Snapshots

Fiction
Alan Danzis


April 1, 2004. Me. My girlfriend, Kristin. Bowling Hill High’s track field. Wearing the tight, dark red jersey I bought her for her birthday, Kristin looks beautiful despite running a mile in under six minutes, a feat she accomplished twice. Our arms are around each other and she’s laughing that I’m holding her too tight.

August 2, 1999. Me. My best friend, Don Williker. His new wife, Michelle, with her red hair tucked neatly into a bun. Outside the chapel, I’m standing between the two of them in the sacred place where someone actually succeeded in settling Don down.

June 3, 1977. Me. Ma. Don. A playground, not far from Bowling High, which we would start attending the next decade. Ma has a hand on each of our backs and is gently nudging us closer together. Her big smile, the light flickering synchronously on her teeth with the flash on what was a very cloudy day, makes me realize now, just how much she really wanted us to become friends back then. Off in the distance, near a row of trees, there’s a blurred image of a girl in cherry-red overalls trying to run up the slide backwards. Don, three years from a double digit age, tried to pick her up that day. He told her he wanted to take her to see a “Star War.”

December 4, 1993. Me. Don. His girlfriend, Angie. Some random dorm party at Indiana State University. Under the mistletoe, Angie and Don are making out as if an RA was seconds away from clearing the room. I, on the other hand, am not smiling. Not because I was jealous of Don. Angie was a sweet girl and Don did seem to genuinely care for her at the time. Plus, she was a bit too tall for a 5’9″er like myself. So it wasn’t anything like envy. It was because I was still feeling guilty—months later—about what I had done to my ex-girlfriend Jessica.

May 5, 1992. Me. My girlfriend, Jessica. Perched on top of the picnic table where we had had long talks three nights a week for four months, we’re just outside my dorm room. Crutches are under my arm while she leans across the bench, legs outstretched. Saying goodbye to the semester that day, we were also saying hello to faithfulness for the entire summer. Seeing each other every weekend made it pretty bearable and things were great when we arrived back at ISU in the fall.

September 6, 1993. Me. Don. Don’s girlfriend, Remi. The Fighting Trees Tavern. Named for an unfortunate mascot suggested for ISU a few decades earlier, the Trees was our favorite hang-out in school. Dragging me out that night, the two of them thought they could cheer me up with a few beers. It was after all, a really stupid fight Jessica and I had had that night. But one girl I met that night, Beth, didn’t think it was a stupid fight. She thought Jessica was possessive. Hyper-critical. And shutting me down too much. Plus, she thought I was really cute.

March 7, 1995. Me. My girlfriend Katie. The beach in Cancun. It’s Spring Break. We’re relaxing in our lounge chairs, sipping margaritas, happy to have forgotten about the fight the night before over Katie hitting on what she later called the “super-cute mistake” from the pool bar. The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful: mostly because Katie and I didn’t spend any more nights together; only days on the beach and afternoons in the hotel bed.

April 8, 1988. Me. Jessica. Dick Colgatiano’s house. Not the most popular guy in our class, Dick tried to impress the chess geeks, Spanish club members and model UNers with elaborate, catered and fully-staffed dinner parties at his parents’ house whenever they were touring Europe. Once word would leak out—usually about three hours before the party—his house would soon be flowing with senior guys, freshman girls, and booze. Plenty of booze. Most people didn’t really know Dick, but they knew his house, and they knew everybody else that was there. Dick Colgatiano was known for one thing: “Dick Colgatiano’s house.” Jessica and I met for the first time that night. Emptying myself in the Colgatiano’s master bathroom, I was interrupted mid-stream by Jessica, decked out in a beautiful blue sweater ruined by teensy crumbles of drying vomit from her apparently sick friend. As I held her friend’s hair back while she unearthed at least six beers worth of solids onto the porcelain bowl, floor and my sandals, I lamely told Jessica I wanted to take a picture of her in that sweater so I could show to my sister what I thought was a really pretty sweater—of course she didn’t know I didn’t have a sister. Afterwards, I got her phone number. Turned out to be the wrong one. naturally. On purpose. Of course. Dead in the water. Nah. So, I looked up her real number a day later and we had a date the following weekend.

May 9, 2000. Me. Don. Jessica. University Plaza Hotel in downtown Bloomington, Indiana. This picture was taken at our 5 year reunion by Kyle “Killi” Kutterson, our over-active, under-achieving partially-albino class president. The last time I had seen Jessica—at graduation—I didn’t so much as roll my eyes in her general direction. After the party, we shared too many memories, too many Cosmos, and one too many beds up on the 45th floor. When I woke up in the morning, she was gone.

