Archive for September, 1997

The night that changed everything

Wednesday, September 17th, 1997

Entering the house it was dark, warm, and smoky. Breathing in the smoky musky air, I could see that this was a home of smokers. Almost immediately my friend Jamie assaults me, something that I always accept, not only from her but just about anyone who would actually want to hug me.

It almost seems impossible that she would be able to hug me this tight, her body being as waif-like as it is. Afraid that I might crush her body from my fierce need for contact, I finally let go of her. We sit down in the living room, after I manage to find room by pushing aside piles of clothes and papers, mainly which are newspapers and scribbled upon pieces of paper which hold casually drawn figures and scenes that seem beautiful and dreamlike to me. The couch may once have had springs, but that no longer holds true anymore. I sink down into the couch and almost hit the floor. After becoming accustomed to both the couch and the darkness, I look around. To say that this house was well lived in would be putting it lightly. The house had piles of things anywhere that there was space. Books were stacked up like mini skyscrapers trying to reach for the smoky sky above.

The piles of clothes reminded me of large looming mountains containing condemned monsters within. Empty and half-full cigarette boxes of various brands were on tables and couches. Ashtrays holding butts and ashes from the six or seven different brands lay about in all corners like soldiers waiting to serve this miniature city. Jamie and I began talking small talk in order to catch up on what had been going on for the past year. As we were talking, she asked me for a cigarette. I had only just started smoking and was completely willing to give up one of my precious death sticks if it meant less for me. We both lit the cigarettes and I watched the lighter burn a little before lighting. I watched the golden flame from the lighter knowing that this was exactly what I had been taught not to do when I was little. I sighed and lit the cigarette anyway, holding it in my mouth and sucking in the burning smoke from the glowing stick. The smoke entered my body, burning my throat. I put one of the soldiers to use, flicking the ashes into the ashtray.

I have listened to what Jamie was saying and half staring at the television screen, watching the news talk about death and the stock market. I looked at Jamie, smiling and nodding. I hadn’t heard a thing that either she or the television said. Another girl came into the room smiling and telling me that her name was Gayle. I nodded and smiled shyly. We all sat there smoking and talking a little, mostly staring at the TV.

Just then, the door crashed open and a tall blond girl rushed in the room, carrying with her the scent of Sunflowers perfume. She threw the entire length of her body onto the couch and lit up a cigarette. The girl acknowledged my presence, remembering me from a past adventure with Jamie somewhere. Somehow that made me feel good and I smiled to myself unconsciously.

Following behind her was a lanky guy; he must have been over six feet tall, fair-haired, which was slightly thinning. He looked like a beanpole, with a cute baby face. He was wearing a pink dress shirt and a Charlie Brown tie, which he then proceeded to tell everyone he had spilled something on. He also had some tan pants on, but they seemed too baggy for his slim figure, so I didn’t care for them too much. I’m usually not attracted to the skinny normal looking type, and end up with the teddy bear, grungy type, but there was something about him that I just couldn’t keep my eyes off of.

He walked into the room with an air of nonchalance, as though he was surrounded by people he knew really well and felt comfortable around. The guy ran up to Jamie and gave her a big bear hug, which seemed to last forever. He then proceeded to tickle her, and for some reason I started to feel insanely jealous. I had no reason to be jealous, I didn’t know this guy, but for some reason I wanted him to tickle me instead. But rather than join in this game, since, one, it seemed a private game for the two of them, and, two I hardly knew any of the people in the room, and even Jamie seemed like a stranger. So I hid in my corner and stared at the ashtray wishing that I could suddenly implode, knowing that no one in the room would notice. They then went to another game using a plastic ball that they flung at each other. This included everyone except me. I was too busy being passive, too busy being just another pile of clothes on the couch. So I would end up losing out because I was afraid that they would hate me or not want me in the group. Sighing to myself again, I realized what a loser I was being.

Somehow in all their excitement, the guy’s pen, which made me realize that I still had no idea what his name was, was flung at me. I grabbed it, the plain white pen as close as I thought I would get to touch him. Why did I think about that? I couldn’t think straight. All that I knew was that I wanted to be close to him like Jamie was. I wanted to learn about him, to at least know his name. Anything! But I sat silently clutching on to this cheap white clicky pen as if it held all the secrets to my immature and petty seventeen-year old life.

As I was contemplating this, the guy must have realized that his pen was missing. He asked me who had his pen, his voice warm and friendly, flowing through me like melting honey. I couldn’t help but smile, if not from the knowledge of who had the pen, then from the sound of his voice pouring over me. He started grabbing at me, looking for the pen. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be the nice stranger or if I wanted to hold the pen forever. Finally I just gave in, even though I loved the feel of his hands touching me. I took one last look at the pen, allowing my warmth to saturate the pen, then handed it to him. He smiled a smile that was so wonderful, so beautiful, and yet so silly at the same moment. I might have smiled back, but I turned my head to watch Seinfield before he noticed.

He sat down on the ottoman and started talking about how much he wanted to move out of his parents’ house and move into an apartment on Park Avenue. I was too busy looking at his face to notice what he was saying. He looked so happy; his face was so alive it was almost glowing. I couldn’t remember the last time I had looked into a mirror and found a face that happy.

Jamie started complaining about being hungry and begged the guy, Jeff, I think she said, to take her out to eat. He consented, and I was invited along. I couldn’t help worrying about everything and anything at that moment. Then I realized I had to ask my parents. Damn it! I cursed myself. What if they say no? I might never get this chance again. Chance? Chance for what? But deep in my heart, I knew what.

I dialed the number, knowing that they would say no.


“Hello?” It was my father.

“Hi daddy!” Damn! That would give it away. But I guess it didn’t really matter.

“What?” I hoped that he wouldn’t get upset.

“Umm. Yeah, well. I wanted to know if I could go out to eat with Jamie and some friends.” Silence.

“I’ll have a ride home.” I looked up at them hopefully. There was a nod in acceptance.

“Well…” I could hear my mother’s voice in the background, indecisive.

“Okay. I guess. Call if you have any problems.” Great! I was getting really excited now.

“Thanks daddy!” Don’t sound too excited.

“Bye daddy.”

“Buh bye Cathy. Don’t get into trouble.”

Click. The phone was silent, but my mind was full of enough thoughts now that it didn’t really matter anymore. Now there was the dialtone.

I looked up at everyone and smiled shyly. “Its okay.”

We walked towards the door, and as I walked passed Jeff I took one last look at him. He noticed, and winked at me, smiling. Embarrassed, a deep blush rose from the depths of my skin, and I looked away, walking into the warm heat of late summer.

Written: September 17, 1997