July 1, 2011

I have to turn my head until my darkness goes


It's a hazy collection of days that disperse into humid nights. This season, arguably the most imposing, doesn't have to do much to charm the clothes off this city. Nobody is decent after 80 degrees. The bleached-out atmosphere has my eyes to the ground and the blush in my cheeks.

I find myself trading grimaces with the video store clerks a few times a week. They indulge my truly atrocious tastes in the entertainment I choose to distract myself with. Lately, it's been a teen rom-com fest from at least 10 years ago. Latest hits include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, She's All That, Party Girl, and then I cheated the decade rule and rented Easy A (which was actually GOOD). But you get what I mean. Really dumb stuff.

Tonight is Josh's shift. Instead of a uniform, and because it's a small neighborhood business (and a dying one at that), the employees at what I have affectionally dubbed Videoloco are issued generously-sized white coffee mugs with the store logo and their names printed on them. Josh's is usually always filled with probably Asahi or maybe some IPA. I can't really tell, just that it smells like beer, but not the cheap stuff necessarily. He's about to put John Carpenter's They Live on the store monitor but I snatch it away instead to rent. Because of this, he denies my alter choice of Beastly. "On principle," he says with a half-hearted sneer.

Agness Deyn pops in to toss a DVD into the return slot. I notice her blond pixie crop preceding her tall lanky frame.
"Did you just check out that lady?" Josh raises his eyebrow.
"That's Agness Deyn. She's a supermodel," I say, matter-of-factly.
"Is that so?"
"So they say."
Josh shrugs. "I thought she could've been some sorta pretty dude for a second there." He lifts his mug to his face.

We share a cigarette outside, except I don't smoke. He's telling me about a girl he's met.
"See, she started out really interesting and clever and outspoken. And I'm into that. Now I don't know," he explains.
"What's her deal? Crazy? Too intense?" I siphon off of the major girl stereotypes of why things don't work out from the get-go.

"Nah, she's cool. She just likes me a lot and now she doesn't talk about interesting and weird stuff anymore. It's just about... her liking me," he said, unsure. "I mean, don't get me wrong. That's a good thing, that she likes me."
"Didn't you like her at first?"
"Well yeah. We totally had that quick banter thing going on right off the bat."

"Mhmm," I think aloud. "It's surprising how much more attractive someone is to you when you know that they're into you."
"Right?? Makes my life a lot easier," he says, exhaling smoke downwind.
I nodded, glancing streetward.

People liking me has generally had the opposite effect on my life, but I didn't need to confuse him any further by explaining that. There hasn't been one instance of infatuation where being on the receiving end amounted to much more than blind flattery backed by muddled devotion, followed by a sharp and unforgiving tug on the rug beneath me.
Sometimes for a month, sometimes a season. I've learned to stop indulging it. That's the nature of infatuation though, isn't it? It's an unchecked indulgence in admiration. Projecting one's own ideals onto a living person.
Infatuation never seems to be about the person you're admiring, it's generally always about the kind of ideal embodiment of all things you want in a person. Realizing this has rendered me near incapable of being infatuated with anybody. Not in a romantic sense anyway.

But I would never admit this to a probably drunk videostore clerk. Even one who is my friend. And not most anyone else for that matter. I may be young enough to still even be remotely desirable to probably the widest spectrum of age and demographic that I'll ever be--The things you take for granted in your twenties. I may be young enough to be wrong and not completely hopeless for being wrong.
And I may be kidding myself. But if there's anything I should learn from everything it's that if there's a spark, there's a very oft chance it may burn your life down. At least for a little while.

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