My old friend Cinn was notorious for meeting a plethora of men online. (Sometimes she would even give them my phone number and address, which I can’t tell you how much I appreciated. In fact, she’s one of the reasons I signed up for Caller ID. For the other, please see: Lesbian Blind Date.)
In the fall of ’98, she called me up one day and said that she met a man named Shadoe on AOL. After IMing for a minute, Shadoe naturally invited her over for dinner. Things move rapidly in Cinn’s world of Internet dating. She asked me to tag along, because everyone knows that my 5’4″ frame is made specifically for overpowering Internet predators. And because my judgment is (still) exceptionally jarred, I said yes and even applied glitter on my eyelids to announce my excitement.
Shadoe’s real name was Shawn, and he lived in a trendy little section of Pittsburgh populated by college students and toed the line of a particularly seedy part of town. His apartment was small—my knees would rub against his tub every time I sat down on the toilet to pee—and his kitchen boasted a variation of the Last Supper portrait, the table seating various serial killers in lieu of disciples and Jesus. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it and I knew unequivocally that Shadoe and I were going to get along just fine.
It was there, over a pasta spread at his kitchen table, that I learned he worked at my favorite record store in Pittsburgh, Eide’s Entertainment.
“Why don’t you guys accept American Express?” I asked with a slight brattiness to my tone, clumsily twirling a hive of pasta around my fork tines.
“Erin!” Cinn exclaimed, accusing me of being rude. I didn’t think I was being rude. All I was trying to do was save a sinking ship.
Because Cinn, upon coming face to face with Shadow’s large stature, was immediately chagrined. She was a bitch the whole night, slashing him with sarcasm and attempting to put me down, which is what she always did when someone had the nerve to care about what I had to say (see also: Giacomo 1999). But Shadoe spent most of the night laughing at my unfiltered outbursts and was grateful I think for my presence, especially after Cinn downed a bottle of Irish Rose and put her drunken stupor on display in the aisles of the Blockbuster we walked to after eating the dinner that Shadoe had graciously prepared.
I’ve never been what you would consider “goth” on the outside, but I’ve always had a propensity for the music. Of course The Cure is my favorite, but I also liked a lot more from the oeuvre: Lycia, Switchblade Symphony, Front Line Assembly, Corpus Delicti; everything from dark wave to synthpop, EBM to industrial. And Shadoe had an impressive collection of all that. He seemed surprised that I knew so much in his collection, because on the outside, I was a Lip Smackers girl with beach waves and fuzzy sweaters from Contempo Casuals.
I’m all Goth on the inside, baby.
While Cinn sat on the couch simmering in her bitch-stew, I rummaged through his records and CDs. I laughed when I came across Johnny Hates Jazz.
“When I was a kid, I always thought it was ‘Shadow Dreams,’ not ‘Shattered,'” I laughed, which made Shadoe blush a little. Now I think of him every time I hear that damn song. (Which, for some reason, is often. Liking 80s music is not a crime, OK!?)
Meanwhile, Cinn (who didn’t even like the guy) couldn’t stand the fact that she had nothing to contribute to the conversation and that, God forbid, she wasn’t the center of attention. She was used to guys lavishing her with come-ons and sleazy innuendos, neither of which Shadoe was doing.
So she did what any drunk, attention-starved Alpha female would do: while I was sprawled out on my stomach across the floor, looking at CDs, Cinn staggered over and straddled my back. And then she tried to dry-hump me. “What the fuck, get off!” I yelled, flipping her off my spine. I suppose the point was to impress Shadoe. “Look at me! Wine over-consumption turns me into a pseudo-lesbo! Watch in awe as I pretend to be hot for my friend while staying far away from her vagina!”
It was just pathetic. Not to mention embarrassing.
Cinn strung him along for a few weeks, even though she clearly wasn’t into him, until I couldn’t take it any longer. Cinn was married and I didn’t want Shadoe to get hurt. So I told him. I don’t care about whatever unspoken Ho Code there might be for something like that. She was being a douche and I couldn’t get behind that.
They never spoke again, but I remained friends with Shadoe and it fucking drove Cinn nuts. How dare I, right?
Because of where he worked, he always hooked himself up with the latest horror release and called me up for some cheesy pizza and a cheesier movie. Whatever pizza place he ordered from, it was the most delicious pizza. Maybe that’s just my sweet memories enchanting my taste buds to believe that eleven years later.
We watched a bootleg copy of The Blair Witch Project before any information was really known about it, so we totally thought it was a true story, that clearly they all died and some hiker found the tapes completely unmarred in the woods. Another time, we watched Pecker and liked it so much that we immediately dove into an encore presentation. I watched it once again a few years ago and can’t imagine why we liked that much. It must have been the pot.
Eventually, Shadoe met a woman who was able to lay stake in a spot of his heart that Cinn had vacated, and he subsequently moved to Virginia to be with her. We kept in touch for awhile, but I had moved around the same time, and life just got in the way. The last I heard, one of the guys at Eide’s told me that Shadoe had taken that woman onto that court show “Judge Joe Brown” because they had split up and were fighting over property.
Even though our friendship lasted through all four seasons, I always think of him the most right now, in the fall. Especially on chilly, rainy days when nothing seems as perfect as curling up on a friend’s couch with good pizza and a horror movie. I miss that son of a bitch.
This is also the time of year I start pining for my old friend Cinn, so thank you, memory of Shadoe, for bitch-slapping me right out of that delusional fantasy.