Apr 132010
 

I was having some major internal conflict that Saturday morning. Before Christina had come to Pittsburgh, the plan was that I would drive back to Cincinnati with her the following Saturday morning, spend the weekend there, and come back on Sunday. But, and this is so corny, in the three years that Henry and I had been dating, I had never spent a weekend away from him.

Who would cook for me? Who would pander to my every wish and demand?

Christina, apparently.

The ride to Cincinnati was fun. We listened to music, talked, laughed – a lot. We listened to the mix CD she brought with her, and her music was starting to grow on me. It was upbeat and happy, the perfect soundtrack for a car ride with a new friend. The good thing was that we were both very open to new music, so music became something we shared with each other, right from the start. And we both really liked The Used, I discovered; slowly, I was finding things we had in common.

Music was definitely the backbone of our friendship.

I remember sitting in the car, in front of train tracks, and asking, “Who sings this again?”

“Fall Out Boy,” Christina answered.

“I really like them!” Oh boy, what I was thinking? At least it was 2004, before they turned all-the-way lame. (OK, no – that didn’t make me feel better at all.)

That’s one of those vignettes that stands out so prominently in my mind, like it was just yesterday she was a passenger in my silver Sentra and my stomach, all these years later, automatically mimics the  reeling it was experiencing at the thought of spending a weekend in a stranger’s home. Isn’t it funny how one small, seemingly insignificant moment that was over quicker than Ben Roethlisberger targeting an underage co-ed can become so permanently etched in your memory.

Christina ranted a lot about Sylvia as we drove past plain Ohio scenery and frightening God-fearing billboards. This was when I learned that Sylvia had a forked-tongue, a hunch back, inverted nipples, and that Christina didn’t even like to kiss her. And I was expected to meet her that night, knowing all these intimate details about her body. Fantastic!

Christina lived in a townhouse with her mom and younger sister, Cynthia. I don’t like meeting people’s parents. I never have. I get uncomfortable and immediately lose about 90% of my personality. But luckily, her mom was at work, so I only had to deal with meeting Cynthia, Cynthia’s teen-mom friend Sammie, and the infamous Steve, who was laying on top of Cynthia’s bunk beds. When he lifted his head to greet me, I took  in his pretty face and wondered what the hell he was doing clandestinely fucking Christina.

After Christina made me listen to a recording of her giving a spine-tingling sermon at some scary cult of a church (it was so frightening, I had to beg her to turn it off), we all got in the car and went to Jungle Jim’s, which is nothing more than a giant super market offering international goods along with your traditional American fare.  But Christina felt it was awesome enough to double as a tourist attraction, and I have to admit that Jungle Jim’s became one of the future perks of visiting her. I bought some medieval weapon of a fruit called a durian and it became a Really Big Deal, the definitive highlight of the trip.

Meanwhile, as we caroused the aisles with me pointing and oohing at the international sundry, tension was brewing. Apparently, Sammie was getting too close to Steve, and Christina was on the verge of having a Jerry Springer meltdown, because bitch, that’s HER man.

“None of us even like her,” Christina explained. “But she’s just always around.” I didn’t like her much either, to be honest, but she was easy to ignore.

The more time I spent around Steve, though, the more gay he seemed to me, so I wondered if Christina’s jealousy was all for naught anyway.

(And yes, Steve wound up being gay, but I’m sure Christina already knew that.)

Guess who was waiting for us back at Christina’s house? OMG, SYLVIA! She was oozing possessiveness, insane jealousy, and boiled rabbits all over Christina’s couch like a ginger Jabba the Hut. The introduction was awkward, fake. I have never felt more sized up, like a bloody cow carcass hanging from a meat hook. Sylvia had this high-pitched baby voice and I knew immediately there was nothing either of us was going to have in common. In Christina’s room, Sylvia and Steve lounged on her bed, texting each other back and forth, behind my back, laughing raucously every so often.

Welcome to Ohio, Erin! Just like being back in high school and hearing assholes whisper about you at the next lunch table. Those two never bothered to talk to me, really. Not that I wanted them too, but it maybe would have made for less awkward intervals when Christina would leave the room.

