alexandra called alex, number 1
She made me who I am. You can call me a womanizer, an asshole, a sorry son of a bitch, whatever! More times than not, you’re probably right. I’m not saying I’m always wrong, nor can I justify my my robust number of sexual encounters as righteous. I don’t blame her as much as I am stating the clear fact. She made me who I am.
We met alone on the bridge that separated the dorms. A rocky, dry creek bed split the athletic dorm and druggies dorm from that of the fraternities, honor kids, and sororities. We met the first week of my sophomore year. The night before we met again on the bridge, I saw her in the school’s new internet café. In a way I met her that night. I sat across the table as she played domino with a couple of mutual friends, a couple of guys I’d met my freshman year. Her eyes danced when she spoke and when she smiled, it was like an aura of warm air flowed around her and wind and wonder flowed through her hair. She looked like a Minnie Ripperton song personified. I was awestruck on sight. She dressed in baggy clothes, so her top-heavy figure was disguised, but her face caught the eye of everyone that entered the room. I won’t even attempt to explain how I awed when I finally saw her naked tits some weeks later. But even that doesn’t compare to how I felt then, when I first saw her face for the first time, and thought maybe the new school year would be better than any other, no matter what else happened. I didn’t speak to girls unless they spoke first, and so it was on that night, when I might have managed to say a witty line at some time or another, but mostly,I admired her, and imagined everything that could become. My preconceived notions were so fucking wrong. On that next day on the bridge, I truly met Alex and our saga began.
I saw her 1000 feet before we stepped to each other on the bridge. I stalked her. I’d intentionally walked toward her dorms scouting for a sight of her, hoping only to get another glimpse of her. My heartbeat faster when I stared up into the dorm windows and caught her line of sight as she trotted down the flights of stairs. I watched her as she exited the dorm and moved toward the bridge, slowing my trot and pacing my steps to meet her in the middle of it. She walked right to me. She dressed in brown tights and a white puffy shirt, like an equestrian might wear. “What’s up dude? Ryan right? What’s good with it?”
“I’m good. Alex, right? How’s class going?” Damn. Lame, I thought. How did she know my name? Why did I act like I didn’t know hers. We talked for no more than a minute, but it was a heavy conversation full of and connected gazes and laughs and promises to talk again soon. I probably went to my room and jerked off. Happy as a kitten would be a trite understatement. My freshmen year of depression and anger turned me into a sad sack of shit, and I finally had a reason to get out of bed and go to class and waste time in the bookstore and the cafeteria and join the clubs and go to the football games and enjoy all the other things you should enjoy in college. If she made me who I am, that was the first time that she affected me. My life is split before and after she arrived into it.
And now she has come again. She arrived like voodoo. I hadn’t seen her in years. I rose early this morning thinking of life at 30. I was listening to a Cody Chestnutt song that sounded like something she would love and as the thought crossed my mind, the phone rang. It was her.
“Guess who this is? I’ll give you three tries.”
“Alexandra? What’s going on? How are you?”
“Great! Now that I have my buddy back. I had to get your number from Tera. I hope you don’t mind. She said she saw you in Tulsa last weekend. See you still never think about me.”
“C’mon now, you know I don’t have your number. So what’s new?”, I asked as I scribbled the number on the caller ID to a piece of paper for back up.
“I moved to Atlanta. Yea, so you couldn’t have visited me anyway. I been here for about 1 year now. Tulsa was too small.” She sounded the same. He voice always had a tickled inflection, a certain joy, like she was about to tell a joke but laughed at herself before she shared the punchline.
” I didn’t know where you were at. I actually just moved back this way. I live in Dallas now. I outgrew Nashville too soon. I wish I knew you was moving to Atlanta. I would have followed you. I could have at least stayed in Nashville and visited you often.”
“Here you go with your empty promises. But I am calling you for a reason and its kind of funny that you bring up visiting me. Its been 10 years since we met. I still miss the shit out of you. I always told myself I wasn’t good enough for you, but its funny because you never saw it that way”, she said. “But the truth is, that’s really why you left NSU, even if you didn’t know it.”
“I don’t want to bring up the past so early in this conversation, but you dissed me. I know one way I would have stayed at NSU, but we never dated so that didn’t really work out that way.”
“I know, but we were best friends. And I haven’t ever met anyone else like you. I remember you promised me that if we didn’t have anybody at 30, you would help me get pregnant. I want you to be the father of my child. Just listen to me. I know we might have only been a little serious when we talked about it, but I have a serious situation. I have cysts on one of my ovary and if I don’t use them now, I might not have a chance to, especially if they have to do surgery. I am dead serious.” I held the phone to my face and listened to the silence. “I can buy your plane ticket for this weekend if you ready now.” I vaguely remembered the oath we took when we lay in her bed in her dorm nearly a decade or more ago. I listened to her plea for earnestness and when I couldn’t’ detect a joke, I became very upset. Not because she had the audacity to ask such a feat, but because I was reminded of how lowly I was at the time when I agreed to that promise. As she continued, our story replayed in my mind and all the bullshit that I put myself through for her replayed in my mind, and I got dizzy. It was like a panic attack or something. I don’t have them, so I can’t say for sure. I sat down and contemplated the idea, and then grew angry with myself for considering it. The biggest part of me pitied her, and I wanted to do it to honor our platonic relationship. But the little devil reminded me that it was never that plain. She’d put me through so much I sometimes hated her. Yet still I didn’t want to be a substitute dad and nothing more. “Ryan. Are you there? Can you here me?”, she asked.
