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Thursday, January 22, 2009

History of My Love Life, Episode 4: Machine Guns in the Desert

Well, after my second day of actually working out in my cycling class, my thighs are killing me. I feel like I can barely walk, let alone cycle, and yet I have another class tonight. Also, I have a slight case of sore crotch, as promised, and a gnarly bruise on my knee from jamming it into the emergency break, which so conveniently juts out between your legs on the newer bike models. Maybe I'll stick to an older bike tonight. Ah well, the first two weeks are always the worst, and then after that it's not so hard anymore. I look forward to that. But I am reminded of a certain little cycling-class-related episode several years back, which doesn't really qualify as part of my love life per se, since we never ended up going out (you'll soon see why), but I'll include it in the series anyway.



It was the last day of cycling class at HYPR East. I felt like I had made great improvements in my physical condition during the course of this class, but I did not feel as if I had made any friends. That was not the point of the class anyway; you can't very well carry on a conversation with someone when you're struggling just to breathe through 50 grueling minutes of torturous exertion. So, no, the class was not conducive to meeting people. Roll was called a few times toward the beginning of the semester until the instructor learned who was who, but there was no mention of names after that.

So I was surprised that evening, after my final class, when I heard my name called out behind me.

"Hey, Sra!" I stopped and glanced over my shoulder.

"Yes?" A boy approached with a look that belied his shock that he had actually spoken, and that he wasn't quite sure what to say next. He probably wasn't any younger than me, but he had a geeky quality that always seems to make people look younger than they are.

"That is your name, isn't it?" He asked sheepishly. Of course he knew that was my name. He was trying to play it cool.

"Yes." I said. Maybe at this point he expected me to ask what his name was. Maybe he actually told me what his name was, but the moment was so frought with his nervous energy that I can't remember.

"I have something I want to show you." He set his book bag on the floor and began rustling through it, eventually pulling out a file-folder.

"Ok," I said, stepping forward cautiously. I couldn't fathom what someone I had never even talked to might want to show me.

It was then that I noticed the picture of Jesus on the cover of the folder. Oh great, I thought, He's going to try to tell me about Jesus. I opened my mouth intending to say that I'd already heard about Jesus, thank you very much, and I wasn't interested, but before I could form the words, the boy had taken a page of photographs out of the file-folder and thrust it into my hands.

I looked down at the page, and the first photograph to catch my eye was that of a flaming white van in the middle of nowhere. Yes, flaming. Brightly on fire. My jaw fell open as my eyes wandered to the other photographs littering the page. A man lay on his stomach on the desert floor, cradling a large gun and sighting a target in the distance. A group of four or five men stood smiling and laughing, arms thrown about each other's shoulders in camaraderie. Broken bottles and not-yet broken bottles lined up along the desert floor, and more men with guns. Maybe this wasn't about Jesus after all.

"Sometimes I like to go with my dad and brothers out into the West Desert to shoot machine guns and blow stuff up," the boy started to say, and I looked up from the flaming van into his hopeful and suddenly courageous eyes, in which my own astonished eyes were reflected. "I thought perhaps you might like to come sometime."

"Uh..." I didn't quite know what to say, so I stalled for time, "You guys blew up this van?" I pointed down at the flaming van on the page held numbly in my fingers.

"Yeah," he grinned at me sheepishly, almost licking his lips like a cat pleased with the kill he's just laid at your feet.

"Wow....Huh....Um, I don't know." I looked at him, and felt like I couldn't say what I really wanted to say, which was something along the lines of, "Are you nuts?'Come with me and several other men you don't know into the Middle of Nowhere so we can SHOOT GUNS! Don't worry, we definitely will NOT kill or rape you!' I think maybe bowling, dinner and a movie, even coffee would be much more appropriate suggestions for a first date with someone you've never even talked to, don't you? K-THX-BYE!"

