Steal My Heart and Hope to Die

This post is as depressing as Courtney Love.

Like a General Surgeon Warning on a box of cigarettes; I have a forewarning for this next chapter because frankly, it’s nearly as disgusting as most ingredients in a pack of Marlboro Red Box.  The tale tracks the one time I believe to have fallen in love in college and absolutely makes no sense.  I’d like to believe the only time I’d been in love was when I discovered the Easy Awards card at S.A.  I thought I would be loyal and never fall in love again.  But I cheated on a good deal.   So it you are prone to vomiting during extremely romantic comedies, the Valentines Day dollar aisle in Target or the minute you look at Vanessa Hudgens doe eyed expression when she looks up at Zac Efron, skip to Chapter six.  Or the Chapter where one of my future love interests performs an anal mating call by farting on the wood floor in front of me.  Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.

The guy I fell in love with in college is Patti Stanger’s worst nightmare.  According to Ms. Stanger’s Twitter account, Leo fit into every single one of her “Danger Signs.”  Thanks be to God for UberTwitter! How else would I have captured these warning signs?  Too bad it was too late.

Danger sign number one:  excessive spontaneity. If he just shows up whenever, he will never grow up.  Leo lived by this philosophy.  He had the same social capacity as an un-potty trained five-year-old.  He did whatever he wanted and went by an entirely different, personalized time zone personally created by him.  Leo’s time zones being; wake up by two in the afternoon, beast at the gym, pound a Five Hour Energy, and drink gin until he passed out spooning with his border collie, Lebron.

Danger sign number two:  bad family relationship because he may never want to start a family.  Although I’m not looking into creating an ABC Family Daycare center of my own, or anything related to Kate Gosling’s household, Leo will never even consider.  He can barley take care of himself and has a terrible relationship with his father (equal to that of the deranged relationship of a Degrassi character.)   I tried to let it pass as one of those typical “my son isn’t good enough” relationships between father and young man.  But, excuses are like armpits.  They are weird and they stink.

Danger sign number three: He is cagey about his calls.   If he doesn’t give you all of his contact numbers you must dump his arse.  Lep refused to ever actually give me a good ol’ 90’s fashion phone call.  He was a texting freak.  Although he was good at it, I never found out what his voice sounded like over the speaker of my iPhone.  And I’m sorry Patti Stanger, but Leo did not give me all of his contact numbers.  That is creepy and extremely possessive anyway.  I later discovered Leo always text everybody excessively, not just me.  His cute random thoughts via cell phone screen were purely natural and for everyone. That left no reason for me to feel entitled and special.  I couldn’t believe Leo had so much time on his hands to keep mass texting his phone book, and desperately wanted to know his trick..

Danger sign number four: He has uncontrollable rage (i.e. yelling at traffic, foul language.)  This was a strong indication he was an absolute jerk. This was a no brainer.  Leo was the angriest person I had ever met.  He wasn’t dangerously-Charlie-Sheen-angry.  Usually his anger ended up coming off hilarious and defenseless.  He would scream and swear all the time.  The ‘f’ word was the most prominent letter he used to express his utmost ordinary feelings.  Leo’s number one motto when he was on the road was to ‘drive it like you stole it.’  This was completely ignorant of others, and expressed the true egotistical portion of his personality.  He didn’t care who’s peace he interrupted whenever he stormed into a public venue jacked off of Five Hour Energy shots and unwarranted rage; usually on the account of boredom.

And finally, Patti Stanger’s final snippet of advice, since I last checked her Twitter account, was; “You can’t change a shark into a dolphin when it gets caught in your net.”  Unfortunately, all of these danger signs and the fact I believed I could change him, were what made me feel sorry for him and fall in love.

I met Leo on a plane ride to Hawaii where I was going to “study abroad” for a month.  I put study abroad in quotations because studying abroad in Hawaii was absolutely hilarious.  I didn’t need my passport to assist me to my study abroad destination, and I came back home with eighteen credits and a two-degree sunburn on my crotch.  I know I should have thrown away that black swimsuit when my mother told me to. And how could I take a class seriously when palm trees were waving at me from the classroom?

When I met Leo, I was oddly, pleasantly surprised.  I had never met anyone like him.  He was like a product of my retarded information; emotionally unavailable, blunt and honest as my waistline after Thanksgiving dinner, and with the personality the size of five Empire State buildings vertically stacked on top of each other.

Eventually on the trip, Leo gave me the equivalent feelings I felt inside my stomach when Celine Dion’s Christmas album came up randomly on my iTunes. My heart sky-rocketed to astronomical levels of my chest and I wanted to dance in circles.  He was a Maroon Five song on a Saturday morning.  He was the crunchy leave I step on in the thick of fall.  He was the cheesiest piece of Velveeta macaroni.  He was the muffin top in a fresh batch of muffins. He eventually became perfection in my eyes.  And the fact that he was cuter than mini backpacks and fat, angry children combined didn’t help matters. When I first met him however, I thought he was pathetic.  I want to warn every innocent college student, from me to Patti Stanger – Warning signs to love: if you think he’s pathetic, run (not walk) away.

Leo was blonde and had freakishly soft skin.  He was everything I did not want in a man.  He was almost shorter than me, loved listening to Tupac and Jack Johnson on a regular basis, and used more Johnston By Johnston lotion after the shower than me.  He was soft as a rose petal.  To top it off, he hated hockey, liked Taco Johns over Taco Bell, and never watched The Office.  For me, that was a complete nightmare.  Hockey was the best thing to happen since sliced bread and Taco Johns meat made my heart hurt.  How could I ever fall in love with anyone that wouldn’t buy me fourth meal and make me watch basketball instead of hockey?  When I tried to invite him to a hockey game he blatantly refused the invitation and expressed his hatred for the game,

“It’s a cold weather sport and I hate the cold.  You can’t run or jump.  Hockey requires minimal finesse.  Which, I am very good at all three.  Also, hockey takes very little athletic ability. And when a final score is two to one, it makes for a long and boring event.”   This quote eventually led me to believing Leo’s personality was directly correlated with his preference in sports. The points scored in the games he enjoyed (i.e basketball) and the games he did not enjoy (i.e hockey) expressed how high maintenance and restless he was.  If he wasn’t getting a high quantity of attention, he was an absolutely useless human being.  A few points in a game were not enough for him.  He always wanted more, more, and more to entertain him.  Unfortunately, it took me a while to figure this out and discover I couldn’t give him enough points to completely keep him amused.

Aside for the fact he had a terrible argument, (hockey takes fierce athletic ability), and his opinion was completely opposite of my own opinion, our disagreement was the absolute best thing that could come of our brewing relationship. Our disgruntlements about life taught us things, and it was fun to playfully argue.  Also, the fact it all began in Hawaii when we were twenty-one, hormonal post teens that can drink gin legally.  A simple math equation told me; putting a group of young adults on Waikiki beach will ignite numerous love interests, even if they were against my, and Patti Stanger’s will.  I never understood until my trip, how truly beautiful a young college boy could be painted a rich tan, and wet and salty from surfing all day long.  Hawaii transformed Leo into the man of my tropical fantasies.

At first I liked a guy named Chase on the trip.  He was my type.  He played junior hockey, was tall dark and messy. I loved when a man didn’t shave and had a big enough face to pass looking like a prickly Pikachu.  Also, he happened to totally dig the menu at Taco Bell.  My mother later claimed, “He looks like your uncle,” but I decided to pretend I hadn’t heard her.  Just because he looked weathered and like a matured man-child – didn’t mean he resembled her brother.  He was a man after my own nacho cheese pounding heart. He liked the Red Sox over the Yankees, which sent the message to me he was not a self-conceded prick.  The only problem with Chase and I was that we could not communicate without a few Mai Tais down the hatch.  We had to span a mountain to light a fire under one of our conversations.  I like to say we communicated in tongues.  That’s by making out, if you didn’t catch my big, fat drift.

