August

1999

Jenny

If one could die of stupidity, I’d have croaked a thousand times. Thankfully, moronism is not fatal, and I’ve lived to tell about my mishaps. This is one of the worst.As I graduated high school, I had managed to alienate most of my friends. I borrowed $250 from Malia to pay library fines, and then couldn’t pay her back, so felt very guilty about hanging out with her; Nate and Ethan, my former bandmates, had recoiled in terror from the sadly non-punk direction my lifestyle was going; and most of my other pals weren’t really all that close anyways. I had started to be friends with people I’d never really hung out with before, but not that often. I was planning to move out ofmy mother’s house and start a new life.

And then Jenny called.

She was one of the most depressing people I’d ever known; exuding a complete disaffected entropy, she slept through her life like I slept through my Physics class. And she called me and asked me to go to a memorial for the 51st anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing. The perfect goth date.

We met by the shores of Greenlake, floating paper lanterns with Japanese writing painted on the sides; tiny points of light floated off into the distance. I wore a tweed coat and felt uncomfortable. She asked if she could hug me, and I assented. I become very uncomfortable when I was touched, in those days. A finger on the arm would send me into a flinching paroxysm. It was pretty sad and contributed greatly to no dates for me.

This still happens.

She hugged me and I twitched away inside my tweed coat. It was pretty sad. We went and waited for her mother to come and pick her up, and I walked to the bus stop and home, quiet and seething in the cool summer evening. I went over to her house. We made out in the basement with her parents upstairs. A dog was locked in a room off of hers, scratching and yelping. I had never kissed anyone before and it was a fairly inauspicious way to begin a fairly inauspicious career. My timidity irked her; it was here that I first concieved a usage for the word “inept.” I would use it constantly for the next two weeks.

I was throwing a going-away party for Nate at my mother’s house while she was out of town on a business trip. I cooked jambalaya. Jenny helped; she was there to give Nate his shirt, and had to leave at seven, when the party started. Seven came and went, and nobody showed. I lost it, freaked, started calling people’s homes, panicky at every continually-ringing phone, unanswered. Jenny stood, watched. I finally reached Ethan, at home.”Nate told everybody not to come…” and I threw the phone across the room, against the wall, shattering the plastic case, bending the antenna, and ending the conversation before Ethan’s “…until ten.”

I had sadly miscalculated twice. Once by not knowing when to begin; and once for stopping too early. I broke down and cried, hunching down against the wall. I left with Jenny. We spent the night in Paul Edlefsen’s bed, her breath against my neck. Everything I had was ruined. I stayed awake all night, breathing in sync with her, barely holding on. I moved out, into my attic room, rigged up a sad little new life for myself, a life which Jenny was now a part of. Long, weird, tearful conversations over the phone, pissing off my new roommates. It was a mess, and I didn’t know how much messier it would get.

When a girl says “I don’t want to hurt you,” it’s going to happen. Don’t get all macho and bravadoesque. You will get hurt. I did not know that.

We had our first date. I took her to a gallery opening of “outsider art” We rode the ferry to Bremerton and back, hypnotized by black water. It was all very nice and I took her up to the third floor and we had very bad sex.

Ineptitude.

Things got bad. She brought Max over and made out with him on my bed. She called me up, late at night, and asked, if she didn’t get to stay with this one guy tonight, could she stay with me? I loaned her my house key. She dropped it through my mail slot at 3AM. When I opened the door, she was out of sight. I didn’t wait up.