Rejected: The Story of Ms. Pink Jacket, Part Two

In our initial "Rejected," I spoke of someone I named Ms. Pink Jacket. But, I realized I left out some important details, such as how we met and what happened after the song. To begin, let's go back to Baltimore, Maryland in 2004. It was here that I ran for my high school's class president seat. I did it for two reasons. First, I wanted to enact change and all that Obama-esque talk. The second reason was to just get myself out there as someone who wasn't just the weirdo. 

And that's how I met Ms. Pink Jacket.

It was May 6, 2004, one week before I was to deliver a speech in front of my class, in hopes of winning the title of Junior Class President. For most of the past week, I campaigned my ass off. Even as some posters were torn down, I continued to post them and voice my opinions. I hoped that this would show my resilience and my dedication, therefore making people more likely to vote for me.

Anyway, that morning, I walked into my school cafeteria, armed with more posters, ready to say to the world, "Fuck all of the naysayers. I can do this." I went over to the table where some of my friends were. We started talking about, well, the campaign, along with other normal stuff. The conversation quickly shifted to me and my dating fails.

"When are you going to talk to a girl up here again," one of them asked. "The last time you did that, it was, like, a year ago."

"Soon enough" was my reply.

Oh, how little I knew that soon, apparently, meant in the next few minutes.

It was about 7:40 AM when I got up from the table.

"A'ight guys, I've gotta go hang up some more posters," I said gleefully, as I walked off, humming to myself to the tune of my own mixtape.

One poster went up, then another. 

I thought a raised, non-Black Power, fist was "cool." 

By the time I was on my third poster of the morning, I looked over to my right and saw her. She was about 5’2", light-skinned with braids. She wore a pink jean jacket with an average pair of jeans, both of which showcased her shape. Her eyes, they had a warmth to them that seemed capable of turning even the most unsympathetic of men turn into a kitten. 

Her face seemed relatively carefree, not full of the wrinkles that some faces have. Her voice was pretty relaxed as well, although she sounded similar to your run-of-the-mill Baltimore teenage girl, circa 2004. It was something about her, even as "normal" as she was, as a whole, that got my attention.

She stared into my eyes, and I returned the gaze.

"Yes," I asked as I paused my mixtape, now on Linkin Park’s "In The End."

"I was just thinking about something," she replied. "Ohhh, so, you’re Speed," she said in a somewhat quizzical tone, after looking at the poster that I had just hung up and back at me. "This is the first time I've probably seen you up close. I mean, I've seen you around, but never up close."

"Same here," was all I could muster, probably because my blood flow had been directed from my brain to my junk.

"I’m [Ms. Pink Jacket]."

I began to space out for a few seconds. I think that I was honestly playing out all the possibilities between her and me in my head. First, there was the "wifey" scenario, where she and I ended up getting together, getting along perfectly, culminating in her being Mrs. Speed (What? I was 15. Need I say more?). Then, there was the "crazy wild sex" scenario, which is exactly like it sounds like. Since I know you all would rather not spend any time visualizing teenage me doing the nasty, I’ll just leave it at that. Thirdly, there was the "this shit would never work in a million years even if I was Casanova, so why would it work here" scenario, and then there was the "holy crap, uhhh. What’s your last name" scenario, the most logical scenario out of the lot.

My daydreaming, Thank God, was broken up by the bells signaling the beginning of the day. However, my train of thought became frantic, a la Charlie Brown, to figure out something else to say to the Little Light-Skinned Girl. So, of course, I asked her what her last name was.

"[Redacted]," she responded as she smiled and walked away, presumably to class as well.

"Shit, I'ma be late for class," I thought to myself as I regained my composure, wiped the sheepish grin off of my face and headed to class. As I walked to that first class, I began to think about what was to come in terms of this election. Secondly, I began to think about what I was going to do about the mental erection MPJ had given me.

In the coming weeks, I received a plethora of attention and support from people that hadn't even talked to me for one minute prior to the election. Hell, I even had to “hire” a campaign manager, which was a taste of how crazy this whole thing became. And, lo and behold, there was one (other) person who stood by me during all of this: MPJ.

I began to question if she had ulterior motives--such as running the office her way through me--or maybe if it was just her being nice. I mean, out of the blue, we went from being distant strangers to borderline close friends and shit. I saw her every day and we basically talked it up about everything. After I finally won the election with one hell of a riveting speech, MPJ was one of the first people I contacted about a position within my cabinet.

