Chapter 1 – I am not having an Inexplicable Tempter Tantrum
Already it’s too f*cking much, too much too much too much. All at once I can’t handle this pressure. I should have never asked her. Should have just kept it to my damn self. Should have saved it all from crashing down into debris and broken buildings and scattershot remains. Should have not rambled. Should have not opened my trap. Should have never, ever shown up. Fuck this is all too much.
Woody Allen said somewhere that half of life was just showing up. As if all you have to do is position yourself in a certain point at a certain time and fate will take over. Yeah, right.
What all this love stuff is is hard f*cking work. What begins as a purely physical interest—she’s cute, etc—grows into this sort of crush thing you felt in junior high when you weren’t sure what the hell was going on. You’ve pinpointed it now and know that it’s the beginnings of feelings. You talk to the girl. She’s interesting. She has things to say. She laughs at your stupid jokes. It’s going really, really well. Soon, there’s more than a physical interest. There’s emotion there, now, stewing and grabbing and squawking for attention, and you soon have to stop yourself from lunging yourself over to her side of the bar table and telling her that yes, you will move in with her and all of her stuff and get a dog and love her forever. It all begins to be a pinch of heavy lifting, except that you’re high and you enjoy this feeling this girl is giving you. She smiles and you fly. It’s all very easy to smile back, but you know it’s dangerous.
It’s dangerous because there’s no smoke in these bars anymore and she can see right through you’re Shtick, so when the time comes to say, come on, lets go back to my place, she knows you’re full of shit and she buggers off to be with Ted, or Ned, or whoever that tall guy in the football jacket at the bar is called. Rejection, no matter what the scale, hurts, and it hurts so bad that you spend the next two hours playing f*cking pac man at home on the floor, naked and eating Cheetos out of the f*cking bag.
At least, that’s what I do. Except for the Cheetos. I can’t stand Cheetos.
Listen. You won’t believe any of this, so it could all be very, very true and nobody would know the difference. This is a story about me, the sort of real me that goes out and lives like the real me lives, that listens to the same music and sees the same girls and goes to the same school and writes in the same way. This is me, but at the same time it’s not really me. I’m acting, but I’m acting as me, doing what I do. There’s a layer of depth there that most people (actually, everyone who reads this and doesn’t know me) won’t get, because if you don’t know me then you could call this real. But then, the people that know me might not know me well enough to dig the differences, so it might all be understood as real anyway. You with me so far?
Last night I was rejected by girl number 4 in the last two months. Jean. Short, cropped black hair, black skirt, thick socks, white shoes. Liked Hot Hot Heat enough to dance to them. We were at this bar. That’s where I met her, anyway. We danced together. I bought her a screwdriver. That’s what she liked to drink, Screwdrivers. That drove me nuts. She could have been a singer for a punk band. That’s how much cool dripped off her. She had this beauty mark on her left cheek and I wanted to kiss it all night.
She danced so crazy, but you can’t dance normal to rock music. All that head bobbing and slow grinding that happens at hip hop clubs don’t apply here. At the Dance Cave in Toronto, located right above Lee’s Palace on Bloor street, if you’re going to dance then you’ve got to have fun with it. There’s some guy over there doing the chicken dance, but I do not do the chicken dance. I do the shopping cart. This amused Jean, so I did it some more. Guys never know when to quit. I did the shopping cart through almost four different songs. Jean danced like she had no spine, like the fluids were draining and she was trying to keep it all in check by moving around and shaking as fast as possible. After I realized the shopping cart no longer amused Jean, I switched to the grab n’ pull. There isn’t a ton of difference. Over all I’d say I shouldn’t ever be allowed to do what I was doing in front of Jean.
Still, she smiled and because she smiled and told me her name and let me buy her a screwdriver I figured I at least earned the opportunity to follow her when she wiped the sweat-stained black hair from her face and sat down. Modest Mouse came on and I told her how much I loved them and she agreed with me and I felt there was a connection there. We talked about Waking Life and how it really changed our lives back in high school, but how we both found it pretty pedestrian common knowledge now. We got each other. There was laughter. There was more laughter around us, because other people got us. Two guys walked by and laughed at one of her jokes. She was infectious.
