Thursday, June 09, 2005

A new story about scene girls (or at least the girls who watched my high school band play)

Sitting here at Brewed Awakenings has reminded me of an incident I hadn’t thought about in quite some time. One of the baristas here is a girl who went to Horizon High School with the rest of the guys in my band. She was a regular at our shows, probably not least of all because she wanted to marry our bass player. Actually, there was a fairly large group of girls from their school who came out to support us. (And yet, I was never able to capitalize on this and get a girlfriend. Ah, the myth of the Rock Star.) We played one show—one of our last local shows—at the church where we practiced. After the show we went to our drummer’s house for a bon fire and some good teenage flirting. It was here that Michal, the barista who never married our bass player, asked if I could give her a ride home.

Several things should be noted at this point in the story: the first is that the retelling of this is probably being affected by the fact that I keep looking up and noticing how cute she is. The second thing to be noted is that she wasn’t flirting with me. Despite the utter rejection from him, Michal was quite committed our bass player. The last thing to be noted—that is, until I remember some other things that need to be said—is that Michal and I had a history of sorts. Before the break-up of her family we lived in the same mobile home park. Her older brother and I were not friends. In fact, the closest thing to a fight I ever found myself in was with her brother. While playing football in the street like I always did, her brother had passed through the edge of our game on roller-blades. Our quarterback didn’t appreciate the interruption to our game, and threw the ball at him, knocking him off his feet and to the curb. Since I was the youngest of the players Michal’s brother chose me as the focus of his retaliation. But my status as the youngest player didn’t correspond to a size advantage for him. As it was I was not only taller and fatter than he was, but stronger as well. His push did nothing to me, but since he was still on his roller-blades it served to knock him off his feet and this time down to the street.

With this sort of history—that of her family viewing me as some kind of nemesis, perhaps even an arch one—it was a nice gesture of her to entrust herself to me and to my 1980 Buick Skylark, especially in what was becoming an increasingly wet night.

The beginning of our ride was not noteworthy except in its lack of unsettling awkwardness. Even now, as someone who can converse fairly confidently and comfortably with anyone, I seem to find myself in awkward situations when alone with girls. In high school I was much less confident and much more introverted. All that to say this: the lack of awkwardness in our silence was an unexpected and welcome companion. We drove along like this for seven and a half minutes or so, just riding and not feeling pressured to force conversation, watching the driving rain. And at the eight-minute mark, watching the flashing lights pull up behind us as we were pulled over.

One last note is needed at this time. My Camel Brown Buick Skylark used to shimmy. I enjoyed it, and thought it was cool to have my car dancing to my music as I drove. But most of my friends entered my car with trepidation, consumed with a fear akin to that of a woman who once followed me home to tell me that my right rear tire was about to come off. Because of these fears I decided to get my car fixed. But in doing so the mechanic had to disconnect the speedometer. Unfortunately he had forgotten to reconnect it, and I had been remiss in getting it connected myself. Instead I had been driving at whatever speed felt right, generally going with the flow of traffic.

Due to the rain there was a genuine lack of traffic, and hence a lack of flow by which to judge my speed. The officer pulled me over because, as it turned out, I was driving about 65 in a posted 50 zone, in an old car, in the pouring rain. The nice feel of comfortable silence was at this point overtaken by the awkward kind. I had never been pulled over, and now the first time I was actually taking a girl somewhere—even if it was home—I was being pulled over. All the baggage of me as nemesis that Michal had overcome to ask me for a ride came pouring back onto the carousel of her mind. Not only was I an enemy, I was irresponsible and endangering her safety.

I explained my reason for speeding to the officer, which was basically that I didn’t know I was speeding. He took my license, at which time he realized that he worked with my dad and that I was most likely telling the truth. I didn’t get a ticket, just a warning and a reminder that I really needed to get my speedometer fixed. My response was one of genuine thanks for letting me know how fast I was going. And for ruining my self-esteem in front of a girl.

I forgot to thank him audibly for the second part, and for absolutely ruining the last six and three-quarters minutes of our ride. As we continued on our way there were several nervous attempts at conversation, but her responses were all thickly veiled attacks on my misogynist character. Endangering the life of a high school girl! Forcing her to endure the shame of being seen with a speeder! She pretended to be nice as I dropped her off at home. Just like she pretended to be nice when she poured my coffee today. I suppose right now is my chance at redemption. I could apologize, ask her to let me make it up to her by taking her out some time—did I mention how cute she looks right now? —for lunch or dinner or a movie.

Or coffee.

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