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Journal: Crying Uncle

Journal by SharpNose

The four years I spent in college were racked by social and emotional misadventures. I went in messed up, with a distorted and negative self-image, and I came out not much different.

About five years ago, I think it was, I decided to see if I could rejoin the Alumni Band, which plays at the Homecoming football game in the month of October. This decision came about during a time when I sought to come to terms with aspects of my life that went badly - aspects about which I was still angry, frustrated, and sad. It was this process that would lead me to embrace Ladder Theory in a couple years' time.

I made the necessary arrangements to do Alumni Band, which were unusual because the instrument I would be playing was electric bass, which requires some accommodation with respect to power and amplification. Anyway, the Alumni Band had a get-together at a bar in town, and I went to that. It was a letdown in that I really didn't know a soul there - most everyone seemed to have come though the pipeline about seven years after I did. Afterward, though, I drove over to campus to have a look around.

Homecoming at this particular school is interesting in that there are all kinds of preparations being made around campus the night before - I won't go into what all is being prepared, but suffice it to say that you can stroll around and see dozens of kids working on weird, outlandish stuff and having a good time doing it.

Walking the grounds at night is one of the more persistent memories I have of the place. It's an ugly campus, set between an urban landscape and an industrial one, and by that time, it was a crazy quilt of structures and edifices built from the 1920s to the 1990s. I found it preferable to wander the campus on weekend nights than stay in my dorm room when I had one for the first three years. I can still easily visualize traversing heaved-up concrete sidewalks and mostly empty parking lots, picking up blasts of beer and sewage smells, hearing and seeing signs of social activity of which I had no part and in which I had no context.

The walks were not always uneventful. It was on such a walk that I saw Jane's unmistakable silhouette as she walked arm-in-arm with her roommate. Once, I thought I saw Elvira riding with a bunch of people on the back of some flatbed truck that a fraternity had rented, not long after I went out with her that one time. I once had a small pumpkin rolled in my direction from a moving vehicle; attached to the pumpkin was some sort of party invitation, so I left the pumpkin for the girls at one of the sorority houses, knowing that it would be they, not I, who would really be welcome. Another time, I had a long chat with this lovely young woman from off-campus who called herself C.J.; she was there for a frat party, saw me, and apparently found me interesting despite my shitty attitude...at first (a guy I knew saw us and horned in; the three of us went into the frat party and I left quickly, having been summarily abandoned).

So, it was a familiar thing, to be walking there more than 20 years later. However, I became aware of something stirring in my psyche. The best way I can think of to describe it is this. I imagined myself as being like an uncle to a student who had lived and worked here 20+ years before - a nephew that I had been very close to; one who had struggled mightily here, yet persevered and was able to graduate, only to die sometime after. He and I communicated often and in depth; I knew very keenly what was on his mind, how he fought to keep himself together despite the isolation, the bitter emotional coldness he endured, the lack of moral support and the unreasonable expectations coming from the rest of his family - the small things that gave him some sense of hope, some satisfaction, some pleasure, just to keep him getting out of bed every day.

Certainly you've figured out that the late, tragic nephew is me.

As I walked around, I thought of all the days and nights my nephew must have walked on this very sidewalk...set foot on this very pavestone...surveyed this very scene through his own eyes.

Something truly profound happened to me that night. I felt love and hurt for my nephew. I felt like I and I alone had an obligation to honor his memory, and to recall and tell his story. You see, no one really knew him like I did; he would be almost totally forgotten if not for me.

He would talk to his friends about getting shit on by X one day and shit on by Y the next, but he didn't let on how deeply troubled and wounded he was to them - how much about his past he stuffed down and didn't talk to anyone about. Nevertheless, he did make a few good friends, and despite caring deeply for several girls who showed varying degrees of disinterest, he only managed to fine one who cared about him in some form or fashion partway through his senior year. If only she hadn't been bad for him; he eventually couldn't stand her but was so hard up for sex and affection that he put up with a lot more than he should have.

He tried to keep up a relationship with a girl he met on the Europe tour right after he graduated high school - that was another case of trying to hang on to someone who'd have him; they were so rare
. Meanwhile, the girl he loved the most didn't want him. Needed him for entertainment value, for intellectual stimulation, but that was all he was good for to her, so that's all she took. He just got to look at her. Clothed.

This bifurcation in my head enabled me to feel love and pride for myself in a way I never had before. It was strangely liberating.

User Journal

Journal: A Vision: Found, In Darkness

Journal by SharpNose

Throughout my life, I have a history of having difficulty going to sleep. Ask my mother; I was a baby, she says, born to be awake. So concerned were my parents, they took me to a doctor and wired me up to an EEG. The doctor's medical opinion: I was..."nosy." Whereas there was no abnormality in my EEG patterns, it was noted that the amplitude of those patterns - if you will, the amount of electricity the machine picked up - was oddly high.

I don't know if this has anything to do with my ability to get to sleep, but when I stop moving and the eyes aren't scanning the surroundings and the ears aren't sorting the world into musical rhythms, my mind takes a bit to wind down. It starts to imagine and remember. And, although my day-to-day life is no longer wracked like this, at times such as these I sense the sadness and isolation that I carried through much of my teens and twenties. I also mourn; my more recent re-evaluation of my past that I have written of here in this journal has brought me realizations that are harsh and unkind. So many opportunities for happiness shut off by my own poor judgment and feelings of worthlessness.

It has been during such times that I will on occasion have a vision. This is very distinct from a dream, for I am wide awake when it occurs. What makes it noteworthy is that the vision seems to have entered my head out of from nowhere, as though it was planted there fully formed. It goes like this.

I am in some cluttered, hidden place where a person would not ordinarily stay; it does not seem at all like a house or an apartment. I have an impression of there being pipes and equipment like you'd find in an old building. I am not so much ill as idled, perhaps beaten down or battered. My family is gone, unknown to me and I to them, and the friends that I had belong to some largely forgotten past. I'm dirty and my clothes are old - perhaps just things I found. I don't do anything anymore; mostly I just lie around in darkness among the pipes or whatever. I have the impression that I stay away from people because I don't want to interact with them. Something must have happened to separate the person I am in the vision irrevocably from the person I am now as I write this. I don't want to have to explain who I am and I don't want to talk about my history because all of that is lost to me now and has become increasingly irrelevant.

As I lie there partially atop and partially behind some pipes or railing or whatever, I hear voices and I can tell someone is coming. I can see what little light enters the room shift a bit as someone enters, but I barely care and I don't bother to move or even look at the person. Just then, I hear someone softly and a bit fearfully call out my name - with a clear questioning inflection. It's a woman's voice. I turn my head a bit, open my eyes more fully, and try to make the woman out in what little light there is in the room, but the thing that stirs my dulled mind is that someone knows my name - a name that no one uses for me anymore, to the point that I don't even think about ever having had a name. Once she realizes I'm there and she draws closer to see who I am, I'm more able to see her in the unlit room and I can see that she's dressed for action, as though she knew she might be on foot out in the open or might have to clamber through old buildings. She seems to have gone to a great deal of trouble and taken risks to find me. She knew me long ago, and while I am having trouble placing the voice and I still can't see her well enough to recognize her (perhaps because I had long since lost my glasses?), it is somehow plain to me that she was looking for me only because she cared about me. As she is looking at me more closely and realizing that I am who she was looking for, I am still confused as to who this woman is and why she would go to the trouble of finding me. I suddenly feel embarrassed and ashamed to be seen in this condition by someone who might have known me when things were very, very different - when I was actually known by the name she called.

When I have this vision, the experience is very short. I can see the shape of the woman coming into the room and I can hear her call my name. I feel like I'm projecting some future time when my fortunes have finally collapsed and/or some change, some calamity, has occurred and has made an idle homeless drifters out of me. I have no idea who the woman could be; I don't know if it's someone I was close to many years before, someone who had fallen in love with me without my knowing it and who sought to find me after learning that I had dropped through the cracks, or someone I haven't even met yet. Is this supposed to be some future time, or is this "lifestyle," if you can call it that, an allegory for how I feel now and I'm hoping someone will come look for me, hoping to rescue me?

Is this a good or a bad vision? It has me living a ruined, bleak life, withdrawn and alone. Yet, a woman appears, apparently someone who has valued me for years - a tenuous link between myself and some long gone reality where I was vital, engaged, and worthwhile.

User Journal

Journal: Violin Bitch

Journal by SharpNose

My transition out of college was something that I don't regard with pride. Things were seeming pretty good my last few months of school - my grades were OK, I had a girlfriend (although I was getting less and less able to put up with her), and I had a two-bedroom apartment to myself (well, except for Sara [not her real name], who had practically moved in). However, all was not right. I was getting money from home to pay the rent and spending cash, and I had no job. Not even a prospect for a job. The companies who, as I was told before I started college, would be banging on my door never materialized. Worse, I didn't really know what to do; I didn't understand the job market or where I could conceivably fit into it. I didn't really have much of a life outside of getting my ass sanded down at school and what music-related things I could get into.

I dusted Sara the night before I graduated, which was the one and only wise thing I did during that period. I must have been pretty sick of her to have preferred no action to having her around. I graduated in early September, and after having resumed contact with Elvira, Mistress of the Frigid Bitch, I kind of went into a holding pattern. At the time, my mother and stepfather were in the house they'd bought south of town by about two hours (I'll call it Mayfield) and that had been my base of operations for about two years or so. In December, my stepfather killed himself (that needs its own story; not even everyone in my whole family knows what I know about that). A month or so later, my mother began pressuring me to take the job offer I had gotten from a military base south of Mayfield although I really didn't want to go live with my mother full time. But I was stuck in the mud mentally and emotionally and I failed to put a stake in the ground and do what I needed to do to gain and keep my independence. I also should have used my knowledge of all that had come before involving my mother to know that living with her is not good for a person; three men had either died or left her home under bad terms; could I not see what it would do to me to be next up? But, go I did, and in so doing I began a life so far from what a guy in his early 20s should be like that it still pains me to this day to think about it.

The base I worked at had a lot of people but it wasn't a great dating zone; there were few women my age around the place and while I came across some alluring older ones, they were too otherwise involved (or married) to get with. There was an influx of people about my age who came down from Memphis and I got to be friends with this blonde named DeDe. DeDe was alright, but it seemed that she wanted her dates and boyfriends big and stupid, and I was neither. The problem with spending any time with DeDe, even just to knock around, was that she was a practitioner of the Better Offer. How does that work? Me: "DeDe, you want to catch a movie Friday night?" DeDe: "Um, I think me and so-and-so and so-and-so were going to do something but I'll let you know." Translation: "I will now call my friends up and arrange something so I have a Better Offer than spending any time with you." Fuck you!! But I'd put up with it anyway - no pride, no hope, no sense of "I deserve better than this." Desperation.

