How It Could Have Happened

“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.

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WELCOME TO HELL

3 comments

  1. Reflector · October 24

    How it could have happened:

    My first high school girlfriend/ first kiss etc could have been the first girl I ever had a crush on. She was the prettiest girl in our grade and arguably our school and while there were a lot of good looking girls in class, at that tender age I was already coming to realise that most girls don’t resonate with you. But she did. That nervous, jumpy feeling whenever I summoned up the courage to talk to her. Those dark eyes I would get lost in. The way I would sit at home on weekends , listening to music and randomly thinking of her. The day-dreams in which I discovered she actually felt the same way about me as I did about her. And all I had to do was to ask- we would date for weeks/ months. She would be my first kiss and it would (to this day) be unforgettable. But then she would break up with me out of the blue and soon enough have moved on and I would be crushed. But at least I would know that I should back myself with any girl I fancied because who knew- she could be my next girlfriend and the fun would start again.

    How it really happened:

    I missed all the signs. When I finally summoned up the courage to admit I liked her, I discovered she was keen on me too but I didn’t have the balls to ask her out. I hung her out to dry. I let her down. Soon enough she started dating somebody else- a guy in the grade below ours! Then she left our school at the end of the year and I barely saw her again. It would be 15 long years until I finally forgave myself for being a coward.

    “You never know just what you’ve lost
    Until it’s yours and then it’s dust
    But you remain and never rust.
    I’m standing
    Standing on the street
    Of early sorrows”

  2. Thomas Franche · 29 Days Ago

    I turned 41 this year too. Except my situation is somewhat different.

  3. Pingback: Word from the Dark Side – Cemetery Gates, sexy syringes, South Stasiland, stone the emus and stooge the censors | SovietMen

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