Sunday, May 30, 2010

things that suck

Moving. Packing. Cleaning. The fact that it's 6:32am and I've been up since 4. The fact that the bar downstairs is still blasting music. Who on earth is still drinking at this hour? Rhetorical: cokeheads. I remember the weekend when my friends from Philadelphia came up and we were up until noon drinking and doing lines; we made a beer run at 10am on a Sunday where it's against the law to buy alcohol before noon. Classy!

I've been working on trying to interact more with readers here; it might help me feel less detached. I've been accused of this so many times that I believe it; heck, I've even referred to myself as such. I'm not sure if this is just how I've always been. Since high school, when I decided "I wanna be a writer!" (to which my dad replied, "No, but really, what are you going to do for a living?") I observed my life as if I were not actually living it, but as an outsider. I also purposely put myself into stupid or dangerous situations, thinking, "This might make for an interesting story...if I survive."

One such example of the above happened when I was 15. It was the summer between sophomore and junior year and I had decided I was fat. Not that I was, by any means, but I hated that my body was changing - breasts swelling, hips carving out where there once weren't any. I felt awkward so I did what any teenage girl would do: I went on a crash diet and started exercising obsessively. The not eating thing made me mean, which my friends noted loudly behind my back.

One afternoon, while sweating out a session on the rowing machine in my parents' basement, the phone rang. I answered, and a male voice said, "What are you doing right now?" It sounded just like my friend Rob's, so I replied, "Working out. Why, what are you doing?"
"Guess what I'm doing right now," he murmured.
"How the fuck should I know? Writing poetry?"
"Mmm, no." There was some faint "thwack thwack" sound in the background.
"Um...this isn't Rob, is it?" I asked dumbly.
"No, it's not."
Alarmed, I hung up and went back to the rowing machine but before I could get on, the phone rang again. I went back to answer it.
"You don't want to know what I'm doing?" the voice asked.
"Not really," I answered.
"But I'm jerking off...just for you."
"Well, isn't that nice," I replied. I've always been a sarcastic brat.
I must have been bored because I actually continued to speak with him. He introduced himself as "Joe" and I told him my name. He asked how old I was and added that he was 26. We talked about music, and he said his favorite band was the Pixies. To 15 year old me, he seemed cool.

Over the course of the next few weeks, he continued to call regularly, often two times a day, and we'd talk for hours. Sometimes I'd have to listen to him masturbate, but mostly, we talked about our lives. I admitted that I'd recently lost my virginity, and he asked me to tell him about it in great detail. (The thwacking sound was particularly loud that time.) So it was not surprising when he suggested that we meet. I agreed, selecting the location: the very public and crowded Queens Center Mall that was located by an eight lane boulevard. I recruited my best friend Suzie and my sister Penelope to come with me.
We waited for an hour beyond the meet up time and he didn't show. I shrugged, somewhat disappointed but relieved. I had expected this, and figured he wouldn't call anymore. But no, when Penelope and I got home at 9pm, there was a phone call for me.
"Where were you?" Joe asked. "I waited for you for 45 minutes."
"No you didn't," I accused, "because we were there for an hour. You were the one who didn't show."
It turned out he was on the other side of the boulevard by the Roy Rogers and we'd been stationed outside of the mall.

The months passed and we continued to talk nearly every day. It was now November. This particular night, I'd just sat down to dinner with my parents (we were having spaghetti and meatballs, my favorite meal at the time) when the phone rang. It was Joe.
"I'm in your neighborhood," he said. "I've got my car. Let's meet."
I swallowed the mouthful of pasta and gave him a location: the movie theater that was located on a major street that was heavily trafficked. "I'll see you in ten minutes."
I excused myself from dinner and put on my coat and bumbled over to the theater. I waited about five minutes before a Honda pulled up. The passenger side window rolled down and a man's voice asked, "Are you Imogene?"
"Yes," I said, stepping off the curb to get a closer look.
"I'm Joe." He looked like a younger Scott Bakula. This was, at least by my 15 year old girl standards, not acceptable. In retrospect, I can admit Scott Bakula is not unattractive but the adolescent me had envisioned him looking more like, well, David Gahan of Depeche Mode. Even Martin Gore would have been OK.
I stood back, disappointed.
"Get in," Joe said. "Let's go for a ride."
What went through my mind right then and there is, He's probably going to kill you. He's an axe murderer. But if he's not a murderer, which he probably is, this might make for an interesting story. What kind of weirdo actually meets up with her obscene phone caller? OK, get in the car. You can always gouge his eyes out if he tries anything.

I got in the car.

We drove around for awhile, me staring at him, discomfited. He didn't seem to notice, instead at one point, leering at me while grabbing his business suited crotch.
"Um, I've got to get back home," I mumbled as the car passed my parents' house. "Can you take me back to the movie theater? Now?"
"What, you're not having fun?" he asked.
"My parents are waiting for me. We're having dinner."
He eventually relented and dropped me off at the theater. I made sure to take a roundabout way home, stopping in three shops and spending enough time in them to confuse him had he been trailing me.
I expected his calls to stop, but they didn't. However, the frequency declined, and that was enough for me.

It was around this time that the *69 feature was released by the phone company so you know exactly what I did: the next time he called, we spoke briefly and then I used it to call him back. He answered the phone, and upon hearing my voice, asked, "How did you get my number?" He sounded panicked. Then, he added, "Do not ever call me. Ever. Do you understand?"
I laughed and he hung up.
He never called my house again.

Wow, it's 7am. At least the bar downstairs seems to have quieted down.