You are not the most well-behaved Crayola in the box. On the good people palette, you’re maybe a cerulean blue or a burnt umber or one of those grays nobody ever talks about. Most of your bad behavior has been the easy, good-in-nature brand. Lots of skinny-dipping and peeing in sinks and being towed on a skateboard behind a 1984 12-beer-brown Ford 150 by a drunk with a rope. Easy, right? No harm done.
But not all of your bad behavior has been quite so innocent. The one person who was fool enough to be in a real girlfriend/girlfriend romance with you—the kind in which you hold hands not just at night when you’ve somehow convinced her to go home with you, but during the day when sidewalkers can easily peep you and your gay hands; the kind of relationship where the two of you have your own words, like, for instance, calling breakfast “pile,” and also have little routines like watching the L Word on YouTube in nine six minute clips uploaded by some community-oriented gay in Denmark—was treated to several massive lies and maybe even a sort of double life. There were, of course, the standard girlfriend/girlfriend lies, like still being an actual smoker two years after your quit date and even switching from Bali Shag to Camel Lights because that’s what your housemate smoked and it’s a lot easier to hide if there’s only one brand in the ashtray. And, of course, there was the hypocrisy, particularly in regards to smoking, like your tsk tsk on the rare occasion she bummed a fag at a smoky bar where even if you’re not smoking you’re smoking, which made your heart shiver, not just because you were contracting osmosistic cancer but also because you loved her so much that you sometimes had thoughts like, “if a pig with a taser made me choose between my mother and my girlfriend, who would I choose?,” and then felt sorry for your mother.
Bad behavior may also have involved petty theft, academic dishonesty, and manipulating kind and good-hearted gayelles and sometimes straights into thinking that you are also kind and good-hearted, when actually you’re going to pretend to be asleep when they leave in the morning so you don’t have to face the truth, your truth, that you are an asshole and threw away the only girlfriend who was fool enough to be your girlfriend, and for what? For this? For not having had sober sex since you left two years ago because you wanted to be “free?”
Do you believe that you are fundamentally golden despite the evidence? That all it takes to be good is growing patio tomatoes and shopping at the co-op and riding your bike to work? That the bad behavior has all just been kid stuff, life lessons, learning experience? Maybe so. Maybe you know that you are still good despite it all, despite the friendships dead and the letters returned and the universe-shaped scar on your shoulder from the time you fell off your bike and onto your head and then lied to the EMTs and the nurses and the doctors who were just trying to make sure you didn’t die of head trauma and/or stupidity. You lied, you told them that your name wasn’t your name but that is was, in fact, the name, the only name, the name of the only girlfriend who was fool enough to be your girlfriend and who you tossed away like that plastic cup you could have recycled but didn’t because the trash can was right there.
And then maybe late one night a month or three weeks ago you are slapped with the evidence. You wake up in the middle of the night to a loud and insistent banging first on your door and then on your bedroom window, at which point you stop breathing and hide under you covers because the door-banger could be any of three possible candidates, two of whom deserve to restructure your guilty face. And then when the banging stops and the breathing starts you literally crawl from you bed to your living room to get your phone, the same phone that you turned off a week before because you could no longer deal with the calls and the texts from people who know that you are an asshole. And then you are awake, very awake, at 3 o’clock on Friday night/Saturday morning and are kharma-slapped again when your neighbor upstairs starts having the kind of sex that isn’t just about speaking springs but also about sounds, human sounds, the very the thing you hate to hear above all other things you hate to hear, more even than Kenny G.
The next day as you muse the events of the night before, you suddenly have the aha realization that the door-banging and sex-hearing were punishment from that Santa-like god you don’t actually believe in, punishment for being an asshole. At this point you not only feel sorry for yourself, you also feel sorry for everyone else, everyone you have tossed and everyone you would have tossed. And this is maybe when you start to reconsider the of-course-I’m-good way of thinking and realize that it’s time to actually be good.
You mop your kitchen floor and clean your fridge and contribute to the NPR fund drive. You get library books and re-pot your basil and buy running shoes. And you stop drinking. And this is where the bad behavior starts to maybe dissipate a little bit. Yes, you are a little bored of Netflix, but when you wake up you feel good, very good. You look at your plants and you are happy. You start to resemble Nick Jonas more than ever. It’s not just the mouth and the chin anymore. It’s the virginity, a virginity he has and which you, a non-drinker, are re-growing. Will it last through summer? Maybe, although your will power is small and your thirst great and sangria at the pool makes adulthood, makes buying gas and setting your alarm, almost worth it. But before you lose your virginity once again, you hope that the memories you lost, the little things, the girlfriend/girlfriend language, knowing someone else’s life lines and thumbnails, remembering if she liked sweet tea, which you think she probably did because she is Southern and good, but which you cannot remember, making you feel like the little heirloom seedling outside of your window when the wind blows—maybe it will all come back as you and Nick Jonas fade into each each other. You, you and Nick Jonas, you will one and you will be good.