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Billie Jean rushed onto the scene with her wavy blonde hair and gorgeous blue eyes, looking like a movie star or some kind of beauty queen. I never thought a guy like me could ever fall for a gal like her, but man, the chick was tight.
It was because of her that the summer of my senior year remained forever embedded in my mind.
I remember the day our paths happened to cross. I was on the way home from my friend’s graduation party- and no, I was not drunk; actually, I hadn’t even had a single sip of alcohol that evening- when all of a sudden, I see this hot red convertible sitting pretty alongside the road. All I was thinking ‘bout was that sweet ride, and how rad it would be to jack something like that, when this cute little babe hops out of the driver’s side and walks over to the front of the car, popping the hood in, like, less than a second.
This was when I realized I was still driving, as some old man in a station wagon had just flipped me the bird for straying over the yellow line. I would’ve been all, “Hey, cool it, pops,” on his butt, ‘cept for the fact that I couldn’t seem to tear my eyes away from that chick with the convertible. It was almost like she had me under some kind of spell… later, of course, I would realize just how strong her charms were, but in that moment, I think I was more than happy to let her put me in a trance. It was almost like being stoned- a feeling I remember well, even though I’d only snorted once. Same stupefied daze, same lazy, easygoing apathy. Same everything but the run-over-by-a-train feeling that comes after, or at least, that’s what I thought. See, with Billie Jean, even after we’d given each other nearly everything we had to give, and I knew her almost better than I knew myself, my brain still sometimes got sort of foggy, but it was never really a bad kind of foggy. Just… different.
Unexpected, like thinking there’s apple juice in a cup and then taking a sip and finding out it’s day-old booze that some idiot left sitting out on the counter. Like a surprise birthday party. Like having a bird fly into your windshield.
Like falling in love, and then falling out of love just as suddenly.
Like never really falling in love at all.
Naturally, I pulled over. Duh- hot girl in a hot car who needed help! What else did you think I was going to do? She just stood there and stared at me as I climbed out of the car with an easy smile plastered on my face. “Hey, baby. Need a hand?”
She nodded and returned my smile, holding out a hand for me to shake. “Name’s Billie Jean. Something’s up with the battery, I think. Took me forever to start it this morning.”
I shook her hand and followed her to the front of the car. “I’m Michael. Nice to meet you and all that crap.” What? It wasn’t like I wanted to impress her with my manners. It was no secret that I didn’t have any, and let me tell you… manners are a hard thing to fake. “So… how long’ve you been waiting for someone to stop?”
“Not long. Ugh, look at all that smoke… smells like a freaking furnace in there.”
I waved a hand in front of my face to clear some smoke from my line of sight and reached down in search of the battery. My fingers brushed against the engine instead, and white-hot pain shot through my fingertips. I yelped instinctively and jerked back, swearing.
Again, I wasn’t going to pretend I had manners.
“Battery ain’t the problem, babe,” I hissed, fanning more smoke away from the car so that I could take a closer look. “Engine’s hot enough to cook a Jew.”
Billie Jean grunted to show that she really didn’t appreciate my politically-incorrect analogy. “So… it’s not the battery?”
“I think the engine just overheated. You leave it running or something?”
“Well… I started it and then ran inside to make a phone call,” she replied, smiling sheepishly. “I must’ve been talking to my mother longer than I thought.”
She was cute, real cute. Not just cute… hot. I’m talking drool-worthy, ten out of ten, smoking hot. Even when she blushed. I grinned in spite of myself, thanking God that I hadn’t been born ugly. “No prob. We’ll just pour some water on it and let the car sit awhile. Should be fine in an hour or so.”
“An… hour? Are you sure?”
“Positive.” My gaze slid over to the car. It was hot, too. I remembered then that it was the car that had caught my attention in the first place, and briefly entertained thoughts of driving it. “Why? You gotta be someplace?”
“Just… no, I don’t.” Billie Jean frowned as if recalling something nasty. Then, she regained her composure and returned her attention to me, lowering her voice and fluttering her eyelashes. “Will you wait here with me, Michael?”
My name sounded dirty on her lips. It drove me wild. “Sure, whatever you want.”
I told myself that my parents wouldn’t care if I was late coming home. They weren’t expecting me for another half-hour, anyway, and I could always just tell them that I stopped and helped a girl. They could live without me for an hour or two.
How could I resist eyes like hers?
