D̶e̶a̶r̶ Sorry, John

As you start getting older, one amazing thing that happens is that your level of “I don’t give a fuck” increases.  Or at least it should.  I have too much other shit to worry about (creaking knees, a child who demands to wear the same shorts and goggles–on the top of his head, no less–every fucking day, WORK) that stuff that used to bother me really doesn’t anymore. 

I thought for a while about not telling the story I’m about to because a) it makes me look like a complete and total psycho, b) I don’t want to embarrass anyone else involved, and c) the internet is forever.  But then Mr. I don’tgiveafuck tapped me on the shoulder and was all, “TELL IT!”  So I will.

There’s only a handful of people in the whole wide world whose opinions really matter to me. During a recent conversation with one, we were talking about loves and various activities involved with these loves, and he said, “There is a reason why some things are in the past.  Mostly because our heart can’t take it anymore.”  Thinking literally I asked, “You mean like physically?  Like heart disease,” and he replied, “Physically and emotionally.  I’m sure you understand that.” 

One main thing I can no longer physically or emotionally handle (for several reasons) is the level of crushes I used to have on people.  Think back to high school.  Now that I’m 30 years old, I thought, what was I doing half of my life ago?  Besides swimming up and down a pool for countless hours, I was busy obsessing over boys.  The kind of obsessing that keeps you up at night, that lights a fire in your stomach.  Equal parts insanity, naivete, and raw emotion. 

The person I was most obsessed with half my life ago was John.  To this day, I have never had a conversation with John, probably never even said hi to him.  But if you ask any of my friends from back then (Hi, Kathy and Gena!) who I devoted most of my hormone induced lusting to, they’d say John without skipping a beat. 

John and I were probably the only white people left in Miami, and went to the same high school.  John played basketball, was one of the “popular” kids, and made me feel wobbly everytime I passed by him.

Rather than doing what I would do today (or 6 years ago) if interested in someone (speak several words to them, hope they aren’t stupid, and ask them out) I looked at John a lot and imagined random scenarios in which we’d meet and have tea (throat scratch) together.  What else did I have to think about?  Algebra?  I mean, really.  Think about all the shit you worry about today, as an adult, and then think about how much you used to worry about the stupidest, most random stuff that may not even occur back then.  Like, I still remember wearing a horrible outfit one of the first days of middle school and people making fun of me saying I looked like a Girl Scout.  It took awhile to get over that one.  Thin Mints, anyone? 

Anyway, my sophomore year of high school, our swim coach happened to be one of the coaches for basketball (completely made sense, obviously).  He was a younger guy, one of those “I’m your coach but I’m still your pal” types of people who may or may not enjoy the perks of being young and cute around a group of high school girls. 

Anyway, he loved to give me shit about John.  I mean, of course I told him about my crush. I think anyone–possibly including the school janitor—-knew except for John himself.  What a fucking lunatic I was. 

He managed to bribe, beg, or whatever John into coming to on of our meets.  It was at the Miami Dade Community College (you fancy, huh?) pool, and I remember seeing him walk in from across the pool deck.  It’s a wonder I didn’t projectile vomit, pass out, or do both things at once, but I managed to still somehow be alive, since I’m typing this now. 

So, what does one do if the crush of their ever-loving life comes to one of their swim meets?  Talk to them?  Fuck no!  That would be too logical.

What did I do?  I think I stared, whispered to everyone who knew who he was what was going on, and generally acted like a complete asshole.  I had no confidence, and the “outgoing Kelly” that gives presentations in front of hundreds of people hadn’t been activated yet.  So I did nothing. To this day, it remains one of my top ten “what the hell was I thinking” moments.  We all have those.

I continued to pine for him until he graduated, then I graduated.  We both became adults, I think he’s married now too, and I friended him on Facebook.  For a second, the whole friending on Facebook thing gave me a silly excited punch in the stomach, but was brought back to Earth, possibly by Danny slapping me in the face with his goggles.

So all that happened, but one more important thing that happened (and this is where it gets especially horrid) was John in the Box. 

For my 16th birthday, my Mom asked me what I wanted.  I told her jokingly, “John in a box,” which is both a creepy and amusing conversation to be having with your mother.  A few weeks later, I noticed my yearbook was missing.  I asked my Mom where it was, and she acted like she didn’t know what I was talking about.  As parents, you do a lot of Emmy-worth acting (think Santa Clause, Tooth Fairy, etc) and she really brought the performance home.

The day of my birthday, I opened all of my presents, and my Mom brought out one last one.  “This one is kind of joke, but we know you’ll like it,” she said, her eyes twinkling like Danny’s do when he’s about to do something seriously devious.

I opened the present, and it was a Jack in the Box.  I was all, “the fuck is this?” but really, “What is this, Mother and Father?” since I wasn’t 18 and couldn’t curse in front of them.  “Wind it up,” my Mom said.  So I did.  I wound the handle around, du dun du dun du dun’n (creepy music) and then out popped something strange.  My Mom (in cahoots with my Dad) had photocopied a picture of John and pasted it on the joker’s face.  I looked at both of them, horribly confused, until my Mom said, “It’s a JOHN IN THE BOX, just like you wanted!”

So I got a John in the Box for one of my birthdays.  That was the most contact we ever had.  Ain’t that some shit. 

So on the eve of my actual 30th birthday (which is Sunday, but do you say “eve of the eve of the eve” or “eve squared”???) I thought I’d tell my story of John in the Box.  Set it free, if you will. 

Hope you enjoyed.  *Insert pageant wave and graceful bow.*

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2 Responses to “D̶e̶a̶r̶ Sorry, John”

  1. Jabari Talib Says:

    Excellent story.

  2. Rosemi Says:

    Your parents are awesome.

    “a) it makes me look like a complete and total psycho”

    Ha ha ha ha. Not even close.

    My first “John” (<–sounds bad) actually liked me back. After an eternity of pining for him, this is how the conversation went:

    Him: You know I like you, right?
    Me: So? I don't care.

    Unbeknownst to me, my last "John" moved away. I never spoke a word to him, but did, occasionally, stalk him. Eventually, I went up to his sister and casually (yeah, right), inquired as to his whereabouts.

    Sister: He moved back to Canada. You know he liked you, right?
    Me: …

    After that I vowed never to let another "John" get away without professing my lust, which is an approach that brings it's own set of problems . . .

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