But instead I just said, "I'll tell you what. I'll give you my email address and we can talk about it, ok?" I took a pen from his opened bag and scribbled my email address on top of the page of photos, and then handed it back to him. He slipped the page back into his Jesus notebook, and I watched Jesus' face retreat back into the bag.

I tried to ignore the boy's visibly crestfallen expression, as if I'd just called him an ugly loser and slapped him across the face. I gave him a quick smile and said, "I'll talk to you later," and then I quickly made my own retreat down the hall. I could almost feel Jesus winking at me beneath the canvas bag.

Much to my relief, the boy never emailed.





Previous Episodes of the History of My Love Life:

Episode 1: Ian
Episode 2: Specialized, Part 1
Episode 2: Specialized, Part 2
Episode 2: Specialized, Part 3
Episode 3: Like Me


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10 comments:

Natalie said...

wow! i can't imagine why you wouldn't want to go with him. fire, guns, groups of men...sounds like a dream date to me! hee hee!

sovknight said...

Worst pick-up line ever.

feed the world with PEZ said...

Society can be summed up in 3 categories of people. The sheep, the herders, and the serial killers. He would be one categorized as a serial killer and perhaps while mulling over the question "why was I rejected yet again.." at no time amidst these ponderings did he stop to think about that fact that he was sitting around smearing lipstick all over his face and spanking it to a newly printed edition of Guns and Ammo while wearing a freshly tanned cap crudely fashioned from the right buttock cheek of some unsuspecting person he stuffed under a log somewhere that recently rejected going out into the desert to "shoot machines guns and blow up stuff"... What a wanker..

Sra said...

Oh PEZ, it's no wonder I'm mad about you!

Dena said...

I wonder if that was the same guy who asked me to take a look at a few things in his bag - those few things being:
a) leather mask
b) leather whip
c) VHS tapes
d) something with spikes

It takes a special kind of woman to deal with that and I'm just not that special.

Claire said...

What...I don't...I just...uh...Jesus, and the machine guns, and...uh...vans...'splodin'.

Wow. I do believe I would've brained him with a rock and run for it. But in a dodging pattern, so that he'd have a hard time lining up his shot.

Just for the record, when Jesus went out into the desert, I'm pretty sure he didn't blow up anything. Although he could've done so, and then miracled it back together. I think that would make it difficult to be his friend growing up.

"Mom, Jesus smote Sarai again!"

"Jesuuus...what did I tell You about smiting your friends? Now You bring her back to life right this minute, young man, or no water-into-Kool Aid for you with lunch!"

I'm going to Hell, aren't I?

B.R. said...

This is a very interesting piece, Sra. Something gripping is being revealed here re: interpersonal relationships and how good a job they do at revealing the psychology of a place/people. An experience like this is more likely to happen in, say, Draper than downtown San Francisco. I am not rating places or condescending to one location in particular. No. What I'm saying is that the many layers of a place come to life better when you experience them. Your account made me think of Richard Florida's 2008 book "Who's Your City." Place and placement are never trivial matters.
And, personally, all I have to say on the matter is: what a trip!

Sra said...

Dena: Yikes! I'm not special enough for that either!

Claire: You are definitely going to hell. But it's worth it for jokes like that, isn't it?

B.R.: Thanks. That's an interesting thought. I agree that there's something about the SL Valley that might breed this kind of social-ineptitude over other places. I will check out that book.

Sra said...

Dena: Yikes! I'm not special enough for that either!

Claire: You are definitely going to hell. But it's worth it for jokes like that, isn't it?

B.R.: Thanks. That's an interesting thought. I agree that there's something about the SL Valley that might breed this kind of social-ineptitude over other places. I will check out that book.

Dena said...

I wonder if that was the same guy who asked me to take a look at a few things in his bag - those few things being:
a) leather mask
b) leather whip
c) VHS tapes
d) something with spikes

It takes a special kind of woman to deal with that and I'm just not that special.

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