“Yeah, I’m here. Just soaking it all in. I am not sure what you want me to say”, I said.
“Ryan, I love you. I can’t change our past, but I want you to be a part of my future. I have always loved you and always will. Just say you love me and yes. Please. I really need you”, she pleaded.
“But that’s the issue. Its been 10 years, and hearing you say you need me unlocks so much in me. I do love you. I always have and I always will.”
“And…”, she said.
And like that, she was back in my life.
alexandra called alex, number 2
She was doing it again. She always does this. She gets too drunk and too high and then flirts and grabs at my dick all night. The first few times, I was too happy to notice that she was teasing me. Now, no matter how I tried to fight it, I still let her stroke my dick when she wanted.
“If only you didn’t fuck Mariah. That’s my friend. I can’t even do her like that.”
“I fucked her because you said you wasn’t trying to fuck with me. It’s always the same excuse with you.”
“Because its the truth. She’s dirty. I wouldn’t dare have sex with the same guy she did. Sorry.” Alex was more right than wrong.
I pulled my dick away from her hand and buckled up. “Well, I guess that’s good to know.” Once again, she won. I couldn’t contain my libido when she had my dick in her hands and she knew she wouldn’t give me any pussy anyway. I tucked it away and prayed for the lightest pains. There was no way to escape the blue ball gods.
“Why did you put him away. I wasn’t done stroking him. Let me see that big dick. I want to hold it.” I could have resisted but there was no other place I wanted to be, so I obliged. And so it was the same on many others nights during that semester.
I would barely make it through the sophomore year. It would end with my literature teacher advising me to change majors if I didn’t want to keep up with the material. I didn’t regurgitate enough e.e. cummings for his approval. Just a year earlier, I sat in my room, playing the harmonica as I read through my first pages with writers like Charles Bukowski and William Williams. Contrary to my professor’s belief’s, I knew the material already. In the end, I probably read one book the entire second year. Alex brought the party out of me, or, at least she brought me to the party. We tagged along about the campus accepting and rejecting invites. They all wanted her, but she always went where I wanted. When I went to work in the computer lab, she followed and stayed until I left. We only separated into our own world at the end of the night, and mostly because her dorm wasn’t coed. But every day for weeks into my second year, we were rarely apart. I trusted her. I was never the nerdy, bookish type, but I remember the first night that I consciously relaxed and let loose. I smoked weed in high school but didn’t do it regularly and before that night, I hadn’t done it in years.
“Take one hit. It won’t kill you.” The apartment was full of smoke. The Chronic 2001 played at max volume on the $20 Wal-Mart back to school special boombox. Everyone else in our crowd of coeds participated in the blunt session except me. “You of all people need to relax more. All you do is walk around mad at the world. Relax.”
“I don’t want to fall asleep in the next 30 minutes. I got dressed to go out. But you guys always take the whole night to hit the club anyway, so fuck it, I’ll do it this time.” I inhaled deep and passed it back to her. I would have let Alex coax me off a cliff.
“Wait. Here, take another one.” She peered into my eyes and begged me to continue, so I obliged. After a few more hits, the room was spinning, so I stepped outside for air and she followed.
“Hey, how are you doing?”, she asked as she stared up into my eyes. Her eyes were always lit, light little star bursts in the night. She was about a foot shorter than me and when she looked up at me from my hip, I imagined leaning in for a kiss. Not any kiss. That “I Do” Kiss. “You gone quit on me already Ryan?”
“Nah, I’m good. It’s just hot as shit in there.” I actually pondered going to bed at that exact moment. She knew me too well.
“Cool. I got something. I couldn’t tell you in there though because I don’t have enough for everybody. Take this with me.” She handed me a white pill and swallowed the other from her palm.
What is it I thought? But I didn’t ask. At worst it could have been ecstasy, but I am sure it was a pain pill. A few minutes back inside and I could feel my extremities loosen and my legs went numb. It was like my legs were frozen nitrogen. I wanted to tell everyone, but Alex and I smiled at each other, knowing.
As planned we made our way to the local club. The same students we saw at school were at the bar. It was a very small town. What happened there stayed there and those stories were retold for generations and generations. Maybe that was the fear I had with going out before Alex. I didn’t want to get lost in some low class pussy and never leave Tahlequah. I could have tailspin and landed anywhere until Alex stormed into my life because I had no idea how to enjoy life. Even with basic things, like parties. I didn’t know why I wanted to go or why I didn’t want to go. I just droned out and followed along until I found a reason to enjoy it or hate it. I usually stood in the corner when I went out and so it was that night, unless Alex pulled me by my arm and forced me into the conversation. She spent the night with a few other people from the crowd, mingled with this pretty girl on the school’s basketball team for a lot of the night, and had a cigarette or two on the deck. But no sooner had we entered the club did we leave and disperse throughout the campus. Alex followed me to my room.
“Do you think I’m pretty? I mean not you personally, but like do you think people in general do.” She asked these sorts of questions as if I would give her anything but the answer she wanted to hear. But everyone agreed so she was used to people telling her what she wanted to hear, and since she knew what I would say she never waited for my answer to her rhetorical question. I learned this about our dichotomy very early. She continued, “This girl came on to me tonight and I didn’t know what to do. Tony said take it as a compliment. I guess so right?”
