“And I used to be strong, I used to be tough, and she used to be pretty, but now she’s just pretty fucked up.”
She told me that she never likes the ones who call her pretty. A mistake made in earnest, a fleeting desire for something real- not acting out a teenage role-play with an aging woman over cheap drinks. When the fantasy is all that’s left, the impulse is to get lost in it. You want to forget that you’re an arm above the water and your legs are giving out.
You want this to be what it isn’t- it’s been too long, and you’re too far from the shore. You want to pretend that you’ve lucked out and the prom queen agreed to a Saturday night at the drive-in. That isn’t what this is, and you know it, but it’s more satisfying to spend time pretending rather than going through the motions where you say the right words at the right times, like you’re punching in a Nintendo code, to skip to the end and pump rockets into Mother Brain.
Better get out before the whole thing explodes.
She doesn’t want you to think she’s pretty. That’s not part of her fantasy and her fantasy is all that matters. This is your first date, and you’re a sucker if you let her think you like her. She wants to feel your contempt. She wants to think you were busy with a girl ten years younger the night before and that she’d be lucky to suck your dick. She wants to work for it. She wants someone who hates her. This was your shot and you blew it.
This is what you get for being single at forty. Meaning dies the further you get from your teenage years until you’re whisked off into the middle of the ocean to drown. Middle-aged women read books about being brave while starting inspirational Instagram pages- men learn the right words to say, in the right order, to get to the end of the game. If you’re looking for meaning in any of this, you lose.
Teenage love is only real for you to stick around long enough to make sure the girl you knocked up isn’t eaten by bears. It’s evolutionary. You’re a tool for the survival of your people, and you’re dropped like a rock when you’re too old to be useful. You’re the walking dead- a vampire- and if you dare look for meaning you’ll be starved out of existence. Only the savvy get laid here, bucko, so get with the program or learn to go hungry.
A genuine moment of breathless eye-contact feels like a lifetime ago. Now everything has the sheen of production. You know exactly how long to wait before looking away, the right pauses to take, how to use your breath- you’re ten times sexier, but even the moments that you want to come off as genuine are only performative. Once you sell your integrity, it’s gone for good.
The rock band reunion is a misnomer. Their legacy is cemented in time- anything else is something new and different. The reunion matters less– people get old, things get muddled. Why even bother? You can’t capture the innocence of the original- the moment that hung in the air like an eternal sunrise- you can only exploit it. You take what you’ve learned about women and use it to fuck them. That’s the game, Vlad. You’ve become a cannibal in a world where you either learn the rules of the dead or sit on your hands thinking you’re pious. Guess what, no one cares.
You had your shot at a story and you blew it. In another time, in another life, you’d have that two-car garage. Where are the kids now, kung-fu soccer? She keeps her phone face down because she spends her nights reconnecting with friends from high school on Facebook. Don’t worry, Kevin’s married now too, but she doesn’t want you to get the wrong idea. You had your shot at a story and you blew it. You’re not Scott Weiland, you’re Jeff Gutt. The real singer O.D.’d and you’re just the replacement, so shut up and sing “Plush.”
Pretty like an aging Barbie doll, is what you tell her. You’ve realized your misstep and all you’ve got left is a hail mary neg, but the damage has been done. You called her pretty and now you’re not going to fuck her. This will bother you for the rest of your life- you’ll lie in bed, jacking off to the idea. Because you couldn’t fuck her, she’s ten times hotter than any girl you’ve ever fucked, and you’ll be chasing that ghost forever.
You’re Dave Mustaine and what could have been will always matter more than what was. Nothing you have will ever compare to the ones who got away. You can’t tolerate hearing “no.” You have inexplicable confidence. You’re incredibly entitled. You think everyone should be kissing your ass.
Even if you have a sold out club with people chanting your name, you spot the one guy in the “Delicious Tacos” t-shirt and have security kick him out- Tacos is playing the hockey arena down the street, buddy. “Better to reign in hell,” is what you tell yourself to justify your fragile ego. Say no to me and it’s a lifetime of masturbation, dream girl- hope you can deal with that.
She’ll never know, and she’ll never think of you again because you called her pretty instead of making her feel like shit.