Quiet moments with Mary.

Mary was a quiet girl. The consensus of the high school yearbook committee was that she deserved the title of Most Shy. It wasn’t strange to find her all those years later working at the organic supermarket. 

Oh heeeey!” – Forging a friendship that never existed from a handful of caught glances (well, stares) during one class of one semester in senior year.

“Oh hiiii”. She doesn’t know my name. I should wear a name tag in public.

”You look good.” Take the compliment and run with it.

“Thanks, you look great too. So how long have you worked here?”

I should already walk away. I would have walked away on a normal day. It was probably those beers during lunch break that are giving me courage. Social lubricant, libations to loosen up.

So you cut the cheese?” Literally. Dozens of cheeses to choose from.  Double cheddar at your disposal wheels of whey cheese at your whim. “Yeahh” – she gets that a lot. I’m okay though, we had a high school philosophy class together.

I want to see Mary again.  I think I’m starting to crush on cheese girl.  Organic food market working cheese girl you went to high school with.

These shy awkward quiet people, or at least my perception of people being as such, is also the false perception of that I hold of myself.  The rude, obnoxious self that appears to the exterior world does not flourish in my rich internal life, believe it or not.  Our (mine and Mary’s) worlds collided again, coincidentally.  To my eager heart – fatefully – at a party in the basement of a guesthouse in my hometown.

Downstairs in this guesthouse the party was split into several cliques. My unreliable memory recalls people standing over there, playing beer pong over here, sitting on couches in front of me, and the group crowded around the dehumidifer thinking it’s a fan although it’s making everyone’s clothing increasingly damp.

The restroom is upstairs.  The oxygen is also upstairs and outside, and everyone has to pass by the bedrooms upstairs to breathe that sweet oxygen, and the ever-sweeter cigarettes.

It was late in the evening, and by late evening I had reacquainted myself with Mary. Smiled at her for a little too long, likely open-mouthed. Broken the ice with another pound of limburgher cheese jokes. I found myself hanging out with two people from high school who aren’t my friends now – and probably weren’t my friends then – in the bedroom up the stairs.

Then Mary walked in.  I was starting to believe the Farrelly Brothers, that there might be something about her.  She smiled at all of us, eyes landing on me, and since I’d been playing all my cards correctly waiting to be granted this opportunity of a casual social encounter with this attractive young woman, it felt like her smile lingered on me, welcomed me, beckoned me, let me know that it was probably all right to talk to her in a dark corner.

To rub her shoulders. To put my hands around her waist. To hold her face. To smell her hair. To tap on her teeth. To clean the back of her throat with my tongue. So I did what to this day still baffles me, and no matter how many times I’ve gone back in time and told myself what not to do, the 21-year-old Me is absolutely confident that he knows what women want and that he does everything Right. I leered at her and began tickling her at the waist, then pulled her onto the bed with me.
She immediately wrestled away, looked at me with scorn while pulling the edges of her dress back down. I’ll never forget the look on her face. Every woman I’ve ever advanced on has given me precisely the same look. Where she looks like she’s been dunked in a tank brimming with the HIV+ bodily fluids of transients and she needs to bathe in sulfuric acid and bleach.

Fuck you, Mary.

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