“I wouldn’t be upset with it,” I replied. I didn’t have much more to say about it. I was burning a mix of Sade and Jay Z and Nas songs on her laptop as she paced drunkenly around the room.
“I think its time for me to get a boyfriend because I can’t fight them off. Boys and now girls? I’m tired of all these people trying to get in my pants. I just need one guy who ain’t trifling and I’m good with that. Why did you have to go and fuck Mariah?”
“Awww, don’t even go there and bring that shit up. You know damn well I want to be with you. It’s too late for that bullshit A.” I fell away into my bunk. “I’m tired as shit. You gonna chill here or go to your room?”
“Boy. I’m here ain’t I.” She stopped pacing and lay in my bed. Then in the same movement, almost on cue, she slipped her hand under my waistband and stroked my dick as we talked about all that we wanted from life and a husband or a wife and what people on campus we wouldn’t didn’t like, until she fell asleep on my chest.
In the morning, I woke to find her gone. By the time we met again that night, she found a boyfriend.
alexandra called alex, number 3
I first saw them in the café. The internet lounge suddenly became the red carpet and the movie premiering was heartache and the stars were Alex and her new boyfriend Antonio. I nodded my head their way in acknowledgement and walked past the theater. I didn’t need to see the opening night hoorah.
But she told me that evening. We sat in the computer lab, as I downloaded music when she spoke. “You can’t sit there and ignore me. What’s wrong.”
I was visibly pissed I guess. “I’m cool. Had a long day. Class and all.”
“Well you don’t act like it,” Alex replied. She tried to dig a confession out but I wouldn’t cave. “So I have some news for you. Wanna hear it?”
“I guess I already know, so you don’t have to say it.”
“What is it then?”
“Your titties are still growing. It’s not like it’s a secret. Everybody knows,” I jested.
“Fuck you man. What do you think about it? I mean what do you think about him? Like do you see us as a good fit? Mariah said she don’t like him. Not him, but us together.”
“What the fuck does it matter what I think about him?” I changed to a sunnier tone. “I mean you gotta fuck him right.”
“Ill. I know. Don’t be an asshole,” she said.
“Kind of hard not to. I’m surrounded by them.” I tried to play along. “He’s a cool guy. We were something like friends in high school. I’m happy for you. If you like it, I love it.”
She shook her head and rolled her eyes. “I guess man. I’m kind of disgusted by him. I get turned off when he touches me now.”
Gravelly, I replied “Well we reap what we sow.” I didn’t hold back the sour anymore.
“Okay. Thanks for being there for me. Good talk. You’re such a fucking asshole,” she joked.
“Glad you noticed I was there for you before you noticed I was an asshole,” I jabbed back. We sat in silence for a few minutes longer until neither could pretend the mood was fun and departed. This was typical of our interactions for a few days later.
I didn’t sleep well for weeks after she started dating him. Some nights, I stared into the ceiling, thinking of this and that. I managed to deal with this insomnia by crying myself to bed. Crying yourself to sleep isn’t that hard. I fell dead sleep once the tears flowed down. The hardest part was the build up. The thoughts that bounced through my mind needed to be extremely doubtful and shaming to work the trick. I doubted myself and hated myself for foolishly thinking I could or couldn’t have her. I didn’t want to give in to the pain. I never wanted to admit that I needed that relief, but I couldn’t sleep without it, so on a few nights I welcomed the doubts that triggered the spring of tears down my face. In retrospect, I should have just been a man and got over it, but I gave it too much power and the relief were all I had to soften the blow to my ego and innermost feelings. Tears of a clown indeed.
The worst nights were usually when I had no trouble falling asleep. On these nights, I woke to a recurring nightmare where I relived the moment I saw them in the café, him sitting so close she merely breathed his recycled air. I woke to dreams of her leaving me on the dance floor and resurfacing in his arms as he dipped her to the floor. I woke to a numbed fear that I would be alone and I deserved it because I didn’t make my intentions known or stake my claim on the only girl I have ever wanted with me for all of my life.
I fought hard to not give in to the depression. I didn’t want to be the guy who went crazy over a girl he never had. I decided to find someone to keep me busy. I treated it like a mission. I pounded gallons of vodka and rum and pounded random girls to break the spell. They could never replace Alex in any way, but if the sex was good, I managed to forget her temporarily. Still, the thought of her with him sobered me and deflated me. I hated seeing them together and it was his goal to be seen everywhere with her, even if it meant invading my sleeping hours.
alexandra called alex, number 4
There are two ways to make it through college. If you’re smart, you try the girlfriend route. You can graduate in 4 years, dating that one girlfriend that supports you and wakes you up with kisses and cooks your Ramen and helps you study, and vice-verse until you both graduate with 4.0 GPAs and go on to find the entry-level dream jobs that will support your eminent marriage’s kindling. If you’re dumb, you try to fuck as many girls as possible, going from party to party, waking up drunk and hung over and late for class, until you barely graduate, 7 years later, albeit with a list of girls shagged so long you can reminisce for a life time. 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, listened to Pete Yorn, Donny Hathaway, and some really good NY style rap demo’s I’d found on some obscure rap site, as I drank 6 pack after 6 pack, doing my best to not let her rejection kill my livelihood. Once I memorized the entire Music For The Morning After album, I sang along and play harmonica, until drinking and harping became a bore, or weren’t enough to keep her off my mind anymore.
