the only one i ever liked

In the past, I dismissed the idea of finding a romantic partner that is too much like myself. I wanted to be challenged and corrected where needed (and I was long overdue for a tune-up), while also enabled to an extent, of course… It’s foolish for someone to expect me to love them as much as I love cigarettes, and why should I stop drinking? Everyone else in my industry does it! 

I eventually met someone who engaging in conversation with felt as if they were reading my mind back to me — the good parts of it, none of the rot — and our connection was so beautiful that I realized that I was so full of shit, but obviously still able to talk out of my asshole to convince myself that “opposites attract” so I could further cling to the quixotic delusion that my soulmate was a different man whom I had a 10-year-long entanglement with. We had nothing in common besides neither of us knowing how to put an end to The Eternal Return™ and a mutual understanding and admiration for my fellatio skills. 

(He would likely cringe and scold me had he known that I, once again, mentioned him in the same paragraph as an extended metaphor for pooping, and I had the gall to think we could live happily ever after. I take five shits every morning… What the hell would I do? How would I live? Would I have to feign suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder and that I am not, in fact, holding up the wheels of progress to evacuate my irritable bowels yet again, but to knock on the wall that just so happens to be next to the toilet 17 times every 30 minutes or so before I permit myself to leave the house? 

Sometimes, I am so stupid that it hurts.)   

…Alas, the mirror I met that reflected only the best version of myself and I wanted to gaze into forever accidentally dedicated his heart to someone else before we stumbled upon one another, so this is not a triumphant story of someone who wrote a book about the treacherous lands their irrational vagina led them through finally stumbling upon healthy, genuine love… Maybe one day, but divorces are expensive and I can’t dismiss that I only feel so strongly about him because he is, by law, unattainable, and I love suffering. 

This is a story of how I met someone who was far too much like me and he threw up on our first date. 

It was the first day of high-school and the boy who sat behind me in homeroom class said, “Is that a Glassjaw shirt? Nice.” 

Assuming I was the only 14-year-old with elite and erudite enough taste in music to enjoy the likes of Glassjaw and their hypnotizing ballads about whores sucking upon “dicks that cum lead” because I had been viciously defending that stance with other, lesser teenagers on various message boards since middle school, I was taken aback. Feeling a flicker of hope that whoever they were, they uncannily resembled Gerard Way from My Chemical Romance during the Three Cheers era, I turned around to respond, but he was a fucking dweeb. He looked like the exact kind of person who would spend their Friday night arguing about the origins of post-hardcore on a message board. He looked like me. 

Years passed through senior year to graduation; Odd Future was the newest craze for every kid who thought they had edgy taste, and I could no longer tolerate screaming in music because I was high all the time and it stressed me out. I got hotter but never much cooler, and he lost his baby fat and fell into the group of “cool guys” because he was shrewd enough to keep them out of serious trouble and probably a welcomed relief to the women that lingered around them because he could actually hold a conversation. 

We somehow got to talking regularly, likely because I “understood Kendrick Lamar’s genius” or we both worked in restaurants or some shit, and it was like talking to myself. At 19, that mesmerized me: Most men I interacted with were morons that I permitted to come over because they were decent looking and their weed was even better, and he had a beautiful last name that I wanted as my own and I couldn’t wait to tell people that our first ever encounter was over my beloved Glassjaw.

(I knew the man I briefly mentioned in the introduction and I were in for a whirlwind of trouble when one night, I was smoking a cigarette by my car because I had downed a gin martini in one sip and needed a moment to collect myself and remember basic facts, such as my first name and what year it was. He walked up and we got to talking, the conversation careening from our preferred liquor varieties to music. He laughed at my enthusiastic rambling because I was drunk and that’s what drunks do, and just before he got in his car to leave, said, “Rose, your Every Time I Die fandom is just… gorgeous. How much you love them is the cutest thing. Have a good night.” 

Because I never grew up — I only got older — I jerked open my car door, plopped down, melted into the seat, and fell in love.)

