I am falling for a man based mostly on the quotes he chooses to post on Facebook. Does this make me shallow? I don’t know. The boy in question, however, is anything but. Come on, dude. Stop being so deep. So profound. So f-ing well-read. You’re messing with my pretty, little, red head.
About this boy. This boy is not quasi-deep. He’s super-deep. He’s too-brilliant-for-this- world deep. He can’t quite function in social settings. I know this because I sat across from him at a rock-n-roll party1 recently and watched him attempt to yank his hair out by the roots as he suffered in the throes of some unnamed, party-induced panic disorder. In an effort to soothe his angst, I asked him if he’d like a shot of tequila. He said he wouldn’t. He said he used to have a drinking problem, but he was better now. That’s when he drank the whole bottle of tequila. And that’s when I started to fall for him.
I had seen him around before that. He’d always come off as kinda shy, but cool. I found him mildly attractive. But that night at the party, when I realized he was (pick one):
A: Really freaking smart
B. Really freaking fucked-up C. Really freaking tortured
D. Completely socially inept E. A compulsive reader/writer
1a party peopled by small-time rock stars and their entourages
F. Very likely a drunk
G. All of the above
my attraction to him went through the roof.
And we wonder why I have relationship issues. I sent this boy a friend request on Facebook after the party. He didn’t add me. That’s a sign, right? A clear sign. A “get thee behind me, Satan,” kind of sign.
Speaking of Satan, I vaguely remember telling this boy at the party, as I poured him his sixteenth shot, that I was “the Satan of Tequila.” And I quote. I used those exact words. I know because they echo in my head at night. “Satan of Tequila, Satan of Tequila, Satan of Tequila.” A horror movie soundtrack plays in the background. That guy from “Twilight Zone” is there, and he says things like, “There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is the fucked-up, humiliating middle ground between light and shadow. It is the dimension in which your worst ‘naked in the middle of math class’ nightmares take place. It is the dimension in which a nerdy woman meets a man she really, really likes at a party, and in an effort to act cool, dubs herself, ‘The Satan of Tequila.’ What does the Satan of Tequila even mean? No one knows. But we can guess. It means that she is demon possessed. That she is a drunk. Or better yet. Both.”
Why can’t I do saucy and sexy? Why do I have to skip, “Hey, baby, what’s your sign?” and go directly for, “Hello, I’m the Satan of Tequila, and I think you are one of the top ten most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.” That last part? I sent him a note that said it, along with my Facebook friend request. I’m an asshole2.
2 An. Ass. Hole.
Maybe that’s why I like him. I’m pretty sure he’s an asshole, like me. While on the surface, he seems uber-hip, he’s anything but cool. He just doesn’t get it. He just doesn’t understand that most people don’t want to discuss the existential implications of the Book of Job at a rock-n-roll party. No one wants to hear, “About Job’s boils. Do you think the pustules in question were metaphorical or physical?” while trying to get jiggy wid it. They just want to play that funky music, white boy. Enough with the pustules already.
I don’t get that shit either. If I had a penny for every time I’ve stumbled around a rock-n- roll party, drink in hand, trying to find someone willing to stop making out long enough to talk about the god particle, I’d be a rich woman. And it’s not that I even really understand quantum physics. I don’t. I have just enough knowledge to make me dangerous, just enough know-how to think I know God has shown up in a lab disguised as a subatomic particle wearing a name tag that says, “Hello, my name is Jesus.” I want someone to explain that shit to me. I want someone to boil it down so I can really wrap my head around it. I peruse books about it at night, thinking deep thoughts, trying to get to the bottom of things. What things? Everything. Every freaking thing. I will not be truly happy until I understand everything. And that’s what tortures me.
And that’s what tortures him. I know it. I freaking know it, because every damn thing he posts on Facebook proves it. The boy keeps his Facebook public. I don’t need to add him to see his posts. So I check back every few days, and always, he has posted some new gem. Some reference to Eliot or Pound or Kant. I swoon every time. He is like this walking human poem. Everything he does, everything he thinks, is a poem. When this kid freaks out and yanks on his hair, it looks like a poem. Pound’s “petals on a wet, black bough” have nothing on him. Trust me. And when he smiles? Man, watch out. It will light up your world. He smiles with his
whole upper body. Not just with his mouth. He almost snaps his neck with the intensity of it. He feels everything, everything into his toes. Like me.
I want to go to his Facebook one day and be wholly disappointed. I want him to have posted something prosaic. Something mundane. A photo of Pamela Anderson in a glittery string bikini, say, or a link to an Axe Cologne commercial. I want him to say, “LOL.” Something frivolous, you know? Something to prove that he is anything but the intense, awkward. tortured genius I think he is. Something to make it easy to forget this boy, whom I started to fall for at a party and then proceeded to alienate with my proclamations of Satanic tequila-ness. Something that makes it permissible for me to shrug my shoulders and say, “Tawni, he doesn’t like you.” And just. Walk. The hell. Away.