The habit of drinking alone started following a party off campus. People always say you shouldn’t drink alone, and if you do got to a bar, but I don’t see an issue with it. I was and still am my best company. Alex promised to watch a movie with me but blew me off to hang with Antonio, so I went to this party alone and hung around for 15 minutes, waited until I felt awkward, looking for a familiar face to save me from my suffocating aura of lameness, then left. I waited expecting 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. I went to the Love’s convenience station by campus, bought a six-pack and a black and mild and finished all 6 within the first 20 minutes of returning to my dorm. I slept like a baby.
Since she started dating Antonio, I stopped calling 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 wouldn’t end my conversation she huffed and puffed on her cell phone, but didn’t walk away.
“Where you been? I haven’t seen you since last week?” She asked. “We were 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. Now when I looked at her with all of those good thoughts cloaked in sadness.
“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 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 the deejay thing because I wanted people to know who I was. I was already into music and owned turntables and after watching the movie High Fidelity a few times, I felt a calling to just shut up and play music. 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. Our first night was a success the moment we opened the doors. Sure, we had a power outage when the crowd packed in, but even that couldn’t stop the magic that unfolded that night. No place in Tahlequah catered to the hip hop crowd and we found a niche. As I spun the records, girl after girl came over to say hello. Sure a lot of them simply made 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 with fake gold teeth approached the deejay booth. They were the last girls to leave, so I assumed they waited on the security guys, who played football at the school. They looked too scruffy for students and stared at me a bit here and there, but I’d never seen them, so I was a bit startled when one yelled at me over the music. 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 when I finish packing up. Bring your friend too.” She smiled at my request and shook her head in agreement. It wasn’t until I noticed her coy smile that I caught the flirtation. I really did have the record at home after all. 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 empowered with a new outlook, less innocent to my wanton desire for my love’s reciprocation and more understanding of the satisfactions of instant pleasure.
alexandra called alex, number 5
The first semester of my sophomore year winded down. I’d amassed more days of slacker than productivity. Every now and then I pretended I was a student. I went to every class and stayed until they ended, and I ate dinner in the cafeteria with everyone else. I hung at the bookstore in between class and played pick up basketball after dinner like everyone else. I even went to a few of the basketball games. True, I’d left my dorm to do things as soon as I got to NSU, but now I enjoyed it, which is what matters right. Sometimes I’d go out with Alex and the rest, but I didn’t care if I had to go at it alone anymore or with a group of near strangers. I had time to make a lot of friends once I got over the Alex and Antonio hate.
He didn’t walk away easy. After she told me about the break up, I saw them together for weeks still. Either she never told him or he never believed it. She still came to my room to complain about him, so I didn’t believe it either.
I saw them arguing at a shindig that the AKAs hosted off campus. I arrived as they left. She’d walk swiftly ahead and he pulled her back like a bungee cord, all through the parking lot.
The party was nearly over when I arrived, but I stayed until the end. I mingled about until I found myself at the hip of the prettiest girl on the school’s basketball team. The glow from the disco ball glimmered in her eyes when she looked at me like I was the only guy in the room.
“Hi. I’m Ryan. How are you?”
“Fine. I’m Yessica. How are you?”
“Doing so much better now,” I said with a huge grin. “Are you dancing?”, I asked through nervous, pursed lips. I’d seen her around campus, but never noticed how attractive she was until that moment when it seemed I might have a chance. Once I noticed her, I couldn’t keep my eyes away from her. Our introduction was short, but we gravitated toward each other a few more times before the night ended. We’d split up, then casually we’d resurface in the middle of another conversation. We were clearly keeping tabs on each other. And when the night ended, I had her phone number in my pocket and her kiss on my lips.
The next day I joined Alex and her friend Tera for breakfast. Alex called excited and giddy the next morning. “Come to breakfast with me. Meet me in caf’. I wanna have a good start to my week and it starts with having breakfast with my two best friends. I don’t like waiting, so hurry up. Okay? Bye.” Tera was arguably the prettiest girl on campus, so I would have been there, butt naked with spurs on and since I hadn’t spoken to Alex in a few days, I wanted to be there for her to vent her frustrations. When she arrived, she wasn’t frustrated at all. She was surprisingly pleasant, at first.
“How’s everybody doing this morning? What’s up?. Ya’ll get some sleep in after that party?”
“Girl, you’re bouncing this morning. It was that good?. Did you get some or something?,” Tera asked.
“Shit. Haha. I wish. I was up arguing all night. All fucking night! But it was worth it, you know what I mean?”
“What time you get in?”, I asked to no one directly.
“Shit. 1 o’clock. 1:30. What about ya’ll.”
“I wouldn’t know. I stayed til the end though.”
“I didn’t stay but 10 minutes. I wasn’t really feeling it. I should’ve got drunk first.”, Tera said.
“What was the highlight of your night?”, I asked to no one in particular.
“I painted a picture of a comet and a moon. And masturbated at least a dozen times,” joked Tera. Her Cheshire cat grin let me know it was true.
Alex chimed in. “I’m single again. I think he finally realizes it’s over. I’m finally single. He’s too much. Just suffocating.”
“You told me it was over already two weeks ago. Did he get the letter in the mail?”
“Why be a smart ass Ryan? You know how it is when you break up. It takes time.”
“I’m saying. Now how are you gonna fight them off now?”
“Fuck it. I’m better off single. If I gotta fight them off then, so be it. At least that’s an easy headache. Its time to be bad all by myself. I knew I should’ve dated you. I just can’t move past you fucking Mariah and your dirty dick.”