I hated when someone unexpectedly stuck their bumpy tongue down my throat and Chase loved to poke my oral cavity with his meaty appendage.  I thought it was very rude and unsanitary.  I found it exceedingly awkward do deal with the confusion upon entering my mouth. Do I wiggle my tongue? Do I slowly lick his teeth?  Do I let it sit comfortably in between his lip and his gum? Chase chose to let it sit limp in my mouth as he burned my chin with his unshaven face. I reacted accordingly, by trying to push his tongue out with my own. These dilemmas eventually began to annoy me.  So did trying to make out on the hammock outside of our hotel. It was like trying to make out on a rope placenta hanging from a tree. And I couldn’t even appreciate the sounds of the ocean because I was too busy trying not to knee his junk while I kept balance.

Chase and I had fun, so long as we were not speaking.  Naturally, this did not last long. We tried to make things work in his hotel room one evening when we listened to iTunes and gossiped about everyone on the trip.  Then he asked if I had any ‘Dave Matthews Band’ on my iTunes and I told him I needed to go to my room and count the sheetrock specks on my ceiling.

There is nothing more I do not enjoy than the Dave Matthews Band.  Actually there is, and it is the constant feeling of entitlement Dave Matthews Band fans feel in calling him by his first name. “Aw bro, Dave is like….God or something dude. So epic!”  Really?  Did you and Dave share the Coors Lite keg pump together last weekend?  No, you didn’t.  And I’m willing to bet my $20 off Aveda card he never would because he is too busy completing his 80th live album.  What is it about Dave Matthews that gives every dude a pulsing boner?  I, however, remain limp.  I didn’t feel included in two things in life: not being able to complete an entire set of monkey bars in grade school and sharing the totally bro-tastic, epic love for Dave Matthews. I swear when people listened to his music they would close their eyes and see Jesus.  I just can’t endure the odd punishment I feel when I continue to dislike him like this and not be rewarded by our Savior.  I’ve really tried to like him; I mean I really tried to let Dave Matthew’s throaty voice seep crash into me.  I tried to hike up that skirt a little bit.  I tried to show my world to him, but my world just did not fit.   I’m still waiting for that day when the Dave Matthews band will shine its warm, yellow light upon my soul, light it up and put me in a state of hazy bliss.  Wait a minute; I will just smoke a blunt.

Leo, like Dave Matthews, annoyed me to the bitter core.  As if he wasn’t bad enough, his best friend on the trip named Alicia, made his appeal worse.  Leo was as appealing to me as a stinky pile of poop and Alicia was the hot day.  Their relationship made me want to take vodka shots through my eye.  Whenever she hung out with him she called him “Sir Leo” and “lover.”  She treated him like I imagine treating my infant when I’m mature enough to take care of another human. This grossed me out because I knew her as the girl who took drunk-poopies in my hotel toilet every morning and did the hippity-dippity-doo-dah with Chase a month prior to returning from Hawaii.  I hoped she promptly enjoyed my sloppy seconds.  I absolutely could not stand her.  I was born at night, but it wasn’t last night.  I know the friends Leo surrounded himself with define his character.   If Leo considered Alicia his friend, I didn’t want anything to do with him; especially if he enjoyed being called ‘Sir Leo.’

Upon first meeting Leo in the airplane, we talked about the weather.  If I ever begin any relationship talking about the wind MPH, I will politely bow out.  That is what I should have done.  What did I need him to prove to understand we had nothing in common?  If that wasn’t enough of a red flag, I saw him days later in hammered in Hawaii, wrapped up in his hotel cot drinking Svedka and diet coke.  He couldn’t stop talking about how hung-over he was going to be in class the next day and how he would fix his hangover by pounding a five hour energy, shot gunning a beer, and taking a nap.  He would go into numerous rants about his impressive shoe collection and how much he idolized Kobe Bryant.  My mind officially registered him as the biggest drama queen I’d ever met, a drunk, and a rape-suspect-worshipper.

In theory, human beings speak in complete sentences that are constructed in proper English.  Leo would never leave any noun in the dictionary into the open air without the word ‘extreme’ or ‘fuck’ placed strategically before it, and loved talking shit with strangers after a few cocktails.  He drank Bud Light and would often try to pay strippers with arcade tickets on the way home from Duke’s in Waikiki.  I have three prominent fears in life; getting something in my eye while I’m driving, accidentally stepping on a frog under any circumstance and associating myself with people like him.

Fortunately, it became very clear Leo had a crush on me.  I discovered this when he complimented me on a shirt I’d had since I was eight.  Not even my own flesh and blood Grandmother complimented on that thing.  Another ‘indication crush’ was that he looked like he wanted to self-combust into a puke bucket of nerves whenever he was around me.  Because I am a good person, I started feeling bad for him.  And because he was nervous, he would constantly whine and complain about complete nonsense. His nerves jumped off his body like lice and onto me.  The lice turned into little buds of hope.  Before I decided he was a notch above being a special needs child, I watched him completely ruin a sand castle some other guys on the trip were building by kicking in the mote and yelling,

“Fuck this, let’s get drunk!”

Unfortunately, for my reputation and the next eight months, Leo had me at, “Fuck this, let’s get drunk.”

This love only grew with many consumed mai tais, slowly blowing palm trees, repetitively googled Jack Johnson song lyrics, and the fact he was the most pathetic human being I’d ever laid eyes on.  He gave me the same feelings in my heart when I look at a Hush Puppy ad and he started growing on me like a green moss; otherwise known as fungus.  He often came to visit Taryn and (my other bestie on the trip) Erica while we absentmindedly went on You Tube and downloaded Kelly Clarkson songs.  He would waltz into the room smelling like an Abercrombie and Fitch scratch and sniff.

Taryn prickled her nose as if she had just shoved it up someone’s butthole,

“Leo, how much cologne did you dump on your head before you came down here?”

It was things like this that made my heart reach out to Leo.

“A whole fucking lot.” He would promptly answer.

It was things like his fowl language and personal vulnerability that made me fall in love with him.

“You’re trying to impress your ladies, aren’t you?”

“Yep.”

Then, Leo would look me square in the pupil and my chest bred butterflies quicker than Kate Gosselin breeds little white Asian babies.

Days later, our class decided it was going to be a great idea to spend the day hiking up the Na Pali coast to an isolated waterfall.  It didn’t help I found out the Na Pali coast could only be reached by boat and was ten degrees from being completely vertical.  Leo went with his friends to a local Walmart to purchase Velcro tennis shoes and a Lifeguard cut off tee so they could complete the hike in fashion and record time.  He used the cut off scraps to make shift a bandana and stop the sweat from burning his eyes.  It was chill and very bro.  It also made me feel more twitterpated than all of the animals in Bambi combined.

“Alright boys, let’s show Brian Wright who’s the BOSS!” He would yell, sending his troops up the mountain.  Brian Wright had beaten the climbing record last year, and Leo needed to prove to everyone he could beat it.  It was a fault in his personality I immediately admired.  In place of a douche, I saw a driven, motivated, competitive heartthrob.

Eventually on the hike, we found Leo, sweaty and pissed in a forest, which looked like something right out of a scene in Jurassic Park.  That and Jurassic Park Two and Three are one of many motion pictures where Leo would never survive.  Along with Scary Movie and The Day After Tomorrow.  He was like the dumb blonde male hybrid.

About three fourths into surviving the hike without stubbing my toe, we had to climb a narrow rocky path with nothing but a slab of rock beside us to grip onto.  Pardon me for pointing out the obvious, but that leaves nothing besides my pride to grapple. To top it off, I was wearing cheerleading shoes and the only things those are good for are denting the track beside the football field in high school.  As if the shoes did not help; I periodically fall walking up the stairs and about five minutes before I fall asleep every night in dreams I’m falling into a steep cliff.  Along with dying, falling was an inevitable feat I needed to accept.

While we were almost past terrain I had not endured since the virtual Oregon Trail in fifth grade, I tripped on an awkward piece of air and punched the flat slab of stone for effective support.  Punching a side wall of wet basalt was an unexplainable reaction of mine, fighting to stay standing. The result was a ring finger the width of a Butterfinger and the color of shame.  The color of shame was a deep shade of mauve.

