I’ve Grown Accustomed to Your…Is That Your Face?!

Friday, December 2nd, 2005, 11:37 am

Interesting responses to the pictures I posted yesterday, which I guess is better than shrieks of horror. What I found interesting was that everyone imagined me looking completely different than I actually look. Perhaps I should’ve waited and made Vegas my Debutante Ball, but all those plastic smiles and hushed whispers might’ve cracked my self-esteem. And that wouldn’t help my poker play much at all.

I guess the shoe will be other foot as I meet scores of people I know by their posts if not their pusses. Is it possible to deduce what a person looks like by what they write? The answer, apparently, is no.

I have some small experience in this area. Before my freshman year of college a friend of mine got mixed up with a different crowd and met this girl. They started dating (the fact that this girl was willing to date this particular friend should have raised a football-field-sized red flag) but before I went off to Penn State I only met her once, and even then it wasn’t a face-to-face. We were all over my friend’s house (playing cards, I believe) and she stopped over uninvited to talk to him. They sat out on his porch for a few minutes and then she left. I maybe saw her for 2 seconds and all I remembered was that she had brown hair and seemed nice-looking. I guess I was fixated on my cards.

So we move forward a few months and I’m in Happy Valley. My friend has decided that he needs to share himself with the ladies of Pittsburgh, and having a girlfriend at some little school in Ohio doesn’t fit in with his lifestyle. She’s always pestering him, why doesn’t he call, why doesn’t he write? Not willing to totally cut ties yet, my friend says, “Hey, why don’t you write to my friend Geno? He LOVES to write letters.”

Thusly thrown under the bus, I get a letter a few days later from a girl I never heard of before. Now, I went to school before email, kids. Snail mail was all I had, it was my lifeline. I’d see a letter in the slot and my heart would sing…until I saw it was some goddam card or something for Mark. His vast army of a family showered him with mail, causing bitterness that I’m still working out at the ping-pong table to this very day.

Anyway, I get this letter, and I have no idea who this girl is. Nor does Mark. But then I open it and go “aha!” and the mystery is solved. Mark and my other friends thought, correctly, that this was pretty weird, but as my erstwhile friend back in Pittsburgh knew, I like to write. So I wrote her back.

She wrote me back. And I did the same and before too long I had a big stack of mail from her. Because I am (well, was) a romantic fool I fell head-over-heels in love with her, just from her letters. She was funny and smart and flirty and we liked the same things and thought the same way and I felt sure I’d found my soul mate. I didn’t know what she looked like, but, darn it, looks aren’t everything, right?

Christmas vacation arrives and we make a date to finally meet. As I’m driving I’m worrying about what she looks like. What if she’s, you know, just OK? What if she doesn’t do it for me? Or, far more likely and plausible, what if I don’t do it for HER?

I got to her house and there are cars everywhere. Her parents were hosting a Christmas party, so I had a big audience for this awkward moment. My stomach felt full of eels as I ring the bell. And the door opens and there she is. Brown-hair, nice-looking. Very nice-looking, actually, so nice-looking that I practically answered her “Hi” with a drawn-out, “Duhhhh”.

I’m introduced to the parents, smiled at the scores of guests appraising me, and we left. I didn’t know what to say at first, which was odd after all the words we’d exchanged over the last few months. We get in the car and she says, “Do you recognize me from that time I was over (scorned friend’s) house?”

“No,” I say, and she says, “I don’t remember seeing you.” And then she says, “But you look exactly as I thought you would.”

Aww. We went to eat and spent 3 hours talking non-stop. It was still early and we went to a movie just to have something to do. The only movie that still had tickets available was, get ready for this, Leonard Part Six, the Bill Cosby hydrogen bomb that was seen by maybe 14 people. And we weren’t among the 14, as we spent much of the movie gazing into each other’s eyes, if you get my drift.

What a sweet little story of teenagers in love. Ahhh. Of course, your enjoyment of the story may change somewhat when I tell you that this girl totally DESTROYED me with a series of off-the-cuff yet ominous name-drops and perplexing push-pulls and quadruple entendres that ruined a good year of my life. She was a maestro of the mind game, and only now, from a distance of 18 years, can I look back and admire her performance as it so richly deserves. Teenagers in love, I should say, are complete fucking morons. Well, this teenager was. Yeesh.

So, the moral of my story is…give me a second here…oh, here we go. The moral is that the written word is not to be trusted, ever. Not for plumbing the depths of the human heart, nor for creating an Identakit picture.

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