Thus, I'm obsessed with various permutations of "truth" [Thus, I la-la-la-loved Closer]... I believe that often ignorance is bliss, but sometimes lying is a cop-out too. I had a friend who checked her boyfriend's email as regularly as she checked her own, and the thing is that chances are you've got a lot of evil thoughts about people you love but you can't tell them everything, I mean, it's not relevant, you gotta filter. If he was cheating on her, there'd be more evidence than one flirtatious email to an old girlfriend she uncovered deviously. That's why I don't read other people's journals or hack into their email (unless they are having affairs with 16-year-old synchronized swimmers using the laptop I gave them) because I've realised that what we choose to communicate with each other often holds an intent even purer than truth.
We do what we do to each other and reveal what we do for a reason, to meet a certain end/intent, and the reason often matters more than our darkest paranoias or theories about it, 'cause that's the truth of what we want even if it's not the truth of how we feel, so it's the only practical thing to say. Does that make sense? Probably not. I'm not sure if I even know what I'm talking about. This is, as you may notice, a pattern with me. What's my secret? I've got that song from Beauty and the Beast stuck in my head, it's making me crazy. Bonjour! Good-day! How is your family? Bonjour! Good-day! How is your wife? But she won't find out it's him 'til Chapter THREEEEEEEE.
"You knew me pretty well but I never let you see my dark side." (Chris Pureka)
I got addicted to his journal. I needed it to tell me what to do next, until it started telling me about the other women, the ones who were his age and mature, soooooo mature, "real women" who had multiple orgasms like easy and apparently didn't think it was cool to race him to the subway stop or dance on the bar or run drunk through Times Square doing heel-clicks like in Newsies or dress in costume just for fun.
Then he read mine. We shared a locker at work, I trusted him [I don't know why I trusted him, but I did], I kept my journal in the locker.
I didn't know this of course; he just ignored me for about two weeks and then when I asked him why he was being such a consistent douchetard he finally came out with it: "Why do you care how I act to you? Aren't I BORING, anyhow?"
Omg, omg, like, if I'd had ten cheerleaders behind me going "O! M! G!" that wouldn't've been enough. Didn't he know I'm made the Top Ten Reasons I Can't Date Rick because I didn't think I had a choice, and I needed to feel better about my only option?
And also, sidenote, he was kinda boring, as a person, but I was never bored with him. We had fun together, we made each other laugh a lot and he made me feel pretty.
How unfair, I thought, and how unshakeable. I also wondered why he hadn't noted, on that same list, that I didn't like this one navy blue turtleneck t-shirt sweater, because he totally kept wearing it. This is that list, from my journal, May 2000:
Why He's Wrong For Me:He still made me see Mission to Mars with him, so obviously he saw what he wanted to see anyhow. There's only so much space for the reality we've decided is our own, and sometimes that reality involves Ben Affleck like it or not. Also, hello, Sunday Top Ten, birthing itself right there.
1. Likes Armageddon and other bad movies.
3. Doesn't like my writing
4. Too old
5. Becoming weird about going out.
6. Doesn't read poetry.
7. Weird attitude about women.
8. Those light jeans and that one blue turtleneck -- HATE IT.
9. Sometimes, he bores me.
10. He only cares about money -- has no true passion in life.
So .... yeah. Thanks, dudes. For like, sharing your secrets with me. It's awesome to hear that seeing them has helped you in some way, that's the best thing I could ever hope for, seriously.
And thus, here we go, Bonjour! Good day! wWAAAAA.
SECRETS SECRETS STILL ARE FUN
AND IT SEEMS AS THOUGH I'LL NEVER BE DONE
DOES ANYONE WANT SOME RUM?
NOT ME, I LIKE VODKA, BUT THANKS.
16. Like O, Like H
Steve works in Car Stereo Install, which's the big-box store equivalent of blue collar. He's tall and good looking, barrel-chested and of black Irish descent, and he ignores Rayanne which naturally intrigues her. He disappears for two weeks and returns with stories of visiting distant relatives in Dublin, and it all sounds so romantic -- Irish cousins he barely knew, taking him in and feeding him, keeping him swimming in whiskey and ale. He returns with gifts for his mother.
