I don’t see Jordan for several weeks. Then, one day I do, and again another day -but I just try ignore him. It’s not like he’s coming over to see me either. This goes on for several weeks. I notice him here and there, wandering aimlessly around the front yard of his father’s house. Jordan’s dad, who I now know as Mr. Baylor, (thanks to the name etched onto his mailbox) is a bachelor, and dresses like the early 7o’s version. Rib-knit turtlenecks, polyester bell-bottomed slacks, dress boots with buckles and man jewelry: pinkie ring, watch, astrological sign pendant (Virgo!) and porn-star/ motorcycle cop mustache. He tears out of the neighborhood in his black Corvette, often catching second gear with a chirp, which makes it seem like he is always going somewhere much cooler than here. At the dinner table one night, when my Dad actually acknowledged Jordan’s existence (“Who’s the long-haired clown across the street?”) I told him that he was Mr. Baylor’s son, and he muttered ‘Bachelor, my ass!” under his breath, shaking his head. He then asked Faye where she bought the pork roast, and she hurriedly poured what was left in the bottle of Chablis into her over-sized wine glass, gulped some down and announced: “Here we go again!”, at which point we kids excused ourselves, chairs screeching across the floor and made tracks to our bedrooms to take cover.
It’s November, and getting ridiculously cold out. Most of the leaves are gone, though every once in awhile you’d see a little gang of them being whipped across the cul-de-sac, racing to oblivion. The trees are mostly bare and the wind whistles through their skeletons, gaining strength and volume. I’m looking across the street from my bedroom window, which looks out over the front porch. The sun is out, but filtered at this time of the year, as if it has slowly backed away from us while we weren’t paying attention. I’m talking to Cheryl on the phone, holding the receiver to my ear with my head cocked against my shoulder, and carrying the (rotary) phone with my other hand. I have a super long cord so that I can be mobile in my room and still yap away. I’m on the phone constantly- and have been since 1972. I talk incessantly: when I’m in bed, at my vanity,in my closet while picking out clothes, and of coarse when I’m spying out the window. If the door bell rings, I can look out and to the left, and see whoever it is, up to their knees. Directly across is Jordan’s Dad’s house- so I can see what’s going on over there secure in the knowledge that Jordan can’t see me, what with the front railing scrolling up and around the faux pillars out front.
So, I notice him on this particular Saturday afternoon as I’m talking to Cheryl on the phone. My heart skips a beat when I see him. He’s so foxy!
“Hey!” I say to Cheryl, interrupting her ‘All My Children’ Jenny and Greg update. “Remember that kid I told you about-Jordan? Well, he’s over at his Dad’s right now. Walking around in just a jean jacket! Probably freezing his ass off!” I laugh. Secretly, I’m getting pissed off at how good he looks. I go over and sit on my bed, putting down the phone (not the receiver), and grabbing a Newport from its box. I light one up and inhale deeply.
“What an idiot!” Cheryl says, agreeing with me. We are both somehow mad at Jordan for being cute and having a girlfriend. I mean- the audacity! Cheryl hasn’t even laid eyes on him yet, but she’s all ‘Don’t waste your time’ and ‘Who cares’ about Jordan. Even though there is zero going on, and all Jordan is guilty of is sharing a joint with me- and being polite. But this is why Cheryl is my best friend. Unconditionally agreeing with me no matter how stupid I sound.
Still, she’s only human. “How does he look?” she asks.
“Really, really good!” I blurt out. We both crack up. We make plans for Cheryl to come get me around seven tonight. We’re going to meet Jon at the Broad River Lanes and go from there.