“Yea, I’m not sure why not because I didn’t even know you then anyway. Old news. And for the record, my dick is clean. Thank you very much.”
“I guess you’re right. So what about you? What was your highlight?”
“I had a pretty good night. I stayed at the party for a bit. I talked to Yessica, that girl from the basketball team for a bit. That was about it.”
“What? You must like her huh? So ya’ll talked? That doesn’t sound like a highlight.”
“Nope. Just talked. I like her though. So that was enough for me.”
“Cool. Well careful. I don’t know about her sometimes.”
“What do you mean be careful?” I hadn’t ever heard one bad thing about her. Yessica was as nice as Ms. America and very private, so what doubts should Alex have? I gave into the bait, if only to satisfy my curiosity on my newest infatuation.
“I’m saying, you know how the girls basketball team is. She might be gay.”
“That’s bullshit,” I scoffed.
“For real man. I’m not talking. She flirts with me every time I see her and is always trying to get me to go to the movies with her. Just warning you man.”
Tera laughed at the notion. “Well, if she is gay or bisexual, that’s probably a good thing.”
“Why would that be?” I asked.
Tera laughed, “Because she likes to take it the hole either way. Get it.”
“Honestly, Alex, I don’t even pay attention to half of the crazy shit you say anyway. You don’t have any evidence for that accusation. Maybe you’re jealous.”
“Jealous of what? Her? What?”, Alex yelled. “I got nobody to be jealous of.”
“Nothing. Nobody. Relax. Sorry I used those words.” I wanted to change the subject.
“Naw its all good. You think I can’t get another boyfriend like that? I dumped Antonio, not the other way around.”
“I wasn’t even talking about that.”
“Whatever. I know what you meant. I bet I find someone to make me happy before you can fuck her. I mean that’s all you want to do to her anyway right?”
I arose to leave. “Alright Tera, I’ll catch you later. Once again Alex thinks the world revolves around her. I need to leave to make room for her growing ego to sit here. Peace Alex. And tell your ego I said goodbye too.”
I wouldn’t have told Alex a thing, even if I slept with Yessica. It never happened though, because I never called her. The breakfast conversation deflated my eagerness and passing a few days of putting off the call, my infatuation with Yessica smoldered out. Alex won her bet.
alexandra called alex, number 6
There is a saying that ends something like “first time, shame on you, second time, shame on me”. I am not sure if this is exactly how it goes, but its meaning is akin to “fool me once, can’t fool me twice.” Maybe if I had known the exact phrasing, I could have used the mantra to help me avoid falling for Alex again. I doubt that I ever made any codes or rules that I wouldn’t obliterate to justify her torment. She was bad for me and I knew it. It was probably the reason I dealt with her bad qualities. I never gave her seat away, that reservation, that spot in my life reserved for bitches and grief, I never gave it away to anyone else. Of course this means I forgave her repeatedly, and not long after she challenged to me to bed Yessica, we were back in the computer lab, debating music and talking shit, as we did 6 months earlier, when we first met. We were there again, buddies again.
Everyone else could see it but me. I was whipped. She treated me like an abused puppy, feeding me enough kibble to keep me loyal and panting for more. I didn’t want to admit it aloud. I dated a girl earlier in the year who grew upset when I didn’t return her calls and blamed my infatuation with Alex. I wouldn’t let her win that argument because she herself was far from a keeper, and nowhere near 4 year girlfriend material. But when three other girls I dated, friends and more, asked ‘Hey Ryan, what’s up with y’all?” routinely, clearly the lines of perception and reality blurred.
How do you know when you are in love with someone? Is it the constant unbearable weight, that pang in your chest, like a steroid laced cupid is doing dead lifts with your heart? Is it the stillness of the moment when they are in your thoughts, that comatose state of stone when you envision your magnificent Medusa in your mind.? Or is it nothing more than heat you feel when you are alone with them, the sheer chemistry of it? When I was in high school, when my brain installed an emotional system to go with the mechanics of my reproductive system, I developed a crush on this very soft-spoken skinny girl with big tits. Her boyfriend graduated a year earlier, but when he was there, he was a decent football player and above average prankster. So when I finally made a move on his girlfriend and she kissed me, it was more than I had ever expected. Dammed emotions overflowed and I became a man of the what ifs and the maybes, but still I knew it would never culminate. She would never break up with her boyfriend for me, no matter how many states away he might be. Not in this town, where things like high school boyfriends matter forever, because you die survived by your high school friends in this town. I’d been in Tulsa long enough to know that. Summer ended. School started with my loins needed an oil change from pumping so much lust. But right away, my infatuation for the skinny girl with tits was over. She was not worth the chase or the public lampooning in store if she or anyone else decided to tell her boyfriend what we did last summer. In that school, she was a princess and the princess never marries a slave. With Alex, it was different. While the skinny girl with tits could make me feel like a popular kid for a day, Alex would make me feel like a king forever.
