Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Enter Kara

(music to set the mood of the period: Violent Femmes - Nightmares, Sisters of Mercy - Floodland)

A few days before my 18th birthday, my friend Jase pulled up to my driveway with a girl in the passenger seat I had never seen before. He was giving her a ride home from school and he had stopped off to give me my birthday present early. I have no idea what the present he gave me was...but the girl's name was Kara, and I can tell you every single thing she had on as clear as yesterday. She hardly said two words to me that day, and I don't think she even looked at me once. If you'd have asked me what my 'type' of girl was before that day, I wouldn't have known what to say...I had never given it much thought. Standing there, looking at her leaning up against that car with the sun streaming through the trees behind her and her black hair blowing against her face, I instantly found out what my type was. It was like God had written me a prescription.

So, with barely a glance between us, I was smitten. Oh, don't get me wrong, I didn't go and start writing her love letters and trying to woo her...I was mr. cool in those days, after all. I did find myself, totally involuntarilty, thinking about her over the next few days, though. And when she showed up at one of our regular gathering spots later that week, I was delighted. She became a regular member of the crew very quickly (it amazes me how fast seemingly signifigant events happened when you're younger), and also just as quickly was snatched up my my friend Chris...who had the advantage of going to school with her & living nearby. I was mildly upset, but still mr. cool was in effect & I didn't think to much about it. I did make it known that I was attracted to her, but to be fair, at that time, that's all it was...I hadn't really had a chance to get to know her very well yet. That's when the real trouble would start.

But before that happened, into the mix would come Gloria....

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Glorious's results of a misspent youth...

(music to set the mood of the period: Danzig I, Rush - Presto)

Gloria. I didn't mean for Gloria to happen (start of trend). Technically, she's the next Ex in line chronologically, but to understand our story, we have to go back in time a bit....or forward, actually, since our last story. To understand her, we have to talk about a couple of others first....

Before I get too confusing, I'm not going to get too in-depth into the aspects of my life outside of relationships unless it's relevant (or maybe it's ALL relevant...maybe that's the problem). It's a tricky situation, because I don't want this to become an autobiography or some kind of retro-diary; this Project is supposed to concern a specific aspect of my life, and truthfully, I don't know exactly how to best proceed, so I'm just gonna do it & see what happens. First, I suppose I'll have to at least sum up the time between Ex's as concicely as I can.

When we last left yours truly, I had just had my heart broken for the first time, and I had just had my good friend betray me in the process. Needless to say, I didn't take it too well, and being a teenager anyway, the seeds for disaster were plentiful & spread-ready. So, over the course of the next year, my life underwent a rapid change over to the seedier side of life. I grew my hair long, got tattooed, started smoking, discovered pot (although booze was never my bag, baby), and generally turned into everything my momma was afraid of. I wasn't such a bad little punk under it all...I was still me, and I ain't really such a bad guy, but I was pissed, and it showed.

Estranged now from my old school buddies, I found comfort & acceptance in the aptly named Wrong Crowd; a loose clique of around 20-30 kids that had a revolving door policy and fashion sense & social graces as baroque as mine at the time. In this circle of leather jackets, safety pins & eyeliner, I learned what it means to be a man. Physically, that is. Andi & I had never gotten around to doing the actual deed proper (although I heard she gave it up to Lee less than a week after we last heard from her), but lucky for me, there were a few spiky-haired fishnetted nameless nymphs willing to show me the ropes. I can't remember the name of the first one to save my life, and only glimpses of the 1 or 2 others, but they didn't mean anything....they were a means to an end, just as I was to them at the time, and we might have had Fugazi on the stereo and my shirt might have said Burning on the inside , but in my head, me & Bob Seegar were workin' on the night moves...

After about a year of walking on the wild side, I had all but forgotten Andi. Pity, too, seeing as how much I had utterly fucked my life up over her. Nevertheless, the young mind moves fast, and that year was filled with more distractions than any ever since...that should be a whole blog in itself someday of another sort. I was going nowhere fast, but I was having a grand ol' time getting there. The last thing on my mind (and you'll hear this again, too) was a girl. Maybe girlS, but not a girl. Well, okay...maybe there was one.

One of the new disreputable friends I had made was an extraordinarily talented artist & musician named Jerry. He & I had radically different tastes in almost everything, but we both liked to smoke a lot of dope & piss off the man, so it was a friendship made in heaven. Also, Jerry had a younger sister...

Her name was, and is, Roxanne. She was 14 to my 17 when we first met, and even at that young & desperate age I knew she was a little too young for that point anyway. Nowadays I guess it would have been no problem, but in the 80's, people still had consciences and I never could bring myself to seriously persue it....not too seriously, anyway. She knew I always was kinda sweet on her...and who wouldn't be; she had the biggest brown eyes you ever saw and a smile that could light up six counties. She just saw me as her brother's older, geeky friend, I was out of luck. Again, being young, wild & bohemian, I didn't let it get me too down, and since I knew that if nothing else the timing was not right I carried on, but I always thought about her.

