Honest Conversation Is Overrated
Actual Human Interactions Witnessed Or Overheard
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
I don't know how the marriage proposal happened. Movies, TV shows, romance novels, they all have these elaborate stories involving the Eiffel Tower or a the rehab center where the couple first met. There's always rings involved and one or more of the couple ends up on their knees, staring deep into the other's eyes, and saying "Will you marry me?" And the other person says yes and they live happily ever until the credits roll.
I was drunk. A bottle of Jack Daniels and a six pack of Heinekein drunk. She may have been too, I don't remember. It was summer again. Our last summer before college. I was two weeks into another ten week long camp counselor position, and she was a week away from going to Europe to visit all those exotic places where richer, soberer people proposed to each other or honeymooned. We were at a party hosted by one of my coworkers. The host and his frat buddies showed off their Stigmata Delta Piebald brands. DJs spinned terrible local hip-hop wannabes and bad eighties tunes. I confessed something stupid like "You know... Beckee. I mean. Beckee was so, you know, shallow, and shallow and shit. But you. You. I totally love you. We should get married." And she said yes, and we made out for a little while. And I walked her to her I hope she's sober enough to drive home car. I kissed her. Told her I loved her. Staggered back in the direction of the house in order to find more whiskey, since I was obviously too drunk to drive home, myself.
A few yards away from the sliding glass door that led into the kegful kitchen, was a jacuzzi. I was wearing a bathing suit. The two frat brats already in the jacuzzi were not. They were skin and water and slick and smooth and drunk and...and they were on opposite sides of the jacuzzi, flexing their bodies toward the edges of the what are they doing jacuzzi. "Sooooooo good. You want to try this?" The frat boy facing me asked.
"Fucking the pooljets." The frat whose ass was bending in my direction said.
Yes. "No. Thanks." And I walked around the jacuzzi until I had the proper vantage point to watch both of their asses flex. I watched and watched, comparing ass, back, and rhythm, mentally calculating which of them would finish first.
"What the fuck are you doing here?" Bernard asked. Bernard. Ugh. Bernard was a thirty-five year old pot head who taught archery at our camp. He had been a counselor at Camp Davis for almost twenty years, with the exception of one summer when the previous director of the camp had stepped down, and he had assumed that he would take his place. The CEO, thinking he was making a joke when he asked to interview for the position, had laughed in his face. As a form of protest, he'd taken a position at another camp. He was fired two weeks into the summer, when he was caught smoking up inside the archery shed. During his summer away, I had served as assistant archery director. The year that Bernard decided to come back, we both applied for the Archery Director position. He got the job, but only because they'd offered me a chance to run waterfront, a job with more prestige and three extra dollars an hour, thus making me, in his eyes, the most evil person on the planet. "I asked you a fucken question. What the fuck are you doing here?"
Watching two hot, naked frat guys fuck the airjets in a jacuzzi. "They're drunk." I said. "And...and you're not supposed to be in a jacuzzi when you're drunk. And I'm a lifeguard. And, you know, if they dehydrate and pass out, someone's gotta be here to help them. You want to watch em for a while why I go get a beer?"
"Fucken faggot." He said, and walked away, in the direction of the house.
I stayed a minute or two longer, and then headed into the house, where I passed out on a couch.
My heterosexual dream was shattered on August twelfth, 1995. Jennifer: destroyer of sleep and car rides. I picked her up at the airport on the eleventh. She was unusually quiet during the entire trip. I assumed this meant that she'd slept with someone. That she had realized that she didn't love me, but she at least had the tact not to break up with me while I was driving her home from the airport.
The next day, she called too bright, too early, to say that she was on the way over. She wanted to talk, but it was nothing she could talk about over the phone. I was being dumped.
"I'm pregnant." she said.
"But...but we were so careful." I said. "We always used a condom, and―"
"It's not yours."