In a blast of highschool gossipy mood, I submitted the Friday Five question that came up this week:
Please tell us about five people you liked, or who liked you, but with whom you never became involved. Explain why not.
This shouldn’t be too hard. Maybe that’s why I wrote the question, in fact; I knew it would be very easy to answer. But you know, in thinking about this topic, after I thought about the really big hurts, I realized that there were plenty of other times when I could have, but did not, get involved with someone for my own reasons, or for silly non-reasons. Those, I think, are more interesting, and probably reveal more about one’s character than the big painful hurts of outright “rejections” that we sensitive-type guys bring upon ourselves. So, with the exception of the third case, I’m going to focus on the smaller stories that usually get left out in the story of my life that I tell myself.
- Well, first there was Erin, a short, plump, and slightly dark girl I knew in fifth grade. She was one of a group of five or six of us who cycled around the city of Prince Albert together (Erin, Carla, Ryan, Greg, and myself). She was “dating” my friend Ryan, whatever that means in fifth grade; when they split up, she took Carla and Greg out into some playground equipment to tell them, but didn’t take me aside to tell me. I left in a huff, and when I asked her why she’d done that, she told me it was because she wanted to tell me alone. I got the weird feeling that she’d wanted to trade him in for me, but in any case, by the time our paths crossed again, she was a careful middle-schooler and I would have been an uncareful choice as an unbalanced and often-bullied middle-schooler.
- There was Marcie. She was this really big girl, who in fact had an alright personality, but who scared the heck out of me by being the second girl who aggressively pursued me. This was in tenth grade, and I of course was interested in Marcie’s slimmer, prettier, and less intelligent friend. But Marcie had apparently talked to that girl and she always brought Marcie with her when I was around. Well, one night at a dance at school, Marcie asked me to dance. Of course, being a good sport and trying to be nice, I danced with her a little. Being an idiot, I thought this might lead to dancing with her friend. But it only led to more dancing with Marcie, and then more, and more, and more, and it seemed she was hell-bent on dancing with me all night. Finally I said I was tired and retired to the bleachers with my friend Mike, to sit and criticize everyone around us. After that night, Marcie never really tried much anymore.
Years later, though, I encountered her again, working in a hair salon where I went to get my hair cut for $5. Needless to say, it was a very tense 15 minutes, but she didn’t do a bad job at all. Thank goodness she wasn’t one to hold a grudge about this silly sort of thing.
- Hjordis was the weird girl in my high school. And she was weird. She was a Baha’i in a Catholic school, she told stories of her father having been in prison for selling drugs (and of his abusing her relentlessly), she wrote really weird poems, spoke openly about her painful memories of finding a friend who’d killed herself and of her own suicide attempts… and yet somehow always managed to smile and bounce around the place. I think part of it was that she was so refreshingly honest, in a school where nobody dared be honest about anything. When my sister found out, she said, “The girl with the foot long blond braid weaved into her hair?” The message was: that’s a freak. So I didn’t talk about it much at home.
Well, Hjordis was one of those girls who likes to have extra guy friends around, especially guy friends who have a bad crush on her, so that when she has a fight with her boyfriend-of-the-year, she can call him or them up to hang out and complain. She dated a guy I knew at school, Phil, and then she dated a friend of mine, Keenan (actually, both of them were people I ended up playing a musical show with; see “Aprocrypha” on this page). She and Mike and I got close, and for some reason I can’t really rememberI think because I told her I was sick of being a friend only when she was fighting with her boyfriendour friendship ended abruptly. It took a long time for me to get over that. All the books I’d loaned her were sold off to used bookstores, one of which I found again years later; all of the drafts of poems I’d passed on to her to criticize were lost (and there were dozens and dozens). Her story turned bad after thatdrugs and babies taken out of her custody and a very clear case of depressionso I suppose I should be happy we never got closer; I might have felt even more badly for her if we had.
- Kala. Kala was a friend of Hjordis. At some point late in our friendship, Hjordis introduced us, I think as a kind of peace-offering or a way to make up for the fact that I wasn’t her kind of guy. Anyway, Kala wasn’t my kind of girl when I was in high school… which is to say she was relatively polite, well-adjusted, unapologetically Catholic, unsuicidal, and not even bad-looking. I think the thing I held against her was her timidity, and her being not-Hjordis. Maybe it was her personality, or maybe just my apparent unreceptivity, but our conversations were all stilted and awkward, and we didn’t relate well.
I met her years later and she seemed to have become some kind of fundamentalist Catholic; she’d gone to Colorado or somewhere to see the Pope during his visit to North America, and spoke of it with such tones of awe and respect that I think I ended up cutting the conversation off on a fake excuse and hightailing it out of there.
- There was Melanie Funk. When I went to band campI know, I knowI made friends with this guy named Matthew, and we became really close. Well, at the band camp dance I mentioned that I thought the coolest girl in the place was the flautist with the curly blonde hair.
“That’s my sister!” he replied, amused. Well, Matthew and I never did get in touch again, but I did become pretty good friends with Melanie while we studied music together. For a while she gave me driving lessons and we used to hang out as part of a bigger group of music students. I’ve heard that Melanie is doing fine, working at music therapy out on the West Coast of Canada somewhere; I think she studied in Victoria, but she may, in the almost-decade since, have moved to some other place.
Hmmm. I like these stories better than the big rejections. There’s something more, I don’t know, sensible, and calm, and even kind of funny about them. If you’d like to see more of what could-have-been for other Friday fivers, check out the links on this page.