He strolls into the aisle between the washers and the dryers and Rayanne nearly forgets everything she knows about defrosters when he approaches her, smiling all dimpled, all white teeth and lips and a strong chin with its rough, black stubble. She wonders what that might feel like on her neck and that wonder flushes her face and skin and her breath is intentional: "Hello there," she says, like a movie star.
"I took a trip to Ireland. I brought this back for you".
English Lavender. She's confused and flattered. They make plans for Friday night. She laughs nervously, her curiosity burns, and doesn't die down when she learns he's a Jesus freak. Really? Not one of THOSE Jesus freaks, okay then, she wants to know how that stubble feels. His hair looks soft.
Yes, she says, let's go for a drive in your car. The stubble is sandpaper, but he's gentle, he can kiss.
The summer hums on. She sells crappy microwaves to single men and giant refrigerators to obese women. She thinks: maybe I won't go back to college. I could just keep working, right? The money's pretty good.
More Friday nights are spent making out in the car: she's virginal and unsure but his hands know things about how to hold hips and her legs know something about how to straddle and respond to the indecent suggestions of his lips.
Stop, he says.
Stop? She says.
We know where this is going, he says.
We do? She says.
Yes, he says. I'm a Christian, Ray.
Right, she thinks. He mustn't be seduced by virginal flesh.
You should be ashamed, he says, almost removing her body from his body like it's a blanket the world just got too warm for.
What the fuck did you just say? She asks. She feels sick. Will he see her again? Can they just slow things down?
His stubble is rough, she wants to claw the flesh from her cheek. Also she's got no plans to accept Jesus as her personal savior. In fact, she's already eyeing the door as she so often does, the door she believes in far stronger than he claims to believe in something holy and designated as such. She doesn't want to meet his mothers. She will build temples to honor her escape. He doesn't seem to understand. Don't call me, she tells him. She's going back to college.
Oh -- and? All her doors swing open, slam shut. I fucking hate English Lavender.
When Elyse and Jordan broke up, she first got depressed and then depressed/completely fucked up and then so jealous when she saw him with another girl that she could barely do anything besides prove as often as possible that she was desired, desirous, desirable.
So she decided to seduce the French exchange teacher. One loaded moment of eye contact can make something into something, just like that. He was maybe 24 and she was 17 so it wasn't too creepy, just totally illegal and weird and "not hot at all."
After it happened, she was over it immediately. Mission accomplished. She went back to being an obsessive tater-tot-eating jealous high school girl but she knew that he was probably racked with guilt and petrified that she'd tell on him.
The next day, he sent her an email that said "Pas de regrets, et toi?" As in: "If I say I don't regret this huge mistake maybe she won't tell on me."
She didn't. She only told one person; me. What's my secret? I actually kept it, among others.
I've been historically bad at this; not at blurting others' secrets to the world, but at establishing secret clauses to secret-keeping. Like; "Well, I'm not supposed to tell anyone, but OBVS I have to tell you, as you're my boyfriend/girlfriend/BFF" or whatever. I got better at not doing this as I got older, but now it's easier to navigate since my friends are all over the place and might not even meet each other [until someone decides for some insane reason to marry me and then obvs all my friends will meet each other because there'll probs be a large party involving copious amounts of drink, and Diet Doctor Pepper for Haviland. Did I mention that I proposed to Haviland at the Time Warner Center? I think I did. However I didn't have a ring, because I'm not a money tree, so, you know, so don't think that if she's not wearing one it means she didn't say "Yes."].
But every now and then you have someone who's secrets you keep like second nature, you just do it, you just can't betray them, and won't, and not because of fear but because it feels just totally wrong to do so, you're not tempted, you're just silent.
19. Time Running
This happened to Sharon when she was 12 and it changed everything more than she's cared to admit. More than she's admitted. She was twelve. She had to stay late at school and therefore walked home alone.
