Freshman year

Besides having no coordination, I was a terribly shy nerd — and Mexican teenage girls simply can’t stand dorks.
– Gustavo Arellano in Orange County: A Personal History

I met Tony at the band beach party to celebrate the end of six weeks of summer school. Despite sitting just a few chairs away from each other in band class, I’d never spoken to him. We hit it off over Taboo at the beach, and became good friends. As often happens, I soon developed a crush which lasted through freshman year and part of sophomore year. During the summer, I invited him to my quinceañera. He showed up in a lime green shirt and dark green slacks. The green was too much on his lanky frame and clashed with his ruddy complexion, but I didn’t care.

Tony was clearly a dork. And I liked him.


The sign of peace

Lori did my makeup that day. She always does my makeup when I want to look extra nice. This time, I was going to a wedding and I’d be seeing my ex as well as several old friends from college. Lori was busy with her own stuff that day and by the time she got to working on my face, it was already late. I left the house half an hour after I planned. As I drove to LA, I hoped that the bride and groom were doing the Mexican thing of misinforming guests about the ceremony start time. While the invitation read “Misa, dos de la tarde,” I hoped it was really “dos y media de la tarde.” This way, consistently tardy people like me end up arriving 15 minutes early rather than 15 minutes late.

I easily found the beautiful old Catholic church south of downtown. I slipped on my shoes, grabbed my camera and purse and walked toward the church. One of the bridesmaids and ushers was outside.

“Have they started?”

She shook her head.

I walked in through the side of the church and quickly looked around. The guests were scattered through the first 15 pews or so. The old school church wasn’t empty, but I’ve definitely seen more well-attended weddings. On the other side of the aisle, I saw the back of my ex’s easy to recognize head. He was sitting next to a mutual friend.

I nixed that pew and side of the church all together. Sitting next to the ex would be too awkward.

I scanned the church again looking for a safe spot. I stopped when I noticed G seated beside a long-haired woman at the end of an empty pew. I walked up toward the pew and then down toward G. As I neared her, I said, “Hey, G.” She turned and so did the long-haired woman.

G’s pew was not a safe spot. In my haste to find a seat, I failed to recognize that the long-haired woman was the ex-roommate. In worrying about seeing the ex, I forgot that the ex-roommate was also friends with the bride. Why wouldn’t she be at the wedding too?
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On failing a test

Brandon* was the second guy I dated. He was handsome with green eyes, brown skin and an easy smile. I liked him a lot, but our relationship was doomed from the beginning.

He met me on campus on a Friday afternoon by the Bruin Bear for our first date. We walked over to his green Ford Explorer. He unlocked the passenger side door for me and opened the door. I got in, smoothed out my skirt and sat down. He shut the door and walked behind the car.

I just sat there.

A moment later, Brandon unlocked his door, got in and started the car.

“Have you ever seen A Bronx Tale?”

“Uh, no.”

“Well, there’s this thing called the door test and you just failed it.”


Brandon explained what I’d done wrong, or rather what I hadn’t done. While he was walking around the car, I should have unlocked and opened his door. Instead, I just waited and assumed the door would be unlocked as I was used to keyless entry and automatic locks.

“I should dump you right now,” he continued.


He didn’t dump me then. Instead, we had a great a dinner, had fun at a party and continued dating each other. A few weeks later the initial spark fizzled and we were through.

I lost contact with Brandon about 5 years ago**, but I still remember his lesson. It might not be the most significant thing I’ve learned from someone I’ve dated, but it’s definitely useful.

At least I don’t get dumped after the first date… it just comes a little later.

* Name changed to protect the innocent.

** Last time I saw him was outside of the Avalon in Hollywood in ’04. He looked good. Don’t you hate when that happens?.

*** Thanks to Joel for inspiring this piece with his own post on the topic and his reaction to my confession: “I am shocked, shocked that you of all people would fail the door test! I would never think that about you. I feel like I just found out you have a weekend coke habit or that you’re a closet republican… wow… just wow…”


November Project, Part 3

November 21: My sister and I drove up to Casa de la Raza in Santa Barbara for Puro Pedo Magazine’s second “bad ass” art show and fundraiser. In total we raised over $2,000 for the Adelante California scholarship foundation. The pieces here are by Raul Herrera (standing) and Votan of Nahui Ohlin (laying down).
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