On Friday, August 13, 1999, I was standing beside a swimming pool at a party that was equivalent to awesome parties that you’d see in those nineties flicks starring Jennifer Love Hewitt or Sarah Michelle Geller or Rachael Leigh Cook or one of those other actresses with three names who are now old married mothers with SUVs and coupon binders, just like Susannah Brown Lewis.
I was talking with my friends when I noticed that my first love’s present girlfriend, who was also his past girlfriend (and his future wife) had arrived at the party.
That was confusing, wasn’t it? Re-read it again if you must and try to stay with me here.
Her presence made me nervous because her present boyfriend, who was also her past boyfriend (and her future husband) had been stringing me along on the side for months. And, like the idiot 17-year-old that I was, I believed that one day he would dump her for me and I’d be his future wife, which all of my friend’s knew would never happen, but I really thought it would happen because you know how they say love is deaf, dumb, blind and sure plays a mean pinball.
That was the longest sentence. I sincerely apologize.
Anyway, I was standing around chatting in my head-to-toe American Eagle apparel, and I kept my eye on her as she mingled with her friends and occasionally glared over at me as if she was about to cast some kind of spell involving hemorrhoids upon me.
Hours passed, and all was cool. Even the love of my life, who was her current boyfriend and…I won’t go through all of that again, but even he was there. And they held hands and looked at each other all starry-eyed, but I was okay with it because he would shoot a smile my way when she wasn’t looking as if to say, “You know you are really the one I love. I will call you later.” And, me being the idiot that I was, that was enough “love” for me.
I remember the sun had set and my favorite of all Pearl Jam songs, “Black”, was playing. My friends and I were laughing and having a grand ole’ time at this groovy party when I felt a tap on my shoulder.
I turned around. Because that’s what people usually do when someone taps them on the shoulder.
But most people don’t expect to be nearly decapitated by a fist when they turn around after a shoulder tap. Unless Chuck Norris is the one that tapped you on the shoulder.
Let me explain to you some laws of physics (or something) here. I am 5’11. That’s pretty friggin’ tall, right? My high-school love’s current girlfriend and future wife is 5’2, tops. I’m guessing not even 5’2. I’m pretty sure my third grader now is taller than this girl was then. We’re talking “booster seat required” kind of height. Which made her all the more cute and petite and beautifully appealing to the scuz bucket whom I was so in love with.
The point is that I still, to this day 15 years later, cannot understand how that girl was able to reach up and punch me in the eye. I checked the ground for stepping stools and trampolines and stuff, but I didn’t see anything. She must have used her “Go Go Gadget” arm.
Once I was socked in the eye, which I don’t recommend to anyone, I bent over and clutched my face in my hands. As my lid immediately began to swell, I was certain that I was blinded for life. My first concern was how I was going to continue to play the piano. But I guess if Ray Charles could do it then I could, too.
A swarm of people immediately rushed to my side and before I knew it, my friends were arguing with Missy Tyson’s friends. And all kind of chaos was ensuing. And I was still singing along to “Black” in my head. And then I saw the little punk whom I was so in love with just standing there and eating it all up, and I became furious.
I really wanted to fly across the crowd and start wailing on his shaggy head. I also wanted to go nine kinds of Van Damme crazy on his girlfriend. I’d never been in a fight in my entire life, but I had the strong desire to beat something to a pulp. Of course that was the trashiest thing I could have done, and as a young Republican girl wearing head-to-toe American Eagle apparel and standing beside a gorgeous granite pool, trashy wasn’t the best route to take. It wasn’t as if we were at Roadhouse.
But I didn’t care. I was tired of being the good girl. I was tired of being “the other woman” to this little punk in Silver Tab Levis and Coolwater Cologne. I was tired of his girlfriend harassing me and actually blaming me, instead of him, for his infidelity. I was sick and tired.
So I charged towards her. Like a rabid bull charging towards a teacup poodle.
Before I could reach her, a tall and lanky spaghetti-noodle like body whisked in front of me, picked me up and threw me into the pool.
THREW. ME. IN. THE. POOL.
IN. FRONT. OF. EVERYONE.
I sank to the bottom of the pool, as my heart throbbed inside my eyelid, and I wanted to die. Hadn’t the punch heard ’round the shindig been enough embarrassment for one lifetime? I had to be thrown into a swimming pool, too? Oh, I did not want to surface, fully-clothed, soaking wet and thoroughly embarrassed at this party surrounded by nearly everyone I knew.
But, I’m not a fish and although I figuratively wanted to die, I literally didn’t want to die, so I came up for air. I expected to see pointing fingers and hear the roar of laughter, but it was even worse. Silence. The sound of crickets, a pool pump, Pearl Jam and silence. And a hundred eyeballs staring down at me. Like one of those nineties movies with Sarah Love Cook. Or whoever.
I walked across the shallow end of the pool, my AE boot cut jeans weighing nearly 43 pounds, and I stepped out of the water. I kept my head hanging low, made eye contact with only my flip flops, and I walked across the plush grass to my vehicle parked among the sea of cars on the large country lawn.
My friends and the spaghetti-noodle who had thrown me into the water followed.
“I’m sorry, Susannah,” Noodle said, “but you looked like you were really going to hurt her. I mean, you’re so much taller than her. I had to separate you two before something bad happened.”
I would type my reply to him, but this is a family-friendly site and I’m no longer the heathen that I once was. You understand.
My best friend and I tried to burn rubber down the driveway, but a crowd swarmed my vehicle and we couldn’t leave. I examined my puffy face in the rear-view and heard arguing from people that I didn’t really know either defending me or defending Missy Ali. And then I heard something that made me smile. “It’s that little punks fault. He’s been stringing both of them along. Someone should knock HIM in the eye.”
“Yes, that. That sounds good. Someone please do that,” I nodded to the stranger who seemed to know more truth about my business than people I personally knew.
My friend and I finally escaped the party and drove to my house where I cried for nearly two hours until I fell asleep with a frozen pack of black-eyed peas on my face.
When my mother woke the next morning, the gasps and cries and prayers to God Almighty sounded as if I had come home without my gallbladder or something. My mother can be dramatic, but I guess seeing your baby with a black eye because of a little punk who you warned her to stay away from in the first place can conjure up a little emotion.
The visits began. Friends and neighbors and even my mother’s acquaintances all stopped by to see the damage. When you live in a small southern town and you are punched out and then thrown into a swimming pool in front of 80% of the 17-20-year-old population, well, word gets around.
Would you believe that the little punk actually called me a few days later? And would you believe that I talked to him? And accepted his apology for not defending me during the bare-knuckle match? And then I wrote 23 pages in my journal about how we were destined to be together? Like I said, love is deaf, dumb, blind and sure plays a mean pinball.
Thankfully he and Missy Ray Leonard were married and I moved on and met my wonderful husband who doesn’t string me along on the side or let me get beat up by vertically challenged psychopaths at high-school parties.
In the Summer of 99.
(But at least my summer went out with a bang. Literally.)