Tuesday, September 28, 2010

When the Truth Doesn't Matter... Kinda

Lazy Eye - Silversun Pickups (mp3)
Hazy Shade of Winter - Simon + Garfunkel (mp3)

My very first real honest-to-God girlfriend was a senior when I was a junior. She was a stud. She was built like an efficient brick shithouse, played soccer like a champ, and loved Van Halen, Dan Fogelberg, Indiana Jones and Jesus. “Carrie” was also salutatorian at the very large public school where my mother taught. She was socially clueless enough to find me attractive and interesting. One in a million, I tell ya.

We courted for three wonderful months. We dated for six. In the summer before my senior year, I broke up with Carrie. The reasons were lame but valid. And they were punctuated with this minor, insignificant detail that I'd spent two weeks at Governor's School romancing and eventually falling for a semi-psychotic but incredibly adventurous drama queen, someone who was in all ways the complete opposite of Carrie.

Carrie was back in Chattanooga writing me three to four letters each week, drawing little cartoons and cutting out ransom notes and writing bad limericks. I never wrote her once.

I broke up with Carrie the week I got back home, but it took two months of follow-up talks to settle the matter. She never could understand why I was breaking up, and I kept leaving out that little detail about Leigh. But Leigh and I had broken up before Carrie had finally accepted we were over, so I kinda had the chance to make up with her and never did.

I really had no desire to go back. In part because I was scum for lying to her so utterly and repeatedly... and in part because this girl, a very conservative and mature Christian, was simply too good for me.

Yeah so I'm defensive about it. Whatevs.

Cue the fast-moving clock. Move forward in time. Speed past our drifting apart once I get to college and become all but unreachable by family and friends from back home. Soar past our Christmas holiday dinner non-date when I'm a senior and we're awkward and both single but not feeling that thing that would transform a polite dinner into something more intense. Slip past the time we ran into one another on AOL and I tell her I'm engaged and will be married in three months and she immediately disconnects and never answers another email.

It's now the summer of 2010. I'm at a local dive watching the World Cup with my fellow blogger and 100 or so of my closest non-friends. I'm drinking a Bud Light Chelada for shits and giggles, my own form of Mad Men-esque rebellion of imbibing during the workday. (Don’t worry; it was just one freakin’ Chelada.)
Bob introduces me to a lawyer who works in the firm with his wife. Guy went to Red Bank. My mom taught him. He knew my ex-girlfriend. Small world yada yada. And then he says it.

"So weird about Carrie, right?"
"Weird what?" I say. 'Cuz I have no idea what he's talking about.
"I just can't believe she's gay. Never pictured her playing for the other team, you know?"

My reaction to all information I can't quite handle is very similar. If someone says the N-word in my presence, or if someone insults my mother's fidelity, or if someone says my Christian ex-girlfriend is gay, I just shrug and fake-chuckle and turn away and take another drink and try to pretend it didn't happen. It is the reaction of a non-confrontational coward, and I haven't been very good at doing anything about it.

Was it true? Is/was Carrie gay?

That night, when I was hopping around on Facebook, I searched for her name and found it. She was still living and working in Atlanta, but all other information was blocked from snooping eyes. So I sent her a long message. It updated her about my life, my family, my job, my hobbies. Everything someone who was happy not having anything to do with me for 20 years would be fine never knowing. God bless Facebook.

She never responded. Can't say I really expected her to.

So why does this stick in my craw? I don't really care if she's gay. Seriously, if she's married, or if she's celibate and uninterested in relationships, or if she's gay and dating Jane Lynch, none of it changes the way my heart reacts to her or my memories of her. If she's who she is, and if she's happy, then it's a good thing, and I would like knowing it.

Human nature. The Billy version is definitely screwed up. I want Carrie to be happy, but I also want to know I was written into her history book. But is my pathetic ego-trip enough to explain my desire to reconnect and find out?

Maybe I've convinced myself that if she was gay that I could absolve myself of messing around with another girl* while we were dating. I could excuse my unconscionable act with the faulty logic that I must've known something wasn't quite right with Carrie, something I just didn't understand in my clueless youth, and my straying was simply the product of a sixth-sense in my subconsciousness.

* “Messing around” isn’t code for kinky sex. “Messing around” wasn’t even petting. “Messing around” was strictly limited to kissing and groping over clothing. I never actually got my hands under the clothing covering female erogenous zones until one month before my wife got pregnant for the first time. OK, that’s exaggerated, but I was definitely in college.


Daisy said...

Why is it automatically assumed that every smart, athletic, succesful, unmarried female over the age of 30 is a lesbian?

Billy said...

I don't assume it at all. It just seems like a valid possibility. The story of one's conservative religious beliefs masking or delaying one's ability to admit to homosexuality isn't particularly unique or new, so were it true, she would be in a large boat of people who worried for a long time that Jesus was going to stone her if she accepted who she was.

But if it's just one more erroneous rumor that's not true, that's fine with me as well. And this is more likely the case. The nosy part of me just kinda wants to know either way....

Daisy said...

I didn't mean to imply that you made the assumption, but rather that the guy in the bar did. I'm totally with you on the just wanting to know!

troutking said...

You're in good company. George Costanza also turns 'em gay.

BeckEye said...

I hope she's not dating Jane Lynch, because she just got married.

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