L

The Warning: Part 3

In The 80's on March 13, 2012 at 12:16 am

Jess and I became tight very quickly. When we weren’t together, we yapped on the phone, and within a few weeks we knew each other  inside and out. We bonded over a shared a contempt for Adrian- after all, he’d rejected us both- so we loved to  dissect his every flaw, real and imagined. We loved the same music and shared the same primal fear: That we would someday live a normal (read: boring) life in suburbia.  To me- at nineteen years old, (Jess was twenty-one) nothing seemed a worse fate, or more cliche. (The fact that we were walking cliches: 80’s rockers who liked to wear leather, listen to hard rock and paaar-taaay! never once occurred to us. You see-wwere special!)

There was no chemistry between us, not even the slightest hint of becoming more than friends. Jess had two sides: one very, very playful, and another I called ‘Mr. Blackwell’ after the harsh fashion ‘judge’ of the day.  Jess was intensely critical of everyone’s looks He could find a flaw on anyone, anywhere. We argued about it- with me on the defense, taking these criticisms to heart.

It wasn’t that I was so nice I’d rally for the ‘victim’s’ sake- it was the nagging feeling that if the drop-dead gorgeous girls (and guys) had faults- what chance did I have? People could say whatever they wanted, all the ‘it’s what’s inside that counts’ crap-ola, but at nineteen,  I knew that looks were what mattered, they were what got your foot in the door. Good looks equaled winning. In the back of my mind, every failure I’d ever had, every bad day, every boyfriend I’d ever lost, could have been prevented had I been better looking. Thinner. Smaller boned. Less tall. (The fact that my gorgeous friends had horrible relationships, suffered from eating disorders,  drug addictions, alcoholism, etcetera, did not matter.  It didn’t fit in with my ‘theory’, so I chucked it)

I saw Jess’s evaluations as both true and  typical, because I believed he represented how most guys thought. I argued with him about it to get more insight. That being said- even if Jess had thought I was gorgeous, we still  felt more like brother and sister.

We spent a lot of time loafing around or living the nightlife. There was so much more more to life than partying -even at nineteen I knew this (knew it- didn’t like it) As for jobs- I blew through several (boring) part time gigs: An ice cream shop, Caldors, a convenience store, cleaning houses even a three day stint in a rug shop. a rug shop.

(There’s a story involving the rug shop.We had a piece of equipment-kind of like a big ‘slicer’ which was used to cut remnants. You would lift the handle that housed a long blade, place the rug on the flat surface and pull the  handle down. The sharp blade would slice the rug beautifully. So, whenever I would hear the song ‘Gimme Three Steps’ by Lynyrd Skynyrd and the lyrics “I was cuttin’ a rug, down at a place called the Jug, with a girl named Linda Lu, when in walked a man with a gun in his hand and he was lookin’ for you know who” I would furrow my brows and think: First off- what are the chances that this guy would walk into that rug shop at the same time  they were there, – how random! and secondly, what a dumb name for a rug store! And why was Ronnie Van Zant taking dates to rug stores? It drove me freakin’ crazy. The song was everywhere. I had never been taught (or overheard, or read in my zillions of books!) that the phrase ‘cutting a rug’ meant dancing!) 

I guess: 'pretty?'

My current job was at a tennis club, watching kids while their moms played tennis. It was boring, but the hours – 8am – 2pm, were nice. I had the daycare room to myself, and there were times when no kids would come in- so I could write, or flip through rock magazines, balance my checkbook, etc. I figured I could skate until September, when I started college. My jobs were just a means to an end and I took the path of least resistance as this is who I am.  Still, I was reasonably conscientious, and never called in sick…which meant I wasn’t above going in hungover.

Jess was always talking about ‘looking’ for a job, but even without one he always had money. Way more than I did. I wasn’t sure how he got it, but I never saw him dealing drugs or stealing, or doing any of the underhanded things people who don’t work but have money sometimes do.