In the years that followed, some of the stories that you read in this journal occured: Warmonger Bitch, the bitter end of the Elvira debacle, and others I haven't told yet. There was one outlet that I had developed that helped with getting my musical ya-yas out, and that was playing for local community theater. The first one I did in Mayfield, and I think this was in the first or second year I was there, was A CHORUS LINE, for which I played drums. The show is such that there are a number of parts that pretty much had to be played by hotties, and the lead (the Cassie character) was a local named Denise who was uber hot. She was also a very agressive flirt, which I did not deal with well. Let me explain that. The theater had a green room (that's the traditional term for a room off the stage that typically adjoins the dressing rooms, etc. and is a general "common area" for performers in a show) and I was sitting on a couch there about a half hour before curtain. On the wall behind me was a bulletin board and one of the things on the bulletin board was a cast phone list. Everyone in the show is supposed to put their phone number next to their name on the list in case there's one of these pucker-factor "where is so-and-so?" emergencies at five minutes to curtain. As I sat there, Denise walked up and looked at the list, and as she did so she lowered her hand onto my arm. She trailed her fingers through my arm hair and said kind of absently, "You know, my phone number's not on this list..." and she walked away. I didn't move or speak while this was happening; it was all just too weird. In later shows, we talked more and I had occasion to see her come on to other guys pretty hard too, and once the rhythm of the show got more ingrained I learned that she and I were both free after what was both *her* big number and *my* big number and we'd both be in the green room afterwards still buzzing. One time when we did this, I was wearing a white t-shirt and Denise walked up and said "hey, watch this, it's funny" and she grabbed my shirt at my chest over to the side. She twisted it up real hard, and when she let go, I was left with this "nipple." I threatened to return the favor (which would have been GREAT what with her thin maroon leotard when she went out on stage next, but I would have only just hardened her real ones for her). I also overheard one of the trumpet players in the orchestra talking about having banged Denise in high school; whereas that may have been bullshit artistry, I figured that it suggested that Denise was not just all flirt and no payoff.

Part of why I still remember Denise and what little interaction we had so vividly to this day is that I've been trying to X-ray what was going on in my mind at the time and why I never even thought for a moment that I could ever really go out with Denise, much less nail her. I know full well what was going on with the phone number list; she was dropping a big hint about getting her phone number (DUH!), but why did I just sit there and not even follow up later? I would have to say that when she reached down and touched my arm with what seemed like real affection, I felt the same way I do when I'm accosted by Jehovah's Witnesses - people who pretend to like you and care about you when they have some sick agenda that they're trying to make you part of. I felt like Denise was being more cruel and manipulative than anything else. Was she? I don't really know; her later thing with the t-shirt would suggest it because while it had a sexual overtone to it, it was also something she did that would be embarassing to me. I didn't deserve to be treated like that and it makes me wonder what I might have suffered at her hands had I asked her for her phone number and pursued anything. If anything else, I think it's reasonable to suspect that had I actually gotten in, I'd have had a lot of company. There were some other nice women around, including a liberal arts student who, I'm pretty sure, appeared in a Playboy "Girls of the [insert college sports conference here]" issue (her face was obscured by huge joke-shop sunglasses and a bubble, but the school and the hair were the same).

So, that show was a bust women-wise, but I never forgot that in the general sense, a community theater is a good environment to be in if you want to find rather hot women.

In the summer of 1989, I realized that I had been crossing a desert of laylessness for almost four years - four years littered with twisted wrecks, many of which were old business (especially Elvira and another left over from the end of high school) and some that had been new business and became old business rather abrubtly (e.g., Warmonger Bitch). Incidentally, none of them, old business or new, lived in Mayfield - I was practicing twisted-wrecking long-distance. On two occasions I had attempted to get something going locally in Mayfield, but they were both set-ups arranged by others and both women turned out to be too airheaded - footnotes only.

The summer musical at Mayfield's largest community theater was to be The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas. I lobbied early to make sure I was in the orchestra for that show, but I also made some deliberate plans based on my observation of interpersonal relationships as they occurred at previous shows I had played in.

The most important observation was that there is an unseen "wall" separating cast from orchestra in musical productions. There are all sorts of reasons why this is so. Physical separation is one; cast and orchestra are often situated away from and sometimes even out of sight of each other. Cast and orchestra are trying to accomplish separate things and are using completely different skill sets in the process. Cast members are conscious of being "pretty people" for the most part, and they're meticulously made up and dressed (often very attractively), whereas musicians can schlub in and look like crap and it doesn't matter. The actors also tend to know each other from past shows or by other interactions as do the musicians, but the actors and the musicians tend to not know each other from past shows even if they've seen each other - because of the wall. Lastly, actors tend to bond as a result of the highs and lows associated with trying to but on a production on time; this tends to shut out anyone else, and the musicians can pretty much do their thing with little interaction with anyone save the musical director. Along those same lines, actors often have to trust each other, adding to the bonding process.

I knew that Whorehouse was a production that required a big cast and the titillating subject matter and the nature of the casting would tend to not only put a lot of lissome wenches in the cast but that there would also be a leakage of the scripted "party atmosphere" into real life. So: what to do? The first thing I decided was that the cast/orchestra wall was artificial and it only worked as a wall when both parties agreed it did. I decided that I would establish a "target list" early on, to go after in no particular order. I also decided that I would increase my visibility as much as possible, even if that meant making rounds "above ground" (for this show, we musicians were ensconced underneath the apron of the stage, but part of the apron was louvered so that the entire cast could see the director from his central position down in the orchestra pit) for no reason other than to see and be seen.

Ordinarily, cast and orchestra rehearse separately and don't actually reheare together until the week before opening night. But, I brought my bass rig early in the process and I would bring my bass over so I could run through the songs with just the pianist playing. I would also run my cord out so that I could stand or sit outside of the orchestra pit as I did so. There were actually perfectly good non-social reasons to do this; I learn songs rather well by ear, and from outside the pit I could better tell how I should have my levels set for good balance as heard by the audience.

This all worked rather well, however, the prime target list wasn't coming together very well. The woman I was the most attracted to (she played a ho) was tall and slim with long, dark brown, straight, and rather thick hair, and she had fair skin and an angular and ethereally beautiful face. Problem was, she had a boyfriend and she smoked; the first issue might have led me to tell her "here's my number - contact me if you find yourself otherwise unescorted" but the second issue was a non-starter, one I've never been able to accept (see the Alison story). One of the more prominent female parts in the show was played by a New York ballet dancer, who was in town with her dancer boyfriend, whose mother choreographed the show and was a bigwig in the theater management - she was kind of a pixie-type, but with an ass you could bounce quarters off of (more about her later). Her boyfriend could have rolled me into a ball and jammed me into a toilet, so I scratched her off (probably not a good idea). There was one other girl with a sweet, soft face and short hair, but I had her age estimated to be maybe 17 (ow). No one else really caught my eye (aside from the lighting director, who was this transplanted New Yawkah with a beautiful body and a thing for wearing tube tops, which I've always found to be highly sexy), but I resolved to be open to any other woman that likewise seemed open.

And, it turned out, there were; there was one who was kind of butchy-looking and a smoker who I got to be friends with (she took on the job of helping me change basses between songs when she and two other women came down to the pit to sing backup on a song), but, naturally, no joy with her.

One night before a show, I was down in the orchestra pit and I was about to step out of the doorway that led underneath the stage and down some steps when the violinist appeared in the doorway coming the other direction, in a bit of a hurry since she had just gotten to the theater and we were only about ten minutes to curtain. I noticed two things about her with no small amount of surprise: she was wearing an odd outfit with suspenders and a blue tuxedo-like blouse, and especially with the help of those suspenders, I saw that she had a pair of rather large and firm breasts on her otherwise beanpole-ish frame (later, she would tell me that she noticed that I noticed them!).

This cast was so fun-loving that they were having cast parties at the *beginning* of the show's run. During one of my rounds through the green room on opening night, I overheard this one guy saying something about a cast party, so I stopped him and asked if I could go. "Sure," he said, and he told me how to get there. Now, I don't do well at parties because I'm introverted; I tend to wind up off to myself and the experience tires me out even when I'm having a good time. But, I did go, and when it turned out that there was a cast party planned the next night, cast members were asking me if I were going. So, breaking the wall worked and worked well, introverted though I was.

I remained aware of my surroundings and circumstances. After one show, the violinist was down in the pit while I was still packing up my axes, and she said that she was supposed to have pizza with some friends after the show, but they weren't there. I guess that I had ingrained it into myself that "any port in a storm" will do, so I just blithely came out with "Well, I'll go get pizza with you" and boom, we were off.

Sue was ten years older than me - 35 to my 25 at the time - and she wasn't really attractive in the face. However, she had a nice personality and a southern-belle drawl that was pleasant to listen to. She wasn't highly educated or well-read, and she wasn't high-tech like me, but she did have a quality that I admired and that was what seemed to be an awareness of self that included her own emotional well-being. Our impromptu pizza date isn't something that I remember very well, but it went okay. It was near the end of the show's run, which meant that if this was going to go anywhere, we needed to be on good enough terms at show's end that we could reasonably stay in touch afterward.

This is kind of an aside but it's a cool sub-story. I mentioned the ballet dancer from New York. She and two other girls were in a scene where they wore something along the lines of Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders outfits: short-shorts, vest, strapless bikini top, open vest, hat, boots. While one of the girls talked to a reporter, the two others - and the ballet dancer was on the left - did a cheerleader-type dance routine while holding a long bar across their shoulders. On either end of the bars were near-life-size floppy-limbed dolls in similar dress, and the gag was that basically that the dolls would flop their limbs around not terribly unlike cheerleaders to lamely give the impression that this was a whole line of cheerleaders and not just two.

Sunday matinee shows were the worst. The after-church crowd would pile in and the average age would be about 70. These shows were the worst not because they came from church or that they were so old, but rather that they came from church and were so old that they were basically comatose. They were acoustic absorption material, mounted in the seats. Only piano played through this cheerleader number and so, having heard it and seen it through the slats in the stage apron over the pit for so long, this number was typically just an interminable bore for the rest of us. As it especially was this particular Sunday with an audience clad in polyester, Brylcreem, and talcum powder. Sitting idly on my stool with my bass balanced on my thigh and staring off into the blackness that was the pit walls, I heard the music director, George, say with a hint of surprise into the headset intercom mic: "What? Oh, my God." I looked up at George and he had suddenly gone bolt upright, both his eyes directed ahead of and above him, through the slats, up at the stage action.

The ballet dancer's strapless bikini top, having by definition no straps, had begun a steady descent, like the big lit-up ball on Times Square at New Year's Eve. This wouldn't have been a big deal and a stage actress would have been able to skillfully and without much fuss dealt with the situation. But the situation was atypical in that her arms, like the arms of the girl next to her, were splayed out at a 180-degree angle across the top of the bar that held up the floppy dolls. She could not use her hands to pull up her top, pick her nose, or do anything else without disrupting the routine, perhaps even dropping the bar. She never missed a step; she never stopped smiling. But, out came one bright pink nipple and then the other, and by the end of the scene, her bikini top was around her waist, and her rockin' firm headlights were hardly concealed by the open vest at all.

