So Big, So Red

7 Mar

Once, during my freshman year of high school, I was sick and waiting in the nurses office for my mom to come pick me up.  While I waited, I picked up a few guidance counselor pamphlets and mindlessly flipped through them.  Quitting smoking…understanding homosexuality…how to tell if you have Chlamydia…the difference between love and infatuation.  That caught my attention.  I read the brochure front to back, and for the first time in my fifteen years of life was able to gain a little perspective beyond the urgency of my teenage hormones.

I was either eleven or twelve years old when I first met “Rob” doing community theatre in Madison.   My earliest memories of him include nineteenth century bloomers, a velvet tailcoat and a red ponytail tied with a festive bow.  I would sit backstage in my petticoat and mop cap, watching him flirt with all the girls then go out with all the adult men for a smoke.  Rob was only a year older than I, but he was very suave and seemed much more mature than the boys at my middle school.  I was instantly captivated by him.

Rob lived in a huge house with several siblings and every household pet you could imagine, including parrots, fish, turtles, iguanas, cats and dogs.  We bought a hamster together once, but one of his cats ate it a few days later.  Going to his house was fascinating to me.  He and his brothers basically did whatever they wanted; no curfew, rules, or chores.  They had multiple cars and a boat that they would take out on Lake Mendota.  Once, I was on the boat with Rob, his brother, and our friend “Mark.”  As the brothers tested their new scuba gear in the lake, Mark and I dissected raw cornish game hens and threw them at the boys (a wild afternoon by midwestern standards.)  Eventually, I noticed that we weren’t going out on the boat anymore and was told that Rob had sunk it.  It’s whereabouts today remain a mystery.  The brothers would go through phases where they became obsessed with the idea of a new hobby, buy a million books on it and all the equipment necessary to pursue the hobby, then tire of it a week or two later.  Aside from scuba diving, there were also phases of dog breeding, beer making, and bee-keeping.

When I was in eighth grade, Rob had already started high school.  We still did theatre together, but he began dating a girl two years his senior who became my nemesis for much of my youth.  He never admitted to me that she was his girlfriend, but his friends and brothers told me so.  His relationship with her did not mean that he stopped hanging out with me, however.  The summer before I started high school, my best friend “Emily” would sleep over at my house almost every night.  We watched old MGM movies in my basement and waited for Mark and Rob to sneak through my backyard and knock on the window to be let in.  They came after my mom was asleep (around midnight) and stayed until the sun starting coming up.  We never really did anything with them other than make out and perhaps some light groping.  That, or get extra rebellious and sneak out to Denny’s in Rob’s van to eat pancakes at 3am.  It didn’t take long for my mom to catch on to our shenanigans.  Once, she confronted me about a huge pair of muddy footprints leading from the sliding door to the couch and another time when I was coming home from sneaking out, she locked me out.  She told me later that she was going to make me ring the doorbell to get back in, but was too pissed off, so she sat in a desk chair with her arms crossed in front of the sliding door until I came home to find her there.  My mom rules.

My affection for Rob was at an all time high and I was convinced he felt the same…until I started high school that fall.  Now that all three of us went to the same school, (his girlfriend a senior, he a sophomore, myself a freshman), the reality of the situation became clear to me.  I rerouted my path through the hallways at school so I wouldn’t run into them.  We stopped hanging out as much and his brother told me it was because they had started sleeping together.  I remember Mark showing me Rob’s private notebook, and when I opened it to the most recent entry, he had written “Happy New Year.  I got laid.”  I was devastated.  As infatuated as I was with Rob, I wasn’t willing to give up my virginity as a last-ditch effort to win him back.  So what did I do instead?  I buried his learner’s permit in the desert in New Mexico next to my grandma’s teepee (she lived there at the time…not in the teepee) and started dating his girlfriend’s younger brother, “Dave.”  THAT got his attention.

Dave was a year older than Rob, two years older than I was, and he was the starting quarterback on the football team.  My high school’s football team was embarrassingly bad, but it sounded like a jazzy idea at the time.  Dave and I also had met doing a play together, and when we began hanging out, Rob was suddenly interested in me again.  More specifically in what Dave and I were doing together…which wasn’t much.  Once, Emily and I went over to Dave’s house and listened to his father lecture about how they are direct descendants of General Custer.  To this day, Emily still swears he claimed their relation was to Colonel Mustard.  Anyway, Dave and I broke up after I caught him giving a hippie in a fairy costume a back rub.  Ah, thespianism.  Shortly thereafter, Rob got accepted into a performing arts high school in another state and moved away that week.  When he told me the news, I remember dramatically throwing my cordless Panasonic phone across my bedroom, taking a chunk of light blue paint out of the wall.  Hey, I was fifteen and this was life or death.

