Friday, August 05, 2005

Why Did I Laugh?

I took Heather out for my high school graduation celebration. There were two different parties that night, depending on what crowd you ran with. I wanted to go to Serendipity, the mainstream party, partly because I was a glutton for punishment, preferring the company of people I wanted to be like than the people I was already like. Heather went to private school and preferred the burn out party at Auke Lake, so of course, that is where we went.

When we got there, she struck out on her own, so I wandered alone attempting to talk with a group of guys that tried to stuff me in a garbage can when we were in ninth grade. One of their number was our heavy weight wrestler, a red headed blubber ball nicknamed the Killer Tomato. I was soft spoken in school, but when I played football, I felt the equal to anyone, but he hadn't played football, and I had a few drinks in me.

"How come you never played football?" I asked him.

"I didn't want to."

"Well, that's too bad. It would have been interesting to see what you had."

His expression darkened. "Is that right? So if I were standing in your path with the ball, you would have..." he trailed off.

"... ran you straight through, just like everybody else." I finished.

He started to stand up, but buddy Rodley, stepped between us. "Now, now, let's keep it civil boys."

I walked away with my head still attached and looked for Heather, and found her across the blazing campfire in the arms of some long haired dope head I'd only seen around, probably hanging out at a gas station. I started for the car, when I felt compelled to at least let her know I was leaving.

"Heather!" I yelled across the span between us.

She looked at me and smiled her signature innocent smile. "Hi Scooter!"

"I'm leaving."

Her expression went slack, but her eyes were guarded. "Where are you going?"

"Serendipity," I said with a shrug, then left without waiting for a reply.

I didn't see her again until my first spring vacation from college. I was great friends with her mother, and many was the Friday or Saturday night that I would spend talking with her until evening expired, while Heather was out living the vida loca. Vivian was one of the good ones, who taught me that helping people in need was the best way in life to make a living. I miss her still today, a sentiment that has survived long after my unhealthy codependence on her daughter withered at the pace of an hour hand on a broken clock and died.

I called Vivian on the phone to arrange a visit, and she asked me for a ride to the airport to pick up Heather, who had spent some time in Seattle, and experienced for the first time a dose of humility, like a salmon that trades the relative security of a narrow river for the perils of the shark infested waters of the open ocean.

I agreed to help Vivian because she didn't have a car, but I had no conscious desire to see Heather. I too had been away, and had moved on--or so I thought. When Heather saw me waiting in the airport beside her mom, she dropped her carry-ons and jumped into my arms and kissed me with passion I had never felt from her, and my iciness turned to slush. But I remained aloof, but she was undaunted and persisted on seeing me. I had to study so I offered that she could come with me, and she accepted.

At the library, she looked up from her book.

"Do you have any girlfriend, or girlfriends at school?"

"I've met a few, nothing serious."

"Are they pretty?"

"Of course."

"As pretty as me?"

"I'd say so."

She smiled that smile again, the one that I find so hard to resist, and with all of her charm she said, "But they don't have that special something that I have do they?"

I wanted to lie so badly. "I will never meet anybody, ever, that has what you have Heather."

Her eyes were glowing like emerald sapphires. "I want to visit you at school."

I didn't say anything, and returned to my studies, but I couldn't comprehend the words anymore.

She reached out and touched my hand. "I want you to come over tonight. Bring some champagne and we'll watch a movie together."

The image of her across the smoky bonfire came back to me, and all the promises she made; she sounded earnest then as she sounded now. "I'll think about it."

"Ok, I'll wait."

My friend Eric called me when I got home, and asked me to go out with him that night, so I decided against my engagement with Heather. Eric and I bought our usual half rack of beer, and took it to a basketball gym where he was working at the time.

After we finished it off, we were so totally drunk and stupid that we couldn't make a simple lay up. I told him how I had blown off Heather, and it popped into my head that I should have called her to tell her I wasn't coming. I stumbled to the phone and attempted to dial her number, but I was too drunk to operate the old rotary phone. Eric, ever the valiant hero, dialed it for me, but kept the phone to himself.

"Heather?" he asked, then looked at me and grinned. "Scott wants to fuck the shit out of you."

Did I get angry at him? I should have. But what did I do? I laughed.

I snatched the phone from him and tried to explain, but she was livid.

"I heard you laugh Scott. Why did you laugh?"