And the hell of it was, no one out there seemed to notice.

When she came out of the dressing room at intermission, all of us in the green room gave her a standing (erect?) ovation.

One thing happened later that was really cool - and this is one thing that told me that some women simply existed way outside the inaccessible and deflective women that I was used to. At the cast party after that show with the wardrobe malfunction, a bunch of us were playing volleyball out behind someone's house, and she was playing on one team and I was on the other. We'd rotated such that she and I were facing each other at the net, and she of course knew that I was one of the pervs who had gotten to see the whole shootin' match with the bikini top. She decided to "distract" me when our team was serving by flashing her tits at me, to which I said, "look, I've already seen those today; you're going to have to do better than that." She teased back with "Oh, *you're* the type where once you've seen it, you don't want it anymore, *huh*?" I realize now that even though her boyfriend, like I said, could have pretty much kicked my ass and tied his shoes at the same time, I actually might have been able to follow up on that comment and show her just how much seeing it in no way diminished my wanting it, even if I did so as part of a threesome, foursome, or more-some.

I remember the wrap party being very, very nice. It was held at a cast or crew member's house - a smallish but elegant and old place along one of the town's major streets. The lighting was low in the occupied rooms within which two or three dozen acquaintances and friends convivially shared one last evening together after several weeks of hard work. I did chat with Sue and we exchanged phone numbers. The tall, slim brunette, into whose eyes I had occasion to look directly into from about five feet away while she sang her solo number over my fretless bass work, was especially beautiful that night. Her hair was braided and coiled atop her head, and she wore a spangled top with a light brown harem skirt, and when I told her goodbye that night I wrapped my arms around her smoothly curved waist such that my hands rested on her hips.

But, I did call up the violinist, Sue, and we arranged to go out on a movie date. I picked her up in my car, which at the time was a fairly posh European sedan. She confessed to being a bit nervous, not having dated much since her divorce, as she told me. Sue lived in an apartment and kept her daughter (her only child, about 9 years old at the time) when school was in session. She made her living through music - giving lessons, doing weddings and similar gigs.

We had another date, and it was clear that we had a mutual attraction. Sue wasn't terribly pretty but she had a Southern-belle sweetness about her coupled with a certain transparency of emotion that I would come to appreciate later in my next girlfriend, who I would later marry. At Sue's apartment after that date, an end was put to that four-year empty gulf in my sex life. We were clearly two people who needed intimacy and thought each other suitable for it. I found myself being suprised at her eagerness and the degree to which she lost herself in the act, even when just getting acquainted with me manually. This was a sensual woman, and she wasn't afraid to demonstrate that and she didn't require the near-begging for affection that I seemed to think necessary.

There were issues with our relationship, which lasted just until the fall, not long after her daughter returned from spending the summer with her father out of state. I was a high-tech, forward-looking, and forward-thinking man; Sue was a country girl at heart. Her musical sensibilities and mine really did not jibe; she played bluegrass for fun whereas I couldn't stand the stuff, and whereas I liked jazz and played it on both of my primary instruments, her attempts at playing jazz piano sounded extremely ham-handed, as though she never really listened to the masters of the style and/or didn't grasp the subtleties.

One thing that did bother me about Sue was that, as was quite plainly obvious once we started taking each other's clothes off, she had gotten breast implants. It was, frankly, a botched job. What looked so nice separating her suspenders that one night right before a show were overlarge and unnaturally separated for her bony build, very tightly stretched, and spoiled by four-inch-long and half-inch-thick raised scars under each one. It wasn't just that the result was unattractive; they were awkward and off-putting to interact with, and it all just seemed to call her basic judgment into question. She liked them squeezed a lot harder than I was comfortable squeezing them.

However, to this day, I value my relationship with her because she actually took me seriously as a man and she introduced me to aspects of emotional well-being that appeared to me as a new horizon. There were numerous nights and "nooners" (i.e., extended leave I'd take from work for a dentist appointment, not all of which time was spent at the dentist's office) spent making love that were really wonderful, liberating experiences. Unfortunately, though, the Sarah-engendered problems that I had had actually completing my part of the act interfered with the sex from Sue right from the beginning, and we simply did not have enough time together to work out the issue. We had also become close friends; I recall how she and I stayed on the phone with each other during one of the big hurricanes that were lashing the Southeast coast.

After Sue's daughter returned in time for school to start, seeing Sue on a regular basis did become a lot more difficult. I was not bothered by this initially; I was willing to see her a lot less often. In early October, I went off for a week for a two-family vacation that had become an annual tradition and when I returned, seeing Sue became as easy as getting in to talk to the Pope. I didn't pester, but I did continue expressing my interest until finally, she asked me to come see her play with the Mayfield Symphony Orchestra, after which we'd go for drinks. I went to the auditorium by myself and paid for my own ticket. From where I sat, I couldn't really even see Sue at all. After the performance, I waited out in the hall for a while and Sue eventually came out and we went to a restaurant.

I hadn't seen her for about three weeks by this time, and as we sat at a table with a beer and a Coke, I sensed that something wasn't the same. This was confirmed when she told me that I was a wonderful guy and that I should see other women. I don't remember much else about the conversation but I recall saying that I could adapt to her new time pressures whatever they were. I was genuinely heartbroken when I left, and after I got home, I spent maybe a couple of hours writing her a letter in which I expressed my love for her (which was genuine) and reiterated that I didn't mind a less frequent dating schedule. Not wanting to wait for the mail, I got in my car, drove rather self-consciously over to her apartment, and put the folded letter under one of the windshield wipers of her Honda.

She called me the next day at work and was simply furious at me for pulling "emotional shit." I don't remember what all else she yelled or what all I said. I did know, though, that it was over. When I think about it now, I can see how much desperation and loneliness I brought to the table in that relationship. I have always seemed to have a seriousness about my relationships with women. I can't just date them, maybe even have sex with them, and ramp down the relationship right afterward. I've always seemed to have needed relationships to go on until they're unsustainable. With me, the stakes are very high even from the first date. The stakes are so high and I have dated so little that I have never been turned down for a second date. The closest, I believe, have been a case or two where I have not asked for a second date simply because it seemed like a rejection was inevitable. Technically speaking, Elvira, Mistress of the Frigid Bitch and I only ever had one actual date, i.e., going somewhere together where there was some hope of a deepening love relationship.

I did not encounter Sue again for a while, not until after I was seeing my now-wife long-distance. Another Mayfield-area theater was planning on a production of Hair and I had expressed to the director a keen interest in playing drums for that show. The director told me that he would pass along my request to the music director, which, he said, would be...Sue. I was crestfallen at first, but I didn't want to bail on the show, especially not for that sort of reason, so I explained to him that Sue may not want me, because we had had a relationship that didn't end well. The way I left it with him was that I would work it out with Sue myself.

So, I called her, and I got right to the point: I could deal with her if she could deal with me. She said that she could and that she was glad to hear from me.

Sue and I actually had a bit of fun with each other at rehearsal of the sort that only two people who have shared some intimacy can have. We were all set up in a circle with our instruments, and during a lull Sue was trying to arrange a pile of show score across two music stands she had placed behind her little electronic keyboard and I happened to be looking right at her when she leaned forward and dropped her overpressurized boobs on the keys, making the keyboard go "GRONNNNK!" She looked up, saw me looking right at her and smiling, and she laughed and turned various colors. The second time it happened, I could resist no longer and I stood up, walked over to her, and leaned down to whisper in her ear, "Look, if you had left those things alone, you wouldn't be having this problem!" I started to walk back to the kit, and, knowing that she had started cracking up, I turned back to her and whispered, "Do you hear this snare drum going off by itself? No!" This little ribald inside joke did seem to break the ice between us.

I only had one problem with Sue during this show and I admit to being a bit unprofessional about it. One of the tunes from the show, "Easy To Be Hard," became a hit for Three Dog Night. For some reason, Sue wanted to do it at a tempo far, far slower than Three Dog Night did it. I realized that Sue probably wasn't familiar with that version (only because of just being out of the loop on popular music of the early 1970s). However, the real problem was that she'd count the song in on one tempo and then start to play it in another. I struggled very hard to reconcile the difference at the start of the tune on many nights and one time, it got so bad that I just got up and left the kit. Being a bit of an easy-listening ballad, it didn't harm the song tremendously to have no drums, but to have had the drumming stop partway didn't come off well, I'm sure. I returned to the kit for the next tune, but after the show ended, I hid out for a while until I saw that Sue was otherwise unoccupied and I had it out with her. I didn't make any ultimatums but I just said that she needed to be careful about her count-offs. Would I have been such a hothead about this if she hadn't rejected me some months earlier? I don't know for sure, but I was pissed off for a musical reason. We patched up our problem and when the show ended (actually, it was extended past the originally-scheduled closing date, but for some reason I could not play and Sue got another drummer who I knew was definitely not up to the task), she sent me a little note along with my check saying that that other guy did fine, but I was terrific. We parted ways as friends.

I do remember visiting her one time before I moved away from Mayfield; no biggie, no "rekindling." I didn't really feel the same about her anymore. A few years later, after I had moved away and gotten married, I found out somehow that Sue moved to very rural North Carolina and I did talk with her on the phone. From her, I learned some interesting and disturbing things. First, she said that she had been diagnosed as a manic-depressive and that she felt that the arc of our relationship was part of that cycle (she had said before that summer relationships were the norm for her). She also told me that she had recently learned that her daughter, during her last summer stay with her father, had been cutting herself and plucking out her eyelashes. Her daughter called her from up there and told her this was happening, and, if I recall correctly, Sue drove a few hundred miles up there, got her daughter, and took her back to Mayfield and put her in therapy (good for Sue).

I have not kept up with Sue since then but some occasional Googling has shown that she has in fact returned to Mayfield and she has her own Web site to hawk her musical services. It is hard for me to describe how I feel about seeing her picture as she looks today, in her early 50s, even more schoolmarmy and frumpy than she was then. It's an overall sad feeling, and I have a sense of disconnection about it: I've watched that very face from less than a foot away as she practically lost consciousness while having an orgasm. I wonder what she remembers about us. I wonder about not just what it was that she truly felt for me, but why did she even feel it? And, I feel strange about having even shown an interest in her or having pursued a sexual relationship with her. Given freedom of choice, would I have chosen...that?? If I did not have freedom of choice, why not? Did I love her, like I said I did in that letter I wrote that made her tee off on me? Have I ever really loved anyone, even my wife?