A few weeks later, I called Billie Jean up and invited her to Phunk, a fly new club that had opened up downtown. It was the kind of place you had to be twenty-one to get into, but luckily, my friend Ricky had gotten me a fake I.D. the previous spring, and anyway, I looked old for my age. Billie Jean didn’t seem too fazed about the I.D. thing, so I guessed that she was either legal age or had a flawless I.D. that looked exactly like her.
I opted for the first explanation. It made me feel adventurous, thinking about being with an older woman.
We were both carded and walked into the club without any trouble. As soon as we stepped through the door, everything seemed to stop. The rhythmic gyration of bodies on the dance floor ceased, the pounding music faded to a whisper, and everyone’s eyes darted across the room and came to rest on the two of us- that is, on Billie Jean. Save for a few curious females, everyone was looking at her. But then again, how could they not? She was so hot that she made fire jealous.
“Dance with me,” she whispered sexily, looking up at me through half-lidded eyes. Transfixed, I let her take me by the hand and drag me to the center of the frozen dance floor, where the crowd seemed to part for us like we were God or Moses or something.
Billie Jean’s arms went around my neck, pulling me close. My arms encircled her waist, reinforcing the closeness. Wordlessly, she looked over at the DJ, and a slow melody leapt from the speakers. We danced like that for a long time, my body flush against hers, her cheek pressed against mine as she rested her head on my shoulder, all the straight men and lesbian women in the room staring in envy as they watched us, wishing that they could be the ones dancing this close to Billie Jean.
But they weren’t. She’d chosen me.
Eventually, people began moving around again, the music increased in pace and volume, and we were one couple out of many on the dance floor. Phunk was once again a hub of alcohol-induced activity. But even with all this commotion going on, it still seemed like Billie Jean and I were the only ones in the room.
I closed my eyes and inhaled the sweet scent of her perfume, and everything else faded away. Billie Jean and I were together, and in that instant, that was all that mattered.
“Buy me a drink?” she yelled suddenly, struggling to make herself heard over the blaring music. I nodded dumbly and once again let her lead me, this time to the crowded bar.
We sat down side by side on barstools so close that our legs touched. I ordered vodka for me and a wine cooler for her without even asking if that’s what she wanted. After taking a sip of the drink, she smiled her dazzling smile and alerted me to the fact that all she ever ordered was wine coolers, and that she thought it was incredible how I was able to read her mind like that.
After a few more sips, she asked me if I wanted to see something else that was incredible. Being thoroughly intoxicated myself, I answered her with a “yeah, babe”.
Her mouth slammed against mine so hard that I almost fell off my barstool. I kissed her back with drunken enthusiasm. She tasted like alcohol, and I’m sure she wasn’t enjoying it much, either, but both of us were too mentally impaired to care. Dizzily, we wrapped our arms around each other and continued our passionate exchange, oblivious to the fact that everyone was watching us again.
After several blissful minutes, Billie Jean pulled back and traced my jawline with her thumb. “Michael… you want… you want to go somewhere a little… a little more private?”
I was practically purring by this point. “Where do you live?”
Somehow, I managed to drive that hot little convertible to her apartment complex without killing the two of us. Looking back on that night, I know it was irresponsible of me to drive drunk and all that crap, but you know what? I really didn’t care. I was going home with the freaking goddess of hotness, and I only had one thing on my mind, and unless you’re retarded, you should be able to figure out exactly what that one thing was.
Billie Jean already had a pretty good idea as she led me into her bedroom and our lips met for the second time that night.
Years passed, just as everyone expected them to. I went to college, had more hangovers than I could count, enjoyed a few pointless flings with girls whose names I later seemed unable to remember, and accidentally graduated with a bachelor’s in Lord-knows-what. Psychology or something random like that. Something I honestly couldn’t recall ever learning anything about.
Anyway, as soon as I was done with college, I had grown in absolutely no way, shape or form, except that I was maybe an inch taller and a few pounds heavier. I had no idea what to do with my life, either. Sure, I had a college degree, but I also had absolutely zero knowledge to back it up, so a career was out of the question. I moved back home, subjecting myself to the torture of living with my parents until I could get a job and find an apartment of my own.
Some nights, I laid awake in bed thinking of Billie Jean, and of the way her lips felt against mine, the softness of her skin, the way she breathed my name against my neck...