I sat at Christina’s desk, with my back to Sylvia, Steve and Sammie, while Christina ran around like a wild woman trying to entertain/impress/wow me. She told me this secret about how she had met some girl, Amanda, online and for the past year had been leading Amanda on to believe that she was really a boy. “The name I use is Scotty Hotty,” she said, laughing. “And Amanda thinks we’re dating.” Apparently, Amanda would call the house and have actual conversations with Christina, thinking the whole time that it was a boy, her boyfriend even.  That she had enough mental imbalance to pull off a deviant scheme like that for over a year should have made me grab my purse and run like hell. I don’t know why I didn’t. Maybe because that asshole part of my brain thought it was funny. In that case, I deserved to get fucked over by her.

Christina’s sister, who was 18 at the time, was a little sycophant who apparently liked me almost as much as her sister did.

“Here, I drew you this picture,” Cynthia said, pushing a sheet of paper across the desk with such flourish that I expected to take in my hands a future inductee to the Louvre.

It was a crudely drawn house. I assumed it was crudely drawn on purpose, and decided to go along with it.

cynthiasdrawing

“Wow!” I patronized. “Very nice!”

Apparently, sarcasm wasn’t the proper tool to pull out of the shed, because Cynthia started to cry.

At first, I thought she was joking, so I laughed.

She began to then cry harder. She wound up crying so fucking hard that I actually thought she was laughing, so I started laughing too. Then she ran out of the room, the sound of things being slammed and broken followed in her wake. I was left sitting alone at the desk, frozen in incredulity.

“I’ll go talk to her!” Sylvia shouted, seizing the opportunity to be all large-and-in-charge, all the while reaffirming the unspoken fact that I was a bitch who pulled the trigger on Cynthia’s bi-polar laser gun. That a simple crayon-sketched house could birth A Scene was something that should have made me feel at home, since it was something of which I could see myself being on the other end. The other less-stable, tear-squirting, fist-flailing end.

But never had I felt more uncomfortable, unwanted, out of place. I glanced at the clock. It was after midnight. There would be next to no cars on the road. I could probably make it make to Pittsburgh in record time.

But Christina convinced me to stay. She assured me it wasn’t my fault, that sometimes Cynthia overreacts, that she was just trying too hard to impress me.

“I’ll take care of it,” Christina promised. “Please don’t leave.”

And so I sat there, shoulders scrunched up in anxiety, while Christina went off to diffuse the bomb that was Cynthia. While she was at it, she confronted Sylvia about the inhospitable way she had been treating me. She told me later that she screamed at her and told her, “Henry’s kids treated me with more respect than you’re giving Erin!”

You know how in some music videos, or movies, they’ll show a person sitting still in the center of a room, while a maelstrom of activity is unfolding around them, double-time? I feel that’s how it must have looked if I could have drifted out of my body. Maybe then I could have laughed about it, but instead I sat there, stock-still, thinking, “All these people around me are crying, when I’m the one who really wants to cry.

While Christina was talking Cynthia off the ledge, Sylvia came back into Christina’s room and offered me a mint from her Care Bears tin. I guess it was a peace offering but there was little sincerity backing it.

What it taught me was that Sylvia really liked Care Bears.

I tried to make conversation with her. I asked her what kind of music she liked. As expected, it was Top 40 garbage. “I’m trying to like the stuff Christina is into,” she said in that childish tone of hers. Christina told me later that she very emphatically did not want Sylvia to ever like the music she likes. I thought that was a pretty glaring indication of their incompatibility, because sharing music was always something I enjoyed doing with people I dated. (To the point where I will force it down Henry’s ear canals, like Ipecac for the shit he previously liked before meeting me.)

That weekend was still a part of the Great Pregnancy Scare of 2004, and after filling everyone in about the horrors of waiting for my period to hopefully stumble home, I launched into a neurotic monologue about how terrified I was of child birth.

This made Sammie, the resident baby-birther, flip out.  Kneeling very Regan-like on Christina’s bed, she started ranting about how I know nothing about what it’s like. “I HAVE A KID, I WOULD KNOW!” she shouted brattily. “I’m basically an expert!”

Yes, bravo. You had a baby when you were 16. Too bad MTV missed out on that one.

{Ed. Note: I’m not dogging on teen moms. Just teens who think they know everything.]

