In an IM conversation with Dmitri, I mention that I am catsitting for Ben while he's away, and that I'm in the midst of reorganizing the apartment. Dmitri says "You make such a good wife." Me? A wife? I have a beard, and it's not a woman with self-esteem issues, it's facial hair. Ben is the one who wears eyeliner.
And so it is that I spend the last day of my Ben free time, cataloging a list of my exes in my head.
Before Jennifer dumped me for my supposed best friend, Scott, she listened to Billy Joel, Phantom of the Opera, Milli Vanilli, Roxette; the music that all the cool kids were listening to in 1989. Before Jennifer admitted that the first time we dated, it had been exclusively to get closer to the little greaseball bastard who played the role of friend when it suited his snobby, rich, not very well-shaped ass, she wore cute white sweaters, was a straight A student, and really wanted to be a writer.
After Jennifer dumped me for that whiny little reminder of why the pull out method doesn't work, she abandoned English for Science, starting listening to Sir Mix-A-Lot, Young MC, LL Cool J, and other artists that I would grow to like once the nineties started, but we were twelve and not supposed to be listening to cool music, yet. Sure, she continued to take violin lessons, but everything else changed. After Jennifer crushed my heterosexuality between her fingers in order to date someone that I know for a fact had a smaller dick and intellect, she switched from glasses to contacts, from modest clothes to garish pink sweaters and other Debbie Gibsonesque fashion that caused an entire generation of women to "lose" any photos taken of them from, say 1987-1990. Her beautiful straight hair had teased bangs and clumsy curls. I hated the new Jennifer.
Once Jennifer dumped Scott for someone way hotter, way gayer, someone I ended up trysting with nine years later, she put her glasses back on, she kept her interest in science, restraightened her hair, found a moderate stance for her clothes. Once Jennifer realized what a little douche-trucker-hat Scott was, and started dating someone with way more style, and a body that convinced me that male artists tend to be homosexual because, fuck, men are works of art, she started listening to Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sonic Youth, Soul Asylum, bands that wouldn't break on MTV until 1992. Once Jennifer and Scott went the way of Brandon and Dylan, we decided to be friends again. Actually, I never told her we'd stopped being friends, because then I wouldn't have had anyone who wasn't a complete loser to hang out with at lunch.
When Jennifer abandoned her poor, soon to be oversexed, tan skinned, boat owning boyfriend for a much older (seventeen!!!) AV geek with bad teeth and halitosis, she got rid of the glasses again, started wearing mostly black, listened to prog rock bands like Dream Theatre, Queensryche, Rush, and early Genesis, and picked up an unplaceable accent that hurt my ears so much that, not only did I stop hanging out with her, I told my parents I wanted to go back to public school.
I couldn't be friends with someone who didn't have their own personality. All she ever did was assimilate her taste to her boyfriend's. She would take one, and only one of his traits when they broke off, and reinvent the rest of herself. She kept the complicated love of Jesus that she learned from Chris the Old. Her compassion, and willing to listen to people came from Ryan the Perfect. Her sarcasm and since of humor, I wish I could claim, but actually came from Scott. It wasn't until I started not dating Ben that I realized what she got from me.
"Did you hear that they're getting rid of Vanilla Coke?" Ben asks, as we wander around the CVS in search of light bulbs.
"Yea." I say. "They're gonna replace it with Cherry Vanilla Coke, which is way awesomer, anyway.""
"Ewww, dude. Anything with that fake vanilla is so nauseatingly sweet."
"I like sweet things." I say.
I shoot him the You Have Got To Be Fucken Kidding Me Look.
He stops looking at the Christmas lights display, shoots me a hurt look. "I'm sweet."
"Sometimes." I say. "But you also have that tang of bitterness that I find so hot."
"Oh, sweet Christ, you like your men like you like your alcohol. Booooo." He picks up a box of lights. "They don't have any blue lights, ugh."
"Are we all set, then?"
He frowns as he picks up another box of not blue lights. "Mmmmmm. No. Don't forget to get some sort of munchy thing. We're going to be completely...yea."
"At a CVS? I want something substantial."
"So get one of those microwavable meals." He says.
"Bleurgh. They're so...unnatural." And since when do I give a fuck about something being natural or not? When do I care what type of food goes into my body? Since Ben. I got my occasional nicotine habit from Elvis. From Liam, I learned my appreciation of how absurd sex really is. From Ryan, I got my compassion, and ability to listen to other people's problems. Beckee taught me to be devious. And Jennifer? This is what I'm not sure, did I absorb my habit of adapting my image to fit the people I love from her, or did she get it from me, or was it the one product of our love that survived?