Superman had his kryptonite, Spiderman had his Mary Jane. Me? I had Leslie Newkirk. I met her at the Los Angeles County fair my junior year of high school. I was there with my school’s F.F.A. program working on a landscape competition project. She was from another school working in the same building as we were.
The fairs were always a great time. There were four or five a year. It ment a break in our normal school schedules. We would always arrive a week before they officially opened. We would design and build a landscape in a small square plot of dirt they would assign to us. We would sleep in tents or campers or under the stars with just our sleeping bags. We would sneak away at night and drink in the livestock barns among the cows and goats. Some nights we would hang out with the carnies. We would have full access to the fair grounds while they were open and would roam around them drunk after hours. They would give us two days after they ended to pack everything up and clear out.
There were always what we refered to as “The Fair Affairs” at these events. The first day we arrived on the grounds we would scope out the girls from the other schools. Everyone would hook up with someone and that would be our “girlfriend” for the duration of the fair. It was a crazy time in all our lives. At these places no one knew anything about each other. Wether you were cool or not, or popular or not, none of it mattered. The only the moment mattered and that when the fair ended, so did the relationship.
But Leslie from Paris high school threw a wrench in the works on the day she walked into that dirty, mud covered building. My friend saw her right away and wanted to meet her. But him, like me, was very shy and lacked any self-confidence or social skills needed to approach her. So I did what I do best, I wrote a poem, signed his name to it, and attached it to a note asking her to meet him under the ferris wheel after midnight. But something went wrong when I went over to give it to her. As I drew closer to her, and I could see her face, and her eyes, and her smile. A wave of excitement came over me and I no longer felt the need to help out my friend. I wanted her for myself.
I handed her the poem and told her it was from me. I had betrayed my friend, but as they say, all is fair in love and war. I am not sure who says it, but I wasn’t going to argue with it. She met me that night and every other night of the fair. I may have lost a friend that day but what I gained was so much more, at least that’s what my adolescent hormones were telling me.
We broke the first rule of “The Fair Affairs” and dated each other after it had ended. She lived not too far from where I did, and I would ride my motorcycle over to her house every day after school. We would hang out on her lawn and talk for hours. It would take me most of the afternoons just to work up my nerve to kiss her. I was so unsure of myself and felt so lost. It was the first real relationship for either one of us yet I still felt so far out of my league.
Then one New Year’s Eve it all fell apart. Her parents were going to be away and we had plans to ring in the holiday together. My roommate’s mother bought me a bottle of Baccarti and some champagne. She didn’t want me riding my motorcycle after I had been drinking so she offered to drop me off. I suppose I arrived a little earlier than expected. When I approached her front door I could hear laughing coming from the pool in the backyard. When I walked around her house I could see her and another guy in the water. They were naked and well, I didn’t need to see anymore. I just turned around and left. My heart was broken. I called a friend to come pick me up. I drank so much that night I smashed my hands into bloody pulps by continuously hitting them against the stucco wall of the house my friend lived in.
A week went by and I called her up. We had been together for almost a year and I needed some kind of closer. She told me that she was young and wanted to explore things sexually. She gave me enough time to make a move and I didn’t. So when another guy made that move she didn’t hesitate. She told me she loved me, but she just needed more.
That was the last day of my youth. Any shred of innocence I might have had vanished in the bottom of that bottle of rum.
I would never again let an opportunity pass me by. I would never again not make that move. Come Hell or high water or a slap across my face, I would be damned if I would ever again let a stupid thing like insecurity get in my way. The nice guy does finish last. That was a lesson learned the hard way.