I lived for the school vacations when he would come home for a few weeks.  Once, we drove through the countrysides of southern Wisconsin for hours in the rain, listening to music and talking.  We eventually ended up at some sort of nature center and he announced to me that the two of us should get married.  Rob’s younger brother, “Jeff,” also went away to the same school and had a thing with my other best friend at the time.  The summer before my junior year of high school, my mom and sister went to our family’s lake house and left me home alone for a couple weeks because my dance team was attending a competition.  Rob and Jeff were home from school and the four of us spent the week together at my house, partaking in unsupervised activities.

That fall, Rob was about to move overseas to begin his BFA.  One of the last days we spent together before he left, we went to my grandma’s house to watch a movie.  For some reason that I don’t recall, we had taken two cars there.  My grandma lives out in the farmlands and on the way back into town, Rob followed me to the intersection where he was supposed to turn and go his separate way home.  Instead, he kept following me.  At first I thought he missed his turn by accident, then when he turned into my neighborhood, I figured he was messing with me.  Before I got to my street, I looked back and he was waving for me to pull over.  Confused, I did so, and he bolted up to my window.  “I love you!” he blurted out before kissing me, running back to his car and driving away.  I felt like I was going to have a heart attack.  I had been wishing he would say that to me for years, and no one aside from my immediate family members had ever told me they loved me before.  I returned home with the most ridiculous grin on my face ever.  Anyone who knows me knows that I am not the most romantic gal…but this remains one of the most romantic scenarios that anyone has presented me with to this day.

I moved to Missouri the following fall and began my freshman year of college.  Rob called and said he wanted to come visit me.  We went to all the bars I had scoped out that didn’t card, hung out at the local arcade, and got what some consider to be “matching” tattoos.  (Sure, they are both paw prints, but mine doesn’t have claws, thus they are not the same!)  I had a good time with him, but it occurred to me that at some point the tables had turned.  I had spent years of my youth obsessing over how much I loved this guy and wondering why he didn’t want to be with me.  Now, he seemed more interested in me than ever before and I was feeling pretty indifferent.  I was at a new school, with new friends, and meeting new guys…and then there was the whole pooping in my dorm parking lot thing.  We were coming home from dinner on the final night of his visit and were probably fifty yards from my building.  He decided that rather than waiting until we got upstairs, it would be a better idea to lean against a wall and take a dump in plain view, between two cars.  I politely waited until he was finished, then informed him he was sleeping on my floor that night.

The next time I saw him was when I returned home for the holidays with a guy I was dating and a few of my friends from college.  Rob and Jeff were having a huge new years eve party at their house and had invited us.  Rob was hammered and, after he tried to pull one of my friends into his bed by hooking her with a giant candy cane, he asked me to join him in his mom’s bathroom.  Obviously, I said no.  My boyfriend was downstairs and that would not have gone over well.  He begged me, saying he needed to show me something….which turned out to be deep bite marks on his Jack Johnson.  Apparently he had sustained these injuries from a young lady that had appeared on his doorstep a few days prior and who had stayed for the party.

The summer before I started graduate school in Boston, I got a job at a restaurant where the staff performed songs onstage in between serving duties.  Rob asked me for a job.  I was dating one of the other servers, “Aaron,” but ended up getting him hired at the restaurant anyway.  It was fine…at first.  Once, Aaron had a big party at his apartment and I went with my friends Emily and Mark.  Rob wasn’t invited because he had made some light death threats to Aaron in the previous weeks.  Aaron lived on the second floor of his building, so everyone was shocked when Rob scaled the wall and flung himself over the balcony, crashing the party.  A few weeks later, Rob invited myself, Aaron, Mark, and Emily over to his house, where he slowly and systematically took apart a lamp and threatened to maim Aaron with it, then picked me up like a caveman and carried me out of the room.  I had to borrow one of the family’s cars to remove myself from that situation.  This was the same summer that he allegedly hit it off with a lady at a gas station while, ahem, bargaining for some provisions.  She had given him her address, and later on that night, he made Mark drive him there.  When he knocked on the door, her husband answered and pulled him inside.  A few minutes later, Rob came running out from around the back of the house with both hands full of fishing poles.  He leapt into the getaway car, yelling “Drive! Drive!” as Mark sped off into the darkness.

I haven’t seen much of Rob since the summer of 2006, although I heard rumors that he dabbled in pornographic films for awhile.  In the past year, I’ve become good friends with one of Rob’s former lady friends.  She informed me that Rob had been using me to make her jealous for years, telling her that we were still seeing each other, had matching tattoos, and were even engaged at one point.  I recently saw his younger brother and asked him simply if Rob was still big and red.  His response was “SO BIG.  SO RED.”

I guess the moral of the story here is:  Just because someone is your first “love” doesn’t mean they are your last.  And pooping in a parking lot can be considered vandalism at some small liberal arts colleges…so tread lightly, my friends.


2 Responses to “So Big, So Red”

  1. shannonsutherland March 7, 2012 at 7:56 am #

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA I love that this all makes sense to me and I know who everyone is!


  1. The Art of Rebound « What's in the Box? - November 14, 2012

    […] happens to be one of my best friend’s ex-boyfriends… and I lost my virginity to his older brother, who my other best friend slept with a few years later, and who is now sleeping with the first […]

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