College. 1990-something. I can’t remember too much. Carl just said what else is new? and I just tried to kick him. In his bad arm. That’s what you get, motherfucker!
Now back to my time machine.
All I can picture is a dimly lit room. My hair has finally grown out of a hideous bob that will haunt me forever. It’s not short or long, just there looking big and out of sorts. Frazzled.
I’m wearing denim cut-offs and a tank top. My best Victoria’s Secret bra (fire engine red, by the way. Please keep your slut comments to yourself) pushes my flat boobs up and out and still it makes no difference.
A boy I’m in love with (and by love I mean have lusted after for months) is in my dorm room. We have just gone out on our first date which consisted of an overpriced Italian dinner and a movie. He’s a friend of a friend of a friend times ten.
I don’t remember the events that have led up to this moment, but he’s sitting inches away from me, smiling his sweet smile. He holds a bottle of Killian’s Irish Red in his hand. The bottle is almost empty. He asks me if I want to smoke. Sure, I say as I shrug my shoulders shyly. He takes a pack of clove cigarettes out of his shirt pocket and hands me a cigarette. His breath smells of mints and I get a slap of Drakkar Noir as he leans in to light my cigarette. Inside I am squealing in delight and forcing myself not to pass the fuck out.
My $20 floor lamp that everyone in college had is dimmed down to the point where I can barely see his face. Our shadows flicker against the wall. Pearl Jam plays quietly in the background and the only other sounds are of our breathing. His breath is steady, flowing out of him like an ocean tide. Mine is haggard, staccato notes that escape my mouth and fall down to the floor in a big splat.
I take a long puff of my cigarette as he says something about the movie we saw. He makes a joke and I laugh a little too hard (stop trying so much!). So much so that I start coughing and gag on the smoke that fills my throat. He jumps up, startled and asks, are you okay? I wave him away and force the cough down, which only makes matters worse and I erupt in a fit of coughing again, my eyes water and all I can think of is Goddamit, I have to pee!
The coughing dies down and I finally look at him. I don’t know if it was all that sexy hacking or my sensual gasping for air, but he leans down to kiss me. My eyes widen – I don’t know what the hell to do with my arms. Is this the type of kiss where I throw myself completely into it and wrap my arms around him like a koala embracing a tree? His cologne is making my dizzy and suddenly I feel nauseous. For some reason, it doesn’t feel right. There’s something off here.
Just as I was about to pull away, he pulls his head back first and looks down at me curiously. Have you ever had that looked at? he asks, pointing to my mouth. Wha? Uh, huh? I’m sorry you lost me. What? I stammer, confused and embarrassed by what he may say. THAT, he says and points to my mouth again. My face must translate into I’m an idiot, please tell me what you are referring to because the next thing I know, he’s putting his index finger on my upper lip and his thumb on my lower lip and touching my teeth with his finger.
You’ve got a big gap there, he says as I see his hand move towards my breast.
Okay, I can’t quite remember the exact thing he said, but that was the sentiment and yes, he was trying to cop a feel while pointing out my dental flaws.
And so the words sit there between us and I want to throw my VHS player at him and tell him to fucking leave my room. I blurt out a bunch of bullshit like I don’t feel good, I’ve gotta get up early in the morning, you’d better fucking leave or I will murder you. We say our goodbyes and as he stands at the door telling me to call him tomorrow, I slam the door in his face and crumple down to the ground and cry, swearing at my dentist and at my parents.
We never went out again and I avoid him like the plague for the next few years.
I was born with pretty nice teeth. They were a spectacularly white and they seemed to gleam in every picture my parents took of me, but then second grade hit and my two front teeth fell out. When they finally grew back in, they came in crooked. The dentist told my parents that I should probably get braces to fix my front teeth, but my parents didn’t have any money, especially for something that cost more than their house, as my dad put it.
So I went without the braces. A big gap between my two front teeth. Who needs all that stupid metal in their mouth anyway?