When I was thirteen, I went through a dark Nine Inch Nails listening, fishnet-tights-in-the-middle-of-summer wearing, gloom and doom adoring phase where everything made me want to commit suicide. My mom telling me to clean my room made me wanna put a pillow over my head and suffocate myself. Getting a B- on my chemistry midterm made me wanna jump out the window of the two-story school. And the boy at camp who didn’t like me? I wanted to cut my wrists. I never actually did any of this – I just wrote cheesy, overdramatic poetry about it. I present to you evidence in all its goth glory: roses are red so is blood the dark red flowing from your wrists clotting up in clumps the scratchy red covering the tips of your fingers. violets are blue blue like the tears that swelter in your eyes until blindness ensues such lovely first words with a brutal end. love sux.
Total bullshit. I was a middle class kid growing up in suburban Long Island. Boo hoo. Woe was me. I forgot about the poem, and the stupid pre-teen boy who made me feel oh-so tragically, until I came across one of those online poetry contests, where you submit a poem less than twenty lines, and if it gets selected, it’s printed in an anthology available for purchase. I only had one poem that short – my embarrassing pseudo-suicide poem. Eh, fuck it. I typed it up and submitted it. A couple weeks went by, and my depressing angst-riddled writing turned into Weird Al-type song parodies. Less emotional, more food puns. I received a letter in the mail – my poem had been picked! And it would be published in the latest volume of poetry! And would I like to buy several copies of the book for myself and my loved ones to share my success with? I ripped up the letter, and went back to trying to rhyme a word with “kumquat”.
More weeks went by. I was hanging out at my friend’s place when my mom calls, sounding confused. Apparently, a middle-aged woman had left a voicemail on our answering machine. Her name was Rebecca Bain, and she, too, had a poem printed along with hundreds of others in the poetry book. She was a sucker enough to buy the book, and saw my name while searching for hers. She read my suicide poem and, so she said, it turned her entire life around. Ms. Bain was going through a horrible divorce and was contemplating suicide, and seeing someone else with the same name facing the same troubles somehow inspired her to live again. She looked up my number in the phone book and called to thank me for saving her life. She left her number so I could call her back. Little did she realize I was thirteen years old and wrote it about a boy whose name I can’t even remember. I wish I had kept her number, so I could ring her up today. “Hey, Rebecca, yeah, it’s Becky, your guardian angel. I think you owe me a reward for saving your life. Small bills, please.” Or, “Hey, I’m having some guy problems, can you spare a sec? I need to bitch to somebody.” That’s what Rebecca’s are for, right?
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