take for instance:
when i was 20 years old, i liked a girl. and so, i let her know. sort of. i was a late bloomer; i didn’t have cool moves or limitless bravado; but i did have a vision, and an adventurous spirit unafraid to chase my imagination. i was a romantic at heart, even though i was a dope at brain. unfortunately, the dope did the talking. therefore, i didn’t ask her on a date.
“we should hang out.”
i suppose it was an unflattering–and therefore, self-centered–way of courting someone; still, she was the apple of my narcissistic “I.” after a bevy of moments shared–between classes, in the cafeteria, and on the dark sidewalks after hours–we were becoming close, and with increased conversation and time spent, came increased expectations. until i capably dropped the ball: we’d made plans to get together one Friday evening, but i’d stayed up too late the night before. wiped out, i called and cancelled.
eventually, i realized she wasn’t pleased. at all. in her dissatisfaction, she’d gone home, 30 minutes north of school. i sat around, feeling guilty for my bad move. then suddenly, i had a revelation. a plan. YES.
it was official–
i’d make up for the disappointment of cancelled Mundane, by replacing it with surprising Awesome. i’d give her something cooler than anything she could’ve fathomed. i’d been lacking in my armor–it was dull and scratchy; and my steed was nowhere to be seen, as was my knighthood. but tonight i would make it right. tonight, chivalry would ride again.
my chosen Dame In Distress was an English and Theater maven; i would need to speak her language in order to make her speechless, so i’d have to do something dramatic and literary, romantic and bold. no problem. with one fell swoop, i’d turn the tide in my cesspool of insipid courtliness. plain and simple, i’d blow her mind. every girl wants to be a princess, right? every girl wants to be the stunning starlet of the story. “Repunzel, let down your golden hair.” “Snow White is the fairest of them all.” i knew my Fairest’s favorite tale. it was Romeo and Juliet. “Wherefore art thou?” my answer on this momentous eve, my Juliet: “i art fore…here” …uh… “i art herefore” …or, “i heretofore art” …or…well crap, man; i’m here.
up ’til that point, the only thing we’d had in common with Shakespeare’s famed couple in love was the fact that her parents inexplicably hated me. but not for long. tonight, i’d fixeth my error, and in doing so, i’d flip her mom and dad like a pancake served up with a ham omelet–a hamlet, if you will.
it was a simple and honorable plan: i’d drive out to Hendersonville with a friend, who would aid me in reaching that most romantic place: my Juliet’s bedroom window. once inside the frame of that metaphorical entrance to her good graces, i would demonstrate my honorable intentions toward my Lady In Waiting.
i filled up my trademark squirt-top water bottle, constructed a moving, homemade “I’m Sorry” card, picked up my friend and headed up 65 North. half an hour later, i passed my girl’s family home and parked a ways down the street. in no time, i was lifting the latch on her parents’ chain link fence and positioning myself in the backyard near her room. the excitement was killing me; soon she would be letting down her golden (brown) hair, stricken by my creative and amorous plot, and i’d be completely redeemed. i’d get her attention from the lawn, compel her to raise that fated pane, and win her over in true 80’s-movie style. but wait–her bedroom light was out; and for a moment, my prospects were nil. until–as in every romantic comedy from the decade of Devo–the tables turned: somewhere, a clock struck 10:30 as i beheld my scorned mistress through the bathroom window, standing at the sink and brushing her teeth. quickly now, to the thinking cap: the window was high–how would i get her attention? throw a rock and risk shattering the glass and our perfect future all at once? scream her name like a cat burglar with a guttural, yowling meow? NO. i knew exactly what to do. with a little lift, i’d glide through the air and tap that thin, transparent sheet of sandstone, bringing my Siren’s attention to her suave Sire.
time for a boost, compliments of my assistant in ascendance. crouch; set; heave-ho. let the feet-sweeping follow my lead….
i got on my friend’s shoulders, and we rushed toward the brown brick so i could attack with amore.
we went up like the Marx Brothers. fighting for balance, and losing, my clumsy acrobatic accomplice went in too fast. way too fast. i hit the house at a speed akin to being catapulted from an underground bunker into a vertical, mortared sure-stop. in an instant, i was transformed from Mr. Montague into the cartoon victim of an ACME fly swatter mail-ordered by Wile E. Coyote, and my limbs, head, and torso crumpled together chewing-gum-wrapper style as i hit the window like a bug against the windshield of a NASCAR V-8. i made a loud mess as my body slammed up against the bricks, rattled by the chaffing pop from my belly flop into an upright cement pool. seconds passed as i floundered, a spastic fish clamoring to steady myself on the slippery masoned ledge. my cheek and forehead smushed against the glass, and for a moment, i saw my girl–frozen and facing the double-paned window. the look on her face, the tell in her eyes, was one of hideous terror. vicious, fight-or-flight FEAR. NOT GOOD. i yelled her name as she ran out of the room, mortified.
