|WAXING OFF: COME BACK! YOU'RE THE ONE WHO GOT AWAY.|
|By Kelly Mills, Maddie Glass, Noelle Hancock, Michelle Goodman, Lea Storry, Litsa Dremousis and Aileen Gallagher||
In the past three years, the Black Table has been fortunate enough to have so many wonderful women share some of their most embarrassing, disgusting, incriminating, and ridiculous stories for the Waxing Off section. They've grossed us out sometimes. They've even made us laugh uncontrollably sometimes. They've made us completely skeptical of our current and future girlfriends, well, all the time. And we thank them. All of them. Those who've ran in this section in the past. Those who always submitted, but were never published. You all rule.
Since this is the last Waxing Off, instead of asking these lovely ladies to write about something that would make us blush (or puke), we've asked them to put aside their dirty mouths and embrace the melancholy, the infinite sadness and any other Smashing Pumpkins album that has to do with being very, very blue. But some brought their dirty mouths anyway. It's okay. They're always welcome.
So, this is about break ups -- specifically, the boys that got away from these gals. Ones they'll never forget, though. It's always tough to say goodbye. We know. So, we'll just say "See you later." For now.
Having finally recognized that guys don't have to be drunk, obsessed with their wang, or banging your best friend to be foxy, you feel thirtysomethingishly smug about your current choice of mates. One whose car even has a muffler. But then he emails you -- your high-school boyfriend, not your first lay or love, but the first who got away. And for a millisecond, you swoon.
He was your typical teenage Romeo: hot, horny, and hitting on your mom every time you turned your back. And like all empty-calorie boys who slip through your fingers, his chiseled cheeks, emerald eyes, and parachute pants make a cameo in your dreams whenever you're licking your wounds from another love gone sour, or every three months, whichever comes first.
Senior year you were inseparable, you were the Bonnie and Clyde of fucking. You'd cut class to see how many times you could screw before his parents came home from work (eleven was your record; you beamed with pride when he told all his friends). During those heavenly seven seconds of foreplay, he'd whisper sweet nothings in your ear, like "Christ, why aren't you wet yet?"
Unlike most high-school guys, he wasn't afraid of PDA. And not just the requisite dry humping against your locker. You'd do it on your parents' front lawn after school, until the neighbors complained. You'd do it on the beach during brilliant 85-degree summer afternoons, until strangers covering their children's eyes yelled at you to stop. You'd do it in the neighbor's hot tub at 3 a.m., until the cops chased you on foot, still naked, clear to the next town.
And here he is umpteen years later, emailing you through some FindYourLongLostMulletedClassmates.com website, telling you about his minivan and wife and kids, the son he named after Jimmy Page. It's your High Fidelity moment, but before you go all John Cusack on him, you need to do some recon. Googling his Gmail handle -- not his actual name (which you of course tried months ago) -- reveals he's a day trader, badminton champ, and subscriber to HelpMeCheatOnMyMiserableSuburbanWife.com. None of this surprises you.
You dash off a nonchalant and witty reply, priding yourself on your ability to do so. He writes back immediately, this time breaking your heart with his account of life after "collage" and in the "suberbs." Evidently your prince of coitus was so busy hiding the salami in high school he never learned to spell. And evidently you were so hopped up on his sausage you never noticed.
He asked me to marry him.
I don't know if he was joking or not. It was dark in the room. His room in a small house in Africa. The early morning call to prayer at the mosque woke us up.
I was leaving that day. Going back. Back to the Western world. To shopping malls and food courts. To wearing bras and shaving my legs.
He still had at least another year as a British volunteer teacher in the jungle.
I think I laughed in reply to his matrimonial question. Perhaps giggled nervously. I know I didn't respond with words. Instead I let the query float past us. Slip out between the wooden slates in the shutters. Disappear into the slumbering air. A ghost. A whisper that never happened.
He was the first man, not boy, to propose to me. Whether his question was serious, it still held the possibility to transform my life. From just a girlfriend to an endless blue sky future. He had thought this much of me to even suggest traveling a path together.
I know this now.
If he had asked again, I would have said "Yes." At least I tell this to myself today when I rethink the moment, blurred by time. Because here I am. Aged at least seven years. Still waiting.
