Friday, August 22, 2008

"We are just friends, Philip Seymour Hoffman!"

The smell of failure smells a lot like my university bookstore. The smell of all the things you didn't do over the summer smells like books that were used as sponges when the beer spilled and fear in the sweat from the Freshman and those really expensive calculators.

'Musky' isn't the right word to describe all of these things, but it'll do in a pinch.

The stuff you were totally gonna do this summer seems pointless now; the brunching, the movies, that podcast- It got sucked into the black hole of TiVo and the balmy, hot evenings spent fantasizing about what it would be like to be hanging out somewhere -anywhere- other than a Starbucks or a really crumby bar or, in recent months, a yogurt shop.

Oh, PS all that yogurt? Never ever listen to Jamie Leigh Curtis.

I secluded myself this summer. I took a break from everything and everyone. I had to. I had it coming from all sides. People sometimes cling to me, begging me to coddle them. They want me to swaddle their trembling, fragile codependent brains and I can’t even pretend to care anymore. Well, for my friends I can. Instead, this summer I socialized less, but with better quality people and sat around trying to find a little perspective (which also looked a lot like I was just watching syndicated The Nanny episodes) and trying to grow a little. It was all very French, except less pretentious and less stylish and less sexy by all means. Also, there was a lot more Fran Drescher involved in the process.

Now my professors are e-mailing me to remind me it's time to get into learning mode again; to 'put on my thinking cap' and 'put my brain in gear' and all that crap that teachers really like to say to get their students going. Things they got off of posters with cats or an eagle or a little puppy on them. Ripped straight from their favorite, old professor's office walls from about eighty years ago. Back when being an English major meant you may as well be studying Philosophy because what the fuck do you do with an English major besides become the next Salinger, I mean, Jesus.

School is starting in just a few days and I feel all of this potential in the air. More boys to meet. More things to learn. A new personality just waiting to bombard the people in my writing classes. I want to be the girl who dresses like Zooey Deschanel, speaks like she's a Joss Whedon creation, and ultimately doesn't look Jewish at all. "You're Jewish?" I want people to ask, "But you're so skinny! (this is my dream after all) And your nose is so small!" I will reply with a shrug and a nod and say, "What can ya do?"

Last year, I had the same plan, but it didn't really go well. I only found out about that when Josh, my sometimes boyfriend who likes other boys, calmly told me that some girl he worked with happened to be talking about me in the break room one day before summer break. "She didn't know I knew you," he explains. "I told her to shut her mouth. She was just jealous that you wrote decent things, but she was mad that you won some contest or whatever at the school because she thought your essay sucked."
"Haters better eff off!" I declare raising my latte to him and he toasts with me, "'Cause I'm gon' be famous soon-ish." I accidentally kick him in the foot as I cross my legs under the table.
"What? You playing footsie with me?" We both ask at the same time.
"Wanna hold hands, too?" Josh wants to know.
"No," I say embarrassed, then I extend my hand, "Well, maybe..."
Josh ignores me and carries on the conversation, " I'll always stick up for you," he says. "Well, s'long as you keep dressing like you do."
"You're more fun than a real boyfriend," I say. "Wanna make out?"
"Maybe later," he replies.

And, the semester before that, I specifically sat next to the most decent looking kid in the history class (I wouldn't exactly call him good looking, but he won the vote in a class full of Fogels and Seth Rogans) and in the end, Thorton, or Courtland, or Kirklandbrand- I've forgotten already, disliked me so much for getting an A on a test he received an F on, that he chose to speak to the fifty year old transgendered southern "woman" on the other side of him instead of me. I didn't care because after overhearing him explain to he/she/it that he hadn't 'shot anything that weekend but really wants to get back to hunting,' I automatically crossed him off of my list of potentials. I know a begger (me) shouldn't really be a chooser, but I am more into people who don't shoot shit. Also, if we mated, our children would probably end up boring and republican (also known as my worst nightmare). Instead, Ally –Matt to my Ben- and I, take turns mocking him to each other and then explode into fits of silent hysteria. Our inside jokes and ongoing game of Marry, Boff, Kill are the only things that kept us awake during our Bullshit 203 class.

Well, that and the fact that Thorton -or whatever's- phone vibrated so loudly at least once every two minutes that it completely defeated the purpose of keeping the phone on vibrate in the first place. Since our class was at eight in the morning, practically the middle of the night, I can only assume the early morning texts were from the girl he's sleeping with who thinks she's his girlfriend.

I want to believe this upcoming year will be different. Less not getting asked out by normal guys and more being asked out by guys who look sort of Jewish-y, but less hairy. I'm hairy enough, after all. This summer, I found out that in order to be able to go swimming I basically have to shave myself down like an Olympic swimmer. The hair that gets left behind in the drain can be made into a wig for those cancer kids. I'm not even kidding.

Everybody is kind of hopeful for the upcoming season and semester, which I think, at least when you're in my age group (unless you're just completely chemically imbalanced), is the only thing you can be. I can hear the buzz of this latent energy. There is so much possibility unless you're already pregnant and married or engaged or living on a Mormon compound and pretty much have your entire life set. It's exciting in a really corny way. It makes me happy that I live in the era I do now. You know, the era that lets women go to school and have a career.

"If this were 1960," I announce to almost everyone I come into contact with who berates me for not being finished with my schooling yet, "I wouldn't even be in school. I'd be on the phone to my best friend as I vacuumed, nearly choking myself with the phone cord and saying, 'I have a really great idea for a story, but, Noah (that's my son. I already had a baby) hasn't slept in a week, and well, neither have I. Oh, Jim is home. I better hang up and start dinner.' " My friend Ally is the only person I know who sighs after I speak like this. She replies almost dreamily, "If your husband looked like Don Drapper, wouldn't that be great?"
"For reals," I say. "That'd be just swell."


  • At 11:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    it would be totally worth it if he looked like Don Draper.

  • At 11:23 AM, Blogger Stefi said…

    I absolutely agree. I would leave school to marry that.


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