Colorless Green Ideas Unintentionally Amusing In Person
Friday, January 31, 2003
Where, oh, where…
Dooce and Mrs. Kennedy have both posted reminiscences about Boyfriends-Past lately. Those posts, combined with my forthcoming trip back to the ol’ hometown, have got me thinking about old friends, old boyfriends, and old times. Which, on one hand, is kind of dippy, since I am still under 30, and “old times” pretty much means “high school”. But I did just skip out on my 10-year reunion last summer, so maybe I should be feeling curious about some of those people who were once important to me.
I actually do know what happened to a few of them… my friend Amy, for example, has spent the last decade developing and battling her addictions, and another friend (who was also, temporarily, a boyfriend, for a week or two during senior year) now teaches Social Studies at our old high school, and has three kids (with the former girlfriend, now wife, whom he was briefly parted from during our short romance), and another acquaintance (the Apple Blossom Queen our senior year) went to Harvard, where she was Miss Massachusetts, and was a semi-finalist in the 1996 Miss America pageant, and lived in New York and San Francisco, and now lives in New Zealand with her husband. So really, depending on who I focus on, I can either feel really successful, or kind of mediocre, or like a total loser, even though all of these people have created lives that are not really what I want for myself, and not really what I am working towards. (I mean, don’t you have to prance around in a bathing suit and high heels to be Miss Massachusetts? I don’t have that kind of balance!)
But I still wonder about the people who I haven’t seen, haven’t heard anything about. People who I hung out with, or thought I was in love with, most particularly. Like the boyfriend I had during my first year of college, when I was attending community college in my hometown with about half of my graduating class, so it was just like high school, only you could smoke between classes. He graduated the year before I did, and we started dating during the summer, before he had to go back to college. I had known him in high school, but he hung out with a different group of people, so we were never friendly until a party in June 1993, when we suddenly got very very friendly. He was sweet, and listened to Stone Temple Pilots and Temple of the Dog, and he played guitar, and one night he sang me part of the Nelson Twins’ “More Than Words”, which might have meant that he loved me, I don’t know. He paid me one of the best compliments I have ever received—he told me that although he hadn’t intended this relationship to be a big deal, he found himself thinking about me while he was at work, and it made him happy. He introduced me to his father, briefly, although I think, from the little he said about them, that he was not proud of his parents, or what they had done with their lives, and done to each other. I don’t really know if I loved him—but I know I thought I did. I don’t know if he loved me—but I know I hoped he did. We broke up just before he was due to come home for Christmas break, though I don’t remember exactly why. I suspect that I wanted more out of the relationship that he was ready to give. I wonder what happened to him. I wonder what he’s like, and how he has shaped his life, and whether he feels like he’s done more with himself than his father did. I wonder what might have happened if we had come together a few years later, when I might have been more patient, and he might have less apprehensive. And I don’t know.
And that’s the thing about these Boyfriends-Past, you can never know. They have the advantage of time and fantasy, which allows for endless speculation and boundless vagueness. A daydream boyfriend will never leave the toilet seat up, or forget to mail the phone bill—instead, he will meticulously plan surprise getaways, and call you his inspiration and his saving grace, and always be ready to go when you want to leave, and always want the same thing for dinner that you do. It gives them a huge advantage over any real-life person, and, if you never see the guy in real life, you can never prove that he wouldn’t be like that, no matter how improbable it is.
Once you have completely screwed up the fifth or sixth simple task at work, you should just get to go home. I mean, clearly, I am a menace to normal productivity standards today. I wasted half-a-dozen labels trying to type an address, I wasted a bunch of letterhead trying to print a letter, and I have now wasted three of those big padded envelopes trying to assemble everything for this damn letter. I'm just destroying resources! Didn't someone say we were having a budget crisis? It's all me!!!
I even fell out of a chair earlier, when it rolled sneakily out from under me as I tried to sit down.