But Alexandra was no queen. This is what I thought held me back from chasing her. Six months before, my confidence was low when she was new to me. I couldn’t have expressed myself even if I’d known how I felt. I grew a lot since then, in the feelings department anyway. I was sure I could tell her what I wanted, and I might even convince her to be with me, but I was no longer sure I wanted to. She had been selfish with me, or so people said. She kept me away from relationships because she wanted me to herself they said. All I knew was that I grew tired of her fondling my dick and nothing more she started that again after the AKA party). I wanted more. I remember when it dawned on me. We bundled away in her bed in between classes. She sometimes became the cuddling type and I cherished these times when we lay together and blabbered ourselves to sleep. When I lay behind her, her hair, flowing and black, draped down her back and lay against my chest. I always loved her smell, her aromatic hair was borderline nauseating. Her tresses were not sprayed with any sort of perfumes though. It was always natural smell, of milk and honey laden soap, perspiration, and the spring morning that surrounded us. It was like she showered and walked the campus in the robe she wore lying next to me. I blame the smell to this day. It was the hook and still the first thing that comes to mind when I think of her. I never let on. Even when I skipped class to cuddle for another hour and another 30 minutes later, I couldn’t get up and walk away, always only to prevent her begging me to go. I never let on that I was in love with her. One day, I walked back to my dorm, and I decided on her. I would pronounce my affection for her that night. I knew she was a bit twisted. She was abrasive at times. Who knows if she was ever serious about anything but herself. I didn’t. But I wanted to know these things and everything else about her and I hoped to spend eternity learning her.
Shame on me. I had to be the first to know she said on the phone. As soon as the day ended and I finished dinner, I rang her up and we met in her room. It was a weird mood in the air.
“I’ve got a new boyfriend. I’ve was talking to him since me and Antonio broke up and today I decided that I need to feel what he feel like. It’s hard because I want to use him. But he’s cute, so I think I will wear him around for a bit too”, she said. I’d heard this one already. I don’t really remember how the conversation went next. I definitely didn’t tell her how much I cared.I sat on the edge of her twin bed, and pressed my palms together around a pillow so tightly folded that it looked like crumpled paper when I put it down. I lit a quiet white rage then tried to scale it down before tears boiled up in my eyes. I left while she continued talking. It rained as I walked back to my dorm room, so I let a tear or two go as I stepped through the campus. yard She killed me again. Just like the first time. It wasn’t a confidence thing and it couldn’t be blamed on bad timing. There was something more to this torture. It had to be.
Shame on me.
alexandra called alex, number 7
If there was one person on campus that I considered my foil, my competition, it was Jason. Of the limited number of regular guys on campus, Jason was the one most like me. He was about my size and complexion. I might have had an inch, but he outweighed me by about 10 pounds. He trumped me in fashion points, but I was definitely smarter and a lot funnier. When I first met him, he wore a Chicago White Sox hat that I was envious of, but couldn’t acknowledge of course and refused to buy because I didn’t want anyone to say I wanted to be like him. I didn’t say much to him outside of the basketball court, but on a campus with so few of us, we all shared a friendship built on the circumstances, so we all were the best of pals.
I had never been envious of another person or spiteful until Alex deflated my ego for the second time that school year. Then things fell apart. The nightclub venture went belly up when we couldn’t keep a steady crowd week over week. The mismanagement was so bad, we paid ourselves in beer the last week because we knew we’d sell the bar and cooler soon after. I struggled to keep my 3.5 GPA and had no interest in any new knowledge from textbooks. I burned out on school. I needed someone to be the scapegoat, and that someone was Jason. I am not sure if he was my nemesis or archenemy, but I lived to prove I was better than him.I had nothing to keep me busy with the deejay gig gone kaput. I avoided Alex for a while. I didn’t want to share any of myself with her. I didn’t want to open up to anybody. And I didn’t want to hear about her new relationship. I silently prayed that she didn’t like him, so that I could believe she might still be mine one day.
Was I depressed? Not yet. Not like my first year in Tahlequah or the first semester’s disappointment, when I suffered in room with six packs and sappy music. I was happier, though not joyous. I was angry at myself more than anything. I felt like the last kid picked to play, the old man who never got to yell bingo. If the semester weren’t nearly over, I might have slipped back into a morose and melancholy state. As god’s grace in my life, only eight weeks of class remained when Jason and Alex began dating and that helped me keep up through midterms.
I strolled around the campus as the night fell silent, counting light poles and lanterns I passed them. I created little brain fillers, mostly games like this, to keep her off my mind. On that night, it was the lantern game. The game was silly and neurotic and as author I have the right to withhold these details, but you need to know this. You to need to know how deep in my mind and in my heart she dug herself in. She burrowed deep, buried like a stranded soldier in a foxhole behind enemy lines. I created the diversions because I wandered about campus and thought of her more than I did much else that I remember, and I didn’t want to live that way anymore.
On that night as I strolled past lanterns and light posts, I saw a figure standing on the back stoop of the dorm. Haskell Hall was on the far end of campus and usually the turnaround point for the journey. As I neared the steps, a face appeared and a familiar voice spoke to me.
“Hey stranger. How you been?” I hadn’t seen her in a couple of months. “Where have you been hiding at?” Yessica asked.
“Hey girl. Are you out here smoking a cigarette? What? I’d have never suspected it. Tsk, tsk, tsk.”, I joked. “How have you been?”
“Fine. Just fine. Ryan, I am not an angel! I don’t know why you think I’m so innocent.”
“Haha. Naw it’s because you play basketball and all so i thought you were a health nut. I know you’re a bad girl. I heard your reputation”, I said coyly.
“Well its been a long day and I need a cigarette.” She broke a smile as she exhaled and her face with blush. “Do you want one? You walking in the dirt like you need it.”
