When I was 13 years old I got my first girlfriend, sorry that’s unfair, I earned my first girlfriend (that’s right fellas, ya gotta work to make it work). I had been doing reconnaissance for over two years on Jessica Nimms, cracking quip after quip, gauging her interest, and judging whether she too had a passion for Italian soccer. Unfortunately, she did not, but nevertheless a love bloomed, a love that was true, honest, and most of all consistently predictable. Those first few months were like a dream, we were the new hot couple at all the parties, our identities were now intertwined with one another, and when we walked into a room, Capri Sun was waiting for us on ice.
But behind closed doors, a storm was all ready brewing. Like a closeted gay Republican, our relationship was mere pomp and circumstance, whose existence was there only to appease the masses. Truth be told, we weren’t right for each other. I liked sports, she liked JC Chasez, we were fooling ourselves if we thought we would ever make it work. There were just too many obstacles, the most prominent being her mother.
It was Super Bowl XXXIV, the Rams were playing the Titans, but I was playing an entirely different game. Allyson Blake and her parents were co-hosting a party in one of those dreadful lopsided get together’s where either the parents are friends or the children are friends, but rarely both. Lucky for me, but much to the dismay of my father who hollered, “Can’t I just watch the damn game in my own house!” this gathering was plumb with passion, for Jessica would be at this soiree.
The Blake’s had just moved from their modest 3 bedroom home to a sprawling mansion located on top of a hill, high above the Los Gatos plebes. Something I’ve always found interesting is that in Northern California there is a direct correlation between a family’s income and the altitude of their home. As if the social ladder were a literal one and after you climbed out of the muck and mire it was your family’s right to behave like complete blowhards.
Although my 13-year-old sensibilities told me these people were living an obnoxiously charmed lifestyle, my morals were not yet refined as I hope they are today. My mother ushered us into Blake manor, where we were immediately banished to the attic for the “kids party”. I had experienced kids parties before, there was usually a smelly kid or three, a smaller television that had below quality sound, and folding chairs with the seat worn out from endless weekends of watching soccer/baseball/football/who-gives-a-shit-blob tournaments. But this, this party, was different. My sister and I entered the attic to find it wholly furnished, complete with a Costco meat and cheese catering dish, an infinite supply of IBC root beer, two separate TV’s and seating areas, and a total lack of adult supervision. I mean this party was BA-BANGIN’.
After my mind comprehended the sheer audaciousness of this function, I gathered myself and reigned in my pupils only to have my jaw distend toward the floor when my eyes befell Lady Nimms. She looked majestic in her Titan powder blue t-shirt, her pig tails matching in equal length, her sparkly lip gloss causing a glare on the television, and of course Mandy Moore’s classic hit Candy playing in the background (and inside my head) on loop.
I was thirteen-years-old and Jessica and I had been seeing each other for a few months, yet even in my old age she still had the ability to make me forget my times tables. But alas, Jessica was a traditional beast, one who preferred to take things slow, which was made apparent when she thwarted my attempts to kiss her on the last song of every school dance that year. What can I say? I’m sorry I wanted K-Ci & JoJo to define our relationship!
We exchanged pleasantries, loaded our plates up with Mortadella and Colby Jack, then retreated to watch the game from opposite ends of the room. We had always promised each other not to be one of those couples who quartered themselves off from the rest of the party, so by that measure we were doing great. I’d say our best quality as a couple was our ability to not talk to each other for lengthy periods of time, we were independent people, not defined whatsoever by our commitment to one another.
Midway through the third quarter, between IBC refills and hilarious comments about how Yancy Thigpen was a REALLY wacky name, I was beginning to miss my boo. All the great couples have the ability to communicate telepathically: Puffy and J-Lo, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Mark Anthony and J-Lo, and now Jessica and I. For what happened in the next moment can be modestly described as the greatest thing to ever happen to a 7th grader. I was sitting on the couch when Jessica sauntered over to her man and without a word… took a seat on my lap.
YUP, YOU READ THAT RIGHT. My girlfriend sat on my lap. Oh sweet, sweet victory, the day is mine and all that jazz. So this, this was what it was like to be in an adult relationship. I mean what a bold move! Who was this wonderfully scandalous vixen?! Oh momma, I might as well have been draft eligible, because I was a man.
The next eight and a half minutes of game time (34 of real time) were the happiest of my existence. Our life together flashed before my eyes, her coming home covered in grease and dirt after a long day in the factory, me preparing dinner and living out my fantasy of being a stay at home husband, it was beautiful in the sacred space of my imagination.
But it was all for naught, because as I was open mouth laughing at the Budweiser frogs cracking wise, Mrs. Nimms entered the room to find her daughter in said comprising position. Her face beet red, her breath fiery like a dragon’s from the jalapeno poppers served at the adult party down below, she uttered two words that will reverberate in my body and soul for eternity, “We’re leaving.”
“Jessica my love! Don’t go! Please, I beseech thee!” I cried as she instantly leapt from my clutches and out of my life. But it was no use, she was gone and I was alone once more. And like Mandy Moore and her unabashed desire for adult onset diabetes, I too, began to miss Jessica like candy.
Super Bowl XXXIV went on to be one of the greatest in history when Titan wide-receiver Kevin Dyson was stopped short on the one-yard line. But instead of cheering in admiration of a great contest, I could only empathize with Dyson and his noble journey being stopped right at the precipice of greatness.
RIP Steve McNair.