Falling Leaves

Young, dumb Meg is the girl the the right. It should be noted that this picture is from a year before the happenings in this post. Neither of those boys (or the girl, for that matter) was involved in the creation of this ridiculous tale. Because, you know, they weren't idiots.

Sometimes this whole wife to a husband, mother to children, fellow contributor to the human race thing has me a little intimidated. I keep thinking that life, you know with all its living and breathing, should be given with a dose of wisdom, a smattering of common sense. Maybe, you know, the ability to not be a complete idiot. Sometimes, most times, I feel like I missed that dose, that smattering, that ability to be less dunce-like. (If you want to revel in how truly ridiculous I can be, feel free to read this post.)

I mean my goodness. The magnitude of my ignorance is staggering. I have 1,200 pictures on my iPhone because I can’t figure out how to download them. I am seriously considering buying a new one so that I can just start over. I spent last week painting our basement. Halfway through the project, Viola snuck up behind me put her entire hand in the gallon of paint and ran it through her hair. Like a real amateur, I left it there until it dried. I mean what was I supposed to do? Stop painting and give my baby a bath? Please. Do you know how hard it is to get dried latex paint out of thin, feather baby hair? My first instinct was to shave it all off. My mom had to step in and tell me instincts like that are wrong. They are so, so wrong. And finally, until very, very recently I thought a balloon filled with air would float if you tied it to a string. Because you know, air becomes lighter than air when the rubber that contains the first air is restrained by a string while suspended in the second air.

It’s science.

My general stupidity (and I mean that in the most loving, self-accepting way) has been my constant companion and was never more apparent than during my ever so brief college years. (Brief because I like, totally, didn’t graduate.)

For example, there was this boy named Sethos*. He was a senior at Utah State University, an institution I had just left for the greener pastures of Provo. The two places were separated by 125 miles. However, I still had good friends at my former place of procrastination study and they said there was a boy I had to meet. So I took myself and my red lipstick out on a weekend holiday to visit with old roommates and you know, go on a blind date with this guy since I was going to be up there anyways. (I suppose I was wise enough to know that admitting to driving over 100 miles for a boy I had never met smelled a little desperate. Thank goodness for friends who were willing to pretend along with me.)

The first date was Chili’s (Chili’s!!! RED FLAG! RED FLAG!) and old Elvis movies at his place. He told me I was pretty. I was shocked. Surely no one had thought that about me before that day or would after it. I believed it was an observation unique to his brain. We kissed. He was nice and funny. He wrote witty, au courant reviews on all the most alternative bands for the school newspaper and loved Garrison Keiller. I loved the former and didn’t hold the latter against him.

The weekend ended and the cringe-worthy, pathetic, full assault on acceptable standards of self-respect began. We IM’d while I worked and wrote silly things on each other’s Myspace walls. (This was before Facebook. Please, I know you had one, too.) I scrolled through his pictures and read his articles and hoped he’d call. Around Thursday he generally did…to see if I would be in town. And boy, I always made sure to be in town. You know how guys love girls that drop everything and drive through freeway and mountain pass to get to them as quickly as their VW Beetles will take them.

Ahem.

There were many dates, but one stands out in my memory. We were eating at to my favorite local (to him) restaurant, a little place with a cowboy sensibility and country friend chicken. I was wrist deep into a pot pie when he started telling me about how he went through all of high school without eating ranch dressing because he thought it was too bourgeois. He chuckled and shook his head. Thankfully, he had learned the error of his ways by college. But truth be told, he still enjoyed a well-made house vinaigrette now and then. I nodded and smiled and wondered why I had never pondered the classist implications of my condiments. This was also same date where we discussed his life changing experiences at Lillith Fair at length. (Is this as painful for you as it is for me? Yeesh.)

That boy only came to see me once. He was visiting his family a couple of towns over, so it wasn't too out of his way. I was glad. I didn't want to be out of anyone's way. We talked and kissed and I thought that both of those things meant something to him because they meant something to me. I started telling people about him and wondered if you know, this was going to turn into something, well, you know…more serious.

I thought I should ask.

A few weekends later, after watching a Ryan Adams concert and reading to one another (Yes, reading. To one another), I did just that.

“Hey, I was wondering. I mean. I think we like each other. You know, I like you. And you seem to like me. And I don’t know if you are dating anyone else…or if you want to….ummmm. But I am just wondering what you were thinking about this,” big gesture with my hands, “whole thing we are doing here….”

He looked grave and thoughtful and said something with so much more depth than what all those non-Garrison Keiller quoting boys would have said,

“Oh, Megan. Of course, you are safe, you are safe.”

And there it was. Those three words that every girl hopes to hear from the boy she likes. It was a sentiment that was both confusing (Safe from heartbreak? Safe from singledom? Safe from velociraptors?) and also seemed to go without saying (uh, was I in danger at some point?).

Here’s the thing, I totally bought it. Me and my smeared lipstick (where is your dignity, young Meg??) walked out of that apartment feeling like he and I had really found the beginning of something sort of special. On the way home I stopped at a few book stores and then decided to celebrate my good fortune by picking up extra guacamole taquitos on the way back to my friend’s place. By the time I got to her room, the taquitos were soggy and Sethos had sent me a message on Myspace. The subject line was “Falling Leaves”. It was a break up letter. With over 1500 total words.

Did I mention it was on Myspace? And that is was titled “Falling Leaves”? I mean. Come, on. You can’t make this stuff up.

It was days before I could eat guacamole again without feeling that sick slide of humiliation. DAYS! It was a week before I felt up to sending him the reply I felt he deserved. At the time, I thought I had written a masterpiece in post-break up snark. Something that was both nonchalant and devastatingly witty. I would like to think I was right. He certainly deserved it. But I was fresh off of considering it eye-opening to be thinking about salad dressing as a statement of political thought. I am not sure my judgment was what one would consider sound. And it was two months before I stopped reading his articles, checking his Myspace page and wondering if he was going to call.

Two Months.

My goodness, suddenly my balloon with string hypothesis is looking like one of my brighter moments.

May the saints preserve us.

*When I give my past boyfriends Pharaoh names as aliases, it makes me feel a little less stupid for having dated them in the first place. I mean his name was Sethos! What was I supposed to do? Not go out with the guy that defeated an army because millions of mice ate the combatants quivers and bows? Yeah, right.