Ugh…him. Yeah, 'hipster' doesn't even begin to describe this prototypical, self-loathing, depression whipped, blogging jackass with an overinflated ego and over stylized sense of his own acerbic wit. He thrived on journalistic integrity, snarky remarks, and words like 'esoteric' and 'panache'. He was unabashedly overly concerned with the state of his music collection- both under and above ground- and the pretense of bloggers and tweeters that weren't as generically but conceitedly motivated as him to share their deeply perceptive and ridiculously shallow but original thoughts on popular- but more importantly- unpopular culture, celebrity, and media. He wanted to be cracked.com's Dan O'Brian, and lord help me, if we was, we would already be married.
He was one of my theatre-friend's old roommates, and I ran into him outside of the communications building in the spring of my Junior year, when I was publicist for an original multimedia show Bradley Theatre was doing in collaboration with the Interactive Media department, and it was giving me panic attacks every day. I was in the middle of one such attack when I spotted the flannel-sporting, scraggily beard wearing sack of pale, pudgy condescension sitting on a bench, smoking parliaments and gazing at me through his typical black framed square glasses. I remembered he did something or other with the Scout, our school's newspaper that almost no one I knew bothered to read past the blotter. I asked him if he'd do a story on the show as soon as was humanly possible. He said sure. We chatted for a little bit about Tom Waits apparently, (I didn't recall this detail, but he sure did), and it ended up being a relatively decent conversation. My panic attack subsided, and I invited him to a party at our apartment that weekend.
It was to be the Breaking the post-spring break blues party, at which I would end up hooking up with Mark again. Jackson had fallen asleep early due to a situation involving too much booze, weed, and possibly shrooms, and did not attend this party.
But he made sure to stop by the next one. This one was the pot-cookie party. The one I threw for Andy (The guy I had thrown the 4th of July party with- the reason I met Jake…) Jackson showed up and we ended up in a long winded overly emotional debate about Wes Anderson's Life Aquatic. This movie gives me flashbacks to Hippie Ryan. We were watching it during our first kiss, and in my opinion, it was abominable. It's one of Jackson's favorite movies of all time. Yeah, there was some arguing. Which turned into bickering, which somehow- I'm still not really quite sure how- turned into some light flirting. Which turned into drunk/stoned flirting.
Not my proudest moment.
Jackson is 5'10", with- as I described earlier- a bit of pudge, a dark scraggily beard, black frame glasses, and is constantly covered in some flannel button down or threadless t-shirt, jeans that are awkwardly too big on him and black or brown chuck taylors. These jeans are never worn with a belt; so don't ask him to bend over, ever, unless you really have a thing for plumbers.
But where normally you might experience some pity for a depressed, self-loathing, but ever so talented hipster with voice and snarky commentary to share with the world via the newest foundations in the humblest corners of the blogasphere, you fall short with Jackson. Because as much as he hates himself, he also thinks he's better than everyone else. His every argument shattering any potential pity you might rouse up for his dilapidated lifestyle of parliaments snuffed out in his bedroom, beer cans emptied before 7 pm on a daily basis, and an ex girlfriend turned on by humiliation- because every word he has to share is dripping in condescension and disdain. I don't know where this trashy, snooty tool from Springfield, IL got it in his quickly balding, greasy head that his opinions should matter to the world more than anyone else's, but he's quick to share this information with you regardless, even though I'm certain you never asked.
You may wonder to yourself why I agreed to date this guy in the first place. To put it simply, he had a crush on me, which- before I knew how arrogant he actually was and could still rustle up at least an ounce of pity for him- was endearing and sweet. We could discuss meaningless, obscure pop culture references on end, and he made me feel less self conscious because I knew while dating him that even if I gained a couple pounds or went a few days without showering, I was still leaps and bounds out of his league. He'd never dump me. I think he might have fallen in love with me.
