This morning I was thinking about eyelashes. And heartbreak.
Specifically how every break-up hurt less than the one before. The first one I felt with my whole being. I’m not exaggerating. You think you’ve been heartbroken? You’ve never lost your eyelashes over it, have you? Never had to wear fake eyelashes to school just to stop the crazy-eyed stares of your teachers, am I right? That’s the kind of heartbreak I’m talking about. The kind of heartbreak that shuts down your whole body, leaves those eyelashes for dead. The kind of heartbreak that leads to a squeal of tires on ice, a fire hydrant knocked clear off its base, and two crazed girls speeding away from the scene of an accident suspiciously close to a certain someone’s house (and let me be clear: nothing was close to his house). The kind of heartbreak that ends in a $1300 fine for said fire hydrant. The kind of heartbreak you just don’t forget, though it’ll be 12 years this February. (The kind of heartbreak where you actually know things like “it’ll be 12 years this February.”)
Hands-down, he was the hottest boy in school, a good-looking senior who played blues guitar and sang and drove his dad’s cast-off Infiniti (it had leather seats. this was very important to me). My friends and I — crush was not the word. We were obsessed. We talked about him constantly, found any excuse to be in the same building as him (just the building was enough, mind you). Rumor had it that his girlfriend, who was one year older and had graduated the previous May from our arts high school’s dance program, was a stripper.
And get this — the rumor was true. It was so grown-up and scandalous and hot. Did I mention he played blues guitar and sang and drove a car with leather seats? The good lord above could not have created better heartbreak bait for the schmoopy, barely-been-kissed virgin I was. (Seriously, listen. Now you wanna sleep with him too, yes?)
To my knowledge he didn’t know my name so the scenarios I feverishly dreamed up every night seemed in no danger of coming true. But then in early February my friends told me they’d heard he and the strippergirlfriend (no way to disassociate those terms) broke up. And I don’t remember how the next part happened exactly (which is strange because I remember everything else in excruciating, embarrassing detail) but — he asked me out.
M_ _ _ C _ _ _ _ _ ASKED ME OUT.
(I still think of him as First Name, Last Name, as we all do for the people in high school who really, truly touched and/or tortured us. And after nearly 12 years that sentence, “M_ _ _ C _ _ _ _ _ ASKED ME OUT,” still sounds just as preposterous and, I hate to admit it, kinda amazing.)
Obviously I said yes. Obviously my friends were super-jealous (obviously that made it even sweeter). And our first date was actually fun. We got along. We kissed. That was really fun. Two weeks later, after more dates (the Rolling Stones!) and more kissing, it was Valentine’s Day. I gave him a volume of Shakespeare’s love sonnets (WHO GIVES A BOY LOVE SONNETS AFTER TWO WEEKS? this asshole right here that’s who). We went out for sushi. I wore — and here’s the excruciating, embarrassing detail — a hot pink cheetah-print sheer tank top over a matching bra with a postage stamp miniskirt. Let me remind you: this was February. In Minnesota. I looked like a frozen tramp. I WAS a frozen tramp. A trampsicle.
And like any good trampsicle, I had sex with him that night. My first time. In his beautiful home which he told me was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, a tidbit (“I lost my virginity in a Frank Lloyd Wright house!”) I like to toss around at cocktail parties (okay, beer pong paties) but which, after thumbing through a complete list of all FLW homes this past May, I am beginning to seriously doubt.
Two days later I gave him a glass cherry to hang on his rear-view mirror.
Get it? A glass. Cherry.
(Try to imagine how hard it’s been to live with myself for all these years, knowing what fuckery I’m capable of. My face is hot with shame just typing this and IT’S BEEN TWELVE YEARS.)
He didn’t break up with me over the glass cherry although I wish he had — I’d respect him, anyway. No. We coasted along for another two weeks but in my mind we were soaring. My feverish dreams now featured college in Chicago where he would be playing music and becoming the next Jonny Lang (another Minnesotan, another crush), and then, after stardom and whatever else, wedding bells. (Why does every fantasy have to end in marriage? I’m still guilty of it. I started picturing M.’s and my wedding on date two. Sheesh.)
I think you know where this is going. The strippergirlfriend wanted to get back together. He broke up with me in his car, on those leather seats, and I cried.
I didn’t stop for one month straight.
Nothing could console me, not least of all my friends who I could tell were secretly happy about it anyway. I listened to the one song I had of his over and over, and I listened to the music that reminded me of him — pretty much the entire rock/blues oeuvre. (It took like three years for me to be able to just listen to a Stones song, i.e. one of the most popular/unavoidable bands to have ever lived.)
Spring break came and I was still crying about him every night, desperately thinking of ways we’d end up together (they generally went something like this: I am awesome and glamorous and grown-up and he sees me across a crowded room and the regret comes rushing back and he begs for forgiveness and blah blah pass the vodka…).
So I’m in Chiapas with my family and I can barely enjoy myself. I’m physically wreaked from a month of misery and self-pity and did I mention the crying? I get a sunburn and it’s like my body just gives up. My eyelashes fall out. Overnight. All but about 10 fall off my right eye, and half of my left. Meanwhile my burned skin peels off in ragged sheets. I look like a lashless, molting reptile. My dreams of returning to school Tanned and Better Than Ever! (TM) and making that jerk pay for dumping me were down the drain. I was a mess, and I looked it. I wore fake eyelashes just to get by but as anyone who’s ever worn them knows, they’re a bitch. They peel off, get caught in the few real eyelashes you have left…..
“Are you wearing fake eyelashes?” some kid asked me in class, loudly, and all I could do was cry. Yes. Yes I am. Because MY EYELASHES FELL OUT. Because M_ _ _ C _ _ _ _ _ DUMPED ME.
So just let me die. Alone. As God clearly intended.
And then there was the unfortunate incident of the fire hydrant. $1300. That was nice. (The sad part — er, one of many sad parts — is you couldn’t even see his house from the street. What the hell was I doing? Just hoping to see his car go by? (Yes. Yes that’s exactly what I was doing.))
If there’s any moral to this it’s keep the sonnets and the glass cherries to yourself. Don’t get anywhere near hot pink cheetah print anything, and especially sheer hot pink cheetah print that is clearly meant to be worn exclusively as lingerie (hey trampsicle: you bought it in the lingerie section, remember?).
And take care of yourself out there. It gets better, that I promise, but you have to make it through the days without eyelashes first.
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