December 10, 1991. Me. Don. Jessica (in the background with a few other people I don’t remember the names of). At Dick Colgatiano’s house. Even though we had tried to avoid each other all night, a partnership was briefly formed when the wait for the downstairs bathroom was over sixteen people long and the one upstairs was locked. A hairpin, a credit card, and a screw from my sunglasses couldn’t pick the lock, so we used a plant in the hallway instead. Looking out for each other while we watered the plants, Jessica and I got to talking. We came to Dick Colgatiano’s house with different people. At the end of the night, we left together.

February 11, 1994. Me. My girlfriend, Katie. Our “Valentine’s Day” celebration at a fondue restaurant. We’d been together for two months at that point. Introduced by Killi Kutterson at a dorm barbecue, Katie and I got along so well that semester. We hardly fought and we didn’t ask a lot of questions about each other. It was an open relationship. Open emotions, open feelings, and open doors. Four days after this picture was taken, I took about a week and a half to forgive her for what I saw thanks to that third tenet.

March 12, 1989. Me. Don. My girlfriend, Jessica. And by sheer accident—at least on our part—the guy who lived at Dick Colgatiano’s house, Dick Colgatiano. Bowling Hill High School’s track field. A 10:45 2K time, my Everest, was reached that day. Jessica is standing behind me, her arms drooped around my neck in a tight embrace and Don is pretending to look not in total awe with his arms crossed and goofy grin stretched across his face. Dick just happens to be walking by and gives us—or is it the camera?—a thumbs up.

April 13, 1992. Me. Don. Don’s girlfriend, Lucy. Bloomingtown Hospital. Don bet me fifty dollars that I couldn’t climb the tree outside our dorm room in under five minutes. I broke my leg two minutes into the climb after grabbing a branch that snapped in half. In the picture, one-third of the participants are not wearing a smile. Of the other two-thirds, Lucy is giving me a kiss on the cheek while Don pretends to take an enormous bite out of my cast.

December 14, 1982. Me. Don. Sledding down a hill in some park in Bowling Hill. Reaching my uncle who’s holding the camera, we both give a thumbs up, moments before our sled smashes head first into a tree. (Luckily we did not, though I went right arm first and Don went left leg first.) Even though we were supposed to stay at home in bed for a week straight, we snuck out every night to play Donkey Kong, which had come out earlier that year. Don always got farther along than I did, mostly because he had the use of both his hands. I, however, beat him in every footrace we had from that moment on. Even years later.

May 15, 1978. Me. Alana, the girl from across the street. We’re sitting together on a tire swing in her backyard. Nearly an hour after this picture was taken, Alana pulled down her blue sweatpants. Mine stayed up and I lost the bet.

January 16, 1996. Me. My girlfriend Katie. We’re standing outside our new apartment in Los Angeles—this was of course months after my refusal to leave Indiana. All of the boxes are inside. Unpacking an hour later, I see Katie grab her keys out of the cubbyhole and head for the door. I slept alone that night, but at least she was back the following night.

August 17, 1989. Me. Don. Don’s girlfriend Ellen. Jessica. Philadelphia Phillies game. We all went one night as a double date; Phils beat the Cubbies 6-0. A nice, young father in front of us offered to take this picture. Afterwards, Don decided we should celebrate the impending victory—it was in the sixth inning and he was already declaring it—with a few beers. Luckily for us, Donnie had fakes on his person as ubiquitous as fans in the seats (“I brought them in case we were going to the Spit,” he claimed.) I had one on me as well, but with my 5’4″ height, I didn’t even look old enough to buy a lottery ticket or join the Army.

February 18, 1975. Me. Our living room. I’m playing with a Japanese Tin Space Top with Launcher Ma got me at some flea market. The top begins to lift into the air, and the red and white colors painted on top began to mix together to look like liquid candy canes. Ma bought me the toy to congratulate me on passing 3’9″. Beaming with joy, she said to me, at my rate, I’d be over 6′ and playing in the NBA in no time. While the colors were beginning to fade on my Space Top, the happiness on my face did not.

April 19, 1992. Me. I’m smiling because Jessica has just told me she’s coming to school with me and Don in the fall. She wanted a picture to remember that moment and that face of mine.

August 20, 1990. Me. Jessica. At some concert, where Dave Matthews Band was the opener. I don’t even remember for who because we made out on the blanket during the last set. Covered in empty soda bottles, we didn’t really care. At the end of the concert, I was the lookout while she went to the bathroom behind the guy who lived at Dick Colgatiano house’s ’69 Camaro. We broke up three days later. She said she wanted to see other people. Little did I know, she had already started to.

