I am a magnet for the most improbable, unlikely, impossibly awkward situations. Yesterday's incident was a clear indicator that I am a cursed woman.
A little back story first. (I am using his real name because I don't care about ethics in his case.)
Ten years ago I was twelve years old. I was in the seventh grade. I was at a new school in a new town (outskirts of Austin in the middle of a snobby town full of snobby, better than thou people) with none of my old friends around to comfort me.
And my mother made me go to a dance "to help you make friends."
To torture me seemed more probable.
Mom bought me a new dress and shoes, she curled my hair, and she dropped me off with a cheery, "Have fun! I'll pick you up at ten!"
I noticed a few things when I walked in the door, the most important one being that my dress was out of place. It wasn't that I was overdressed. I was wearing a simple spring dress that I could have worn to the mall without looking like I was trying too hard. I merely noticed all the other girls were wearing blue jeans or jean skirts with sandals, and my yellow cotton dress didn't fit in. I stuck out like a sore thumb. The group of friends that had adopted me rushed over and told me how pretty I looked, and oh I wish I had thought to wear a real dress instead of a jean skirt. Blah, blah, blah.
I also noticed that none of their mother's had taken the time to do their hair. Most of them were sporting a variation of the half up, half down pony tail or simply wore their hair in messy buns. Two strikes to my mother on that count.
I was very thankful that the shoes she'd put me in were the right kind at least: kitten heeled sandals.
All of my friends got asked to dance within the first hour. I was left standing alone and uncomfortable by the stage, all dressed up for absolutely no reason, wishing I could disappear and be anywhere else in the world other than that dance.
When a boy finally did approach me to ask for a dance I was angry. The boy in question was one who I had decided to hate within seconds of meeting him on my first day, and he seemed absolutely hell bent on winning me over anyway. I disliked him for several reason. First, Daddy taught me that if a boy ever said something about how pretty he thought I was before asking my name or trying to make conversation, he wasn't worth my time. That boy had done exactly that. Second, I'd seen him picking on younger kids and this one nerd boy who I happened to find charming. Third, he had a bad attitude in class towards the teachers, and that irritated me. Fourth, he never did his homework. Ever. If someone had told me the world was going to end and everyone was going to die unless I danced with that boy, I would have dug my heels in and said too bad. I hated him that much. It was unfortunate that he decided to come over and ask me to dance because I could only say no, and none too politely at that.
When that boy walked away with the shame of rejection stinging his ego, another boy approached. A boy I didn't know and hadn't met. He introduced himself, asked my name, and asked if I was new. We talked for a while and then he asked me to dance.
He was nice. He said his name was Chris, he was twelve and in the eighth grade, and his older brother, Jimmy, was in my class. He didn't strike me as a particularly intelligent individual, but I didn't think anything of it. We spent the whole dance together, and by the end of it we decided to be boyfriend and girlfriend. In middle school that just means you get to hold hands and tell people you have a boyfriend/girlfriend. There really isn't much to it at that age.
A week of phone conversations later I discovered to my horror that the boy in question was twelve years old, but he wasn't in the eighth grade. He was in the fifth. Held back two years. That is the very opposite of being smarter than the average bear. That boy was stupid.
I was horrified.
He'd lied to me.
And what the hell had he been doing at a middle school dance? (His mother was chaperoning apparently so he got to tag along to socialize with children his own age. Thank you for that, mother of the moron.)
That relationship was so over, and I didn't even call him to tell him. He happened to be friends with my neighbor and I told him to tell Liar Boy that we were through, that he could lose my number and burn my picture because I had nothing more to say to him. He sent me a note through the neighbor the next day, but I didn't bother reading it. I didn't see him again after that. Not at dances, not at town events. Nowhere. And I liked it that way. I forgot his existence, which is the way I prefer it to be with bad relationships.
Now, you're probably wondering how in the hell this is relevant to yesterday.
This story is relevant because that boy, now twenty two years old, came into the store yesterday. It's like life was just drop kicking me in the face.
Of course, I didn't know who he was when he came in. I looked up and greeted him like any other person.
"Hi, how are you?"
"I'm good." He looked at me. "Hey, don't I know you?"
I studied his face. Absolutely nothing rang a bell in my head. Not even the vaguest sense of familiarity. "No, I don't think so."
"Seriously! I know you! I'm Smothers!"
Smothers? I knew a Smothers in middle school and high school. A Jimmy. And this kid was not Jimmy. "You're not Jimmy."
"No. I'm his brother! Chris!"
And then I remembered him. He didn't look anything like he had ten years ago, but I knew the name well enough. It just needed to be jolted out of the burial ground of bad memories in my head.
My thought process went something like this:
- Seriously? Does life just hate me today?
- How did he even recognize me! It's been ten years and I hadn't even hit puberty when I knew him!
- Seriously. I've got dark brown hair now! I don't look anything like I did then.
- Oh, God. He's going to want to chat.
- Seriously, Loki. What the fuck?
"So, what have you been up to?"
Jesus Christ. It's been ten years. Do you really want to catch up on ten years?
"Oh, not much. Just life. You?"
"Broke my finger!" And he showed me. And I sat there wishing one of my coworkers would come over and save me because as he rambled about his finger and his life since we broke up (ten years ago! When we were children!) I shot looks of horror and discomfort to my coworkers, who were all just so amused by my apparent misery that they couldn't bring themselves to rescue me.
Finally, FINALLY Henry came over and I made him sit so I could "go to the back" which was code for go hide in the kitchen until I was sure he was gone because it was just awkward.
I ask you this: what are the odds that on the day that started out so freaking horribly a person I haven't seen or spoken to in ten years would also come by where I work and recognize me despite the fact that puberty, time, and hair dye have completely altered my appearance?
More importantly, where is the justice? Did I kill someone in a past life or something? Do I have a sign tattooed to my forehead that I can't see but lights up like a neon beacon inviting people to talk to me when I have no desire to do so?