He came to my birthday party unsure of what to do or say now that there was this obvious possible thing brewing between us. I liked flirting with him in front of everyone, because seeing the puzzled looks on everyone's faces was charming. They all saw me flirting with him, seeing how much he wanted me and how much I enjoyed being wanted while being too good for him. It made me seem whimsical and un-shallow and interesting. It made this marine named Jake incredibly turned on seeing me dangle a steak in front of a helpless man, that way. So turned on that he asked for a 'tour' of my 3 bedroom apartment. When we got to the back stairwell, he closed the door, grabbed my waist and proceeded to shove his tongue down my throat. I made an excuse to get out of there stat and busted my way back into civilization. Maybe I was too good for Jackson, but I knew he would never do that to me. I'd take self-loathing conversationalist to horny, pig-headed marine douche-bag any day.
Jackson was one of the few, the proud that remained at the apartment until after-hours. Jeremy was one of the few others. He was blackout drunk, again, not dissimilar to that Halloween night when we met. He was texting me even after he left asking if I wanted him to stay the night. I should think the answer would have been obvious. Apparently while Jackson was smoking on the balcony (those nasty frickin parliaments….so old-man-gross) Jeremy came out and started telling him how much he still liked me and wanted me back and how sexy I looked in my skin tight royal blue dress courtesy of the slut section of Charlotte Rousse. Apparently, he also informed Jackson of my superior skills in bed. I found this amusing, because the One time we slept together, I did not make use of any of my skills. I kind of just laid there for 5 minutes waiting for him to finish. I'm sure I was thinking about the show I was stage managing at the time…
But Jackson was not deterred by this. He made it to the very end, watching Election alone with me till 6 am. He had an assignment for the Scout the next day for 10:00 am that he woke up late for. And I'll never forget the last 50 seconds of that night with him:
"So…Ariel…um…do you want me to like…kiss you?"
"Oh. Um…I don't know…I hadn't really thought about it..."
"Okay. See Ya'."
And he just vanished. No time for me to answer or process anything. We had been cuddling on the couch for the whole movie, and that's usually when the kiss happens. You know the scene- his arm around you, you nestled into his chest, your head between his neck and shoulder, you peer up at him through your eyelashes and smile, maybe bite your bottom lip, he looks down at you, smiles, leans in, pauses, smiles again, and goes for gold… then you have your first kiss. Maybe you make out. Maybe his hand wanders. Maybe you end up in bed with him shortly thereafter…
Or maybe that never happens at all, you finish watching your movie, and he vanishes at the first inkling of rejection outside your door.
So you leave for home the next day with your roommate, and text him. Tell him you are interested.
And the two of you start a relationship via text/telephone chatting for the summer.
There were so many things about Jackson that I liked. But too many 'ifs'. As in: if he hadn't had a history of depression. If he hadn't been an alcoholic. If he hadn't been a smoker. If he hadn't tried cocain ever. If he hadn't been an often-smoker-of-weed. If he hadn't been condescendingly socially awkward. If he hadn't shown his ass crack to anyone standing behind him bent over or crouched down because of his refusal to wear a belt, and sometimes underwear. If he hadn't been balding. If he hadn't been flabby and a little overweight- we'll call it pudgy. If he hadn't had greasy hair slicked back and over-grown. If he hadn't had an untrimmed scraggily beard most of the time. If he hadn't gotten his first kiss when he was 18 or 19 I think… If, if, if. But alas, all of these things were true. It just wasn't meant to be.
But really, obviously, none of these guys I'm writing about were 'meant to be'. Is there such a thing as 'meant to be?' I mean, is it real? Where can I find it? I guess everything that happens is 'meant to be' because…well… it is. But are two people really meant to be together? Like, the word 'meant' implies that there are two people born into life and existence for the sole purpose of finding that other person to be with. I mean, that's what that phrase means. It's what it directly translates to. You and one other person were made- specifically designed by genetics or G-d or some other such thing- to be partners in life. This world has 7 billion people in it. How are you supposed to find that one other person? Where do you start looking? Most people, it seems, find it in college these days, or online. I didn't find it in college, and am having no luck online. I doubt it'll happen at a bar or club... and I'm not really the type to approach attractive strangers at the park. I just can't help but go to bed some nights wondering Where the fuck is this guy?
But this is neither here nor there.
As a matter of what turned out to be of little consequence, for the summer of 2011, Jackson was in Peoria. And bored out of his mind.
