y'know.]

I could have gone. I wanted to go. I think I wanted to go.

No, wait, I didn't.

Why? Well, I had a brief and aborted romance with one of the folks in this group. He had been a friend first, one for whom I'd felt nothing but camaraderie, until one night when we suddenly found ourselves drunk and kissing at one a.m. and then things suddenly took off in the weirdest and most seriously fucked-up of ways, our relationship akin to a plane that's been shunted onto a haunted runway, with nowhere to go, horrible turbulence, and nothing good that could come of it. Nowhere to land but to crash.

And crash we did: in two, three months I'd fallen in love, been pulled in and rejected and pulled back and re-rejected so many times, and in such cruel and almost sadistic ways, that I felt like a poorly written disc. "We're too much alike, we couldn't have a relationship," he'd say one minute, and the next he'd be all over me. And drunk. Drinking always figured into it.

I flipped out completely until by the end of things I was drawing on myself with razorblades. I'm a stable person, neurotic and intellectual, but I've never been self-destructive. But this had truly brought out the worst in me. It is horrendous to see the capacity we have for self-hate, for cruelty, for being vessels of complete pain and still shining it on, waving it around, "Look at me! I'm nuts! Off the deep end!" So, upon realizing I'd become a complete car wreck dragged out cathedralic for everyone to stare at, I just withdrew and didn't talk to people and stopped talking to him and took the time to....heal. You can only go so far before you realize you're making a complete ass of yourself.

I was once in a six-year relationship. Leaving that was hard. This thing here lasted five months tops, but it tore me up from stem to stern, and I'm still mad and feeling the loss of it all.

So now he's got a girlfriend, the kind you knew in high school, who if you were unpopular you STILL liked her 'cos she was just so nice to everyone--even complete losers like you (still not without that philanthropic twinge--that she'd deign to talk to you was such a point in her favor, like helping the homeless or something)--and she was on every sports team, was in student government, she wasn't saccharine sweet but was instead kind of fun and sometimes even witty, and she ended up the valedictorian. Her every duck in a row. Beloved by all.

I hate women like this. They drive me nuts. Their perfect efficient organization. Their "I'm helping the community...and making bank at the same time!" job. Their lack of any need to wear makeup, their glowing fucking perfection. Their effing attache` case, filled with that perfect balance of work deitritus as well as with efficient bills she plans to pay (on time, of course) and flyers for hip shows in Silverlake clubs. They are so admired by men and worshipped by their boyfriends: "She's so great, I can't imagine why she'd be with a guy like me. She doesn't need me at all."

I am not perfect. I am messy. I am cute, some say I'm pretty, and a smaller percentage even have said I'm beautiful, but it's never without that caveat--that, "....but you're just....not....enough!!!!" unspoken, hanging there in the air. Other women are charmingly troubled; I'm just fucked up. If their hair is a mess, it's a lovely sexy dissaray; I need a damn shower. If their home is an endearing still-life of perfectly placed uncaculated yet somehow just perfect items, I'm a slob. It never fails. As they wail, "No, no, I'm a slob, I need a shower, argh, I'm such a fucking neurotic! I mean, look at how I bite my nails!!!" You look. They are bitten to the base. You find her token flaws adorable. You smile and shake your head reassuringly and say No you aren't, silly, you're beautiful; and they shake their head back at you in sexy, lower-lip-protruding dismay that you could be so blind to their oh-so-obvious faults.

But their faults aren't obvious. They are the chosen ones.

And me? I'm the one who slips by on the side. I'm the one who's too much: too neurotic, too messy, too problematic, going over the edge of cute self-deprecation into the realms of Just Plain Annoying. And I know it.

So, to get back to the point, I simply hate this woman. She is who I would be if I had Breck hair and a perfectly white smile with straight teeth (I'll never have perfectly white teeth 'cos when i was little my mom gave me fluoride pills, which were grape flavored--yum!!!--and when she'd leave the house I'd grab a chair, climb up to the medicine cabinet, and eat them like the yummy purple candy they were. And they discolored my teeth to an off-white which will never go away as it's built into the bone, but damn if they aren't strong as hell--25 years cavity-free, and they had to put acid on 'em three times to get my braces to stick back in Junior High school).

Girls, we all know these women.

And she was gonna be there, with the Ex-Something, who is still so gorgeously beautiful that I'd bronze him if I had the cash, and so while I love my friend and want to be there for her party,.....

she understands, I know, and we can do something to celebrate some other time, and meanwhile I hope he saw my obvious absence for the big "Up Yours" that it was.

I thought we could be friends. I mean, we were friends first, right? But I forget. I forget that as friends, prior to the Hookup That Changed Everything, we'd drifted apart. Because he never talked about anything of consequence. He is a brick wall. A room with no doors. There's stuff on the inside, things I'm sure are dear and true and lovely, but still there is no way in, and I'm done with that typically feminine hammering of the head uselessly on the door of the shut male mouth.

I know many women who'd go anyway and suffer through it.

I feel good, and healthy, and take it as a relieving sign--finally our girl is growing up!--that I am maturing, and learning when to hold 'em, and when to fold 'em,

and when to run.

and there is no shame in that.


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