Love In the Time of Nirvana

(Goal: 500 words)

As one might expect, I’m a bit of a food purist. I prefer to know exactly what I’m eating down to the last ingredient; I read ingredient labels as though they’re literature and, consequently, don’t buy too much packaged food. The fewer the ingredients, the better. For example, I prefer a dinner composed of fish, rice, onions, and pickles over one with fancy sauces. So when I went off to college at eighteen and was forced, by school policy, to eat in the cafeteria, I naturally tended toward the sandwich and salad bar, where I could easily know every last ingredient, from bread to sprouts to mushrooms. It was too bad that I didn’t have a clue about celiac back then; I couldn’t, at the time, figure out why my intestines would periodically cramp so severely it would disable me. It didn’t happen often, just once every month or so. I re-investigated the ingredients in all the food I was consuming, but without the knowledge of wheat allergy, I cut out items that were unlikely to have been the culprits. If I had put two and two together, I might have realized that the difference was going from a meat-and-potatoes and occasional-sandwich type of diet with my parents to an almost solely bread diet.

(Now that I’ve wasted almost half my word count explaining that…)

One night, I went to a Nirvana concert with a male friend who was so annoying that he would never have been more than a friend to me. He was extraordinarily bossy, and I’m a control freak (two OCD, slightly autistic people do not make a great match). Anyway, I don’t allow the average Joe-Blow to tell me what to do. In fact, I’m pretty much not into respecting self-appointed or even real authority figures unless they’re cutting me paychecks, or happen to be my husband or GOD. This man used to insist, for example, that I go back inside my house and brush my hair if he wasn’t satisfied with its appearance. Sadly, my hair was never smooth enough because Portland is a wet climate, and my hair turns frizzy in wet climates. I recall that he slighted my hair on that cold, damp concert night, which set the wrong tone for an evening out. I didn’t fully appreciate Nirvana’s music, anyway. I accepted the invite because live music is always interesting, and the person he’d originally invited had bowed out at the last minute, leaving him with an extra ticket.

Needless to say (or maybe I do need to say), the night was a disaster. Bossy male friend became more and more possessive of me as the night wore on, turning surly and aggressive if I so much as spoke to another person. To escape him for a few blessed moments, I moved down the aisle to greet an old friend and managed to get caught in the mosh pit, where I lost a shoe and was generally pummeled by large men wearing leather or flannel jackets and combat boots. I quickly worked my way out–not being a tough chiquita, not even as a cover story–and that’s when the cramps started. Yes, those pesky, as-yet-undiagnosed cramps. Surly male friend (I think I’ll call him Dick) thought my pain was a bad attitude toward him and eventually left me at the concert alone. Hurray! Um, no hurrays. I didn’t know Dick had left me there until it became quite clear that he was not in the restroom or anywhere else. The concert hall cleared out; I found my shoe, and then I proceeded to search the lobby. But there was no Dick to be found.

I stepped outside, my vision blurry from the pain. Dick couldn’t have left me there. I lived forty-five miles away, and he had driven me to the concert. I had no immediate way to get back home. The Tri-Met bus system went out as far as Newburg, and I lived farther out in McMinnville, where the bus lines didn’t extend. Still, if I was able to find a phone booth, I could grit my teeth and call my parents (I hate being a burden to other people and asking for help. Hate it! Control freak, remember?). First, though, I had to rest. I had to curl up somewhere and wait for the cramps to pass. I tried to reenter the concert venue, where it was warm and carpeted, but the security would have none of it. Nobody was allowed back in. So I curled up right there on the sidewalk, my knees clutched to my chest. The street was empty, the sidewalk finally clear of concert goers. It was pleasant after all the noise and commotion (noise being the one drawback to the aesthetic of live music; well, that and mosh pits).

And lo and behold, who should round the corner but my one true love? That sounds silly, doesn’t it? Oh, well, I don’t care. He was the person I knew I was going to marry back in high school. I don’t know why I knew; I just did. It was kind of an absurd reckoning because he was the boy all the girls went ga-ga over, and, therefore, I should have despised him, yet somehow didn’t. There he was, and for no other reason except that he and his roommate had gone to see a movie downtown and had chosen to take a walk afterwards.

Yes, he and his roommate rescued me. They wanted to take me to the ER, but I was the same person back then as I am now. You couldn’t have convinced me to go the doctor unless I was on my deathbed, which I wasn’t. I was only in pain. And pain passes. It’s temporary. I suppose love is temporal, too–a part of this earthly, physical reality. Twenty years is a long time, though, and that’s how long it’s been for my love and me: Twenty years, in which he has been far too disdainful of mucking about with female beauty rites to tell me how to wear my hair.

(And, yeah, I just doubled my intended word count. So sue me.)


*This post has been slightly edited to reflect both Dick’s and my personalities better due to the misapprehension from a blog thread.



  1. That is an adorable story. Not the pain part, of course–I’m sorry about that–but the rest :). And Dick seems a most appropriate name for your “date” that night. (He sounds a bit like someone I used to date, only
    Dick isn’t quite strong enough. I usually refer to him as He Who Shall Not Be Named, although I worry it’s insulting to Voldemort.) Anyway, God really does bring good things from all situations, eh? Congrats on 20 years!

  2. Good story. I miss the 90s sometimes. I know a lot of people who met their spouses in youth. I think it must be nice to have mutual memories from those heady days.

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