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[July, 1993] Breathing Underwater, U2 and Boys

October 7, 2010 1 comment

Sunday, July 26, 1993

Dear Journal,
I’ve been back a week now. Let me tell you about the rest of the cruise before I talk about other things.

In St. Thomas I went scuba diving. It was really great. I felt like I was in another world. I had been snorkeling before but there I was actually down 20ft under the water and breathing. I’d love to do it again. Nothing happened w/Jack. Too young and too immature (besides, he has a girlfriend).

[Blah blah, breathing underwater, blah. As if mermaids don’t do it all the time. Okay, so it was pretty exhilarating and a little bit scary, not knowing if there might be a creature that could sting or bite around the corner, depending on a clunky tank of oxygen not to drown, etc. As much as I loved it, I don’t think the mermaid life is for me. Oh, and Jack? Yeah, as if his immaturity had anything to do with it and I wouldn’t have sucked face with him at the slightest chance. There just wasn’t one on the cruise. Just a rumored girlfriend. Bah.]

"she's gonna dream of the world she wants to live in/she's gonna dream out loud"

Anyway on to other things. Before I went on the cruise I spent almost a week at my cousin Jenna’s house in Connecticut. That’s where I got the new U2 tape (“Zooropa.” It’s the best. No “Achtung Baby” is the best. It’s my favorite tape. But “Zooropa” is really good.). When I was there I got a letter. That is not very amazing because I get letters all the time. But not from Leon Lehman.

[Before we go on about boys (and get comfortable, because we will go on. And on. Take a load off, make some tea) a few words on U2. The budding interest I started taking in this Irish foursome around the time of my last birthday had by this point mutated into a full-on obsession (all the way). Achtung Baby was my album of the decade and Larry Mullen Jr, U2’s drummer, my (hopefully) future husband despite the fact that Mom thought he had “a nose like a potato.”]

I don’t know if I ever mentioned him before. He was on my bus the past 2 years and I’ve gone from fighting with him to flirting with him (I didn’t like him, I just liked flirting with him. It was fun) to being good friends with him. Before I left for Connecticut I wrote to him and when he wrote back I was surprised but very pleased. And the letter was really funny (I read it at least 3 times). I sent him a postcard when I was on the cruise and then I called him when I got back. I had a good excuse but we ended up staying on for more than an hour.  The next day I wrote and mailed him a letter.

[Actually, I did mention Leon before in an entry where I said pretty much the same thing about liking to flirt with him. Which goes to show how repetitive consistent I can be. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’ve ever heavily flirted with someone who I wasn’t at least mildly attracted to. Though while I found Leon empirically attractive, and while we had a rapport, I’m not sure that it was a romantic one.]

Anyway, the point is I’ve been thinking a lot about him and how I want to be really good friends with him. We have almost identical tastes in music (except for my little, okay humugous almost out-of-control obsession with U2) and both love those great 80’s songs. It’s almost like (don’t laugh ‘cause what I am about to write is kind of corny) he is my soul mate. I think he is such a wonderful person but I don’t want to do anything too sudden or dramatic for fear of losing what tentative friendship we have. See, when school starts again Leon will only be taking the bus in the morning so I don’t want that to be the only time I can talk to him.

[I think it’s rare to want a platonic relationship with someone you flirt with, but in Leon’s case, it was true, not a matter of immaturity or having a girlfriend or some other excuse. Up to that point in my life, all my close friends were girls, so developing a friendship with a boy was new to me. Boys were for crushes, not friendships; my brain could not compute this new programming. And music was a big part of it. While Leon wasn’t a U2 nut, he was a big fan of 80’s music and we often talked of the songs we heard on retro stations, from Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over” to Cutting Crew’s “(I Just) Died In Your Arms Tonight.”]

A lot of this was sparked by some things he wrote in my yearbook. He said he thought that we had become great friends. He also said I was more human than some of the stuck-up snobs he knows, that we made each other laugh and that I was very pretty (Aw! Tell me this isn’t like the perfect, sweetest, most sensitive guy in the entire world). I wrote nice stuff in his yearbook too, by the way.

Now I’m not saying that I’m in love or even in “like” with him but I have been thinking incessantly about him. I want us to be really close (best?) friends.

