Marie failed to meet my expectations. It wasn’t well planned or articulated but I announced it was time we split up. It was Christmas Eve and the guys were back from college, and I was probably depressed and not worth being around; my dad gave her a ride home and I said goodbye, have a nice Christmas, and when we got back dad slammed the car door on my hand and it looked bent, like cartoon fingers, like Tom & Jerry, and then John Fisher came by in his Rabbit and picked me up and we went back to his house and started in around the bar in his basement.
Chris Judd had a mustache but it wasn’t a real mustache, it was just hair that had always been there since he was a kid and now he was putting on airs, like it was more than just hair.
He had a vial of something I couldn’t spell or pronounce but it was for snorting, it was the same chemical they put in photo copy machines he said and because it was the ’80s photo copiers were still mysterious, but it felt like handfuls of brain being torn out like weeds when we huffed it, and then someone knocked it over and all the liquid spilled out on the bar so we just leaned in breathing up the fumes, so as not to waste it.
John Fisher’s basement was decked out like a man cave before they were known as that with a ping pong table, dart board, Christmas lights and a centerfold tacked up behind the bar, perfect.
Marie and I had been together two or three years but went off to different parts of the state after we graduated high school and still tried to make a go of it, but both probably went a bit nuts right when we started freshman year. You could sense it in the cafeteria with everyone just looking at each other, thinking about sex. There was a girl I was acting with, my scene partner, and she pretty much said if you break up with Marie, I’m yours. And when I got back from Christmas break we didn’t waste any time.
She said she was on the Pill but she wasn’t and I got lucky because she just wanted to get married, there was some small town Erie PA thing going on with her, and big hair, and our theater director Steve, who gave me a ride to visit Marie once in college and then left his girlfriend and wound up marrying my scene partner years later (she said she got Lupus after I broke up with her but I think she was lying about that too, the same as the Pill).
I had gone down to Philadelphia to surprise Marie but her sorority sisters acted funny, acted like they felt sorry for me for some reason, one of them was kind of cute too, and afterwards Steve told me in the long car ride back that maybe Marie was with someone else now and just “surprising her” wasn’t such a good idea.
Steve also lied about my scene partner: he said she had Chlamydia so I got tested for it and it came back Negative. And then I realized he’d just said that to freak me out, thinking I wouldn’t want to sleep with her but he was wrong.
And then my scene partner and I went to Binghamton, New York to compete for the State level theater thing, and Marie and I were back together for some reason and I guess that night she drove up from Philadelphia to surprise me, but when she got there and saw some drunk person in the hallway in our hotel she asked if they knew where Bill Gibbard was and they said yeah, he’s in that room down there with Tina.
And Tina and I were just messing around, we weren’t even doing much: she had a boyfriend named Bill too and thought that was funny, here she was fooling around with a different Bill, and then many years later when I moved out to Seattle my now wife Dawn said she knew Tina, Tina and her husband Bill had opened a coffee shop in Seattle, one of the first ones where you could rent Internet time, but then it burned down. And I saw Tina somewhere and remarked about that time we had in Binghamton once, but she didn’t look the same as she did then.
We didn’t have much beer to speak of and it was getting late, in John Fisher’s parent’s basement. Someone got the idea we should drive by Marie’s house and yell disparaging things out the car window so we did: and it was so quiet on her little residential street, all the houses lined up, but late enough the Christmas lights were out, and in there, in that house I lost my virginity I pictured Marie’s dad stirring in his bed to the sound of us outside and I felt embarrassed for myself, and John dropped me off at my parent’s and I started getting the feeling back in my hand, I wondered if it was broke.