We're All Damaged

Monday, September 28, 2009

Early Damage


My first girlfriend’s name was Leslie. We were in the fourth grade, and we were going together. That’s what we called it at St. Roberts in Omaha, Nebraska. Not going out or going steady, just going. We were a phonetically efficient bunch, even back then.

My relationship with Leslie was short-lived, and I realize now that it existed almost entirely in my own imagination. We couple-skated a few times at skating parties. She called me once on the telephone from a slumber party. It was probably the most thrilling five-minute conversation I’ve ever had. On Valentines Day, I gave her a special card that I’d bought at the drug store. All in all, this doesn’t amount to much, but at the time I was pretty sure that we were going to get married. I’d get my drivers license and we’d have a small ceremony on the beach and then we’d live in an apartment above my parents’ garage like Mike Seaver had on Growing Pains.

Then, one afternoon at recess, I was standing around waiting for the bell to ring when a group of five or six girls from my class surrounded me. They were all giggling, which is never a good sign. One of them, I don’t remember who, said, “Matt Norman, Leslie thinks you’re stupid, and so she’s dumping you.”

In a matter of seconds, everyone was laughing at me. The girls. The boys. The teachers who’d been assigned recess duty. Adults who’d been driving by stopped their cars to see what all the fuss was about, and then they started laughing at me, too. Shell-shocked, I looked around, but I didn't see Leslie anywhere. She was probably off living it up, enjoying her new-found freedom. Holding hands with a fifth-graders, perhaps.

I’m old enough now to know that life is really just a series of scenes like this one played out over and over again. The variables may change slightly, but that feeling—that dreadful circle of anxiety and devistating humiliation at the pit of your stomach—is always exactly the same.

It’s amazing the things that go through your mind late on a Sunday night when you can't sleep. If nothing else, it probably would have been a pretty cool apartment.

thenormannation@gmail.com

3 comments:

  1. "I’m old enough now to know that life is really just a series of scenes like this one played out over and over again. The variables may change slightly, but that feeling—that dreadful circle of anxiety and devistating humiliation at the pit of your stomach—is always exactly the same."

    Signed,

    Matt Norman, Eternal Optimist

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  2. ah... memories... I was Leslie in the UK, breaking Philip Oakman's heart and his testes since i kicked him in the nuts at the school disco to punctuate the dumping. I was an evil person. I think Karma owes me big for that one and i still feel bad...

    Painful point being, gutless Leslie is probably in jail or doing something that would result in her being in jail. Probably... I like to think all of my enemies in life are behind bars lamenting the day they crossed me. "oh... I wish i had been kinder to Nate" they say, "please don't make me bite the pillow again!!". And I sigh and laugh just a little...

    Chin up, chappie.
    ~Nate

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