I drove down one weekend- really for one night- just to go on one date with him. I made what should be a 3 hr & 15 minute drive in 2 & a half. Cause I'm good like that. I get there, and we go for a walk around campus that lasts about 3 hours. We talk, laugh, reference, judge, invent, and converse while strolling and bench-sitting. When we get up from the bench, without pausing the conversation or saying a word, he just grabs my hand. This small gesture speaks volumes.
It says: "We're together enough that this is a thing, and I want people that see us to know it."
I don't know if I'm quite ready for that step, but it's a nice change of pace from slutdom.
Then we go over to this friend of mine's apartment because her boyfriend had dumped her about an hour before I unexpectedly showed up in town, and like and idiot, I told her I'd come over that night.
I call this girl "Crazy Lizzie" because she is Girl Crazy, by definition.
Here is the definition of Girl Crazy:
A girl is in a situation where there are multiple possible outcomes, all of which are unfavorable. Usually these types of situations involve boys. So the girl invents a fact, or detail, or situation that she with also invent other details to support. She will then dwell on and rationalize this fictional event to the point where it becomes a part of her reality. She will insist upon this fictitious realm and become quite angry when others (mainly the boy) do not succumb to it. Because it is now part of her reality, and she is now mad at you for the thing you didn't actually do but she now has all of this possibly legitimate evidence to support it. Basically, she's angry at you for no reason, you have nothing you can say to deter her anger, calling her crazy is the worst thing you can do, and she somehow holds all the power. This, my friends, is girl crazy. Don't be this girl. This girl plays mind games for fun, manipulates and mentally tortures poor men out of sheer boredom and ability. Guys are attracted to this girl at first because she is pure energy- seeming fun, interesting, and the weird crazy energy part just might translate to something kind of awesome between the sheets. And it usually does. Until that 3rd or 4th date…or maybe that 5th or 6th month…or maybe a year down the line…either way, the crazy comes out. And it makes men Run. Believe me, I've seen it. And I've slept with them afterwards.
So Jackson and I go over to Crazy Lizzie's apartment, and between the maniacal laughing and uncontrollable sobbing, we watch Bravo's Chopped and an old Christmas episode of SNL- one of the good ones with Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Jackson's favorite of all time: Phil Hartman.
For obvious reasons, I develop what I think will be the funniest prank ever.
I turn to Jackson, look him directly in the eyes, and completely seriously:
"I'm related to Phil Hartman"
The look of shock, grave disappointment, and utter betrayal on that pale, pimply, scraggily face was undeniably the most satisfying thing I've probably ever seen. I like to prank, play, and tease. That's what kind of girlfriend I am. Instead of sticking a secret note in my husband's lunch box telling him I love him and miss him and shit, I'd rather stick a wax piece of fruit in there. So when he bites down on it in the middle of his day, he'll frown, pull it out of his mouth, examine it, look up and to the left or right, realize that it was Me! Look back down, smirk with a little shake of his head, maybe a tiny amused grunt or snort, and start planning his revenge.
Jackson was sullied, and I didn't even need to laugh. It was too satisfying to laugh.
There was also this guy there- Lizzie's friend, Creton, which is a terrible name, who got a little too over-excited about coincidences. Like really dumb ones. Like when he quoted Princess Bride and I got the quote, he went to high five me so exuberantly. "Yeah, that's right! Great movie! So awesome you got that! Oh, man I can't believe you got that!"
Yeah, bro. It's only a movie that has affected generations and become every little girl's fantasy. It's only a pop-culture landmark in literature and film and one of the highest rated g-fairytales of all time. What a coincidence that you and I and everyone else in this room have seen it. Fucktard.
After the social experiment gone horribly wrong, Jackson and I left Lizzie's and headed across the sidewalk to his apartment where we watched Adventureland and kept almost making out, but not quite. I always had the intention of staying the night with him, but kind of knew that sex just wasn't in the cards. Once we got to his bedroom, and sat down on his bed, and he turned out the lights, and I said:
"You're having a Jesse Eisenberg moment, aren't you?"
He finally got up the stones to kiss me. The beard didn't get in the way as much as I thought it would, but the making out was still…only adequate. He was shaking though. It was pretty clear that he hadn't been in a situation like this with a girl he really liked for a very long time. He would pull away from me, look me up and down, and say "You're damn cute". It was sweet. It was endearing. It was… not making me horny, though. I slept in the same bed, cuddled for a bit, and we chatted in the morning. Then I drove home. It was a nice first date. I was kind of okay with calling us an official couple, but I don't put that shit on facebook anymore.