“Well if you insist. But don’t put it on me if your coach catches you.” I walked the steps and sat on the stoop next to her. She handed me the cigarette and the lighter. It was my first cigarette I’d smoked that entire year. In that solemn moment, the cigarette was the elixir to my lovesick mind. With each inhale, I was less tense and with each exhale, I was more hopeful. Soon, we were on our second and then third cigarettes. The nighttime sky fell on us and we decided to call it a night.
As I sprang to my feet to leave she pulled my shirt tail back, I turned, and she leaned in to kiss me. It would have been a great kiss if I were not worried about the taste of smoke that lingered in our mouths. She didn’t notice though, as she slid her tongue between my teeth and sucked on mine as if it were to melt. She released me and with a soft exhale, she asked “How come you never called me? I really wanted to have a boyfriend this year and I thought we were gonna talk. I mean…. Like…I’m sorry I blurted that out but really why didn’t you call me?”
“I, um..I just wasn’t sure if you liked me. I was a bit shy. And then I heard this rumor that maybe you were into girls so I figured that was reason enough not to chase you I guess. Trust me after that kiss, I’m regret it.”
“Wait. Somebody told you what? That I’m a lesbian? Why would anybody think that? Who said it?”
“Naw. I can’t even say it. You know I’m not a drama starter. I only asked them if they thought we made a good couple and she told me it might be hard because you might like girls. Nobody is running around calling you a lesbian or nothing.”
“That’s not cool though. I promise you can trust me. I’m not a lesbian so I don’t care to prove that to anyone. How could I anyways? Go and fuck guys in public? But I do want to know who got my name on they lips. I promise you I’ll never say nothing to them, but I need you to tell me.”
“Well don’t say shit. And let me ask, who do you think said it?”
“Bingo. I don’t think she meant no harm by it, so keep your promise and don’t say shit.”
“I won’t but I’ll tell you, its funny that she is the one who said it.”
“Yeah, why is that?”
“Because. She is the one who came on to ME! She was right here on that step at the start of the year asking me all these dyke ass questions and if its okay if she rub on my legs. Then she asked if she could kiss ME! She came back the next day and said she got drunk and asked to keep it secret and all that. Ooooooooh! I tell you.”
“So she tried to kiss you?”
“Yes Ryan. Her ass is the gay one.”
“Damn, that’s a shocker”, I said as I hugged her goodbye. “I guess I’m sorry I said it. I’m glad we got to hang though. I’ll catch up with you soon.”
I walked away and all of me wanted to immediately go to Alex and ask if it was true. How could it be I thought? She’d been a tenant in my head for nearly a year. I knew her! I’d considered every possible notion when it came to Alex and my relationship (or the lack of one), but never did I consider that she was gay.
alexandra called alex, number 8
What do I blame her for? If she was homosexual, and looked the way she did, no one would forgive her. How could she be honest with anyone? Guys and girls would say she was a waste of beauty. She’d get an onslaught of callers. If the dyke community on campus received word that she joined their ranks, they’d stop at nothing to test her hole. And her friends would never forgive her, for hiding the most encompassing part of who she is from every one of us.
I went to her room on my last day of class. We planned to say goodbye and meet again in Tulsa that summer. It was our first time alone since Yessica shared the story. I was ready to leave Tahlequah. I hadn’t told many people but I applied for a few other schools. I wasn’t sure if I would leave NSU for good, but I didn’t do as well in my second year, and my English professor told me to consider a new major, so I decided to also consider a new school. I wanted to spend some quality time in Tulsa mulling it over, which means that I would obviously base my decision on the interactions with Alexandra that summer.
We sat on her bed and talked. We always slept or lay on her bed. The television was always on but we never listened. She joked that she needed summer school then she reiterated her promise to see me in Tulsa. Then I interrupted her. “You know I’m thinking about going to Clark next year right? I got my acceptance letter yesterday.”
“What? Why are you trying to leave me here by myself? And you know I want to move to Atlanta.”
“I don’t really want to come back here. You can come with me.”
“That’s bullshit. Why you just now telling me? You wasn’t gonna tell me at all huh? I know you. I can’t believe you would disappear on me.”
“What do you mean disappear? I’ll see you this summer. You’re always so needy. I’m not even gone yet.”
“I have to tell somebody about my problems”, she said. “Who else can I trust?”
“Alex, I am sure you will find a boy willing to listen to your bullshit. It just ain’t me.”
“That’s a really mean thing to say. What did I do to you?”, she said as she jumped to her feet and moved away to the furthest corner of the room.”
“Nothing. I’m sorry. But please stop playing the victim.”
“I am the victim. Jason cheated on me. Can you act like you care for a little at least?”
“What do you mean? I do care. I’m sorry to hear that. So what are you gonna do?”
“I broke up with him already.”
“You sound sure this time,” I snapped.
“Are you really gonna be like that? After all we’ve been through?”
“Alex, I have to ask you something and I don’t know how to say it. But I think there is a reason you have two month relationships and break up.”
“Yeah because guys are assholes.”
“I might let you have that argument if I didn’t know Antonio, but since I do, I need more.”
“What do you mean you need more?”
“I mean, you always blame me for limiting our relationship. And you blame Mariah–”
“–I don’t blame—-”
“–Wait let me finish. You blame Mariah for ruining me in eye your eyes but I got an STD check, right?, and you know I’m clean so that can’t really be the reason. You played with my dick but never did more, you never took it one step further. It doesn’t make sense. Don’t get mad, but I have to ask. Is it because you are gay?”
