Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Old Habits Die Hard



Ever since some friends of mine found out my closested writing dreams and habits, I have often been asked, at times even begged, to write of my not so run-of-the-mill catalog of past suitors. Each and every time I have introduced a potential new boyfriend to my friends since junior high, they have laughed and cried at my choices for companions.

While I am not naive nor arrogant enough to believe that only I date psychos, I finally decided to put it all down on paper (or screen). But the problem I had, as most writers do, was where do I start? And where in hell is this going to end?

As far back as I can remember, I somehow managed to seek out the weird, damaged, drug dependent, lost souls of this world. What I am about to write may embarrass those lucky boys that I have had the pleasure of calling mine so I am openly acknowledging a disclaimer: The fact that I date these people so consistently is not because something is wrong with them. Coincidently, they all have me in common. This only reiterates that something is wrong with me. I keep thinking (more like praying) that I'm going to grow out of this.

Red heads with freckles were my first quirky obsession at the ripe age of eight in my 2nd grade classroom. I was captivated by Ryan Darling, the redhead with freckles who sat second seat back from the teacher's desk.

I don't remember the day or what I was wearing when Ryan entered our classroom, but I do remember he was assigned to the desk directly in front of mine. Mr. Darling was clenching a notebook to his chest as he looked like he was about to pee himself or cry. The entire class gawked and laughed at his death grip and colorful pen holder filled with dozens of writing utensils. As a then closeted writer, I secretly coveted his tools.

As the days and weeks progressed - his torments and my infatuation only grew. Upon finishing any assignment we were given, Ryan would pull his notebook out of his desk and furiously write. I was immediately intrigued. Who is the new man? And more importantly, what is he hiding from me?

He spent countless hours hovering over the colorless pages as though he had a map to buried treasure. Mr. Darling was so mysterious and weird (two qualities I apparently seek in a life partner- and sometimes under less good judgement- a night partner). Since he refused to speak to me or anyone else in the class, I had to find an in. Because he spent so much time scribbling in his notebook, Ryan was constantly in trouble. His punishment, which was inevitably no punishment at all, was to stay indoors at recess (presumably writing in his notebook) while the other children played outside.

I found it easy to be banned from kick ball and recess by kicking boys in their privates when they tried to kiss me, making this small act of fleeing a metaphor for my dating life. Run from the normal boys who just want to kiss and run to the disturbed souls who ignore you.

I was nervous the first time the on-duty teacher escorted me back into the classroom from recess. Moreover, much to my surprise and disappointment, Ryan did not even acknowledge me as I reentered the classroom. I sat in my seat behind him and huffed and sighed to his disinterest. I finally tapped him on the shoulder.

"Do you have a pen I could borrow?" I asked.

Timidly, Ryan handed me a standard black Bic pen. What a crock of shit. You have every kind and color of marker under the god damn sun and you hand me this? Even at a young age, I had the attitude of a 40 year old jaded divorce. Ryan turned back around and spent the remainder of in-door recess paying no attention to me. This went on for weeks but as I got myself in more trouble to be alone inside with him, my quality of pens improved.

I grew tired of playing cat and mouse after a while and decided to just blatantly ask him. "What are you writing in that notebook?"

"Numbers," he responded sheepishly.

"Numbers?" I ask, quite confused.

In a flurry of excitement, he pulled out all of his notebooks and handed them to me. "Numbers!" he shouted.

I opened Ryan Darling's notebook only to find my supposed literary soul mate simply jotted down numbers, in numerical order, continuously, in all of his 30 notebooks. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, etc. Numbers?! With comas?! I guess that's writing, I thought? My eyes must have bulged out of my head as I stared at my first love, my own personal fucking rain man. For an instant, I was mortified, disappointed. Weeks of effort and punishment from recess for this? But when I saw the freckles smiling back at me, I was putty in his permanently inked hands.

"Cool," I responded, not letting damaged goods and disappointment hinder me from my expectation. And right then and there, he became my boyfriend.

From then on, Ryan Darling let his freak flag fly, writing numbers in his notebook unabashedly, trying to set the record for highest count I guess. And I sought after, even chased, the weird, non-historically attractive nerds who make writing down numbers in a notebook look about as mundane and sane as closing ones eyes when they sneeze.