“put me down!!!!”
perhaps we should be leaving now…
my friend headed toward the car, but i was held back by the sound of the side door of Casa De Calamity, creaking open and echoing through the neighborhood. i was relieved to know my jolted Juliet was now in the carport; she’d surely seen my face through the (reflective!) glass in the (bright!) bathroom. i whispered her name as i sidled up to the carport wall, hearing my nightgowned Numero Uno’s careful tiptoes on the other side. we walked toward the front edge, as if in a dance, stepping together on either side of the foot-thick barrier, which would only temporarily separate our cosmically joined souls. my whispers grew slightly louder as i matched the patter of her mousy footsteps. suddenly, she turned and went back inside. didn’t she hear me? perhaps i should’ve raised my voice, i thought, but i hadn’t wanted to cause a household disturbance in the dead of night. if i hadn’t already.
maybe she never knew it was me.
i joined my friend back at the car, planning to immediately call Ms. Capulet and calm her fears. my friend pleaded with me to just call it a night, and never speak a word of it to my hopefully-in-the-dark Doll. but i couldn’t leave her in a state of panic. i could still salvage this night: i’d call and put my girl at ease, and then re-ramp her heartrate with my heroic attempt at fulfilling her every romantic dream.
i dialed her home number.
it wasn’t her voice.
…her mom’s. this isn’t good. it’s 11:00; shouldn’t her mom be asleep?
*clearing my throat*
“hi, may i speak to ______, please?”
“wade, where are you?”
“where are you??”
“well, i have 4 police cars in my front yard, so i suggest you get back here as soon as possible. if not, there’s an APB out for your car, and you WILL be arrested.”
about 15 minutes later, i pulled up to the crime scene. cop cars. officers. my Angel’s dad in the yard, smoking one of his millions of cigarettes.
“hi, mr. _____.”
“not too smart, wade.”
he was right. not only had i botched the delivery of awesomeness, but i’d left a clue, a bread crumb that led law enforcement right to me, via Juliet’s mom, via…Juliet. she’d found my water bottle. right underneath the window.
did she have to tell her parents it was mine????
i went to the front door and knocked. her mom opened the door, beloved cigarette in hand, old housecoat on body, grimace on haggard face.
what happened next can’t be quoted. not here. not by me. i can’t put myself in her (house)shoes. but suffice it to say, she completely obliterated me. up and down. left and right. inside and out. guarding the entrance to her home, she verbally eviscerated my very existence, while her daughter paced in the background, bawling her eyes out. in no uncertain terms, i was told of my lack of intelligence, maturity, and judgement. i was also told the identity of my would-be Love in the carport. it was, in fact, the man of the house, wielding a loaded and excited shotgun. but a double barrel had nothing on this lady. she gave me the worst of the worst, in ugly, violent degradations. she blasted me like a 30-aught-SUX full of bucksh*t. when the tirade seemed over, i reached out toward my 19-year-old Bucket Of Tears, with the homemade card which was still in my clenched fist.
“______, i came here to apologize for breaking plans. i wanted it to be like Romeo and Juliet. i made you a card.”
with this proclamation, Krakatoa was bested by an inflamed, aging-by-the-second woman in a doorway, who erupted from the catalyst of my sentiment and exploded with the hot lava of angry invective. i crisped from the heat. i was left a heap of ash, singed eyebrows atop a pile of sand, like grains from the black sand beaches of Polynesia. awash in the boiling tide of verbal savagery. and then, my remains melted away. i was a smear. my friend would eventually peel my remnants off the welcome mat, but it was my ironic home for the time being, ’til i could take in a few more moments of Juliet’s wailing.
later that night, back in the dorm, i couldn’t help but think that things had gone awry. as had the Hindenburg.
as did my scheduled surgery.
on the 23rd of March–only six days before my brain surgery, i went to the doctor. not the brain doctor. the regular doctor. the one who takes care of maladies from chickenpox, to sniffles, to earaches. my problem was with my nose. in the Church of Yellow Snot, my sinuses were having a revival. services were being held each night, and had been several days. the spirit was upon them. my doctor told me i had either a virus or an infection. if it were a virus, i would just have to wait it out, and not being able to breathe wasn’t exactly a hallmark of pre-operative clearance. but even if breathing were possible: if it were an infection, during surgery, it could spread to my brain. also, the tube that would be snaked into my lungs by the anesthesiologist could push that infection down, adding “pneumonia” and “meningitis” to my list of challenges, the topmost already being “knifed brain.” an infected brain seemed like something to avoid, as did all the others. i called Phoenix, and they agreed. it was official; the surgery was postponed.
i was beset with a feeling of relief, yet also concern. i hated the idea of this surgery and its potential repercussions. i also hated the same regarding waiting. but it didn’t matter what i hated. all that mattered was, i had made each choice based on what seemed smart. and in this case, the smartest thing i could do was reschedule and take my antibiotics. until then, amidst the stress, i should try to relax. maybe watch a movie. maybe Romeo and Juliet. at least in Shakespeare’s version, he gets the girl. hey, WAIT A MINUTE…