I’m the other type: one of those people who breaks into a cold sweat at one a.m. because I just remembered the time in 1989 when I asked this girl out and she thought I was joking, so I tried to play along. In fact, now I think about it, that happened a couple of times. I probably needed to rework my approach.
But the thing that really haunts me is that one particular person has been present at nearly all of my greatest humiliations. This is Elke, who I lived next door to when we were both babies. There are lots of photos of us playing naked in the splash pool; our parents joked that one day we’d get married; you know the deal. Well, Elke grew up to be beautiful, smart, generous, and kind to animals. And I’m quite sure she thinks I’m the biggest asshole on the planet, because every time she’s seen me in the last twenty years, I’ve been rude, drunk, committing a crime, insulting her brother, or some combination of the above.
It’s eerie. I don’t think she’s inspiring me to these depths. She just always happens to be there, staring at me in shock. I swear, if I took off my pants, walked down the street, beat up a nun, and mugged a homeless person, I would turn around and there would be Elke. It’s like my life is a sitcom and she’s my running gag. Only since I’m in it, it’s not that funny.
I understand that we all do dumb things now and again. What I don’t get is why all of mine happen in front of this one person, whom I otherwise never see. It’s a little disturbing to know there’s someone out there with a perfectly rational basis for thinking I’m a scumbag.
I haven’t seen Elke for many years, which at least means that I haven’t done anything seriously embarrassing since then. But one day I hope to run into her again, so I can say, “Look, I know what you must think about me. And I won’t try to change your mind. I just want to say I’m really sorry.” Then I would probably barf on her dog.