About four years ago, I was coming out of a long, serious relationship. I had also quit my high-fallutin’ magazine job because I hated it. I got rid of my car because I couldn’t afford it. And I moved into my parents’ basement because I didn’t have anywhere else to go. This might seem like a fairly normal thing for a person of a certain age — say 22, but I was 32. And I suddenly felt that my life was one big, messy do-over.
Luckily, my bestie got me a waitressing job at the hotel where she was a manager. Suddenly free of all my adult responsibilities, I was transported back to a time when I had nothing to do all day except lay out at the pool, and nothing to do all night except hang out with my friends and crash on their couches. It was a full-blown renaissance of my teenage years. I allowed myself to become totally immersed in it. If I was going to have a fucking mid-life crisis, then I was going to do it right.
So I guess it makes sense that I developed a crush on a tiny dude. I mean, not a dwarf, but a pretty small dude. With the delicate features of Brandon Walsh and the aloofness of Dylan McKay. Definitely with smaller hips than me. Smaller hands. Smaller feet. I think we were about the same height. Just like junior high.
He also worked at the hotel, so I crafted elaborate plans to casually bump into him in the storage room. I loitered near the place where he was often seen smoking a cigarette before his shift, gazing meaningfully into the parking lot.
One day, I timed this perfectly and we ended up chatting for a few minutes. It was just like being 16 again — I felt nervous and fluttery, as we shot the shit about the weather or our plans for the night. Then, as the conversation started to lag, I threw out one of those lame questions that people use to get to know each other.
“So, if you could have any super power, what would it be?”
No response. Oh my god. Such a stupid question. Ugh, he must think I am SO LAME. He isn’t saying anything. He’s just looking sort of blankly at me. This. Is. The. Worst.
Then, finally, after a really long time, I started to think maybe I should just tell him I had to get back to work. I was about to say this, when he replied:
“I would drink as much as I want to without passing out.”
(I told this story to my friend Brian, whose response was, “Maybe that guy’s superpower should be thinking of things faster.”)
You know that sound when you’re pinching the hole of a balloon together and then you let it go and the balloon goes flying all around the room with like a ssssssshhhhhhwwwwweeeeeeooooouuuummm sound? Yeah, it was like that.
I was suddenly snapped back to the reality that I learned the first time I was a lovestruck 16-year-old: Too-cool-for-school pretty boys with smoldering looks and quiet intensity are just bundles of goofy awkwardness wrapped up in high cheekbones and overstyled sideburns. It was over. Crush. Canceled.
A few months later, I got a real job at a magazine again. I moved into a great apartment, and I began to rebuild my life. So, what did I gain from my summer of ’92 in the summer of 2008? I learned that sometimes you can go back again, knowing everything you know now. But you really don’t want to.
And, btw, lest I give the impression that I am a mature adult who learns from her mistakes and uses her experiences to become a more fully-actualized human being, I still TOTALLY made out with that guy. And had several more awkward interactions with him, culminating in one of the most surreal moments of my dating life, when he creepily lurked near my group of friends, mouthing all the words to “Shoop” by Salt N Pepa. Crush. CANCELLED!
Chicken Soup for the Cougar’s Soul—Dudes are from Mars, Cougs are from Venus