When I was a sophomore, I had a mad crush on Jeremy Todd*. There was really nothing about him that I should have liked. He regularly ditched class, he was always being annoying and asking me for answers on quizzes, he had an acne pitted face, his hair was long, stringy, and greasy, and every day he wore a black skull and crossbones bandana. Not exactly the boy next door. But, Jeremy was from California, this really warm and sunny place I’d seen on TV where cool people lived. In my 16-year-old mind, being from California erased the bad stuff and put him in the unattainable/crush category.
Jeremy and I sat next to each other in science class, where I was desperately always trying to up my cool and date-able status. Some days I’d pretend to ignore him by staring at him the entire class, other days I’d be happy to watch him breathe. (Stealth is my middle name.) I’d tease my bumper bangs and hair wings as high as possible, cover up my chin pimples with goopy concealer, wear my bright mauve lipstick and my Esprit or Benetton sweaters, and thoroughly douse myself in Liz Claiborne perfume.
It was hard to be cool in science class since we were forever wearing safety goggles and dissecting fetal pigs or trying to figure out geeky punnett squares. Even though I was (obviously) a giant dork, Jeremy was always nice to me in that “she’ll do my homework for me” kind of way. I took what I could get and rationalized that of course he thought I was super-fly hot, too, but was just shy.
Since I had recently gotten my driver’s license, I LOVED going for drives in my rockin’ car, a 1987 Chevy Nova. I’d buy a pack of smokes, Camel or Marlboro Ultra Lights (I’m not sure which, but they were ULTRA LIGHTS. Certainly the smoke in those cigarettes was as safe as a butterfly fart, right?), and I’d drive by Jeremy’s house. I don’t know what I expected out of these drive-bys. Was he going to wave for me to stop, declare his undying love, and congratulate me for smoking Ultra Lights?
Despite the embarrassing frequency of my drive-bys, he was never outside. Except once.
As soon as I turned the corner onto his street I could see that he was outside. I considered turning around and hightailing it out of there, but it would have been obvious to slam on my brakes and attempt a three-point turn in the middle of the street. Nonchalantly, with my kickin’ bass thumping, I slowly drove by his house, cigarette in hand and my head bobbing to some gangsta rap. Probably NWA.
The EXACT second that I was passing his driveway, my muffler blew. There was a loud pop and suddenly my car sounded like it was under squirrel power. Nonchalant? Not exactly.
I know he had to have seen me, it would have been impossible to not notice an exploding and buzzing car directly in front of your eyes. Fortunately, he never mentioned the drive-by snafu in my hoopty-no-muffler-mobile.
He never asked me out either. Shocking, I know.
*Jeremy Todd is not his real name because holy hell, I’d still like to believe that he thought I was the bomb diggity and had no idea of my stalking ways.