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One of Eight

There was something about that boy Thomas W. Thisbe. There was something about the way he walked, the way he talked, the way he smiled that smile that was at once heart breaking and heart starting. Yes, there was something about Thomas W. and everybody knew it.

Of course, there were- and always will be- other ones. Thomas’s I mean. Just like, there’s other Ray bands, other Steve Maddens, and other Kings of Leon’s. Cheap imitations. But true Thomas W.’s? Eight, maybe less. Maybe even just six. In the world.

Sometimes I’d see him slumming on the corner of high town with a couple of his you’ll-never-hope-to-be-as-cool-as-me-but-i-guess-i’ll-let-you-hang buddies. That is to say best friends. I noted with insatiable curiosity and- okay- maybe a hint of jealousy how they would all study his posture and try to subtly smooth into his effortless grace. Failed, needless to say.

I saw the slanting, heated looks my pre-Madonna peers would send him before class. The way their eyes would blink (bat?) just a hundred blinks too many, how their voices would raise two octaves at his ribald joke or even just his casual comment.

The something about Thomas W. certainly didn’t have to do with eyes you could just fall into- but you could because they were that shade of grey that shouldn’t even be on the color spectrum- and it wasn’t his chest – though having such prominent pectorals should be illegal if you’re not on involved in some sort of heavy duty sport.

No, a Thomas W. was more likely made in the smaller things. Fingers so long and lithe you were just sure he played the piano. A voice so low and gruff it was almost lyrical- music to the ears of any reasonable teenage girl. A walk so steady and surefooted, a lounge so space consuming and relaxed, a smile so sarcastic and lopsided…

In addition, of course, to the less finite qualities. The air of confidence that surrounded him like the invisible cloak to Harry or grace to Jesus. The rakish charm that clung to him like perfume to a rose bush or laughter to a comedian’s captive audience.

This was Thomas W. Thisbe’s world and persona from the outside looking in, from a melting August afternoon and steam where your nose pressed up against the glass.

But there were other things about him, things I noticed when I could finally afford front-row tickets to the show. Things I never thought of while sighing from the nosebleeds.

My hook -up with Thomas W. probably looked like, to the general public at least, a typical boy-meets girl. But we didn’t. Meet I mean. We’d been at the same school since pre-pre and attended the same birthday parties up till second.

After that the rock hard divide of the classes came down. As in- if you don’t have a cool pass, better get out fast. Needless to say, I didn’t naturally possess the effortless perfection or the money to buy it required to mingle with higher crowds at school, or even away from it.

No, Thomas W. and I didn’t meet or officially get together. Mostly he would let his knuckles brush my knee when I happened to see him at the beach without friends, but still with that sideways smile. Then he caught up to me on my and his morning runs, friends still markedly absent.

But he didn’t talk and neither did I, and I didn’t know why he ran by me because the silence wasn’t the easy kind. A hand brush. A foot touch. And ugh did that flawless smile like someone flawed or didn’t it?

The actual conversation of getting together, if that did indeed occur, went something like:

Thomas W.: So you run in the mornings. (Smile worth a million bucks and a five-year Abercrombie and Fitch contract.)

Me: Yes. (Pause. Awkward cough.) And you sometimes come with me.

I vaguely remember my thought process then went something along the lines of somebody hand me a knife so I can stab myself.
Thomas W.: I saw you the other night at Hot Topic.

There were many reasons why this statement sent a bolt of lightning through me, the least of which was and the reason THOMAS W. was at HOT TOPIC??! Seeing ME?

Before I promptly remembered that Thomas W., with his lithe fingers and his gruff voice and his lengthened swagger and his 500 dollar tailored sports jacket thrown casually over his shoulder, could say a thing like that.

Me: Oh. (Choke. Cough. Swallow.)

Thomas W.: My sister dragged me after school. Also, I think the shorts are hot.

That was another thing about Thomas W. Thisbe. The way he looked at girls. The way he let his gaze drift boldly, carelessly, almost deservingly over their bodies. It was the thing that made them flush, I saw now. It was the thing that made their eyelashes blink (bat?) a hundred times to fast and their voices escalate to ridiculous pitches. It was also disconcerting.

Thomas W.: (after studying my short-short ripped bottoms for far too long) So I’ll pick you up at 7:00 Friday night.

Looking back, I noticed the way he worded that statement. And make no mistake, it was a statement. Probably I should have had little alarm bells echoing in the deepest reaches of my brain, warning me. In hindsight, it was the first real thing I ever learned about him. Thomas W. Thisbe didn’t ask for anything.

But at first, it didn’t matter. That he didn’t ask I mean. I was just thrilled beyond belief that one of the eight Thomas W’s in the world asked me out. And even if there wasn’t technically any asking, there was going.

And we went. We went alone maybe once and then always with the others. His you’ll-never-hope-to-be-as-cool-as-me-but-i-guess-i’ll-let-you-hang buddies. That is to say best friends. We went with the girls who’s eyes caressed him even as they propped themselves on the laps of their lovers. We went with the guys who’s thoughts were spoken just a touch to loudly as they voiced one sick joke or another.

We went as his gaze followed a beautiful waitress with enchanting black hair and baby blue eyes. We went as he stared and flirted with a bartender with fat buttery ringlets and gorgeous tanned skin.
And I continued to go even as Thomas W. Thisbe surfaced further. I had begun to see the calculating look in his eyes as he smiled, as if he was deciding just how much of his charm he would need to grace you with in order to get what he wanted.

I heard the edge in his voice that was maybe a bit too edgy as he made fun of a friend or catcalled. The meanness that was maybe just a little to mean as he tripped someone “oops” in the hallway. On the street. At the Caf. In his house. And sometimes in the way he treated me.

When he wanted me to wear the red dress it was:

Thomas W.: So there’s a party tonight.

Always the ‘so’ at the beginning of the sentence, and finally it had begun to grate on my nerves.

Me: I don’t know what to wear...

Thomas W.: Put on that red dress I love.

Not, “Would you darling? Could you put on that red dress I love? You look absolutely stunning in it. Of course if there was something else you were thinking I’m sure you would look equally as beautiful...” No. It was, “Put on that red dress I love.”

But the demands weren’t what eventually did it. Him always tasting of tobacco and Swedish Fish wasn’t it either. Nor was it the fact that when he talked to his mother he addressed her by her first name. Not his step mother. His mother.
No. Eventually it was:

Me: My dog died. (hyperventilating over the phone)

Thomas W.: Oh. Sorry. This isn’t gonna interfere with the party later is it?

Me: Thomas W. (Slowly then. Hopeful that I was wrong, that my ears heard wrong, that everything I’d been perceiving for the last three months was wrong.) My dog died.

Thomas W.: Babe I heard you! But were you listening to anything I just said? I said...”

And that was when I the phone slid through my fingers, slid, slid, slid, dangled. Until it dropped back into the receiver.

Because it was true, and always will be true, that there are only eight, maybe six, Thomas W’s in the world. It was true, and always will be true, that effortless grace and calculating charm cannot be found wherever a human being goes. And unfortunately, it’s also true that no matter where Thomas W. goes, being one of the eight-or-six himself, prosperity would always follow him.

But I realized something that night that for the sake of my sanity and the wellbeing of my heart, I hope I’ll never forget.

Maybe there’s a reason there are only eight Thomas W. Thisbe’s.

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PiaHainzCiavelli said...
Jul. 30, 2011 at 6:51 pm:
beautiful :)
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