That last question is a perplexing one and I have given it a lot of thought. I have concluded that it is akin to determining how many angels can dance on the head of a pin to contemplate if I "loved" this woman or that woman. Instead, I have decided that I have felt something both similar and different for all of these women I've described in this journal, and that there is no need to assign the name of "love" to some, all, none, or some aspect of those feelings. Yes, I'm a very lusty guy, no doubt. But I know with clarity that if I've even as much as had a conversation with these objects of lust, then the lust gets connected to something else. The more that goes down with someone, the more complex and broad those connections get.

I have found myself wishing lately that I could find these women, turn off their conscious minds, and get their authentic feedback about my relationships with them, warts and all. I would like to know what they would honestly think and feel if they knew that I still remembered them and cared about what became of them, and that I was still, to this day, trying to make some sense out of what happened between us. Being married, and trying not to damage my marriage in the process, that's difficult to even approximate by contacting them for real and trying to lay the groundwork for an honest exchange. Besides, these women have gone on with their lives; there's no reason to expect them to endanger their own situations or even spend their valuable time and energy on me and the process that I've been going through.

There's another aspect of this kind of exchange that I'm envisioning that just can't be made real. For a number of these women, there are questions I'd want to ask that any reasonable person would take considerable umbrage to. Elvira, why would you spend so much time with me when you didn't want me and you knew I wanted you? Warmonger Bitch, why did you turn on me like Roy's white tiger? Backrub Bitch, why would you get topless for me and then not make yourself at all available to me ever again? The fact of the matter is, I have determined for myself what some of those answers are, and I don't imagine that these women are particulary interested in or would gain any positive vibe from my own answers. I know full well that they don't care about what happened the way I do, and why should they?

After all, they got what they wanted: someone else. Or, preferable to me, no one at all.

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Journal: Jane Husain

Journal by SharpNose

That was her real name - Jane Saba Husain. I feel a bit safe in going ahead with it because she is no longer alive.

It was true that Elvira took up a lot of my effort and attention in college, but there was one other woman who was noteworthy in that she flat out told me to leave her alone.

This was one of these cases where I saw someone and had a deep and immediate attraction that could not be ignored. She was very pretty. She looked Middle-Eastern, as her last name suggested, but I never found out anything about her background other than that she was from a backwards lesser city in a Southern state. She had long, kinky/wavy, dark brown or perhaps even black hair - a marvelous big pile of it, too - and olive-toned skin. Largish nose, very intense dark eyes. Somewhat exaggerated figure from the waist down.

As was often the case, women who caught my eye would get the Lt. Data treatment - I'd store all kinds of facts about them in my head as I came upon them. She lived in a dorm way off in the corner of campus and she'd often pass by my window going up the steps that wound up and around between the dorm behind C dorm and the dining hall.

As it happened, Jane was in a Physics class with me one quarter and I tried to take advantage of this by sitting near her and chatting her up before class. A few instances of this and she told me to buzz off. I was caught so unprepared that I didn't know what to say and I really don't remember what I said, if anything. But, my shrunken ego and I backed off.

Naturally, I told my friends the story. Some time later, the Peruvian Peckerhead and a friend of his came up to the room from the dining hall and they told me that they had just seen something that might have explained her vociferous disinterest in me: she was sitting at a table in the dining hall next to her roommate and they were holding hands under the table. Oh. My. God.

I could have surmised that the PP was shitting me or that what they saw didn't necessarily mean that Jane was a lesbian, but sometime later during one of my frequent late-night campus walks I did see Jane and her roommate some distance away from me, walking arm in arm.

I probably should say that my reaction to this was not like what it would be now, but I should also point out that I probably wouldn't have come off as such a jerk as I probably did in the first place, either. Had I been smoother and less acting out of desperation, who knows what might have happened and how her relationship with and interest in women might have figured into a relationship with me (a shot at a three-way?). In any case, I was left with this ugly combination of longing, disgust, and rejection when it came to Jane.

There was really only one other development involving Jane and I think it was some months on - I don't think it was a whole year or more later. On Friday and Saturday nights, there was an auditorium on campus where they'd run movies - generally cult films or series like James Bond, Dirty Harry, or Clint Eastwood's spaghetti Westerns like A Fistful of Dollars. I typically went to these movies alone, being who I was. Anyway, one movie I trudged up to see was The Hunger, which was a neo-horror flick about vampires. That film is famous for a really erotic lesbian thing between Susan Sarandon and Catherine Deneuve. When the movie ended and I got up to move towards the aisle of the auditorium, I was surprised to look up and see Jane coming out of the same row but on the opposite side of the aisle. Our eyes met and I remember kind of wordlessly acknowledging her. She was by herself.

I knew that to go back to our respective dorms, we had to go the exact same direction because her dorm was effectively behind mine, so as the crowd left the auditorium and thinned out, Jane and I wound up on the same sidewalks but I hung back a respectful distance. When we started to get near my dorm, I sped up slightly so as to time an intercept just before getting to my dorm. I did say something small-talkish to her but I didn't stop walking nor did I really try to engage her very much - I wanted to communicate somehow but I didn't want to "trap" her or even really give her a reason to be as rude as she had been that time before Physics class.

Over the next few days, I thought about the encounter and I felt like I would make one more try, but the try I made wasn't that of the desperate jerk - it was more heartfelt. I wrote her a letter, and in it I said that I seemed a shame that we should both be going to movies by ourselves. I apologized for having bothered her before and I just asked her to contact me if she wanted to. She never did, and eventually the day came when I never saw her again.

Just a few years ago, after having received my first ever alumni directory, I was surprised to see a dagger printed next to her name. Deceased. I called the registrar's office and found that she had apparently died just a few years after graduating; there was no information other than her family's address. I did send a note to that address saying that I did not know Jane well but that I thought she was very beautiful and I expressed my condolences. There was never any response.

I don't think about Jane very often but I've been remembering her recently because I am in the process of applying to grad school right back in the same place. Jane was an architecture major and back then, the joke was that you never wanted to date a girl who was an architecture major because you'd never see her. They practically lived in that building. And, as fate would have it, the program I am applying to would put me right into that building - the place where Jane wound up spending a significant fraction of her waking life.

I sold all but my last college yearbook, and it happens that there are a couple of pictures of Jane in it - in one, her class picture, she is pretty but it doesn't really show how pretty she really was. In the other, which I only saw for the first time tonight, much to my shock, she is sitting in a classroom next to some guy and her face is in profile. She is wearing a denim jacket with a t-shirt with the name of her dorm on it. I am very glad I found this picture because this is just as I remember her, with her dark, intense eyes peering out from the shade made by her hair.

Much as I learned how to honor the memory of the college student that used to be me, I honor the memory of a woman who couldn't stand him and who apparently found comfort in and love with other women. I still wish there were a way for me to speak with her friends and family, but I don't know who or where they are and, given Jane's less-than-positive impression of me, that's probably just as well.

User Journal

Journal: Mediterranean Man

Journal by SharpNose

True story, honest to God.

In the 1982-1983 school year, Robe and I were roomates in C dorm (not its real name, duh!), which was one of the smallest dorms on campus and among the most livable and comfortable (well, not counting the inevitable late-fall temperature plummet which always caught Physical Plant by surprise - once I slept in my room fully clothed with nothing but a vacuum-tube portable TV for heat). Because C dorm was as small as it was, it was fairly natural for people who didn't know each other at all to unwittingly keep an eye out for each other and develop a rough notion of what people were up to.

Mediterranean Man (we never knew where he was from, but that's how he looked, and it was catchy, so it stuck) lived on second floor, long hall (Robe and I were on first floor, short hall). I used to live on the far end of second floor, long hall and I had roomed there with a guy named Steven the quarter after the Peruvian Peckerhead (Vitamin Man's replacement) shipped out. Steven still lived in the room and one day he came down and told us what would have been merely a mildly amusing story if one weren't able to read between the lines.

Most of us in C dorm - again, just through casual observation - knew that Med Man had a girlfriend over a lot. At our school, that was not very common, so it was remarkable for that reason alone. You weren't supposed to have girls in your room past some hour of the night, but Resident Assistants tended to look the other way. Steven's story went like this: he liked to go running late at night, and when he'd return, he'd shower and go to bed. However, this time he came back from running at about 2AM and typically there's not a living soul in the bathrooms. Anyway, he was taking a shower when Med Man came in and fired up the next nozzle over. As usual, Med Man didn't say a word or acknowledge Steven's presence. However, Med Man wasn't taking an ordinary shower. He had turned away from Steven and appeared to be washing his dick with a fervor one would usually associate with containment breaches in a military biowarfare lab. He did this for several minutes.

Robe and I listened to Steven's story with sophomoric amusement (I was a sophomore, after all) until we realized that there had to be, if you'll excuse me, a BACK story.

Being on a weekend as it was, Med Man almost certainly had his girlfriend in his room. Why, we mused, would a guy who's probably shagging his gf in his room jump out at 2AM to wash his dick like it was on fire?

Robe and I actually had a class with Med Man, so, on Monday before class, I sat right behind him and Robe in the desk to my right. Robe and I started talking to each other and the conversation went something like this.

Me: "Was Doug going to make it to class today?"

Robe: "Oh, yeah - he made it - he's sitting by the back door."

Me: "He told me he was going to bend over backwards to make it."

We went back and forth like this for a while. Looking ahead of me, we saw that Med Man was trying very hard to surreptitiously glance behind him. Finally, we decided to, er, drive it home.

Robe: "Did you take Dr. ???'s midterm yet?"

Me: "Yeah, man. I got FUCKED! IN! THE! ASS!!!"

At this point, Mediterranean Man's head began to jerk to one side spasmodically.

We never knew what became of Med Man or his girfriend, but I get the feeling that if her bunghole could talk, it'd be thanking Robe and me.

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Journal: Alison Revisited

Journal by SharpNose

This entry naturally refers to the story of Alison, so, go back and review if you must.

After writing the entry about Ladder Theory, I've given a bit of thought about what happened with Alison and I've come to pretty much replace my old take on the situation with a new one.

The old take basically said that I met this really hot girl that I really dug and I tried and tried and tried to keep her attention and get with her until eventually she dusted me. She went away happier and I went away crushed.

The new take is a little more complex: I met a girl and we dug each other and we both saw in each other something that we both really wanted personality-wise, but I wasn't able to rise to the occasion and do what I needed to do to make the relationship go anywhere, so she dusted me. She went away disappointed and I went away crushed.

The new take is kinder towards me, you'll no doubt note, and some of you may think that it's more ego-stroking of myself than anything else. That isn't so, and this is why: for the most part, guys can't control what ladder women put them on. "What's he got that I ain't got" (as goes the Producers song) is a sentiment that misses the point. If you understand Ladder Theory, you realize that if you're in a situation like that, YOU lose and HE wins simply because of the ladder choices she couldn't help but make. YOU have no more reason to feel bad about losing than HE does to feel good about winning. Another way of putting this is that there is, in reality, no winning or losing. You PERCEIVE it as loss because a woman who has landed very high on your ladder is not available to you. Anyway, my point is that the bare facts of the Alison story support my claim that Alison was strongly attracted to me initially. I did no more to gain that attraction than be at the right place at the right time, looking as I did. What makes Alison so memorable was that I was definitely attracted to her from the get-go as well.