But more often than not, I found my thoughts straying to the car. After all these years, I still hadn’t seen that convertible’s equal, and I knew that if I didn’t see it again before I died, my life would be incomplete. Just thinking about the sound of the engine revving up made my fingers itch to take hold of the steering wheel as I had that night when Billie Jean and I had set the night on fire.
One evening, as I was taking a shower and thinking of that specific night and nearly collapsing from the relentless passion of the memory, my mother knocked on the bathroom door and announced that there was a phone call for me.
She told me that it was a woman, and that she said she had something important to tell me, and would I please meet her at the old nightclub downtown? Her name was Bobby Jean or Benny Jean or something odd like that.
I was out of the shower, dressed, and out the door in three seconds.
She met me at the seedy little place we’d danced at all those years ago. These days, Phunk was more of a place to get drunk and find hookers than an actual hangout. I didn’t mind, of course- it wasn’t the place that mattered, but the person.
On my way inside, I saw a familiar red convertible sitting at the curb. It was just as hot as I remembered it, just as sleek and shiny, just as red. Once more, I felt my hands burning to grab the wheel and turn the key in the ignition, but I just smirked and walked away.
Billie Jean was sitting on a barstool just like the ones we’d sat on the last time we’d met there. She looked the same, too, ‘cept her hair was darker, and she looked kind of nervous. As soon as the chick saw me, she got up from her seat and- to my surprise- gave me a quick kiss on the cheek. Holy crap, I thought. I didn’t even try to contact her after that one night, and I didn’t return her calls or her e-mails, and she kisses me? It was so freaking weird.
“Have a seat,” Billie Jean said anxiously, lowering herself back down onto the stool and taking a sip of what looked like a wine cooler. Some things never change. “Nice seeing you again, Michael.”
“You, too, B.J..”
“Want something to drink? Rum and coke? Long Island iced tea?”
“Vodka, please.” I checked her out as she talked to the bartender. She was still hot, still capable of turning heads, still able to work her charms, too. If I wasn’t careful, I’d end up where I started five summers ago. “How’ve you been, babe?”
Something dark flashed in her eyes, which made me think that she really meant that it was good to see me. Maybe she actually cared, and I really had broken her heart. But she looked down at the floor for about a minute, and her expression relaxed. She smiled. “Nothing, really. Went to college, same as you. Got a job at the diner in town. Met some friends at the new club.” Her voice wavered. “Had a baby.”
I couldn’t do nothing ‘cept stare at her, my eyes as wide as rims.
Slowly, she pulled something out of her pocket, biting her lip as she slid it across the bar so I could see it. “Named him Jackson. That picture was taken at his fourth birthday party.”
She removed her hand from the photo so that I could get a better look at it. He was Billie Jean’s baby, alright. Had her wavy blonde hair, her creamy skin; freckles like hers sprinkled across the bridge of his nose. I looked at that picture as hard as I dared before saying, “Gonna be a heartbreaker someday.”
“Just like his father.”
I glanced down at the photo.
Her kid had my eyes.
The darkness flashed in Billie Jean’s eyes again, but was soon taken over by a warmth I’d never seen in her. “I love you,” she whispered. “I’ve always loved you. Ever since that night… when we danced and then you came to my apartment… I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you.” Her fingers rested on top of mine. I noticed then that her hands were shaking. “And… I want Jackson to be able to live in the same house as his father.”
“He ain’t my son, B.J.,” I said, pulling my hand out from under hers. I was mad as all-get-out that she would even suggest marriage all casual-like as she was. I had a lot of things I wanted to do before I got tied down with a wife and a baby, and besides that, we weren’t even that close.
Since when did a drunken one-night stand signify a meaningful relationship?
“I don’t even love you, you know. Can’t say I ever did.”
She was on the verge of tears. “But… w-we were lovers-“
“Baby, you were never my lover,” I said harshly, not feeling the least bit bad about throwing her heart away like that. “Just another hot chick that showed me a good time.”
I swear I head her heart shatter as she slumped against the bar, putting her face in her hands and crying her eyes out.
“It don’t matter what you think.” I slid my half-empty glass of vodka towards her and ripped her baby’s picture in half. “That ain’t my kid.”
That cold autumn night, as I slipped into my jacket and waltzed out of the club, I realized that it had never really been Billie Jean that I was attracted to at all. Walking past her sweet red car for the very last time, my thoughts strayed to that day I pulled over to help her.
All this time, it wasn’t her spell I’d been under, but her hot little convertible’s.
It’s funny how things work out.