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Hoses of the Holy in the Parallel Universe

October 01, 2003

Hello Dave

It's hard for me to talk about Dave. Some of the things in my past are like a broken record in my brain. I've gone over it so many times I'm sick of hearing myself talk about it.
We were close, closer than I was with any of my brothers, and without his friendship, I simply don't know what might have become of me. As an unhappy teenager I needed an anchor. And I needed the mirror, the ability to try out new shapes, sizes, and attitudes on the road to becoming the handsome, well-adjusted genius I am today.

We were 13 or 14 when we met. It was the usual thing, starting a new school. We were both clinging to the people we'd known before, frightened of all the strangers from other parts of town. My own private hell at that time was to spend break times walking around the school field with 3 or 4 other boys, telling jokes. Or rather, listening to jokes, since I never told any myself. It was September, October, the weather was warm, and there was Dave in the farthest corner of the school field with two friends, sliding down the grass bank that bordered the football pitch. He was a bit of a dork, in other words, and I wasn't very impressed with him. He had blonde curly hair and blue lips. This wasn't lipstick, but an effect of poor circulation, possibly kissing newspapers.

It turned out we both took sandwiches for lunch, so we ended up on the same table in the dinner hall. And of course, we had similar interests. Music, girls, and music. He could still be a dork at times, though, and I think the seeds of the ending of our friendship go back to then, because although together we became cool and confident, left to his own devices, he would slip into bad habits. He would tend to find a thing that worked for him, and then keep doing it until it became stale, a rote behaviour.
It was so ingrained that in order to jump out of his stuck groove, he'd have to be radical and leave something (or someone) behind entirely.

He grew taller, around the same height as me in the end, and developed a good physique, although his chest always looked caved-in to me. And he adopted various styles, most hilariously after going to see the film Grease. By the time we were 16, 17, he's settled into a cropped rockabilly style, pointy boots, tight jeans, and blue lips.

So this is the story from the other point of view. He became acquainted with Lucy through me. And through me he came to value and love her as I did. And then, when we were 16, at a sixth form party, he took her outside and kissed her, and from then on they were a couple.
Where was I? My memory of that night is shot, but I think I was with a blonde girl called Sara. Sara worked in a shoe shop in the shopping precinct on a Saturday, just a step away from the supermarket where I worked. She was a year older than me, gorgeous, kind, interested. Her very interest in me was enough for me to sabotage the relationship. That's another story.

Meanwhile, Dave hooked up with Lucy and broke my heart. My problem here was that, while I couldn't cope with the two of them together, I took it out on her, rather than him. This poisoned my mind. First I stopped speaking to her. Then I started speaking to her again. I gave no explanation. We sat together in the school library one day, and she asked me about the speaking/not speaking thing, what was it about. Her fatal error was to say to me that I'd made her feel like the worst person in the world, like she'd done something terrible. She was so relieved when I started speaking to her again.

This delighted me. Not because I enjoyed hurting her, but because I enjoyed making her feel something, anything. It intoxicated me to think that I had this kind of power, and it made me feel better about her being with Dave. So I wasn't insignificant and forgotten.

Time went by and I left and both Dave and Lucy would write to me. Lucy visited the once, Dave more frequently. And then the band thing sort of took off (before its soft landing). But some time in the middle of all that I decided to stop speaking to Lucy again, to see if it would have the same powerful effect as before. The rest is history.

I lost touch with Dave a few years later. After he finished with Lucy (and I've no idea at all when that happened) he went out with a few other girls, but he was careful not to introduce them to me. He told me lots about them, a lot of which seemed made up. Years later, I came to the conclusion that he was trying to recreate that dynamic of him having a girlfriend with whom I was in love. But it wasn't working because I didn't quite believe in these girls.

After a while I started to understand that he was always doing the same things with them, making the same moves, the same overblown romantic gestures. Which was fine for the girls. I was going to say, they fell for it every time, but I'm sure it wasn't a trick; it was just his dorky personality coming through. He basically lacked the imagination to think of something else to do. Every first date turned into a spontaneous drive to Brighton, somewhere like that. The second date, in order to top the first, was a midnight visit to Stonehenge. I don't think anyone could fail to be impressed. Except I, watching from the outside, grew uncomfortable.

In the end we were bored with each other and, without saying anything, gave up on the friendship. By the time I'd moved to Nashville, he was long forgotten. I was intrigued, though, at the idea of seeing him again. And turning up with Lucy, as well as being fantastic for me, was surely a bit of a blow to him. That first night, looking round the kitchen, I wasn't prepared for his appearance. I guess in my mind I'd naturally turned him into his dad: middle-aged (when I knew him), glasses, balding, slightly overweight. But there was Dave, shaved head (I told myself this is almost certainly because he's going bald), and extremely skinny, lots of earrings, and a few tattoos that had appeared since the time I knew him. He was wearing his bikers leathers and had a deep, leathery tan.

Quite a scary character, really. I wanted to be indifferent, but something was eating me. If I had one great fear that weekend, it would be that I was going to be instrumental in rekindling a romance between Lucy and Dave. I glanced across the kitchen at the fierce-looking biker, and then watched closely as Lucy reacted to him.


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