The only time I ever thought about getting married was when I was 11 and thought if I married Andreas Hemingway it would be cool because my initials would still be the same on my monogrammed towels. Jennifer H.
I was never a normal little girl.
Who thought up a future where there was marriage, a house and kiddies? Not me. No way. I was going to be a rock star. I was too busy shitting in a bathtub and touring with Def Leppard to daydream about marriage and kids like all the other little girls around me.
Poor Andreas Hemingway. I didn’t know he fancied me when we were 11. I didn’t have the knack for thinking boys liked me. I think that part of me never got installed. All I can remember about Andreas Hemingway 26 years later is he was tall and lanky for an 11 year old. His first name was weird but cool, and he was a ginger. He was nice to me but I figured it was because I was a tomboy and didn’t cry when boys shoved me around. I should say “tried” to shove me around. I tended to shove right back. I had no idea Andreas liked me until that day at the skating rink. Do they still have skating rinks? I drove by the one I practically lived in during the 8th grade but I can never tell if it’s still open and the sign out front is trashed.
For some weird reason my fifth grade class had a field trip to the skating rink. Maybe my school was out of field trip ideas or going to the Seattle aquarium would have cost too much. Or maybe it was because it was the end of the school year and nobody-teachers or parents- gave a shit about going somewhere educational. The skating rink had food, a DJ booth where you cold dedicate songs to someone and then have a complete spaz attack hearing your name over the loud speaker: “This one’s from Jennifer to Brian” and Def Leppard’s Hysteria would come on and shit, I seemed to be the only one with good musical taste, especially after hearing for the 30th time that fucking Bobby Brown song Every Little Step. I was about to Every Little Step over that DJ’s spine for putting it on repeat.
And you could buy a fake carnation for a dollar and give it to someone you liked. The flower stunk to high heaven, an odd mix of Aqua Net and old lady underwear drawer. But if you got one of those flowers you were hot shit. I don’t know how many times I felt my heart throw up when other girls got carnations. I chalked it up to the fact that the girls who got the flowers were super girly-girls and I was more of a horror movie watching girl, more of a girl who would knock a boy to the ground to show him she liked him. I think I used to throw rocks at boys and then run away screaming “I LIKE YOU!” Pretty sad when you’re 11 and you realize how you have to pretend not getting a flower doesn’t hurt like hell, that you’re above that touchy-feely shit and that little piece of you that glows red hot with so many emotions is practically yelling WOULD SOMEONE SHOW ME THEY LIKE ME BY GIVING ME A STINKY FLOWER?
You think boys are cruel now? Kids, boys and girls, have always had nasty sides to them. I seemed to grow up with a few that loved to pick off a scab and then wiggle a dirty finger coated in shit into the wound. Girls would gather in groups by the skating rink concession stand and the boys would be in their own group by the arcade games. The popular boys would pick a girl they knew had a crush on them and they would face the girl down like it was some Western gunfight and the boy would do something that to this day I think is one of the meanest tricks I’ve ever seen. The boy would mouth words every 11 year old girl wanted to hear: I love you.
Wonderful squeals of anguished joy until the boy rolled over and said “I don’t love you. Don’t you know if you mouth ‘elephant juice’ it looks like you’re saying I love you?”
Go ahead. Try it. I’ll wait.
What. The. Fuck.
So this cheap fifth grade field trip is coming to an end. I hadn’t couple skated with anyone. They lower the lights on Couple Only skate probably so the lonely kids can have a good cry in the dark. Brian Gay Boy, who had been my boyfriend for two weeks months ago, was playing the field, buying flowers left and right. I wasn’t into him any more. He was a whore. He wasn’t a playa but more like someone who would probably get herpes as a senior in high school.
Somebody handed me a red carnation and for a split second, the time it takes walking into a dark room and flicking a switch to flood the room with light I thought the flower was from another boy I liked, one who loved horror movies as much as I did, a boy who went as Freddy Krueger at Halloween. But nope. I was his Mary Stuart Masterson in Some Kind of Wonderful except she was mega adorable and got Eric Stotlz at the end. Someone said “Hey, that flower is from Andreas.” And I did something that still makes me cringe to this day. I threw the flower in the garbage. Right in front of Andreas. You expect that kind of mean shit from a stone cold fox and not someone who spent weekends watching Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween movies (even though Halloween 3 really had nothing to do with any of the Halloween movies) and listening to Iron Maiden’s Wasted Years over and over again.
I never apologized to Andreas Hemingway. I have apologized in my head over the years, trying to explain my shitty actions.
I don’t know if you’re still out there, Andreas Hemingway. I don’t even know if you’re still alive. I hope you went on to buy more flowers for kind girls. Or kind boys. You didn’t deserve someone trampling on your sweet gesture. If you read this somehow and somewhere, take comfort in the fact that I never did get love right, never understood it the way it should be understood.
And I slept with a guy who ate Taco Bell before we had sex and then farted afterward.
I guess we’re even.