If you are a regular reader of this blog, you might think that I am still stinging from every girl that ever dumped me. However, that’s not the case. Most of my relationships never got far enough off the ground to crash and burn, and some of them I was even responsible for ending. So you see I’m not really hung up on every girl I’ve met, just the ones who read this blog. (Hi Mrs. 20 P!)
Yes, I am ashamed to admit it, but even lonely, pathetic old me has broken up with someone. May Lord have pity on my soul, and may the record show that it wasn’t them. It was me.
No seriously. My bad.
The relationships we have in our teenage years are just spring training for the ones that really matter. If we are lucky, we commit all our errors during the preseason, and learn from them before opening day. Still, that doesn’t make the memory of beaning someone in the head any better. Of all the stupid, bonehead ways that I have found to hurt women, I think the one that I am most ashamed of, occurred during my Junior Year at Clarkson. I still wince thinking about it. So of course, I am going to share the story with you now. (Blogs were made for picking at scabs.)
She was a punk rock girl, and no, her name wasn’t Sheena. We met one night while we were at a bar to see a mutual friend play with his band. They weren’t much of a band, but in the frozen wasteland of the North Country, four guys banging out classic punk rock tunes was about as good as it got for live entertainment. Our only other option was the crappy 80’s dance tunes at the Bali Hai.
Their name was Wayneless, because the guy that was initially supposed to be their bassist, Wayne, never showed up for any practices or gigs. They never cut a CD, or went on tour. How they managed to convince one of the local bar owners to let them play is quite beyond me. But somehow they did, and so one Saturday night in early December of 1988, my friends and I dusted off our fake ID’s so we could get in to see Wayneless pound away at 3 chord punk tunes from The Buzzcocks, The Ramones, The Clash, The Damned, The Sex Pistols, Killing Joke, and others.
Among the crowd there that night was the punk rock girl. I had seen her before at some of the parties that my friends hosted at their apartment in Woodstock Village. She hung out with another girl, and they were notable for being the only 2 girls on campus that even remotely looked like they were into punk rock. They were both about 5 foot tall and were always together, to the point that I just assumed they were dating. (She drove a Subaru, so cut me some slack here folks!)
So I was surprised when about half way through the night, as we sat next to each other on a bench between sets, that her knee started rubbing up against my thigh. At first I thought, she must have confused me with the table, so I scooted over to give her some room. About 30 seconds later, her knee was rubbing against my thigh again.
Now, I wasn’t the smoothest operator in the room, so it took a few minutes for this turn of events to sink in, but when it did I realized that for the first time in my life, a girl was actually hitting on me. I was at a total loss as to what I was supposed to do now. After all, this was a unique occurrence, and one that the good Sister’s at Notre Dame and St. Joseph’s never prepared me for. So I put my hand on her knee and started rubbing her leg. Before the last set was over, she had whispered into my ear to ask if I wanted to go home with her.
Now, I was beginning to suspect that she was part of an elaborate practical joke. However, none of my friends were smirking, or smiling, or even seemed to notice all the footsy going on under the table. My first thought was “Damn, I don’t have a toothbrush along, or even a change of clothes.” For the first time in my life, I finally understood why Mom always wanted to make sure I left the house wearing clean underwear. (Thanks Mom!)
Needless to say, I eventually came around, and after stuttering, and stammering like an idiot, we put on our coats and excused ourselves. My friends looked puzzled. I’m sure they assumed that she had just ruptured an appendix, and I was taking her to the hospital.
Her apartment was just a few blocks down Market Street from the bar. She roomed with her girl friend in the upstairs of an old house that had been divided up into apartments. We held hands as we walked, and I had absolutely no idea what I should say to her. After all, I may be cheap, but I never considered myself “easy”. The thought of being picked up in a bar by a punk rock girl was slightly intimidating, not the least because until that evening I had assumed she was gay. What was she expecting when we got back to her apartment? Was I supposed to ask? Was I supposed to make the first move, or would she?
Well, I needn’t have worried. As soon as our coats were off we were sitting on the couch making out. Thankfully, making out was all that was required of me that night. (Stop! The Nun’s didn’t raise me to be that kind of boy!)
After the clock hit 4 am, I finally got up and excused myself and walked the six blocks back to my dorm. It was cold, I was sober, and all I could think was “What the hell just happened?” I had no idea how, or why we had ended up together. She wasn’t someone that I had ever looked at and been attracted to. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do next, so I climbed the steps to my dorm room, and slept on it.
In the morning I was just as confused. A little after lunch time the phone rang, and it was the punk rock girl. We talked for a bit, and before we hung up I asked her out for the following night. I had absolutely no idea what we would do on our date. In the end, it didn’t matter. We pretty much spent the night listening to music and making out on her couch again.
Now don’t misunderstand me. I wasn’t there against my will. But I knew in my heart that I did not have any feelings for her, and that what I was doing was wrong, but I just did not know how to say no. Saying “no” to a girl is not something I ever thought I would need to worry about.
After the first date, I felt obligated to ask her out again.
After the second date, it became even more apparent, that aside from music, we didn’t really have anything in common. She was Jewish, drove a Subaru, and lived in rural Vermont. I was a Catholic kid from po-dunk Western New York that shopped at J.C. Penney’s. I even discovered that she was in a sorority, which struck me as most irreconcilable difference between us.
During Christmas break she called me up, and told me that she was going to be in Rochester for the weekend, and wanted to know if we could get together and see a show. That night in some dive bar, watching some forgettable Ska band, she asked me to go to her Sorority Semi-Formal when we got back from the holidays. Like a fool I said yes.
Now I was getting really deep into it. I spent the holiday break shopping the after Christmas sale at Penney’s for a sport coat, a tie and dress pants. It had been 3 years since I had dressed up for anything, and none of those old high school clothes fit me anymore. So I settled on a Navy blue blazer, some grey flannel pants, and a pink and blue paisley tie with matching pink suspenders. (I thought she’d appreciate that I was comfortable enough with my sexuality to wear pink.)
The night of the dance, she asked me to pack a bag and plan on spending the night. The party was at the American Legion, just a few doors down from her apartment. I bought her a corsage, and picked her up, and even in her fancy gown, I wasn’t attracted to her. All night long, all I could think was “How am I going to do this? I don’t love this girl. I hardly even like this girl. When and how do I go about telling her?”
So I looked in the bottom of several bottles of Utica Club beer to see if I could find the answer. Alas, it wasn’t there. Instead I just got sloppy, embarrassingly drunk. We walked back to her apartment, and she climbed the stairs. My heart was pounding audibly inside my chest. She led me to her room. My mouth was dry, and I was sweating all over. She dimmed the lights. I started feeling light headed. We were half undressed, when I finally blurted out that I-wasn’t-ready-for-a-commitment-it-wasn’t-her-it-was-me-can-we-just-be-friends?, and every other excuse I could come up with. Then I got dressed, gathered up my overnight bag, and slunk home like some venomous reptile.
I managed to avoid her until late March, when we saw each other at a party. She was very cool about it, and we pretended that none of it had ever happened. My cheeks burned red with embarrassment the whole night.
In the end, there were two things that I learned from my short, failed relationship with the punk rock girl.
1.) I look pretty good in pink suspenders.
2.) You can’t fool your heart into doing something it doesn’t want to do.
Ever since then I have added those lessons to the rules I try to live by.
Well, except for the part about the suspenders.