Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November's Best Holiday

It's Salsa Rio Dorito day! So far, this may be the best Salsa Rio Dorito Day ever, and it's only 2 p.m. I'm on vacation, but fortunately I wrote something last week to post now.

My desert island, all time, top five most memorable break-ups, in chronological order:


The first names are real. I know Nick Hornby used last names too, but in this age of social networking, I obviously can't do that. Like in "High Fidelity," the early ones stick out. Sure, I've been involved with girls whose names I don't even remember for well longer than the four and a half days or so that I knew Katie, but I didn't meet them at an out of town amusement park over the summer between 8th and 9th grades.

I'm not here to talk about this top five. It's most likely inaccurate anyway. I'm here to talk about number one on the list - Liz. Like in Hornby, some kernel of every relationship I've had since then can be found in the first one .

Liz was a pretty, tall brunette who was in a couple of my seventh grade classes. I would have noticed her earlier, if not for the fact that 7th grade is pretty much the biggest clusterfuck of ongoing awe and bewilderment in life outside of infancy. Lockers? Class breaks? Wait, we have to shower in gym class now? Holy fuck, are there cheerleaders here? Are those breasts? Note to self - stop wearing sweat pants to class. 7th grade is an acid trip. Dude, it's a tree! Fuckin' A!

In 7th grade, I was first exposed to the concept of the school dance. I had no idea how to handle myself, of course. I worked up my "game" slowly, danced with friend girls, danced with non-threatening girls. Then I danced with Liz. She was a head taller than me, but she didn't seem to think that I was a total spaz. I danced with her again. I liked her. She was cool, and I liked talking to her. In between dances, I couldn't of course, because I was indeed a total spaz.

After the dance, in health class, she passed me a note. It was folded up in one of those ways that girls know how to fold. She wrote a paragraph or so. She asked my last name and phone number. It was pretty much the single greatest moment of my life up until that point until I realized that I would have to write a note back.

Liz and I exchanged notes regularly for the next month or so, though almost never actually spoke in person. Eventually, I felt like I had to up the ante. She wrote me a two page note about some dude asking her out, and how she didn't like him, and how she didn't think I liked her. This had to be a sign. She definitely like me, right?

I didn't have her number, because it never occurred to me to ask for it, so I looked it up in the phone book. I unplugged my phone and repeatedly practice-dialed. Eventually, I built up my nerve enough to plug in my phone and make the call.

Me: Is Liz there?

Liz: This is Liz.

Me: Oh hey. This is Jaehak, from school.

Liz: Oh, hey!

Me: Um, will you go with me? (note, in that particular year and in that particular postal code, the common vernacular for dating was "go with," rather than the more standard "go out with." By 8th grade, "go with" was eradicated from everybody's vocabulary.)

Liz: Um, okay, yeah...

Me: Oh, um, cool. Bye.

Thus ended my first ever call with a girl. I thought it would be all sunshine and roses after that. It was November 13, and I had a girlfriend. I literally leapt into the air and cheered once the call ended. I'd spent the last couple years focused on getting a girlfriend. Now that I had one, I had no clue how to, y'know, have a girlfriend.

For the next couple of weeks at school, we basically never spoke. What was there to talk about? Plus, I was too busy talking to my friends and acquaintances about how I had a girlfriend.

Liz was in a play. She had a bit part. I went, of course. Afterword, I saw Liz and said "you were really good," but in the lamest, shyest voice you could imagine. I called her for the second time that night, to say "you were really good."

A few days later, disaster struck. After gym class, in the locker room, Brad Hauber told me that he had heard Liz broke up with me. Poppycock, said I. Oh, and I swear I wasn't born in 1953. All of this note passing and school dance and locker room shit really happened.

I was dumbfounded. Despite the fact that I never spoke to Liz in class or in the hall or on the phone and that we almost never exchanged notes anymore, I was positive that our relationship was on solid ground. Why was Brad Hauber running his mouth in the locker room? And why did people that I trusted seem to believe him? Clearly, a third call was in order.

On November 30th, I called Liz up to find out what the hell was going on. I wouldn't take no for an answer. I was going to get to the bottom of this. Only a firm answer would let me sleep. We were together, or we weren't. Hopefully we were. Either way, it was time to put all the rumors to rest, to lay down the law, to prove the Brad Haubers of the world wrong.

Me: Hello, is Liz there?

Liz: This is Liz.

Me: Oh, um, hey, this is Jaehak.

Liz: Oh, hi.

Me: Um, so what's going on?

Liz: I dunno.

Me: I mean, like, are we still going together?

Liz: I dunno.

Me: ...

Liz: But don't listen to Brad Hauber.

Me: Yeah.

Liz: He's a liar.

Me: Yeah.

Liz: ...

Me: I have to go.

And there it was. In no uncertain terms. We may have still been going out. She didn't know. That was enough for me. I knew I was punching above my weight (and in 7th grade, that was literal, since I was 4'11 and 97 pounds). I didn't want to rock the boat. I still didn't necessarily not have a girlfriend. I went downstairs and ate some Salsa Rio Doritos, felling good about life, and Salsa Rio Dorito Day was born.

For 7 weeks, it went on like this. Neither of us knew if we were still going out.

There was the eventual hard out, of course.

At the January school dance, Liz avoided me all night. I suddenly had the gumption to chat, but she wouldn't. Instead, she danced with my buddy Daniel once to tell him to tell me that she was officially breaking up with me. In case I didn't get the message, she also danced with my buddy Shane to give him the same message to give to me.

Rough first breakup? Yeah.

It could have been worse tough. At least she didn't dance with Brad Hauber.

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