“Eff me running and skipping through a field of daisies!” I screamed in true turrets fashion.  I needed to start accepting the fact I could barely stand for twenty-four hours straight and rolled my ankles often.  I needed to start falling.  Instead of punching surfaces harder than Nicole Kidman’s forehead.

“Britt, are you alright?” Leo rushed towards me.   I was impressed because he would have out-rushed Edward Cullen and Michael Vick combined.

“I’ll be OK, just my finger.  I might not be able to get married now. You know, unless someone buys me a Shrek ring.”

“Here, let me look.  I haven’t seen injuries like this since basketball.” Leo was so gentle you would think he was holding a baby Panda instead of my hand. “You’re so graceful.”

I could feel his sweet breath on my collarbone because he was so close.  My heart felt like it was going to punch Leo in the face and pop out like a cartoon.

“Don’t worry Britt, I’ll buy you a Shrek ring.”

If he said my name one more time, I was going to shit rainbows and glitter.

*                                *                                *

A week later, we visited a school in Kauai and had beach day with some sweet Hawaiian locals.  Because I’m a Minnesota native, enjoy tropical places, and constantly wearing flip flops, I was falling insanely in love with Hawaii.  Hawaii smelt like kona and sugar.  Hawaiian natives were so weathered, they blended so nicely into the Hawaiian atmosphere, I could barely notice them.  The sun was so intensely hot, my temples pumped to the beat of the rays searing my shoulders.  I never wanted to go home.

I was bloated our Kauai beach day and on my period so I wore a flowly top and faded old swimsuit bottoms.  However, I was as tan as a coconut and so happy with how things were going with Leo, I could shove a piece of charcoal up my ass and it would come out as a world peace offering.  I was writing in my diary more often and spending more time with Leo.  We had already been surfing, to the highest point in Oahu, and exchanging glances across the classroom everyone should take up therapy for.  We were disgusting.

Taryn and I were sitting on a soft hill overlooking the beach because I was complaining about my cramps and enduring in any physical activity that involved a heightened pulse over a dead person would kill me.  Auntie Flo was making me hungry.  I couldn’t stop envisioning dark chocolate lathering my cramping body.

Taryn was unaware of my monstrous crush on Leo because I was embarrassed she would make fun of me for someone whom invented the term ‘bro.’ She wasn’t Leo’s biggest fan.  She thought he was flaky, irresponsible, and selfish.  I didn’t want to bother trying to explain to her he was my personal project; I wanted to fix him.

“That kid with the man-boobs over there,” Taryn pointed to a beefy young man holding hands with Leo and jumping up and down, screaming at him. “He tried to race me earlier. And he won.  I didn’t even give him a head start or try to lose. Do you still love me?”

“No.”

And then man-boobs dragged Leo over in our direction.  I covered up my faded swimsuit bottoms, in fear I would never find anyone to reproduce with me if they saw them.  They were the kind that looked like I’d had them since seventh grade and never washed them after swimming in chlorine for ten years. Usually whenever I saw any children, they stood as human birth control, but regardless I wanted to have a family someday, and Leo looked perfect for the job.  If we made babies, he had flawless skin, big brown eyes, and perfect teeth.  We would be one of the only cases where two beautiful people popped out Halle Berry babies, I was sure of it.  Speaking of birth control, the little boy was screaming at Leo and squeezing his hand so hard I made sure Leo was still receiving circulation.

“You LIKE her!  Go on, DO IT!  Ask her out Mr. Leo! Ask her out on a date! You like her, you like her, you like her!”

“Ok, Kekipi. Watch the master of the trade as he works his magic.” Leo complied while he referred to himself in third person for added effect.  Because suddenly, a shyness blanketed Leo like a Skull and Crossbones Snuggie.  He didn’t look quite right in it, but I enjoyed being slightly thrown off.  This should have made me want to sucker punch him in the throat but I waited with patience and virtue.  Leo walked up to me shyly and looked down.  He was so innocent and cute; I wanted to eat him with a spoon.

“Brittany?  Will you go on a date with me?”

“I suppose I could spare you a date.”

He gave me a mammoth smile and turned to chest bump man-boobs.  He tossed his head back to catch one final glance of my expression, which was the color of a very ripe beet.  I tried to smile quickly at him but ended up biting my lip and was punished for my unannounced happiness.

“Brittany!” Taryn yelled as if she’d just discovered Hawaii’s source for gold, “You have a crush on LEO.”  This realization was a potent one for her. She loved uncovering discoveries and knowing about everything.  I was defeated and quite frankly, not in the mood to try and defend my newfound, embarrassing feelings.  This was a lot like the time Taryn discovered I legitimately enjoyed spending entire afternoons catching up on Degrassi episodes. Besides, I was convinced my lip was bleeding.

“Maybe.”

“You do understand his ass is probably softer than one of those babies in a creepy baby calendar right?”

Taryn was talking about the calendars that housed pictures of babies lying in fruit clusters; baskets and usually dressed in different types of plant costumes.  Not that it mattered, but I couldn’t get an image of Leo with a sprout hat out of my head for the next ten minutes. I figured maybe my masculine side would pop out when Leo and I were together, and I would appreciate his baby-soft skin.

“And his best friend is Alicia.  All she’s good for is a hung-over shadoobie in your toilet.  Ugh, not to mention he’s Leo. Brittany, he ordered a salad last time we went out to dinner, with dressing on the side.  I on the other hand, ordered a California burger, with bacon. I make a better man than he does and I have a vagina!”

I was immediately regretting everything about almost admitting I had a crush on Leo.  Just because Leo had the diet of a gazelle and the manners of my five-year-old cousin and a bro combined, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have potential.

“That is enough OK? Let’s not forget you once dated a man whom was a dance captain in Show Choir and had better spirit fingers than you.”

This one always shut her up.  She put a long blade of grass in her mouth and chewed on it vigorously.

“Touché.”

A week later we had to leave Hawaii.  This day, combined with the day Britney Spears shaved her head, was one of the saddest days of my life.  Suddenly, every palm tree was synced with the saddest Eric Clapton song, and every wave of the ocean was Hawaii’s hand, reaching out to me rhythmically, begging me to stay. “I’m sorry,” I mouthed to the Pacific and blew it a kiss goodbye.  I stood in the airport with a perma-frown, starring at the ceiling so my eyelids could keep the tears from falling.  I could already feel the Minnesota winter back home sucking away the incredibly natural tan I’d obtained from my wooden beach mat.

Airports are one of the romantic places on the planet besides most areas without children ages one through fifteen. Maybe it was the obscenities Leo was yelling while he shoved his shell collection into his carry-on, or how I was so sunburned my arms were pealing (which has never happened to me before), but something about the day was bittersweet.  I’d always been so deeply intrigued by all of the well wishes, opportunities, hellos, goodbyes, and new adventure an airport provides.   This day was no different.  It was so amazing to me that people flying in from different countries could piss a Coca Cola from London right in that very airport.  I felt connected, cultural, and eager to travel.

While looking around waiting to check my bags, I decided people should dress up more when they travel, like back in the day when flight attendants were today’s female cougar.  I counted eight people wearing pajamas and three sporting fanny packs.  I don’t care if you’re Anna Kournikova, I don’t want to see you sporting the things you spend your last nine hours drooling and farting in. And I most definitely do not want to sit next to you in the airplane while you dig for you Anti-Bacterial gel in your fanny pack.

“Hey Britt, come here.” Leo’s voice was comparable to the sound of a bag of Kibbles and Bits opening for a dog.  I was by his side in two seconds, drooling on his leg.  He made me feel like a toy in a toy store; wanted.  The good kinds, like Princess Barbie or miniature Beanie Babies.  “I’m almost done, so you can go after me,” He smiled and lifted his nose, so he could see me under his ball cap, which was pulled way too far down his forehead.  Ignoring the fact approaching Leo would lead to budging in front of many numerous travelers, I obliged.  If I could stand by Leo’s side the others would just have to live with sacrificing their window seat.

