I got a message a couple days ago via Facebook from my friend, Casey. It read, in part, as follows.
"I was at work, and we were trying to find a title for an article written by one of our writers. It was about first loves. And I, out of no where!!!!!!!!!! spouted off, 'How 'bout Liz is a fucking asshole!'
Everyone stared at me, and one said 'Therapy's not going well, eh?'"
Casey, in case I piqued your interest, is male. And, for the record, though he would disagree, though he, in fact, has heartily voiced his disagreement not just today but in days past, in his case I wasn't really a fucking asshole. Or at least not as much of a fucking asshole as I was on other occasions, to other suitors. Casey and I were very close friends in high school. Drama freaks, both onstage and off. We had sadly unsynchronized crushes on each other. Or maybe by the time he finally proclaimed his love just after graduation, I was still crushed out but couldn't possibly pursue a relationship that involved someone who was actually into me, someone whom I knew so well.
Casey brings up an interesting point, though. More often than not, we do look back on those first loves and think with great passion, "What a fucking asshole!" At least if we've been thwarted. And usually we have. I had to actually de-friend my first love because his status updates were making me crazy. Even though I've long ago let go of my love for him (if it indeed was bonafide love and not deep, dark, infatuation), I don't need to know how he hearts his missus, his twenty-nine-year-old, six-foot, ninety-pound, professional model missus. My ego can't take it.
I think my marriage to Ben is, happily, even charged with some of that first love energy. We didn't start dating until we were twenty-eight but I remember him, I remember thinking he was cute, when we were eleven. He harkens back to adolescence, when my emotions were raw, my self-esteem low and my romantic fantasies giant. It imbues our union with some teenage magic.
As much as is made of how Facebook is reinventing our social structure, my theory is that it's largely powered by people seeking in the present what they didn't find in the past. If you're like me, you look up every past romantic liaison, hell every past crush you can think of, for curiosity's sake if nothing else. Or perhaps to see the guy you thought you would marry, the guy that could never say those three magic little words, with twenty extra pounds on him and very little hair. To prevail now because you didn't then.
Gillian Grisman was Casey's girlfriend junior year. Their relationship, played out before me in drama class, rendered me an unattractive shade of green. I didn't dislike Gillian, if fact I think we were friends, but when I got his message the other day, I responded:
"Who knew that being called a fucking asshole would feel like such a compliment? Face on you, Gillian Grisman. I won, after all..."
Revenge is best served cold, they say. And is there a bit of satisfaction for this mother of three, this woman knee-deep in laundry and dishes and demands, to think that she, or a younger, rounder, juicier version of her present self, once inspired not only love but misery? There is, my friends, there is. I'm a real heartbreaker, pushing my vacuum cleaner around the living room.