Friday, March 23, 2007

When I was 15, my best friends were these two brothers in the neighborhood. I would go to their house every day after school and hang out. One day they wouldn't open the door for me. They were home. I could see them through the window. But they pretended I was invisible. They had new friends over.

That was pretty much the worst and the best thing to happen. Had I remained friends with them, I probably would have turned into a real tool. On the other hand, being exiled from nearly all of my friends was devastating.

In the aftermath, I began spending a few hours in the school library after classes every day. I would do all of my homework, then walk home. This brought my GPA up a lot, but I was really lonely. Sometimes I even cut myself.

It was during this blue period that I met a girl named Julie Williams.

She was sitting alone at a table in the library. It looked like she was either writing a letter or writing in a journal, or both. She was pretty, but not in an unapproachable way. The main thing about her, the thing that was so attractive to me, was she had this long scar on her cheek. The cumulative effect of the vision of a pretty girl with a scarred face surrounded by journals and papers, was that of a small bird with a broken wing. Immediately I wanted to take care of her.

As it turned out she was a Senior. Bad news for a Sophomore. But also, as it turned out, she was in my Health class. So after coaching myself for a few days I introduced myself to her as we were leaving class one day. We began talking on the phone and sort-of became friends. I guess we were friends. We were friends enough that she expressed insecurity about having fat thighs. (Which she didn't.)

So one day I penciled "Julie has perfect thighs" on the door of her locker. It became a thing I would do on a regular basis. I think she liked it. She even picked me up one Saturday and we went to the mall together so she could buy some shampoo or something. We took pictures in one of those photo booths and she sat on my knee. I can't explain it, but my knee stayed warm, as if she were still sitting there, for hours afterward. I didn't know how to approach her, how to talk to her, how to befriend her. All of which happened somehow. And she had even sat on my lap in a photo booth! How any of this happened was completely beyond me.

Thinking back, in light of day, I see how I was inundated with such insecurity and self-doubt that my conscious self was one step removed from my physical being. I know this sounds like metaphysical-mumbo-jumbo so I'll break it down for you. It was as if I was a small child inside my own head, controlling my awkward teenage self by manipulating knobs and levers.

I was consumed by thoughts of Julie. Instead of the usual recreational cutting of my forearms, I cut a J and a W one day. That was when things began to unravel. Though I covered it with band-aids, someone in whom I had confided told Julie about it, and she demanded I show her. Naturally, she freaked out and didn't want to talk to me any more.

To make matters worse, shortly after that someone penned "Julie has fat thighs" on Julies locker. It wasn't me. I suspect it was one of the other wierdo's also pursuing her. Sabotage. Julie was really mad. Of course she didn't believe me when I insisted I hadn't written it. That was the end of it.

I don't know what happened to Julie. It doesn't matter. It was a learning experience for me. I learned that If I called girls on the phone I could actually carry on a conversation without choking up. I learned that if I studied a little bit I could get straight A's. I learned that I would rather have friends than study. And I learned that no matter how often you tell a girl, she'll never believe she has perfect thighs.

1 comment:

Martin said...

Dave,
I will see if I can get my son (17) to come to Moab with me, and you can just counsel him the whole time! I unfortunatly didn't get a clue about girls until college....bummer.

Marty