After Years of Waiting, Nothing Came
Perhaps my best story about Radiohead is the one where my wife and I went to see Radiohead in Indio California. We arrived the night before, and after an eleven hour drive, from El Paso to Indio, we spent the night in her black Nissan Sentra, under a Mesquite tree in a neighborhood park. All the hotel rooms were booked. We woke when the sun cracked the sky open. We drove around for a bit, got some disgusting Whataburger burritos and headed to the Coachella parking lot. From eight in the morning, till they opened the doors at ten thirty, my wife and I chugged a case of budlight a lo pendejo. The parking lot was filled with people doing the same. As we walked onto the festival grounds the security guard, a fat little black man, took our water and informed us that the only thing we could take into the festival was a piece of cloth the size of a t-shirt. I hid my weed in my sock. The sun beat the hell out of us, dried us like jerky. Was it worth being in the desert heat all day, paying seven dollars for bottled water, and missing Beck’s performance because of the forty-minute wait at the baby blue porta potties? Damn right it was.
But let me start at the beginning, when Radiohead first played on the radios of El Paso Texas.
My high school girlfriend, M____, was giving me a hand job at Marty Robbins Park when I first heard "Creep" on the radio. She let me go. I was raging and veiny but I couldn’t convince her to get back to the task at hand, not until "Creep" finished. I thought "Creep" was a song for the long haired, baggy-pant burnouts that smoked weed and cigarettes behind Montwood High’s rock wall. I was on the other end of that adolescent spectrum, taught and preppy, an athlete.
A few days later, I was helping M____ clean out her closet and I found a box of poorly written love letters from a pot-smoking burnout white kid named Rousch. I fucking flipped. I yelled at her, calling her a whore and a cunt. I punched the lilac walls in her room. I didn’t give a damn that her little sisters were in the next room. I didn’t care that her dad could hear me, that puto didn’t say nothing.
He’s just a friend. She promised.
A few months later, after I had returned from a month long wrestling camp in Omaha Nebraska, I was at M____’s house trying to get blown or tugged-out when I saw a piece of paper sticking out from between her mattress and box spring. I pulled it out and recognized the writing. Before I could get into the meat of the letter she pulled it out of my hands. This letter must have been juicy, because M____’s eyes grew almost to the size of her double D’s. She tore it into a thousand little pieces that snowed over her carpet.
She broke up with me after we graduated from high school. I begged her back, promised her I wouldn’t be an asshole anymore. I even kissed her dirty-ass Adidas work sneakers. I balled and begged, not giving a damn that her little sisters were in the next room, or that her dad could hear me cry.
The first year of college at New Mexico State was rough. My roommate, Jim, a tall skinny burnout from Virginia, told me that he moved to the desert to get clean. Instead he became addicted to generic Walgreen’s sleeping pills and so did I for that matter. We’d down those purple gel-filled fuckers and wait for consciousness to crash into sleep, all the while listening to Bowie, Lou Reed, Ween and Aphex Twins.
Then one night, as the rest of kids in Garcia Hall barbequed, played volleyball and listened to music, we downed a handful of pills and Jim put on The Bends. It was the saddest fucking thing I’d ever heard.
I dropped out shortly after that and returned to El Paso. I took a couple of classes at Community, and I was on the mend, but then I ran into M____ in the hallways. Her ass was fatter and her breasts floppier. She wore bright red lipstick and she never looked so good.
Why you stalking me, I asked. Then I laughed.
She told me to back off, in her I’m going to call the cops voice. I had to quit Community after that, couldn’t risk seeing her in the hallways with some güey.
After my college fail, I found a job at a Big Five Sporting Goods, a low end sporting goods store that required all the male employees to wear ties. I mostly worked in the shoe department and it felt a bit like a scene where Al Bundy is kneeled before some wildebeest’s corned foot.
To entertain myself I’d go in the back and rub my cock while I looked for a woman’s shoe size. I wanted to get a nice chub going, something that would hang low and bulge. Maybe the customer would notice. Maybe it would turn her on. Maybe we could bang it out in break room or the alley. That never happened, but I did make employee of the month several times over.
Then they hired J____ to cashier, she was a fine piece. She wore sundresses to work, had a lush boisterous laugh, and a scar that ran up the side of her chin and into the corner of her mouth. An invitation to watch her lips move. Despite the fact that she was ten years older than the rest of us all the employees wanted a piece. They hovered around the register, flirting with her, God damn scavengers.
I played it cool, kept my distance. Besides I never learned how to flirt. Then one day I heard her softly singing Karma Police as she hung cobalt-blue lycra bathing suits on a clothing rack. She loved to sing and she moved (pardon the cliché) like a dancer, because she was a dancer and had the thick sturdy legs to prove it. She taught ballet at Champion Studios, but like most El Paso women, her body didn’t fit the long slender look of a prima ballerina. On heels, J____ stood five two at best, and she had a round voluptuous rump and rack, which made the flowers on her sundress sway to the breeze of her grace.
I like Radiohead too, I said, and from then on we started talking. She told me about her ex-husband and how she moved back in with her parents after living in Austin for a couple of years. I felt we shared a similar story, I could relate to the heart break.
He cheated on me, she said, and he hit me sometimes.
We dated for a month or so, until one day we were at her parent’s house and I was too afraid to have sex with her. So I said some stupid comment about never getting ID’ed when I went out with her. I guess you make me look older, I said. She was in her thirties, and I a tender twenty-one.
We stopped going out after that. I tried to revive the relationship by buying her a Radiohead t-shirt from a concert I saw in Houston. She thanked me, but spent three weeks avoiding me at work, except for the time when I was too hungover to show up for our annual five in the morning inventory count. I lied to her and my horse faced boss. I told them that my little brother was in an accident.
I’d send my co-workers to talk to her. I was in junior high all over again.
What did she say? Does she still like me? Is she seeing anybody?
Get over it faggo, they’d say. Her husband is back in town.