Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Phoenix Pair

The prompt for Sunday Scribblings is "What a Difference a Day Makes," which of course makes me think of the song lyrics to the song they're referring to:

"It's Heaven when you find romance on your menu."

It's not hard hard to find romance, though it's not as easy as the song lyrics make it seem. I found it early this week while on a thrift store shopping adventure. I found a 1985 daybook, planner, organizer, whatever you want to call it. I don't know much about the previous owner. In the first 3 pages, there are lines reserved for the owner of the daybook to write bank account information, the names of credit cards and numbers, health insurance records, etc--the sort of data that none of us in our right minds would record in the front of a book. We might as well write the information on our foreheads right after the salutation, "Dear Identity Thief:"

She wasn't worried about this, though. Apparently, 1984 was a gentler time. It was a time when we we could leave doors unlocked, and identity theft was the stuff of futuristic TV movies of the week. She had a savings account (last 4 numbers of her account number are 2887). Likewise, I know she had a J.C. Penney's credit card, and she wrote that number dutifully in the space provided. She began her entries on December 8:

"Debbie Peterson had a house warming party at her new appartment. Shawn T. was there. Party wasn't fun. Deb and I went to T.J.'s and talked."

This, of course, makes me curious who Shawn T. is, and I wonder why the party wasn't fun or if the owner of the diary was simply being bitchy. Later, we'll find that, while Deb seems like a confidante, she's got a dark side.

Another clue as to the identity of the planner owner comes in the next entry (12/10/84): "Got my name in the Idahonian's newspaper. It was about Campus Mail Room."

I think that must have been a really boring newspaper article. Maybe she was employed there. Maybe she was a student, and they asked her opinion on the mail room, reporter-on-the-street style.

I won't lie. Things are pretty boring for awhile. A week passes, with an entry on 12/16/84 in which she apparently attends an auction. Or so it seems. You see, the auction is identified as Dave Mattoon and Ed Mclam's. That Monday, there's a mention of a Dave, so perhaps the auction was the beginning of romance:

"Dave came over to my house. We went up to my room and talked. I showed him my art pictures."

Hmm. It appears she took home more than merchandise from the auction. The naughty minx in me partially wants for that last sentence to be purely euphemism. You know. It's where I'd make air quotes by making peace signs with two fingers on each hand and then bending those peace signs. I'd be implying that, if this was a mathematical equation, art pictures is equal to NAUGHTY BITS.

This is a romantic girl for sure. Her next entry (12/19/84) explains that her mother and father celebrated their 20th anniversary. She gave them her two favorite pictures (pieces of her artwork or photos?) and her father gave her mom a diamond ring: "One with 4 diamonds."

Thursday, December 20, all hell apparently broke loose in the Campus Mail Room: "Joanna got put down. Debbie and Mike railroaded her. Debbie's a low down Bitch! She's a big trouble maker and loose with different guys. The 24th of November she hit up on my boyfriend. Dave told her I'm not interested."

Woo-whee! But this complicates things. If Dave is her boyfriend, why did earlier entries make her seem as though they were fresh and new? Perhaps having just met? Is there more than one Dave?

Friday 21, 1984: "Christmas party in the Mail room. There was a lot of food. Dave and I went to the Moscow Motel to drink. Dale and Ed was there. Then we went to that new place by toco-time. Too many frat rats. Ugh! Then to the Capricorn. Dave and Ed were there. Ed was drunk. I put ice cubes down his shirt and pants. He put them down mine. The twit! Had a lot of fun. Dave and I made love in his car in front of my house."

The plot thickens. So the owner of the journal is obviously old enough to drink, but she's living at home. She is dating Dave, but she seems to be tracking two other guys. And she did a guy in front of her house! Saucy!

On the 22nd through Christmas Day, she doesn't write a lot. Sure, she went to her grandparent's house , opened presents, had a nice time, ate a lot, but she doesn't have a lot to say.

She writes again on Thursday, December 27. In a lined journal, it's the only wonky entry. She doesn't write on the lines but instead scrawls her entry diagonally in crimped fashion: "I really liked Dave. I really never told him. I'm glad I didn't cause that would probably be the end of the relationship. He taught me how to love lovemaking. I never got so excited like that with any other guy. Well, he's gone now so I have to find another guy that will make me feel good."

Hold the phone! Wait one cotton-pickin' minute! What happened? And if he meant so much and was so good in the sack, then why not hang on to him? Instead, she's on to the next!

Before you get too sad, she mentions Dave again on the 28th: "$165.31 left to pay on my car. Dave and I went to the shop and talked and made love many times in the camper. We had a very nice time. Dave gave me phone numbers of some of his friends that I have met."

I'm so confused! Exactly how many is many? Oooheh. And you'd think that if it was MANY times, it would be described as more than a "nice time" (true. she does use the qualifier, very...but we all know that very is a lazy writer's best friend. It doesn't add much to the description, and you're better off choosing a stronger noun, etc.). And if they had such a nice time, why did Dave give her his friends' numbers? Guy friends? Was he brushing her off? Playing wing man to his friends?

And it gets even more confusing. The next day, she writes: "Dave and I went to Club Troy in Troy and ate breakfast. He took me home. On the way, he got stuck at the beginning of the road going to my house in the driveway. Mom helped push. Gave him one last kiss. Never will see him again. Debbie Peterson's Birthday party. Didn't go."

The final entry takes place on Sunday, December 30: "Debbie Peterson's Birthday, her big 19th."

I read these journal entries, and I wonder how things turned out. I wonder if those two weeks matter to her anymore. I wonder if Dave does. I wonder if she continued her writing in another book, or if the incident ended her journaling tendency. I wonder how this time in her life reflected on her later in life. Did Dave's awesome lovemaking pave the way to other great lovers? Or did he ruin her for any future lovers? I wonder if she works in a better place, a place free of put downs and and railroading and low-down bitches. I wonder if she broke free of her love/hate relationship with Debbie. I wonder if she comes home to visit her parents if still alive. I wonder if she looks up Debbie or Dale or Ed when she comes back into town. I wonder if she came home for Thanksgiving and what she's thankful for. I wonder why I assume she left town.
I wonder how the day planner made its way to a thrift store. Did she die? Most people who give away diaries or journals tear out incriminating pages before they give them away. O wonder what she'd think knowing that someone read (and later wrote about) the two weeks of her life she deemed important enough to write about.

I wonder why I read notes I find in supermarket aisles, parking lots, and tucked into library books. I wonder why I care about people I don't know. I wonder what I would say to these people if I could track them down. I wonder what they'd look like. Sometimes I like to imagine they'd look an awful lot like me. And I bet we wouldn't have to say a thing. It would be a knowing glance, a look that said, "I know who you are. I've been there." It would be two phoenix's coming face to face, each having risen from their respective fire.


  1. What a fantastic post Wendy! Why did that diary end up there? Did she want someone to find it? It's lovely finding these you, I find tracings of other people fascinating..the way things are spelt on discarded shopping lists, little signs and signals of a world behind doors..and yes, there are some people who just look you in the eye and it's like they 'know'..that's always magical..thank you for your visit..Jae