THE ART OF GROWING UP

The days leading up to the 4th of July holiday, I spent alone — or should I say unsupervised, with my “manager” once again out of town on business. This left me occupied by nothing more than my digital piano and, after a while, the whims of idle hands… which can actually be quite dangerous, given my imagination.

And when songwriting grew tiresome on the night before the Big Bear trip, I hunted around in my closet for something to cut up, or paint, or otherwise ruin… just for fun. And so it was, with the help of a family sized jug of Clorox, I transformed a boring turquoise blue minidress into a canvas of wearable art, splattered with trailing blobs of amoeba-esque bleach spots.

I thought it looked awesome! But I couldn’t shake the feeling that it reminded me of something else. Something bad. Something I had carefully put out of my mind. And then, on the balcony in Big Bear, against a backdrop of glittering pyrotechnics, I finally remembered it: another bleach story from days gone by. Back when I wasn’t such a nice girl. Back when I was, come to think of it, a very bad girl indeed.

It all started my first week of college when I met Ty Schultz, a delicious looking football player from a neighboring campus, who, besides being the best tight end the college had ever seen, had the best tight end as well.

And he knew it.

Ty was one of those blonde haired, blue eyed winner boys with an obsessive compulsion to… well… collect pieces. Ty told me he was a single man. A good Presbyterian single man, for that matter. He seemed to have completely forgotten about three three long-term girlfriends I later learned he had. And gullible as I was a the time, I bit in hard.

Fortunately, Ty’s roommate (and my new guitar-jamming best friend) Brian warned me about the shark in the waters before I had a chance to make a fool of myself. But I was still inwardly humiliated, and that made me furious. Fuming, I picked up a pen and Bri’s guitar. I’d have to write a song about this. But after searching for words and coming up dry, I scribbled “T.S. is a wanker” all over my notebook, and left things at that.

Several days later, Ty found my notebook sitting on the kitchen counter and took it to Brian. “This is about me, isn’t it?” he asked. “She hates me, doesn’t she?”

“Naw, course not, buddy,” Brian insisted.

When Brian told me this, I grinned. Ah, such simple pleasures. I did not hate Ty; I didn’t have enough of an investment in him for such heady emotions. I had simply determined that he was a player in the true sense of the word. Disgusted for making my initial infatuation with him completely obvious, I decided to lash out and teach him a little lesson.

But how??

I was still trying to devise a plan when the phone rang.

“Hi. Is Ty there?” a sweet voice asked. “This is Dominica.”

Oh yeah? E pluribus unum.

“Uh, he’s in the bedroom with Susan right now,” I answered, greatly impressed with my own impromptu abilities. “What your name again? Can I take a message?”

Dominica let out a little exasperated sniff. “Can you go get him?” she demanded.

“Uh, like I said, he’s in the bedroom with his girlfriend.”

“Uh!” (And this was a snippy, curt, clipped sort of “uh.”) “Whatever. Would you tell him I called?”

“Okay, I’ll tell him,” I said. “Is this his sister?”

“This is Dominica and I’m not his sister!” she huffed. “Just tell him I called.” And then she slammed the phone into the receiver.

Tee hee hee. “Winner boy, winner boy, serve me wine with dinner boy, Mr. All-American country club boy…” There they were! The words to a potential song danced in my head.

Then the phone ran again.

“Hello?”

“Hi, this is Dominica. Can I talk to Ty?”

I rolled my eyes. Block head. Obviously a block head. “He’s kinda busy right now, really. He’s in the bedroom with Susan.”

She sniffed disdainfully. “Well, can you go get him?” It was not a question.

“Uh…” My mind was racing. “Okay.”

Feeling not the tiniest droplet of guilt on my brow, I ran to tell Brian what I had done, leaving the phone set carefully on its side. He grinned with his row of straight, white teeth and said, “check this out!”

He hurried over to the phone. “Hello? No, this is Brian. Ty? No, ah… Ty’s, ah, um, not in right now. Yeah, he, uh, left a while ago. No, he’s uh, he’s not dating Susan, I mean, someone else…”

The next afternoon Ty was in an uproar. “Who in the hell answered the phone last night and told Dominica that I was in bed with some girl?”

I shrugged. “Dunno.” I smiled a big Cheshire grin.

Ty narrowed his eyes. “If you weren’t Bri’s friend, and if I didn’t like listening to you sit around and jam, I’d make an attempt to get to the bottom of this!”

