Monday, March 14, 2005
love, fate, and sanity: a novella
It was the fall of 1999 - most likely October or November, but I can't say for sure. I was a 20 year-old junior at Boston College. I had just come out of a relationship, so I had assumed my alter-ego of Jason Mulgrew: God of Beer and Fuck. Ok, so maybe that's an exaggeration, but I have a history of becoming an absolute masher (masher: one who gets women) immediately after I get out of a relationship. It's strange really, and I don't know how to explain it, and as quickly as it starts, it stops. But for some reason, for about four to six weeks after I get dumped or dump someone, I am on fire.
On this particular night, a weekend night, I attend a party on Comm Ave at the apartment of my high school buddy Matt, who also goes to BC. My friends and I were told to enter the party from the back entrance, but we noticed a line there. Standing in line in front of us are a bunch of BU kids, freshmen, among them a few cute girls. I have my eye on one in particular. She's medium height and thin, with dark hair and blue eyes (I've always been a sucker for dark hair and light eyes). She's got kind of a hipster look to her, something that stands out at a BC party. But her hipster look isn't extreme to the point of being annoying or forced and seems to come naturally to her. She is something. I think to myself, "Oh yes, she will be mine." And then I think to myself, "I don't think I remembered to put on deodorant. Fuck."
My friends and I stand in line for a bit, making chit-chat with the BU kids in front of us, before I realize the ridiculousness of the situation - I don't have to stand in line, because not only am I cool and in a band, but I also know the guys having the party. And so I take my friends and the BU kids (including the girl I think is cute) with me to the front of the line, pull rank, and get in the party no problem.
Now normally, had I not been in my JM:GOBAF alter-ego, I would have followed the cute girl around the party, harassing her with dumb jokes and reminding her that I got her in the party and so she should let me rub her all over, until the climax comes at the end of the night when I get thrown out of the party for crying and masturbating in front of her. But on this night I am JM:GOBAF, so I sit back, plan, and wait. Because I'm in the alter-ego and on a tear, I know I can get this girl. A freshman, from BU, at a BC party? C'mon - it's almost too easy. Even though she was way too cute for me, I was brimming with confidence. When I'm in the zone, it's kinda like what Michael Jordan used to say when he was in the zone: the basket looks as wide as the ocean, and all he has to do is throw the ball up and it will go in. That's kinda like how I feel, except I stink at basketball. And too bad this "zone" only happens to me after a tremendous heartbreak and I'm only able to get to this place because of booze-fueled vengeance, but really, that's not important.
My friends and I take our typical party positions: standing around the keg, making fun of other people and each other, saying "That's gay, dude" and "Shut up jerkoff" a lot. The party is going well. There are a lot of people I know there and the beer is free-flowing. Also, my friends and I had our usual pre-party drinks, so we're all feeling pretty good. Some time passes, and my BU girl comes over to the keg, where I'm standing, all by herself.
This, believe it or not, is a sign, and a good sign. Rarely do people, especially freshmen girls, go up to kegs alone (trust me - anyone who's been at his/her share of keg parties can back me up on this). When I see her approaching, I make sure to shift in my circle of friends so that I'm closest to the keg. She reaches the keg, and there I am. I don't remember what I said to break the ice, but we start talking. Initial contact has been made, and it is good.
So we continue talking. Again, if I were not on fire, I would have spent the time talking with her about how I'm in a band and I'm a pretty awesome bass player. In addition to being gifted musically, I might also mention that I got a scholarship to BC (full tuition) and that I'm going to London in a few months to study abroad. Depending on how drunk I got, I might also say that though my penis is small, it is just and true. And after all, it's not the size that matters, it's whether or not you'll stop when she says "no".
But I'm in the zone, and so I actually listen to her when she talks. Her name is Whitney. She is from Eugene, Oregon and her parents are hippies. She loves BU and Boston and is studying art. She's not sure what she wants to do with her life, but she likes where she's at and is taking it one day at a time.