“So how was your last night with Chase, Chase?” Leo asked me after a dodged a look that nearly turned me to stone, from a lady behind him.  She had a fanny pack.  It was her damn fault no one saw her because she dressed like a Disney tourist.  Leo loved asking me about Chase; as if he felt making fun of my brief love affair with the biggest man-whore on the trip was going to make him feel three inches taller.  Which in reality, would have been awesome because when I wore heals I couldn’t see Lance under the brim of his hat.  I snorted so loudly; I nearly produced a snot bubble,

“You need to knock it off you little smart ass.  Besides, it’s not in your job title to judge me.  That’s in God’s itinerary.”

Leo laughed and looked relieved.  His relief was transferred onto my shoulders. That is what happens when I had a crush on somebody.  Everything they are feeling was passed onto me like some kind of emotion baton.  It’s great and frustrating at the same time. I loved Leo’s laugh, he never held back and his eyes twinkled like a nativity scene. Lost for words, I looked down at his bag,

“Wow, you certainly have a lot of shit,” was the most admiringly intriguing thing I could say.

“I like to buy stuff,” was the equally intriguing thing Leo could say.

“You’re a guy.”

“Yeah, so?  Dudes can buy stuff too.”

“Well usually, they buy a keychain and that’s it.  How did you fit your box of tampons in there?” I smiled up at him and nudged his bag.  For some reason, it was insanely easy to poke fun at Leo – and probably extremely offensive to his male character.  But he was a high-maintenance city boy, so making fun of his sexuality was all in good fun.

“They are next to my monster bag of shells.  You know, to give them cushion for the ride.” Leo did this adorable thing where he would laugh triumphantly at his own joke and it would always make my knees feel like knobs of rubber.  So he did that, patted my head and wheeled off to security.  True to form, I felt like a human-sized Gumby.

I blamed the next grab bag of feelings on the romantic mood airports put me in.  I had counted eight couples that had met each other at the gate.  Three were bearing flowers, and all of them made out.  Seriously, the minute I reached our gate, all of this love and embrace made me want to pull a Dirty Dancing stunt with Patrick Swayze in the middle of the brightly lit hallway.  I tried to figure out what made me feel this way, and decided immediately it was not the butch security guard starring me down from the magazine stand.

While we were waiting for somebody to board our plane, Leo was flipping through a Cosmo and busily eating Doritos. Eating Doritos was the manliest thing I’d seen him do the whole trip and my heartbeat for ten people.  Leo saw me staring and came to sit by my side.   I tried not to get caught up in the soft swirl of his blonde bangs; his subconscious attempt to make me fall deeply in love with him.

“I’m not supporting my more manly side, am I?” Leo lifted the Cosmo magazine and set it on the floor.

“Charming,” I said through a smile. “Cosmo can be a very educational read for young men like yourself.”

“Good,” Leo suddenly gave me a look equal to that of if he soiled himself; nervous as hell. “You know, I meant what I said the other day.”

“You mean what man-boobies made you say?”

“Kekipi, I’ll have you know, is a pimp.  His name actually means rebel in Hawaiian,” he started playing with his shirtsleeve.  I took this as an opportunity to watch his forearms flex in ripple-like motions. I bit my lip again. “But I’m serious. We are going to hang out when we get back, kay?” I loved when he took the ‘o’ out of ‘okay.’ I released a hot sigh.   Looking at Leo was like watching a Lindor Chocolate commercial.  He was so tantalizing and sweet, I couldn’t control my senses.  I would stare at him for extended amounts of time with my mouth open, trying to figure out what that smooth chocolate would feel like on lips.  My jaw would unhinge, threaten drool, and I would need to start wearing a bib.

I put my head on his shoulder, not able to resist its warmth. Next to a beach in Fiji, the Hawaiian airport was just the starting point of my very wholesome devotion, to a boy named Leo, and a heart willing to be broken.

*                                *                                   *

I do weird things when I start to fall in love.  When Lance and I started hanging out back at home, I frequently made it to the used bookstore down the street and purchased three books on love poetry.  For the next week, I couldn’t get out of my bed.  In between busily sending Leo witty and random texts all day and reading poetry, I was pretty tied up.  I hated the love poems angry feminists wrote; I was completely infatuated with a man and wanted to hear everything pretty and wonderful about the male species. One of my personal favorite poems was from my book ‘Love’s Witness’:

Who has not seen their lover

Walking at ease,

Approaching like the rest

Who has not suddenly thought

With swift surprise;

There walks in cool disguise,

There comes, my heart.

I naturally imagined my heart and lover as Leo; walking towards me with his confident swagger.  My mind transformed my normal life into an extravagant one, with daisies, hearts, and a very generous Cupid.   Leo would wear his beanie in cool disguise, approach me with eager purpose, when I least expected it – every day.  I loved his lively stature.  He excited me, he kept me guessing.  I saw him clearer.

When I really like something, I like it in large quantities, and all the time.  Therefore, it’s only understandable; I eventually get sick of the overload.  One time, I became obsessed with Special K Strawberry cereal.  Eventually, after eating so much of it, it tasted like sawdust.  I used to love The Fray.  When I listened to them every hour of the day, I eventually wanted to shoot each knuckle on my hand one by one, if I heard another song.  The same thing happened with relationships.  But sometimes, I find one I can’t get sick of.  And Leo was the special contestant.

I started listening to Enya frequently at the library during study hours, via headphones of course.  I wasn’t about to risk my reputation on the little love-fest I was having.  But the sweet sounds of violin combined with Enya’s voice and occasional wooden flute solos were enough to make me want to read the entire last text conversation Leo and I had and analyze every word in happiness.  He was a great texter.  He always replied back in wicked time, could transfer his humor through emoticons and witty word usage, and text me his random thoughts.  I really appreciated them, since random thoughts are one of my favorite things besides celebrities random thoughts on Twitter.  I started listening to The Fray, which I only do on the occasion I am in a freakishly great mood.  Wanting Leo in large quantities, made me want things I hated in large quantities.

I started to wear more clothes with color, preferably red and woke up before my alarm clock, ready for the day.  My skin was so glowing and fresh I looked like a Neutrogena spokesperson.  I even started waltzing into department stores I never would, like Aeropostle, just to smile at employees and touch fabric.  Leo made me feel like the product of a Taylor Swift song, completely entitled.  And I knew if I was put to the test, I could run a marathon.  As long as Leo was waiting at the end of the finish line for me with that big white smile and a banana.  I have a feeling I would be hungry.

I thought it was cutest when Leo would text me before I got up in the morning.  So I could wake up to several pictures he sent me of his cute border collie, Lebron; ‘He’s getting so big!’ it would say and I would cup the phone in my hands, clench it to my chest, bury my neck in my shoulders and squeal.  Sometimes, I made it a point to read a text and fall back on to my bed like I was ten pounds, or in a Proactive commercial and had just beat acne.  Do smiley faces count as punctuation?  Thirteen year old girls or Leo via text believes so and I adored his perfected emoticon craft.  For some reason, his girly attribute made everything semi-manly about him, exceptionally masculine.

When Leo wasn’t sending me pictures of puppies, I was busy talking about him.  I swear my own Mother wanted to beat me after I inserted his name into every conversation we had.  She would bring up our grandmother’s cat’s illness and I would find a way to finagle Leo into the discussion. “Leo hates cats!” I would yell like it was the most fascinating thing about a person you could dream of knowing.  Leo and I also dated when Poker Face came out, which made our relationship even more epic, and gave me an excuse to weasel him into a conversation whenever Lady Gaga was trending on Twitter.

I walked around the quad looking like Cupid had molested me with his arrow and cutesy buttocks.  I was so giddy and glowy, I could make a conversation about baby wipes beautiful. Probably because I thought if I brought up Leo during a story, his mere presence created pure poetry. If Leo didn’t text me until 8:10 P.M. instead of 8 P.M., I would A) Convince myself he had tripped on a leaf and catapulted himself into oncoming traffic. Or B) Convince myself he had discovered girls, in fact, did take massive shits and didn’t want to date me anymore because of it.

I was under the schedule of falling in love and it was a very strenuous business. I was exhausted by an onslaught of feelings constantly flooding my well being. By the end of the day, I could barley keep my eyes open for a conversation with my roommates, not about him.

