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LJ Idol Topic 3: Smile

I fell in love with that crooked little grin.

Oh, sure, I fell in love with all kinds of things back then. I was in love with my English teacher because I liked the way his voice rolled around the room and I liked the way his glasses made his face look serious. I was in love with various gay men because they actually took the time to listen to me when I was talking.

But the most grievous and wrong-hearted love I ever felt was for Him - no, not God, not the omnipotent benevolent ruler of the universe, but Him, Mi-

Okay, look. I haven't said his name in three years. It's become sort of a Macbeth for me. Most of the time I refer to him as "the M word" and I probably won't be able to break myself of that habit for the sake of this competition. I suppose I could assign him a fake name. Yeah, that'd be fine. Let's call him Mike.

But, dammit, he wasn't a Mike! He was Miles and I loved him. Foolishly, hungrily, I loved him.

All because of that grin.

It was what won me over at first. His face fell into that half-cocked smirk and my heart took notice. I remember the first thing he said to me (isn't this sad? I'm a grown woman, a married mother, and here I am swooning over a far-too-well-preserved memory) when I first met him.

"We'll see about that."

See, I had just told him that I would give him a run for his money in the first quiz of our school's jazz band. The quizzes and how well you did determined who was first chair, who was second, etc. In case you're wondering, I didn't beat him. I was second to his first and he never let me forget it.

Ah, the more I look back on this the more things come flooding back to me. Here's a memory I'd forgotten about until just now:

He looks at me. Not just a glance or a quick comment, but a real eye-contact look. I feel shaky, thankful that I'm sitting, less thankful that we're at a gig in which we're performing.

Now he's speaking to me. I might faint. "Why don't you play like this all the time?" he asks. My hormone-soaked, love-addled brain attempts to flip this statement over a few times and determine if it's a compliment or an insult.

I play it safe. "What do you mean?"

"That was really good. You don't sound like this in practice. You should play like this all the time."

Oh, dear Lord (and this time I do mean the omnipotent one!) he's talking to me! He's paid me a compliment! He hasn't just said a meaningless thing like, "Pass the salt" or "Turn the page over." He paid me an honest-to-goodness compliment.

Suddenly I feel timid again, less like the semi-accomplished musician that I am and more like the foolish little girl I used to be. "Thank you," I say. It's all I can manage.

This memory is early, very early, into my love for him, when I knew next-to-nothing of just how mean he could be. And when I found that out, I fell even harder.

Why do we love the ones who are mean to us? Why do we crave their affection?

Most importantly, Why did he mean this much to me?

I wish I knew. I still wish that.

In case you're wondering, and I know some of you probably are, there was something mutual there. It wasn't just me this time. By the time I'd known him for a year or so, he was flirty with me. Unfortunately by then I hated him beyond reason. Of course, I still loved him. You already knew that.

I remember the first time he was ever mean to me. For reasons unknown to me I hold this memory nearly as dear as I hold the more tender touches we shared.

We are in class. His instrument is in the shop, and thus he sits wherever he will, talking to the musicians who are supposed to be playing. For a while he sits next to me, commenting when I fail miserably at handling the complicated score. "What's wrong? You can play this."

You're making me nervous, I think, but I say nothing of the sort. "It's just hard, Miles."

"No, it's not. Here," he says, and, lifting my saxophone from my own hands, plays effortlessly and beautifully. My mouthpiece is in his mouth. My pearls are being caressed by his talented fingers. My instrument is being raped.

He hands it back to me, not bothering to wipe where his lips and mouth have just been. He smiles at me, his little Miles smile that always makes me melt, and I want to kill him.

I also want to kiss him.

That seemed to have been a turning point for us. After that, there was passion always simmering beneath the surface. I knew, always knew from the first day, that if he said the word I would do anything for him, give him anything.

I don't think I can talk about this part. Draw your own conclusion. That may make me a bad writer, but this is personal - more personal than I can begin to explain. Something Happened, let's just put it that way. Something Happened.

And I didn't speak to him again afterwards.

He tried, I suppose, in his Miles way. I remember the shoulder rubs before a competition (we were also in marching band together and his opening set was directly behind me) and I remember the way he looked at me, sadness verging on shame in his eyes. I remember being proud of myself for holding my ground. I moved on from that day, dated other people, slept with other people. I know he did, too.

But sometimes, when I close my eyes, I can still see that crooked little grin and my heart breaks all over again.


( {59} — Respond )
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(Deleted comment)
Nov. 3rd, 2009 04:23 pm (UTC)
I really wanted to write about something happier than this but I couldn't do it - I started writing this three different times with more "smiley" themes and it kept coming back to him.

Actually, it feels pretty good to get it all out on paper like this.
Nov. 3rd, 2009 05:07 pm (UTC)
This: My mouthpiece is in his mouth. My pearls are being caressed by his talented fingers. My instrument is being raped.
is an awesome passage. It's so stark and shocking and powerful.

Also, I don't think that holding back information makes you a bad writer. One of my favorite things about James Joyce's short stories in Dubliners is how he doesn't say everything. He intentionally leaves things unsaid and leaves his readers to fill in the blanks.

Not sure if you want constructive criticism, but I actually think that if you just eliminated the bits about not being able to talk about it and just left it as "Then Something Happened." It might make the piece stronger. Your audience will draw their conclusions without you explicitly instructing them to do so.

Overall, it's really well done. I like the way that you move between memory and analysis/reflection.
Nov. 3rd, 2009 05:19 pm (UTC)
For me, I think leaving that part in is important, because I wrote this as a stream of consciousness and that would interrupt the flow, I think.

