it had to be sometime in late 1995, if my memory can be trusted. if i were at home i could go check the student newspapers i have in the garage. they’d tell me the exact date. but i’m pretty sure it was winter.
the BoDeans’ concert was in Zorn arena, where the basketball games were played. it was winter, that much i do know for sure. Zorn arena was packed, i think Wisconsin’s own BoDeans’ coming to play Eau Claire was the biggest thing to happen to EC since Paul Revere and the Raiders had played Sawdust City Days that summer.
i think i went to the concert with anderla and tavia. i think. it didn’t really matter because just about every single person we knew was there. i think just about every single person in eau claire was there.
the BoDeans were a big deal. i’d never been a fan. i’d never really been a non-fan. i was just apathetic. in my mind i had decided they were a cheap wisconsin knock-off of my much-loved Gear Daddies.
i remember sitting up in the bleachers of Zorn, watching the main floor, picking out people i knew. a week before the big concert there had been a bit of drama in our crowd. see, ben jones’ girlfriend stef had been caught cheating on him. stef, jones, and the other boy were all members of the cross country team. she was caught cheating by another member of the team, someone long-time readers will know as lafrenz. i think. again, it’s all quite hazy.
anyway, when the whole cheating thing came down, ben jones, whom i called chuck, cornered me and asked if i knew. i totally knew! everyone knew. in fact, we had all implicity acted as an accessory in the whole tawdry affair by dragging chuck out of the bar where his girlfriend and the other boy were. “you should have told me,” he said.
i was crushed. crushed in so many ways. because i was so in love with chuck i could have puked. because i totally did the wrong thing. i was a coward for not telling him. i was afraid that somehow he’d be mad at me, because i had predicted doom for that relationship from the very beginning and had no problems telling him that.
so things were awkward between chuck and i for that entire week. in fact, we probably just ignored each other. that’s what we did when things were weird.
but that night, as i watched from up above, i saw stef approach him. i saw his face break into this big smile, and then quickly fade. like he had momentarily forgotten that she was a dirty cheater. that smile, right before the fade broke me.
i think that was the first time i had ever felt that bone-crushing loneliness that still haunts me.
and when the BoDeans’ song ‘Naked‘ came onto Kathleen Turner Overdrive today, that’s what i thought of. i was instantly transported back to 1995 and i felt like that so sick in love girl, pining after someone with her whole entire heart. and i think that’s the last time i’ve ever wanted someone that badly. i don’t think i’ve ever been so honest with someone else in my life as i was with chuck. i figured i’d just go for broke and hide nothing. and i think he loved me in his way. i know there was love. but i never, ever got that smile.