In a joking attempt at hipsterdom, I suggested that with his spare time, he should take to solving some sort of caper. So, he wrote on sticky notes with some tragically bad serial-killer-esque handwriting and posted them in various parts around his apartment and street, detailing the kidnapping of his roommate by the notorious cheeseheads. It was quite involved. He sent me pictures of the sticky notes, mostly while I was in Columbus, OH for the weekend visiting my best friend of 12 years, Val. She actually met her 'The Thing' that weekend, but has very little recollection due to absurd amounts of PBR intake and scotch. That was 4th of July weekend, but they didn't end up getting together until around November…I think… Either way…lucky her.
By this time, Jackson and I were talking for hours on the phone every other night. Good conversations too. He was counting down the days for me to come and visit again. Consequently, I wasn't making this second summer trip back down for the sole purpose of visiting my 'boyfriend'…a word that really never felt right when I said it aloud to describe Jackson… the trip down was to move my bedroom from my beloved 3rd floor El Paco, to the floor below it, due to damages from an unkempt building. (But really, I'm pretty sure it's ghosts. That building was haunted.) After extensive water damage, mold, and sporadic partial black-outs, our roof started caving in- with giant cracks in the ceiling exposing cracked wood, and chunks of plaster falling in various places around the living room and Mary's bedroom. We had to move downstairs, and I was in luck to have a semi-strong boyfriend type guy to help my parents and I move. After they got a good view of that plumber shot I told you about earlier for about 3 hours, they took off for the hotel leaving me alone with Prometheus, probably wondering to themselves "what on Earth is she thinking?" Believe me, I was wondering the same thing.
One of the funniest parts of that move, though, was when my Dad and Jackson were moving my desk. In the right hand lower drawer, there lived only one object. My dirty, never-cleaned piece. My bowl. That Tyler gave me. For my sheltered suburban readers, it is a small, glass instrument used to contain and smoke weed. It was originally Tyler's sister Mollie's, then she gave it to him, and after we broke up, he gave it to me as a reminder of how much I'd gone through and gotten over to be able to finally smoke. Until Tyler, I had always associated weed with Jon, and therefore despised it. After finally getting over the 'trauma' and experiencing it for myself, even though it is not my favorite activity and is not something I partake in regularly by any means, I do enjoy it every once in a while. I do not encourage or discourage smoking on any of Your parts, but that's my experience with it.
Anyway, when Jackson went to pick up that side of the desk- that wreaked, by the way- the drawer slid open, and upon seeing its contents and making some quick judgments about my conservative Jewish parents, he immediately slammed it shut and did his best to hide it. Of course, as they began to carry it down the stairs, I remembered what was in that drawer, but with the desk all turned around, opened it without thinking, and then also slammed it shut. I'm sure my Dad saw, and I have no idea if he cared or not. Jackson just looked at me and shook his head. I appreciated the gesture.
After moving, Jackson and I spent another night together at his place. I really wanted to sleep in my own bed in my new room where I had rearranged the furniture and set everything up all nice and pretty. It even smelled better than upstairs. But Jackson did not smell better than upstairs. And I did not want him to stink up my newly moved, re-made bed and have another Michael Question Mark situation on my hands. That smell of disappointment still hung in the stale air for me. Back at his place we watched the Social Network, and some episodes of Party Down and the only slightly underrated British sitcom IT Tech Support. We debated Life Aquatic a bit, made out some, and went to bed. No funny business. No spark either. I left the next morning with my parents only to head back to p-town in a somewhat unexpected panic a few weeks later.
