I was reading the blog and realized I've left a story hanging from my very first post without tell it for quite a while. This is the story of N, the second girl who I knew for sure liked me back.
Tenth grade year in high school meant the end of my time crushing on Heather (see the link in the above paragraph). N was the girl who supplanted Heather in my teenage sexual mindspace. N was a cute blonde girl whose background was a lot closer to mine. Imagine like a white Janet Jackson . . . skinny Janet, not Janet during the many, many weight gains. OK? Got it? N was from a family that, while not bad, was generally frowned upon. Poor enough to not be any great shakes, but not littered with any profound criminals or ne'er-do-wells.
Heather had the fortune to be in Algebra and Spanish with me for two years. Well, N got game on three straight years of being in Art class with me. Now, this was much to her advantage because high school Art class is one of the few places in a HS where life gets pretty free-form and loose. It was also one of the few places in school where I got along well -- both Art teachers loved me and to this day I still have occasion to talk to them. N was also in home room for those three years.
What's weird with N is that I can't quite pin when we started liking each other. I know at some point in tenth grade we kinda caught each other looking in home room. And we talked a lot in Art class. Not because we were great friends or anything. It's just that Art class was a raucous, awesome place to be young and fun and talk about big ideas and stoopid shit. In truth, it was the best preparation I ever had for college. Art class was always my refuge in school.
The worst part with N is that's pretty much where things stayed. For the first half of tenth grade, I think it was because everyone was trying to figure out the de-escalation between me and Heather. While Heather was nice, the fact is she was a queen bee and in high school sexual politics you don't cross queen bees. Not even the nice ones. Hell, especially not the nice ones! (One thing I always thought was great about my graduating class was that our queen bees were all thoroughly decent human beings who used their powers for good. How that happened, I'll never know.)
Whatever the case, by December it was clear that business with Heather was over. Everyone had moved on except for a handful of guys who made it their mission to interrogate me once a week trying to figure out if I ever fucked Heather (A: nope). Besides that investigation, there wasn't much left to care about. I could tell Heather hated the situation. I could also see that N knew what this development might mean for her.
If Heather was the queen bee that all the high value guys fought over, N it turns out was the accessible cute girl that all the mid and low value guys pined for because they thought that maybe, just maybe, they might have a shot. After all, that's the point of all those John Hughes movies, right?
One of the guys who pined for her was my friend Mike (name changed, bitched, again). Mike was a nerdcore. I mean it. Poor hygiene. Read all of the Lord of the Rings Books. By all accounts could play a mean game of Dungeons & Dragons.
Barely smart enough to rate academic classes, he went overboard to prove himself academically. How bad was Mike? I remember my HS bio teacher -- who took occasion sometimes to lightly mentor me -- once told me that the thing he hated most about me was that he felt like I was trying to convince people I was a fuck-up and I was stupid while actually being the smartest person there, and that I could stand with no sense of self-awareness about this next to a kid like Mike who was annoyingly desperate to prove himself a genius. In other words, Mike was so eagerly nerdy that teachers fucking hated him. (BTW, have I mentioned that people feel very open to tell me unreal shit? What teacher ever tells a student they hate one of his nerdy friends for trying too hard?!)
Mike wasn't a bad kid. His dad was a cop who owned an astonishing collection of seized weapons, drug paraphernalia, law enforcement literature and other fun stuff that me and my nerdier friends loved to rifle through.
I actually liked Mike's brother more than him. Mike's brother, Bryan, was a year behind us. Fun fact: Bryan was hit by a car five different times before he turned 18. Never hospitalized. I remember when we'd all walk to school in the morning, every now and then Bryan would see this re-run of an episode of cops that he had to tell us about every time it was on. It was the episode where the police go out to this shooting report and find this giant fat guy there. The kicker? Someone had shot the fat guy in the gut and the bullet fucking bounced off him!!!!
Anyhoo . . . fun times . . . back to N.
Well, Mike liked N. Mike liked N enough that he told me he liked N. Me? I didn't have the heart to tell him either truth. One, that N liked me. Two, that some day Mike would learn about proper hygiene and not talking about D&D and when that day comes he would settle down with a nice girl.
I'll admit: it never crossed my mind the disservice I was doing to N by not steering Mike away from her. Poor girl. So, the second half of tenth grade year was lost letting my have his dream of dating N. Which apparently he must have tried to act upon at some point, because at the end of the year he abruptly stopped talking about her and she took to glaring at him like he had killed her favorite dog.