I am very impressed with her poise and wisdom and the more we talk, the more I become completely enthralled. The topic turns to music, and I ask her who her favorite artists are. She says, "You know who I'm a big fan of but a lot of people don't appreciate how good he is? Elvis Costello."
Well, well, well.
Elvis Costello was and is my favorite artist ever. Hands down. I think he's a genius. I think he's not nearly as appreciated as he should be. And I think I love Whitney.
At this point, I'm floored. I look back at her with a startled expression, and say, "Seriously, which one of my friends told you to say that?" And I mean this. I know Elvis Costello isn't some random underground musician, but there was a certain degree of randomness here, enough to question whether this whole thing was a joke. She giggles and says, "Um, no one told me to say that" and in turn I explain my love of Elvis Costello. In doing so, I'm calculating how much I need to borrow from my family to buy her a ring within the next five business days.
We go further and I ask, "So what's your favorite song of his?" Her answer: "I would have to say 'I Want You'. Something about it is so intense, haunting...so vitriolic."
Just when I think it can't get any better, she goes and NAILS it. Just nails it. Let's check The Guide To Jason Mulgrew handbook, page 92, Section 3: "How To Impress The Fat Bastard":
*Properly use the word "vitriolic". Bonus points if you do so in relation to music, specifically his favorite song.
If I was startled before, now I'm speechless. Literally speechless. I remember looking back at her and not saying anything for a full four seconds. Four seconds doesn't seem like a lot of time, but at a party during a semi-drunk conversation, it's an eternity. I took so long to respond because I didn't know what else to say besides, "I want you to come live with me and I promise everything will be ok for the rest of your life. We don't even have to have sex - ever. I just want to follow you around and stare at you." What I finally came up with was something like, "Wow." "Wow" was the best I could do. Smooth dude. What happened to Jason Mulgrew: God of Beer and Fuck? Asshole.
After another two or three seconds of stunned silence, I talk about how I too love that song and then, fearing that if things got any better I would explode, right there, all over the crowded apartment and the cheap furniture, I blurt out, "Listen Whitney, I've never done this before so I don't know if this is how you're supposed to do it, but would you like to go out with me sometime for a drink or food or something or whatever?"
I felt great, as if I had gotten a burden off my shoulders, but her expression betrayed her and she didn't even need to answer because I could see that she was going to say no. Still, she spoke and said, "Well, I would love to, but I can't - I have a boyfriend at home." Damn. Damn, damn, damn.
Here's where things get fuzzy, because I essentially started snorting beer in an effort to get drunk quicker. I remember being magnanimous in my defeat, saying that stuff like "That's cool" and "No big deal". Shortly after this one of her girlfriends came up and said that they (her crew) were leaving. Whitney went and had a little conference with the girl, and then came back and said that she could only stay for a few more minutes because her friends were going back to BU. I don't remember what we talked about, but I remember a semi-awkward hug goodbye. Nor do I remember how the night ended (see: snorting beer remark), but I assume it ended like many of those nights did: with me getting extremely hot pizza, biting it and burning my mouth, dropping the pizza on the ground, and then crying and starting a fight with a tree.
I never heard from nor saw Whitney again, but I never forgot her. Though I will at any time make out with anything or anyone, I rarely actually like women (wow - just when I thought I couldn't make myself more undatable...). Most times, I'll hook up with a girl for a while and then think, "Eh" and just sort of slowly end things. And I rarely get crushes. The genesis of the majority of my relationships has always been "I'm drunk, you're drunk - let's make out" and that sort of ennui always manages to carry over to the relationship and ultimately results in its demise. But with Whitney, for the first time, there was a spark - a glimmer of something beyond the ordinary college-age sexual or "romantic" interaction. But the lesson, as always, is that I lose. Every time.
Fast forward to the present day...
A few weeks ago, my roommate Ben and my friend Jeremy went to Boston for the weekend. I forget why, and I don't really care. They probably told me, but I was most likely thinking about ketchup.
