My Half Day of Hell

This is the real story not the Official Story of my break up with Carrie. With a fictional one around, passing itself off as believable, now the truth can be told. 

One long. One short. Being a romantic interest for anyone has never been on my short list of things-to-do. I often find myself completely oblivious to the attentions and flirtations of the opposite sex. Since so much of my private life is spent in intense solitary study, when I do make a public appearance it I go full bore to capture as much fun a possible. I don’t do anything to impress or show off; my sole objective is to amuse myself, usually at someone else’s expense. As I’ve stated before, it’s one of my natural geniuses. This has tended to cause a blind spot where women where concerned, as I simply never noticed their interest.

As such, my relationship with Carrie was stumbling and odd. Generally, as my fun-time activities were insulting others, drinking, and reading for 8 hour stretches; the rest of the time I went along with whatever the hell she wanted.

“Let’s go here,” She’d say.

“Will there be booze and people to pick on?”

“Yes.”

“Well, what are we waiting for?”

The entire affair was viewed through an alcoholic haze. We’d go out, get drunk, have sex at someone else’s house, recuperate for a day, and do it all over again. This was fun, but Carrie’s ambition was a life in the army, and I was wasting my life in college. She enlisted and I was rather upset. I didn’t want to let go of the good times, so I made a desperate play to hang on. Having brilliant hindsight skills, I see that it was doomed from the start. I had an inkling at the time as well, but thought fuck it. It sure seemed like a good idea at the time. We became engaged two weeks before she went in, and all of her relatives seemed to embrace me. So all was well with the world.

A lot of the problems with our relationship came from the fact that we generally had different views on life. To her, people acted a certain way, listened to certain music, , thought a certain way, talked a certain way, and only watched certain types of TV and music (mainstream, i.e. crap). And I… well I did and thought whatever I wanted without constantly gauging what others did. It’s not just that she had rigid views , it’s that she seemed terrified of going outside of the. A class xenophobia I’ve noticed in people whose education doesn’t extend beyond high school (and nearly everyone I’ve met who’s a Southerner.) In short all she wanted was to fit in (the army being a perfect place for that) and I couldn’t care less about the whole thing. Which is my blessing and my curse.

Let’s face it. It isn’t that I just enjoy crossing these invisible social lines. It simply is that I often don’t see them. This can cause all sorts of odd and embarrassing situations. Only embarrassing though if you care.

The departure was a tearful affair, and it threw me into a depression that lasted days. I was lonely. My one outlet was getting stoned and drunk at Rocky Horror. By that time I had made friends with a new group of people, the core of which founded the Dashwood Society. Our motto was, “Anything for a laugh,” and we attempted to fulfill this at every opportunity.

This is pivotal to the story, because through Rocky Horror I made the acquaintance of a wonderful new individual, who is now a trucker through America’s heartland, Rob. At the time, Rob was just some guy with long hair, that showed up regularly at Rocky, with a laugh like a braying mule. I wasn’t until I attended the luxurious Erie Community College North Campus, and was part of it’s famous Honors Society that Rob and I became fast friends.

Through him I met a host of other people: Ian, Atomic Don and Mary, plus many sundry others. He lived at, the then infamous, 64 Windspear. The parties at which made Comstock’s pale in comparison. I later became friends with several of them, but was chiefly known as “that weird guy Rob hangs out with.” He lived there with Ian and a number of others, who had established it as “THE” party palace, where alcohol was on tap 24 hours a day. Many times I met fascinating inebriated people, had long talks and formed deep ties of friendship, then never saw them again.

My first remembered meeting with Mary was at Rocky Horror. She and Rob came in, said, “Hi,” and sat down. Quite a ground breaker. Still what do these things matter? Mary had moved in with the 64 Windspear crowd, after an altercation with her parents, about her dropping out of college.

Rob and I became fast friends. We hung out, gamed, shot-the-shit, drank and generally fucked around. Then tragedy struck 64 Windspear, like a tragic thing doing tragic things. All of the purchasing and distributing of alcohol caused people to shockingly come up late with the rent. A couple of months after I met them, they all got evicted. Rob and Mary were homeless, and I, again always generous with things not mine, offered them a place to stay at my mothers. My Mom, after coming home and meeting two strangers and being told that they would be living there for an undetermined amount of time, welcomed them. Rob was given the upstairs room, next to the attic, and Mary the basement apartment. If you think Mary got the raw deal, I have to point out that it was summer and the un-air-conditioned upper floor became incredibly hot. This is something Aaron can certainly attest to, when he lived in it for four months one summer in 92, only to pay for one month, and now has finally paid the back-rent in 2008. My mother says , “Thank you,” Aaron.

