There are two ways to make it through college. If you’re smart, you go the girlfriend route. You graduate in 4 years while dating that one girlfriend who supports you and vice versa until you both graduate with 4.0 GPAs and go on to find the entry level dream jobs that will support your imminent marriage. If you’re dumb, you fuck as many different girls as possible, going from party to party, waking up drunk, until you barely graduate with a list of names long enough to last a lifetime. I chose the latter. It was a very conscious decision.
I thought a lot about why Alex didn’t want me for her boyfriend. I stayed in my room for nights, listening to Pete Yorn and Smashing Pumpkins, smashing 6 pack after 6 pack, and doing my best to not let the rejection kill my livelihood. Once I memorized the entire Music For The Morning After album, I began to sing along or play harmonica, until drinking and harping became a bore, or weren’t enough to keep her off my mind.
The habit of drinking alone started after a party off campus. Alex promised to watch a movie with me but blew me off to hang with Antonio, so I went alone and hung around for 15 minutes, feeling awkward and waiting for a familiar face to save me from my suffocating feeling of lameness. I was only waiting that long with the hopes that she and Antonio would pop in so I could get a glimpse and send her a cold stare. I didn’t even ask her to watch the movie with me anyway. It was her idea. Since she began dating Antonio, I simply stopped checking for her. One day, she saw me on the bridge talking to this girl from class, and made it a point to wait nearby, with a sneer on her face. When she saw that I wasn’t ending my conversation she began to huff but didn’t walk away.
“Where you been? I haven’t seen you since last month?” She asked. Now when I looked at her, all of my good thoughts were covered in sadness. “We was looking for you.”
I was sure no one was looking for me. “I been here, at school, at NSU. What you talking about. My number still the same.” No one called me in three days. I was sure that no one was looking for me.
“You want to get something to eat? I’m headed to Loeser now.”
“Naw, I’m good, but I’ll hit you up for lunch tomorrow. I gotta get ready for tonight.”
“What’s going on? What are you talking about tonight?”
“I’m deejaying at the club. My first night there. You should come out.”
“What club?,” she asked. “The Library? Granny’s Attic? Which one?”
“Naw, we opened one. Its small. Its called Casanova’s. Its down Lewis Street.”
“So you opened a club and didn’t even tell me. I thought we were friends Ryan.”
“We are. I’m just busy. I gotta go. For real, I am pretty busy. Catch you later. I’ll call you tomorrow.” I turned to go.
“Wait! I broke up with Antonio,” she screamed.
“Sorry to hear that. Okay. Goodbye.” I didn’t care to ask why. It did matter but I wouldn’t show it.
I started deejaying because I wanted people to know me. When Alex told me she had a boyfriend I made my best effort to become popular with other girls. I wanted her to know what she was missing out on. In a town like Tahlequah, it didn’t take much to stand out. That night, my first night spinning records was a success the moment we opened the doors. Sure, there was a power outage just when the crowd was building, but even that couldn’t stop the magic that would unfold. No place in Tahlequah catered to the hip hop crowd and we had an instant niche. As I spun the records, girl after girl came over to say hello. Sure a lot of them were simply making requests. Still I had never been on the receiving end of so much attention. I took advantage of this new found ability. It started the first night.
As the night ended, two petite, country looking white girls approached the deejay booth. They were the last girls to leave, so I assumed they were waiting on the security guys, who played football at the school. They looked too scruffy to be students and just stared at me a bit here and there, but I’d never seen them, so I was a bit startled when one started yelling at me over the song. The blonde one said, “Do you have that one song? You know how it goes? “LaDadi laDada”. Its like disco? No. What about Vanilla Ice?” She asked.
I thought she was joking. “Seriously? Well, I didn’t bring it with me. But I do have it at home if you wanna listen after I finish packing up. Bring your friend too.” The words came from my mouth so confidently, I couldn’t believe I said it myself. But at the end of the night, as they were left me naked, empty, and speechless, it dawned on me that I’d likely missed many other invites because I was blinded by my obsession with Alex.
I woke up feeling like a new man, less innocent to my wanton desire for my love’s reciprocation and more understanding of the satisfactions of instant pleasure.