“What are you talking about?”
“I mean did Yessica really come on to you, or did you come on to her? I don’t know why you’re surprised I’m asking. Is that why you hated when I told you about her?”
“That’s dumb as shit. I can’t believe you’d ask me that. I was just dumped and you just asked me if I am gay? Yes, its clear we have no idea who each other are anymore.”
“I’m sorry I asked then, but it doesn’t make sense. You can have anyone you want. Why is it so hard for you to keep a boyfriend?”
“Because none of them compare to you Ryan. Is that what you want to hear? I don’t know what to say.”
And we didn’t say a thing. She plopped down beside me again put her soft clammy hand in mine as we stared at nothing. Tears swell in my eyes and I bit my lip to hold them back. I let my stoic go when her tears fall on my hand, then my tears cascaded onto our interlocked palms. We sulked in the silence for a few minutes. It could have been eternity. It felt like the end.
I left early the next morning to never return to NSU or Tahlequah again.
alexandra called alex, 9
What happens to a love deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore– And then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over– like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode?
There was a time when I didn’t look at a pretty girl and wonder if she could be gay. There was a time when I didn’t wonder how bat shit a girl might be either. Alex ruined that. The summer came and went and we managed only one meet up. It was a brief hello in the mall food court a few weeks after the semesters end. I didn’t have a car, so I asked a friend to take me. Boys will be boys and even though I wanted to go it alone, a few more piled in. They just had to see what the girl looked like. I guess I talked about her a bit too much and never expected it to ever matter. When we all arrived at the mall, she was alone, her and only her, and she was a little intimidated by the lengthy introductions and obvious cock-blocking. I separated her from the group and we walked the other way and reminisced about the school year and whether I would return in the fall. I really hadn’t given it much thought I told her. And that was about it. She walked the other way and I walked back to my buddies.
I went to Chicago for the rest of the summer and never reached out to tell her that I wouldn’t return to NSU. I made my decision on the Greyhound bus ride to my family’s town. It’s at least 15 hours by bus, but I didn’t pass the time thinking of Alex. I was too busy flirting and making out with the passenger next to me. She boarded in some town in southeast Missouri. She walked the aisle and scanned the empty seats around me and across the aisle. I expected her to sit alone, in the two empty seats across the aisle, but when she got closer, I saw that she didn’t look at the seats as much as she looked directly at me. I locked eyes with her until she stopped and sat right next to me. We introduced ourselves immediately and struck a conversation about our comings and goings. She was from Waukesha, a suburb of Milwaukee, so we ended the affair with a promise to visit each other at the annual car shows in both cities, since she said she was into tuner racing. I learned about her sisters and her mom, and I am sure I told her about mine. We talked about Alex. And she told me about her boyfriend in the army, who she went to visit on that trip. We got to know each other as custom, and when we crossed the Illinois state line, we stuffed our hands in each others pants and made the trip memorable. I know I got lucky. Here I am on a greyhound bus when a Laotian nymphet falls from the sky into my lap. But when I think about how it unfolded, I knew it was supposed to happen. As the bus dragged along and the other passengers slept into the night, we kept our conversation low, to disguise our busy bodies beneath the throw blanket she brought from her baggage. She pulled a matching towel from the bag and told me to let her know when I was about to cum. When I waved the warning flag, she tossed the towel and used her smile instead. She tickled the tip with her tongue and I bit my lips to hold a burst of giggles, satisfied and empowered. She sipped some Sprite and few minutes later, we were at it again. This scene repeated itself until I came to the 95th street station in Chicago and bid her goodbye. She gave me a photo with her number on the back.
When I got to Chicago, I was too busy with family to worry about the girl stuff too much. When I did get free time, I found enjoyment exploring Chinatown, checking out girls who looked like Linda, the girl from the bus, and buying clothes on my first credit card. I was a bit confused and went around the city trying to pick up Asian girls. It was a short-lived infatuation, due to the lack of success. It was summer time in Chicago though, and I worked and earned money for my exploits, so I had no complaints. It was my first time home for an entire summer since I was sophomore in high school. I rejuvenated my spirit with the time back home in Chicago, but stupid and ashamed that I let my world become so small. Alex was the icing on my time in Oklahoma. I didn’t tell anyone in my family about the girl who played my emotions like a harp. It didn’t take much thought to decide against school at NSU. I had the most friends in Nashville, so I transferred to school there, first at Vanderbilt and then Tennessee State University. Between the two schools, I had enough distractions to keep me on track to graduate in 7 years. By the time I graduated college, Alexandra was an old friend in an old picture frame. But we did speak a few times before I finished college. I couldn’t take my vinyl collection to Chicago with me, so I left them at my uncles in Tulsa, until I found a place off campus in Nashville. I phoned her up and we planned to meet when I made it to town. I waited until I was about to leave until I called her, but we had time for a brief drink when she got off of work. She came clean and told me the truth then. She was homosexual. Yessica was telling the truth and Alex said I should the first of her true friends to know the undeniable truth. I believed it already. There was no other reason her behavior could have been so hard to understand. I can’t really say how I felt when she said it. I am not sure if I felt relieved, or let down, or pitying, or shocked again. I know I accepted it. A few months later, I returned for a holiday and I met her girlfriend. Then we drifted. She changed numbers, or I did, and we moved on, to new friends and confidants and candidates for soul mate. That was the end of our story.
Until Alex called me this morning.