Life turned as normal. Rob bought his infamous mail truck, and joined the NOCO team. Mary got a job at Wilson Farms. They stayed for a bout two months and then found a place in the upstairs apartment of 84 Windspear which had been repopulated with friends of the originals, so the parties kept on going. The only problem was that Rob and Mary had neglected to tell the landlord that they were moving in, so on periodic occasions they would have to franticly pack up their stuff and scurry below decks, when the owners brought perspective tenants by.

I sent and received various letters to Carrie all through boot camp. She had come home briefly, and we spent two weeks together before she left again.

Mary’s and my friendship endured, and without my noticing it, expanded. At the time, of course, I didn’t see the tell tale signs of Mary’s initial attraction to me. As I spent most of my life just drifting along and only half paying attention, I tended to miss subtle hints until they were thrust upon me. It culminated one night when we drunkenly exited the Windspear apartment and walked down the unlit back stairs. I was a step below her, talking inanities, when she said,

“Dan?”

I turned around, replying, “What’s up?”

When she grabbed my head and attempted to kiss me. Due to the landlords being too cheap to supply light bulbs, she misjudged where my mouth was and slid a probing tongue up a nostril.

As dignified as the scene was, she quickly recovered and apologized. We had a nice heart to heart where I explained that I was engaged, had genuine feelings for Carrie, and that we should just be friends. The phrase “head up my ass” should probably surface here. Not to say that I wasn’t flattered and into Mary, but I had made my choice and decided to stick by it. With perfect hindsight this was the right and wrong thing to do.

Still we continued on having a good laugh and enjoying life as much as we could. I can say that with Carrie, I probably enjoyed the idea of being engaged more than the actuality of it. Still a time of reckoning came, and I saved up some cash and offered to fly down to some hellhole in Virginia, where Carrie was stationed, to stay a few days on her base. She seemed genuinely pleased with the idea.

From what I understand, if all of the military bases in Virginia were shut down, the state’s entire economy would collapse. Nice, and it shows. From what I saw, the entire state was filled with greasy, ill-kempt rednecks, wandering around, getting drunk, and beating on each other. “You don’t want to mess with me man. I’m a hurricane, locked inside a box of tsunamis!” Flaunting some idiotic macho posturing best left in the school yard, but seems to occupy the majority of unofficial military discourse. Bluff, bully, big talk, drink, fight, such is a soldiers life.

I flew into some airport, and sat around for a few hours waiting to be picked up. Finally she and some others did arrive. We embraced, but I noticed a certain hesitation in her hug. Like she did really know what to do. She introduced me to some of her friends, with whom I didn’t fit in at all. My hair was long and curly, pulled back into a ponytail, and my dress sense was haphazard. As one black guy stated, “Boy sticks out like a sore thumb around here.”

It was later explained to me that Carrie’s actions over the next few days were quite deliberate. She didn’t want to be attached to me anymore, but was too immature or passive-aggressive to tell me. She decided to piss me off in order that I would end it, without her having to.

Right away she acted as if I were a fifth wheel. She would go off and talk to people, and not introduce me. Didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything. I was staying at her barracks on base, which was verboten, so I was not to do anything when she wasn’t there. The days passed in excruciating boredom. Lucky for me I enjoyed reading, or I would’ve gone crazy.

I was only there three days and it was the longest of my life. We went each night to the club on the base, where she went out of her way to dance with other men in front of me, and then tell me about it. She often got massively drunk, talked a lot of shit, and often slipped off; leaving me behind to do whatever.

It wasn’t all bad. I met a couple of good guys, and we hung out and drank. However, having little knowledge or interest in military culture, our conversations were somewhat limited, whereas that’s all they talked about. Looking back at it, I think they only enjoyed my company because I listened to what they said, without trying to one-up them, and agreed with whatever they said. Which is my habit when confronted with an area beyond my immediate understanding.

