Let me tell you about Slick. I briefly mentioned Slick in passing in this post, but I think it’s time you meet him. I met Slick in high school, therefore, you should know a little bit about who I was in high school.
The short version is that I was one of the smart kids, but not one of the “nerdy” ones. I wasn’t popular, but I was also not ridiculed. In fact, I was in all the classes with the “popular” kids, and they all talked to me and knew who I was…during school hours. After school, I was pretty much non-existent and not a part of their circle. I had my own circle of friends, and we pretty much referred to ourselves as “the outcasts”, but we each had an “in” in our own way. Whatever. You need to know this, because you need for know that for me, high school wasn’t anything at all like what you see in teen movies. I didn’t play sports, I didn’t go to dances, I didn’t really belong. I just sort of was there. And with the exception of “first kiss guy”, I didn’t have boyfriends. I had crushes, oh, I had lots of crushes, but no boyfriends. And I was young, naïve, and influential.
Enter Slick. Slick was on the soccer team, and where I went to school that meant that although he wasn’t one of the members of the “In Crowd”, he was still pretty popular, he just ran with a different crowd. The soccer team had a popularity all its own. They were division champs, the best in the area, and they knew it. And they had the groupies to prove it too. I met Slick because his best friend had one of those on-again/off-again things with a friend of mine. It was mostly off-again, but then, that was probably for the best for her sake. And yet, Slick was different. He was slick, no doubt about it, but he was a good guy. I’m pretty sure he told me right off the bat that he had a girlfriend (who went to another school), and we sort of stuck up a friendship. But it was the sort of friendship that involved my bemoaning the existence of his girlfriend, and him flirting shamelessly with me and sending me mixed signals. I spent much of high school in a state of love/hate with Slick. I wrote many a poem about my tortured feelings for him as well. Ah, such is puppy love.
Nevertheless, nothing ever came of it, high school ended, and I moved on. Until one day, my sophomore year at college, I ran into Slick again. I can’t even really remember how we reconnected, but we did. And by then, things had changed a bit. For starters, he no longer had a girlfriend. And I? I was a different person now. I had other “does he or doesn’t he” situations preoccupying my mind. Man, I was a sucker for those in my youth.
Still, before I knew what happened, Slick has pulled me right back in. The one who got away, and he was back. He had a knack for saying just the right thing, at just the right moment, to convince me that he was a good guy, and the guy for me. And yet, he was just slick enough to keep me at arm’s length, never promising enough so that I couldn’t get too comfortable. Love/Hate all over again.
Love: Driving our two cars, him in front, me behind, in a downpour, so he can drop his car off for his mother to use, and I can drive him back home. Stop at a red light, he runs out of his car, up to mine, and asks me to roll my window down. I do so, he leans in and kisses me, runs back to his car. In a downpour.
Hate: I get mad because while we’re hanging out at his house, he spends 20 minutes on the phone with some girl he says is a friend. After assuring me she’s only a friend, he adds “besides, you can’t get mad, you’re not my girlfriend”. Always putting me in my place.
Love: We spend an hour digging his car out of the snow, where he’s been stuck in my parent’s driveway, after driving through a blizzard to see me off the night before I go away on a trip. We get the car free finally, he jumps out of his car, runs over to me and hugs me, kisses me, we land on the snow…scene straight out of a movie.
Hate: The whole time we were….well, whatever we were…he had managed to joke enough about my dancing that I was embarrassed to do it in front of him. ME, someone who has always been proud of my ability to out dance ANYONE at ANYTIME. Me, the girl approached by complete strangers at night clubs and asked “Where on earth did a white girl learn to dance like that”. I never danced with him.
Love/Hate…over and over again. He’d pull me in, just to toss me back, like a fresh water fish on a nature show. It wasn’t until years later, when I was with Cognac, that I’d realize how abusive our relationship had been. How blinded by what I thought was love was I, that I lost myself in the process. I let him set the boundaries, I let him break them, I let him tell me how much or how little I should feel for him. I was like a puppy, begging for attention, wagging my tail when I received the slightest affection, sitting dejected in a corner when he couldn’t be bothered with me. In the meantime, I neglected the warnings of HIS friends that I should walk away. HIS friends telling me I was too good for him. HIS friends telling me that I was only going to get hurt.
It was one of his friends, The Bullfrog, who had in time become more my friend than his, who finally called me one day and said “K, you need to know something”. The Bullfrog, who had a thing for me, but I wasn’t willing to see it, because I was so wrapped up in Slick. The Bullfrog, with a heart of gold, and a smile to die for, who held my hand as he broke my heart, to save my soul, by telling me the truth. What I needed to know was that Slick had allegedly knocked up another girl. A girl I had suspected him of being with, but had been told time and time again was just a friend. But I knew better. And yet, I stayed in our…whatever it was…our limbo. But this, a baby? This was going too far. See, with this, I could no longer turn a blind eye and pretend. Still, I needed to get to the bottom of things, I needed to hear it from the horse’s jackass’ mouth, didn’t I?
I called him.
I asked him: “What’s this I hear about you getting some girl pregnant?”
He replied: “Yeah, I’m going to be a dad.”
SLAP! (my face stinging from the impact of the words).
Matter-of-fact. Happy almost. Laughing a bit, I think.
My heart? Broken. My pride? Non-existent. It was over.
For months Slick would continue to call me, try to convince me to…what? Forgive him? No, he hadn’t done anything wrong, I wasn’t his girlfriend after all, was I? Give him another chance? No, he was with her now, he just wanted to see me again, didn’t want to lose our (laugh) friendship.
I never did forgive him. Not to his face anyway. I got over it, I learned from it, I became a stronger person for it. But from me he never heard another love-sick, pathethic word. He never saw me cry, I didn’t yell, I didn’t ask for an explanation…I just moved on. It had been long enough for me in that tormented state, I was done.
Years later I’d run into him here and there. A club one night, where he told me his girlfriend and daughter were out of town, did I want to come back with him? I laughed in his face, and walked off. A party another time, where I’d; perhaps emboldened by a few too many kamikaze shots; approached him, he told me I looked fantastic, I grabbed hold of one of his short little dread locks and said “What’s this shit on your head?” My friend laughed hysterically and pulled me away. Another night at a dance club, he stopped me, told me I looked great on the dance floor. “Where did you learn to dance like that?” he asked. “I always danced liked that, you just couldn’t see it”. “Who are you here with?” he asked looking at my girl friends. “Them,” I said pointing around… “And him”, I motioned to Cognac, in all his 6’2”, muscular hotness, who winked at me as I signaled him. “Oh, shit”, said Slick “I’ll be walking away now”.
Oh, the sweet sweet taste of indifference. Best served cold, they say. Or is that revenge? Either way, it worked wonders for my no longer broken down ego.
It has now been, gosh, nearly a decade, since our last encounter. I’ve forgiven him his youthful arrogance. I’ve forgotten most of the abusive behavior. I remember mostly the sweet moments. The fact that he was, to date, the best kisser. And the gift he gave me. Because from him I learned never again to forget myself. Never again to allow a man to control my life, my heart, my self-respect. I learned so much more than I lost. And if I had to do it again? I would.
Only this time, I might have kissed The Bullfrog.