I won’t say Tracy was the first girl I ever fell in love with, but she was definitely my first obsession. I was sixteen at the time, she was fifteen.
She was a friend of my friend, Camille, and when I met her I was immediately drawn to her. She had a lion’s mane of brown hair, a slight gap between her front teeth, a mildly raspy voice, and rich brown eyes.
She came across as slightly ditzy, which was dramatically pronounced when she was drunk. she couldn’t handle alcohol at all. A few swigs from a 40 and she was gone. A liquid-goggly look came into her eyes, a glaze indicating a disconnect, and she became a creature of touchy-feely amorousness.
I suppose that’s how we first hooked up, I don’t remember. After we hooked up, which at that time meant “making out,” I figured we were together and that her amorousness would exclusively extend to me. It didn’t work out that way.
Sober, she was sweet and attentive, she was “there,” but drunk she was “gone,” another version of herself took over and that version would casually slip into the arms of another boy, and her tongue-in-his-mouth would follow.
The first time it happened (we were hanging out on the street corner with a bunch of friends and she ditched me and went around the corner with another boy, and everyone knew what going-around-the-corner meant) I confronted her the next day when she was sober and she said she had no memory of that happening, and she was sorry. Tracy had this way of lowering her head, this sad downward tilt that tugged on my heart, and I forgave her. A week later it happened again and I cursed her out and broke up with her. I figured that was that but that wasn’t that.
Tracy’s behavior disturbed and fascinated me. I was drawn to her dramatic swings from being “there” to “not being there.” It’s like the Tracy I knew, the one that I considered the true-Tracy, was eclipsed by the other-Tracy, drunk-Tracy, and I wanted to forgive true-Tracy. It wasn’t her fault. She was innocent. She was at the mercy of the other-Tracy, her evil twin. Or maybe all this splitting of Tracy were lines of bullshit I snorted, and really I just wanted to fuck her.
Anyway, we got back together. And things went smoothly for about a month. Then, one night, when my mother was away, we hung out in my house and fooled around. It was the first time Tracy had let me take her shirt off and kiss and fondle her bare breasts. I felt as if our relationship was cruising into the next phase. The cruise came to a skidding halt when Tracy, after I was done playtiming her breasts, got this sad look. I knew what it was even before she told me, and when she told me, confessing and apologizing profusely in one fell swoop, the shock of not-again hit me in my stomach. I felt like an idiot. This time I didn’t shout or yell or accuse. I calmly and reasonably told Tracy that it would never be different, and that made me sad, but that’s just the way it was. Whenever she got drunk, she’d cheat. It was who she was. Who she had shown herself to be. Tracy left shortly thereafter, I imagine feeling ashamed. Yet even that wasn’t that between us.
We would see each other on the street corner, as we hung out with mutual friends. I would either ignore her or say a quick hello. It continued in that manner for three weeks. During that span of time, I noticed that Tracy hadn’t been drinking. One night she came up to me and asked if she could talk to me, in private.
I said yes and we went around the corner.
Tracy told me she hadn’t been drinking, that it caused too many problems in her life. She spoke in a soft and yielding voice, the words were definitely coming from true-Tracy, and she went on to say that she was sorry for what she had done when we were dating.
She talked for a while and I listened. Prompted by the warmth and sincerity of Tracy’s words, I told her that I was still crazy about her, and did she want to get back together? She did. We made out and I was thrilled to be reunited with Tracy. The past didn’t matter. It had nothing to do with John, or Tracy, or John and Tracy as a couple. That was the younger version of us. We were now several months older and wiser.
Tracy’s next and last betrayal was the worst of them all.
Me, Tracy and a bunch of our friends had gone to the beach at night to hang out and get fucked up. Tracy was drinking again, and I had never stopped. One of our “friends” was Anthony Parascando. He and Tracy began flirting with each other as we sat around the bonfire we had made. My stomach was the first to tell me what was coming and I knew there was nothing I could do to stop it. It felt like a rotten slab of destiny.
Tracy and Anthony left the bonfire and walked a short distance to an elevated lifeguard chair. They climbed onto it and sat. They were in full view as they started making out.
I sat on the sand, ashamed and humiliated and burning inside. What was even worse: all my friends felt bad for me. Even though I didn’t say anything, everyone knew how I felt, and to be exposed in this way was something I couldn’t stand.
That’s fucked up, Joe Dars said gravely.
Yea, I agreed, but what can you do? Sometimes people do fucked up shit.
When Tracy and Anthony rejoined us, Anthony smiling, Joe snapped—That was fucked up, Anthony.
What, Anthony said.
His smile had gone away and he seemed genuinely perplexed. Then, as if a light bulb clicked on—Oh, because of John-John. I didn’t know you two were together, honest. Tracy never said anything.
I looked at Tracy, who was far-gone and wobbly.
If I would’ve known, Anthony said.
Just don’t talk to me, I said to Anthony, and we left it at that.
The next night, hanging out on the street corner, I got really drunk. When Tracy arrived, I lit into her without a moment’s hesitation. I ranted and screamed whatever came into my head and didn’t hold back. I wanted to cut her down until she was in tears, and with a string of hostile put-downs and disparagements I succeeded. Yet even when she was crying I didn’t let up, and finally P.J. stepped in and said, That’s enough John-John. You’ve said enough. Look at the girl. Look what you’ve done to her.
I didn’t look at her. I didn’t want to see Tracy as a human being, as someone who had been hurt by my attack. I turned away and P.J. walked away with a sobbing Tracy. They walked around the corner and didn’t come back for a while.
When they did P.J. had his arm around Tracy.
They lived a young forever for about a week or two.