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The “One” That Got Away


Kim was a cute skinny blonde who had complained to my friend Ben that there were “No good guys out there”. She wanted someone nice. Apparently I was the closest thing to this, at least that Ben knew of, so he decided to set us up. She liked my Myspace pics, and after learning I didn’t have commitment issues, agreed to meet me. I headed down to Long Beach that Friday night for my partially blind date.  

The conversation didn’t start well. She said she loved baseball, I told her I hated sports. She said she wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, I told her I never wanted kids. Yet somehow, at the end of the night, we ended up in bed together–Ben’s bed, to be specific. He sacrificed his room and the sanitation of his bed sheets to help me get laid. When he and his friend Mike heard the noises and noticed a yellow light glowing from underneath the door, they crept out back to watch us through the window. I was careless enough to leave the light on, and they saw everything. For a brief moment, I was a porn-star.

Ben gave an eerily spot-on impersonation of my “technique” the next morning. “How fuckin’ long were you guys out there?” I asked, feeling as if we shared some form of sick bond. “I went back inside after like five minutes, but Mike stayed out there for a while,” he grinned, mimicking my hip thrusts and giggling. Mike swears he didn’t jerk-off, but I don’t believe him. It’s okay dude, I would have too.

I got her number and we set up a “second date”. Despite our many differences, we got along great. We loved to hate each other. I told her sorority girls are all obnoxious, she sang her sororities alma matter to the tune of Lynard Skynard – “Sweeeeet home Delta Gamma!” We eventually made a game of it, trying to see how many things we disagreed on. It got to the point where we’d be disappointed to find something in common. “You like country music? . . . dammit . . . I like country too.”

After a couple weeks things got serious. We hung out every other day and started calling each other “babe”. I’ve never bought into my friends’ theories that first-night-bang girls aren’t date-worthy. A cool chick is a cool chick, and I enjoyed spending time with her. I prefer girls who can make their own decisions, rather than wait three or four dates because society pressures them into holding out.

Around the third week, Ben and I met up with her for a Long Beach Dirtbags baseball game. It was here I also met her best friend Heather – a tall, dark haired, gorgeous 21-year-old. She informed us she’d just been accepted into a prestigious law school up north. At the time, Ben was applying to law schools. He had books like Black Law Dictionary and Glannons Guide to Civil Procedure on his shelf. His favorite show was Boston Legal.

“Umm, so how in love with Heather are you?” I asked him when it was our turn to get the next round of beers.

“Eh, she’s okay.” he replied, looking at the snack menu, pretending to be uninterested.

“Okay? Our 30th row seats behind 1st base are okay. This moderately cold Bud Light is okay. Your 15-dollar haircut is okay. That girl is amazing! How are you not in love with her? She’s a lawyer!”

“She’s a law student, and technically not even that yet.”

“Okay, she’s a future lawyer. And she’s hot. She’s funny and hot and smart and . . . hot!”

“Yea, I dunno, she’s okay.”

That Friday I invited Kim and her okay friend Heather to my school’s senior show – an art show. I was a year out, but my roommate was displaying. Looking through the wide variety of work hanging on the walls, Heather asked the most incisive questions.

“Do they do a pencil sketch on the canvas before painting?”

“What advantages do Oils have over Acrylic or Watercolor?”

“What kinds of reference material would you use for a piece like this?”

We had extensive conversations about fashion illustration, comic books, and conceptual art. All the stuff no one ever wants to hear me drone on about. She was into it. The only time I talked to Kim was when I gave her directions to the bathroom.

Around the fourth week, Kim invited me to Heather’s 22nd birthday celebration in Long Beach. I couldn’t make the dinner, but planned to meet up for drinks afterwards. She called me, unhappy with my text message explaining this.

“It would reeeeaally mean a lot to me if you could make it to the dinner.” she whined, trying to guilt me into changing my mind. At this point, we were doing almost everything together. In her opinion, missing just one meal was completely unacceptable. I’ve never wanted to be one of those guys who ditches all his friends as soon as he gets a girlfriend, but this seemed to be the direction I was heading. I got scared.  

“Um okay. . . I just told you I can’t. Sorry.” I meekly reiterated.

Driving down, she bombarded me with text messages asking where I was, and why I wasn’t there already, and how much longer I would be. Her neediness was beginning to turn me off. We weren’t even boyfriend and girlfriend yet and she was treating me like we were unhappily married for 25 years.