Had I been further along on the road to adulthood at 17, my relationship with Alison...well, I would have had a lot more to write about and remember. As it is, I mostly have a vague impression of hair, hips, and lips that will stay with me forever.

Wherever you are, Alison, I'm sorry.

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Journal: Ladder Theory and the Twisted Wrecks

Journal by SharpNose

Have a good look at the site www.intellectualwhores.com. It was suggested to me by the same IRC-based life form who coaxed me into writing this journal in the first place. It's written by some guy who, along with his friends, have come up with something amazing called "Ladder Theory." It tries to provide a workable model for male-female relationships (although the model seems to really only apply to the relationships of single people - marriage seems to require an extension of the theory).

In a nutshell, men order the women they encounter on a kind of hierarchy - a ladder, if you will - according to the degree to which the men want to fuck the women. It's as simple as that. Women, however, have not one but two ladders. One, the "good ladder," is similar to the men's ladder, believe it or not, and men are placed on it basically according to how twitchy and moist their inner bits get from seeing or being near them. The women's other ladder is the "friends ladder" and other men - the ones who don't make the good ladder - wind up sorted on the friends ladder according to how well the women in question "like" them "as friends."

Any men reading this are probably jsut beginning to have their first glimmer of understanding at this point, because if you have balls in your sack at all, you know that you have been diamond-cutting hard over some woman in your life who has shot you down in flames in the worst way because, as she likely said, she thought of you as a "friend." You tried to "ladder jump,' you got a "kiss of death," and you fell into "the abyss" between the ladders.

Had I known Ladder Theory when the events described in these stories took place...well, these stories simply wouldn't be here. The gimmick behind these stories, for the most part, is the unfairness of it all - the degree to which I was shit on. They are basically banana peels for the emotional mind of an intelligent and sensitive young man who was also very horny.

I would not have kept Elvira on my mind for much past 2 months after meeting her. I was her intellectual whore; she craved my attention and wanted and appreciated many things from me, but my thrusting John Thomas was not among them. I was her Father Confessor.

I would have realized that any woman who actually came up and talked to me probably had already stuck me on her good ladder and I could have had a slice IF I had realized it; instead, I farted around too much until the woman got frustrated and, instead of being more welcoming and/or forward with their own attentions toward me, hand-grenaded the whole thing (see Alison, Warmonger Bitch, Backrub Bitch, and even I Drove a Girl Crazy).

One of the things that would have been a very good antidote to my spirit-crushing misadventures is the notion that you really can't help which ladder any given woman puts you on; if you know this, you won't take it personally when a woman you're hot for brings some other guy with her when you ask her to go to a basketball game with you (that was some OTHER bitch who otherwise wasn't worth writing an entry about - in case you're wondering, I didn't have the balls to tell them both to fuck off when they showed up at my dorm, but after the game as the three of us walked back, I went straight when they turned left).

Understand Ladder Theory, gentlemen, and your lives will be much richer for it.

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Journal: An Elvira Postscript

Journal by SharpNose

Some time after the Summer of Hell, Rich (Elvira's short-term boyfriend who I had written to after he left for his co-op quarter in the interest of striking a "gentleman's agreement" only to have him write back and tell me that Elvira was "too emotional" and "God speed, dude"), a good friend of ours whom I'll call MGK, and I formed a band for an on-campus event. As far as what all went on regarding Elvira, between Rich and me it was all water under the bridge. Elvira and I were still having fairly frequent contact but that contact wasn't at all exciting. Frustrating, yes.

Anyway, our band needed a name, and in a flash of brilliance, I came up with one: ELAB (it was really something else, but I'm obscuring it for a reason that will be apparent shortly). I did it as a self-satisfying joke - a little bit of revenge on Rich and Elvira both. The only thing was, MGK - who had a tendency to be real hyper at times, which was fairly entertaining because his creativity would kick in as a result - kept coming up to me and saying, hey, I've got a great name for the band, and I'd go, no, no, let's keep ELAB...this went on a few times.

Finally, it got to the point where it seemed pretty obvious that I was hanging on to the name for some specific reason, so I told MGK that ELAB was an acronym for Elvira [her last name] Alumni Band. He thought this was hysterical and once he was in on the joke, he was 100% for keeping the ELAB name. I did say to him, look, don't tell Rich, okay? I don't know how he'd take it.

Of course, MGK told Rich about the ELAB name probably the very next time he saw him. Thankfully, Rich took it well, and I have a picture of the three of us playing with a green and white ELAB sign MGK had made prominently displayed.

As I recall, Elvira was a bit ambivalent about being commemorated in that fashion. Well, she's REALLY commemorated in these blog entries NOW, ain't she?

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Journal: Alison 1

Journal by SharpNose

Back in time we go, to the last part of my last year of high school (a private, religiously-oriented but non-denominational school). This would be early part of 1981.

I had been dating a girl from the previous spring until she dusted me in December, just in time for my birthday. I had been playing drums in the school band and had taken up bass at the end of my sophomore year. The band was going to do a concert at a private girls' school across town, and although I ordinarily played drums I was going to play bass because our regular bassist had a conflict that afternoon on account of a sports event. The plan was, I'd go ahead and prep to play bass but if the guy showed up at the last minute, I'd hand it over to him.

This girls' school (I'll call it GS for short) was the only one of its type in town. There were two all-boys private schools, of which mine was one, and there were two co-ed private schools. GS students were therefore on the mind of many students at my school and presumably vice versa. My girlfriend from earlier in the year came from GS, in fact, as did the girlfriends of many of the guys I knew at school.

But, having been kicked to the curb by my girlfriend as I had been in December, the rest of the winter was very, very bleak. Then, as later in college, any good experience I had with girls tended to arrive in a perceived vacuum, and never was the vacuum more cold than after being cut loose by your first ever "serious" girlfriend, especially when your access to girls or anybody else is rather limited. I'll explain how and why that was so when I tell her story.

For me, going to play in this concert at GS was like a trip to another planet and, let's face it, whether you were a studpuppy jock, a hopeless Star-Wars-quoting zit-encrusted geek, or, God help you, ME (somewhere in between), you walk into an environment like that and you bow up. Of COURSE you bow up, even if just a little bit. If you've got any testosterone at all, if you've got balls clattering between your legs, your primal self asserts itself and says, here I am, ladies. In my case, I don't really remember so much the bowing up but I remember being in a hyper kind of "target acquisition" mode.

The school uniform at GS was a hideous gunnysack dress. Only the colors varied, and I have to say that not even the hottest girls in the school looked good in them. The target acquisition system, that finely-tuned mechanism connecting left brain, right brain, lizard brain, and dick, hit a bogey and wouldn't let go. There was a tall girl with long thick brown hair walking around. She was in a dark blouse and tight brown slacks, and she wore gradient-tint glasses. The system registered: HAIR. HIPS. LIPS. ASS. She looked too old and too hip, worldly, and sensual to be a GS student but she looked too young and too hip, worldly, and sensual to be a teacher.

Our regular bassist materialized right before the first song started, so I was spared having to finger-sync a bunch of songs I didn't know, but it was after the gig that I remember. I looked up and there was the girl in the brown slacks, standing right there, smiling at me. She introduced herself. Her name was Alison, and it turned out that she was a student after all - a senior, like me.

I don't know why she was compelled to come up to me and talk to me. She did say, however, that she sang, which was great, because it made her seem even more perfect if she liked music. We exchanged phone numbers.

Every year our school put on a musical production in the spring that involved the entire music department and even included kids from other schools, especially GS. In addition to performances by the school's music groups, there were auditions held for "specials" - acts that anybody in any school could try out for. My role in that year's show was going to be fairly large as it was, but I was also trying to get in at least one act of my own into the show. At the time, as now, I was a big fan of R&B group The Spinners, and they had charted with a remake of Frankie Valli's "Working My Way Back To You" and I thought I'd go forward with that if I could find someone to sing it. And, here's this beautiful woman who says she can sing. Of course! And I'll get to spend more time with her, too!

So, Alison came over to the Music Department after school one day and I had arranged for a friend to come to play piano. I put a bass on and we proceeded to run through the song. A line or two into the chorus and it was pretty clear to all assembled that Alison had athlete's voice. She could place words in the right rhythm, but there was no tone and no pitch.

When I got home, I was pacing around, fretting over how I was going to call up Alison and tell her that she sounded like dogshit. I don't remember which of us actually called the other, but when we did finally talk, Alison spared me the trouble. She apologized and said that she really couldn't sing very well. I was very relieved and I told her that I was really in a crisis because I liked her a lot but I didn't think I could use her. Anyway, we had a good laugh over it and we stayed friends.

As an aside, my mother wound up torpedoing my doing that song in the show albeit in an oddly oblique manner. I continued pursuing finding a singer to do that Spinners tune and I was referred to a GS student who, as it happened, was black. I called her and she was excited about doing the song. When I told my mother, though, she was livid because the girl was black. However, what happened was that my mother had the act all worked out in her mind - a girl was going to sing and I was going to play bass and sing along (the occasional bass vocal part), playing it up like Sonny would to Cher. She was afraid of having her white son playing flirty with a black girl singer. Of course, I had no intention of doing any such "flirty" thing regardless of the race of the singer, but my mother was so set in her conviction that I had to do a "flirty" act that she made me cancel on the black girl, and to me, the only way I could do that and make the reason seem like it could be for reasons other than racial was to cancel the act completely, so that's what I did. If my mother's conception of a person or a situation is somehow challenged - including by, say, reality - then she'll shut down on you, and it doesn't matter who you are. She's rejected both her children and at least one friend, including a friend of over 30 years, over such.

Anyway, like I said, Alison and I remained friends, and we had wonderful phone conversations into the wee hours. Again, I suffered for not being able to drive "at will" even though I was 17. Alison lived about as far across town as a person could, but then again, few of my friends lived close by and I was always having to bum rides from the closest two, who were still probably 15 minutes away. My school's music department was going to be going on a Europe tour after graduation, and Alison would talk about wishing she could come with me. That would have been nice because I could have hung with her instead of the two girls I wound up hanging with.

Alison worked at a record store in a mall (very hip thing in those days because you kind of needed to know a thing or two about music - try asking some schlub at Best Buy for some recommendations on Jazz guitarists and see the blank stare) and that summer, she'd often call me when she got home. Understandably, given my mother's ability to get weird about anything, I worked up a way to conceal the calls. In those days, telephones had actual bells - you know, metal things that ring when hit - that rang when a call came in. I 'd remove the cover from the phone and I bent up a paper clip such that one end held down the hookswitch and the other end was precariously perched on the underside of the metal rod that rang the bells. So, I'd be sitting there in the basement room I spent most of my time in, and when my paper clip creation would fly up in the air, I'd pick up the receiver and Alison would be on the other end.

