Sunday, November 02, 2008


So Mickey had an interesting theory on my first date story yesterday. He weighed in with a comment that said, "Maybe, in a bit of cosmic cruelty, Steve was actually THE ONE, and that's why he took so easily to the rejection. The Gods are mean like that, you know. And since then, every relationship termination has been awkward and/or painful sort of as an ironic joke from above."

I don't think Mickey's actually right about that, but what's strange is I was almost relieved he suggested it, because it has occurred to me more than once that I was cursed in some way long, long ago. It wasn't Steve who I think cursed me, though. It was someone a bit earlier than that.

The Steve I mentioned yesterday may have been my first official date, in the "I don't know you that well and we've never hung out or even had much of a conversation before, but let's go to a movie and see how it goes" sense. In reality, though, I had a few of what I'm sure were supposed to be dates two years prior. Unfortunately, because I was exponentially more clueless at fifteen than I am on even my most awkward days now, things never quite went exactly as they were supposed to.

The boy's name was Jason, and we met in a class called Print Media that I'm still not entirely sure why I took. It's notable that I say I MET him there, because as I mentioned yesterday, my high school class was not large. There were merely 100 of us, and this was sophomore year. The fact that our paths hadn't yet crossed in the full academic year prior was beyond strange and unlikely. I had heard his name before, though. Friends who'd gone to the public middle school with him (while I was at the Catholic grade school a few blocks away) would mention him in passing, saying, "Oh, there was this time in 7th grade math when Jason [LastName] did this crazy thing..." And I'd say, "Jason [LastName]? Who's that?" And they'd say, "Oh, you know. Jason [LastName]! Dark hair... about this tall... what, you don't know who he is?"

I did not know who he was, oddly, but then on the first day of school sophomore year, I sat down at a desk in Miss Hildebrant's room, and a kid I had never seen before sat down next to me, and he said, "Hi. I'm Jason [LastName]." And I said, "YOU'RE Jason [LastName]? You are the very last person in our class I've not yet met!"

OK, so that may not be a true and accurate transcription of our conversation. But I do remember it going something like that.

Jason and I became friends immediately, and by Homecoming, it was fairly clear there was a spark of something else between us as well. We were both too clueless to know what to do about it, however, so we remained friends with awkward pre-sexual tension, sort of an early Dawson and Joey thing, minus the coed sleepovers and the years of history. In this scenario, though, I think I was actually the Dawson, and Jason was the Joey. He kept trying to let me know he liked me, but the idea was so foreign to me that I just assumed I was imagining it. Meanwhile, I fell for a curly-haired blond, just like Dawson did, except mine's name was Shane rather than Jen, and mine mostly ignored my interest for the next three years, going so far as to take a triangle-haired girl in strange formal pants to our prom instead of me. Details.

Jason and I were both 15; hence, neither of us had a driver's license. So in the course of the eight months of our pseudo-relationship, we hung out outside of our school halls only approximately four times. One was for a day-long yearbook convention (during which we skipped the last two sessions and went to Pizza Hut instead). One was a night when four of our friends invited us to go dancing at an under-18 club, and Jen Lindley Shane got us in a car accident instead. One actually went fairly well... Jason and our friend George (not the name he went by then, but the nickname he used instead is entirely too Googleable) decided to make dinner for me and George's girlfriend Carrie (also a friend of mine) at Carrie's parents' house. The menu was strange and incongruous (I think we had dinner rolls, enchiladas, boiled carrots, and Jell-o), but it was a sweet gesture nonetheless. The date that should have been the most date-like, though, was at Jason's house. George and Carrie picked me up and drove all of us over to Jason's house, where we watched one of his favorite horror films on VHS.

I hate horror films. Have I mentioned that? So it should have been a perfect opportunity for me to lean over and bury my face in Jason's arm or chest. I was going through some strange phase where my stomach growled inexplicably every night, however, and I was so self-conscious about the noise that I leaned forward, chin resting on the palm of my hand, for nearly the entire film. Jason kept suggesting I relax and lean back on the couch. I told him I was tired and thought I'd fall asleep if I didn't sit forward.

I promise I'm not making this up. WHY do I remember that, down to the ridiculous detail?

When the movie ended, George and Carrie rushed out of Jason's house to the car obviously and abruptly, leaving Jason and me staring cluelessly at each other. It would have been the perfect moment to become my "first kiss" story, but it wasn't in the cards that night. We said an awkward goodbye at the door, and never really recovered from it.

