Jill and I weren’t always a couple. In fact, before 1997 we didn’t even know the other existed. As in, alive. Crazy, I know. But true.
And many people may be wondering: “Jeff, how the ever living hell did you dupe that beautiful college girl with the bright future into dating a man with calloused hands who smelled of rotten produce all the time and is stupid and ugly? How did you do that, you dumbass jerk?”
The relationship began, in earnest, with a dream.
“That’s a stupid thing to write. You’re stupid.”
We met on a blind date. Jill’s sister, Julie, wanted to find someone to take Jill’s mind off of Jill’s wonderfully handsome and brilliantly wealthy ex-boyfriend with the powerful thighs. She wanted to find a rebound guy for Jill. A disposable companion until someone new and real and worthy came along.
Julie mentioned all of that at work one day and her co-worker Wendy said “Hey, I know a guy!”
And without asking “What does he look like? Does he have a job? Is he currently in the throes of a raging coke addiction? Is he some sort of genius serial killer who operates a four-state network of dungeons with other sadistic monsters?” without any investigation into my background, Julie said, “Great. Let’s set them up!”
“Cool! He’s a really-“
“Shit, Wendy, I didn’t ask for his life’s story! I said he’ll do!”
So we all went out in a big group to Durbin’s on the south siiiiiiiide. I sat right next to Jill at a long table full of pizza and people and Jill turned her chair until she was facing away from me.
Then Julie asked me what kind of pizza I wanted. I told her “Surprise me!” figuring it would just make it easier than going back and forth with “What do we have? What’s this one? Is it good?” Julie rewarded my consideration with an epic eye-roll. She slapped pizza with a stubbed-out cigarette in it and said “Here, this one’s got tobacco topping, just for you, assface!”
The cigarette thing may not have happened. But suddenly, Jill, and everyone she came in with, got up and left.
I sat there with Wendy and her boyfriend Brian and we all shrugged. For like 40 minutes. In silence. Then we left.
Don’t ask me how the lines of communication were reopened. But at some point, a phone call was made that put Jill on one end and me on the other. I think I called her after much convincing from Wendy.
“But, Wendy, you saw it, she couldn’t look at me and then they all just left.”
“Quit being a pussy.”
And it was in that conversation, with Jill tethered to the wall via her parent’s landline phone, when I gave absolutely zero fucks and told Jill my Bert & Ernie dream.
Bert and Ernie were bowling. It was Bert’s turn. He rolled his ball and hit the center pin dead on, leaving himself with the dreaded 7-10 split. He was pissed.
Ernie, being an oblivious dickwad, turned to Bert and wagered, “Hey Bert, if you pick up this spare, I’ll give you my small intestine.”
That seemed to scorch Bert’s ass. Ridiculously determined, he grabbed his ball from the return and hurled it down the alley. He missed both pins.
Ernie laughed in that dumbass way of his.
With fury in his veins, Bert just took off and ran down the alley, sliding feet-first into the pins, sending the 7 and 10 flying.
He was still sitting there, with his legs stretched out before him, laughing and reveling in his absurd revenge when the pinsetter came down and chopped off both of his legs. It sliced them cleanly enough, but as the bar slid away to clear the pins, it drew out the white stuffing from Bert’s plush legs.
The last thing I saw: an overhead view of Bert sitting in the bowling alley, his severed legs trailing stuffing, his face upturned and screaming.
I told this dream to Jill. And a few weeks later on our first alone date I told her that I had tattoos. And somehow we’ve survived.