I wanted to be everywhere he was, even if he wasn’t doing anything.  I imagined myself staring into his eyes and holding hands at local parks 24/7 and I put a picture of us in a frame from Hawaii and set it bedside, so his text in the morning could accompany an image.

Although I thought Leo and I had a flawless relationship, I was quickly becoming concerned.  Winter stretched to spring and there was one problem with our irreplaceable bond. Leo and I had not kissed yet. We had been “dating” for at least a couple weeks but had not performed lip on lip contact.  It didn’t concern me at first because I was too busy reading love poetry and eating dark chocolate very slowly.  However, I started to realize I usually kissed a guy only moments after meeting him, thus deciding something must be seriously wrong.  Or maybe our celibacy made our relationship genuine.

But my friends would always bother me because, true to college girl form, they were legitimately concerned we hadn’t had that type of intimacy yet.  Most of the time, people my age would struggle to obtain from having sex after the first date.  The fact Leo and I hadn’t even kissed, passed as nun-like behavior.  I knew Taryn was concerned Leo just wanted to secretly be friends, but I was convinced otherwise.  He told me I was pretty nearly every day and unless I had some awful gay-dar, I had no reason to not believe it.

I decided Leo and I’s relationship had a “back tracking” personality.  The relationship played out as if you were watching a romantic comedy on re-wind.  We began our relationship like it should have ended, always texting each other and never meeting face to face, as if we were sizzling out.  And we eventually ended our relationship like it should have started, rolling around in bed. I can summarize our relationship by comparing it to the relationship I have with a chalupa from Taco Bell. I didn’t care how dangerous it was to my health but it was freaking amazing and I never wanted to drop anything that good.  I hated myself for eating one, but then I loved myself for the feelings of warmth it gave me.  Leo played the same roll in my life.

My own college friends had their own takes on my newfound lover;

A close friend of mine, Bridget’s take was, “He looks like a great dane…very regal shaped.” I considered this as a huge compliment.  At least she had not compared him to a toy dog.

Taryn came in at a different, less physical angle, “Just be careful, Brittany.  Be careful.  Everything about this just seems a little off to me.”  I knew she didn’t like him for some reason and it drove me up the wall.  I convinced myself it was because she was jealous of his natural highlights in his hair and the fact I eventually would get to run my fingers through them.  Besides, I hated when people told me to “be careful.”  It was like telling me to “relax.” Telling me to “relax” or “be careful” was like a personal prediction for failure.  Both phrases made me as pissed as I was when Katherine McPhee didn’t win American Idol.

After constant debate about whether Leo loved me back, we finally reached the climax in our relationship and went out to dinner and a movie.  You know those individuals who talk in public venues (like Starbucks) and you can hear them over the grinding coffee beans?  That’s Leo, for most people.  For me, Leo was perfect.  He talked the entire movie and I didn’t want him to stop.  I wanted to listen to him talk until his voice box went out and we’d have to learn sign language to communicate.

After the movie, we went to the bar.  He ordered a Bud Light and so did I.  We talked about Disney characters and Chase.

“Did you know Chase called me five times the other day because he said him and his puppy were lonely?” I babbled, pointing my eyes to the ceiling as if I was disgusted Chase brought puppies into his attempt to get me in to the sack.  I ignored the fact Leo would often do the same thing, except by sending me mobile uploads of his, with cute captions.  Then I started wondering why I was talking about Chase and gazed into Leo’s almond-shaped eyes.

“Chase likessss you.” Leo concluded, letting the ‘like’ stretch out like a cat.

“I don’t even know what I was thinking . . .,” I said shaking my head in disappointment.  I really was bummed I spent so much time with Chase in Hawaii when I could have been staring into Leo’s eyes.  And I was frustrated Leo had that argument against me to his demise.  The only thing I could make fun of Leo for was that he had girly, thick eyelashes. These boy dilemmas lead me to believe I would never understand the fierce agony Evelyn felt in Pearl Harbor when Rafe and Danny fought for her.  I would give anything to replace her situation with mine.  Besides, Rafe was ten times hotter than Chase.

“Whatever, I wanted to hook-up with Chase,” Leo laughed.  “He is so jacked and meaty,” Leo looked at me for approval of his very gay comment and I just smiled at him as if he said I had beautiful skin and appealing new highlights. I was glad he could make a joke about such a disgusting decision in my life.  Even if the joke was a gay joke.

“Common,” Leo grabbed my hand after our bill. “They need more pretty girls in the movie theater.”

Instead of barfing all over his chest, I melted into a syrupy puddle.

Leo led me to one of those weird circumstances where I actually wanted to do something good for others.  He gave me the same motivation of being a good person as I received when I watched a Taylor Swift E! Special.  I wanted to do more for people than just hold the door open. I wanted to donate to disadvantaged charities.  I wanted to shove all of my change into Salvation Army’s Red Bucket during Christmas.  I wanted to discover Christ. I wanted to repair bicycles for those less advantaged. Liking Leo made me want to be a better person.

After the movie, I crawled out of his Lexus to go into my house.  We had such a great night, and the heated passengers seat was just a cherry on top.  The pressure to kiss him kept pulsing in my mind because it was technically Valentine’s Day and long past midnight.  Lip on lip contact was my personal destiny to get my first kiss from him this very moment.  I did everything I could to work it; lingered in the car while softly letting my fingers fall against his dashboard to grab my movie ticket I didn’t need, talking about the awkward sex scene in the movie, touching my collar bone, licking my lips . . .nothing worked.  Leo was most definitely on his best Catholic boy behavior.  Couldn’t he give a girl some sugar?

“Bye Brittany, I’ll call you tomorrow.” His juicy lips, that reminded me of Usher’s, smiled at me and I stormed out of the car as graciously as I could.  I climbed up the steps to my room, debated kissing my pointer and ring finger for practice, and opted for bed.  Although Leo was his biggest personal cock block, I was not going to resort to rookie status, by making out with my own hand.

*                                 *                                   *

The next day, Valentines Day crept up on me like the Situation at Karma.  And it was just about as ugly.

I’m one of those really annoying people who despise it, only because I’ve never been vaginally loved on V-Day.    I have a valid reason for being annoying by the holiday; one of my boyfriends broke up with me in between our nine month anniversary and Valentines Day.  Red does not look good with my skin tone.  I feel pressured to buy everyone cute Valentine cards.  I become stressed in situations where lots of candy is involved.

I am one of the only people on the face of this planet where I have not spent a real Valentine with someone besides my immediate family. I am lucky enough to have a mother-figure put in my life who buys me heart balloons every Valentines Day.  Hallmark made up Valentine’s Day to waste paper, everybody’s precious time, and to piss off tree huggers.  They aren’t doing anyone a favor.

But that fateful day in February when Leo was around changed everything for me.  I found remorse on Valentines Day.  Leo was even so romantic; he brought me to the local college bar and bought me a long island as our choice in evening date night.  Still smitten, I totally ignored that red flag, probably because I was too busy being bombarded by mythical red hearts all over my peripheral vision.

We sipped long islands together at the top level of the bar, looking back down at all of the single men sitting at the lower bar.  We even took it upon ourselves to judge others and make fun of a young man sitting on the corner, wearing a thick sweater with a reindeer on it.  I debated what kind of game he had and decided it was probably equal to the game of my uncle, who lives up north and hunts elk.

Blinded by pure, unapologetic love, Leo and I stood and bounced on our heels in the bar while Lady Gaga played in the distance.  It was really dead for a Friday night and I concluded it was because everyone was out having extremely romantic dinners at places that served baguettes instead of two-for-one specials.  I was just happy I was with Leo.  He looked at me solemnly, as if he had made a mistake by bringing me here,

“You’re the prettiest girl here,” he said looking me in the eye.

His comment absolutely made everything better.  Although the only thing I had to compare to were a sorry cluster of men dressed in ugly sweaters looking for insecure single women at the bar, I was flattered.  I felt completely bulletproof during two times in my life; whenever I had a full tank of gas and when a boy I like threw me a bone in compliment form.  I sighed.  Instead of calling him out for considering a college bar a date and complimenting me in a bar full of pussy hungry pee pee’s; I said,

“Aww shucks.”

