How We Roll

It hadn’t been the best day. My pay had been cut, and then I put a serious dent in Pseudo Date Day by almost crying, having a panic attack or bursting into flames while watching a movie.

You know how it is: someone tries to take your mind off of a bad situation by getting you out of the house, and the result is just you pissing all over someone’s attempts to cheer you up. Then you feel even worse because you’re screwing up someone’s attempts to be nice. It’s a swirling spiral of suck, and mine was still bubbling just beneath the surface.

I didn’t actually have a panic attack in the movie theater. I didn’t even really do any proper crying at lunch. However, lunch ended up getting spent discussing work troubles instead of discussing puppies and rainbows or whatever you’re supposed to talk about when the sun is shining and you don’t care how many calories are in your Chinese food.

I think there was a huge part of my boyfriend that really wasn’t interested in discussing work trouble for an entire meal, but we’ll have to agree to disagree on that. You have a new problem to walk through? Fuck yeah. That makes me feel useful and needed, like you care about whatever advice I might give. Like I’m useful for something other than making ugly banner ads and mowing the yard. We can cover last night’s episode of Mythbusters later. Or never. Never works just fine for that.

So, we’d seen a movie and had lunch and were sitting in front of Whole Foods eating post-lunch tiny tarts when we both notice the parking lot across the way.

As you may have guessed from the fact that we were eating outside whole Foods, we were in the more bourgeois part of town. It’s that area where everyone hates to go because the people there all drive luxury cars and think that THEIR errands are way more important than yours. That area where beige brick buildings are practically mandated and women in Life is Good shirts gather to drink $5 lattes and complain about their plastic surgeons, the wait time for the valet at the mall and how there’s no proper cell phone pocket in the new line of Vuitton purses.

As for the aforementioned parking lot, it was barely big enough for two rows of parking and 2 lanes of traffic, 1.25 of which was being occupied by a woman in a Soccer Mom Assault Vehicle (S.M.A.V.) who had decided that it would be much easier to block traffic than pull into one of the three available spots.

As people pulled up behind her, she would wave them around, not realizing that attempts to go around would result in other drivers being wide open for head-on collisions with people turning the corner into the lot.

“I can’t believe she’s just SITTING there.”

“I kind of wish someone would yell at her.”

“Dude. Dare to dream.”

So, while munching on our tiny tarts, we forgot about work drama and enjoyed the reality tv. One by one, cars pulled up behind the SMAV. One by one, they would honk or stare as they maneuvered around. Eventually, one car just pulled up next to the SMAV…

“YOU CAN’T PARK HERE!” Yelled a man in the passenger seat, his wife leaning over from the wheel to add two cents the boyfriend and I couldn’t hear.

The woman in the SMAV paused her phone conversation to offer some reply, but it didn’t matter. As the man and his wife drove away, the man stuck his head out of the car in order to keep yelling. The car behind the man and his wife followed suit to a lesser degree.

“Oh shit! Awesome!!” (The boyfriend and I are wishing we had DVRed this particular episode.)

The SMAV finally gives up and pulls into one of those three parking spots and its driver emerges, huffy, hot and bothered. Honestly, we’d never seen such angry swinging of purse and whipping of mom bob. As the boyfriend and I did imaginary voice over of her phone conversation (“Well, Beth, I swear! What IS the world coming to? I just came down here to exchange little Madison’s yoga pants and now this!”) the woman disappeared into a shoe store.

Having sated our needs for Chinese food, tiny tarts AND street justice, the boyfriend and I headed back to the East Side.

Since I live on the East Side, I wrote a blog about the whole thing. Passive-aggressive blogging: it’s how we roll.

Truth or Dare

“Fine. Dare. Damn it.”

If I knew anything at all about being in high school, I knew better than to choose “dare” in a co-ed game of Truth or Dare. The game was practically invented for bizarrely socially acceptable sexual experimentation. However, I’d been getting away with “truth” for a solid hour and everybody was getting sick of my shit.

We were coming back from a game in some town over an hour away, and the bus broke down. We had no choice but to wait for the cheerleaders’ bus to get back to school, unload and come back for us. In the meantime, those of us on the football team’s bus had no choice but to wait, pray we didn’t end up having to pee in the woods, and amuse ourselves in whatever fashion we could find. I pled an excellent case for “let’s make up a story!” but with a 3-to-30 girl/boy ratio, a game of Truth or Dare was inevitable, even if the team had to make do with the girls who taped their ankles and made their Gatorade instead of the cheerleaders. Any snack in a famine.