The point is on the bus from Boston to NYC, they meet a girl. They struck up a conversation with her, and she lives in NYC, where she works at an art gallery or something. Jeremy got her number and they planned on hanging out. However, it wasn't a romantic deal, because she had a boyfriend, who was the purpose of her visit to Boston (meaning he lives there).
I paid no attention to this at all. After all, why should I? I heard that the girl lived in Williamsburg and that she and Jeremy (who works in the music industry) talked about music, which meant one thing: she was a hipster. And I don't do well with hipster girls. They are way too intimidating for my tastes. I don't even know how to approach them: "So you're hot, your hair is a weird color, and you like all these bands I've never heard of. I like fantasy sports and drinking Bud drafts in pubs. So do you want me to wear a condom or not?"
And so I carried on, doing whatever the hell it is I do on a day-to-day basis. A few days later, Ben and I were having lunch with a bunch of our co-workers (Ben and I work together, though in different departments). When asked about his weekend, Ben told the story about meeting the girl on the bus back from Boston. He mentioned a tid-bit at lunch that he didn't mention to me before: the girl's name was Whitney.
Immediately, I thought about my Whitney, who also happened to be a cute, hipster girl. And Whitney isn't exactly a common name; maybe it was the same girl? And so the conversation went:
Me: "Wait - her name was Whitney?"
Me: "What did she look like?"
Ben: "I don't know - cute. Small. Not too small."
Me: [growing excited] "Did she have dark hair and blue eyes?"
Ben: "She had dark hair, but I don't know if her eyes were blue. They weren't brown though. Blue or green or something. Why?"
Me: [growing even more excited] "Do you know where she went to school? Did she go to BU?"
Ben: "Yeah - how did you know that?"
Me: [sitting on the edge of my seat shaking, other people getting concerned] "Do you know where she's from?"
Ben: "Yeah, she's from - "
Me: [interrupting] "Don't say it! At the count of three, I want you to say it. I think I know this girl, and I know where she's from. To prove this, I am going to count to three, and at three, you and I will both say where she's from at the same time. Ok?"
Ben: [completely freaked out] "Um, ok."
Me: [sweating, vibrating] "Ok. One-two-three -"
Ben: [simultaneously] "Oregon."
Me: [simultaneously] "Eugene, Oregon."
Ben: "What the fuck is going on?"
Whitney. My Whitney (well, someone else's Whitney, but you get it).
I then told everyone at the table the story about Whitney and I and they were amazed. Not amazed in the "Wow - that's crazy!" way, but in the "Wow - you're crazy! You should probably talk to someone!" way.
Meanwhile, my head was spinning. By a strange twist of fate, Whitney, the only girl I had ever felt that spark for, that spark that you hear about in the movies, was back in my life. It was fate. And you don't fuck with fate.
As soon as I composed myself, I ran back to my office to call Jeremy. I relayed the story to him, and he was amazed in the same way my co-workers and Ben were (saying something like, "Dude, that and you are fucked up"). He promised that he would call her about hanging out the weekend and that we'd all hang out. I would be able to see if it was fate that had interceded on my behalf or just the craziest coincidence of my life.
That was about four weeks ago and we have yet to hang out with Whitney. There was a series of voicemails between Jeremy and Whitney but nothing came of them. My hopes were tempered, but they still remained. That is, until this weekend, when through a series of strange events that are too boring to describe Jeremy lost his phone and, more importantly to me, Whitney's number. Gone. Fuck.
So now the current situation stands that unless Whitney calls Jeremy, I will not get a chance to embarrass myself in front of her by having too much to drink, pretending to act cool, and then blurting out, "Um, yeah, I met you at a party almost six years ago and have thought about you since. Will you marry me? If it helps, I am famous on the internet."
So I will wait, most likely in vain, to see if fate brings her back into my life. Sure, I know the odds are against me, but the truth is that I have very little else going on, so I don't have a problem investing a lot of thought and emotion in something like this.
And yes, I know I'm completely insane. At the very least, I have a great band name: Someone Else's Whitney. So all is not completely lost. Most is lost (sanity, pride, my sense of reality), but not all.