I’ve alluded to this story, but I’ve never actually told it, so here it is in relative detail. When I was in high school, the most beautiful girl in the world hit on me, and I didn’t notice/believe it because I was too shy to do anything about it. Huh… that was less detail than I thought.
We’re going to say her name was Becky, because it very well may have been. Even if she were born with Rebecca, it would have said “Becky” on her letter jacket. Becky was a cheerleader, not only that, but she was exactly the sort of girl your nostalgic heart pictures when I say “She was a cheerleader” with the exception of the hair. Oh she had the requisite blonde hair. She wouldn’t be the girl your nostalgic heart pictures when I say “She was a cheerleader” if her eyes weren’t a sparkling blue and if her hair wasn’t a light and fair blonde. It was just, hers was cut into a short dutchboy style hair cut. There was nothing so odd about that, as it was1993-94 (a period scientists would later call “The Early to Mid-90s) such things were deemed acceptable. And as she was exactly the sort of girl your nostalgic heart pictures when I say “She was a cheerleader” it wouldn’t really have mattered if it weren’t acceptable, I’m pretty sure if that was how she wanted to cut her hair, she would have either way.
Becky and I were in an English class together, creative writing if you must know. Those of you who went to CVHS will remember the East Building, and will understand what that means. The tile floors, rather than carpet, the bare concrete breeze block walls, and so on. Just giving those of you who never set foot in that benighted hellhole an idea. Miss Greely was okay, and the class was okay, and it was creative writing so that was pretty easy and so on…
What happened was that I had chosen a desk, and right next to me, the most beautiful girl in the world chose the desk that was basically the closest you could get to the door while still sitting in one of those demonic plastic chair/desk combinations with the black streaks in the brown resin to make it look as though the surface had once come from a tree. The joke was on them of course, as it had come from a tree, just during the Paleozoic era. I had guessed that the seat nearest the door was her goal, and I sympathized. First day of class, the first day of school, she had worn her cheerleader costume and I had pegged her for someone trying for an easy A and a “Get Out of Stupid English Requirements” card. She had some nervous energy, and if I were a worse writer, this is where I would make comparisons to lithe jungle cats or some bullshit. Not going to though, because what she looked like was more magnificent than all the tigers and jaguars and ocelots in the world. She was the sort of girl your nostalgic heart pictures when I say “She was a cheerleader” and she was the most beautiful girl in the world. I’m not going to discuss legs, or skin, or style, because I already told you. She was the most beautiful girl in the world, that’s what you need to know. And he had nervous energy because he all did. I could sympathize with her desire to get out of that room, I had a pretty strong desire to be free of the whole school.
What ended up happening that first day was that we broke into small groups, me and Becky and another boy who is so unimportant to this story that I won’t even bother telling you his name was Phil. We were supposed to talk about the last thing each of us had read and why we either liked or disliked the main character. I was expecting to hear about how Miss Woodhouse had fallen for Mister Darcy in whatever bit of tat she’d read. Phil had read a sports book, about the big game or the guy who won the big game or GOD I DON’T CARE! God love him, he’d actually read a book once, but he was badly matched and I said he wasn’t important to the story.
I explained about The Dark Half, and how George Stark might be the hero of the book, even though really it’s Thad, but it could have been George. Beck surprised me a bit by relating how she’d read a detective story from the thirties. It wasn’t her usual reading material (As I had suspected, the Woodhouse/Darcy situation was more her speed) but the amorality of the hero fascinated her and she ended up liking the book quite a bit. While Phil tried to add comments here and there, he was rather lost in a talk of detective stories and movies that had dead actors who didn’t even have the good graces to be shot in color. It had was a pretty enjoyable conversation, even if it probably contains more in my head than it did in reality.