I hang up the phone and walk back over to the window. Jordan appears to be looking towards my window. I duck down in a knee-jerk reaction, though halfway down, I realize that there’s no way Jordan can see me, so there’s no need to do any whack-a-mole style stalking. I see him walking back into his garage. Maybe he needs to go call his girlfriend. I decide to go outside and check the mail. I grab my coat and scarf, and do a once over in the mirror. I’m not rockin’ my full-tilt ‘ready to go out’ look- but I’m fine for a casual Saturday afternoon mail-retrieval. Faye, my dad and brothers are gone for the day- I heard something about a birthday party, and they left less than an hour ago. I’ve got time to kill until Cheryl comes to get me. Let’s see if Jordan has anything to say, should he notice me, not that I care. As I check the mirror one last time.
I push the lit-up orange button on the garage wall, and the door hums and shakes open, as I think: why is there always such a big commotion with these doors? ‘Oh-My-God-I’m Opening!’ Like a mini-earthquake. It’s irritating. I feel the cold air charging in (worrisome, since it’s barely the beginning of winter) as I walk out to the driveway. I have my Ray-Bans on, and I’ve wrapped my coolest scarf (with fringe hanging off each end) over my coat. I’m wearing the brand new tan suede boots my Mom bought me last weekend at G.Fox in the Trumbull Mall. She said they were a Christmas present ($70.00 on sale!) but I know she’ll probably ‘forget’ and get me other stuff at Christmas. As I exit the garage, I see Jordan doing the same across the street, and he looks right at me. I avert my eyes and immediately begin walking as though the driveway is a runway lined with photographers. Shoulders back, strutting. I act like I don’t see Jordan, keeping a neutral expression on my face, a casual ‘what’s up with the mail’ kind of look. I notice he’s coming my way, but I’m all about looking at the mailbox. I never noticed it was copper colored, with a black flag and post. For a mailbox it was actually pretty nice. Evidently, I’d looked but never ‘saw’. It wouldn’t be the first time…
When I get to the box, I do a little about-face move, turning completely away from Jordan’s driveway, yanking open the metal door and peering into the mailbox. I reach in and pull out several envelopes, and a Sports Illustrated magazine with Tony Dorset on the cover, ‘Running For The Heisman’. Even though I truly love football, I feign interest in all of the mail: A bill from the Norwalk Hour, another from Connecticut Light & Power, something ‘To the parents of Lisa Chuzas’ from Norwalk High School (into my coat pocket that goes) a flyer with coupons from Pathmark (ut-oh, Faye! Be strong!) and a ‘Please Give’ postcard from UNICEF. I drag out the whole process,until I’m left wondering if Jordan is even still walking towards me. I close the mailbox and quickly glance over my shoulder. Jordan waves really fast, from the end of his driveway like he knew he’d only have a small window in which to get my attention, and was patiently waiting for it. He yells: “Hey!” I lift my sunglasses up with my free hand (Oh! What a surprise! Didn’t see you there!) then put them down again. I smile, stop in my tracks and just stand there waiting, making him come across the street to me, like I only have a minute for such ‘nonsense’ and am on my way to do something busy and important. Once again, I am blown away by his foxy appearance as he steps closer. High top Nikes and a Zildjan t-shirt under his jacket. His eyes are glittering, and of coarse, there’s that smile. He looks even better than several weeks ago, and I love that his hair is slightly longer. He’s making me feel giddy inside. Even though I don’t care.
Why do we play all of these head games in the first place? I know it’s a defense mechanism, a way of saving face if things don’t work out, or if you put something out there that isn’t reciprocated.. But what did really I know? I was a fifteen year old girl prone to mood swings and insecurity, with a stepmother, regular mother, stern father, real brothers and step, and no one (other than my mom and Rob) seemed particularly fond of me. I was the designated ‘black sheep’, and wasn’t one of those ‘happy-go-lucky’ people who woke up ‘peppy’ and ready to grab life and maybe cheerlead or something. And sometimes it’s these ‘types’, who feel the worst inside,yet act so nonchalantly – like they could care less what you think, when in fact it shatters them into a million pieces when they sense you rejecting them. Just sayin.