In fact, for a short time...about a year, we were damn near best friends. We talked on the phone constantly, and when I visited their house, it was her room that I spent most of my time in. I tried & tried to look at her as just the younger sister I never had...but she was just so damn purty. And she could sing....I didn't mention that; she could melt your heart out right out through your flip-flops. It was was the first real crush I had had since Andi, and it was all the harder because I knew that it wasn't going to go anywhere anytime soon. But, once again, I was young & easily distracted. And boy was I about to be distracted. Boy howdy.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Andi - Part 2

"Ain't no doubt about it, we were doubly blessed...'cus we were barely seventeen & we were barely dressed..."
Meat Loaf - Paradise by the Dashboard Light

So anyway, I'm 16 and I'm in the middle of my first real relationship. The early days are hazy, but I can probably distill it down for you pretty easy...side one of Journey's Escape should do it nicely & save me a lot of writing. Either way, a big milestone had to be my first real makeout session, which occured on the sofa in my grandma's house while watching Prince of Darkness on Betamax. I was a fumbling idiot, but I took it a step further...while engaged in my first kiss lasting over 30 seconds, I hadn't quite gotten control of my tongue & glands at that age, and I actually managed to literally drool all over her at one point. Thank god she didn't even bat an eye...hell, for all we knew it was par for the course I suppose.

Our early explorations in that area moved a lot faster than I had anticipated, but then again, I had low expectations for myself at that point. Don't get me wrong, it was still just heavy-petting kid stuff, but that was plenty to blow my uninitiated mind at the time. I could also reminisce about the, ahem, blossoming womanhood she so perfectly exemplified at the time, but that's beside the point. Long & short of it is: we dug each other; we were kids in love (or whatever it is that kids that age fall into...infatuation always seemed too one-dimensional a word for it. Somebody should coin one. Luvst?) and the world was shiny and new.

Try as I might, the specifics of almost everything we did are totally lost to me now, but I do somewhat remember the Homecoming dance in October of that year; this was the event I had watched for years in all those John Hughes movies & finally it was the kid's time to shine. The pre-natal cravings of the Ego Monster were thunderous that night, I'm sure, because I remember secretly reveling in the fact that I was the one out of my friends that had nabbed the babe & would have her on my arm that night. It was also around this time, strangely enough, that my friends started to break my balls more & more about Andi in that passively-cruel way that only teenagers can accomplish, but more on that later.

The only real memory I have from the dance proper comes from the photo I still have from it, she with her crimped hair & acid-washed denim and I in my Doc Martens and some really goofy red sweater that falls somewhere between the wardrobes of Bill Cosby & Freddy Krueger. Still, we were smiling, she was hot, and I had hair then....oh, for the days. I'm sure we danced to some sweet Robert Plant tunes off The Principle of Moments and maybe even snuck a kiss in when the priests were taking a smoke break. In any case, we were a regular feature at the school dances & functions that semester. I was making my own John hughes movie in my head...not yet knowing that happy endings only come from a mandate from the studio.

A few scattered memories of the next few months come to mind: Thanksgiving dinner at her house, with me sitting at the table wondering if her dad knew I had touched his daughter's breasts; getting a job after school bagging groceries so I could buy her a $150 'friendship ring' for Xmas; getting to third base for the first time in my bedroom on a Monday afternoon after school, the way her body looked with the sunlight pouring in on it through my window; taking her to see a Robert Palmer concert and having my first car accident on the way home (I hit a deer...I couldn't even watch Bambi for years), the both of us standing on the side of the road, scared & holding each other waiting for her parents to come; sneaking away and spending the night at my batchelor uncle's apartment and waking up next to someone for the first time; double-dating with my friend Bryan and doing the old parking-out-by-the-lookout bit, complete with vintage Chevy and Elvis tapes; my 17th birthday and the Springsteen poster she bought me; going to see movie after movie...laughing our asses off at The Naked Gun, holding hands during Rain Man, being confused & depressed after The Accidental Tourist (I let her pick most of the movies...a trick that would
quickly disappear from my repertoire...although I do remember dragging her to Leviathan).

What I don't seem to remember is our first fight...or any fights we had, until the end at least (those I still remember). Hell, we were kids; what did we have to fight about anyway? At least, until we got bored with each other...or, specifically, until she began to get bored of me. It had to happen sometime, in retrospect. nevertheless, as I said before, I had already signed on for the long haul in my mind.
We were together for seven months...that's an eternity in teenage time. Hell, that ain't too bad a run these days. I don't remember exactly how it started, but I remember who it started with: my friend Lee.

Lee was actually Jessica's ex-boyfriend. They had been dating since they were 14 or so (now that's a teenage eternity), and dated through most of the time that Andi & I did. They broke up a few months in, though, leaving Andi & I with a broken-hearted friend each. I'm racking my pot-damaged brain as we speak, but I must have done a damn fine job of blocking out al the bad memories back then, because I honestly can't recall what the first crack in the wall was. I do remember the four of us going to this new teen dance club that had opened up in town (forever firmly establishing my disdain for such places) and noticing over the course of the night that the 2 of them seemed to be getting awfully friendly, but I was able to deny it for at least a while...until the phone call came. That I remember.

