Your Guide to Rekindling Old Flames & Putting Them Back Out in One Night

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It was January 2009 and I just turned twenty-one. I was living with my parents, counting the days until I would leave for my college semester abroad.  I had recently ended my last relationship via an email that included the sentence “in all honesty, I’m not sure what happened between us.” Things could have been better. To get away from my parents and emotions, I went to visit my best friend from high school who was in college in Boston.  Me and this friend, who we’ll call Rebecca, had a tendency of going crazy together.[1] When we were together, anything was possible. I was also going to Boston, in part, because a boy I once dated and still cared for lived there. Let’s call him Dan, because I’ve never slept with anybody named Dan.

Cut to: it’s Saturday night in Boston and Rebecca and I are drinking lots of red wine, making penne pasta with red sauce and discussing how much we’ve missed each other. After a few more glasses and way too much pasta, we head out to some bar where we’re planning to meet friends, and Dan. Since it’s Boston, just assume that it was a lame bar in a lame neighborhood.

At the bar Rebecca and I took jalapeno infused tequila shots and danced as I anxiously waited for Dan. When he arrived he was just as hot as I’d remembered him, and we celebrated our reunion with more shots. In fact, Dan and I were enjoying each other’s presence so much we decided to go somewhere to be alone.

Dan took me all the way across the street to T.G.I.F Friday’s. Yes, that’s right: HE TOOK ME TO FRIDAY’S. I immediately started questioning how well I really knew Dan.  Still in shock, I ordered some big pick cocktail from a waitress named “Shirley” or “Tammy,” and Dan and I started talking about Ayn Rand. "I almost forgot how smart you were," he said. He told me I was perfect. I coyly smiled like I couldn't believe it was true (it is), and we went outside for a cigarette. After the disgusting mix of alcohol I’d consumed, the first drag of this cigarette hit me like that scene in Fargo with the wood chipper. In other words, it fucked me up.

At this point, Rebecca walked the 50 yards from the first bar all the way to Friday’s. She told me that she was going home with some guy she met, which of course meant I couldn’t sleep at her apartment. Fine, I said. I’ll just go home with Dan. Dan and I finished our cigarettes and walked up the hill to his apartment, where we continued to validate each other about how smart and attractive we were.

Cut to: Dan’s bed. I lay on my stomach as he pet my hair and told me about how much he loved this new book he was reading, the Neon Bible. “Read it to me,” I said. He started reading me his favorite passages. We hadn’t even kissed yet. Maybe it was something about John Toole’s naïve narrative, or just one too many tequila shots, but it has never been more obvious to me that I was going to throw up within the next minute. I excused myself and found the bathroom, where I managed to hold in my vomit just long enough to reach the toilet.

With a complete loss of bodily control, I immediately started puking up red pasta sauce and pink cosmos and jalapeno flavored tequila, for what seemed like an hour. Eventually I regained basic functions, got a massive glass of water and decided that I’m fine. I went back to Dan.

“Are you okay?” he asked immediately, as the length of my bathroom trip was that of a short nap.

Keeping my cool, I acted like nothing was wrong and got back in his bed. I asked him to keep reading. He hesitated for a moment, and then started the book from page 1.  At first I thought: “he is so sweet and romantic,” but by page 3, my brain was screaming: “What the hell is he talking about? This is so boring! Is it rude to fall asleep?”

Then, without warning, my insides – still red from pasta sauce and girly drinks – rose up from my stomach AGAIN and began splattering his white comforter. And it did not stop. Vomit all over his bed. His floor. In my hair. On my shirt. I was like a sick, hopeless little child and he was absolutely terrified. Pieces of pasta were literally coming out of me fully formed, and landing all over his room.  I was almost impressed at how much I had consumed that evening. How is there still more? I thought.

Eventually I passed out, and when I woke up a few hours later, in my own drool, Dan had cleaned up the whole room and changed my clothes. All that remained was a smell unlike any other. Rebecca met me outside of Dan’s apartment and I snuck away, humiliated.

Rebecca had her own story to rival mine, and we could not help but laugh to ourselves at another successful weekend together. We also had to laugh because it was 7:30 am and we both looked and felt like heroin-addicted prostitutes.

Lying on Rebecca’s couch six hours later, mourning what I knew would be the end of my relationship with Dan, I received the best and worst text message of my life:

Still finding little pieces of pasta in my room. I’m sending you the Neon Bible since you didn’t get to finish it.

 

Friday’s and all, turned out Dan was a pretty good guy.

 

[1] I recently video-chatted with Rebecca, still my best friend but now living much further away. When I brought up our antics from 2009-2010, she deemed it as “the year I fucked everybody.”

 

Teenage yearsJessie Male