“Let’s go.” Leo grabbed my hand and led me out of the bar.  It was cold as a well digger’s ass outside, so he put his arms around me and rubbed my shoulders.  The friction jump-started my nervous system, making me feel like I was going to explode into a pile of little candy hearts.

When we got back to his apartment, his dog started humping me and Leo pulled out a purple Gatorade from the fridge.

“Did he learn from the best?” I asked staring down at Lebron, worried my leg was pregnant.  I figured ‘the best’ clearly was not Leo.  He hadn’t even kissed me yet.

I really didn’t know where to go from here.  Do I grab him and push him against the wall like a Colin Farrell kinky sex scene?  Do I push him on the bed like a life sized rag doll?   I didn’t want to sexually abuse him, and I usually wasn’t a very aggressive person, unless it came to a game of Wii Mario Kart.  But this wasn’t a war against slippery bananas in Funky Kong.  This was real life, and somebody had to put an end to whatever Leo and I were cooking that was suppose to be a relationship.  I began to imagine Leo had a mis-shaped penis, or wore a diaper and didn’t want me to find out.  Or he didn’t like my natural smell.  Men were hunters, aggressors and it had always been embedded in my mind he should make the first move.  Was my Dove Powder deodorant getting in the way of our relationship?

The one breathing mammal in the room that appreciated my scent was Lebron.  His border collie, who was trying to find every excuse to drool on my jeans and hippity dippity my calf.  I squirmed out of Lebron’s hold.  Leo did not seem phased his dog could have impregnated my toe.

I took things to the next level and catapulted myself onto his huge bed, all while complimenting on his brown sheets and cushy covers.  His bed was a nest protected by Fierce cologne and comforter air. Leo laughed at me and said something about Lebron’s manners then proceeded to march into his bathroom.  I bit my lip and looked around his huge room for any misfortunes that would give away his gayness because homosexuality was the only other excuse for his gay antics and misfortunes with woman.  I loved gay people.  If he would just tell me, I’d love to drag him into Macy’s! But he was always so confident and such an asshole, why wasn’t he eating my face already?!  All of this awkward business was eating up at the pavement cracks in my mind.  I liked him so much; I didn’t want anything to be ruined.  And in that particular moment, it didn’t help I was on the rag trying to cover it up by wearing tight skinny jeans and a miu miu shirt.   I wanted to feel sexier and bring out the freak flag I knew Leo had. He was the best thing next to actually dating Danny Valencia and I couldn’t let this turn into some freaky friendship where one wants love and marriage and the other wants a protein shake and the entire third season of True Blood.

Leo came out wearing a torn off tee which showcased his tan side-hip and arms. It was bright orange and obnoxious, just like him. I swallowed a large lump of something I would regret saying later and pulled down my miu miu top.  Right then, I decided I would be sexier in one of his button down shirts.  Suddenly, I felt like a 50-year-old woman married woman trying to keep the fire alive.

“Can I jump in your closet for a sec?  I don’t want to sleep in my ‘Hot Mama’ shirt.”

Leo didn’t get my joke, which made me believe he wasn’t gay, and motioned to his closet and gave me an unreasonable tour.  His closet was bigger than my soul on Christmas Eve.  Cue the sounds of victory horns, if I was a gay man I would have surely jazzed all over his Lacoste polos.

“I have button ups hanging on the right, sweatpants on the lower shelf, and some long sleeves on the upper right.”

I let his tour de la’ closet rested as being totally cute.  He always said out-of–line things that would be inappropriate or borderline gay.  He was being so confusing.  In the current moment of time, I found it charming and captivating. He was more organized than a Type A Anal Freak crossbreed of myself. I found this attractive and extraordinary.

I waltzed back into his room wearing an extremely heavy Hollister long sleeve.  It smelt like Fierce cologne and sexual victory; like an Abercrombie and Fitch dressing room.  I felt comfortable and insanely confident.  I made a running start for his bed and leapt in.  Then he did something that confirmed my undying love for him – he slapped my ass in one swift bat.  I squealed and grabbed his shoulders to save myself from flipping to the other side of his bed, where Lebron was laying like a dragon at the bottom of a cliff.

We locked eyes at that very moment and he captivated me completely as we lie on his California king-sized bed.  I saw deep in to his soul and saw a man; the man I fell in love with in Hawaii.  He pulled me in flawlessly, like a Friends marathon.  I dove willingly into his gaze, playing with fearless fire.  My hands were wrapped around his neck, which was the softest thing I’d touched since I’d eaten a peach that afternoon.  This intense gaze, and remembering it, periodically for the next few months had the potential to make me produce tears on command.  His gaze was so beautiful, I saw a rainbow sprout from behind his shoulder in his closet, a lepricon slid down it, set a pot of gold at its wake, and wink at me.  That is just how beautiful it was.

While I was counting the colors in his eyes, he leaned forward into my bubble, which popped willingly and breathed for a second on my face.  I could smell his mint toothpaste and the light from his bathroom darkened his dirty blond tresses.  He looked down at my lips, half parted, and bearing encouragement.  I couldn’t see anything anymore and time passed in silky, effortless fragments.  I could only feel and try to prevent my heart from popping sideways out of my butt hole.

My hands were on his shoulders; wrapped around the back of them, with my palms facing me.  I loved shoulders. I loved touching them.  Somebody’s shoulders signified so many things to me.  Depending on their stature, they signified defeat, hope, and confidence.  Shoulders articulated emotion, and touching them made me feel closer to his heart. My hands fell from his shoulders and the pads of our fingertips touched.   The friction of our toes ignited a fire of deeply gutted emotions.  Wrist to wrist, we touched. My sweet Juicy Couture blended with his spicy cologne like Sweet and Sour chicken. Cheek to cheek, we touched; blush blending with aftershave.  Finally, forehead to forehead we touched, and then nose to nose.  The heat of our deep breathes intertwined and swirled around my face like fairy dust.  Everything was magical.  Then, we touched mouth to mouth; a passionate CPR.  He kissed me.  I closed my eyes and released all of my air into his mouth and kissed him back, slow at first, then fiercely when his chest brushed against my hands and mine went in his hair.  The lepricon turned into Celine Dion and she started singing ‘At Last’ while playing the piano.

We kissed for a long time and I remember his lips being as luscious and sweet as a slice of warm apple pie.  I let my eyes open for a second and saw his were shut.  I respected the gentleman-like gesture, and kissed him harder.  We rolled over, so he was on top of me, and the funniest thing happened. I started laughing.  Laughing from a deep cavern in my gut, as if I was watching That 70’s Show and Kelso said something brainless.  It could have struck anyone else off as being extremely rude but I was simply so happy.  Leo’s lips were like laughing gas, the scent of them, the feeling I was fulfilled with when he pressed them against mine.

Leo looked at me like he had farted and didn’t realize it.  He laughed too, nervously.

“What’s wrong?”

I took a long drag of his scent.  I inhaled his Abercrombie cologne vapors like the legs in a glass of Cabernet.

“It’s nothing.” I said between happy laughter, “You’re…Leo.”  I meant that in the nicest way possible.  The sentence, ‘you’re Leo’ to me might as well been translated as; “You’re God.” But Leo to Leo was just plain…Leo; bland, normal, and straight-laced.

“You’re crazy.” He said, as he pressed more laughing gas upon me and I had the best night since my first NYSYNC concert and the second, combined.  But crazy to Brittany was just plain….crazy.

*                               *                              *

The next morning, I woke up pressed against Leo’s hot body.  Lebron woke up pressed against the hot body of my own because he was playing big spoon.  I tried to ignore his nervous burnt tire farts and re-played my magical evening in my head.  We had both agreed to make blueberry pancakes in the morning together and best of all; we had a heart to heart after our romp to romp.  It was the perfect way to end a fantastic evening.  He totally opened up and told me all about his home life and his controlling father.  I always melt around men that have rough relationships with their father figure, so naturally I fell in love all over again.  He reassured me I was the hottest girl on the trip, which I found hard to believe because a girl there looked like a Victoria’s Secret model, but I took the compliment and basked in it.  He told me he wanted to hook up with me at first and then decided I was too nice for being “hook-up” material.   I took that as a complete buy out as well.  He was a 22-year-old dude and there are never excuses for not having the humpty dumpty with a girl “who’s nice and has feelings” unless they have feelings in return. I found it insanely flattering and totally perfect.  Finally, he made a few amazing Chris Brown jokes and I self-assured myself I had picked the right man.

