“Love is when you look into someone’s eyes and suddenly you go all the way inside, to their soul, and you both know instantly. I always imagined I’d fall in love nursing a blind soldier who was wounded in battle. Or maybe while rescuing someone in the middle of a blizzard, seconds before the avalanche hits.”
Angela Chase of “My So Called Life” said lots of words to live by, if you were an awkward, 15-year-old sophomore in high school in 1994. Which I was. And I was especially fond of her deep musings about love or, more specifically, her musings about Jordan Catalano. If Angela could go for Jordan Catalano, then so could I, I thought. Well not him exactly—but an alternative him. Sure, it seemed a tad unrealistic considering that no remotely hot guys went to my high school. And even if they did, they would never look twice at me, the bookish, alternative, theater girl. But still, I believed.One day I was riding the bus home with a friend (who wasn’t unlike Sharon Cherski) when the most Jordan Catalano-like guy I had never seen got on the bus. He had long, brown hair, black Doc Martins, and a flannel shirt with a Sonic Youth tee underneath. He walked slowly, sadly, deliberately with his head down, shuffling through the aisle to the back of the bus. I was drooling. “He looks just like Jordan Catalano,” I whispered to my Sharon. She scrunched up her nose. She was more into the Brian Krakow type.
Jordan 2.0 looked over at me and swept his long hair away from his face in one graceful, tortured movement. We locked eyes. “Nice shoes,” he mumbled quickly in sotto voce before returning his attention southward. I was wearing a pair of bowling shoes I had stolen from the local alley. I couldn’t wait to wear them to school to show what a rebel I was … on the inside at least. But the day was over and he was the only person that noticed them. I didn’t think to attribute it to the fact that he primarily looked down.
“Who’s that?” I nonchalantly asked the bad girl sitting behind us sipping from a flask—our school’s version of Rayanne Graff, obviously.
“Oooh.That’s Danny Bonfiglio. He’s a trip,” she said.
No, I thought, He’s my Jordan Catalano.
“I just like how he’s always leaning. Against stuff. He leans great.”
“Yes!” I thought as I watched Angela swoon over Jordan on the show later that night. I knew just how she felt. Danny was sooo great at looking down and sweeping his hair to the side—it was like a beautiful dance move. I think I even wrote a tortured love poem to that effect. After weeks of spying on him at school, I launched a full-scale, top secret mission to find out more about Danny. Here’s what I learned about him:
- He was an artist. Artists were hot.
- He was a junior. I liked older men.
- His sister was a senior and her name was Janet. She wore a ton of mascara.
- He worked at the local Little Caesar’s Pizza.
- He had Algebra fourth period.
My plan was to write Danny a letter that revealed my passionate feelings. It said simply, “I think you’re cool,” with my telephone number underneath and some punk rock decorations with markers. I carried it around in my backpack for a week, hanging around Mr. Seeger’s 4th period Algebra class before we “accidentally” bumped into each other.
“Angela? Right?” He did a hair sweep.
“No, Ami. Ami Angelowicz. If you combine the two, it’s kind of like Angela. Especially if you’re dyslexic.”
Angela’s words echoed in my brain.
“You know how sometimes the last sentence you said, like, echoes in your brain? And it just keeps sounding stupider? And you have to say something else just to make it stop.”
“I have something for you.” I handed him the love note and ran away. Unfortunately my bowling shoes were indisputably cool, but had no traction on the bottom. I slipped as I ran away and fell to my knees.
When he asked me out on a date the following day (I was conveniently nearby after 4th period), I thought my heart would explode. I couldn’t believe it after all of my stupidity. “But don’t tell anyone. My ex is really jealous,” he warned.
“What’s her name?”
I agreed to keep our date to The Coffee Hut that weekend a secret. Our night together was as perfect as I had imagined it 500,000 times. We talked about Jim Morrison, marijuana, and his troubled home life. I felt the urge to push his hair out of his face for him, to take him and hold him, to tell him everything in his life would be all right, to nurse his wounds back to health, or however Angela put it. I looked into his eyes, all the way into his soul. I was sure we would kiss and he would tell me that “my cuticles looked like little moons,” but instead he swept his hair to the side, looked down and said, “Amy and I got back together. Hope we can be friends.”
What? That was not part of the plan. Angela got to date Jordan and then break up and realize that he was a loser. All I got to do was obsess over Danny Bonfiglio for the rest of high school (and some of college), feel crappy about myself while I waited for him to fall in love with me back, and repeat the pattern with many more losers until I finally realized that Brian Krakow was the kind of guy I should have been crushing on. Damn “My So Called Life!” And damn Jordan Catalano.
I guess sometimes you look into someone’s soul and see all the way in, but they don’t see you back. I wish Angela had told me that.