You would carry on for hours, in love with own voice, your lengthy body spread gracefully over several stairs on campus. I sat, a rapt audience, dazzled by the confident magnificence that was you. Several years older, you substitute taught at my high school, but we became cohorts during lazy lunches in college. I was convinced there was no way you could ever see the eighteen year-old me as anything more than a friend.
During this phase of shifting awkwardness and obsession with English poets, I wore Edwardian ruffled shirts, punctuated by dour black tights. My primary intent of this fashion force-field was to simultaneously ward of frat boys and attract those of similar romantic fancies and love of Morrissey. I had recently died my hair a deep blue black. After frightening myself several times in the mirror I had it bleached back to dark brown. Any slight misrepresentation of the visual was not something I could weather at this juncture having just crawled out of the dregs of 1980s fashion culture.
In the midst of a crisis subsequent to leaving high school, I was having a hard time maintaining friendships and relationships. The harder I would to hold on, the faster they would run away. I wasn't quite sure what I was doing wrong, short of having horns protruding from my forehead that everyone but myself could see. Depression and isolation were my dedicated, yet tedious companions.
In the spring of our friendship, I began to formulate a plan. I wanted to know, one, and only one thing from you. Knowledge of this thing I was sure would set me free, thus opening me up to new friendships and a long fabulous life. I planned the day I would broach this subject with you well in advance.
You were amusing yourself with your talented wit as we sat in the lunch quad at San Jose State. I finally dove in and got to the punctum of our friendship.
With great earnest I asked you, "What's wrong with me?"
You looked on in horror at my distraught, yet honest, face and were unable to answer. I never saw you again. You wound up marrying a girl from my high school, two years my junior, of my own namesake.
Apparently, asking the question was the answer.