I didn’t drink or do drugs or have any sex in high school. I was compulsively extracurricular. I was in every play. I was an editor of our newspaper. I was president of the Thespian Club. My best friend was president of the Latin Club. Not Latin as in Latino but as in the Latin language almost all western languages are based on. I was studying Spanish. I was jealous. But not because Spanish is just a beauty mark on Latin’s pretty face, but that she was in a club that I was not in. I liked the idea of being in “clubs.”
I always took a voluntary extra early morning class too. Nobody was forcing me and I didn’t even really want to. It just felt like I should always be at school. I was at school from 7am til about 9pm every day. When I wasn’t at school I was hanging out at Kroger. Which is a grocery store chain in the South. They had a campaign called “Dare to Compare” which allowed you to compare the tastes of, say, Snyder’s hard pretzels to the taste of Kroger brand hard pretzels. Me and Natalie would shut our eyes and dare each other to compare. In a blind taste test, the name brand always tasted better than the Kroger brand. And we felt really smug about our scientific process of finding that out. If the price hike was simply about money spent on Chips Ahoy’s ad campaign, then YUMMY. Those commercials are delicious. And all you have to do to find that out is close your eyes, stick out your tongue and trust your best friend. Not a problem.
We decided to do a Kroger photo shoot. We had to do it in aisle that didn’t have a lot of traffic. Paper products. Not as beautiful as canned goods or produce for a photo shoot, but it bought us time. Natalie pretended to run over my body with a grocery cart. Garrett snapped the photos. I tried to make fake pain look different each time. Natalie had to change her motivation for running over me each time. Sometimes she feigned malice, sometimes it was a tragic accident, sometimes she was heroic. Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me” played over the PA.
This is my first memory of reverence.
I said to Natalie, “My future husband will have to sing this song to me. And mean every word of it. And he will have to think of it on his own.”
I never felt so sure of anything.
Setting up nearly impossible rules for my romantic future. Only Natalie knew the rules. I drove Natalie and I to school every day and we would always play oldies. It was hard to get her to sing. (She was a stage manager theatre person.) But if you sang hard, she would forget herself and do the same thing. In my Volvo.
Right now I am in love. With somebody who seems like a husband. Strong. Short hair. Big dad kind of smiles. Freckles. We are trying to live together. We currently do not. We’re trying to live in this one apartment with stained glass windows and no buzzer.
It’s a much simpler idea than I thought it was. Everything’s always like that.
The Kroger photo shoot pictures were part of a surprise calendar that Natalie made for me for Christmas. One picture for every month of one year. When the year is over, the calendar no longer serves a purpose. I keep it in my bedroom at my parent’s house.
I am playing a newlywed right now in a play. She is covered in bruises and scratches and although the source of these bruises is the mystery of the play, I choose to believe that they are from her husband. I choose to believe that she feels lots of different ways about this, and one of them is turned on.