February 06, 2010

Why I Still Believe...(15) Years Later

Why I Still Believe...15 Years Later

I grew up on John Hughes’ comedies. Loved them. A common theme throughout most of Hughes’ movie was the unlikely hero falling in love with their crush; and then getting a chance to date them by the end of the movie. Obviously, since then that trope has been done a thousand times over, and even sublimated in many ways (thank you Swingers and (500) Days of Summer).

One of the more endearing features of this humorous, romantic troupe is the self doubting, self deprecating, self woe is me hero lamenting to all of his/her friends about why he/she is not worthy. It’s part of what’s amusing; the little comments and thoughts:

-My ears get red when I’m embarrassed.
-My car sucks.
-I’m not hot enough.
-I snort when I laugh.
-I snort, in general.

In the Fall of my senior year of High School, I was walking the streets of Wauwatosa with my friend Marc. Marc was the second person I had told of my crush on Mia Scampini. I recall the dialogue going something like this:

Me: Dude, she’s so beautiful, and funny, and elegant, and graceful, and down to earth, and I’m a toad...and not just any toad, I mean a toad who has to wear glasses, dresses in matching sweatpants/sweatshirts, and has a big afro.

Marc: Then give up.

Yep...just like a romantic comedy. Nothing like getting straightforward advice. Friends: do not let other friends drive on a crush. Good thing we weren’t driving.

Marc: Do you think there’s someone out there better than you?

Me: That’s a strange question. I mean, I know there are much better athletes, and smarter kids in our school, and I’m sure there’s funnier people. Jeff Gorzek for instance is all of those.

Marc: So you think he’s better than you?

Me: No, he’s a good friend. I think that we’re good friends and equals.

Marc: What have you got to lose then by being youself?

I was silent for the rest of the evening. This was the unheralded turning point in the story for me; a story I’ve told a thousand times publicly and privately, a story many people have enjoyed and been inspired from, a story where others have walked up to me and shared their own story of love and loss.

I was ready to give up, though, and would’ve lost all of that.

Aside from those creepy guys from The Game, it’s difficult to believe that we’re ‘worthy’. It’s easy to like someone else, or have a crush one someone else, or think that others around us are kick ass. How often have you said to a friend: no, no, you’re fantastic you’ll make a great boyfriend/girlfriend to someone...?

Why can’t we say that to ourselves?

That night I looked at what was most important to me, my friendship with Mia. I enjoyed talking to her and the fact that I had fun whenever we did hang out (especially if it was on the way to the Department of Motor Vehicles Emissions Testing Center). And it was amazing to hang out with one of the prettiest, smartest girls in school. I was honored and humbled by that.

Obviously, WE hung out. SHE hung out with me. There must’ve been something she liked about me. I hope it was the afro.

As it turns out, Marc’s advice (while not completely erasing any self deprecation...I still had issue with my entirely flat ass...hell, I still have issue with that today) was just the motivation I needed...if I didn’t feel I was worthy, than why would Mia?

Not too soon after that, and the Emissions Testing Center, and a short story called The Date, and the library incident and the Lion King, and Willy Porter’s Watercolor, good things happened...epic things happened. And I’m proud to have had Mia in my life during my senior year; those stories continue to have me believe in the John Hughes’ sense of romance, and believing in yourself; and no matter how stories begin and end, the up and down journey is what makes us more than worthy.

Happy Valentine’s day to all who leave notes on others’ cars; get into arguments about eye color; and bring McDonald’s to those in need.