I didn’t really think much more about it, even when we chatted a bit the next day. I mean, yes, I thought about Becky because you think about the most beautiful girl in the world when she’s not there. But I still had this idea of spheres of existence in those days. Even if we talked every day, and even though we talked about a lot of different things that people around us didn’t talk about, and even if and even if. She was a cheerleader and I was… not. I wasn’t a jock, nor an achiever, nor… well, a lot of things. I was never a member of any group or subgroup. If you’ve ever seen me at a place where there are a lot of people, you might notice I talk to one group, then talk to another group, and then another, and it almost doesn’t matter which group it is because I can walk into any group and have a conversation. What I haven’t always been able to do though it approach any member of any group and ask them out. She had a boyfriend for a while, and then she didn’t and I still didn’t ask her out because she and not knowing if she was interested and she was exactly the sort of girl your nostalgic heart pictures when I say “She was a cheerleader” and must have had better offers. So instead she was a girl I talked to in creative writing class. It sort of goes deeper than that though, and with hindsight, of course I can see that.
See, I made her a couple of tapes. Now, if you’re some sort of god damn kid who can git offa mah damn lahn, you probably don’t get what that means. I don’t care what you’ve been told, making a CD, or a Spotify playlist, or whatever the hell you kids do now is… IT! IS! NOT! THE! SAME! Making a tape was a complex process where a pair of complementary programs have to be produced. You have to ride the rises, and gently lower them into the lows, each song has to flow into the next and follow the theme you’ve decided on and then it has to be recorded live onto a tape. It was a skill! It was a highly valued skill too, as people sometimes asked me to make tapes for them to give to other people. Anyway, I made her a tape when she broke up with her boyfriend, full of sad songs on the one side and gradually rising into happier songs on the other. And the second tape I made was one on a theme she had asked for and I’m not going to tell you what that is because it’s private.
She asked for the second tape though, she requested a theme, she wanted me to make another thing for her like the thing I’d made before that she’d enjoyed. I mean… yeah.. you’re right. Looking back, I can see it, I can see she liked the way I put music together and that I had good taste in tunes. What? Why are you looking at me like that?
So a few years go by, and she’s in college or something, I don’t really know. I never actually hung out with her, or anything like that. She was the most beautiful girl in the world, but we just sat next to each other in class. Or so I’d thought. It would still be a while before I’d learn about the syndrome that affects pretty girls, where so many people get intimidated by their beauty that they can actually end up with poor self esteem and a bad sense of self worth. She had a friend that I knew, I wouldn’t call this other person a friend because I was and am pretty selective with that word. It doesn’t matter, because she and I met somewhere and that was when she gave me the lowdown. Becky got mentioned, and how she was at MSU or U of M or EMU or wherever it was she went to school and how she was engaged to a guy and then her friend laughed a little and said the phrase that still haunts me to this day.
“She had the biggest crush on you.” Friend said, like it wasn’t ripping my heart out or anything.
“Pardon?” I asked.
“She thought you were cute, and smart and funny.” Friend said as if she wasn’t yanking the other organs out, strewing them on the floor in a gaudy cascade of blood and offal. She kept yanking, hoping that if she found the liver she could devour it and gain all my power. “She was like, totally in love with you, but she didn’t think you were that into her. You never asked for her phone number, or asked her out, she thought maybe you weren’t into the cheerleader type. You should have asked her out, she totally would have gone with you.”
“Well it does no one any good to tell me that now.” I explained. “You could have said something.”
“Would you have believed me?” She asked, biting into my liver and smiling at me with her gore covered visage.
So there you have it, I had no idea anyone was into me in high school until well after it was over. I realized that Becky had a similar problem, not knowing that the guy she really liked was into her too. I mean… I made her two tapes, in some cultures that binds our souls with invisible silken threads that even the gods cannot break, though they look down on us with jealous malice. In the culture of high school though, she thought me aloof and I thought her beyond me.
I have no moral for this, or it’s so deeply woven into the tapestry of the story that if I were to simply hand it to you the whole tale would unravel. Either way, I’m done talking about it for now.
26 out of 23 people won’t get this joke (or that one)
This isn’t a request to share, just an observation.
One of the things I greatly love in medieval art is when the artists would paint biblical scenes, but being ignorant as to what biblical stuff should look like, recast it in their present day and have everyone dressed in contemporary clothes and current gear.
As a result you end up looking at a painting for half a minutes trying to figure out why a chained beggar is standing before a bishop/merchant and who is flanked by a pair of knights, only to read the little panel and find it’s Jesus being brought before Pontius Pilate.
I often thought it would be neat to do a series photos of some biblical scenes that way, with everyone dressed in contemporary clothing. Have to find people who would want to do such silly things.