A month or so later, presumably frustrated by the inertia of our non-relationship, Jason said some not-so-nice things about me that I know now he didn't really mean. At the time, though, it infuriated me, and when I confronted him about it, he replied with more unwarranted meanness, and suddenly we were in a strange, nasty fight that I don't think either of us could explain even then, much less now. People I'd never talked to before came up to me in the halls to say, "I heard you and Jason [LastName] broke up!" We were never officially dating, but apparently our non-breakup was big news. Even my mother heard about it (via my older sister, of course). The only thing she knew about Jason [LastName] was that he'd sent me a rose and a teddy bear on Valentine's Day, which obviously should have been enough of a clue to both of us that I had an almost-boyfriend, and yet neither one of us seemed to take it as such.

Where was I going with all of this? Oh yes. A curse. Jason ended up getting an EMT certification after high school. He's also been a volunteer firefighter and is now a nurse. In high school, however, he was obsessed with horror movies, and wanted nothing more than to be a special effects artist. He made gorey masks and severed body parts at home for fun, using liquid latex and the ink from Bic red pens. It was a strange hobby, but he was passionate about it in a surprisingly not-creepy way. His enthusiasm was almost endearing. Still, there were moments when I wondered what he'd created that he hadn't shown me. A comment our friend George made once had me wondering for weeks whether Jason had some strange latex replica of me (or, of portions of me) at home. Somehow my brain went from imagining a creepy latex representation of me to presuming that Jason was dabbling in the Dark Arts, to assuming that of COURSE he had placed a curse on me.

I'm summarizing, of course. My mind works in absurd and inexplicable ways, but if I were to detail all of the transitions, I like to think it might make at least a modicum of sense.

In any case, I decided that Jason had cursed me. The fact that I'd irreparably botched things with the first boy I liked who liked me back was somehow bound to haunt all my future encounters from that point forward. It sounds ridiculous, I realize, but I haven't fully conveyed the ugliness between Jason and me post-"breakup." Our last year of school, I asked him for one of his senior photos, and he refused to give me one, on the grounds that, "You're a punk, and there's still a lot of stuff there..." "Jason, that was two years ago!" I replied. And he said, "Yeah, and it'll be another 12 years."

Strangely, I actually ran into Jason 12 years later. It was Christmas night four years ago, and my dad hadn't looked well since the night before. We were worried he was having a stroke (he was, as it turns out, but it was a minor one, thankfully, with no pronounced residual effects), so we took him to the emergency room of the nearest hospital. Jason [LastName] was on staff that night. I hadn't seen him since graduation, but we had a warm, friendly small talk conversation. I actually wanted to say "I'm sorry" and somehow resolve the pointless feud I never really knew why we were in. I didn't, though, of course.

I do wish I'd asked him to lift the curse, however.


michelle of bleeding espresso said...

Sorry, but I really don't think such a curse can be reversed by mere asking, no matter how polite the request.

Speaking as a former Mistress of the Dark Arts (seeing films like Halloween, TX Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th, etc., qualifies me, right?), the only way to have the curse lifted is to cancel out the evil, i.e., you must make a liquid latex and Bic red ink creation of 15-year-old Jason.

And then post a photo for the Interwebs.

3carnations said...

I think it's less of a curse than some sort of horror movie induced thing. I suggest you watch a horror movie with the current person you've been dating. That might be just what you need. Only this time, don't leave your chin in your hand. :)

flurrious said...

I think this might be my favorite blog post ever. If you ever decide to quit your job to write young adult novels, please make one of them the story of Stefanie and Jason [LastName].

Anonymous said...

Good post. And I agree with flurrious.

lizgwiz said...

I've been formulating my own "dating karma" theory recently, and so I'm totally onboard with the notion that he cursed you. ;)

Mickey said...

I like the Dawson's Creek parallels, but I've already said too much about that.

Good story though. Just don't start coming up with excuses to go to that hospital and have chance encounters with Jason. That's what fifteen-year-old you would have done, and that just ends in curses.

badger reader said...

Can totally buy into the theory of being cursed. Or maybe that just makes it easier to explain my own situation. Sigh. Looking forward to a whole month of this Stef, keep it up!

Courtney said...

Wow, that is quite the story. Does anyone's first "I like him/her and I think he/she likes me back" actually go well? That's why I am baffled by people who end up marrying their high school sweethearts. Were they really that compatible back then? Or were they just too scared to explore other options? I have no idea.

-R- said...

I really do not understand how anyone dates successfully in high school.

nancypearlwannabe said...

I am already loving your dating stories so, so much.

Also, boys named Shane are always trouble. Boys named Jason, well, I don't have any experience with them.