Hero Takes a Fall

Occasionally I like to rewrite history to make myself look better, flicking away the unsavory bits like unwanted toast crumbs and inserting small fabrications to gloss over less appealing portions of my life. I look back now at several chunks of time where my behavior could have been better and wince at some of the more glaring injustices and slights. Upon closer inspection, freshman year in college sticks out as one of the worst offenders.
While it’s true that the first real taste of freedom that kids experience in a wave of hedonism that year usually marks their passing over the threshold into imagined adulthood, mine was blighted by my inability to make good decisions and to tell the truth in the wake of massive mistakes.
I wanted both the security of my steadfast, trustworthy (albeit clingy) high school boyfriend and the excitement of all the new male attention that every girl inevitably gets her freshman year on campus. For kicks, I had begun amassing a small but impressive collection of wounded ex-jocks looking for the serotonin fix of the female ego stroke now that the glory days had ended. Is there anyone more ripe for the picking than the failed athlete? I’d spend all night out drinking with these guys and then would act positively scandalized that my high school boyfriend would call repeatedly to track down my whereabouts and then eventually show up unexpectedly in the middle of the night hiding behind shrubbery while tracking my moves with infrared spy equipment. “Don’t you trust me!?” I’d shriek in my best wounded sparrow voice and then I’d stomp off all indignant leaving everyone bewildered in the dust.
These fellas didn’t mind the head games, they were really only looking for one thing but part of my plan was to perfect the art of the tease and leave them scratching their heads. Didn’t the jocks always get the girl? Not so in this case. There was the wrestler that had gained too much weight and couldn’t compete, the hoop’s star that had stopped growing (now dwarfed by the 6’9 guys on the team), the hockey player recovering from a head injury and my all time favorite the tall blond quarterback still smarting over the lost college football scholarship that had evaporated when he destroyed his knee. He was so incredibly fun to look at that I was able to overlook the mounting evidence that he could have in fact been the stupidest person on earth. How he had reached college in the first place was a complete mystery to me as he clearly did not have a fully functioning brain. Perhaps it was the distraction of having to mentally re-live the fateful play that blew out his knee and ruined his chance of going pro that took up all his brain cells time and effort but he couldn’t seem to put thoughts into words and then use the words to make simple sentences that others would understand. This resulted in questions like “Why do all feet smell like vanilla cake mix?” after having removed his shoes for observation and having taken a deep whiff of the insides. This prompted me to ask what brand he was using since I knew for certain Duncan Heinz didn’t emit that kind of odor.
After about a week it couldn’t have been more apparent that my attempts to keep and communicate with this person were futile. I didn’t understand his customs or speak his tongue and found myself one day with the perfect opportunity to end it all.
We were sitting on his tiger-striped blanket in his dorm room one afternoon as he explained to me why tanning beds were better for your skin than the real sun, and I stopped him mid sentence to tell him we needed to talk. After my forty minute speech that covered the numerous compelling reasons we should never be together, I gave him my parting gift. I lied and told him the heart of the matter was he was too good looking and in demand for me. I knew I would be consumed by jealousy and rage so overwhelming that I would probably cease to function for small periods of time, therefore a clean break was better for all involved. The sheer magnitude of his greatness threatened to destroy us all. Shaking his head in agreement he smiled, gave me a big kiss and sent me on my way. The cheerleader he hooked up with an hour later confirmed that I had been correct.
I breathed my first real sigh of relief in two weeks on my way back to my dorm room before picking up the phone to say hello to my boyfriend and making a solemn promise never to stray again. I think we all know how that turned out.


1 Comment

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One response to “Hero Takes a Fall

  1. Tom G.

    Oh my god. Why couldn’t my girlfriends have been so accommodating to my ego when they dumped me? You are too nice. Really. Even for someone cheating on your clingy boyfriend. Not that I ever did such things… http://20prospect.wordpress.com/2010/09/17/divine-retribution/

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