Friday, June 30, 2006

Crushed

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It started with a crush. It ended in a dark and dank hotel room with full frontal male nudity, McDonalds French fries and an unrequited kiss.

I liked him for the right reasons. I thought when he talked he sounded healthy. Whenever I heard him at an Alanon meeting he seemed so ‘together’. I was patient. I didn’t stalk. It took me weeks before I even stood close to him in the hallway during the break. And I’m not shy. I could have marched right up to him the first day I heard him speak and entered his phone number into my blackberry. But I didn’t. I waited. I was patient.

Three months later, I announced at the meeting that I was moving to DC for a short while. And he bit. He finally talked to me. Not in front of me. To me. And I was hooked. Even before he opened his mouth to get my email, I was imagining what brilliant intelligent and healthy thing would come out.

“So. Um. Can I get your e-mail?

It was like poetry.

I gave it to him.

Two weeks later an e-mail arrived in my in box.

“Hi there. How are you?”

Wow. He liked me. He really liked me.

We sent a few e-mails back and forth. I ignored his propensity toward emoticons. I overlooked his over usage of monosyllabic words. I tried not to focus on his simplistic view of the world and instead I thought about how all the little hairs on my arms stood up when I saw his name in my inbox.

On a weekend visit to New York I invited him along to catch my sisters play. That was when he told me he didn’t like women who liked him. Something about issues with his mother. Something about describing all his ex girlfriends with derivatives of the word ‘hot’. As in ‘She was so hot”. Something about being 39 and never having had a serious relationship. I was disappointed. Slightly disturbed. But I ignored my feelings. He was perfect for me. I had been so patient. Surely he was the reward.

Last week he wrote to say he would be in DC for the weekend and would I like to hang out.

He joined me late Friday nigh at 18th street lounge and we spoke few words over the heads of our friends and the sound of the pumping bass. So I was pleased when I woke up the next morning to a text.

Want 2 go 2 Baltimore w.us tonight?

I should have known I was in for disaster from the start. Running late, I took a taxi from Dupont Circle to Union Station. But that is the wrong direction. I was supposed to go to Grosevnor not Glenmont. I turned back. An hour late and thirty dollars poorer, I met him and his friends on the train platform.

“We got a convertible. Is it okay with you if we drive with the top down?”

“Sure,” I said eyeing the dark sky and folding my perfectly coiffed blonde locks down the back of my shirt.

“No problem. It will be fun.”

We arrived an hour and a half later at a dank hotel in Baltimore. My hair was teased back in an uncomfortable mop behind my ears. The crush and I couldn’t talk much over the hum of the passing air and the pumping 80’s tune from the front seat. He took a lazy seat in the lobby while his friends began to assemble around him.

It was his friend Rick’s birthday and Ricks girlfriend Alice had booked the entire trip off a late night google expedition. It was clear she hadn’t done much searching before she booked the reservation. We were two blocks away from Po’ House Street. Which was one block away from Martin Luther King Parkway. Neither is a good sign that you are in the right hood.

The rooms had no windows and crisp polyester sheets. There were two rooms and twelve people. When I lay my bag over the foot of the bed I would be sharing with three strangers, I somehow knew the night was going to go terribly wrong.

The rowdy crew dropped their bags in the rooms and started drinking right away. I saw my crush on the other side of the room. He didn’t drink either, so surely we could bond over this. But I couldn’t really catch his eye. He was laid out in a chair with his right hand tucked into the top of his jeans. Funny, in all my fantasies of him, not one ever involved a vision of him with his hands down his pants.

The crew cabbed it to a ghetto crab shack where the crush's friends consumed sixteen pitchers of beer in the course of two hours. Conversation consisted of raunchy sex jokes, declarations of men’s gayness and a contest of who could say the grossest and most inappropriate comment to the waitress. Sometimes this sort of humor can be amusing, when played out amongst the witty. But in this crowd of dimwits with Britney Spears educations, it just sounded crass and tacky. “Country”, as Britney would state it. And she would surely emphasize this with air quotes.

The scene was dangerous for this recovering alcoholic. Suddenly, I was seventeen again, crowded around the keg with a red plastic cup making jokes that would make everyone look at me. How funny I thought I was, how much I would jockey for your attention by saying shocking and disgusting things. How disturbing it is to watch these buzzing idiots and realize how I must have sounded.

The posse moved onward to a piano bar called ‘Howling at the Moon’ and buckets of Long Island Iced Teas ensued. Shots, more buckets, beers to follow, and the groups buzz began to violently sway into a drunken slur. The class of the establishment was reflected by the patrons. I counted thirteen bachelorette parties, marked by women wearing white veils, 'suck for a Buck' t-shirts and sipping Coronas through penis straws.

To make the scene even more upsetting, my crush seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the scene. He looked everywhere, but at me. And this made me want to be noticed. What is it about that white trash world that makes you want to fit in, by showing off, showing a little more skin, or inflating your importance?

Crush smacked his friends when two barely 21 year old girls promoting a new liqueur approached the table in skin tight baby blue tank tops and white mini skirts that fell an inch below their asses.

“She’s so hot,” Crush said, referring to the bleach blonde.

Watching the crush salivate almost made me remind him that I was once a Budweiser girl, tied my shirt up to show off my ripped abs, wore white knee high boots, had hair that fell down to my back and sat on toothless men’s laps to take Polaroid photos.
But then I realized how ridiculous that was.

My crush’s friend Langdon took a neon straw out of his mouth long enough to respond.

“I’d like to stick my penis in her mouth.”

Langdon is so gross. But at least it was a reprieve from gay bashing.

“Dude. Talk to her.”

The girl passed and the crush looked timidly down at the floor. And I was thinking that maybe the crush was a good guy aftre all, just surrounded by very strange circumstances. I was reminded of my fantasy that he was smart and cool and perfect for me in every way.

“Is that your type?” I batted my eyelashes at the crush, ready to exchange witty banter and gain an ally in the center of all this insanity.

“She's every mans type,” he said, and looked up to stare after the girl in the hopes she would drop something, bend over to pick it up, and give the crush a flash of her perfectly round ass.

I was staring too. I was staring at myself, thirteen years ago. A young girl defined by the amount of attention she could garner, a group of friends thinking they were bonding over the selfish consumption of alcohol, offensive jokes that disrespected the intelligence and position of all those around them, and a woman desperately seeking attention from the one man in the room who wouldn’t give it to her. Yes, I was seventeen again.

“Yeah. Every man’s type, ” Langdon repeated.

No. I beg to differ. I knew first hand that this woman was not everyone’s type.

And in that moment I saw how far I had come. Since the drinking. Since the attention seeking. Since the lying and the stealing and low-cut tops. Since I had been that woman.

“You know what? I’m tired. I think I’m going to head out.”

And I left. Because now I know I have choices.

I found my way back to the hotel and I waited for what I knew would come next.

As if I needed another reminder of what an asshole I once was, three AM brought the sound of eleven drunken men and women to the outside of the hotel door. They screamed, they howled, they ran up and down the halls yelling obscenities. They were carrying six large bags of McDonalds French Fries. Langdon entered my room, took off all his clothes and left them in pile on the floor next to my bed so he could streak down the hallways being chased by hotel security.

The crush went to bed, leaving me to struggle with the drunkards on my own. Once I finally got them all to calm down, I lay my head back down on the pillow.

That’s when I heard the Langdon stir, lean over and try to kiss his best friend lying next to him.

“Dude. What the fuck are you doing?”

“Oh. Sorry. I thought you were someone else.”

And I understood how he felt.

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posted by Pop Culture Casualty @ 6/30/2006 12:43:00 AM |

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