By the time we’d switched buses, I’d confessed such juicy details as the circumstances around my first kiss and possibly my bra size. As the new bus got rolling, everyone started feeling a certain sense of urgency. We would be back at the school soon. Something more interesting needed to happen, or we’d wasted the whole “broken down bus” situation. It would have been like playing Seven Minutes in Heaven solely to discuss societal themes in Crime & Punishment.

“You CAN’T pick truth! You’ve been picking truth the whole TIME!”

So, I took the dare, expecting something almost as benign as having to tell everybody my shoe size. I was just a sophomore, small for my age, and had the appearance of a 7th grader. I was not the football manager people wanted to take to the back of the bus and do gossip-worthy things to. I was the asexual little sister.

This would explain my minor shock when this bus of clueless teenaged boys dared me to kiss my crush. They were also sharp enough to give stipulations: at least 10 full seconds, on the mouth. There’s nothing awkward about kissing your crush on a moving school bus, in front of 30 people. Nothing.

There’s also absolutely nothing awkward about biting a hole in his lip when the bus hits a bump.

There’s really, really nothing awkward when he bleeds like a stuck pig and proceeds to address you as Vampire Girl for the rest of football season. I thought it was hilarious in its own terribly, horribly awkward sort of way.

He and I eventually went on a double date to a Mexican restaurant. I think his attendance was largely based on having lost some bet to his best friend, the boyfriend of my good friend. I was mainly in it for the food.

I kissed him at the end of the date.
Nobody bled.

Of Coffins and Choke Holds

It’s been a few, and I feel like we haven’t talked. You all know how it is: I type when something’s eating at me and I’ve been sort of too busy lately to have anything eating at me at all. Well, nothing I can share with you. Nothing that would be “constructive” to share with you.

I’ve written a number of things I’ve been referring to a The Coffins. You gather up something that’s been eating away at you, finally say everything that you need to say, wrap it up, nail it shut and bury 6 feet deep. However, the thing about coffins is that nobody else is really supposed to dig them up and look inside. What’s in the coffin isn’t pretty and shouldn’t be unleashed.

I mean, unless I get a book deal.

So, I’m going to resort to story telling again. Maybe one day I will dig up some of the less offensive coffins and flip them open. Or open up this one huge, daunting mausoleum of a subject. Until then…

It’s sophomore year in high school. Our heroine, a small, pale lass with hair recently (and very accidentally) dyed black is walking all of her 61 inches and 99 pounds down the hall to English class. There is a test in her future. In an effort to liven things up a bit, she will use a 20-color ink pen on that test. When she receives her grade, someone will have written “multicolor pens are for 5th graders” in red ink at the top of her paper.

This is not about that test. This is about what’s coming down the hall.

What’s coming down the hall, in the opposite direction of or semi-distracted heroine, is a group of three guys. At the last minute, one of the three guys leaps across the invisible yellow dividing line of the hall to yell “BOO!” in the face of our heroine, just to watch her be startled. Like a nervous cat, our heroine jumps and then continues on to class.

While she takes her test, toggling colors in that 20-color pen (which, in hindsight, looks a lot like a marital aid), she can’t help but wonder who she has become in this first year at a new school. Atlanta Amy would never have let them get away with that. Atlanta Amy would have stood up for herself. Who is this person holding this 20-color pen?

She vows that she won’t let it happen again.

Never being a group to forget a good startled reaction, the boys spot our heroin again just two days later. This time, she has dismounted the stairs and working her way through the human atom smasher that is a crowded high school hall, going to Algebra II. She hates Algebra II. Her attendance is the only thing earning her B for the semester. Atlanta Amy was also good at math.

The group of the same three guys comes toward her again, yells in her face again. Instead of being startled, our heroine has mentally prepared. She’s physically prepared, too. When she saw them, she switched her stack of books into her left arm.

This means that her right hand is free to reach out and put guy #1 against the wall by the neck and tell him, in no uncertain terms, that she is sick of his shit. Guy #2 finds all of this terribly amusing, possibly even more amusing than startling her, until she releases his friend and turns to him with a poking finger and a mouth saying, “and YOU….”