After everyone left that night, Christina and I sat on her bed while she cried. She felt horrible about the way I had been treated, and admitted her doubts that I’d still want to be friends.

“Yeah, everyone acted like psychotic indigents who have never been around another human being, but you were still nice to me, and that’s all that matter,” I assured her. She had gone out of her way to make sure I was as comfortable as possible, knowing that I was homesick and that I hadn’t slept without Henry in years. On her clock radio, she scrolled through the stations until she found soft rock. She knew that I liked to fall asleep to soft rock! She made sure I had two pillows. She checked repeatedly to see if I needed a drink. Cynthia, feeling badly for earlier, even brought me a cat stuffed animal.

“You can pretend it’s Marcy,” she explained. And it was kind of touching, that these two girls were trying so hard to make me feel like I was home.

Christina slept in Cynthia’s room, to alleviate any potentially awkward bed-sharing mishaps.

I didn’t sleep well. I missed Henry. I still felt awkward, and hurt by the way their friends had treated me.

The next morning, Christina took me back to Jungle Jim’s. I had planned on staying most of the afternoon, but I was homesick to the point of throwing up. All I could think about was Henry, what Henry was doing, if Henry missed me, what Henry was making that night for dinner.

As I got all of my stuff together, Christina cried a little. “Now that I’ve met you, I don’t want to let you go!” she said, trying to play it off like she was just being cute, but there was sadness in her eyes. It made me feel bad that I wasn’t as upset about leaving as she was about me leaving, and I won’t lie – it made me feel a little weird too, that someone who barely knew me could like me so much. But I just couldn’t hang around there any longer, so far out of my comfort zone. She asked if I would ever come back. I lied and said yes without hesitation, but the events of the night before were actually pretty traumatic for me, especially when I’m not very good with meeting people to begin with. I knew I definitely did not want to ever cross paths with Sylvia again.

Despite the social pandemonium that occurred in Christina’s bedroom that night, the beginning bricks of a friendship were laid that weekend; from sharing music and a mutual dislike for Sammie to cherry Coke at Big Boy’s and a stinky durian from Jungle Jim’s, the events of that weekend became the punchline of many inside jokes. Before I left, Christina gave me the mixed CD she made for her to trip to Pittsburgh and I listened to it the whole way home.

That night in my journal, I wrote:

While I loved spending time with Christina, I was eager to leave the next day. I did 85mph all the way through Ohio and made it home around 4:00. I was stuck to Henry like a magnet. We went to Giant Eagle and I literally could not get close enough to him. I never want to leave him again!

  20 Responses to “The Christina Chronicles: The Big Meet Part 2”

  1. Wow! That is quite a first meeting.

  2. That’s quite a menagerie of freaks!

    Also, I think I was confusing “Sylvia” with “Cynthia,” who actually was her sister. That makes more sense now, lol.

  3. Oh my god, you’ve said nice things about Henry!

    It’s hard maintaining a friendship with someone when there are ppl in their life who act like that toward you. She’s lucky you didn’t run away screaming that night!! What a bunch of asshats.

    • Ha! I evidently REALLY liked Henry back then.

      It got really hard two years ago when I decided I couldn’t pretend to like her sister anymore, for the sake of the friendship. Ugh!

  4. That Scottie Hottie thing alone makes me want to punch her. WHO DOES THAT????

    • Oh I know! I wish I could remember the details. But like, her mom and sister knew about it, and apparently Sylvia and Steve too. If Amanda called and her mom answered, she would totally play along.

      I’m pretty sure Amanda had even come to Cincinnati several times, trying to meet “him.” Fucking horrible. I hope she goes to hell.

      • Did she send her fake pictures or something? How did this girl not know? I’m trying to wrap my head around it. You always hear about old fat men posing as young girls in chat, but this tops that I think.

        • If my memory is correct, she was using pictures of her friend Steve.

          Janna and I have talked about this at length and I’m almost positive this was her way of manipulating gender. I always felt that she, deep down, wanted to be a boy. I have nothing against that, but never felt comfortable with some girl getting screwed over on the other end of it.

  5. I can totally relate. I’m so terribly awkward with people I don’t know. It’s painful. And I’m sure not much fun for other people either when I fall up stairs or down a slight incline and start crying hysterics of embarrassment.
    I love the Henry love! I bet he got all misty eyed reading this.