Either way, I woke up feeling like I could swim the English Channel.  I was reincarnated.  A bird flew on the windowsill outside and said good morning to me, in English.  Lebron farted and got up to chew on something. Leo and I were finally alone.  I half expected a squirrel to bring me a chocolate for my pillow but was sweetly taken away from my daydream when Leo came to life.

“Good morning!” He said brightly.  I was twitterpated by his greeting.

“Good morning sunshine.” I said in the husky morning voice I love.  I felt like Pat Benetar.

I wanted to kiss him.  Then I realized my morning breath could have out trumped Lebron’s, and he’d likely been licking his anus the entire night.  But I didn’t get a kiss.  Leo rolled out of bed and went outside to let Lebron out.  I lay there, alone.  I was normally very independent so I got the urge to take my morning poop in his monstrous bathroom.  I completely ruled it out the moment it entered my mind and decided I valued my poop-free reputation.  I wanted to eat, and I remembered our pancakes.  I walked into his kitchen but all I could find were whey protein, bananas, and a mini-Heineken fridge.

Leo strolled back in, wearing a hoodie and jersey shorts, a college girls best friend.  He looked so adorable I wanted to run into his arms, kiss him, and bring him back to bed.  But something told me not to and it wasn’t my morning breath or urge to poo.  I was glad men could not read thoughts.  Mine were beginning to intrude on my inner reputation.

“Do you need a ride home?” Leo asked, filling up Lebron’s water dish.  I was glad Lebron wasn’t thirsty and manage to attack my leg.  I scratched my cheek and nodded.

“Sure.” But deep down inside I wanted to grab the drawstrings on his sweatshirt and drag him back to bed.  So I could touch his hair.  I really needed to find out what shampoo he used.

“Sorry, I just have…a class at Lifetime soon and needed to get going.”

“No problem.”  My passiveness often leaked into my social abilities to tell someone what I really wanted.  Past my own will, we turned to leave.

For some reason, the ride home was awkward.  I racked my mind to figure out if I farted in my sleep or something.  I was really getting frightened.  We were having a conversation, but it was mostly about the weather.  I could not let this happen.  I could not let myself be the person that slept over, farted in his bed, ruined his appetite for morning pancakes and talked about the weather.  My Jack Johnson banana pancakes fantasy crumbled in my mind and I tried to find something interesting to say before we got to my apartment.

“I think I’m prego with Lebron’s love child – er puppy.” I said without warning from either side of my brain.  What was I saying?  Lebron may have humped my leg until his little puppy thighs were sore, but insertion was purely non-existent.

“Yea, wow did he like you.  Guess he likes your smell.” Leo looked at me and laughed.

I immediately turned his sentence into a threat because I assumed I had farted in his bed.  I was nearly mute the whole way home.  My insides were twisting and turning when I left his car.  He said goodbye without a kiss and with a forced side hug, which is equal to an ass out hug in standing position.  I left his Lexus feeling at a loss.  The only thing I knew for sure was that he was not gay.

*                                   *                                      *

I didn’t hear from Leo the next day.  Which in any typical communication filter between two human beings would usually be completely normal.

It wasn’t.

I virtually freaked out to the point where I was sweating and had to put myself outside like a dog to go on a run to clear my head.  This sounds virtually insane to think about now but during the time, I could barely handle myself.  I would check my phone so often waiting for a text; I looked like I was waiting to get a text with the test results for whether or not I had breast cancer.  When I was frustrated with no response, I tipped my phone over for long periods of time so I could not see the screen, and check back hours later, only to be more disappointed with a text from Taryn about how she tripped on her way to class, or farted in Tiffany’s, and a text from my mother that updated me on my cat’s current illness condition, “Good news! Cookie ate our salmon appetizer and went potty!”

I didn’t want to text Leo myself.  I was a stubborn German who believed the man should be the ultimate hunter, thus go after me himself.  My philosophy was sure; men liked it when girls were aggressors . . . for maybe the first month.  After that, he just wants to go find something to chase and become satisfied when he finally wins the grand prize.  What is there to win when it’s thrown in his face?   I want to be the game when the Lakers win the NBA Championship.  I don’t want to be the game when the Lakers beat the Clippers.

I was a very traditional dater and strongly believed any man I wanted to associate myself with, would truly want me.  If his ballsack wasn’t the effective size to do it on his own, I wanted nothing to do with him. When I knew a man would fight for me, that’s the type of man I wanted.

My pure bad patience out rode my pride and I text him that night.  I couldn’t go one day without talking to him after talking to him every day for three months straight.  I was addicted to him like a bad habit worse than methamphetamines.  The minute I text him, I threw my phone on my bed and ran to take cover watching Family Guy in our basement.  The anticipation of a possible text ate at my soul.  After not checking my phone for a solid three hours, I came back to a mild response; ‘haha.’

My life was in shambles.

For one, the text I sent him was constructed in a total of thirty quality minutes of my time, when I could have been separating my split ends. After deep consideration of moving around pronouns and altering punctuation, I thought the text was funny as shit.  Leo clearly did not think so.  His response was mediocre at best, and totally unlike him.   He could have at least thrown in a few more hahas’ or a ‘wow, you really are the most amazing, intriguing, and witty girl I’ve ever met.’

I had this innate fear that when something was wrong with a part of my foot (i.e. numb toe, scrape, congregating mysterious puss) I freaked out and immediately assumed my foot needed to be amputated.  The same type of awkward fear happened to my relationships.  When the tiniest glitch presented itself with a relationship of mine, I immediately assumed he wanted the romance to come to a screeching halt.  I immediately assumed he was porking his best friend, Amy and the predictable had captured me again. I felt outnumbered and defeated.  I didn’t feel like standing up like a champion.   I didn’t feel like lifting my head high in the name of personal defeat.  Personal defeat made me want to curl up in fetal position and have someone feed me Baskin Robbins with a rubber baby spoon.

For the next week, it quickly became apparent Leo didn’t want anything to do with me.  This de-cored me.  My first silent break up was unraveling in my face like the end of a ball of yarn.  Silent breakup; the breakup that didn’t really happen but happened.  I woke up one cold, winter morning after a week of muteness from Leo.  I opened my eyes to a puffy face and crusted over eyeballs because I had been crying myself to sleep for the last week while listening to Celine Dion and The Free Willy soundtrack.  It was so cold outside; I felt like if I came out of my covers, I wouldn’t be able to create emotion with my face.  It was then, I felt genuinely sorry for Botox victims like Joan Rivers. I slowly pulled my cell phone from my chest, waiting for a vibrate to jolt me awake.

Nothing.  Not even a crude text from Taryn.

My chest crumbled in defeat like a paper bag on inhale and I started bawling like a complete moron. Leo and I hadn’t been hanging out that long but the actions I was displaying for myself were overly dramatic and extensively pathetic.  Even for me.      We didn’t even “break up” and I was acting like we’d been married for a decade.

The next thing I knew, I completely lost sense of my body and I was storming down the stairs with my keys.  It was 8 A.M. and it looked like Antarctica had taken a monstrous deuce outside our house.  My sharp breaths turned to clouds as I puffed towards my car.  This did not help the scene at hand.  I imagined the cold air as puffs of the oxygen from my heart.  I debated laying in the snow and freezing to death.  Then remembered my mom always has leftover chili at home and I was hungry.

I threw myself in to my own car.  I pushed my face against the steering wheel and sobbed like a colicky baby. This was a very low, vulnerable point in my life.  I knew Leo was not in love with me like I was in love with him and I was in complete and utter shambles and sheer panic.  How I arrived home safely is still a mystery to me.  I lived an hour away from Minneapolis and the previous nights blizzard made the roads look like a powdered sugar oceanic hell.  And I was vocally crying.  I was actually asking questions in between hiccup sobs,  “Why is this happening to me??!? Why meee?! What is wrong with meee???  Am I not as pretty as Alicia!?!”  It was so pathetic; I get back pains writing this portion of the story.