I don't remember what I said, but to make matters worse, I drove to her house and talked my way in, and made a bigger ass of myself, until finally, her mom came out from her room and told the back of my head, "I think you should leave."

Shame washed over me like hot oil. I turned without looking at her lest she see me for the creature that I was, got in my car and weaved my way home.

That was the last time I ever saw Heather. I've ran it over in my head a thousand times. I'm embarassed for exposing my dark side to her mother, for disrespecting her home and her daughter. I regret so many things about that night, but in my drunken stupor I did what was best for me in the long run, cutting myself free from a woman that would have made me a miserable boy friend, much less a husband. She broke my heart a thousand times, and now her time had come. Whenever I have felt doubt, I ask myself the question that I have asked myself time and again: Why did I laugh?

17 comments:

Beth said...

Well, wasn't it true? It's easier to laugh as an admission of guilt then to say, "Why yes, I do want to fuck the shit out of her!" Just my take on it. =)

Heather sounds like bad news, dude. She only wanted what she couldn't readily have.

jenbeauty said...

Agree with GK here, she only wanted you because you seemed more attractive.

In the long run it is best that you never saw this Heather again. But I wonder to if it was just easier to laugh, was it the alcohol, or was it simply funny because the statement was true. *smiles*

Scott said...

I don't think it was that simple. I hadn't had sex up to that point, and what opportunities I had I shied away from. I wanted her, all of her, not just a roll in the hay.

But you are right, she was bad news, and as long as I could string her along she would have begged some more, but once the chase had ended, we'd be right back where we started.

Tee said...

These little pivotal moments in our personal history are sometimes difficult to reflect back on. You start with the "What if" questions. I like to think everything is for a reason though.

Excellent writing as always.

Scott said...

Thanks Tee. It was definitely a learning experience, and everything she put me through and the times ahead would all put me in the perfect place at the perfect time, both inside myself and geographically, to meet my wife to be, and life couldn't have turned out any better.

Mrs.T said...

This made me want to throw up. I'd have never been able to do it or expose myself to the mom. Especially if her mom was a good person... that would have made m insides twist into knots.. hurting Heather.. oh so what...

Scott said...

I should have had the balls to just tell her no, straight and sober, instead of making myself into the bad guy. I didn't want to disrespect her mom, and she is definitely a good person, the best, and not Heather either. Not that she didn't deserve it, but because I was better than that.

mr. schprock said...

Ah, what the hell? We all don't get the chance for the perfect, "frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." You did your job freeing yourself from her, and she had a little something to think about too. I'm sure her mother cut you some slack opinion-wise, crazy mixed-up kid that you were. Mission accomplished.

Scott said...

That's the saying right? Life seldom imitates art. Unless you're into Dada, this didn't come anywhere close. Her mom was cool, and we were still friends afterwards, but she did tell me that she was little surprised at me, which was as admonishing as she ever was.

Mr. T said...

I had a "heather" in my life.. that one person that I knew was terrible for me but could not resist. And it was mostly because I lusted after her. I think if you had fucked her you would have had her out of your system ages ago. The unfortunate alternative to getting it out of your system is the "let me show you my rage/dark side".

Unfortunate circumstances but I'm glad you freed yourself from that cancer named Heather.

Scott said...

I don't think anything would have gotten her out of my system. And remember, this is ancient history, formative yes, today just another story from which I draw inspiration.

Chloe said...

I think we all have our Heather, and I'm glad you ended her reign of terror in your life. Glad, too, that you got your happy ending with your wife.

Thanks for visiting my blog!

magnetbabe said...

I have a "Heather" too. But even in my most private of diaries I don't think I could record where I went wrong or the defining moment when I should have just walked away. I applaud your brutal honesty to yourself and your readers.

Dixie Belle said...

I'm so glad you laughed!!

Scott said...

Chloe - My pleasure!

MB - For some reason I've always blamed myself first, and it both maddens and awes my wife. I consider myself a self-explorer, in search of a higher place. I weren't able to admit my shortcomings then I would be doomed to repeat them. Er, I actually do repeat them. What was I saying?

Dixie - Thanks, I just wish I had been more direct, instead of feeling like a shit.

Anonymous said...

Man...thinking of all the lost opportunities of youth. I admire your willingness to deny your libido in the hope of finding love. That's impressive, especially for a guy.

Profoundly-written, my friend.

Scott said...

anon - Thanks for that. Ah but the opportunities that slipped by!