I made a face. “Come on, Ty. Whatever happened couldn’t be that big of a deal anyway. I mean, you don’t even have a girlfriend or anything.” I grinned again, and he gave me a long suspicious look.

“Hmmm,” he said ponderously, and turned on his heel.

After a little private investigating, I learned that Dominica was Ty’s three-year girlfriend from Colorado. So that night when the phone rang and it was Anne (his two-year girlfriend from Texas), I said he was in bed with Dominica.

The next day Ty approached me. “You are a serious bitch,” he said.

My spine shot into a straight line and I looked Ty right in the eyes. “Who are you calling a bitch, Winner Boy?”

“Winner Boy?” He could tell it was an insult. “What do you mean, ‘Winner Boy?'”

The corners of my mouth curled up. “You know,” I said smoothly. “Winner boy, winner boy, serve me wine with dinner boy, Mr. All-American country club boy, shine him up and take him home to meet Momma.” I looked at him levelly. “You know. Winner Boy.”

“Bitch,” he repeated.

I rolled my eyes and shook my head. “Whatever.” I flounced off, inwardly glowing that I had caused the lying, philandering Winner Boy such distress. Oh, but these weren’t even the punitive damages. Ty was toilet scum, and I wanted him to know I knew.

That night when he was out with Casey (his girlfriend from California), I took a squirt bottle of Soap-Scum-Away and sprayed it all over his bed and in his closet and on the ceiling. I thought with satisfaction, “Now if that doesn’t make him smell like a toilet, I don’t know what will.”

The next morning Ty came home. (Yeah, he doesn’t have a girlfriend.) He walked up to his room, and I wondered if he would smell the great bathroom aroma saturating his sleeping quarters. What came next was not what I was expecting.

“What in the F*CK is going on around here?!” Ty was shouting at the top of his voice.

Right on cue, I flew into the bedroom and looked as innocent as possible. “What’s wrong?” I asked him. I didn’t even notice the toilet smell, and thought my plan had failed.

But then Ty pointed to his bed. There were tons of giant bleach stains on his new comforter.

Uh…

He glanced up at his closet and did a double take. “What the hell is this?” He grabbed a fistful of clothing, polka-dotted (quite artistically, might I add) with distinct chlorine kisses.

Uh…

He stared upward at a big soap scum remover stain on the ceiling. “How did THIS happen?” he yelled.

“Uh…” I looked from the comforter on the bed to the closet to the ceiling. I could not believe the Soap Scum Away had done THIS. “You’re, uh, roof appears to be leaking,” I offered hopefully.

“LEAKING?”

“Sure,” I said matter-of-factly. “Happens to old houses all the time.”

He stared at me long and hard, breathing shallowly. “What the f*ck do you have to say about my clothes? How’d the ceiling leak from THERE to HERE?”

I raised my eyebrows and looked at the open window. “Uh, windshear?” I gave him a bewildered look, punctuated with a huge grin, and was out the door.

“I think you’re a psycho!” I heard him call after me. “A really hot, really talented PSYCHO!”

I reached the bottom of the stairs and collapsed on the carpet. I was a little shaken up; I felt pretty low. But then I thought about Anne and Casey and Dominica. And I smiled. I smiled for a long, long time. And then I picked up a pen and paper, and I started to write…

Mister Perfect, Mister Winner
You know who I mean
Mister Yeah I Think I’m All Of That
Mister GQ magazine
He knows everything bout sex
But not a thing about romance
Mister Look At Me On The Football Field
In my Super Tight Ass Pants…

And “Winner Boy” was born.

And THAT, my friends, is what came rushing back to me on the balcony of the hotel in Big Bear.

Talk about shame.

I couldn’t believe I had ever put someone through so much crap, just to write a song. Well, yes… it was more than that. I was immature, I needed attention, he pushed my buttons, I pushed back. In my mind, I was serving out justice by punishing Ty for cheating on his girlfriends. However twisted it was, that’s how I saw it: justice. And I had things doubly justified by turning it all into a song.

But looking back, I was just a bad, bad girl who didn’t know how to deal with rejection.

Hindsight, you know? But it makes me kind of sad. I hope I never hurt anyone with as careless and silly and, well… mean as I have been at the lowest points in my life. I know it was a long time ago, but I’d like to spank the girl I used to be.

Hard.

I guess there is an art to growing up.

xoxo
Christine