Tickle Me Surprised!

Let’s take a quick trip back in time…back to the year 1994.  Shit was pretty awesome back then, as I don’t really need to tell you:  Clinton was in office,  Global Warming was just alarmist hippie bullshit,  Nelson Mandela was South Africa’s first Black President, Bill Bellamy and Idalis presided over the MTV Beach House, and the image of Linday Lohan’s and Britney Spears’s genitals were not yet a piece of the public consciousness.  Sure things got rough in there when Kurt died,and Forrest Gump was such a big hit, but Biggie was still around, and then SPEED came out, and the economy was just sailing right along….

This was also the year that my Ali, my best friend at the time developed an intense and consuming crush on a boy we will refer to as “Elmo.”  Elmo has a real name, but for security purposes, Ali and I felt it best to conceal his identity whenever we spoke, alluded to, or obsessively passed notes about him. Due to the rabid insane popularity of Tickle-Me-Elmo at the time it was an innocuous, oft-heard name that would draw no attenton. 

Elmo was the kind of guy who was considered “cool”, but not because he was a rich-kid-alpha-male douche, like the majority of the guys at our school, but because he was a nice, laid back kind of a guy who didn’t have an attitude and who seemed to like everyone.  He was also cute, in a non threatening, floppy-haired sort of a way that makes the hearts of pre-teen New Jerseyans beat a little faster.

So Ali was smitten, and didn’t know what to do as Elmo had heretofore been dating Beth one of the more gregarious and adored girls in the class.  Who despite her conventionally unattractive appearance managed to snag Elmo, one of the most coveted bachelors in the class.  THis was my first lesson in the power of confidence.

 Unable to publicly declare her love (or “justify her love” as was the parlance of the time) Ali ached with it secretly for an entire semester.    The details of what happened in 8th grade are somewhat hazy:Beth broke up with Elmo the day before Claudia Near’s 14th birthday party and shit got pretty real.  He totally broke down and cried in school over it, which just made him more endearing for being so in love and so sensitive and able to show his emotions. 

Shortly after the breakup was the 8th grade Halloween dance.  I’m pretty sure I had a shitty time, cause 8th grade kinda sucked. Anyway Ali decided that enough was enough; Elmo was single, her heart was afire and time waits for no man. 
The next day, a Saturday she called him from a friends house. 

I wasn’t there at the time, so I don’t feel comfortable interpreting what happened but from the details I do have, it seems that Ali asked Elmo out, he stammeringly changed the subject and presently the phone call ended.

The next day, Sunday, she called him to “follow up” as they say, and get his answer.

He said he “thought she had been joking”.

Kinda brutal.

Anyway Ali got over it pretty quickly but she and I sort of stopped hanging out and then my family moved and then everyone went to college and then a couple of April’s back, at a Nouvelle Vague show, I ran into Ali for the first time in almost eleven years.  It was refreshingly awesome to run into someone you used to know and find that they not only didn’t turn into a complete asshole, but actually have become the adult version of their younger awesome self. 

We found out we live near each other and see each other from time to time and gchat and whatever. So a couple days ago I get the following chat message

Ali: I don’t know quite how to say this….

Stella: ?

Stella: WHAT?

Ali: I think I’m being stalked by ELMO

Ali: I just got this letter…i just got an email on my work account that says this: “Sorry if i have the wrong Ali. This is “Elmo” from  . I know this is random, actually, u probably have gotten a few of these emails lol. I saw u in a music video on youtube (note to reader, this was a small part in Ali’s friend’s music video which you could only find if you googled her name), and i decided to poke around the internet to see if i could find an email or something. It seems youre doing cool things?  You looked gorgeous by the way. I hope all is well, just wanted to say hello and wish you well. Take care. “

So clearly the only way Elmo could have found her is by googling her.  Clearly the only way he could have seen that video is by searching her WHOLE NAME. 

A few keystrokes and a visit to facebook later revealed that Elmo is a video game and gambling  enthusiast living in East Newark NJ

As I’m writing this, Ali is totally over it, but I’m still fascinated by this turn of events.

 On television and in popular culture the myth of adolescence is that cool guys who rejected you will grow up to be brain dead losers subsisting on cold pizza and Coors Light in their mom’s basement, or if you prefer, East Newark, a 10 minute car ride away from their mom’s basement.

They also lead us to believe that given thec hance these once-cool guys who were too cool for your introspective, intelligent, non-slutty self back in high school, but are DEFINITELY not cool now, would jump at the chance to date the hot sophisticated, accomplished urban woman you have become.

It’s a cheesy assumption, and its as unfair to judge someone for their lifestlyein their crisis-inducing 20’s as it is during their teenage years, but still some part of me is pleased by it.  Not in a gloating way, although there is a bit of validation there, but more because of how strange it can be when your old self catches up with your new self. Like that  William Faulkner  quote that said “the past isn’t dead, it isn’t even past.”




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