I pulled up to Ben’s place, walked inside, and immediately got a call from her as if she’d been watching me through a magic crystal ball like the Wicked Witch of the West. When I told her where I was, she yelled at me for not meeting her first, then accused me of lying and purposely avoiding the dinner.

“I don’t think I wanna date Kim anymore.” I announced after she hung up on me.

“Actually . . . I’m pretty sure I’m in love with Heather,” I thought out loud before reaffirming my epiphany ” Yeah, I’m in love with Heather, and I think I should tell her this before she moves away to school and I never see her again.”

Ben shook his head before answering, “Could you do this after I leave tonight? I’ve seen Kim go crazy before, it’s not a pretty sight.” I told him I couldn’t make any promises.

We met the girls at a bar down the street. Heather screamed, opened her arms, and gave me a big hug. Kim gave me the cold shoulder – literally, she didn’t even turn around to greet me. I introduced myself to one of their guy friends, who turned out to be Kim’s brother. We all drank and made merry. Kim stopped being a bitch.

The second stop for the night had a dance floor in the back, secluded from our group’s table. This was my chance. While Kim was ordering a drink, I asked Heather if she wanted to dance. We stopped in front of the DJ booth where I turned to her and shouted over the Kanye West song blasting.


She looked at the sweaty couple grinding next to us and grimaced in agreement.

“ACTUALLY, I HAVE SOMETHING TO TELL YOU.” I screamed into her ear.

“I KNOW.” she interrupted.


“YES, AND . . . ME TOO.”

I was pretty sure we were both talking about the same thing, but before I could confirm this, Kim and her brother showed up. I smiled and excused myself to get some fresh air. I walked through the club, unaware Heather was following. When we got outside she suggested we talk, like, somewhere else. We settled on the side of the building.

“So uhh, I sort of think you’re amazing.” I blurted out, immediately embarrassed. The whole time I was trying to figure out how to get her alone, I never thought about what I’d actually say once I did.

“I feel the same about you. I really wish I’d met you before Kim, I think we’d be great together.” she confessed, grabbing my arm and looking into my eyes.

“I know, I think so too, but I’d hate to come between two best friends.” I lied, hoping this would make me sound virtuous. I also wanted to play up the forbidden angle, thus becoming more desirable. She looked at me like she wanted to rip off my clothes and fuck me right there.

Our clever hiding spot was soon infiltrated by Kim and her brother and her brother’s friend. There would be no back-alley-sex. Heather quickly ran off to avoid confrontation. Kim looked at me for an explanation, but I had nothing. Her eyes watered and she stormed off, leaving me standing in a dark alley with her older brother and his friend. My thoughts raced back to the karate class I took in second grade. I tried remembering the defensive strategy our sensei taught us in the case of multiple attackers.

“Sorry.” I said, wishing I could call time-out like Zack Morris and figure out what the hell just happened.

“Sorry? You ruined the whole fuckin’ night. Now we gotta deal with this shit,” her brother snapped.

I nodded my head and lit a cigarette. I was already the asshole – might as well embrace the role. Arguing erupted from around the corner as we all stood in a circle, or more of a triangle, and remained silent. The girls blocked our only exit. “I’m really sorry,” I said again, blowing out smoke and sounding as sincere as Mitch’s wife in Old School when she apologized for hosting a gang-bang.

 “Whatever,”he replied, not looking at me “Let’s just get the one I’m related to and get the hell out of here,” he instructed his sidekick. They cautiously walked back when the screaming subsided. I waited another five minutes before exiting the slummy side street. I went back inside the bar.

While ordering a drink, a chubby burnette with mid-90’s bangs informed me that my friend had left about ten minutes ago. I recognized her from a pervious night months ago – she was Ben’s post-2 a.m. drunk-dial. I thought about hitting on her, then decided against it. You can’t go for your best friend’s girl. That’s fucked up.

After two more beers and many failed attempts at flirting, Kim called me. She wanted to talk in person. “Meet me on the corner of 3rd and Spring,” she instructed sharply, as if she were going to hand me a top secret message that would self destruct after I read it. I agreed to the midnight rendezvous and closed out my tab. I was too scared to ask if Heather was with her.

I foolishly imagined the two of them standing on the corner waiting for me. Kim blurting out before I could say a word: “Good news Brian–we worked it out. We both totally agree that you and Heather are a better match. You guys should be boyfriend and girlfriend. . . but just for old times sake, could we have one more romp in the bedroom? Heather can join us.”

It didn’t quite workout this way. It was just Kim. And she wasn’t happy.