To top it off, I was listening to alternative music and basking in my own pain and tears.  The pain hurt so badly, it started to feel good.  I compared it to whenever I stubbed my toe on the corner of my bedroom door.  The pain burned for a few moments, and then dissolved into a blissful toe-high.  I looked at myself in my rearview mirror and saw a face I did not know.  It was a face of pure and utter terror because I was willing to believe nobody was ever going to love me.  I made myself cry harder when I saw my reflection.  And the weird thing was, I kept doing it over and over again on purpose.  Looking in the mirror was the button to my emotions and the sticky tears glazed my cheekbones.  Why couldn’t I just understand the only gentlemen in the world are Ne-Yo and my own father?  Then I wouldn’t be in this telepathically charged mess!

Somehow, I arrived at my parent’s house.  They had no idea I was coming home and it was bright and early on a Sunday morning.  I didn’t know I was going home either, but suddenly I was sitting in my driveway. I had left my soul in St.Paul and my heart with Leo.  I sulked in, dragging my feet and taking deep breaths that caught in my sobs.  I could name one hundred reasons Leo should date me.  I was extremely sweet; I loved my family and stuffed animals.  I could sit and watch an entire Saturday of football without pretending I knew everything about it.  I was great with strangers, never flirted with any of my girlfriend’s boyfriends, could cook a mean batch of Velveeta, and tried not to wear my Uggs or fringe in public.

Thank God my parent’s were at church when I got home, because if my mom saw me in that condition she would be convinced I had been shipped to Afghanistan on a surprise draft.  The last thing I remember about my slowly pumping heart was falling on my parent’s couch in the family room into a bucket of sun.  It splashed all over my limp, tired body and I curled slowly into fetal position.  I had read the entire saga of Twilight months earlier and I remembered that deep dark hole Bella was talking about when Edward left her in a forest, alone.  I felt that hole, deep down inside and lost myself in it.  I never wanted to eat again.

*                                 *                                 *

Of course, I ate within the next hour.

But for the course of the next week, I broke too occasionally for a stable, healthy human being.  I could cry on command.  I would walk to class, look up into the cold winter sky, and let the tears burn and freeze running down my cheeks. I was so emo.   I knew I was having a bad day when I was listened to Miley Cyrus on repeat and over dosed on Butter Spindle pretzels.

It was the worst confusing heartbreak I’d ever endured in.  My emotions were tweaking in an overdrive of tears at my expense.  I was intensely emotionally infested into every aspect of the world.  I saw heartbreak everywhere. I saw heartbreak in jumbled squirrel relationships.  I found heartbreak in passerby faces.  I found heartbreak in empty beer bottles.  I saw heartbreak in my reflection, as I brushed my teeth and momentarily debated choking myself with my Crest toothbrush.  The repercussion of the relationship was like one of those weird nightmares where you have sex with a fat guy, get pregnant with his child, and wake up in a cold and thankful sweat.  But in this dream, I never woke up.  And Leo wasn’t fat.  I replayed everything we said and did in my head until I started hallucinating and eating my feelings in extravagant amounts. The absence of Leo made life harder, and fatter.

I often found myself in the deepest, dark corner of a Target aisle whenever I was depressed.  I would rush to the back of the store, seek any and every gossip magazine I could and read until negative celebrity gossip was flooding from my ears and pores.  By the time I left, I felt numb from all of pictures of Kate Goselin’s weave I’d seen.  Like Sudafed, It made me feel a little better.

Beyond being an absolute wreck for months after a break up; I was frustrated with it all.  The break up didn’t even exist because we weren’t technically in a relationship.  I was totally tricked into believing the kid actually liked me.  Liking Leo was like looking into the blazing sun with a pair of my big ass sunglasses on.  When I closed my eyes, my soul felt warm, and made my limbs tingle.  But when I opened my eyes, and was faced with reality, the truth burned like hell.

My biggest concern came from disappointing my own father.  I’d always been convinced I would find a man just as sensitive, caring, and generous as he. Leo was half the man my father was, a pimple on his ass, and I hoped my father would not compare himself to Leo.  My Dad was Target and Leo was Kmart. Kmart was Target’s retarded brother.  So Dad, if you’re reading, do not take my immature “relationship” personally.

Eventually, I began to see a slit of light in a darkened cavern I’d discovered by relational Leo experimentation.    It arrived somewhere between frosted donuts and bags of Harvest Sun Chips.  From that point on I decided the only person to date was my own hot, damn self.  I could give myself whatever I needed, whenever I needed it.  I never flaked out on myself, I never was disappointed when I didn’t text myself back.  And best of all, I never woke myself up in a snoring fit spooning a border collie.  Most importantly, dating myself gave me the opportunity to get to know who I was, what I wanted with my life, and how to be selfish about making it all work out.  I didn’t have to worry about anyone else, and I could buy myself chocolate whenever I needed a little pick me up or a Hallmark card on Valentines Day.

After I dated Leo, I read Blink by Malcolm Caldwell.  I was pretty impressed by what I learned.  In the book, he stressed how important first impressions were in relationships, and that one should never ignore the authenticity of a first intuition about another person.  I will never forget the way I felt when I met Leo.  I thought he was the most obnoxious collection of protons and electrons ever to walk the planet.  I thought we could never date.  I thought his nose was a little too big.  I thought he was more obnoxious than a ‘Are You Pregnant, Scared, Alone?’ ad.  I thought he didn’t care about anyone, but himself.  I shouldn’t have let feelings of remorse simmer away when I fell ass over teakettle for him.  I should have listened to my first intuition, a small screaming cell in my body, clawing at the blood stream to my brain, so I would finally understand.

I could accept that sometimes I learned the hard way, and sometimes I learned my lessons a little too late.  If that was the only will I will ever truly learn, so be it.  Whenever I walk into a department store, I have to feel the clothes to become connected with them.  That behavior applies to lessons in my life as well.  I have to experience them to understand, and accept the consequences and heart ache when I do.  It was only probable I needed to feel Leo and I.  Or, well, just Leo.

The only problem with Leo was, touching him couldn’t mold him into the clay statue I wanted to put on my nightstand every night.  I made the mistake at a young age and compulsively watched Beauty and the Beast before bedtime.  I now permanently have this notion embedded in my naïve cranium that fairytales, where woman are capable of transforming a beast into a prince, was completely plausible.  Why didn’t someone tell me it takes more than a teapot and a talking dresser drawer to change a man?

I would have saved so much time.

Leo taught me something valuable.  I knew I wouldn’t feel threatened against the power to change a man for the better.  I would bask in the flexible glory in the freedom to change myself for the better.  I have control over myself.  I decide when I eat, who I date, where my deepened conscious cells float, and when they enter my brain.  Once they did float into retrospect, I could properly understand that I couldn’t make someone love me, even if I sometimes felt like I could by sleeping over and giving him one of my insane backrubs.  I could properly understand, I needed to be myself – someone who could be loved, and the rest was up to the assholes who met me.

I’m still waiting for that time where I’m going to be coming around a corner in the mall, digging fiercely in my vintage purse for some Purell and then BOOM, I’ll smash into my one and only; future husband.  From there on, we will stop, and he will buy me a venti from Starbucks with two pumps of Pumpkin Spice and a splash of skim milk.  Eventually, my main squeeze and I will be officially engaged over Facebook, and I will tell our children we met on a completely random whim in Macy’s.  But until then, me myself and I are going pretty strong – we are learning to love one another.  I even took off Random Play on my Facebook Looking For tab.

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Author:bechaffee

University of Saint Thomas graduate. Minnesota-bred and happy to talk about the weather any time you’d like! Strongly believes any situation can be bettered by a slice of generously buttered toast or Phil Dunphy. Would get arrested to touch Justin Timberlake’s face. Always trying to be a better person by not wishing horrible karma on people driving slow in the fast lane. Hear more: @twitter @instagram

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