You’re probably wondering if I was thinking with my big head or my little one when I offered MPJ a spot on my cabinet as an advisor of sorts. To tell you the truth, it was a bit of both. I mean, she had a good head on her shoulders and she knew how to get the people involved. But, I also thought she was--for the lack of better terms--fucking hot. With her in my cabinet, I had a reason to get to know her a lot better. Plus, I had developed more of a crush on her and it would give me an excuse to always be around her and such.

So, after I offered her the job, she accepted and began to work automatically, calling other possible candidates for the role. I’d won, sort of, with the Little Light-Skinned Girl, and began to confide in her for “political” assistance. She and I began running down a list of people, culminating with one we both knew and agreed on.

"Oh, how about [Redacted]," she asked, speaking of a mutual friend. I worked with her in class, and was pretty impressed with how well she handled both school and sports. So, while I felt this was probably going to be another time-consuming FUBAR moment, I also felt that she could handle it.

However, as this was the end of my sophomore year, that meant that, if I didn't act soon, then my window with MPJ could have been lost forever. I'd end up Charlie Browning my chance with the Little Light-Skinned Girl. Like any other guy thinking with two heads, I got her number. The day that I got her number, if I were to go back and rank my top ten experiences in high school, it’d be pretty high, even with all of the drama that was soon to follow. I mean, I, Speed--a guy that had to deal with a lot of crap because of my admitted social ineptitude (and undiagnosed bipolar disorder) at times--finally got a girl (that he actually liked, not just the other way around) to show some sort of interest in him. Wouldn't you be happy?

As the year grew to a close, I had a pretty great feeling that my junior year would be one of my best. As summer began, MPJ and I talked pretty regularly. She'd call me, I’d call her. We geeked about simple shit, such as our love of Titanic or our disdain for some of our classmates. However, all in all, I, for once, felt challenged by speaking with her. Sure, we never got to have crazy deep philosophical conversations on things. But, I always felt she kept me on my toes--especially considering I'd talk to this young woman for hours on end. I think our longest phone call was somewhere between four and five hours. But, during that summer, I decided to give her a call that would probably end up shaping our relationship for the remainder of the time that I knew her in high school.

It was July 7, 2004 around nine at night when I finally told her that I had a crush on her and that I was interested in taking her out, making her happy, you know, show her the world on a minimalist’s budget.

The familiar chords of The O.C.’s intro, Phantom Planet's "California," began playing, seemingly on instinct, as she responded with an answer that should've ended my conquests there: “I have a boyfriend.” But for some odd reason, I found myself even more attracted to her. Maybe it was the whole “I want what I can’t have” idea. Maybe I was that “stuck on her” (see Part One). Maybe it was because she gave me a glimmer of hope with a qualifying statement like “it’s not that your ugly or anything; I just have a boyfriend.” Maybe, just maybe I cared about this girl more than even I knew. Whatever the case was, I felt like I needed a distraction from all things Ms. Pink Jacket. Charlie Brown needed an escape from the Little Light-Skinned Girl. 

That escape, in some ways, never happened in high school. As soon as I thought I was over her, underdeveloped feelings and emotions would rush back in. After I recorded the song, my feelings were right back at square one and we (read: I) began talking again. Throughout those last two years, it was like a see-saw of emotions. I really cared about her and wanted to date her, but I thought it was impossible to do so, so I acted out of stupidity and usually self-sabotaged whatever chances I'd have at that moment. It was always missed calls, missed chances with MPJ.

At Senior Prom, I should have taken her from the jump, instead of my actual date (no offense). We probably would've made a decent Prom couple and everyone probably would've had more fun. I mean, look at the key chains--as my late mother would always say whenever she randomly thought of my experiences. IF I could show it, it would showcase my actual date and I looking uncomfortable as hell, with MPJ and me looking all chummy and happy and such. Since I can't, let your imaginations run wild, folks. But not too wild.

Anyway, after prom, we had an afterparty. People flooded out of the prom venue, the American Visionary Arts Museum, and to the Hard Rock Cafe near Power Plant. I honest didn't want to go to the afterparty. But, I guessed that maybe I could get my date to not go anymore awkwardly, plus Ms. Pink Jacket was going. I felt the need to finally finish what I'd started over two years ago. Charlie Brown wanted his W, dammit.

For some reason, our afterparty started late. A sign of things to come, I guess. Out of nowhere, a friend of mine started rehashing my high school history with Ms. Pink Jacket. Evidently, it was still a huge source of discussion--and humor. I just wanted to, for once, turn the tides back onto everyone else. I just wanted to win the outright affection of the Little Light-Skinned Girl, Ms. Pink Jacket.