As she pokes, she shoves him to make a hole in the now very amused crowd of students. Wait, teachers may arrive soon and that would keep her from getting to Algebra. She takes advantage of the hole in the crowd, calmly walking off to class, half expecting to be chased down by a teacher or grabbed from behind via her unintentionally black hair. Neither of those things happen. She shows up for another Algebra class, putting a lock on more much-needed attendance points.

She sees those guys together only once more.
They stay on their own side of the hall.

Walk, man

I have no axe to grind today. I’m just telling a story. Sit back while Auntie Evil tells you about the Walkman.

In eighth grade, I lived in the suburbs on the south side of Atlanta. If I lived in Jonesboro now, I would get some mad street cred while people suddenly were overcome with a desire to frisk me. In 1990, when I was there, it was only slightly more hood than any other suburban, strip-mall town.

One morning in eighth grade, I puttered around in my locker as my English teacher looked on, monitoring the morning hall traffic. I was puttering because I was waiting for a bus to arrive. A bus bearing a guy who was allegedly two years older than everyone else in the eighth grade, a Blood, a drug dealer and the star of every boys’ athletic team at the school. As he started to pass me at my locker, I yelled out his name, snapped my fingers, held out my hand and looked up at him. Death stare received, he dug through his bag and produced my Walkman. I proceeded into English class, bypassing a very stunned hall monitoring teacher.

I’ve pulled a Memento on you. We need to back up.

This fellow and I were friends. The kind of friends who always find themselves waiting on their rides after school. As other extracurricular students went home, we were more and more alone together. I was co-captain of the dance team. He was captain of the football team. I was little, shy and naive. I kept waiting for him to love me for my mind. For his part, he rather enjoyed grabbing my ass.

Still, stupidly, I let him borrow a favorite tape and my Walkman. It became more and more apparent that I would never see either again. But for my lack of respect for arbitrary rules, this would have been very simple: saving up allowance and buying a new tape and a new player. Two months of allowance. Besides, that’s just wrong. I shouldn’t have to replace things.

While his team was out running and tackling, I went into the boys’ locker room to steal my stuff back, only to find his locker actually locked. Madness. I could see it through the metal mesh, my favorite tape pitifully crying to me through the Walkman’s tiny plastic window. After weeks of him claiming to have left the Walkman at home, here it was, mocking me from behind a 3-dollar padlock.

“Meet me in the gym after practice and I’ll give it to you…but you have to come in the locker room with me to get it.”

Ladies, forgive the stupidity. I was young. Age 14 was younger then. Sexting didn’t exist. Cell phones were only for rich people and Zack Morris. Bad things only happened in Lifetime movies. I went into the locker room.

Before the padlock even comes off, I am pinned to the wall by the shoulders. Instinct and low centers of gravity being what they are, I wriggle free and proceed toward the door. Four steps later, his foot is behind me trying to trip me down onto the weight room mats. I stumble and keep walking. By the time I reach the weight room door, he has caught up to me and has me by the wrist. I wriggle out using the “go against the thumb” technique my dad taught me.

Freedom to the hall! But no. The halls are dark because school has been closed for so long. Six feet ahead of me lie a set of double doors and a tiny slit window of light beaming in from the lit cafeteria, the site of the chorus concert which was my reason for still being at school. My hand reaches out for the push handle of the door, but my arm is six inches too short. He gets me by the upper arms. The Walkman is collateral damage. I want to be in the light.

“Can I get a hug?”

I considered, thinking this would suffice for him and get me back on the lit side of the doors. Then again, a hug would put me well in the grasp of someone who could easily carry me back over all the ground I’d gained. I opted for choice #2: I kicked him in the shin and bit his arm.

So, there I am in the well-lit cafeteria, surrounded by my fellow sopranos. I don’t tell anybody because I know I shouldn’t have even gone in there. I’m shaking because I’m nervous about the concert. How’s my hair?

This is how the scene the next morning went down the way it did. This is why he responded to a finger snap and an outstretched hand. Because, in the death stare coming up to him from the eyes perched a foot lower than his, was a scrolling marquee: “It is easier to hand over the plastic in your bag than to answer for the bite mark in your arm.”

“What was that?” asked my English teacher, closing the door behind me.

“Nothing.”

That guy is grown now, lying about his age, and trying to look like a pimp on MySpace. He has a daughter now. In raising his daughter, does he think about what he did to me? Does he wonder whether anyone has pinned his daughter to a wall?