By staff writer Et Nola
December 17, 2006
“So in Touch It Can’t Be Shown on Family Channels”
So, I’ve been getting these requests for readers to get to know the serial killer behind the writings. Consider this week’s piece about the origins of my view on relationships as “Fan Appreciation.” (You five are the greatest fans a writer could ever afford to pay.)
In the beginning it was Dominique Price. If there was any factor in my life that afforded me some normalcy in relation to other kids, it was the crush I had for her. She was my “Winnie Cooper” only with a better tan and larger breasts. Though she was my proverbial “girl next door,” she had in fact not lived directly next door but across the street. To get to her, I’d have to cross that dividing line of sparse traffic and emotional distance. Behold the symbolism, and while you’re there, queue the music.
“It was safe to say that ‘awe-inspiring support in the clutch' was not one of my mother’s skill sets.”
The minor symbolism about Dominique doesn’t really make her significant—I just like to think that’s why she has yet to fade from memory. The truth is that we never dated, hadn’t really embraced in any adolescent passion, and were rather distant in the later years when I met up with her again. Perhaps it just feels nice to reminisce about a crush as I’d imagine “normal” kids would. I mean, despite her beauty (which grew with the passing years actually), Dominique and I truly only shared awkward moments of intimacy. She’s the only woman to leave me in stitches (physically), and she incited the incident that would instill a lifelong aversion to sharing personal issues with my mother. It’s pretty safe to say she had no idea what effect she had on my life. I’d imagine that makes her all the safer as well.
First of all, I had always been an “early adopter” in both social interactions and technology. When it came to approaching girls about how I felt, I was a pioneer amongst my peers. Armed with a charm composed entirely of wit and conversational congeniality, I openly admitted my crush to Dominique back at age 11. It was a dynamic moment in adolescent dialogue, if not human discourse itself. Sitting beside her on the school bus, the scene was set for a move critics would later call “picturesque” and “clearly ahead of its time.” I believe the dialogue went something like…
Me: So, I like you a lot.
Her: *Quizzical look*
Me: I mean, I really like you.
Her: *Noticeable flushing of cheeks. Trademark giggle of shyness.*
[Together]: *Awkward pause*
Yours Truly: So, yeah….
An instant conversational classic, as you can see. Something tells me that my audience wasn’t quite expecting such a stellar performance. One might infer that perhaps such awkward intimacy would prove rational grounds for her later hitting me in the head with her purse, resulting in her playful yet awkward smile to reconfigure into that of abject terror. Indeed, dear reader, she managed to open the essence of my heart and the scalp on my skull—oh, that we might all be so lucky. Between her leading me by the arm to her house, having a relative call the hospital, and apologizing for the mistake (apparently, she mistook me for another possible trauma victim), I’d say I came out of that situation better than I entered. Eleven stitches later it would become clear to me just how much love, in fact, hurts.
After such a fateful moment in our relationship, I’d encounter intense emotions (oh, the drama of grammar school) a year later when Gerald, my best friend at the time, would later ask me for permission to “go with her.” Such vibrant youthful terminology merits an exclamation point (as seen in “Vamanos!”) and a swing band accompaniment. Instead, it merely meant he’d get to utter lines similar to the dialogue above but to an audience somewhat more eager to embrace his body of work.
I admired his dedication to our friendship (though I’d yet to assess how him even considering the opportunity was a breach of Man Law protocol). But since my testes had yet to drop, I gave him the go-ahead. Man Law wouldn’t be applicable for another 3 years. If only I had aimed a little higher, I could have shot myself in the face instead of the foot. Remarkably, the loss of a crush to a friend wasn’t really what made this situation so memorable. What stood out was the response my mother gave upon me confiding my inner turmoil: “That’s what you get.”
It was safe to say that “awe-inspiring support in the clutch” was not one of my mother’s skill sets. Though the “tuff-love” demeanor her response exuded might indicate a personality-strengthening exercise, such was not my mother’s intention. She would later confirm this by inquiring, “Well, what would you have liked me to have said?” Way to phone in the support, Mom. I do give her kudos for being around to “phone it in” before my very eyes. My father would take that expression literally and thus call annually. Regardless whether my mom was inquiring rhetorically or not, I stand by the following preferred maternal reactions:
1. Something supportive.
2. Something critical and the accompanying discussion on how to handle similar situations in the future.
3. Something indicative of her acknowledging my distress.
4. Overall, anything other than nonchalantly reconfirming the causal chain.
Something tells me that I had a firm grasp of what occurred and how. I recall feeling as if I was let down. I know I gave Gerald “permission,” but his gesture was more customary than requisite. I doubt a refusal on my behalf would produce anything less than additional attention to the attraction between him and her. In retrospect, I’d have looked like both a dick and a sore loser too. Instead, I was just shit out of luck and disappointed that my mom offered less support than Pamela Anderson’s training bra. My father had me “flying without a net” after he left us years prior. There was hardly any source of support whatsoever. Perhaps it’s peculiar that I didn’t need motivation to achieve the extraordinary—instead, my instincts merely sought to minimize emotional scar tissue. Besides, if I was going to become some manner of prodigy, I’d have to find inspiration elsewhere. The well from which my parents may have once sipped was tapped dry.
Here’s a little background on my folks. They married early, separated early, divorced late, and remarried even later… to other people. Lather, rinse, repeat. Since my mom got custody, I got a front-row seat for the ensuing “battle of the suitors,” or what I’d later describe as “Guess Who’s Coming (but Not Necessarily to Dinner).” Oh, this epic dating ritual of single parents hints at why the aftermath is far more harrowing than the divorce itself.
As you may imagine, my parent’s inability to forge healthy adult relationships should have tipped me off during the advice scenario above. What can I say? I was a sucker at 11. But that phase could only last 20 years or so, right? Unfortunately for my naiveté though, I left home two years later. Of course, that’s where my lofty aspirations of romanticism fastened their seatbelts, returned their trays and seats to the upright position, and began their descent towards reality.