So, I stand there, in the driveway, hiding all emotion, and Jordan says “What’s up! Long time no see!” The timbre of his voice is deep, but there’s a barely perceptible lilt in it that sounds like music to my ears. He’s flashing those pearly whites as well, and it’s like waving a white flag in front of me, because I can’t stop looking at him, and may actually give up resisting him if this keeps up for even a minute longer. Someday REO Speedwagon will write a song about this. Coz I know I’ve almost forgotten what I started fighting for.
“Not much!” I say, and add: “But I’m going to see Black Sabbath at the Garden on Dec. 6th!”
“Wow!” he says, impressed. “I heard about that show. I’m gonna try and go, too!”
Good luck, pal! They’ve been sold out for months. But I just say,’Cool!’
Jordan looks quickly over his shoulder towards his Dad’s, then leans in, using his hand to pretend to scratch the side of his nose, but it’s just an incredibly lame ruse to cover his mouth and muffle his voice, in case any of the people who are nowhere in sight might read our lips or overhear him whisper: “I have a joint! Wanna go smoke it?”
I answer immediately, forgetting to play uninterested. “Can you come over my house? I mean- no one’s home, but I don’t want to get you in trouble with your Dad!” We are so afraid of our parents still! Our dependence on them is for everything: Food, shelter, clothing, money. We want to break away, but have no idea how! We are clueless as to what that would involve. We picture ‘freedom’ in frivolous daydreams about smoking pot freely, staying up all night and having parties. Somehow these imaginary places we pine for are fully furnished and paid for, and our dream cars sit in the driveway,evidently having fallen from the sky. We think along the lines of ‘Cribs’ when it is way more Tommy used to work on the docks, and Gina works the diner all day.
“Sure!” Jordan says, ‘Let’s book” and we both walk down my driveway, through the garage and into the house. Jordan is very impressed with Marley, the lifesize replica of the giant blue Marlin my Dad caught in the waters off Key West last summer. I tell Jordan that I’ll never forget the morning I came out of my room, after ‘Marley’ had been hung on the wall in the rec room directly across from my door. They’d hung it at night while I was out- and I must not have noticed it in the dark when I came home. The next morning, I charged out of my room, saw it and almost had a heart attack! I stopped dead in my tracks, in front of a giant fish who was literally stopped dead in it’s tracks. It took about ten seconds for my brain to comprehend what I was looking at. The Marlin was huge (about 6 feet across) and it looked vicious, like it was fighting the gray paneled wall as it twists away from it in a fury. I guess we’d all look like that if we were forever frozen in our “I’m fighting for my life over here’ pose.
Jordan totally gets it. “I’d have freaked if I saw that, and didn’t expect it!”
”Wanna see my room?” I ask, knowing he’ll be impressed with my posters, beer tab chains, and record collection. I open the door and point inside, and Jordan walks in. (no way I’m going in there with him! I’ll have you know, I’m not a slut.) and I go to turn on the tv while he’s oohing and ahhhing and yelling words out of my room: “Zeppelin!.. Aeromith!…Nice chains!…I have that album…Where’d you get this?”. I turn on the tv to find there’s nothing on- and I checked all five stations! So I keep the tv on, but turn the volume all the way down. I sit down on the couch and pick up the tv guide from the coffee table. Dorothy Hammil’s on the cover. Now there’s a ‘peppy’ kind of gal! My Dad would love having her for a daughter!
I’m looking through the tv guide, aimlessly….waiting for Jordan to come out of my room. And when he does, I can’t help but laugh. He’s wearing a floppy ‘hippie’ hat I keep on top of the big bear that I won years ago at the St. Thomas Fair,a pair of my old sunglasses and a white feather boa that Victoria gave me, that hangs on my bedpost.. He takes one end of it and dramatically throws it over his shoulder, and says: “OK. I’m ready!” and does a fake supermodel walk around the room, lips pursed, nose in the air. It cracks me up, and then we’re both laughing, and when he goes back into my room take it off, it feels like the ice is broken, and things get a little more comfortable with Mr. Jordan Foxy-Fox.