By: Lauren Small
*excerpt from Where’d All My Fish Go
“What happened to the friend you brought by the house the other day? He was cute,” Michelle asked with enthusiasm.
“He said I was crazy and never wants to talk to me again,” I replied.
The confused look on her face let me know she didn’t want me to elaborate. I wasn’t sure if she was bothered because there’s a seemingly mannerable young man roaming the streets calling her elegant niece crazy or because of my nonchalant tone. My family hates how blunt and careless I am with words. The one thing I do know is she was surprised. A gorgeous, teen girl coined as one of those psychotic chicks you see holding a peach on Atlanta Housewives. I didn’t care.
Out of five aunts, my Aunt Michelle is the most optimistic. She sugar coats things and tells you how much she loves you. She and my uncle act as newlyweds even after 30 years of marriage and they’re ready to drop relationship advice faster than Usain Bolt. She buys you small gifts and calls them “little happies.” The gifts are always pointless, but I assume that is the point. She just wants to see you smile even if it’s temporary. She swears she knows what we like and sometimes the gifts are just what I needed and other times I wish she saved her $5. One summer she gave me a small snakeskin credit card holder. It was fluorescent green and the skin couldn’t possibly be real. I have never seen a snake shimmer with glitter. It was hideous and by far the worse “little happy” ever gifted. What in her mind made her think I would like this? Then it hit me, my taste. She finally met a guy I was interested in and his exhausting personality and shiny sun-baked skin must have reminded her of a shiny snake. She can only pick something I like based off the things she has seen me do or wear and he was the only thing different. I decided to bring someone home for the first time and it ruined my future in receiving gifts. My poor choice to bring Jackson home to my family earned me a pet snake to store in my purse.
We met in high school. Back then we were just friends. We sat next to each other every morning in homeroom and he got on my last nerve. I liked it. He was spastic. Imagine a teenager jacked on Red Bull and three shots of tequila before 7:15 every morning. That’s him, but sober. Instead of tequila, it was the natural high of life plus an oversized cheeseburger from Sonic. I could always count on his breath to reek of extra onions and mustard. He was a clown. Our friends made fun of him all the time. He was an easy target from his quirky dance moves, perfectly arched eyebrows, and obsession with track season. We laughed at every word that came out of his mouth and every move he made. He never seemed to mind, he would laugh along with us, which always lead into another joke.
I, on the other hand, admired his confidence. He had the sexiest peanut butter brown skin, beautiful white teeth, and strong calf muscles that a teenage girl could ever imagine. He was hot and I wanted him and I don’t mean in a cute Britney Spears’ “Hit me one more time” kind of way. At the time, I worked at an ice cream shop and I made eight bucks an hour. I was rolling in the dough. I blew every check on the bare necessities: lip-gloss, kitten heels, and Victoria Secret.
I bought my first all-black push-up bra just for him. I knew with the extra help he wouldn’t be able to keep his eyes off of me. Without my mother noticing, I wore my busty bra with a low-cut tank, within school dress code, and I raced to school in my oversized ’00 blue Ford Taurus. I got to homeroom first, he got held up at Sonic. As soon as he sat down, without warning he yelled across the room, “Dannnnnggggg girl, where you get them thangs from.”
My friends and I had a pretty tight group. The summer after our freshman year in college we reconvened as if we never left the city. We continued to laugh at him instead of with him as his immature comments and childish antics ensued. He and I spent a lot of time together even without the group. Casually, we decided to be more than friends, not in a relationship because I had just gotten out of a messy relationship with this screwed up college boy, but we were definitely more than friends. I’m unsure if that summer classifies me as a whore, but we had sex. A lot of it. Maybe, a bit too much for barely legal eighteen-year-olds but seeing as colleges house dirty, porn- watching adolescents it wasn’t shocking. Anywhere parking was permitted, we were there in the back seat of his car, the movies, Target, Wal-Mart, a friend’s house.
It was the best summer I had ever had, but it wasn’t enough to convince me to be his girlfriend. I wanted James, screwed-up college guy. Every day he would ask and every day I found a new reason to decline.
“No, I just got out of a committed relationship.”
Though there is nothing committing about college relationships built on booze and popularity.
“No, I can’t handle a long distant relationship.”
Our colleges were only 1.5 hours away from each other. He received rejection after rejection and still stuck around. Today, I couldn’t pay a guy to be that loyal.
It was a reoccurring cycle. Summer ended, we went back to our respective residences of dorm rooms and drama-filled apartments. Jackson visited, I kicked him out of my apartment, and ignored his phone calls until my phone just stopped ringing.
Douche-bag college guy continued to show me how douche-y he was by looking at every girl with two feet and a Facebook page. Now, I wanted the clown. During our winter break I went home and he was avoiding me. I called and he rushed me off the phone. Crying hysterically in the middle of the mall, I called over and over demanding he talk to me. He didn’t want to talk. Passing the phone to Ashley, my only friend that was used to my antics, she took a message from him.
“I’m dating someone else and I’m with her right now, I wanted Lauren, but she’s stuck on that guy that doesn’t care about her. She’s crazy and I don’t want to talk to her.”