a required taste for the pretentious as all get out





sorry, but i'm gonna have to pass
September 29, 2002, 9:47 pm

I was driving home from Towson and I popped in a new mix cd that Will so graciously let me burn in his apartment. As I skipped through some songs, a hollow feeling emcompassed my stomach.

Out of the 20 songs on the cd, 7 were songs that were on the mix tape. "The" mix tape was the only good thing that came out of my relationship with the one that cannot be categorized. He's not the one that got away, he's not one that I've forgotten, he's not any other boy I've mentioned. He's just He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named because if I were to name him, we'd both be in trouble. So, I just refer to him as Voldemort.

I met Voldemort in Mayish of 1998; I was a troubled teen in the aftermath of a messy breakup that had left my heart looking roughly like a squirrel across two lanes of 97 South. He gave me confidence and giggles amidst the worst pangs of loneliness. He met me at Borders. He was charming, well-read, and cute. He was a writer. He was knowledgable about a lot of things I wanted to know more about. He had grey-green eyes. He wanted to take me to dinner.

Voldemort was also involved with someone else.

So, he and I carried on with what we referred to as our "mad affair." He introduced me to Harry Potter, the Beautiful South, and Billy Wilder. He visited me in my dorm room. He grabbed my butt when we kissed and laughed as I swatted his hand away.

We'd meet for afternoon make-out sessions in his office. There was something sordid and smarmy about the blinds that were always a crack open to catch anyone walking back in; there was always a set excuse if anyone were to show up (I was dropping off files for the next script; I was returning an edited copy of his script for so and so); as the relationship developed, so did my excuses about where I was and who I was with.

No one knew about him. My various groups of friends didn't know. His friends didn't know.

He would casually drop by the movie theatre where I worked during the summer and saunter in for free. He'd bring her sometimes, too. I didn't feel awkward or jealous; I didn't feel anything. I didn't care. Then it started to bother me that I didn't care. It bothered me that he didn't care, either.

He made me the tape two months after we met. Elvis Costello, the Beautiful South, Paul Westerberg, Beck, the Coasters, Sheryl Crow, Liz Phair, Tom Waits, the Replacements...all of his favorites.

"Our" two songs were "Born for Me" by Paul Westerberg ("I put this on here for the one line that might be appropriate for you and I: 'I'm the one to talk; you're the one that's free.' Oops.") and "Sorry, but I'm Going to Have to Pass" by the Coasters ("Don't worry; I'm clearly not the guy in the song!") I didn't listen to the tape for two years.

I finally listened to it. And listened. And listened. I broke the tape because I listened to it too many times. I swooned over Westerberg's drug-addled voice. We were still "together" every few months. An "on" and "off" type of thing that heated up when one of us was feeling dour. I met his dog (any wonder why I want a Bichon-Frise?). I went to his new house that he shared with her. I fawned over his perfect Pier One furniture.

I watched "Sex and the City" for the first time moments after I first fucked him in his jersey cotton yellow sheets. It was "Easy Come; Easy Go"--the episode where Carrie cheats on Aidan with Mr. Big for the first time. I felt violated by the irony and ashamed that I was connecting so deeply with a shallow show.

I went to Paris. I thought about him the whole time. I went to London and feverishly checked my email every day for a message. I went to grad school and wised up.

I didn't call or email.

He didn't either.

Every so often, I imagine him fumbling with the buttons on my shirt or pressing me up against a bookshelf. I hear the Coasters or watch L.A. Confidential ("'You look better than Veronica Lake'" he'd say, and I'd laugh because we both knew it wasn't true) and how our "mad affair" ended so quietly. I get angry that I squandered my contumacious phase on something so delicate and so wrong.

I wonder why he haunts me still if he didn't mean anything to me.

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