Tuesday, June 08, 2004

SATMAC 6: Arrival

After eating some breakfast and another phone call, we headed out, fortified with coffee and eggs and toast (how you run out of bacon in a restaurant is a mystery to me), but little in the way of directions.

I knew the girl wasn't in school on an astronaut scholarship, but I was nonplussed when (once I reminded her who I was) she couldn't tell me how to get to her place from where we were. After all was said and done, the apartment and the restaurant were about four miles apart.

Ann Arbor is NOT a big town, or at least it wasn't 12 years ago. It did have the one major problem of big university cities I've run into elsewhere: a fascist parking system. Once we finally found the place, I noticed that there were signs posted everywhere, detailing where various vehicles could and could not park. If you were a visitor, we soon found, you were fucked. You were fucked, specifically, because even visitors had to have a sticker or a card or a mirror dangly thing that clearly identified you as a visitor. Unregistered people simply Were Not Allowed in Ann Arbor. Well, OK, they were allowed, but they weren't allowed to STOP anywhere outside of a commercial area that was designed to feed you, gas you up, and get yer ass on the road to Detroit.

After the sun had been up for a couple of hours, I said screw it and parked illegally, in an area I hoped wasn't frequented by people in golf carts with radios connected to tow trucks. The signs promised all sorts of grimness to whosoever was foolish enough to flout the laws of the parking czar. I was scared, but I was also ready to kill Shea, who'd been about as helpful as a bleeding ulcer since chasing his coffee with a spliff out in the parking lot. I also felt that showing up on Sean's doorstep sans brother would probably negate any advantage I might have gained from importing a hundred lot of LSD.

I parked. We got out, and found the apartment. I knocked on the door, and was greeted by my pen pal...my blonde, innocent, violet eyed beauty...who was now in the neighborhood of 200 pounds, red headed, and of a mean disposition.

That's not to say she was mean to ME, necessarily. She was just unhappy, and had been unhappy for some time. She wore too much makeup (to bed), and her mouth was only able to produce the falsest of smiles. Her hair was badly dyed, her nails were chewed, and her voice, which I remember being so nice, was raucous and unpleasant.

Of course, I didn't get all this immediately. What I remember was the shock of seeing her at nearly twice her previous size, and a general dismay at what her life had become. At twenty, or maybe even nineteen, she was cynical and bitter. All the component bits of her radical new personality were not brought into sharp relief, until I laid eyes on her roommate.

In a few short minutes, I realized that my situation was a sticky one. Melanie (the violet eyed sorority harpy) had turned into everything I hated about people and society, yet she was sharing a bedroom with Melissa (the dazzling flash of moonlight off of lake water, that leaves you forever wondering if anything could really be so bright and so pure), who appeared to represent everything humanity could be.

See how radically life changes for me? When I haven't slept in a day or so, and am worn to a nub in all ways, most especially emotionally?

Over the next two days, I grew to feel both pity and impatience for Melanie. She was smart enough to see that her way of talking and dealing with the world (or the world as she'd seen it since arriving at college) wasn't in the least appealing to me...yet at the same time, neither was mine to her. That said, I was still "her boy," at least as far as the other members of the household were concerned, so I was most likely going to be off limits to Melissa unless something weird worked its way loose.

These days, I would have seen the situation and resigned myself to a cold, lonely futon. Back then, I was saddened, but convinced I could win my way through to at least one furtive but earth shattering kiss from Melissa.

This conviction was transformed into an overwhelming imperative when I saw Shea ogling her.


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