Larry Mullen Jr (insert banging/drum innuendo here)

[I guess what it came down to was that while Leon and I had a lot in common, could make each other laugh, and all that good stuff, I just didn’t feel that same sort of spark that I did toward Mark or Jack or even Larry Mullen (but then, Larry was in a class of his own). Leon had all the qualities I wanted in a guy, but I wasn’t sure that x-factor was there. I wasn’t sure it was missing, or just hadn’t developed.]

And if I’m not thinking about Leon, it’s U2. Today I went to a mall and bunch of flea markets with Didi and her parents and I ended up buying a video (“Achtung Baby: The Videos, the Cameos, and a whole lot of interference from Zoo T.V.) and two U2 shirts. I also wrote a letter to Larry Mullen Jr, through Island Records which I don’t expect to get any response. I would give anything to meet them but my next goal is to see a concert.

I’m both deeply regretful and deeply relieved that I don’t have a copy of that letter to fan letter to Larry.

I feel kind of bad for Didi, who bore the brunt of much of my U2 mania back then. She told me years later that I pretty much ruined the band for her with my over-zealousness. How bad was it? So bad that nobody could even utter the words “you too” without me immediately perking up and asking, “U2? Where?” Sorry, Didi.

As for Leon, he is still in my life today and I can safely say he is not my romantic soul mate, though he is a good friend. If and when he reads this post, he may get quite a chuckle out of it.

Lehman, this one’s for you.

[June, 1993] Something Surprising

Teusday, June 1, 1993

Dear Journal,

Something surprising happened to me. Let me start at the very beginning.

nothing like the place where we spent the summer

Three years ago during the summer my parents and I went to this place called Pine (it was like a motel). We spent a little while there and I met this guy named Eddie Klein. He was very cute and I liked him the second I saw him. A lot. I didn’t exactly become his best friend but I talked to him a little. Then I left Pine and just thought about him for a while.

[Pine was a bit more than a “motel.” It’s like my parents and I shacked up in a dingy hole in the wall along with a bunch of truckers and prostitutes for the summer. Pine was closer to a bungalow colony, but a notch above, with a dining hall, game room, pool, gym, and jacuzzi. It was also the setting for my first kiss.

Eddie was a tall lanky boy with blue eyes, light brown hair buzzed short, and a golden tan. He was friendly and easygoing and a perfect choice for an unrequited summer crush. All I really remember about him is that he once gave a massage the game room, one that was disappointingly platonic.]

I made many a call from a phone like this in the 1990's.

Well a couple of months ago Didi was at my house and we were making prank calls. I had this old address book and was looking through it to see who we should call. Eddie’s address and phone number was in there so I told Didi to call him. I remember he told me he went to military school so I didn’t think he would be home, but his mom said something like he’s sleeping so I was very surprised. That was a couple of months ago.

[For those too young to be familiar with the concept of prank calls, there was once a time before cell phones and caller ID, when answering the phone meant not knowing who was on the other end, which made much mischief-making possible. Prank calls were a childish but fun way to pass the time. My favorite was to have several different friends call the same number asking for “Stacey” and being told nobody by that name lived there. The punchline came when a the final person called the number and said, “Hi, this is Stacey, do I have any messages? Hey, we were kids and easily amused!]

About a week ago I happened to be looking through that book again and once again I noticed his address and phone number. I thought “what the hell” and wrote him a letter. I told Didi about this, but I didn’t really expect a response.

[Insert Once Upon a Time Before Emails People Wrote Letters speech here.]

Well he didn’t write back. This afternoon Eddie and Mark (another guy from Pine) came TO MY HOUSE! AAAAAHHHH! I was so shocked. The thing is I couldn’t let them in because my parents weren’t home, but they really wanted me to come out. Instead I gave them my phone number, and they called like half an hour later. I got to talk to Eddie a little but mostly Mark because he wouldn’t let me talk to Eddie until I promised to come out but I couldn’t. I was on the phone for over an hour but at the end of the conversation I talked to Eddie and he said he would call me on Saturday at 6:00. I told him he would have to wait about three weeks to see me (until school ends) and he wasn’t thrilled but I guess that’s good because he wants to see me! Yay! He didn’t really remember me but he came down from Queens to see me! I have to calm down. I hope things work out.

