Saturday, April 9, 2011

I couldn't have imagined a worse ending to a bad day if I tried.

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:
  1. Seriously? Does life just hate me today?
  2. How did he even recognize me! It's been ten years and I hadn't even hit puberty when I knew him!
  3. Seriously. I've got dark brown hair now! I don't look anything like I did then.
  4. Oh, God. He's going to want to chat. 
  5. 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? 


  1. haha. Everyone has a past and parts of it that they aren't thrilled about and it's never fun when it comes back and bites you in the ass. I have had moments like that, too. I was friended on facebook by somebody I absolutely didn't recognize and I went to read the message that went along with it because I don't accept friends I don't know. I'm reading this message and it says, "I knew your friend Alyson. Kevin, remember?" Um-I remember that you were my boyfriend for about 5 months until I went on vacation and came back and you were hooking up with my best friend (Alyson-who by the way is a lesbian)!! How dare you introduce yourself with "I knew your friend Alyson" when for 5 months we were holding hands and kissing...back in 8th grade!? The nerve! I did not accept his friendship and it felt great!!!

  2. The audacity! "I knew your friend Alyson." I hope you said something to him about how you remembered him and it wasn't in a fond way!

    And Alyson should be ashamed of herself!

  3. Bryan, are you trying to decide if I deserved this or not?

    Nicki, you're telling me. It's a huge city, but a very small world.

  4. Oh, man. You did say he wasn't very bright so I guess you can't be surprised that he didn't pick up on your "leave me the fuck alone" cues. I hate running into old boyfriends. Always awkward!!

  5. When life gives you lemons...

    Squeeze the juices out and throw it in life's face because in the end it's a battle that will take a lifetime, and life will always sucker punch you with awkward crap.

  6. Good grief! What are the odds?

    Why is it that people always run into "blasts from the past" at the most inconvenient of times? It's like the universe has the most unfunny sense of humor sometimes. I never run into people from my past unless it's at the grocery store when I'm wearing sweats and no makeup with my hair all frizzy and clutching a pint of ice cream and want NO ONE to notice me AT ALL...*Groan*...

    Not funny, Universe! Not funny at all!!! You should stomp on another cricket, just out of spite!

  7. A million in one! TWO million in one!

    Does this happen to men? I never hear about men running into exes inconveniently...and it's not fair! Down with double standards!

    Universe, you are on THE LIST!!!!!!!!! (Can't step on another cricket. I'm right back to squealing like a little girl when I see them.)

  8. On The List it goes! (It's okay if you can't step on crickets anymore. I can't stand it either.)

    Double standards SUCK!!! BOOOO to double standards!!!

  9. I was trying to figure out where I stood on this one. First off, you have this Chris guy lying to you when you were kids. That's wrong, of course, but clearly he was embarrassed about being held back a year or two. I challenge any guy in here who never lied to a girl when they were a teenager about something that embarrassed them, to throw the first stone. Still, it's also perfectly understandable that a 12-year girl would be mortified to learn that her junior high boyfriend was actually a dunce who was still in grade school. So, I call this chapter a draw, and just another painful, awkward memory from the past.

    So, then I was wondering if maybe you were a little hard on him when he came into the store. First off, it wasn't like he came in there with a dozen roses and a box of chocolates. He just accidentally happened to be there and recognized you. Maybe he should have just kept his mouth shut and let the past lie, but I think we've already established that he isn't the smartest bear in the forest. You want nothing to do with the guy, that's understandable. Why would you? I get that. But him saying things like, "So what have you been up to?", may have just been him feeling as awkward about the situation as you did and fumbling around for something to say. I'm not saying you were rude to the guy. I'm sure your signs and signals were all very covert. Also, the fact that you put the "universe" on the list shows that you see this as random chance and don't blame the guy himself. Good for you. Still, it seems more that in your telling of the story here, you come off as a tad harsh and callous towards the poor boy. But maybe that's my own misinterpretation.

    To be fair, I'll tell you a story of my own that you can judge me about. When I was in high school, I found out that this one girl like me. Actually, her friend told me. This friend of her seemed to follow her everywhere, like the girl was a mute and her friend was the interpreter or something. Anyway, I went somewhere and had a sandwich or something with this girl. Her friend tagged along, of course. I didn't find this girl attractive in the least bit, and I thought she was kind of dull. I wasn't interested in her, and somehow I made this clear. Sorry if I'm a little fuzzy on the details. It's been nearly twenty years. Anyhow, this girl ended up writing me a long note about what a jerk I was, and how I hadn't even given her a chance. On the one hand, I felt like I was under no obligation to give her a "chance". If I didn't like someone, I didn't like them. Simple as that. Still, part of me did feel a little bad about the whole thing, just as I always did if I rejected someone. Maybe she had a point. Maybe I had been too dismissive. I held onto that note for a long time.

    What do you think of that?

  10. I was going to say.... I'll bet it was the cricket. Never a good idea to kill them if you can avoid it. Seem to be karma's postmen or something.

  11. Candice, we should make a sign and go march!

    Bryan, that kid was not feeling awkward. He looked perfectly happy and he talked like it had been months instead of years. Being not so bright, he's probably one of those kids that great with social interaction. Except he failed to notice that I was completely and totally horrified. It was like he either forgot that the reason we stopped talking was because he lied to me, or he just thought I'd get over it in ten years. I may have forgotten him, but as soon as he showed back up I became just as angry today as I was ten years ago. And I wasn't rude, but I think I made it pretty clear that I needed to work and didn't have the time or inclination to talk to him.

    As for your story...well, I seriously doubt you told her point blank that she was dull and you didn't find her attractive. If you said it that way then you totally deserved the letter. But I'm betting you probably gave her some variation of, "You're a great person, but I just don't see you that way." In which case her feelings would have still been hurt. But it's not like you ran into her ten years after the fact and tried to act like nothing had happened.

    Darev, oh I didn't even think of can't be a coincidence that the first time in my life I deliberately smushed a cricket something truly awkward happened...

    So much for striking a blow for my freedom. (Still don't regret it. Just not doing it again.)

  12. No, I definitely tried to be as nice as possible about the whole thing. I would never be mean like that to someone who hadn't been mean first.

    As far as running into her, I hate to say it, but I really doubt I would recognize her if I saw her. I'm usually good with faces, but I can't hardly remember what she looked like.

  13. I haven't put as much thought into this as some other people around here, but how's this: maybe he was just finally graduating from high school this year and wanted you to know he's finally caught up.

  14. Bryan, well it's not your fault if you can't remember her face. You said it's been twenty years. And I didn't think you'd have been mean about it. You don't seem the type. Her feelings were just hurt. Rejection isn't easy.

    Brent, I might be a horrible person for this but I laughed really hard when I read your comment. Is that horrible? No. It's not. It's just funny.


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