"It's not you, it's me". She actually said it, I remember it like yesterday. "I just want to go out and meet some other guys". She actually said that, too. Gotta give her credit in hindsight for not beating around the bush. I remember being on the phone, crying like a girl when my friend Chris walked in on me....I just waved him out of the room, an action very indicative of the way I had been treating my friends since I had found my new playmate. I thought at the time that they were just being jealous assholes...and maybe they were to a point, but it takes two to tango. Sure, I might have had the young and in love excuse, but the bottom line is that I had already alienated a lot of my friends, and now that I was going to need them, I would learn that they wouldn't quite be there for me.

When I found out for sure about Andi & Lee, I felt more alone and betrayed than I had ever imagined anyone could feel. To make it worse, a few days before, Lee had shown his true colors by stealing my grandmother's purse and using her credit cards to go buy clothes for himself & Andi. I guess when you're on a crime spree, why not take the girl along with the cash. So there I was, alone, broken-hearted, without my friends and without any of the capabilities needed to withstand this overwhelming onslaught of new emotions. Took it hard. Real hard. In fact, I damn near hit bottom, or as close to the bottom as a 17 year-old from the suburbs can get without the help of class A drugs. I quit school (I went back, but nevertheless..), I grew my hair long, I started smoking, I began hanging out with my old friend Joe who now ran with 'the wrong crowd', I tossed away my Journey records for Black Flag tapes and I basically just said fuck it all for a little while. Yeah, I know...pretty harsh stuff just for losing your first high-school girlfriend. Surely that has to say something in itself....

I never saw Andi again.

to be continued....

Friday, August 26, 2005

Andi - Part 1

(music to set the mood of the period: Marillion - Clutching at Straws)

I met Andi at a high school football game on a Friday night in early September, 1988. It was the beginning of my sophomore year; I was 16 and had kissed all of one girl in my life... actually the same girl who introduced me to Andi that night. I just realized that I no longer remember the exact date, or what school we were playing, or what she was wearing...details that I'm sure were burned into my mind for a long time, but have obviously become casualties of age. In fact, I really don't remember much of anything about that night, other than I was there with my friends and she was there with our friend Jessica; the aforementioned recipient of my first lip-lock whom we had attended middle school with...they both now went to the local all-girls Catholic school. She wasn't what I'd have called my type before that night, but when you're 16, you can't let something like types get in the way. Regardless, she was very pretty; about 5'6 with long, curly, fiery red hair, freckles, and a face like a porcelain doll. Kirsten Dunst before her time. And she was also blessed with many of the other...qualities desired by the more superficial male types. Or by teenagers. Either way, I was intrigued.

After the game, I think we wen't out to her parents' farm & talked about tipping cows but never actually did it. I do remember we all had a good time doing whatever we did, but even though all us guys were competing for her attention in our own goofy ways, she didn't neccissarily warm up to me more than anyone else, but at the end of the night, I was better friends with Jessica, so I was able to give them a ride home & Jess procured her phone number for me. She prodded me to call her over the next few days....a kind of call I had never really made least not successfully. Eventually, I was persuaded by Jess that the response would be positive...she did have the inside scoop, after all, so I made the call. I don't remember a single, solitary word of it, other than 'yes'. It wasn't the most enthusiastic 'yes' in the world, but I had no frame of reference then & I certainly wasn't going to second-guess anything. So, I had my first real date set for the next Friday night...if only I knew then what I know now.

I don't remember much about the week leading up to it, but I know I was excited. I remember recording.....wait, if I say the name of the song, it will give away a real name... Ok, for sake of argument, say there's a sing called 'Andi'. Well, I taped it off the radio and must have listened to it a hundred times that week while deciding what I was gonna wear and wondering if that was what girls did (and not giving a shit, I had a date, dammit!). Ya, I know...we're early into the story & I'm already goin' a little overboard. Just hang gets worse.

The big night finally came, and I picked her up nervously from her house and we went to see a movie (I'm sure I must have taken her to eat somewhere first, but I don't remember). We tried to sneak into Nightmare on Elm Street IV: The Dream Master but we were spotted by a power-hungry usher all of six months our senior, and forced to go see Liscense to Drive instead....thank you, Corey & Corey. We had a good enough time and I wasn't as nervous as I feared (the ego monster inside me was still in its infancy, but he was a tuff little young'un); we laughed about the lameness of the movie and talked about....something, I'm sure. We ended up back at her house and I didn't get a goodnight kiss, but I did get the o-k for a second date, and that was good enough for was all found money in my book.

The next week I was, of course, even more giddy than before, and already totally convinced I had found the woman I was going to spend eternity with (we Italians are hardwired to work fast & young). I don't remember where our next date was or what we did, but at some point during it, I kissed her (after much prodding from Jess again), we held hands, and in that warp-speed way that only teenage love can work, by the end of the night she was my girlfriend, or more popularly at the time, we were going together...although where we were going & how long it would take to get there was never explained to us. As it turned out, the answer was absolutely nowhere, and about seven months...but we weren't privy to that kind of info just yet.