    • If any of my friends ever acted that way toward someone new in my life, I think I would have to lock myself in my car and cry….OH WAIT! I’ve had to do that before, lol.

      It really sucked. I don’t know how I managed to not cry that night. I feel like out of all of them, it SHOULD have been me crying!

  6. I was seriously hoping that there would be a follow up post to this saying, “Just kidding, these people aren’t real, I made them all up.” Yikes. Seriously? The Scotty Hotty thing is terrible! I don’t know of a better way, besides maiming kittens, to gain oneself a nice, toasty spot in hell. Don’t these people know the first thing about manners, especially when meeting new people? I would have had a panic attack from all of that awkward brazenness!! I can’t imagine the strength it must have taken to stay the night.

    • I wish I could remember the details of the Scotty Hotty thing, but it literally went on for YEARS. This girl thought she had a boyfriend all that time, when it was Christina being a douchebag, and the sick part is that she never even disguised her voice. I feel like she lived in Cleveland, it was definitely another city in Ohio. And she ended up going to Cincinnati with her friends one time, to see some celebrity that was doing a signing there or something, I don’t know. And Christina didn’t know she was coming there until Amanda called her FROM CINCINNATI. It was apparently a Very Big Deal, and somehow she got out of meeting her.

      We didn’t talk for awhile when I was pregnant with Chooch, and during that time, Christina came clean with her. I don’t remember if she told the truth on her own accord (probably not) or if she was busted. But they ended up meeting in Columbus, and I don’t think it went well. I mean, what did Christina think, this girl was going to be like, “You fucked with my head for three years, but yeah, I’ll be your bestie. Let’s a sleepover”??

      I hate that I always found a way to overlook all the sociopathic bullshit she pulled! And all those people there that night continued to be fucking assholes. I have more Cynthia stories that will be in later posts, and Steve thinks I’m like the worst person in the world, when actually, that’s his own bff Christina.

  7. Fall Out Boy? Ouch!

    They sound like a group that feeds on dysfunction, so I suppose they deserve each other. My parents are like that, totally co-dependant on one another in an unhealthy way. They probably feed into the bullshit and cover each others blunders so much that they don’t even see how fucked up they are. It’s a vicious cycle and I’m just glad you’re out of it, you deserve way better.

    • Every one of those assholes are still hanging around her, too. My favorite part is that right around the time I had Chooch, Sammie friended me on LJ. I wasn’t speaking to Christina, and she was in a feud with Cynthia, so I guess she thought we were going to buddy-up or something. Dumb cunt.

      Out of all of them, it was Cynthia I couldn’t stand the most. So many times over the years I wanted so badly to punch her in her ugly face.

      I think the Fall Out Boy thing has been the hardest thing to admit so far! Sadly though, I still enjoy that particular album from time to time. At least it was before MTV and soccer moms discovered them. (This is the excuse I tell myself when I feel lame, lol.)

  8. She fooled someone into thinking she was a dude for fun? That would have amused me very much in fourth grade.

    “Kneeling very Regan-like on Christina’s bed, she started ranting about how I know nothing about what it’s like. “I HAVE A KID, I WOULD KNOW!” she shouted brattily. “I’m basically an expert!””

    OH GOD, the Tolhurst.

    And um, what a shitty weekend with mean, jealous assholes.

    • At first I thought she did it for fun, just to be an asshole, but I really in my heart believe that this was her way of experimenting with being a boy. I think that’s ultimately what she wants. I mean, in the 6 years I knew her, she altered her appearance enough that she was constantly mistaken for a guy. I don’t think that was a coincidence. But because she is so phony and untrue to herself, this was never a conversation she and I could have. I believe she will have identity crises for the better part of the rest of her life.

  9. Wow, that’s pretty low to lead someone on like that for a year. Unfuckingbelievable.

    What an incredibly dysfunctional group of people. I would have felt awkward, too.

    • Sometimes I wish I was more stable myself, so I could detect all the red flags that most people would have seen immediately! I’m too gullible, I guess. I always want to stick around, give people quadruple chances. Well, at least back then that’s how I was. Now I’m a little quicker to excise the bad seeds. I just wish I could properly convey what it was about her that kept me coming back, but I’m not sure I even know that answer.

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