Eleventh grade year N tried to revive things. And things sort of found their way to the balance they were at tenth grade year. And then they stayed there. We talked. We liked being around each other. Neither of us pushed it further.
Now, there are two things you have to understand about eleventh grade for me.
One: 11th grade was the year I really decided I hated everything and just let shit go completely. That was the year I thoroughly nuked any chance of getting into a good college. I skipped eighty days of school. I was suspended for another thiry-six days, including five days out-of-school suspension. That was the year all of my teachers got really scared I was flushing my life down the drain.
And I was eventually sent to the school psychologist, where eventually they -- the shrink, my Spanish teacher and a guidance counselor -- basically told me that if I want to get away from my family, they could arrange it. I was in a dark place and basically told them I had no interest. Understand, my family was thoroughly broken at this point. My sister was doing drugs and left two kids with my mom, only showing up often enough to snag the food stamps my mom received for the kids from the mail box before my mom got home. My brother was in jail for unlawful entry and some type of theft connected to that. We didn't have a car. My mom was marginally employed, about ten hours a week at a real job plus several small cleaning jobs on the side.
In other words: bad fuckin year.
I really feel sorry for N, because she was trying to steer into a shit storm. And the only thing I can say is that at least I kept her out of it. Only, teenage girls don't see it that way. Love cures everything, after all, at that age.
Worse for N, I took a shine to E. E was a friend of a friend. E was a tougher, more athletic version of N. I liked E because she had a real "don't fuck with me" vibe. Hell, I still to this day have no idea whether E was even into guys . . . but, I'll reserve any judgments simply from my own miserable experience being in that hot box.
The last day of junior year, N simply had hit her limit. We were all sitting in home room, waiting for report cards to be handed out and let out for summer. N went to the back chalkboard and started drawing a heart. Very well, I should add (remember, we were largely acquainted with each other in Art class). She drew a ribbon across the front of it and wrote my name there.
IN PLAIN FUCKING VIEW OF THE ENTIRE HOME ROOM CLASS.
Then she asked me what I thought of it.
. . .
. . .
. . .
Just wanted to let that one sink in a bit.
N went big. She went so big that she literally drew me a fucking picture explaining it to me.
Being, of course, still in my mind a fat, nerdy kid with serious social retardation -- can you say "autism"? well, we didn't call it that back then unless you were a full-on retard -- I basically froze. I muttered something to effect that I didn't think much of it and turned away.
N erased the ribbon part of the drawing and replaced it with the standard crack symbolizing a broken heart.
(BTW, I'm getting really worked up typing this. I see why I let this one go so long.) And then she sat down at her desk. No crying. Only a little red faced. She just sat and didn't talk to anyone.
It would be funny if it weren't so goddamned mean.
To this day, I've never had a girl who wasn't a family member cry in front of me. The one thing about how I hit women: once they've been shot apart, they're not about to have some weepy breakdown in front of me. That's been a long pattern that started with N. Anger, resentment, disbelief, persistence, nonchalance . . . never sadness. They won't have any of that Hollywood bullshit. Not in front of this emotionless motherfucker. No, sir.
N still orbited me a bit through senior year. It wasn't cold, but there was a definite change in the friendship. It's weird to try to describe. She wasn't wounded. She wasn't angry. She wasn't sad.
I don't know how to explain how it felt. She was present. Not in a negative way. Almost in that calm, enlightened sort of Buddhist way. Not even acceptance. Presence.
I don't know. There's probably a word in German for it. The Germans always have some twenty syllable word to explain every single human state. I'd try for French, but that leads us to ennui. Whatever N had felt, it wasn't ennui. Unless you can imagine ennui without any of the negative connotations.
She didn't date anyone senior year. And we haven't talked since the last day of high school. I don't know what happened to her. Couldn't find her online. Not even Facebook. Maybe my Buddhist theory is right. Maybe she just achieved that perfect, enlightened, balanced, neutral state and then just went poof into the ether. Beats me.
But, N does at least carry a special place in my heart as the girl who got so frustrated with me that she gave up and drew me an actual fucking picture explaining how she felt. She was a real human being who kinda tried to do a female version of the whole John Hughes thing. Of course, that worked about as well in real life as one might expect it would. Not very well at all.