I want to be able to say, “Boys like him are a dime a dozen.” But they’re not. I’ve found one of him in my whole life. One (1). Count him. One. And I know what that sounds like. It sounds like I think he’s the proverbial One. But if the proverbial One is someone you hope will march down the aisle with you and set up a homestead, I’m not on the market for that. When I think about this kid, I don’t fantasize about weddings. Or even sex. What I fantasize about is lying down, looking up at the stars, and listening to him talk.3 I want to know what’s in his head.
In my life, men who want to marry me, and men who want to sleep with me, have been pretty easy to come by. I’ve done the marriage thing. And I’m old enough to know that, at least for me, sex without emotional connection is about as thrilling as a particularly frenzied game of Backgammon.4 But a boy who makes my head spin with every word that comes out of his
3 Did I seriously just say that? Why don’t I type that little gem into a Facebook message and send it off to him? This coffin needs one last nail. Is there anything less sexy than a girl who just wants to talk?
4 And honey, if I’m going to risk getting an STD, it’s not going to be for a game of freaking Backgammon. Have we not ruminated long enough on Job and his proverbial pustules?
mouth, a boy who makes me think, a boy who makes me want to listen to him for hours because everything he says is real and brilliant and beautiful? That, my friends, is hard to find.
He talks about going into bookstores and buying books that I, he, and four other people in the world have ever shown an interest in. He talks about it like he doesn’t know it’s not cool. This kid is less cool than I am. Dudes, that’s hard to pull off. I am irresistibly drawn to this kid because of his distinct lack of hipness. He’s not playing the, “I read this in Literature class in seventh grade, and I’m going to wax profound to impress you” game. He’s playing the, “I’m reading freaking War and Peace for the twenty-third time5 in lieu of gnawing my own arm off in the throes of existential angst–someone save me from my skull,” game. It makes me want to don my Wonder Woman panties and scream, “I’ll save you, nerd boy! I’ll save your tortured, intricate, intense, fucked-up, beautiful soul.” Which I understand is a less than healthy impulse. But there you have it. That’s what’s going on in the twisted psyche of the self-proclaimed Satan of Tequila.
So I said all that to say: Tortured boy, if you’re out there, and you didn’t add me because you’re in the throes of some existential crisis, as opposed to say, in the throes of deeming me demon possessed, please read this poem and rethink your position on me. I wrote it last night. File it under “Eliot inspired existential angst.” (P.S. I am not really the Satan of Tequila. I only play her at rock-n-roll parties.)
5 Nerd girl confession: I have never made it through War and Peace even once. Ok. That was a half assed nerd girl confession. I have not made even through the first chapter of War and Peace. There. I said it.
What I want is for you to lie back, sprawl really, and I will lie beside you. Cradle your head with your hands if you must. I do not need to be held. Not now. I am holding me. My skin is like a glove around me, rocking me safe, keeping me all in one place.
I will rest my head on your chest, listening to the language of your breath rising and falling, trying to intuit its meaning. I will know as you blow air out through your lips, slowly, that you are tired, that your heart, which is drumming in my ear, is wearing thin. I will imagine that you once breathed differently, that often, your smile erupted into staccato laughter, punching the night full of holes. I will wish that if I kissed your eyelids just right, you would become a child again. I will think about how it probably was for you on Christmas, how you ran down the stairs in your pajamas, a whirlwind of faith and dreams.
I would not expect you to be a man. I would not want you to have the right moves. I would hope for you to say something, but if not, your breathing would be enough for me.
I might talk. I might tell you about the time when I was four, and the mean boys, and the carrot cake my mother made for me, but not necessarily. Not if you couldn’t handle it. My stories know themselves backward and forward. Even unspoken, they are enough. I wear them in the scars on my knuckles, in the lines around my mouth. They are always telling themselves.
Maybe you would only be able to stomach some far away story. So I would grab the book on my nightstand and read to you, and you would think, listening to me read about Prufrock’s wasted life, that yours too is wasted. You would understand the futility of measuring your days in coffee spoons, and there would be a beauty in that, a quiet redemption in this joint desperation. And at the end, when Prufrock is looking out at the waves, comparing them to his combover, we might smile together, knowing we both get this obscure joke.
And maybe our shared smiles would be salvation. Not the kind that shows up in the sky waving flags, screaming glory-hallelujah, but the kind that lets you fall asleep listening to someone else’s heartbeat, feeling less alone.