“What the fuck? How long has this thing with you two been going on? Did you plan this?”

“No, not at all. I dunno, it just . . . happened. We sort of connected or something. It wasn’t planned.”

“I was good to you, you know. You have no idea how good I was. I had soooo many opportunities to hook-up with other guys, but I turned them down because I really thought this was going some where.”

I believe this comment was intended to make me jealous, but really it just reaffirmed my decision. Apparently Kim liked to string along other guys as some twisted form of collateral in case I screwed her over. I wondered if this would’ve stopped once I made her my girlfriend, or if I would’ve always had to keep a paranoid lookout. As soon as I slipped up even just the slightest bit, BAM! she’s sucking someone else’s dick. Fuck that, I’d rather be the other guy.

She eventually grew tired of scolding me and we walked quietly to her apartment. Then it started up again.

“I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU HOOKED UP WITH MY BEST FRIEND!” she yelled, holding up her hands as if to say “Who does that!? Honestly!”

I corrected her before she could go on. “I didn’t hook-up with your best friend. I TRIED to hook-up with your best friend.”

“THAT’S EVEN WOOOOOORRRRSSE!” she wailed, letting the last word ring out like an opera note before flailing her arms in the air and collapsing in the middle of the street.

Her purse smacked against the ground and everything in it scattered like a smashed gum-ball machine. Tubes of lip gloss and compacts and bobby pins spun around my feet. Her legs stuck out in an unnatural way, almost like a reverse indian-style. She hunched her head over her knees and let her arms rest lifeless on the pavement. A mess of tangled blonde hair covered her face as she sobbed uncontrollably. I froze.

A couple walking by asked her if she needed help. They ignored my presence. A beam of light blinded me as an oncoming car stopped in front us. The driver, a middled aged man with grey streaks in his hair, got out, looked at me, then said something to his wife in the passenger seat. Probably “Stay here and be ready to call the cops.” He slowly walked toward the weeping ball of hair at my feet, then crouched down and turned his shoulder away from me like he was joining a football huddle. “Are you okay? Do you need any help?” He asked, peeking over his shoulder. “I’m ffffff fff ffiiiiiinnne,” she stuttered unconvincingly before inhaling deeply. “She’s okay,” I said, picking up all the stuff from her purse. We both helped her up and walked her to the curb where she could continue crying without getting run over. He looked me up and down one more time before hesitantly leaving.

By the time we arrived at her apartment her face was dry. All traces of make-up had been removed by the tears. An SUV pulled up – her roommate.

“Ohhh myyy Goooddd” she said to the girl in the drivers seat after the window rolled down. ” You would not believe the night I had!”

“I know, I just dropped off Heather,” the hot roommate answered, peaking over Kim to get a glimpse at me. I smiled and waved. She didn’t smile back.

When we got inside, I called Ben and gave him a rushed synopsis of my situation before begging him to pick me up. Worried my phone would die at any minute, I was economical with my words. “Told Heather I love her, Kim cried in street, looked like rapist, phone is dying, pick me up! Oh and I saw your old booty-call, dude! She’s gained at least 15 more pounds!” I hung up when he said he was on his way. Kim and I sat in the dark kitchen.

While waiting, I thought I’d be evil and say the bullshit condescending line girls always give to guys. “I’d like to still be friends. . .”

“Friends! . . . FRIENDS! . . .what the fuck are you talking about FRIENDS!” she shot back.

This is exactly how every guy wants to react when they hear those words. It was refreshing to witness such an honest reaction to such a fake statement. Almost cute in a way. Guys are so conditioned early on to deal with this humility. Our skin is thick and calloused from the beatings of false sincerity. We’ve learned to take it in stride and force a smile. But she’s a pretty girl – who’s probably never heard it in her life. She had no idea how to suppress her frustration and anger. It all flowed out in one beautiful stream of consciousness. I sat back and watched, reveling in the cathartic experience of finally being on the other side. I found myself wishing I’d had the balls to scream at every girl who said she “just wanted to be friends” the same way Kim was now yelling at me. It was magnificent.

She deleted me on Myspace the next day after writing a scathing message. I can’t remember what it said but I believe the words “whore” and “Heather” were in the same sentence. I then wrote Heather a long message with lines that still make me cringe like – “I never imagined I’d be so lucky to find someone as wonderful as you.” and “Knowing that you feel the same way truly warms my heart.” When I checked my outgoing box and saw that she’d read it, my heart raced as I anxiously awaited her response. That ugly bitch never wrote me back.

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