That summer I was working two unpaid internships trying to further my idealistic career managing non profit arts organizations. I was working in development for an extremely well respected and prestigious regional theatre in the north shore, and working in special events, development, and overall organizational communications for an art center also in the north shore. Or, at least, that's what it says on my resume. Really, I was running around the north shore, driving through rush hour traffic, scanning files, setting up parties for rich people, reading grants, quickly learning how non-profit arts organizations are the easiest way to do enough work to want to shave your retinas with a Schick razor blade and retire early, but make absolutely no money to guarantee that you can really never retire. There was a point in time where between the theatre and the art center, I worked 26 days straight with no day off- no break- but had a blast, somehow. And learned a ton. And then I got a call from the Bradley Theatre department whom I'd had a love-hate-but-mostly-hate relationship with in the past 3 years. They were the reason I was all set to graduate a semester early from school. Their stage manager for the musical had dropped out last minute and I was the only one qualified to take the job. I had worked auditions and callbacks in the spring, and was already planning on coming back early to be assistant to the director. What's a little bit more copying, emailing, and note-taking? Right? Oh, it's no problem. Stage managing the musical is just a little bit like selling your soul to Satan in exchange for sleepless nights due to stress, sitting alone in a haunted theatre till 2 am writing rehearsal reports, daily schedules, and responding to a never-ending stream of frustrating emails from the over sensitive whiney babies that are theatre artists and also, in this case, my professors. Where Jackson was concerned was that suddenly, while I was coming back to Bradley early, instead of having all this free time to spend with him, I now wouldn't have time for anything- least of all a boyfriend. But that didn't stop me from trying.
I spent every free minute I could muster with Jackson that first week. I'd eat with him between morning and evening rehearsals- after I had done all my other work at the Theatre and had answered all the questions that had come flying at me for that short span of time. He'd pick me up after rehearsals that sometimes went until 11:30 pm, drive me home, sit with me and listen to me rant and yell and go crazy, kiss me, hold me, and stay the night. In the mornings, he'd stare while I'd unabashedly change in front of him, get ready for rehearsal, and he'd drive me to the theatre. He was actually a great boyfriend. An ideal boyfriend. But there was one, small, miniscule, almost irrelevant problem except for the fact that it was a huge fucking issue for me.
The two times we had tried to have sex, for some inexplicable reason, he couldn't get all 4 ½ inches of everything he had to offer up. It liked my boobs and my ass a lot, but it was like it was scared of my vagina. Like upon seeing my naked pussy, it just shriveled up like a guilty raison and retracted. Jackson was humiliated both times. The second time was a lot worse, though. I mean, the first time, we just chalked it up to nerves and it was cool. The second time was just a fucked up annoyance and frustration. Let's be real, at that point I just wanted to be fucked. The show was stressful, my grandfather was dying, and I had a freakin' boyfriend, so why the fuck not? Once I saw what I was missing, though, I really wasn't all that disappointed that I had missed on the experience of having that tiny thing wiggling around hopelessly inside me. It was actually probably better this way. This disappointment of him not being able to get it up was probably far more tolerable than the disappointment having sex with that child-size thing would have been. Jackson probably would have been like Jon, James, or Jeremy all over again.
Note to self: Stay away from J-names.
Other than the sex issue, I had just gotten really sick of him, and didn't want to be around him anymore. He complained about people he didn't know and things I didn't care about. He was annoying, pretentious, condescending, and wasn't even cute enough for me to allow that behavior to be acceptable. This was after one week.
I dumped him on a Wednesday. That took a lot for me, because I really hate confrontation. But he was sweet- heartbroken, yes, but still sweet- and said he'd be okay with just being friends. The next day, my Grandfather (Papa) passed away. He had been sick with cancer for the last year, and it wasn't a surprise. The night after that, after I had arranged my plans with the theatre department and with my family to go home for a few days to sit shiva and attend the funeral service, I was feeling lonely. But I didn't want Jackson. I just wanted comfort. Then Darion (the guy I had made out with at the America Live! Cast party) booty-called/texted me.
Jackson cont./Shady Diesel Brian-Guy/Darion Pt II:
How and why I cheated- but please hear me out before you stone me to death.
Do they still do stonings these days?
I slept with Darion.
For the record, as I said earlier, it's true what they say about black men.
While Jackson should have been my number 10, it was Darion, instead.
I went home that Sunday to be with my family, and I was confused, slutty, bereaved, and contemplating everything about my chosen career path and love life. The death of a loved one always makes you reevaluate your life and choices. I called Jackson while I was home, seeking a different kind of comfort that I knew Darion wouldn't have been able to (or have wanted to) give me. I told him I missed him. This wasn't a lie, but it was a different way of missing him than the way he clearly had missed me. He wanted to get back together. But he had also never wanted to break up in the first place. I still wasn't really attracted to him, and still didn't really have time for a boyfriend. I suggested we postpone the conversation until we could meet up in person when I got back to Bradley.