John was my first real boyfriend, the sophomore year love of my life, and as such he was at the head of the line for a whole bunch of experiences: first guy I ever fucked. First blow job I ever gave. First guy I ever shoved in anger. First guy I ever peed in front of. First guy to see me cry. First guy I ever told how to live his life. He was also the first guy to break my heart, and the first guy (but not the last) to indicate to me that he had moved on to a new relationship by appearing in public with a giant hickey on his neck.
I'm about as sentimental as Mr. Spock, but I confess that I think about him and our relationship with fondness, all because of one simple thing he did. Maybe it says something about me that the most meaningful moment in our relationship happened after the relationship was over. When he dumped me, I held it up as proof that people will always fuck you over. I considered myself played, and spent the next year trashing him publicly. This was high school, remember, and in my teen angst I got fatal attraction enough to give his new girlfriend information that resulted in their break up. I also slept with his friends. It was all-around classy.
Then one night at a party, John approached me on the ratty sofa where I was busy downing wine coolers. "I just wanted to tell you something," he said nervously.
"Uh huh?" I asked, giving him the look I usually reserve for born-again Christians and meter maids.
"I just wanted to tell you how sorry I am about the way I behaved when I broke up with you. I can't believe I was such a jerk." He mumbled, his face twisted with guilt.
"Yeah, don't worry about it." I said coolly. That was the end of the conversation, and I avoided thinking about it much for a while. But looking back, I know he repaired something I didn't even know had broken. I understood that his bad behavior wasn't about me. Everyone makes mistakes. By being man enough to admit it and tell me he was sorry, he went from being my first to being one of my best.
I fell in love after calculus. I was a junior in high school and he passed me every day in the hall after second period. I had planned it that way. Months of hallway "heys" and "whaddups" grew into full-blown conversations. He asked me to homecoming. Etc.
The relationship lasted a year-and-a-half. In that time, we engaged in romantic one-uppery with an energy that just doesn't make it past your teen years. He hijacked the school's PA system to ask me to prom. For his birthday, I sent him a singing telegram. He covered my car in roses while I was at work. I surprised him with a midnight picnic. Of course, our peaks had valleys: When he drunkenly made out with another girl, I punched him in the face.
On Valentine's Day we dressed up for dinner at a chichi restaurant. Strolling through a nearby park afterwards, we came upon a majestic fountain. Inspired, he scooped me up, carried me into the fountain and slow-danced with me in his arms. We exchanged "I love yous" for the first time.
Then -- grinning wickedly -- he dunked me.
In the water. Completely soaking me and my cocktail dress. It was the perfect comic relief for what had become an overly Hallmark moment. I shoved him down and he splashed me. Eventually, our howls of laughter drew a crowd, and everyone applauded as we dragged ourselves out and bowed.
We started a mix tape of "our" songs. Every few weeks, I added a meaningful ballad and hid it in his tape deck. Then he recorded a song and left it in my locker or someplace for me to find. When he left for college my senior year, we mailed the tape across the country, filling it with serenades about how much we missed each other. Looking back now through jade-colored glasses, our mawkishness embarrasses me. Our enthusiasm seems childish, naïve.
Naturally, we broke up over Christmas break. Hours later our cassette appeared on my doorstep. Added to the end of the tape was Clint Black's "I Can't Leave You With A Bad Goodbye." My ex didn't leave me with a bad goodbye, although others inevitably would. He left me with the small, cautious hope I still hold on to nine years later: That, some day, I'll find another guy who loves me enough to go swimming in a three-piece suit.
Recently, my boyfriend broke up with me.
Broke. Up. With. Me.
On the phone.
His voice was calm and measured as he laid out his reasons for ending our relationship.
"Baby, I am cut out for two things: lots of casual sex, and love: one-on-one. I'm in love with you. And I can't be in love with you when you live so far away and I can't see you every day. It's too hard."
My thoughts raced.
But I love you.But you love me.But you said I was the best thing that's ever happened to you.But I want to see you again.But this isn't fair.
I didn't say much. I wish I had a witty, snarky comeback for his arguments. I wish I could say that's how it goes and chalk one up to bad luck.
But I can't. I don't think I'll ever feel that knowing him was bad luck--bad timing, maybe. I'll miss the flash of his smile when he greets me at the airport. The way that, in the middle of a conversation about international politics, he tells me how smart and hot I am. The way he can look at me naked and talk about my body and I never feel self-conscious. And damn it, I'm gonna miss fucking him.