One night, it was blizzarding out and one of the homies was in a desolate state: Not only did she believe she was pregnant, but we were out of weed to smoke about it. We were in the middle of making a party banner that read “IT’S AN ABORTION,” the metallic letters dulled by smudges of black coal because the kitchen table was not for eating, but smoking hookah on, when he, my Glassjaw-loving-obvious-other-half, came through. “…While I am going to ignore the peculiar and questionable circumstances you listed regarding why you and the homies are desperate, I would never deny a pretty girl in need of weed,” he said. 

We piled into the (rumored — we later learned that she wasn’t pregnant, she just had… cancer… common mistake…) child’s father’s 1993 four-wheel-drive station wagon, and peddled at about five miles-per-hour to his house. I blushed as everyone fawned over how sweet he was to be willing to help us in such precarious conditions; you would’ve thought him not letting a snow-storm stop him from making $40 (as long as we came and got it) was the modern-day equivalent of him placing his jacket over a puddle so I didn’t muddy up my kitten heels. 

Winter turned to warmer weather, but we never progressed and it confused me. We made dates and he would bail; he’d disappear for weeks; I chalked it up to the fact that while I was vastly intrigued by him and how much we had in common, he was probably intimidated for the same reason, while also not dismissing that if really was that similar to me, then he just may be a piece of shit. 

One day, he texted me that he was “finally” going to take me out — no more “bullshit,” he promised — and invited me to a hookah bar. While I did feel an immediate deluge of shame that his idea of making up for his elusive, shitty behavior was treating me to an evening at a hookah bar, it was short-lived because, well… that was my ideal, perfect date spot. I loved our hookah (and I am fairly certain that is what gave my best friend cancer because we didn’t know you had to regularly clean it for the first six months we had it and scooped out nearly a pint glass of a mysterious green sludge when I finally did) and the guaranteed nicotine intake eliminated the possibility of me spending this date suffering as I did through so many: dreadfully nervous and thinking only of cigarettes… trying to listen to my date and provide thoughtful, articulate, and charming responses despite their profile fading out as they morph into a life-sized Marlboro 27… and desperately wishing they’d get an important phone call with desolate news that would occupy and distract them long enough for me to sneak off and chain smoke enough to turn me back into a normal person who is ready to love and be loved in return. (So about three, at least.) 

He picked me up, and I was in such a surprised daze to be actually sitting next to him and on our way to spend a few hours together that I did not notice that he parked his brand new car (meaning a 2015 model… in the year 2014… just got it that week… I gushed appropriately…) by a street sign, of which I gracefully slammed open my door directly into. 

We got a table and a hookah and began chatting away, in between me puffing away (probably to such an extent that the state of Virginia had to issue a fog-warning that evening), and he must have felt inclined to keep up with me, which I either did not notice him struggling at through the thick cloud of smoke or because I was too occupied with my two favorite activities — smoking hookah and sharing only the most hilarious and impressive anecdotes about myself — because I was a bit surprised when after only thirty minutes, he excused himself to the bathroom, and then asked if we could leave: I had… out-smoked him to such an extent that he vomited.

“Oh… Well… Ok…” I muttered, slowly lowering the hose from my mouth to finally note that he was, indeed, pale… and then took another enormous drag because he paid for it and I wasn’t going to let it go to waste. 

He apologized incessantly for the first few minutes of the car-ride home until I interrupted him. 

“Did I really out-smoke you until you barfed, or were you just having a bad time? You can be honest.”

He laughed. “No, Rose, you out-smoked me. I promise. We’ll go out again soon.”

I was the kind of girl that you took to a hookah bar; I was a human chimney; I was an emetic; I was a pillar of shame. “That’s so embarrassing,” I groaned. “…For me… Not you… Don’t bother taking me home… Find a steep ditch, slow down to about 50, and kick me out… I deserve nothing…” 

Shortly after, he fell madly in love with someone who looked just like me but had a bigger butt and better dental, and I watched them and their happiness from a distance… while probably smoking hookah and a cigarette at the same time. 

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