I spent this past weekend in Delosa with my folks. Dad had found a few pictures that he was anxious to show me. Most of them were pictures of my ex-girlfriend Julie and I, but a few were of me and another girl named Andrea Carmine. “When were these taken?” I asked Dad.

“I don’t know. There are notes on the back. How’s she doing, anyway?”

Sure enough, on the back of each of the pictures were notes and commentary. “Pretending not to notice that a fake waterfall was fake sure was fun!!” “I call this picture The Giant and the Dwarf because you’re a giant and I’m a dwarf!!” “If vampires can’t have their picture taken, are you a vampire when you’re smiling because you never have your picture taken when you’re smiling!!” She always had to explain every joke that swept through her head.

If I were to have made a list of everything that I could have wanted in a girlfriend, she would have met nearly every bullet point. She had the figure that I craved at the time. She had nice, straight blond hair. She rarely wore jewelry or make-up. She was a spark-plug of energy. She was extremely easy to talk to and had a way of making me open up and smiling. There was nothing in the way of scars, excess weight, obvious disfigurements, or nail polish. My parents loved her. There was just one thing…

Andrea was a freshman when I was a sophomore and we met in theater class. I’d developed something of a crush on her friend Tanya. As I sometimes tried to do when I developed a crush from afar, I made friends with one of her friends and tried to meet her that way. I called it “pivoting”. It was the closest thing that I had to a tactic at the time and it was bolstered by the fact that I seemed to be attracted to shy girls that seemed to have at least one outgoing friend.

One of the stranger things about it all is that prior to putting my plan into action, I never once considered simply grabbing at the shorter-hung fruit… the more accessible one. I saw Andrea as nothing more than a means to an end.

Once everything was in motion, nothing worked out quite like I thought it would. I discovered that not only was Andrea Tanya’s only real friend in the class, but she just about dominated her friends. It was difficult to talk to Tanya without Andrea turning the conversation away from Tanya and back on to me or on to herself. Tanya didn’t seem to mind since she was a pretty quiet person, but it thwarted my plans.

Also thwarting my plan was that Andrea and I became really good friends really quickly. Within a short period of time, Tanya was being frozen out altogether as Andrea and I bonded. Tanya was the ultimate goal, but not only did Andrea steer conversation away from Tanya and I, I enjoyed talking to Andrea a lot more than I enjoyed talking to Tanya. I also enjoyed simply having a female friend where there was nothing else involved. She was teaching me that females are just people, too.

Classmates, who didn’t like either me or Andrea, took notice of the two of us and decided that we should be a couple and goaded the two of us. It seemed less like “you two would make a cute couple” and more like “you two losers belong together”. The class was dominated by jocks and cheerleaders. It escalated when Andrea and I did an emotional duet where she had aborted my kid and we were putting the pieces back together. Our chemistry together was great and even people that didn’t seem to loathe us started asking questions.

Then for the next round of duets I got to work with Tanya. It’s a long story, but the end result was that it became perfectly clear that Tanya was not interested in me and that was fine because after working with her I no longer liked her on any level. By that time there was a fourth person in our group named Laren. Laren always had an acerbic tongue, a cute way of rolling her eyes at anything and everything that lacked sufficient cynicism, and bug spray that she put in her hair. She was just crazy enough that I had begun to dig her a lot. I eventually did ask her out. She declined and extricated herself from our little grouplet.

Since I didn’t want to talk to Tanya anymore and Laren was gone, it was just Andrea and I again. Our friendship lasted up until my senior year when I went off to college, but nothing else ever happened. The strangest thing wasn’t that nothing happened, but rather that despite all the talk of those around us and despite how close we were it took her dating my friend before I even asked myself why that was. For a little horndog like myself, that was very unusual. I’d either want to be with someone or there’d be some very specific reason why I wouldn’t.

Clint and I discussed the matter. Though he got to know her a little bit as well through me, he’d never thought about making a move, either. As I thought about it, the thought of kissing her made my stomach feel quite queasy. I couldn’t figure out why, though, since she met all those all-important criteria. “Something about her face,” Clint noted. I nodded in agreement.

We took a picture of her that I had with me and started blocking out portions of her face. Mouth? No. Hair? No. Eyes? Holy moley… it was totally her eyes. Even then I couldn’t explain what exactly was wrong with her eyes. They were not of any unusual color or shape. The only unusual thing about them was that they almost had a Japanese double-eyelid quality about them, but I didn’t have any issues with Asian girls.

As I looked at the pictures over this past weekend, I asked myself “What is it about those eyes?”

All these years later, I still don’t have an answer.

Category: Ghostland, School

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