Upon returning to school on that first Wednesday of classes, Jackson and I met up and talked. He wanted me back, but I wasn't sure. I also chose to leave out the detail of how I had slept with someone else two days after our original break up.
"I don't know…I mean…could we maybe…just…you know…be friends?"
"No, fuck that. I've done that, it's fucking hard and it sucks. We're either dating or we're nothing."
Those were his exact words. He gave me a fucking ultimatum, I kid you not.
I picked dating. We kissed. He drove away. I was left standing there alone and incredibly confused and frustrated with him and my decision.
The next night, my friend Kai took me out to Diesel. I was still annoyed with Jackson, confused about how I felt about what I barely considered to be a 'relationship', mourning the loss of my grandpa, and stressed about the show. I got drunk, and got hit on by a relatively attractive psychology major from ICC named Brian. We had been throwing glances towards each other most of the night, and upon losing Kai (and my roommate, Mary who I had randomly bumped into there and decided would be a helpful person to go home with) I found Brian. I was leaning on the pool table that- while many people have had very nearly almost sex on, I doubt an actual game of pool has ever been played on that thing- and he was standing at the bar across from me. He smiled.
"Hi, I'm Ariel. Are you gay?" I drunkenly asked. It was a gay club, after all.
"Hi, I'm Brian. No, I'm not gay. You have a nice ass."
"Thanks. I'm drunk and can't find my friends."
I couldn't have sounded any more stereotypical and retarded if I had been trying. Which I hadn't been at all. I was wearing a low cut, well fitted black lacy tank top and jean shorts that fit my perfectly sculpted ass like a glove, and wedges from payless to show off my legs and make me a somewhat slightly more agreeable and average height.
"That's okay," Brian added, "I'll take you out back. Maybe your friends are back there."
My friends were not back there. Instead, Brian found a wooden post to lean against while he groped me and shoved his tongue down my throat. I grabbed his hand and led him back through the club to the front entrance where I called Mary and found out she and some friends had already started walking back to campus, but weren't too far away. She heard how drunk and helpless I was, and doubled back to come get me.
I met her half way, still with Brian in tow. When she got to me, I turned to him, kissed him, and politely declined his ever so kind offer to walk me all the way home or take me back to his place. I may have cheated on Jackson by making out with the dude, but I was not going to cheat on him by having sex with someone else…well…not that night anyway. Cheating has always been the worst kind of offense to me. I let Mary walk me home and be the hero that she doesn't always realize that she truly is.
The next day I hung out with Jackson and couldn't wait for him to leave. All was not well in this toxic thing that we were forcing to be some twisted stupid relationship.
The night after that Darion booty texted me again. We met up. We went back to my apartment and watched Black Swan, a movie that always makes me horny (because of that crazy Mila Kunis/Natalie Portman lezzy wet dream scene, obviously). Darion and I started making out. I was straddling him on our futon in the living room while both my roommates slept soundly, and Jackson probably tossed and turned in St james about a half mile away. Darion carried me to my bedroom, removed my dress and his shirt & pants, and we had sex again. I came and orgasmed and knew how wrong it was. But I did it anyway. When we were finished, he started to take his earrings out. (I believe the proper term is 'ice')
"Um…hey…what are you doing with taking those out?"
"Oh…they're just kinda uncomfortable to sleep in…"
"Oh. Okay. So…you were gonna sleep here…you think?"
"Um…yeah…I mean…I just figured…I mean…if that's cool. If you don't want me to, I can just…"
"No, it's fine. I mean…I just have to be up really early tomorrow. For a theatre thing…"
(tomorrow was a Sunday. It was bullshit. He must've known it.)
"Oh yeah? How early?"
"Like, 6:30 am."
"Yeah, I know…it's ridiculous…but oh well…those shows aren't gonna build themselves, you know?"
"Yeah. Well…I mean…it's like 3 am already now…so if you're only gonna sleep for 3 hours…I guess I'll just-"
"Leave? Yeah, probably a good idea. You should get like, real sleep. I'll text you."
"Okay. That's cool."