After being dumped by his girlfriend, Daniel, 18, looks for comfort in U2, dance clubs and other girls. Reprinted from 1997.
Reprinted from March – April 1997
“I’ve found another guy,” my girlfriend said, fighting back tears. I guess I was naive. I thought we’d always be together. We stayed up all night talking on my back porch while I tried to figure out what I would do without my best friend. Who would I talk to late at night? Who could I cuddle with when it rained? I was on my own again.
The first couple weeks she dominated my thoughts. If I saw a couple kissing on TV, I’d change the channel. At the video arcade, I remembered the times she would distract me from playing video games by kissing me. I remembered how she saved the first roses I gave her until they turned black. Sometimes I’d stand outside at night, hoping she’d drive up in her red Explorer.
One day I snapped. I started listening to U2’s “With or Without You,” sipping a beer (which tasted like warm urine), and staring at an old picture of us from a photo booth. I went to my room and cried. It was the first of many depressing lonely nights.
One night I went to a dance club by myself. When I got to the door I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go in or not. But the ticket guy said that pretty soon the place would be “crawling with girls.” All I remember about that night was the loud, annoying band and a bunch of drunk women grabbing onto some guy with greased back hair and ugly yellow pants.
Then my friend had the brilliant idea of going to a strip club. While we were around the little table that the girl dances on, the other guys started tossing down dollar bills so she would dance in front of them. We were all staring at the same piece of skinny, high-heeled fantasy. I just couldn’t enjoy myself. What might have drawn the girls to becoming strippers? What if they were abused or molested as girls? If this was the case with these girls then I felt ashamed for enjoying it. I left $40 poorer and feeling worse than when I came in, while my friend was glowing all the way back to my house, because he got the private lap dance.
Desperate for a new girlfriend
One night I went to the beach and started admiring the calm movements of the waves, the moon shimmering on the water. I noticed a girl who was sitting alone. “Maybe I can talk to her and she’ll be my new girlfriend,” I thought. We spent the night talking and walking around. After a while I started to realize that she wasn’t my ex-girlfriend and had no qualities resembling her. I bought her dinner, got her phone number and promised to call. When I got home, I threw the paper away.
Then I met a girl in an SAT class. When the class ended, we exchanged numbers and went out twice, but then I stopped returning her calls. It felt good when she called and I didn’t want to talk to her, and I just shooed her away. It was like a power thing. I really acted like a jerk.
There was another girl in my Spanish class. The first couple weeks of school I didn’t even notice her but as time went on, with the teacher babbling on, I started to get interested. I asked her if I could have her phone number in case I had any problems with my homework. The same night I called. She totally blew me off. She said she had to go because she was watching Beverly Hills 90210!
As I sat near her in class, I heard her talk about how good she looks and how she would only date a guy who dressed well. She talked about her manicures and what toenail colors best matched her blouse. I kept trying over and over to convince myself how superficial she was, but for some reason I still found her attractive. I don’t know, maybe it was the challenge of the whole thing. When a girl consented and liked me, it almost seemed too easy.
Then I remembered a girl I used to like a few years ago. She was still around. I agonized over how to approach her. First I sent her a Valentine. She came up to me and said, “Oh, that was very sweet.” That seemed like a green light, so I started following her around. I noticed where she parked her car. One day I waited for her by her car. “Um … I was just wondering if you would like to go out with me sometime?” She looked down at the ground and (while I was planning our marriage and what to name our kids) she said, “Sorry, I already have a boyfriend.”
I smiled politely, feeling so small that a cockroach could feast on me. As I walked away, I bit my big, white notebook as hard as I could, leaving huge tooth marks. I felt so bad that I started seeing things—weird shapes and colors. Everyone who passed me looked disfigured. I heard screeching voices in my head. I tried my best not to think about the incident, but I knew that I was in for several days of sorrow. I imagined a banner in front of the school reading “DANIEL GOT REJECTED.”
I called my old girlfriend once in a while, but it was painful to talk to her when we weren’t really close anymore. Finally I started dating this other girl for about a month and a half. We went to the movies and went out to eat and talked on the phone. Finally I asked her what she thought of me. She said that she just thought of me as a “friend.” A friend? Just a friend? I dropped my head in disappointment. I knew that I wasn’t going to be calling her anymore. She said, “I’m sorry if I hurt you but I still want to hang out. I feel bad because I value our friendship.” That pissed me off even more. How naive could she be? Did she think I was spending time with her just so I could be her friend?
So here I am still waiting for that “special someone.” And let me tell you I’m tired of waiting, tired of playing games, tired of being rejected. I have heard all the advice on why you should ask someone out:
• “If you don’t ask her out, then you’ll never know what might have been.”
• “It doesn’t matter if you get rejected by 10 girls, as long as one says yes.”
• “What’s the worst that could happen, she takes out a gun and shoots you?”
• “When you finally find the right person, you’ll appreciate the relationship more.”
All of these little motivational tools sound nice and dandy but nothing I could write down will help make a rejection feel better.
But the truth is that I really didn’t get rejected as many times as I thought. When I first got the idea to write this story, I thought I’d be writing a three-inch novel. I discovered that I didn’t get rejected that much and when I did, I magnified the effects of it in my head. If I just felt like asking a girl out and I didn’t, I would consider that a rejection even though it really wasn’t.
Someday there’ll be a girl for me. She’ll be caring and open-minded. Maybe she’ll be different from me. Maybe she’ll be pretty. I’m not sure. This much I know: she won’t reject me.
|Daniel is now happily married and a teacher in Inglewood. He said, “I am a bit embarrassed over how I obsessed over this girl. Today things that are important to me are my wife, kids and being a good father. Funny how times change.”|