It was then a year after the monkey in the math book, somewhere around halfway through junior year. I had gone through a string of bad pseudo-relationships, and was depressed at my complete inability to attract any among the population of the fairer sex. I moved when I shouldn’t have, but worse, I was afraid to move when intuitive was called for instead. The dance baffled and befuddled me. I was hopeless.
I had recently endured a particularly damaging attack on my own self-esteem. Leave it to say that girls of a certain age can be lacking in empathy what they are more than blessed with in beauty and grace. Perhaps that isn’t enough to say. I had fallen for a girl who made me feel special, only to find out a few days later, I was just being used to make her old boyfriend jealous. Give it six more months and this same girl got the drop on me again, same story, but with a different guy, and on my birthday, no less. It was a devastating ordeal at that age, but as I understand, not all too uncommon. I weathered the storm admirably though, by retreating into my room as the mighty hermit crab.
Tangentially speaking, I’m willing to venture that most people remember that one person they just wanted so badly, but that tore them to pieces, instead. I think that we as a society worry too much about the cruelty visited upon each other in war and poverty. I think if we really wanted to avoid unnecessary suffering we should just outlaw teenagers from dating, but if that were the case, this story might not have happened, along with so many other beautiful stories as well.
Returning then to my story, I spent about a month mulling over my loserdom, listening to an endless cycle of The Calling’s CD, Camino Palmero. You might remember them for their one hit Wherever You Will Go, which somehow still plays from time to time, serving as the never ending reminder of misbegotten misadventures and misfortunes of an ill spent youth. It also serves as a reminder of mercifully unanswered prayers, at least for me, anyway. Safe to say, that entire album exists as the soundtrack to one of those months every soul goes through at some point or another in isolation, alone in their room. Either way, the ordeal made me certainly reevaluate the meaning of beauty, though I wasn’t aware that such a thing had happened at the time.
Eventually, I left the cave and was able to put it out of my thoughts, for the most part anyway.
It was around that time that I started looking around and noticed a certain girl. I had noticed her before and she entered my thoughts from time to time, now for a while. I had actually been thinking about her before the whole thing with this other girl, but then that happened. You’d think by this point I would have learned my lesson and focused on living the virtuous life of the ascetic monk, freeing myself from the worldly burdens of the feminine form. I know that religious zealotry and purity of mind and spirit were supposed to be the thing with those monks. I honestly think most of them just had a very hard time with women. That said, I wasn’t either. To be honest, I’m not a particularly wise person. I don’t profess to be a quick learner and often need to have things repeated to me. I was open to another mistake.
This other girl was quiet. I mean she was seriously quiet. She never said a word. Literally, in the three years I had known her, loosely speaking, she had spoken all of maybe five words aloud, to me or to anyone else as far as I had seen. You probably know the girl I am talking about. Not even after a rather odd encounter we had endured two years earlier in an art class did she ever have anything to say that I could hear. She always just sat quietly by herself, with her head down in a book or off somewhere else entirely, there in body, but in mind somewhere else altogether much, much more distant. She was cute, though, and I was seventeen so that was the only real qualifier. I really didn't plan anything with her, I just looked over and thought there was something different about her. She was still mesmerizing in her mystery. Something about the look she had that just seemed like she was someone you could really trust.
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I Drew a Monkey in a Math Book and Now I'm MarriedNon-Fiction
***Ranked #4 in Non-fiction - "It's a thing of beautiful nonsense to be young." ***Featured original non-fiction for Pivot TV's Secret Lives of Americans. I Drew a Monkey in a Math Book and Now I'm Married is the true story of how I met my wife Jenn...