Memorabilia and Forgetabilia

This was my first girlfriend, Shelly Sweisgood. We dated when we were five. Fortunately, I didn't write her any letters.
This was my first girlfriend, Shelly Sweisgood. We dated when we were five. Fortunately, I didn't write her any letters.

I was digging through a box of relics today, and came across some fine memories, along with a whole trove of crap I’d like to forget.

At the core of the profound embarrassment I felt as I dug through old letters to and from old girlfriends was this terrible advise: “Just be yourself.”

I don’t know who came up with this first. Maybe it was Freud or maybe it was Mike Damone from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, but man, what a crock. Being myself essentially resulted in most of my teens, twenties and thirties being a desolate wasteland of dateless Saturdays and beautiful women telling me they just wanted to be friends.

And for anyone who is keeping score: women don’t want men who like to write in their journals, listen to poetry readings, or cry when Leonardo Dicaprio dies in Titanic. They want men who can drive a tractor, shoot a shotgun, or survive a bar fight.

Jena Owrey wrote this note to remind me to bring a tape of the Carpenters song "Bless the Beasts and the Children" for a tenth grade speech project we did together. At the bottom she wrote, "And you, too, Richard." It's one of the few things from that era I find uplifting, even today.
Jena Owrey wrote this note to remind me to bring a tape of the Carpenters song "Bless the Beasts and the Children" for a tenth grade speech project we did together. At the bottom she wrote, "And you, too, Richard." It's one of the few things from that era I find uplifting, even today.

And no offense to gays, but to the women who told me I “have a quailty,” screw you. If I have a “quailty,” it’s asshole, not homo.

Anyway, I threw away some of the greeting cards. Greeting cards don’t mean much to me even the day I get them, since they say, “I was too lazy to write, so I paid Hallmark $1.75 to do it for me.”

I did not, however, throw away any of the letters. It’s an interesting paradox, since I desperately desire that every letter I ever wrote to a girlfriend ended up at the bottom of the dump, or maybe as a puff of smoke in an ex-boyfiend letter-burning ceremony. It’s almost unbearable to imagine those women reading my lame, romantic prattle as they drink wine late at night. My prattle is at least as lame as theirs was, and yet here I am, keeping their letters. In some ways, I think of them not as memories, but as evidence.

Since 2003, of course, I have been connected with the amazing Abby, my wife. I love her for all the right reasons. An added benefit, though, of being with her is that I don’t have to writhe like a worm chasing women any more.

Here's some more of the old stuff I was sorting today. I swear, one of these days that One Peso note is gonna be worth millions.
Here's some more of the old stuff I was sorting today. I swear, one of these days that One Peso note is gonna be worth millions.
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