I have to admit, this whole turn of events skates the fine line of cute/creepy. While it was nice for Eddie and Mark to be spontaneous and make the effort to see me, considering the fact that three years had gone by, a phone call would have been preferable to showing up on my doorstep. And while Mom and Dad were overprotective at times, they taught err on the side of caution, which is why I refused to open the door to the two boys while home alone and didn’t go out to meet them, either. I may have been interested in boys, but I was more interested in safety. Points to my parents for raising me to be sensible, at least in that scenario. It makes for a duller story, at least in the beginning, but things did take an unexpected turn…

[July, 1992] My Dying Soul…Or Something

Saturday, July 25, 1992

Dear Journal,

No more diet or exercise for now. Don’t stay with Fran too much, mostly with Jessica, Mindy, sometimes Cheryl and ALWAYS Winona. She is such a tag along. She looks like she’s ten years old and says immature things. I don’t mean to be nasty to her but sometimes she gets on my nerves.

[Actually, I did switch eating plans to something I like to call The Summer French Fry Diet of 1992. I know it’s quite a switch from the Fonda-full fitness plan I intended to keep, but let me explain. Day camp outings did not make healthy eatings. We went to movie theaters, bowling alleys, amusement parks, and every Friday fed pizza for lunch, all of which meant sustenance of the greasy/fatty kind. This was before fast food healthy menu options, before air popped movie theater popcorn, before the ubiquity of Subway sandwich shops. On top of that, my pocket money was limited, and french fries rank high on the Affordable Plus Yummy Plus Reasonably Filling scale.

Never in my life did I eaten fries from so many different places. And for the most part, they all tasted the same (with a few exceptions where the mediocre steak fry was served in place of the far superior shoestring).]

“Put the pen down, 14-year old me!”

One of my councelors, Ricky is very nice. He is cute but there is a special thing about him. He shares my birthday. That makes him exactly six years older than me (20). My parents have 8 years between them.

[Subtle, no? I think we all know in this case “very nice” means “I have the hots for my tall, tan, blue-eyed, good-natured, dolphin-loving camp counselor who was born on the same day of the year I was, which is obviously a cosmic sign that we are meant to be married and live blissfully ever after. Or something.”]

I need to write some poetry. Bear with me.

And boy, do I mean bear with me. In case you’re not yet aware of my bad poetry capabilities, let me take a moment to warn you and apologize for the dreadful verse you are about to endure. Have you braced yourself? Are you sure? Okay, you asked for it. Actually, you didn’t, but I’m giving it to you anyway:

With a single gaze
He strips me of any all barriers
Until I am left without a protective
Façade to protect me
And every time his eyes meet mine
An ache courses thunders deep inside me
As he unknowingly steals another piece of my soul
My eyes cast down, I hope he did not see
The brief desperation in them
For when will he realize
That he has my heart at his fingertips
And my dying soul in his palm?
–Damiella

We are going to Boston Monday. I’ll write about it. Gotta go now! See ya!

But enough about my dying soul…

Let’s talk about what a complete and utter teenage cliché I was by having a crush on my camp counselor. It wasn’t the first time I had a thing for an older guy (that was back in elementary school) or one who was somewhat-to-extremely unattainable, nor would it be my last. But oh, Ricky, he was so fine. He was so fine, he blew my mind. And he never took me by the hand, but he did take me by the heart.*


*Toni Basil, if you ever read this, please don’t sue me.

[July, 1992] Can We Tawk?

Wednesday, July 1, 1992

Dear Journal,

Camp has already begun. It’s pretty cool. The person I hang out with the most is not Didi and her crowd. I visit them once in a while but I don’t always feel comfortable around them. Mostly I stay with this girl named Fran. She is really sweet but she talks soooooooo much. She is so outgoing, she even talks to strangers! Compared to her I am like the shiest person ever. Sometimes she reminds me of my cousin Anna (when she’s a tad bit quieter).

Mona Lisa Vito (played by Marisa Tomei) in My Cousin Vinny

Everybody (almost everybody) seems to speak with a brooklyn accent. Sometimes it can be infectuous and I begin speaking with the same accent.

[Ah, Fran. She of denim overalls, huge curly black hair, and endless amounts of sass. She was the CC Bloom to my Hilary Whitney, brash and unruly where I was hesitant and more subdued. And she talked (tawked) with the type of heavy Brooklyn accent popularized that very same year by Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny.