I don't wish we'd never met.
I don't wish we'd never fallen in love.
I do sort of wish I hadn't puked on his dick that one time.
My brother is gone and he's not coming back.
He's not dead or incarcerated, nor does he live out of town: our homes are within ten minutes of each other's. His phone, auto, and mind function properly. But he married someone who hates me and nothing has been the same since.
I'm a year and a half older and from the time we were kids, we had a short hand. Yes, he read my journal and I called him "gay" before I knew what it meant. He accidentally broke my collarbone when we were playing Nerf football and I dumped several pails of kiddie pool water over his head, but mostly we'd revel in poo humor and trade Archie comic books and ride our Schwinn three-speeds 'till we could barely walk. We were inseparable and we were best friends.
In high school, I was the smart one and he was the funny one and perhaps we were both jealous of each other's assignation. But when I was editor of the school paper and he wrote a letter skewering my position on nuclear disarmament, I made sure it ran. When I fell off a desk and dislocated my kneecap, he drove me to physical therapy in the snow. We bought Doors cassettes at Seattle's used record shops and would drive to Burgermaster in our dented Mustang, blaring Morrison Hotel and making up new verses to "Peace Frog". ("There's blood in the streets 'cause I cut myself shaving ")
In college and throughout our twenties, we went to shows (Robyn Hitchcock, R.E.M.), with mutual friends and threw parties that were epic in scope, make-out, and hangovers. (To this day, the phrase "Butter anyone?" elicits laughs in certain circles. Enough said.) When my boyfriend dumped me, my brother nobly threatened to kill him. When my brother sustained a major facial injury, I sat on his bed and engaged in Elephant Man banter. ("Dude, you're not an animal." "I know, I'm a human being. Now get me some fucking Jello.")
Perhaps naively, we assumed we'd be close forever. But one of us married someone who loathes the other one and that's that. Despite repeated phone calls and letters, she won't tell me what it is she thinks I did or didn't do. She's the granddaughter of a Nazi and, perhaps unsurprisingly, embodies the worst Teutonic stereotypes: stony inarticulateness and an irrational hatred of "the other".
Today my brother and I see each other on holidays and at the occasional family dinner. I've moved on, but when I hear "Balloon Man" or "Fall on Me" or anything by Billy Bragg, I miss him in spite of myself. I have jokes to which only he knows the punch lines. Part of me is severed. I have a phantom limb.
The next fifty years should be interesting.
In a sense, they all got away. I am 27 and single for a while now. Could be longer. But it'll happen again. In the meantime, I think of these four. And I thank them for all the love they gave me.
That night you asked me to go for a walk as the paper closed, I was nervous. "You've charmed me," you said. Did you know how fast my heart was beating? "You've charmed me and I've totally fallen for you." I'll tell you something else -- it did not occur to me until I was 19 years old that anyone would ever feel that way about me. So thank you forever for wanting me. You were part of the happiest year of my life.
We were too young and too stupid in college to give us a try, so it's a good thing we waited a couple years until you went away. Before there was a war to fight, you called me more than once from atop a Balkan mountain. Of all the people you could call with a satellite phone, you picked me. I loved hearing that phone ring and the stories you told me. Even after the war, when you came back and we were different, your stories pulled me toward you. I wanted to hear those stories for the rest of my life. You wanted to go get more. Off you went.
I miss the life I shared with you. Living it alone isn't as fun. Or as comforting. We stayed too long at O'Hanlon's one night when the jukebox improbably played great song after great song. We stayed too long at a lot of places. But we told each other new things we'd learned, wrung our hands over people we knew, and pretended that steak made in a toaster oven was delicious. And it was on some night of forgettable normalcy, a night of nothing much, that you turned to me in that warm moment right before you fall asleep and said softly, "You're so special to me." So are you.
And you. You came and went and came and went. You made New Year's my favorite holiday. Taking a break on Day 3, we walked down the boardwalk and sat on a pier. "I wouldn't want to be here with anyone else but you," you whispered, holding me close against the cold. I saw what a future could be then, and I see it now. We've never quite figured it out. And I'll never quite forgive either of us.
Hey Ladies! If you would like to be included on the Waxing Off mailing list for possible inclusion in next month's section, well, you completely missed your opportunity! Too bad! E-mail A.J. Daulerio anyway if you ever need an emergency prom date for your younger siblings.