September 15, 2010

This month I'm doing a series of stories inspired by the lyrics from a more-or-less arbitrarily selected song ("Growin' Up" by Bruce Springsteen) one line at a time.

Today's lyric is I hid in the clouded wrath of the crowd, but when they said “sit down” I stood up

Today's story is called I THINK YOUR NAME WAS KATIE




I’m not sure where I got off thinking you were rebellious, other than it was sixth grade and you were a girl who had a plaid long-sleeved shirt tied around her waist and you always had your hair back in a ponytail and there were always five or six strands of hair falling down into your face. You were pretty. I am probably supposed to practice retroactive continuity and say you were pretty in spite of the boyish clothes but A) it was a bad and baggy time for clothing for all ages so it wasn’t like it was your fault and B) there was nothing to be at fault for. It wasn’t in spite of or because of. You were just pretty.




You liked bands. You liked Green Day. This is several Green Days ago. It would be years before I was cool enough to like them and years still before I was cool enough to dislike them. You were so cool I am assuming you stopped liking them while I still knew you in the sixth grade and started liking them again ironically in the seventh, before that was a thing anyone did.




It was impossible for me to imagine the same universe containing both you and my parents so when my dad came to pick me up one day from after-school and you and I were standing near each other I braced for some unknown disaster. You were polite. Endgame.




One time you called me on the phone. All little kids are aliens to each other when they’re outside of school but this was particularly exciting. I simultaneously wanted to get off the phone right away and stay on the phone forever. This phone call would have been the best thing that had happened in my life up to that point even if you had just called to say the alphabet backwards and forwards over and over into the phone, but what made it maybe the best thing that will ever happen to me was, you asked me if I wanted to join a band. It was a band that didn’t exist yet but you were going to play guitar and sing in it once it did and our mutual friend Shawn was going to drum. You asked me if I would play bass. This was the call. I was getting the call. After we hung up I ran for the newspaper and looked in the classified ads for used bass guitars. I found a few. I wondered where I would get the money but I knew that I would. I told my parents I was going to take up the bass. A few weeks went by without you mentioning the band. You never called me on the phone again. You ended up going to a different school for seventh grade.

This is many many years ago but I kind of feel like if I were to really finally pick up a bass guitar, I would be eleven again. Like everything else that’s happened since then has just been a TV show that played while you waited for me to learn the bass like I said I would.




I have a lot of computer-based ways to look you up and see where you are and what you’re doing now, and I guess I won’t because I don’t want to know if something sad has happened to you, but to be honest, I also can’t look you up, because I don’t remember your full name. There’s no good reason I don’t. The people that meant what you meant to me when you’re the age I was then, you’re supposed to remember their first and last name and middle initial. And A) I just don’t remember for no good reason and B) I have known you by a bunch of different names over the years. I don’t mean, like, every girl I’ve ever dated. You and me never even kissed. I just mean, there are some girls, and you were the first one. Some girls come in shooting.

Posted by DC at September 15, 2010 02:26 AM
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