After living in Bensonhurst for the latter part of elementary school, I had one of those accents myself (it went well with the perm and acid washed denim jacket). But two years of school on the Upper East Side, which included a heavy duty speech class* and hearing kids with more generic diction, rid me of that accent.

Little did I know that I’d end up being teased for having proper diction (not hardcore, just to the point of mild annoyance.I said words like “dawn” and “dog” with flat o’s (to rhyme with “tron” and “pog”) whereas the kids I went to camp with pronounced them the way Rosie Perez would in a Spike Lee movie. I tried to put up a good fight, but I was too outnumbered.]

I also sometimes (along with Fran) stay with Jessica, who is very nice, Mindy, who is also pretty nice and Cheryl who Fran and I call Joan Rivers because she is so nosy and is always asking personal questions. I don’t really like her too much.

lies, all lies!

I am on a diet (sort of. I’m watching what I eat) and I am exercising to Jane Fonda’s workout. Hopefully I will come back to school slim. I really want to be thin and I aspire to have the self-confidence as well as willpower to lose the excess weight.

[I was so pissed when I found out Jane Fonda was anorexic/bulimic until she was 36, including the years she did all these workout tapes. It took years before I could watch one of her movies without being filled with bitter rage at the impossible workouts she tried to lead me through via VHS. I know Jane really wanted me to keep up with her, but there were vaguely sinister undercurrents to her tone in these tapes, like what she was really saying was, “If you can’t do every one of these exercises with the grace and ease I’m doing them then you don’t even deserve to be led by me and my skinny minions in leotards and might as well press Eject.”

Or maybe I was just projecting. Maybe I knew deep down that I’d never look like that in a leotard. And no wonder. I ate. And didn’t puke afterwards.]

[paragraphs about what guys at camp I think are cute]

[Trust me, I’m doing you a favor leaving these out.]

To summarize, camp so far is pretty neat and I hope it only gets better from here. Well, I gotta go. See ya!

Every year that I went to Hunter, I had a fantasy that I would lose a bunch of weight over the summer and return to school properly thin and gorgeous. It never happened. And despite every diet that failed (or worked, but only partially and temporarily) I was still optimistic that such a scenario could happen. Especially at the start of the summer and start of a new diet and workout regime. Oh Jane, if I only knew then…


* “Speech class? Whadayoo need speech class for, yoo tawk foine!” – Working Girl

[July, 1989] Spin the Bottle

October 26, 2009 8 comments

7/10/89

Dear Journal,

I just came back from my trip and it was super!!!

I met this gorgeous guy, his name is Francis and he lives in Brooklyn, not too far away from me. I met a lot of people. Here are their names: Liev, Martha, Marina, Ilena, Carrie, Mark and Glen.

Also, I got my First KISS.

We were playing a game called “spin the bottle” and I kissed Francis twice on the cheek and he kissed me 3 times on the cheek and 2 times ON THE LIPS!!!!

I really like him and he likes me. He lives like 15 blocks away from me. Ilena is giving me his address. I still can’t believe I got kissed on the lips by this GEORGEOS boy. My mom saw me with him and she likes him. You never know what will happen.

Wow, My First KISS!

boredom + young hormones = spin the bottle

boredom + young hormones = Spin the Bottle

 

With all these gorgeous boys crossing my path, you’d think I’d take time to learn to spell the word correctly, but alas. The important thing is that I finally got a smooch from one of these “georgeous” fellas.

The momentous experience took place at a bungalow colony in upstate New York. In the summertime, it was common for groups of Russian Jewish families to gather in these ramshackle living quarters near enough to a body of water and let their kids run rampant.

Some of our youthful escapades were innocent enough, like playing handball or holding séances or singing Cyndi Lauper and Little Mermaid songs in a gazebo pretending it’s a stage (that last one might have just been me). Other activities were more questionable, like playing Seven Minutes in Heaven and Spin the Bottle.

One night, a group of us gathered in a circle beside the outdoor pool with a discarded glass bottle. Someone took the first spin and I began to fervently pray that Francis’ spins would land on me.  The only thing I remember about Francis is that he had blonde hair and green eyes, and he wasn’t a jerk. That was enough for me to be over the moon when I got to kiss him, not once but two times. Even though they were quick pecks on the lips, I remember buzzing with excitement long after the game was over, unable to sleep after such a new and thrilling experience.