Part 3, Chapter 14
“Justin, I can’t begin to describe how drunk I was…”
“Don’t even worry about it.”
“You think I’m dreadful. I’m so sorry for behaving like that.”
“Quiet. Listen: I have a few thoughts about the other night. I’ll write you a haiku.”
The thing was, I absolutely and without reservation loved the hell out of that girl, but it just wasn’t that simple. There were complicated layers, like a well-made bed where someone had had a particularly violent nightmare. I felt like an uneducated heathen, clumsily hashing out emotions over AOL Instant Messanger while she was drunk and distracted by a passed out friend. You are supposed to do these things with poetry and flowers, right? So, with a concession to the global imbalance of labor conditions perpetuated by the flower trade, that’s exactly what I decided to do.
On the following Tuesday morning, a cute girl I vaguely knew waved at me in the science atrium as I was walking through. “Hey, Justin, what’s up?”
“Oh, you know. Not much. I’m telling this girl who is my best friend that I love her today.”
“Telling a girl that I love her. I told her before when she was drunk, but I’m doing it right this time. It’s all written out in a poem. Here, look – let me show you the pineapple I’m going to give her when I do it.”
“Yeah. This girl thinks flowers exploit Central American children, and she always says she’s rather have some kind of American fruit. So I’ve got a pineapple for her. It’s from Hawaii.”
The girl looked at me strangely. “That’s the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard.”
“Well, typically they’re sweeter immediately after they’re picked, when…”
“Oh, Justin. I really hope it goes well.”
Economics class was torture, but that was not unusual, both for emotional and also pedagogical reasons. Hot Copy Editor and I typically amused each other by writing haikus and notes, her feminine, slanty, looped cursive alternating with my barbaric print. I was too nervous even for that. When the lecture was wrapping up, I couldn’t stand it any more.
“I have the haiku I told you I’d write about the other night.” I wrote in my notebook, showing it to her.
She leaned over to write on the same page. “Oo!” She used disposable fountain pens which made her letters glitter and hint at calligraphy.
I pulled some sheets out of my bag and put them on the desk in front of her, then drew an arrow to them in the top corner of my notebook page. They were neatly copied. I did the best I could.
HCE gave me a look, and swivelled to reach the notebook “But it’s so loooooooong!” Sure. Thirteen quatrains are a bit longer than a haiku, I guess.
“Seventeen syllables couldn’t get it done, kid.”
Class ended at that moment, so I pulled the pineapple out of my bag and thumped it down on top of the stapled pages. The professor glanced at me, then decided it wasn’t her business and looked away.
“And this is for you too!” I said.
“Shush. Eat pineapple and read the poetry,” I said, and I left.
I had drafted out the poem in some blank pages of my notebook. I liked economics, so I kept and still have the notebook. For completeness, here is the poem in its entirety.
The haiku that I was to write
Has grown, to my chagrin, tonight.
But you’re a muse I can’t refuse
And now you’ll understand my plight.
I cross out words till I’ve no ink
I don’t know what to say and think
A year’s charade begins to fade
I go to pour another drink
Is it okay to love you yet?
The last few days make me forget.
My part I’ll play another day
For now I need no safety net.
I love, respect, and pine for you.
Believe me if you please; it’s true.
When I’m in bed you fill my head
With thoughts of things I wish to do.
But I know where your heart belongs
With him you’ll dance the slower songs
He loves your socks & shaggy locks
And you’re the girl for whom he longs.
So when you tell me “let’s make out”
I dearly wish to help you out
But I resist though you insist
‘Cause you prefer that other lout.
If only you were uglier
Your hair and wardrobe scuzzier
Another guy would walk right by
You’d still make me feel fuzzier.
But you’re the hottest girl I know
When you walk by you melt the snow
It sucks for me, ’cause I can see
Your brilliant, funny, inner glow.
I know I said I liked you less
I was unhappy, I confess
And all your words, like evil birds,
Had placed me in extreme duress.
But if I like you less than now
That might be better, you’ll allow
And in the end you’ll be my friend
If only I could find out how!
So for the moment, you remain
My favorite girl to entertain
It isn’t fair but I don’t care
I only have your love to gain.
The point is that I understand
That Friday night that no one planned
We both regret our words and yet
They’re far too late to countermand
So! I don’t want to hear you say
“I’m sorry.” You know it’s okay.
My love I’ll hide back deep inside
To give to you another day.