Thank you!
(no subject) - cacophonesque - Nov. 3rd, 2009 05:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 3rd, 2009 05:46 pm (UTC)
Oh. my. goodness. This was beautiful and heartbreaking and heartwarming. Such a wonderful write-up, and agreed with the comment above - your stream-of-consciousness is pretty coherent. :D
Nov. 3rd, 2009 06:02 pm (UTC)
I had absolutely no plan when I went into this. I was like, hmm. Smile. What does that remind me of? And this was the answer. Everything just flowed.

That's how I roll most of the time! It really writes better that way for me.

Thanks for reading. :)
Nov. 3rd, 2009 07:22 pm (UTC)
Wow, this is quite a story. It starts in such a charming way, and ends up being deeper than I could have imagined. I can relate to loving (or at least being attracted) to someone even after the meanness comes out. I was a few years younger than you were when it happened to me, so it didn't play out in nearly the same way. Perhaps it wouldn't have, but...

There's so much pathos and insight in this.

And yes, you are a good writer. Sometimes the things not said are as powerful at the things said.

I particularly liked this sequence of sentences:

He hands it back to me, not bothering to wipe where his lips and mouth have just been. He smiles at me, his little Miles smile that always makes me melt,
and I want to kill him.

I also want to kiss him.

Nov. 3rd, 2009 08:22 pm (UTC)
I tried to use this entry to get out all my remaining feelings for him so I could finally, finally be rid of this foolishness. That's probably where most of the emotion in it came from.

I'm glad you enjoyed it. :) Thanks for reading.
Nov. 3rd, 2009 07:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you for sharing such a personal story with us..... It was a wonderful read, and reminded me of my high school lust.....
Nov. 3rd, 2009 08:23 pm (UTC)
It's not as personal now as it was when it was happening. I can almost look back on it and see that it was another "me" that went through this. I've changed a lot since then. I'm glad you enjoyed it!
Nov. 3rd, 2009 11:24 pm (UTC)
So heartfelt and so nicely written. I hope it gets better and better for you as you leave things behind.
Nov. 3rd, 2009 11:51 pm (UTC)
*sigh* Me, too. It was just such a weird phase of an already-weird life and it's hard to leave something so altering completely behind. As of right now I'm still allowing myself to cherish the good memories and am actively working to leave the bad ones behind.
(no subject) - drjeff - Nov. 3rd, 2009 11:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 4th, 2009 12:07 am (UTC)
This made me think of my Macbeth. My Miles. His name was Scotty, but he definitely had one of those smiles you could remember. =D
Nov. 4th, 2009 02:23 am (UTC)
I think everyone has a Miles! That furious, usually-unrequited love that you keep forever. Thanks for reading. :)
Nov. 4th, 2009 12:09 am (UTC)
This relationship obviously left its scars. Sad. Hopefully it was helpful to write it down.
Nov. 4th, 2009 02:24 am (UTC)
I think every relationship leaves scars, but that's part of the journey. And yes, it actually did help me quite a bit. Thanks. :)
Nov. 4th, 2009 01:36 am (UTC)
Those loves-that-were-never-meant-to-be....I remember having one of those too...P.
Nov. 4th, 2009 02:25 am (UTC)
Like I said to a previous commenter, I think everyone has their own story like this, it's just a matter of how far it went.
Nov. 4th, 2009 10:08 am (UTC)
This must of been so hard but I commend you for sharing it with us.
Excellently written.
Nov. 4th, 2009 03:59 pm (UTC)
It was easier to start than it was to finish, let's put it that way. Thanks for reading. :)
Nov. 4th, 2009 03:08 pm (UTC)
Very well-written! Thank you for sharing!
Nov. 4th, 2009 03:59 pm (UTC)
Thank you! ^_^
Nov. 4th, 2009 05:03 pm (UTC)
It's odd, the people we love, and the reasons we have for loving them. Sometimes, love just doesn't make sense.

I enjoyed this entry. Thank you for sharing something so very powerful.
Nov. 4th, 2009 10:03 pm (UTC)
It is, isn't it? I think we have to love someone who we shouldn't to learn from it, though. Thanks for reading!
Nov. 4th, 2009 07:46 pm (UTC)
Aw, how bittersweet.
Nov. 4th, 2009 10:04 pm (UTC)
It really is. In the end I'm a better person for it, though. Thanks for reading.
Nov. 4th, 2009 09:44 pm (UTC)
This was an outstanding entry. Heartbreaking and sad yet fabulous.

""No, it's not. Here," he says, and, lifting my saxophone from my own hands, plays effortlessly and beautifully. My mouthpiece is in his mouth. My pearls are being caressed by his talented fingers. My instrument is being raped.

He hands it back to me, not bothering to wipe where his lips and mouth have just been. He smiles at me, his little Miles smile that always makes me melt, and I want to kill him."

This was just about the most awesome passage I've read anywhere in awhile.

On a side note...why is it that we love those who are mean to us? I can completely relate and that's scary!
Nov. 4th, 2009 10:05 pm (UTC)
Wow, thank you so much! Amidst the fabulous writers of LJ Idol that's high praise.

It's very scary, and I know that I still have an undeserved place in my heart for him. To this day I don't know why.

Thanks for reading!
Nov. 5th, 2009 06:55 am (UTC)
A sad story, but a great entry. Well written.
Nov. 5th, 2009 04:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you. :)
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