Monday, February 8, 2010

Nilsson and the Hot Mess

Before it got alarming...

She was gorgeous and careless, a dangerous combination.

And six of us, all guys, all awake at 3:45 am on the first Tuesday morning of college, decided that her picture should go in the dictionary next to the phrase Hot Mess.

I'd like to tell you that she was evil incarnate. But she wasn't. She was smart and funny and had a sweet side that made you want to follow her into the depths of hell.

She told me at lunch one day that she was planning on breaking the hearts of exactly 13 guys that semester, then she'd ignore guys and devote all her attention to her classes. (Link for Gmail subscribers.)

She loved Harry Nilsson and had all his records -- the great ones filled with songs marked by amazing music, dazzling wordplay, and sophomoric jokes as well as the later albums (with one or two decent songs and a bunch of drunken ideas whose flashes of brilliance were buried beneath long-stale humor that never quite worked). She'd frequently argue that his years of drunken partying with various Beatles were not wasted even if many of his songs from that period sound like he's wasted.

One by one, she broke exactly 13 hearts. Then, as promised, she turned her attention back to her classes and paid no attention to guys until the next semester. Her goals were different in our second semester. This time, she told me, she was going to break exactly 17 hearts. And so she did.

Sophomore year, she lived down the hall from me. And told me the number had risen to 19. She was drinking more and often was more mess than hot. But the guys still wanted to follow her into hell. (Amazingly, I wasn't one of them... but that's another story for another time.)

Her last semester, she told me she was going to break 41 hearts. But then a funny thing happened. She fell in love. With a guy who was a total jerk. He saw the hot and navigated away from the mess, but somehow overlooked the sweet and smart and funny. And he crushed her when he walked away without looking back or giving her a second thought.

And suddenly, she realized what she'd done to all the guys whose hearts she'd broken over the past four years. She locked herself in her room and played this song over and over for an entire weekend.

When she emerged, she said she wasn't interested in numbers or in breaking hearts anymore. She wrote personal notes to all the guys whose hearts she'd broken. More than one of them told her that apologizing wasn't enough, that she'd have to do something else. She listened to each of them, didn't argue, and didn't make excuses. Then she aced her finals. And applied to med school.

She married the next guy she went out with. And became a surgeon.

A heart surgeon.

[For more things Nilsson, check out For the Love of Harry.]


thingy said...

A wonderful story, Alex, but, it did make me think of all the young men who do the same thing. Sort of rack up points.
If every guy wrote an apology to those they slighted, there would be no more trees.

Alex said...

You make a good point, thingy. Although when guys do this, it's more a question of sexual conquests (and the broken hearts are just collateral damage).