We arranged one date that would have had Alison picking me up at my house, which would have entailed a 30-minute drive for her, one-way. We were going to go see the animated "mature" film American Pop on a Saturday afternoon. The date never happened; she canceled out on me, claiming a blown water pump. Seeing that the release date of that movie was 2/13/81, this must have been well before I graduated. Hm. I might be getting the dates and order of events mixed up, but, it's not like it matters, right?

There are two things I remember most about Alison, one very good and one very bad. Well, one problem that I would have had was that Alison smoked, which is something I find a very serious turnoff. She was also one of a group of girls at GS who had a name for themselves that they acknowledged in their yearbook photo captions (I've forgotten it). That group of girls was generally assumed to be GS' stoners. This would have eventually rubbed me the wrong way.

Anyway, in an earlier entry, I mentioned Valentine's Day and what an unmitigated hatred for it I had developed, going all the way back to the grade-school popularity contests on whose stick I would wind up on the short end of. My senior year, my school and GS had come up with a truly sadistic Valentine's idea. GS students had sent over hundreds if not thousands of heart-shaped pieces of construction paper - valentines to students at my school. They had all been pinned up to these cork boards outside the school's administration building, and when assembly let out on Friday afternoon, there was this immense crowd around that part of the building, josting each other for access to what seemed to be a giant mass of cardiac-themed missives. Still stinging from getting ditched the previous December and believing that if there were a note up there from that girl, it would be for someone else, I silently shuffled off for the music department, which is where I typically spent my time after school before getting picked up by my mother. When I got there, other guys I knew, including my good friend Mike, came down with hands full of red hearts. I stayed away from them all as they talked about who all they had gotten cards from. I couldn't speak and I couldn't think of anything other than rejection and dejection. It didn't occur to me until after I had been observing this for a few minutes that my old girlfriend might have still sent me a card - you know, one that said, hey, no hard feelings, you were very special to me, thank you for being so nice. With this little glimmer of hope shining in my little teenage brain, I left the music department, bolted up the steps beside the building, and ran over to where the cards had been pinned up.

The cork boards that had been covered over in their entirety with overlapping layers of valentines were now mostly stripped bare. There were maybe five cards left on the boards; the names on them were not mine. Looking around, I saw maybe one or two dozen cards lying here and there around the quadrangle, moving or flapping around a bit in the cold wind. I caught and looked at a few until I realized, rather self-consciously, that I didn't want to be seen scrounging though lost or discarded valentine cards for one that might be for me. I left the quadrangle like a cockroach running from the middle of the kitchen floor when a light is turned on.

My mother picked me up soon after. Her mood is in part determined by those of the people around her, so I tried not to let on in order to avoid any shit I would catch - in this case, the shit in question would support the concept of "you have no reason to ever feel worse emotionally than I do." So, all the way home, I mostly kept my mouth shut. A few minutes after we got home, the phone rang, and because I was closest at the time, I picked it up. The voice on the other end said "Hello, this is Alison xxxxxxx from the xxxxxxx Record bar, calling to wish you a happy Valentine's Day."

I could have fainted. If I had been alone when I answered the phone, I'm sure I would have cried and told Alison the story of what I had just been through at school. I also would have told her how grateful I was and that I would never forget this.

Unfortunately, though, getting all effusive and emotional like that might have done more harm than good; for all I know, I might have only needed to have been as grateful as would have been appropriate for having been included on a list of 50 other guys that Alison may have called that day. If that were the case, then my dumping my guts out like that might not have gone over very well ("Geez, what a desperate psycho," she might have said").

In any case, Alison eventually got rid of me. One time when I called, rather out of the blue, she said I must call because I like to hear myself talk. That really hurt. Ow.

I kept in touch with Alison very intermittently after that. We did meet for lunch one day after I had started college. I don't remember much about it other than where it was.

What did I learn? I think that, early on, Alison was very interested in me and that it may well not have been coincidence that the one girl I couldn't take my eyes off of at that special assembly at GS came up to me. But, attractive young women in their last year of high school don't have to sit around at home, especially if their parents let them drive. Even if they dig you, they'll get bored if you don't make an effort. If you're a mama's-boy, 17-years-old-and-still-can't-drive-when-and-where-he-wants-to loser, the initial attraction won't cut it; some other guy she digs less but can be with her more will get the action and not you.

User Journal

Journal: Warmonger Bitch 2

Journal by SharpNose

As you recall, the "X Bitch" nicknames came about primarily so that my best friends, Robe and D., could keep track of which Twisted Wreck I was talking about. The use of the word "Bitch" in the nickname was fair or unfair to different degrees. This woman qualified in a big hurry.

Remember the IRC-like thing that was at the college I went to? That's how I came across two girls in addition to Mary - Ashley and Lorraine. However, I didn't actually get to know them until after I had graduated and moved away for that Air Force job. Then and for a few years thereafter, I had dialup access to a local college's network that was able to connect back to the machine at my old college that ran the IRC-like thing, which was known as Talk.

And, sadly, Talk was a large part of my social life after I moved away. I'd be dialed up via my Amiga most nights. Just like IRC, Talk had a private message mode, and there were several people that I'd chat with privately fairly regularly.

I had started playing in community theater musicals and Ashley, Ashley's boyfriend, and Lorraine came down for one show. We hung out in the parking lot for a while afterwards and while I don't remember what prompted this, at one point Lorraine stuck her tongue in my ear. That's one way to get my attention. Lorraine carried some weight but she was actually a very pretty brunette - in face, she had done some print modeling when she was younger.

So, we conversed a lot and it was pretty clear that we dug each other and would like to spend some time with each other despite living about 100 miles apart. And, I did have occasion to pay her a visit during one of my trips to the big city; backrubs were exchanged. However, the "real fun" lay ahead.

We even talked about doing things like running off to a little beachside hotel in Fernandina Beach, Florida for a weekend. I'd never done anything like that before and it seemed like such a natural, fun, and life-affirming thing to do that I was very excited at the prospect.

We arranged for me to come up and spend the night at her apartment. As I recall, I left my mother under the impression that I was going to be at D.'s all weekend when in reality I planned to spend Friday night at D.'s and Saturday night at Lorraine's. [EXAMPLE TO OTHERS: Move away from home and you won't feel as compelled to cover your tracks.]

I remember we sat and watched a movie - The Color Purple - and we hung on the couch afterwards, companiably talking. I don't know how things turned so bad so quickly, but the next thing I knew, Lorraine was calling me a "warmonger" for working for the Air Force. I couldn't believe she was serious, but she was.

I'm not a "hawk" but I always thought and still think that to the extent that the "American way of life" is important, it needs to be protected. But, seeing as all I was doing for the Air Force at the time was to develop software for boxes that tested other boxes that went on a military aircraft, to call me a warmonger would have been a stretch among stretches. It's not as though I was personally calling in air strikes in Libya or something.

I was floored. She had turned on me in the course of a minute or less.

There really wasn't anything I could do or say to save the evening. If you had decided that I'm a warmonger because I worked for the Air Force, then I couldn't very much say, "no, I don't work for the Air Force." Not even "I'll quit on Monday" was going to save the situation. That I worked for the Air Force was common knowledge, even back when we were talking about running off to Florida for a weekend.

Yeah, I slept with her, but sleep was all that transpired on her little futon. We didn't discuss the matter at all the next day, but Lorraine and I met up with her mother to do some shopping; I remember just pretty much going along for the ride and not saying much. Then, I went home.

I don't know what became of the Warmonger Bitch. Eventually, my local dialup went down and never came back, and a year or two later I decided to start getting a life.

Please leave comments if you have a possible explanation as to what happened. I have a theory, and that is that I was moving too slowly, i.e., I hadn't taken the tongue-in-the-ear, the beach trip talk, and the invitation to come spend the night with her as enough of a clue that Lorraine wanted me to make a move (reading this back to myself, I guess I was pretty stupid, huh?) and, once the move didn't come (I guess because I was waiting for her to make a move or some sign that a move would be welcome), she decided to hand-grenade the whole relationship.

User Journal

Journal: Backrub Bitch

Journal by SharpNose

This is a relationship where I didn't really know what went wrong and I still don't.

The college that I went to, in the early- to mid-1980s, had a number of big honking mainframe computers and one of them ran something that was very much like IRC, except it was only one channel. It did not have a high level of use but, like any modern IRC channel, it had its regulars and I became one while I was a freshman. I had a Timex Sinclair 1000 with a modem and I was able to connect from my dorm room. To give you an idea of how esoteric this was, there were only three other guys in C dorm who had some manner of terminal or computer in their rooms with a modem attached. Anyway, I had gotten to know Mary (NOT her real name) over this thing and I actually met up with her once, across campus - I hopped on the campus bus, I think, and I talked with her briefly at a terminal cluster on the western side of campus.

The college I went to had a fairly well-defined geek culture. It wasn't as hardcore as, oh, MIT's, but it was definitely there. Mary was a computer science major and that is where one tended to find the geeks. Star Trek, Star Wars, Dungeons and Dragons, Tolkein, and the like were the icons of the day. I actually overhead part of a very serious-sounding debate on how warp drives worked.

Mary stood out from this crowd because she was female, pretty, and stacked. She was also smart and playful. During the summer of 1985 when my relationship with Sara was on its downhill slide - and while Sara was out of town - I caught Mary on this IRC-like thing and she talked about needing a backrub. So, I offered, and she took me up on it, and we made a date at her place.

Later that evening, I went by one of the frat houses where Mary was renting a room. She let me inside and she spread a comforter from her bed onto the floor. What I wasn't expecting was that she pulled off her jersey, setting free two really humongous breasts, before lying down. I was really quite amazed by this, and as I set to work on her back, I was really thrilled about having this woman lying there and making her feel good with my hands. Her hair was full and somewhat curly, and I remember stroking the back of her head with my thumb and forefinger.

There's no telling how far this would have gone, but I had to excuse myself in order to pick up Sarah at the airport, and I was already going to be quite late.

The problem was, in the days or weeks after that, I wanted to get together with her some more but she was hard to pin down - very hard to get her undivided attention. I'm not sure what the hell happened but Mary got very angry with me and nothing ever more occured.

Mary and I still keep in touch once in a great while; she now lives in California. A few years ago, she mailed me some "Glamour Shots" pictures of herself and she was still very pretty - whoever can manage to keep her attention could do a lot worse!

User Journal

Journal: Roommate Torture

Journal by SharpNose

I've already shown that I am capable of less-than-noble things, like trying to pick up one girlfriend (I still need to tell that story) before dusting another. Turns out that my first two roommates in my dorm in college also brought out the worst in me.

Barry the Vitamin Man was in the same major as me, electrical engineering, but every millimeter of him had "jock" written on it. I don't think he was a "dumb jock" but everything else about him was 100% consistent with that appellation.

