Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Jeff. The reason I understand resentment and envy. I'm no hypocrite. Not about this.

College was my escape. More than this, I was reborn. Not in the religious sense. I was seeing the world with my own eyes, taking my first awkward steps, stumbling gratefully alone. I was eighteen going on twelve, resentful of my lack of maturity, angry at its consequence.

Jeff was twenty five with a world of experience behind him. He spent summers fishing in Alaska, working on oil rigs, and had a pilot's license. If I dreamt of doing it, he already had. He had the perfect GQ look of the time. His roguish red hair was perfect, and his smile and easy laugh was a reward for a joke well told. And was he ever cocky. There wasn't a girl on campus that he couldn't have, according to him. Rejection to him was simply repartee, a provocative feint.

Jeff created his own terms, and had a quick wit. Once he said good morning to a young dining hall serving girl. Her features froze. She took a sharp intake of breath as she stared back at him, past him perhaps, as if something important had just occurred to her, and dropped the glass she was holding. The shattering of the glass snapped her out of her trance. Jeff turned to me and said, "I have that effect on women."

And he did.

I didn't just worship Jeff. I wanted to be Jeff. Where I was awkward and shy, he was sure footed and brash. In order to absorb his power, I started competing for the same women, and lost every time. The worst part was, I didn't know when I was beat. As in this excruciatingly embarrassing tale.

I don't remember her name, and that should tell you all you need to know about my motivations. She was tall, probably half a head taller than Jeff, but still shorter than me. She dressed like Joan Jett, black makeup and painted on jeans. For someone so tall, she had an amazingly full body, the kind you would expect on someone more compact. I met her first, which gave me a sense of propriety, although I never actually said it out loud. It was just understood between guys. But when she saw Jeff, there was a palpable change in her demeanor. We all knew it was there. Jeff did of course. But me, I tried to ignore it, as if it would go away by sheer force of will.

She invited us up to her room. Jose was another friend of mine living on our dormitory floor. We were a temporary trio, thrown together by circumstance, and would remain so for the year. The three of us accepted her invitation. Jeff sat next to her on her bed without hesitation. This pissed me off, but I was helpless to intervene. I took a seat with Jose on the bed opposite theirs.

They talked only to one another, their eyes locked and faces pulling closer. I kept interjecting myself into the conversation, ignoring Jeff's annoyed glances. Jose said, "Dude, let's get out of here."

"No," I said.

Then they kissed. "Dude, it's time to go!"


She pulled away from Jeff and said, "I have to go to the bathroom." Then she left the room. Jose gave me an imploring look and finally my obstinacy broke. We slipped into the hall and towards the elevator. I couldn't even look at Jeff.

I heard her voice as the elevator doors shut me out. "Where's Scott," she asked in a tone that I did not mistake for avarice.

"He's gone," said Jeff. He didn't say it, but it dangled in the air.