We both drank and sat and talked for probably twenty minutes. I felt embarrassed half the time because I knew at any moment she would leave, would forget about me entirely and it would all end in tears. So I sabotaged it all. I told her about the three rejections I’d had previous to this, even though I read in some smutty mens magazine somewhere that I should never, ever talk about previous relationships on a first date. I told her how I felt like I was having a string of bad luck because the ghost of my last relationship was following me around and causing everything to fail. I told her that I probably wasn’t completely over her and it was unintentionally ruining every potentially great time I could have been having.
This is pretty much where she said she needed to use the washroom, got up to the bar and grabbed some jock by his numbers and went back onto the dance floor. And at this point I was stupid enough to think, what the hell did I do?
And then later there would be something of the same meaning as Cheetos and naked pac man, though nothing so concretely similar.
Jean, or rejection #4, wouldn’t have bailed if I hadn’t mentioned my string of bad luck with girls alone (she might find that endearing, actually. I’m not ugly or deformed or anything. Someone once called me hot and grabbed my ass for no reason, and not too far off in the past, either) but it was the mention of the last girlfriend who I wasn’t completely over that must have done it. But even if I hadn’t mentioned her (like I hadn’t the previous three strike-outs) I would have spilled my drink on her top, or she would have broken a heel on the dance floor and hit her head on the way down, or we would have gone back out on the dance floor and I would have done the hippie twirl without realizing. What I mean is that something horrible would have happened to ruin the night that would have been pretty well out of my hands, and therefore right into the hands of my ex girlfriend.
In a vacuum, I could say that all that Jean was was a cute girl with a couple interesting conversation points, and that’s really it. She was attractive for being in front of me and not displeasing, and I sat down across from her with the hopes that she would be interesting to talk to. Whether she was actually interesting beyond the twenty minutes we yelled at one another in a crowded club I’ll never know, just like I’ll never know if she was a shit kisser or if her apartment was boring. Or maybe she was amazing. The thing is, nothing exists in and of itself. I accepted the fact that I’ll never really get to know about everyone in the world in this lifetime a long time ago, and forgot about Jean in every sense except as a statistic. She was the fourth girl that had turned and ran from me in the past two months, and even though three is the magical number for themes and allusions, I can’t say I really stopped too long to think about all this the last time.
So I threw some clothes on and turned on the computer. My desk was cluttered but that was perfect right now. I needed to figure this out within a mass of confusing elements and counteractive possibilities. I needed to be right and wrong on so many levels it gave me a headache. Mostly I just wanted to be over my ex and back with her at the same time so much I nearly fell down right there and sobbed for the rest of the night. I kept myself together because I didn’t have to be that sort of melodramatic asshole when I was all alone.
So Jean was easy to figure out. I came off looking (okay, being) a half-drunken jackass who couldn’t dance worth a shit and couldn’t wait to bring up his ex girlfriend. It still hurt my head to over those sequences of events again, but they at least made sense in a tangible sort of way. Melissa, Denise, and Kat made so much less sense. I opened up a word document and wrote their names like this:
I thought really hard, for like a half an hour, at putting Zoe’s name at the top of that list, but crossed out, but I knew I couldn’t really count her anymore, not if I was to remain sane with my decisions. Realistically she should have always been an option, and it was so hard every second of every day not to call her and tell her that I loved her, and that I didn’t mean all those things I said, and that we should get married and have a dog that would drink the water out of the sprinkler. What kept me from calling was that I did mean the things I said, and when you keep meaning things so deep and long term as what I said, then it becomes difficult to consider going back on them. In the end I decided that for now, it was best not to include her in any of my lists.
I saved the document and turned the computer off and put on a Belle and Sebastian CD and cried myself to sleep because I was in love with the idea of finding love after denying myself what was probably the truest love I’d ever experienced. I considered myself at that moment to be likely the most sensitive person on the planet and knew the next day that would probably change when I knocked the crap out of some guy at some bar at some part of the day that makes it easier to snap and do such things. After the next day I would not be considered so much for anything.