15 years old, almost 16, between grades 10 and 11. The summer that may have made me the man I am today. 125 days in which I lived enough to go through 4 years...
But most of it started in the winter before it, making friends with hockey teammates Nick and Todd. Most of our weekends were spent together, and my friends and theirs meshed and became a big whole bunch. Of their friends, another goalie, Eugene, that I sort of ran out of town the next year by taking his place as the neighbourhood's star and starter in nets, and a couple I liked, Chris and Jenn.
Chris was a short and aggressive fellow, often out looking for a fight, usually one in which he'd end up victorious - or less beaten up than his opponent. And when it went sour, Eugene and I, as resident giants, were there to get him out of any additional trouble. The only thing shorter than his temper was his hair - shaved bald.
Jenn was more reserved, seemingly always glued to Chris' left arm, or standing right behind him when trouble came calling. A pretty brunette with shoulder-length straight-ish hair, she seemed to have character, her eyes exuded it, but her demeanor was laid back.
It was a fine winter and spring, filled with plenty of action and commotion, underage drinking, arcades and late night movies. Summer was gearing up to be magical.
There was one night where a bunch of guys gathered at Todd's place to watch a Pay-Per-View special (UFC 2, March 11th) and most crashed there. There was little sleep, plenty of beer, and enough guys' talk to not have to scratch our balls for a week afterwards. Innocently enough, I mentioned to Chris at some point that I found his girlfriend attractive, but nothing was made of it - there was nothing to make of it, it was in innocent enough comment.
In June, however, it was brought to my attention that they no longer were an item, although I really paid no mind to it. It was Finals at school and in hockey, my time was well taken care of, and I was looking elsewhere for lady-fun-times - every so often with some measure of success.
There was one instance where most of our gang went out for drinks on Crescent street - Todd, Dan, Nick, Rachel, Chris, Eugene, Jenn and a few others whose names elude me fifteen years later - and Jenn asked me what ''my comment'' was about. It took me a while to understand what specific comment she was referring to, but once it was clearly established, we moved onto bigger and better subjects.
Over time, we saw less and less of some people (Nick, Chris, Eugene) and our immediate circle got tighter. Our activities were more entertaining and mature, too - less time playing pool in arcades and crashing at people's houses, more time going to midnight movie showings and hanging out in parks - where we met fun, quirky and at times disturbing characters.
One such character was a chick called Morgan that I really got into, another was an Indian girl her brother nicknamed ''Me Too'' because as a kid she would follow his every footstep. There was also Sylvie, an ex-girlfriend's best friend, and Jill, who is a whole other chapter - maybe even her own book. Heck, maybe even a Trilogy.
I was hanging out with Jenn at least every other day and she quickly started having feelings for me, but the more I was with her, the more I realized we weren't on the same wavelength at all. Everybody had already warned me, but I guess I had to see it for myself, and I surely did: she was just fucking crazy.
She was into Grand Gestures to show her appreciation of me, but every single one brought me closer to one of the other ladies - and to regretting having ever known Jenn. But it was livable, for most of the summer, because humans can adapt to most situations - and I hadn't really been dating any of these girls.
Then came Shannon. We met Shannon while hanging out in a park in Montreal West. She was 18, tall, platinum blonde - she looked just like Kim Basinger (albeit with much bigger boobs), and every single one of my male friends wanted to get in her pants. But she only had eyes for me.
She was at the other end of that park in the wee hours of the morning on that warm July night with her (even hotter, redhead, looking like an early Alanis with even bigger boobs) friend Veronica when she realized a guy we were hanging out with, Nathaniel, was a mutual friend. Introductions were made and I spent practically the rest of the night with her, side by side on a swing set, getting to know each other. Jenn was fuming!
It only took a couple of days before Shannon and I decided to start ''dating''. Even though I'm not the biggest fan of blondes (apart from Samantha Fox, of course, I'm her #1 fan), her thick set of lips were full of promise. Well, that and the massive chest. But unfortunately for us, no one wanted this relationship to work out: her parents hated me (maybe because I was 4 years younger than she was, maybe not, but anytime we were at her place, we could never be alone for even a minute), my male friends would all just try to hit on her behind my back, hers were inventing rumours about me so she would dump me and try them on for size (some included Jenn) - and Jenn wouldn't leave us the fuck alone, like a fly on sugar-covered shit, either imposing her presence with our approval or showing up impromptu.
Needless to say, when all was factored in, we didn't last all that long. After a month of trying to get it on and never getting to it, at our age, we went our separate ways. A year later, I met Veronica while walking downtown and asked for news... turns out Shannon had had a kid, and was already pregnant with her second. So the break-up wasn't all bad...
On a side note, one thing I regret was not asking Veronica out right then and there. She was the one I really got along with at that time, smart, funny, sarcastic, longer and darker hair, tall, bigger boobs, three years older than me as well...
But back to the main story. August was coming to an end now, and Jenn had managed to split the friends we had in common into two factions: 1. pro-Jenn/Seb used me and he's an asshole and a liar, and 2. Seb's friends, who didn't care about what did or didn't happen but would rather be friends with a sane person and trusted his judgement. Seems stupid and juvenile, I know, but I guess the mid-90s were a magnet for that sort of behaviour.
Until school was well back under way, I'd get bizarre offerings from Jenn in my mailbox, ranging from angry or sad letters to empty morning-after pill receptacles. It was odd, but strangely humourous, on my end anyway. Until late September, early October, at least...
Then came The Erica Situation. Erica, for totally different reasons from Jill, also probably deserves her own book. She'll likely get her own entry here in the future, so I won't go into the whole details of it, but she was the girl I dated for most of Grade 11. She attended a different high school than mine and, again, was a couple of years older than I was.
But she wasn't an Amazon like Veronica and Shannon were, she was barely five feet tall (if that, come to think of it). So, when Jenn totally blew her gasket on her case and started stalking her and following her around, not just during leisure time but also during school hours, it turned psychopathic. That's where a whole bunch of people had to tell her to back off, some even resorting to threats; even The Law got involved, and eventually it waned, then disappeared.
And here's where it gets really bizarre: a former friend of mine/ours/our summertime gang, Dan, must have found something cute in her dedication and passion, and she must have turned her obsessive-compulsiveness onto him as well, because I heard they dated for a while that year, maybe even for longer than a year, I'm not sure anymore, and I'm sort of glad I don't recall.
It was a weird few months but every day brought on new adventures and new people to meet, each more fucked up than the next. Adult-sized babies, circus freaks, hermaphrodites, teenage sex, third nipples, underage alcoholism, amusement parks, going sleepless then taking prescription drugs to compensate, violence, hiding from cops then running from them, walking on railroad tracks in near-total darkness and surviving... and always good company to be around, regardless of who went nark that day.
125 days. A summer I'll never forget, with memories I'd rather not remember. Good times.
You burden me with your problems
By telling me more than mine
I'm always so concerned
With the way you say
You've always go to stop
To think of us being one
Is more than I ever know
But this time, I realize
I'm going to shoot through
And leave you
- EMF, Unbelievable (1990)