“You may not know this, but I want you to know, that I am a lonesome heart!
I wouldn’t pay more than ten dollars to see a woman naked. Even the forbidden fruit; co-workers with tight fitted clothing- club wear by a prior generation’s standards; large breasts with a deliberate, heavy-on-the-heels stride. Bouncing breasts so socially advantageous that the gait may as well be evolutionarily adopted; built into the blood; the spider’s web, the siren’s song; captivating and deadly. Yet, even so, I would draw the line at ten dollars. I turned forty-one this year.
Something I couldn’t have understood at sixteen, when the idea of bursting into the girls locker room on a whim, hoping to see something- anything– occasionally made sense. Lisa Marie, long black hair and heavy make-up like she’s cosplaying The Craft (1996) in a brazier- a surreal image so far from my lived experience that it may as well have been part of a fantasy novel; Gandalf the Grey slaying dragons- all behind the forbidden locker room door. Twenty-five steps to Narnia, if you dare.
The shoulder strap to her bra still haunts you. Visible when angled just right, in your desk, during third period Earth Science; long stretches of trial and error; weeks to perfect the formula- precise coordinates etched into your brain like you found the North Star with your backyard telescope.
You know it’s black. Probably lace. A tiny pink bow in the center, between cups, would be ideal. Forced locker room entry seemed to be the only way to confirm these suspicions- within the first fifteen minutes of her gym period but smartly allowing five minutes pass; allowing for perfunctory greetings and polite chit chat, before she casually unbuttons her white blouse… Yes, there would be collateral damage. Consequences. I could be arrested. Probably expelled. Still, a cost/benefit analysis was to be done and re-done. A ten dollar offer would have been an easy no-brainer… but, can I do a thousand? Well, let me see if I could raise the funds…
A defining experience in the life of Kurt Cobain was being bullied. Cobain was not one of the attractive, popular kids- the kind who would later buy his albums; the kind he would forever scorn, taking shots at every opportunity- with songs like “Mr. Moustache,” the liner notes to Incesticide (1992), at the very start of their unplugged show…
Cobain was ridiculed for being a virgin in high school. With rage, he hatched a scheme to seduce a cognitively disabled girl in his neighborhood whom he assumed would be an easy lay; a quick one-and-done. Cobain got to her place and nervously pitched his plan like a pre-revenue Shark Tank (2009) contestant and the girl must’ve thought it was her lucky day… which freaked Cobain out- we never want the ones who’ll have us- and he bolted.
At an inflection point- desperate and aching- with acute pain so sharp it could cut glass, Cobain goes down to his local Cheap John’s and walks out with a slab of oak tag and pack of Crayola’s to clumsily draw-up an attraction sign… advertising his admirable qualities while letting the world know he’s on the hunt for a sweetheart; a boyfriend-free girl his own age; white and preferably a non-smoker. Cobain would take this sign to a local shopping mall, taping it to the wall behind him at a snack bar, and spend the day enjoying free soft drink refills.
That’s how it could have happened.
But here’s what really happened: The rage Kurt Cobain felt over his sexual inadequacy manifested as an animating spirit driving him to artistic success. He had innate ability but needed his back against the wall- act now or you’ll never have sex. Play guitar; form a rock band. Write those fucking songs; verse chorus verse. Make it catchy. Sign that record deal. Make that video. Without these things, you’ll die a virgin- so what is it?
With my back against the wall- running on fumes of grit and moxie- I overcame my underdeveloped social skills and asked Lisa Marie to the senior prom; an inflection point, serving as a lesson in risk and reward; cost and benefit; a loose framework that I would model all proceeding decisions upon. A magical night- an enchantment under the sea– where we slow danced to “Earth Angel” and had our first kiss at midnight. Made love in the backseat of the drive-in, with the late-night spook show running in the background and tossed empties into the ocean at dawn. Dated through college, where we gradually grew apart and separated amibically. I wished her well.
That’s how it could have happened.
But here’s what really happened: Lisa Marie would’ve had to have written the words FUCKING TALK TO ME in blood on my locker for me to get the hint. The only kids with blue-black stained fingertips, listening to The Misfits on dollar store headphones, it would’ve made sense to anyone else but I didn’t buy it for the same reason men pay average looking girls for nudes on OnlyFans- it’s only true if you believe it; only women are able to die on the hill of Mordor, thinking a sagging Sally Field snagging James Bond is within the realm of the possible- and why not?
Why not? What Chris Chan must have thought every single time- this could be the one; this could be real; why not? Inexplicable confidence- while you were busy asking questions; wasting time talking her out of liking you- in your own head, in a thousand hypothetical situations- wondering why instead of why not?
She didn’t have a reason to like you and high school was the last time she wouldn’t need one- something that could only be understood in retrospect. Self-doubt was only cast aside by the bold or naïve; those who will inherit the Earth. Anyone else will spend a decade kicking themselves, trying to play catch-up, until they finally get old enough that even the fiery pit of regret runs cold. I turned forty-one this year.
Support KTP through my Amazon link