After we finally get in, my date disappears and--like clockwork, I see MPJ. She's also alone still and we start reminiscing about high school, the ups, the downs, and the craziness that engulfs it all. It's pretty silly, looking back, to think that high school is the epitome of everything. But, that's how things go at times. We discussed my crush on her, for the first time in a minute and I thought that now would be the best time to be stupid and reckless.

"It's now or never, Speed," I thought. I grabbed MPJ as Mary J. Blige's "Can't Live Without You" played in the dimly-lit cafe. My hands upon her shoulders, slinking down to her waist, they seemed to take a mind of their own. My heart was racing and I'm pretty sure I also got a bit of an erection.

"You can hate me later," I said to her as I leaned in for a kiss. Everyone was watching, as if this was the big moment, the finale everyone wanted to see. Would Speed finally get the girl of his high school dreams or would he fail like always?

"Uhh, Johnthan," she responded hesitantly. "What are you doing?"

A sea of red flowed over my face as everyone in the immediate area just looked at me, probably thinking to themselves that I was brighter than a supernova in almost every aspect of life--except when it came to the opposite sex. I thought to myself that this was yet another flub-up on my behalf as I walked outside the Hard Rock Café and took that seemingly long, lonely walk back to my ride for the evening. My head was lower than the jeans of your friendly, neighborhood racially-profiled "common street thug" and my mind was filled with more blanks than a radio edit of your favorite song.

Almost tripping into the Inner Harbor, I tried my best to slink away. My chances with the Little Light-Skinned Girl were, for the most part, finished.

I didn't really see her much after the Prom. Graduation came and went, and we eventually lost contact with each other. It wasn't so much lost as it was essentially severed. As MPJ was my best friend and basically one of a few people I talked to about my problems who didn't judge me, I called her on several occasions late at night to get a shoulder to cry on these aforementioned problems. They were mostly family issues, but eventually she stopped answering. I mean, wouldn't you? Shit, I know that I have done so to downers, so...yeah. I don't blame her. 

One time, towards the end of the summer of 2006, I lost it and just freaked out on her about my family. She told me not to call her anymore because she had a boyfriend. This probably translated to mean "Speed, you're possibly fucking crazy. I'm seeing someone and don't talk to me until you get mental health help. If you don't, please kindly piss off." 

Obviously, I was crushed. 

I mean, I didn't mean to get so crazy about it. I just wanted someone to tell me that shit was going to be OK. When the person that usually did that for me didn't do it for me, I just lost it. I was a big ball of emotions, what do you expect? Heck, now that I think about it, maybe it was better that MPJ and I didn't get together back in high school. If we did, I emotionally wasn't completely ready for a real relationship.

In the years since, there have been some random Facebook conversations, but usually nothing more than just random salutations and then disconnection, again. But, honestly, what happened between MPJ and me over those two years, I would not trade the experience for all the tea in China or some other cliché.

Granted, my luck with her was rather spotty. But what I learned from it all? That is what counts. I find myself more willing and able to accept a friendship if there is not anything else there, at least romantically. Obviously, I don't go around saying "I love you" to every girl that I come across and happen to have a crush on. Nor do I just toss those words around because I don't know how to explain my feelings. 

Do I regret acting so childish when it came to MPJ? Sure, because she was my best friend in high school. Do I sometimes find myself wishing that I could go back in time and pull an Eternal Sunshine? No, not at all. Do I find myself wishing that I could, you know, see her again? Hell yeah, not because I still have all of those feelings. Granted, I’d be lying through the crack of my ass if I said that I didn't still have some feelings for her--but, because it would just be nice to catch up, share a couple laughs, you know? 

But, I guess the past is in the past for a reason, as I have moved onto better things and better relationships in my life. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I owe you one, MPJ. Through going through this with you, it became possible for me to get myself together. Because of my dealings with you, I've been able to be practically married for a minute. Because of this, I learned what works and what doesn't for me in relationships, friendships, and so on.


Maybe, at the reunion, I can introduce you to Lady Speed. Maybe you guys would be friends. Maybe we'll all be friends. Who the hell knows? At the end of the day, Charlie Brown won in one of the Charlie Browniest way possible--by losing.

Next Time on "Rejected," we're talking jobs. So, until next time, remember: it isn't how you get rejected, it's what you learn from it.

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