The summer before my senior year I spend a few days at a high school journalism convention at Northern Arizona State University in Flagstaff. I had already been chosen as the Editor-In-Chief of my school newspaper for my senior year. I was the first male editor of my paper and the first Latino editor of my paper, so I was expected to go to Flagstaff and mingle with other, peppier, much much WHITER editors. Having already gone to two other high school journalism conventions, I brought a ton of comic books and cassettes that I could play on my little handheld cassette player. And a ton of money so that I could walk over to that kick ass massive used music, book, comic book, video game, and magazine store and score some good cheap stuff.
My first day there I walked to the place and managed to find a used cassette tape of the Forrest Gump soundtrack for only $8.99 and that was a deal because it was two cassettes and super expensive. I remember walking back to my temp dorm room with a spring in my step because I couldn't wait to lock the door, crank up the Forrest Gump soundtrack and just rock out in the way I'd normally rock out in an empty room.
Walking into the lobby of the dorm, there were a massive scattered group of forty or fifty kids just sitting all over the floor braiding hair and chatting and playing games and hitting on each other. These were all upperclass white kids that I didn't know. Not a lot of Mexican high school editors in 1994. As I walk to the elevator this really attractive blond girl WHOM I HAD NEVER MET BEFORE asks me what I got. I told her I bought the Forrest Gump soundtrack. She squealed in the way that teens do and told me about how much she loved that movie and loved that soundtrack.
So this total stranger chick WHOM I HAD NEVER MET BEFORE asked me if she could borrow it. I stammered and said no. She pouted and asked why. "Um, because I don't KNOW you" I answered.
She pouted and said "But don't I LOOK trustworthy?"
To tell you the truth, she looked like a cast member of Gossip Girls but that hadn't been created back then. I stammered some more, during which she pathetically begged me to let her borrow it with all the energy of a hyperactive squirrel on speed. "I can't let you borrow it," I said. "I don't know who you are or what your name is or ..."
She spit out her name so quickly that I don't even remember it, then continued her begging. I remember the people she was sitting beside, rich looking white kids no doubt from some upper class suburb like Tempe or Scottsdale. They were looking at me with an open mouthed look of humor, their teeth occasionally poking out of their laughs at me.
"I don't know you. And besides, I bought it. And I haven't even listened to it yet. And if I let you borrow it then how will you find me and give it back to me?"
"Aww, come on, don't be such a wuss! Just let me borrow it!"
I was sixteen back then. Now I'm thirty years old with an amazing younger wife and two amazing daughters who both love wrestling and dancing in the kitchen to Beatles music. My life is good. I'm a successful storyteller and children's entertainer and I make thirteen bucks an hour as the manager of the children's section of a major bookstore. I live in California and I have a wife and two kids and a semi-cult following and my life is pretty damn good. I am a stark contrast to the shy little person that I used to be back in Arizona.
See, I mention all of this pointless back story bull because the Steve from California? He would have cut that bitch off, put her in her place, yelled at her and gotten angry with her and cussed her out for having the balls to come at a total stranger and demand something like that. I have numerous times and at great length come up with whole other things I should have said and ways I should have reacted, ways that would have satisfied me, ways that would have showed that I wasn't such a stupid, weak, shy, worthless little loser back then.
But yeah. I let that complete stranger borrow it.
I went back to my temporary dorm and played my warbly R.E.M. cassette for the 100th time and daydreamed stupid thoughts of the girl so grateful to me for letting her borrow my tape that she'd hug me or even kiss me and we'd start dating and fall in love. I imagined us dating and even made a list of the places we could go on dates.
The next day on my way to classes she found me, tossed me the cassette, and mumbled a small thanks.
She might as well had ripped my dick off.
I am so ashamed of myself for that. Who in their right mind would buy something and then let a complete and total stranger borrow it? Me, apparently. And the thing that sucks is that the Forrest Gump soundtrack is one amazing soundtrack, one of the best soundtracks ever. And now I can't listen to it. I can hardly even see the movie.
It all stands as a reminder of how weak I used to be.
And still am. Inside.