First year of college. First time living away from home. First time having to deal with [non-family] people that I couldn't just escape. I got paired up with Barry and the fact that he was older and bigger than me made me nervous. There was none of this "hey, I'm new here too" comraderie. Barry was okay, I guess, even though he had dozens of bottles of vitamins and Lord only knows what all other jock bullshit lying around the dorm room, but he did two things that pissed me off. One, he had some dippy girlfriend out of town somewhere - he'd send her notes with little cartoons of hearts with feet drawn on them - and whenever they would talk on the phone, Barry would ask me to leave the room. His "negotiation" was that he'd do the same for me.

If you've read this far, you'd know that my having Barry clear out so I could sex-talk a girl over the phone or bring a girl over for some knockin' boots would be a little like my asking to borrow Christopher Reeve's tennis racket with the provision that he could borrow mine anytime he liked. A few weeks into my Twisted Wreck career, the phone rang, Barry picked up, and it was his girlfriend. Barry looked at me with his face screwed up and waved one hand around inscrutably - his indication to me to get out. I ignored him and stayed in my chair. I could tell he was pissed off, but he was still trying to make kissy-face with his LDR bimbette. He cut the conversation short and jumped my case for not leaving. I told him that it wasn't fair to expect me to leave the room on his command because his "agreement" was one-sided. Granted, I should have told him to fuck himself when he suggested the arrangement in the first place, but I guess I had to be in a bad enough mood to stand up to some dude who could kick my ass. But, this wasn't what I did that besmirched my image of myself.

The other thing Barry did that bugged me was to bring in this goddamned house plant that had to be over three feet tall. It looked like something that would grow next to your mailbox unless you hit the spot with Roundup regularly.

This dorm room was not very big and something over three feet tall and over two feet wide is just unwelcome. So, I decided to kill his plant. Every so often, I'd squirt some saline solution for my contacts into the plant's dirt. Eventually, there was this yellowish-white crust forming and the plant started to turn brown. However, it was not my saline that did the job; Vitamin Man was putting some of his Jock Dumbshit Asshole yeast powder into the dirt, thinking he was "feeding" it, whereas it was probably making the dirt toxic.

Next quarter, Barry went off to co-op and his replacement, John the Peruvian Peckerhead, was even worse. He had a rather miscalibrated sense of humor, probably through not being a native English speaker - Tom and Jerry cartoons were hilarious to him, whereas a Johnny Carson monologue would leave him just sitting there, staring blankly.

We had rotary-dial phones in our rooms in those days. In the middle of the night, during the week, John would drag the phone out into the hall, prop the door open by about an inch, and sit out there and dial these 25-digit phone numbers to call his folks in Peru. Calls to Peru wouldn't always make it, so he'd dial and dial and dial. I'm sure this was frustrating to him, but it's also frustrating when you're trying to get to sleep with this going on ten feet away from your head. So, after a while, I figured, what the hell, I'm not getting any sleep anyway...and I'd wait until he was at about digit 20 and then I'd sit up, reach past the foot of my bed, and yank the phone cord out of the socket and stick it back in right away. I had great fun with this, because he'd keep on dialing the number and it would take him a minute to figure out that the phone had gone dead on him.

He had friends that would come by. That was actually amusing, because he had friends that I would never have had in a million years, like Fernando. He was this disconcertingly happy Peruvian guy, greasy-looking black hair, with glasses. He didn't have the English language down too well, so when he'd make an entrance, I'd say "FERNANDO!!! You shitkickingcocksuckerdipwad, how the hell are ya??" Went right by him; I think he thought that was how Americans greeted each other, and that was fine with me. I wish I could have been there when he had his first job interview.

One day, John bought this little Pioneer stereo. He set it up on his desk and while he was studying, he'd fire up the radio and "La cucaraaa-chaaaa, la cucaraaa-chaaaa" or whatever would come out. This bugged the living piss out of me, but Mr. Conflict Avoidance (it was easier slicing shit with Vitaman Man somehow) would say nothing. One day, I'd had enough.

I used to build electronic shit on my desk, so I had a little power supply that I'd rigged up to give me a clean five volts for my little circuits. I ran some wires from it over to his desk, turned on John's stereo, and started probing the wires around inside the stereo, through the ventilation slots on the top. So, I'd touch a wire here...nothing. Touch a wire there...nothing. Touch a wire over there..."THUNK"...then, silence. Ahhhh.

I rolled up my wires and waited for John's return. A while later, he came in, dropped his book bag on his chair. My heart was pounding and my breathing quickened. He reached to the stereo and hit the power button.

"La cucaraaa-chaaaa, la cucaraaa-chaaaa..."

User Journal

Journal: The College Girlfriend (Part 2)

Journal by SharpNose

Love and/or sex can make you look past someone's flaws, but no amount of love or sex - especially the lame sex that we had - could make Sara's flaws invisible:

Pushy - told everyone, in every circumstance, what they should do about everything. One day, we were driving around in my car (she had a banger Chevelle but we'd go around in the Camaro with the T-tops off) and she told me what shortcut I should have taken one time too many, and I got after her about it. I said, look, does it really matter that much? This was a big town with roads going every which way; you could spend your whole life finding shortcuts beteen any given point A and point B. She backed down after that, but geez, it was annoying.

Tactless - Sara's father was a professor. Now, most people, when especially good fortune comes their way, have the class to soft-pedal it. Not Sara. She'd lord the faculty parking sticker on her Chevelle over people whenever the subject of parking came up, with was often, because parking on campus was notoriously shitty (an aside: they tore up some tennis courts on campus to build a multi-level parking deck to the relief of all, only to reserve it for athletic functions - turned out the bottom level of the parking deck flooded every time there was a good rain, and I think it still does to this day). It's not good to see the look in people's eyes when they'd like to slap your girlfriend.

Selfish - this really showed up in bed. All of the moves that I would have unleashed on Elvira got unleashed on Sara that first night, but we had a problem. I wasn't expecting to get laid, so I didn't have any condoms and, in fact, had never bought any in my life, which should come as no surprise to the regular reader. At this point in time, you generally didn't need to worry about STDs (especially incurable ones that would eventually kill you) if you were young, straight, and didn't have sex with a LOT of partners, so there was a bit of hide-the-sausage. Eventually, she was on top and we were going to do the pull-out trick, but when the time came, I pulled out...and she did nothing. And I couldn't reach it because she was in the way. First ever fuck and I lost the orgasm. This and other circumstances to follow (that I won't go into) got things to the point where when we fooled around, I couldn't get off. This didn't seem to bother her in the least. This didn't keep me from trying to get her off as many times and/or for as long as I could, any way I could. Look, I enjoyed that. You go for years frustrated and invisible and you learn one day that you can just about make a girl pass out?? DON'T EVER GET THAT DESPERATE, GUYS!! That one-way street is hard to get away from.

Childish - Look, even my wife and I have a certain kind of "baby talk" we've always done with each other. It's not so "baby" that you'd vomit if you heard it; it's like what a nine-year-old might do. Couples do that as a way to share vulnerability and even to express thoughts or sentiments that would seem out of character if you did it in their usual comportment. And, for our part, back when we were first married, we had a small Coca-Cola polar bear that was "our bear" and I'd "animate" Bianca (that was my wife's name for the bear) for our amusement (we still have Bianca, but we don't mess with Bianca much especially because we have a daughter now). So, you might imagine that I'd be pretty tolerant of a college-aged girl having a teddy bear, and you'd be right. Except, if the teddy bear got rolled on accidentally, she'd get all put out. That was a little much. She also made me this needlepoint thing and framed it - it said "With this rainbow I give you my heart" - which was kind of sweet although the rainbow wasn't an arc, it was straight parallel lines with a 45-degree kink in it.

Gluttonous - Toward the end, there, I was basically in a state of toleration toward Sara. She was for all intents and purposes living with me; she had a key, she had a drawer in my dresser. She also had a dorm room, but she was rarely ever there. She was paying me no rent, was riding shotgun in my T-top Camaro, and every so often had to endure orgasm after orgasm in my bed. Sounds pretty sweet, huh? Anyway, one night, Robe came over to do a lab report or something with me, and Sara was there. Incredibly, she downed a whole bag of Double Stuf Oreos while Robe was there and - this is bad, okay? - while we were in the kitchen working, Robe and I were also drawing this picture of a pig and pushing it back and forth, adding to it each time. It probably wasn't a good idea to let Sara see it.

Toward the end, I was a bit of a dog and I did have a lightweight encounter with the Backrub Bitch (she who would years later say "We were kids). That's why I was late to pick up Sara at the airport the night of said encounter, and when I finally got there, the whiny "where WERE you??" that I got the instant she saw me after not seeing me for nearly a week just set me off. I wasn't THAT late - maybe 20-30 minutes - but she immediately saw from the look in my eyes that I was hurt. It really hit me that to her, I was The Ride (in more ways that one) more than anything else. Yes, I was a dog, and I am not proud of my duplicity for trying to start a relationship with someone else without having the stones to end the one I was in, but I must again point to the desperate state of mind, which DOES NOT LEAVE YOU when you finally start seeing someone. You fight for months or years to get into a relationship - any relationship if the ones you want don't pan out - and even if it sucks, you won't leave it because it's better than the sorry state of being alone. You want to get off the road, but you hold out for that nice, seamless cloverleaf.

By the last couple of weeks of my last quarter in college, the Summer of 1985, I was pretty busy, as was Sara. I was trying to avoid failing my Engineering Economics class - which I was only going to be able to do by acing the final. Anyway, once finals week rolled around, the day came when I was Done. No more school business. Ever. That was really when graduating from college hit me. I remember lying in bed one night, by myself, unable to sleep. Finally at about 1AM, I called Robe in his dorm room. He couldn't sleep either.

The night before the graduation ceremony, Sara came over and something she said or did (I don't remember) made things come to a head and I very nervously broke up with her. I seem to remember that some time earlier, I asked her to move out, and she cried and as she cried, I told her I was sorry and I stroked her hair and held her. But, by this point, I was too used up and too disoriented (what with graduating and all that that meant) to be that loving. She wasn't as emotional either. I do remember that she said something to the effect of her parents thought that we'd get married someday. My clever but rather heartless response was that I hope they didn't go ahead and get silverware engraved.

My response may have been heartless but it was an understandable result of feeling pushed along in the whole relationship. I've got one picture of the two of us together; I think it was taken by my mother the night before graduation, hours before I dusted Sara, in the hotel room my family was staying in. They took me to dinner later but Sara couldn't stay for some reason, but she came by the room first; I think that was the only time she met my family. My mother took the picture. In it, I am sitting on the couch in the hotel room and Sara is sitting on it too, back toward me and leaning on me, smiling at the camera. I'm facing straight ahead and the look on my face conveys embarassment and fear.