November 21, 1984. Me. Our dining room. Thanksgiving. Well, our Thanksgiving. We were celebrating a few days early because Pop was heading back into the service. Standing on the third stair, I’m decked out in every single piece of jewelry Ma owned at the time—including a glittering necklace of pearls that hung down to the floor on me. My hands are on my hips and I’m laughing. My drunken uncle called me a homo and told me to go back upstairs, but Ma just smiled and laughed. I’m 14 at the time, so I could understand my uncle’s concern and him questioning my sexuality; little did he know though, that at that point, I was just as drunk as he was.

May 22, 1990. Me. Jessica. Don. Don’s date, Frannie. It’s senior prom. I made love to Jessica for the first time that night. Don came up short. Frannie didn’t.

February 23, 2003. Don. Michelle. Jessica. Roger, Jessica’s new husband. Don gave me this picture so I could see what Roger looked like. He looks shorter than me.

April 24, 1997. Me. Katie. Outside a dog pound, holding a seven week old Lhasa Apso. A week later, Max was the only one in the picture that still loved me. That’s the last picture I have of Katie.

December 25, 1974. Me. Ma. The kitchen. Sitting on Ma’s lap, I’m clutching the only Christmas gift I cared about that year: a genuine, official Jesse Owens trading card. Encased in a simple plastic frame, it didn’t impress any of my friends at school the next month. Dated 1936, it was, however, one of the most sought-after cards—despite the fact Mom got it at a church charity sale—because it was the year Owens triumphed over Hitler’s athletes. Of course at the time, I only knew he was a fast runner—like I always tried to be—and he beat “someone with a rectangular moustache that was always high-fiving to no one in particular.” For a four-year old who dreamed of Olympic glory, no gift could be better.

June 26, 1976. Me. Ma. The zoo. We’re standing next to the monkey’s cage. I have chocolate icing on my navy blue shirt. That stain lived symbiotically with that shirt for the next seven years until it somehow just came out in the wash. Or maybe it was before that and I just didn’t notice because I wasn’t paying enough attention.

September 27, 1991. Don. Don’s girlfriend, Jenn. Me. The Trees. Don is behind Jenn, his hands in her pockets, pretending to lick her left cheek. I’m standing nearby, half-glancing at the camera and half-glancing at that some girl in the crimson dress at the other end of the bar. A skeezy guy with pre-Steinbrenner Mattingly sidebars was the guy she settled on to take her home that night.

February 28, 2002. Me. Don. Kristin. And about twenty other patrons celebrating with free shots. The Trees. Don and I decided to go back to the old college bar and do a little reminiscing. We met Kristin when Don got drunk enough to start buying shots for everyone in the bar. I noticed her right away because of the bright strawberry-red Indiana University sweatshirt she was wearing; I asked if she went there. She said no, her ex-boyfriend nicknamed Killi did and she swiped it from his dresser; it was his favorite sweatshirt and since he spilled semen on a dress of hers the night before, she figured she was entitled to it. Her honesty, her incredible candor, and her cleavage were nothing short of amazing. I asked her out right then and there. I also continued to ask her out for the next month and a half before she finally said yes.

October 29, 1998. Me. Don. We’re at The Dragon Spit Bar, the only bar in all of Bowling Hill. We’re celebrating Dick Colgatiano’s wedding, which we had attended earlier that day. Rumor had it that no one was actually invited; we all just showed up. The Spit was my and Don’s bar of choice when we were kids and had crappy IDs made by a 13-year-old chess prodigy. Don and are sitting in the corner stools and leaning back towards the bar, trying to coax the bartender into the picture. Don swears to me that night that he wants to be single for the rest of his life. After the picture was taken, he got up and approached some girl in the corner with red hair.

March 30, 2003. Me. Ma. And my girlfriend, Kristin. Ma’s house. Kristin has just met Ma for the first time. Ma took one look at her and said, “She looks like she comes from good stock.” I was pretty sure I agreed, but not until we went up to my bedroom. Taking one look at all of my racing trophies, Kristin smiled and said, “I bet I could kick your ass.”

December 31, 2005. Nothing. Whoever took that picture must have been really trashed that night. It’s completely blank.

pencil

“I’m a 2003 graduate of Writing from Loyola College in Maryland and currently work in the field of public relations.” E-mail: adanzis[at]gmail.com.