Still I was pissed. This “fucking bitch” was acting all kinds of assholic for reasons I didn’t understand. But I thought, I’m out of here in a few days, just let it slide and go home. She was always funny and didn’t react to changing situations well. What’s a decent man to do? It’s all for love (or desperation).

It all came to a head the night before I left. She was drunk of course, needing a few belts of Dutch Courage to face the moment. It started with her bitching at me for sitting on her bed too hard. Making some bullshit claim that I could break it, and that she would wind up paying for it. An obvious attempt to create an argument that would lead to a break up.

My “whatever” attitude, refusal to rise to the bait, and sprawling on the bed with shoes on (ala Mike’s dorm); all of this took the wind out of her sails. So she sat down, and said,

“What do you think’s going to happen between the two of us?”

I outlined a naïve plan that seemed plausible at the time. She sat there stupidly looking down, and shaking her head as if in a Rain Man state.

“I just don’t think it’s going to work.”

I sat up. “What do you mean?” Knowing full well what it meant, but deciding to drag out the agony even longer.

“Us. I don’t see it happening.”

“Umm … uh.”

“Sorry.”

“Okay.” I said, not winning her over with eloquence. I took her hand, kissed her and started to take the engagement ring off of her finger. She snaked her hand back.

“What are you doing?”

“The engagement is over. Give me the ring back.”

“But this means so much to me and…” Blah blah blah; she went on. I don’t remember the specifics, but it was sappy, drunken and sentimental. By that time I was passed it. It was over. My heart was broken and I was dying inside, but I wouldn’t show it. I was determined not to give in and go out with some class and dignity. In the end, I had to wait for her to pass out and then take the ring off of her finger. Very classy.

She woke up the next morning and the ring was never mentioned again. I assumed that she forgot about it, but perhaps not. Neither of us having transportation, we had to catch a lift to the airport from a totally obnoxious prick, who spent the entire time bragging about how great he was. He would then ask me a question about my life, and go on about how he would never do anything like that, and how beneath him it was. A perfect end to a perfect evening. She was quiet on the journey to the airport, held my hand in the cart and gave a long kiss just before I left. Actually, I got to the airport three hours early, but she didn’t want to wait around, and I wasn’t in the mood for anymore nonsense, so I just said goodbye.

One might think that a period of mourning is in order here, and there was about twelve hours worth, from break up to hook up. Moving on was a lot easier than one might hope. First of all, living in another state, it was easy to cut her out of my life. I wasn’t going to accidentally run into her again or anything embarrassing like that. Plus, most of her friends got on my nerves so I didn’t socialize with them, when I wasn’t with her. Thirdly, in the back of my mind I felt that it wouldn’t have lasted anyway, so I guess I was just glad the entire thing was over with. As for Carrie, well, she should have tried harder. Still I was alone, and didn’t like the feeling.

I flew back to Buffalo re-reading James Thurber’s “My Life and Hard Times.” My mother picked me up at the airport, and was relieved to hear that my engagement was over. We never talked about it after that. I was depressed and needed cheering up. After throwing my shit in my room. I wandered over to 64 Windspear for some liquid cheer.

Rob was watching TV and Mary was sitting on the floor reading a book. They both greeted me warmly.

“Hey Dan,” She said, “How did it go with Carrie?”

“We, uh, broke up.” I said softly.

“Really?”

She smiled, and I caught a glint in her eye. Well what do you know? I thought, looks like my half day of hell is finally over.

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2 Responses

  1. Well it’s about damn time! Worth waiting for, however, and I’m hoping there are plenty of follow ups. I never heard this tale in its entirity (or perhaps lacked sufficient interest at the time it was told), but you told it well.

    Did you ever hear of her again after that?

  2. The upstairs was fucking hot! Again I apologise to Mr.s Mooney for being an idiot college student (not that it can be helped), and for piling on to having Dan as a son. I only know of a pittance of what this brought to her doorstep, but that alone is enough to make most mother’s crack.

    The mail truck! Rob had a fake plastic hand on the stick shift that he held hands with whenever switching gears. I only rod the mail truck one, but it was the coolest vehicle ever! This was the same conveyance that brought Dan’s special punch ot the final Comstock party, after which the empty punch bow travels in the back fo the mail truck for weeks.

    Damn right SHE SHOULD HAVE TRIED HARDER! We all know where that got you previously, but in this case she should have.

    An excellent post. Well worth the wait. I hope there are many more to come.

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