At the top of her road she saw a guy standing near her house. Chances are she would've quickly forgotten this if what followed hadn't happened (He isn't going to rape her, I'm telling you this now because if that's what you're expecting, as I was, then your primary reaction to what follows will be relief that she doesn't get raped, and I don't want relief to be a part of what you feel about it, so I'm saying this now.)
He sees her, he turns, he walks away, and she thinks nothing of it 'til she reaches her back gate and sees him still standing there, smoking. He buts out his cigarette. He pulls down his pants.
She didn't know what to do: he was right in front of her gate. She keeps walking, she puts her head down and walks by in front of him.
This she remembers: in one swift moment, when she's passing and he's got his pants down, poised for something she knows can't possibly be good -- he takes that moment to put his hand on her ass, lean into her ear and say, hot and heavy breathing, "Alright, darling."
Sharon has something in her hand, she swings it, she doesn't know if she hits him or not but the next thing she remembers is turning around and seeing him running up the road. She stands there for a few seconds, takes some deep breaths, and goes inside. She walks right into the living room, looks at her Mom and her Mom asks: 'Are you alright?"
She has a million thoughts but she doesn't know the words for them, doesn't know yet how it feels to be touched when it's not a violation, doesn't know anything, she's twelve, experience, after all, is relative to only one thing which is all other experience, so she says: "Yeah, I'm fine. Work okay?"
Sharon isn't sure why she still hasn't told anyone, and sometimes she wonders if keeping it inside has enabled her to almost forget, like how sometimes she looks back and thinks it may've just been a dream.
She's gotten to the stage where she thinks that people would just think she was being silly if she told them, because "nothing" happened, things could've been so much worse: she was lucky that she was at her back gate and lucky that she had something to swing and lucky that nothing happened. But the thought of what could've happened--what was about to happen--scared her then, and continues to.
Maybe it's not that big of a thing, she reasons, but she was twelve. She thought life was safe. It was the first legitimately frightening thing to ever put it's breath or hands someplace unexpected and also the first frightening thing she's dealt with alone.
20. Clever Meals
Megan doesn't like Wes Anderson films. It felt good for her to say it out loud, after she recovered from the shock. It's just not fait. She's exactly the kind of person who oughta unabashedly adore Wes Anderson. She owns a white belt like the other shiny, happy hipsters. ("I'm not wearing it right now, obviously, but I own it.") Why can't she see the brilliance in these movies? All she sees is a science fiction film that's set in reality, "which is retarded."
Yes, she's seen them all: Rushmore, Bottle Rocket, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic. She's done what she could to fill this gaping hole in her hipster delusion -- but she'd like to add, having seen them all, that they're really not any different from one another.
She knows that were her friends to discover her true feelings, she'd be permanently branded as hands down totes uncool, more of a J-Crew chino totesbag toter who puts summer blockbusters on reserve at her local store, she probs couldn't even use Netflix to obtain her uncool movies. She'll just continue to laugh along as grown men run around onscreen in yellow jumpsuits, shooting precious statements of overgrown boyhood into inappropriate situations while a stone-faced Bill Murray extols self-consciously fetishized snibbets of wisdom onto the young scholars in his accidental care.
Unlike Coldplay, Life of Pi, and Grey's Anatomy, the evidence is stacked against her and she's certain the problem "lies unquestionably with me, not West Anderson. Acceptance is the first step. All I can do now is simply pray that my sordid abnormality is never discovered by my friends, relatives," or anyone else she could ever see ever.
[What's my secret? I couldn't even get through Life Aquatic or Bottle Rocket actually, though I loved Royal Tenenabums because Margot Tennenbaum is my hero both for her supreme sense of style (the eyeliner and the blonde hair, the polo shirts) and her deadpan delivery of life's must brutal truths. I'm likely to quote her and you might not even know it if you aren't as dedicated as me. She is everything I ever want to be in life and more and I dedicated the entire winter of 2004 to becoming Margot, even announcing this intention to the entire dinner table when Natalie's parents took us out for her birthday, which didn't go over as well as the other diners plans to get internships and such. Howevs, all his movies are slightly irritating though, just 'cause they're so super precious and like "oh, look at these boys who can't grow up, they are so adorable awww." I liked Rushmore.]