He spent his days practicing. He had a battered amp and microphone, and sang along to records and cassettes. He and his slightly crazy grandmother, christened “Pearlie Bean’ by Jess, lived in a two-family house, and Jess was constantly fighting with the other tenants in his duplex over the volume of his music.

Sometimes I would stop by his house on the way home from work,and I’ve got to be honest: If I pulled up and could hear Jess wailing all the way out onto the street, I’d do a few laps around the block, maybe stop at Cumberland Farms for cigarettes-that kind of thing. 

Sometimes when I went into the house, we’d go through his closet, putting together ‘stage’ outfits. I spent a lot of time cutting sleeves off of t-shirts, and draping scarves over his lamps in various combinations. Also, smoking Newports while perusing rock magazines. I was also good at borrowing shit that I could wear the following weekend.

At some point Jess would insist I listen to his latest ‘jam’ and my ears would explode from the volume, and/or lack of melody in Jess’s voice.  I quickly learned that some sing-alongs were better than others. Lower voiced singers – like Ronnie James Dio were manageable. But for the love of god, when I’d see him pull out Judas Priest’s ‘Unleashed In The East’ I knew I was in for trouble. Nothing compared to listening to him attempt ‘Victim Of Changes’. It was one of those ‘blast the terrorists out of their compound’ numbers as interpreted by Jess. I guess if there’d been an ‘American Idol’ back then- they could have told him (and made him a star-of ridicule like that fat Asian guy), but I couldn’t give him an honest opinion for fear of hurting his feelings.

Oh no! Not that one!

He was still band material though. His look was amazing. His silky, chalk white hair, grew past his shoulders and was spiked on top.  He had deep set blue eyes, a slightly bent nose (ala Rod Stewart) and lush lips. It wasn’t unusual for us to be at a restaurant and have the server ask  if he was ‘somebody’. Jess loved it, and lied by omission.  His answers were vague: “Wouldn’t you like to know!” and “Why? Who do I look like?” I liked the fawning as well- it was a good reflection on me.

I did attempt to talk him into taking up an instrument, but he wasn’t interested. He was determined to be a singer. And at a certain point, I started to think that maybe he wasn’t that bad-maybe he was improving with all of the practice. Because I wanted to believe. I was also sure that my future as a rock writer was written in (rolling?) stone, so I was just as un-self aware as he was- and, like him- I had no idea it might not happen.

The tie that binds…

We ran into Adrian and his new ‘gal pal’ (aka: Footsie) a few times during those early days and it killed me.  Once, we saw them at Karl Graff’s Records where they were all googly-eyed and kissy faced. I wanted to puke. Zeppelin’s ‘In Through The Out Door’ had been released as things began unraveling with me and Adrian. I didn’t like it- it was sooo…..not heavy…..and to this day it reminds me of when Adrian cheated on me. ‘Fool In The Rain’ – fun fact: that was me. Not only had I been dumped by my boyfriend, I was also legally separated from my beloved Led Zeppelin!)

So, natch, ‘All My Love’ was blaring in the record store as my ex felt up his new girl in aisle 2. Of course they were over in the ‘Fusion’ section, no doubt checking out the latest Al DiMi-dildo album, so I  was at least comforted by the fact that I wouldn’t have to listen to that for weeks on end. Though, looking over at Jess I realized I wasn’t exactly off the hook.

I’d always love them, but we were growing apart…

The two of us pretended to ignore Adrian and her,and made a big deal of ordering some ‘NWOBHM’ (New wave of british heavy metal) imports from Ken, our cool ‘High Fidelity’insider (if those guys hadn’t loathed our genre) who would have them shipped directly from England. We ordered something by a new band called ‘Def Leppard'(whuuut?) and another by  ‘Saxon’ It felt good to be ahead of the curve.

The lovebirds stayed in their ‘area’ and Jess and I left without incident. But I was bummed. Why did it always seem like your ex was having a much better time than you were? Even when you knew they could literally! bore you to tears back when you were together? The minute you broke up, you pictured their life like a beer commercial montage: All that smiling, laughing, cleavage and beer. It really sucked as a mindset.

“She’s gone! Let’s party!”

 

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