My see-you-most-every-day-but-don't-touch-me relationship with Elvira is what had my attention from that point on for the almost six months I would remain in that apartment. Sara did come over one time, but it was a very platonic visit. I showed her my concert video of the group Asia and I showed off the used synthesizer I had bought (I seem to have reverted back to that "care about what I do if you won't care about me" thing). She said that she now thought Bruce Springsteen was "hunky." I had brought her away from Air Supply to Asia, Rush, and King Crimson but now, with some time away from me and time with her buddies at the fraternity she was a little sister at, she had conformed as necessary (to her minor credit, she all but abandoned the little sister gig while we were involved with each other).

I saw her again maybe two years later, at a Homecoming Weekend function. She had married this guy she knew from the fraternity and they moved to Minnesota. Her ass was as wide as two basketballs, and I said to myself, there but for the grace of God would I have gone.

We had no further contact. Information I have come across indicates that she and her husband still live in Missouri and that they have kids. Google showed that Sara and her husband are active in homebrewing clubs. Thanks to Google, I came across a picture of her with a group of people at some homebrewing function and even though her back was to the camera and there was no caption explaining who was who, her thin ponytailed hair was, to me, unmistakable. It appears that she now weighs no less than three hundred pounds.

In October 2002, it seemed as though we might meet again at a band alunmi function that Homecoming Weekend - the first one I hade attended in a great many years. I was not looking forward to seeing her and I was angry about her selfishness and how it cost me even in subsequent relationships. I felt like ignoring her or being rather nasty to her. But - and I will try to tell this story in full some other time - I had an epiphany that weekend that changed my thinking.

She may weigh over 300 now, but there are a few people alive who experienced her when she was shapely, smooth, and horny, and was capable of real sweetness. She was the first person to really go out of their way for me on Valentine's day (although there was a meaningful incident in high school that I will try to describe later). I don't know what all the hell made her so selfish and immature, and it doesn't matter. In her limited way, she loved me as much as she had ever loved anyone, and she seemed perfectly willing to be my wife.

As (I hope) my last e-mail to Elvira showed, you can't just go on hating people; it chews you up inside and it makes you crazy. For longer-term relationships like the ones I had with Sara and Elvira, you adapt, and the adaptations are so ingrained that you cannot consciously change them or reason with yourself about them. That's a serious problem and it goes a long way to explain why women that are getting beaten and cheated on keep coming back and/or hooking up with guys that treat them the exact same way. When time passes and you're able to do something to stop holding these Twisted Wrecks in your mind in the same light, you've got a prayer of having the adaptations fade away.

User Journal

Journal: The College Girlfriend (Part 1)

Journal by SharpNose

"Don't get all wrapped around the axle over any one girl" is the lesson I was finally able to take away from the Elvira experience. Of course, I wasn't actually able to put words to this lesson until well after I was married and I went through most of college and some time thereafter with my axle quite wrapped around by Elvira. Yet, as I have already explained, my pursuit of Elvira was not continuous and single-minded; it was something I kept returning to after being put off time and time again. Each time, it seemed that there was hope; each time, that hope was smashed flat. Dolt though I was, I was not able to simply pine for her every day and I did look elsewhere, at least to the extent that my socially inept self could.

As 1984 began, I was into my senior year at college and I was on an Elvira hiatus. I was playing bass with the Pep Band at basketball games a few times a week, and it was great fun. I like to think I looked like a badass but I probably only looked like a geek trying to look like a badass. We had these longsleeve white T-shirts and we were supposed to wear black pants, so I picked up a pair of these nylon parachute pants (please remember, this was 1984) and some black high-top shoes.

There was a girl in the band named Sara (NOT her real name) who played flute. I had been teasing her since the Fall because in the course of packing up the drumkit into several cases for the cross-campus trip before a football game, Sara came up and asked if she could put her flute case in one of my drum cases. My reaction was, of course, to tease her - to accuse her of being too lazy to get a little tiny case to the stadium whereas I had several fiberboard containers to keep track of. This running gag went on for a while.

Remember what I wrote about "any little shred?" Here's why it's bad to be a lonely and desperate young man: you'd welcome attention from women even if they are trying to take advantage of you. By contrast, if you're healthy, this would be a non-event and even if you accepted the mooch, she who was doing the mooching wouldn't really register on your radar. But, as should already be clear, I wasn't healthy. Many days at school would pass without my actually interacting with anyone and I was conscious of traveling in what felt like Harry Potter's "invisibility cloak." Starting from when I first got there, and without deliberately setting out to do this, I developed an encyclopedic memory for girls - their names, their faces, what dorm they lived in, what sorority they were in, what their major was, who they hung out with, what organizations they belonged to, what they wore. I retain a suprising amount of that information even 20 years later, displacing abilities like being able to remember to do the laundry. The thing was, even with this extraordinarily thorough mental database, I generally wasn't able to meaningfully engage these girls in day-to-day acquaintanceship, much less friendship, casual dating, or anything else and take advantage of the "social computer" I was packing.

The girls whose lives I knew in such detail would have been surprised and probably a little bit creeped out to learn that that was the case, although they might be a little less creeped out to know that they had not actually been singled out. I might be wrong, but most wouldn't have recognized me as familiar and the vast majority would not have been able to place a name with my face. I had so little interaction with girls that there wasn't going to be much shift in that situation.

Okay, so, I did a cute, sweet, nothing thing that got the whole ball rolling with Sara, although at the time, I didn't know it. I can still remember doing this quite plainly. It was during a basketball game and as per usual I was standing up with my bass on, and at that moment the rest of the band was also standing. Perhaps we had just gotten through playing something; I don't recall. I was in the very back of our section in the stands and Sara was maybe one or two rows from the front with the rest of the flutes. A clear path had opened up between us and when I looked down that path I saw Sara standing there, turned backward and looking up at me.

I'll admit it, okay? I blew the girl a kiss.

All she did was smile and spin back around. But, I would learn later, that was a big moment to her.

After games, it was typical for band types to hang out afterwards. I wasn't a standard "band type," as I was a Jazz Ensemble transplant, but I did have one good friend and numerous other acquaintances in the band. It always took me a few minutes to pack up my gear and a few people were standing near my location, including Sara. I'm not sure how the lead-in went, but I asked Sara if she'd like to go out for pizza. Just when I was getting ready to say "Well - uh - how about tomorrow night," she said yes. And so went our first date.

Somewhere in the early going here, Valentine's Day came. Holy mother of shit, how I had come to hate Valentine's Day. VD had been a sore spot for me even as far back as junior high, when the collective affection your class' opposite sex felt for you was ruthlessly quantified by the number of little 3"-long Valentine cards that would get stuffed into a line of envelopes tacked upon a wall. I had become quite accustomed to getting 3 or four cards from the girls whose parents made them do one for every last person in class, whereas there would be other guys whose envelopes had rips in them from the sheer volume of cards that had been stuffed inside. Senior year of high school was the worst, but that story is best told elsewhere. Suffice it to say that I was not to be fucked with on Valentine's Day in college. I'd walk into the post office in the Student Center and my retinas would register blobs of pink and bright red in every direction as I walked to and from my usually empty (save for the music and science magazines) box. I'd see girls and guys both, smiles on their faces, with several cards in each's hands as they learn who all thought so highly of them to send them a card on this day of symbolic gestures of love. Many was the time I stuffed down the urge to whack people in the back of the head with a three-ring binder.

Anyway, that February 14, Sara called me early one morning and wanted me to come over to her dorm, which was in the same part of campus as my old one. Damned if she didn't have some balloons and a card for me! I was floored. Now, I don't remember if I had already gotten her a card or not and I don't even remember to what extent I sent anyone cards, but I think that even if I hadn't sent anyone else a card in the whole four years, I'd have at least send Sara one.

It occurs to me that, VD being only one day, you can't really hedge your bets, i.e., see what all you get before you send. The way my mindset was at the time, if you sent someone a card, you ran a significant risk of humiliation given that the recipient of the card might just go, "Huh? Who's he?" So, you're pretty much limited to safe bets, and I didn't have many.

I don't remember the second date, but I certainly remember that that night, Sara spent the night with me. That aspect of it was fantastic, but when I think about it, my desperation got the better of me and I didn't really pick up on what I came to realize was a whole lot of selfishness.

Like I said, I'm not terribly proud of this relationship. It was like it chose me instead of the other way around. I can't tell you that I didn't love this woman, but, looking back on it now, it is clear that I was operating from a position of believing that no one else was available.

Robe couldn't believe it when he came back to the apartment early from Chattanooga the next morning, came into my bedroom, and realized that the back of the head that he saw in my bed wasn't attached to the front of *my* head. I think he went, "Oh. Shit!" and excused himself to go clean out his car. Sara and I threw our clothes on and went out for breakfast in my car; I couldn't even look Robe in the eye!

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Journal: I Drove a Girl Crazy

Journal by SharpNose

Frustrated as I was by Elvira, I did on occasion set my sights elsewhere while I was in college. Sometimes, sights were actually set on me, but as you'll see, that wasn't necessarily good.

Desperate as I was, I was often looking for ways to draw attention to myself based on all these special abilities that I had. When I lived in the dorms, I would often drag my bass and a boom box that I could run the bass through to the little circle of wooden benches at the corner of the block my dorm was on and play along with songs. This probably mostly had the effect of making me an object of scorn, however, one girl did actually come up and talk to me. She was a smallish, mousy-looking girl named Cathy, and she typically wore fairly dumpy shirts with jeans and a denim jacket. Her oval wireframe glasses were tinted, making it difficult to see her eyes. She looked stoner-y, but in fact, she was the type of person we generally referred to as Jesus Freaks.

Every campus has them. Kids who are away from home for the first time will often glom onto anything that makes them feel good. If the indulgence of choice is food, well, that's where the phrase "the Freshman Ten" comes from - the ten pounds you put on by Christmas. If it's alcohol, you tend to not remember your weekends and your laundry throughput is more than most people's. However, campus Christian groups *really* put hooks into people, and Cathy was one just so hooked, it turned out.

I did get her number and we'd talk every once in a while, but one time there was going to be an ice cream social in the basement of C dorm, so I invited her. She was in G dorm, the mega-dorm immediately to the north, and I met her at the stairwell door that faced C dorm and walked her down.

Her behavior at the ice cream social was a bit odd. She seemed distracted and out of it. At one point, she appeared to be holding her ears, even though aside from people having lively conversation there wasn't anything louder than a boombox with Billy Joel playing.

After the social, Cathy just sort of vanished, and I couldn't figure out what happened to her.

Some weeks later, I got a letter in my campus mailbox from Cathy. She was at her folks' in upstate New York, and in the letter she described what happened.

Apparently she had gone to see a professor about a test score and whatever occured in that meeting was troubling enough for the professor to call the Dean of Women Students' office. Cathy was called into the office, and again, whatever happened *there*, she was taken away in an ambulance, to a psychiatric hospital. From which she escaped. And was caught again. And was sent home.

More ice cream?

"Ahead warp factor 1" - Captain Kirk

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