"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Friday, December 12, 2003
Turning into a Shark
1 : one that preys, destroys, or devours
2 : an animal that lives by predation
3 : what I learned to be at 16
Why is it that we end up becoming the very thing we hate? And not only that, but many times we enjoy doing that?
One of the big moments for me in my junior year of high school was the prom.
But not like you think, no not at all.
You see, I couldn't get a date. It was amazing how many girls had planned to wash their hair that night, weeks in advance. Finally at the last minute I was calling anyone I could think of that I thought wasn't going, at least those I wanted to be seen with, and no luck. Nada.
That night, my mother and I went to see "All the President's Men" at the local theater. Loads of fun.
I promised myself that that would never happen to me again. That night, I changed inside. Before then, I was all concerned with giving. That night, I began my descent into becoming a predator, a destroyer disguised as a giftbringer, a person who would become whatever he had to to control others around him, and let them think it was their choices that were making things happen, not mine.
At 16, I started turning into a shark. Not a clumsy bully kind of shark, one that just destroys others for the fun of it, but a calculating predator that wanted to feed on the approval of others, the adoration of others.
That summer, I learned how to capture hearts.
Again, I spent my summer at Lakewood Campground. But this time, it was not the same Cliff. John and I worked at the campgrounds paddleboat dock, renting paddleboats to the campers. It was a great place to pick up girls. And we did lots of that. We also hung out at the campground arcade, which they had just expanded. Another good hunting ground.
And the great thing was, since most of the campers would stay about a week, every Sunday or so the whole herd changed. So, if you goofed up, you could fix it next time.
And we got really good at not goofing up. Sometimes we would each have two or three dates a night.
Again, we were in good shape, tanned, and this time I was at least unofficially a "native." I got mail at the campground. And I had gotten rid of the chopped off Volkswagen in favor of a Karmann Ghia, a sleek sporty Volkswagen that was designed by the same guy that designed the Porsches.
Sometimes, I got to use my mom's convertible. We would get that and cruise Ocean Boulevard at night, downtown, and the car was a chick magnet.
The drug scene was ever present, but we weren't interested. No, it was the girls we were after.
Sharks. And we wanted mullet. Lots of it.
I discovered the formula early on. First, strike up a conversation. Second, find out by what they said what kind of guy they liked or wanted. Third, be that guy. After a little bit of practice, it became easy, second nature.
So now my acting was on the big screen, and every night was Oscar night. And I was winning.
I will say this though. I managed to stay "pure" through that summer. There was still a vestige of my old ethos within me, stopping me from sliding all the way down the hill.
I can remember so many of the girls.
Celeste, from Columbia. Sweet face, wonderful to talk to, lush cascading chestnut hair, beautiful girl. A glance from her could stop traffic. I used to stop by her house on the way to college and visit, until she got a boyfriend where she lived.
Sherry. Wow, Sherry was a knockout. Her smile could light a Christmas tree all by itself. It turned out she was living with foster parents since her father had abused her. Those things were not spoken about so freely then, and I had trouble imagining such evil. She also had this scent about her, always, the scent of heather. It wasn't perfume or anything like that, because we could go swimming and when she dried, it would still be there. It was just her. Sadly, her foster father also eventually abused her. Of all the girls I knew, I most hope things worked out for her.
Chris, from Ohio. We had been joking around about her being my girlfriend, then when she saw me talking to someone else she cried. She had believed it. I made sure that for Chris, for then, it was true. She taught me how incredible a kiss can taste when a girl has just had a stick of bubble gum. Every time I hear the song "Dream Weaver" I think of her, and I'll bet she thinks of me too.
So many girls. And each one, for me, a target.
And every week, I would do another clown dance, dancing to the most popular tune of the week, baiting yet another victim who would come starry eyed while I fed on their attention.
Until I met Patty, that is. Everything changed when I met her. Patty would become a boundary line in my life, one of those things that changes you forever.
Change is not always a good thing.
Man is the only animal that can remain on friendly terms with the victims he
intends to eat until he eats them.
Samuel Butler (1835 - 1902)