I caught a glimpse of a tv show on Saturday night. I think it was The Bachelorette, but I can’t be sure because I turned away before it was able to burn a hole in my brain. In the brief bit I saw, two contestants were in a boxing ring with gloves and head gear on, and I remembered…
Part of why I write is because I have selective amnesia. When things go wrong, I withdraw into myself and I sleep. While sleeping, I actively work on forgetting. There are these little pixies, and they forage around in my head and remove entire swathes of painful memories. When I wake up, I don’t remember anymore why I was so sad. I also don’t remember a lot of other things because sometimes the pixies get over-zealous and remove too much, but that’s alright. There is bliss in ignorance.
Once in a while, something happens that shakes loose an old memory. It comes to me muddy and incomplete and I have to brush it off and polish it first to get the full picture, then see where it fits. In doing this, I uncover a larger plot that might not be entirely accurate, but is really all I have. The pieces of my past, like a jigsaw puzzle in a pile at my feet with pieces missing from the original puzzle and extra pieces from other puzzles.
In my first year at university, I was friends with a guy and a girl who were dating. The guy was tall, brown hair, not muscled, but big, and very interested in being popular. He wrote for the school newspaper, was in the school student senate, would always stop professors outside to talk to them. That sort of thing. All this in the first year.
The girl was cute. Not stunning, not hot, just cute and quirky. We all met at the same time before they started dating, so it wasn’t like he had first dibs. They started dating, and that was okay. We, all three, were still friends.
But then they broke up, and that wasn’t okay. Not with him. Because we two were still friends. I would talk to her, we would hang out. And I would talk to him too, in that awkward post-relationship-‘I am friends with your ex’ way.
One day, I was with her, having lunch outside the student center, and we talked about relationships, and why she went out with him. And she said, “I like those type of guys.”
“What type?” I was curious now that it had come up.
“Well, there are two types of guys. Guys who are athletic, like him, and guys like you.”
I think that was the most painful thing I have ever been told. It was like someone had slapped my nerd glasses off my face, leaving me groping around on the floor on my hands and knees crying that I couldn’t see without my glasses.
But I swallowed it, yes, because we all two were still friends.
Which made it all the more confusing when he walked up to me studying in the library one day and said he wanted to talk. I was sitting at a table with three other people, so I got up and we took it to a quiet corner between shelves of books. He had become convinced, in a high school way, that I had stolen his girlfriend. He told me this in very harsh language, hissing through his teeth and poking me in the chest with his massive finger. As I tried to sort through his accusation, the pokes escalated to soft punches. And from there, we scuffled quietly between the bookshelves, careful not to draw attention to ourselves.
When we were done, I walked back to the table, my shirt askew and my collar half-popped from a headlock. I sat down and tried to read unsuccessfully for a while, before getting up and telling my study partners I had to go.
Later when I told the story to a classmate, in an attempt to give it relevance and make it sound romantic, she asked, “Were you fighting for her love?”
And I thought, what a stupid question.