So many times we base our current existence on specific events, saying "Just think – if I had never done [insert something here] I would never have met [insert awesome person here] and if I hadn’t met [aforementioned awesome person] I would never have started it all by getting a piece of pizza at Le Petit Marchet. Or something like that. We’re making direct correlations between specific moments in time and what has happened since, citing synchronicity or happenstance or the Universe or SOMETHING that has led us down the path we’re currently taking.
My friend recently asked me what my biggest regret is. I don’t have very many – I prefer to just accept whatever stupid thing I did and move on from it instead of being fixated on my dumbassness – and I answered instantly: Not accepting Ethan Foster’s invitation for me to ‘go with’ him in third grade. Because I liked him – I TOTALLY DID – and even despite my horrible haircut (one should never allow a little girl to go to a barber shop with her Dad because I BET the girl will spin in the chair so much that the barber will offer her a haircut so she’ll finally stop fucking SPINNING and the little girl will say that she likes it when her Mom puts her hair up on the sides and then the barber will go and cut OFF THE SIDES of the little girl’s beautiful tresses, leaving her with a mullet. I just bet.) he liked me. And Ethan Foster was in the cool clique, he was Popular with a big friekin’ capital "P." He was Jake Ryan. He was Blake McDonnagh. He was seriously awesome. As for me, um, I was in the gifted program…I think that says it all. So when he called and asked me to go with him, I was overcome with fear that my parents would find out that I liked boys (I was only in third grade! NOBODY liked boys yet!) that I said “no” not once but probably thirty times. Because, bless his sweet heart, he kept saying “Why!? But Why?” and I would poignantly answer with a miserable “I don’t know.” Then he cried a little and hung up and then I went to my room and cried a LOT because ETHAN FOSTER HAD ASKED ME TO BE HIS THIRD GRADE GIRLFRIEND AND I SAID NO BECAUSE I WAS SCARED OF MY PARENTS! Seriously, I still can’t kind of believe it.
I regret this, you see, because I think my life would have changed. I would have been popular instead of just on the outskirts of sorta-ok-ness – I would forever be known as the first girl to have gone out with the gorgeous Ethan Foster! Instead, that went to Amanda Hennings (I think) who was not only popular, but she was RICH! Her house was like a mansion and my four-bedroom colonial paled in comparison to her palatial estate. I think that if I had “gone with” him I would have kissed him instead of having to wait until eighth grade when I smooched Jon McConnell in the pleather recliner in my basement to a tape single of “More Than Words.”
Now, I know this is all ridiculous postulating of course, because had I dated Ethan Foster I may have done something stupid and gotten pregnant or something or maybe my popularity would have made me realize it wasn’t cool to be smart and instead of rising to the fabulously successful person that you know and love, I would be flipping burgers at your local In & Out. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, mind you, but I really, REALLY like the free gourmet soup at The Goog. You’ve got to try it, really. (This week is Albondigas!)
But who knows? Who knows what ANY of it means, if I made the right decision or if that was even a turning point. Maybe he was just kidding or maybe he would have dumped me on the third day since my hair was so bad (I promise, I am not exaggerating the horrificness of my coif.) And yet part of me still wonders what I’m doing in that alternate universe, the Aubrey O’Neil Sabala in the “Sliding Doors”-esque existence. I wonder where I’m living, what I’m doing, who I’m dating (or – egads! I could be married! Maybe that Aubrey married Ethan Foster – holy shit! He’s still hot!) and, mainly, if I’m happy.
And I wonder if each time “More Than Words” comes on I get a little nostalgic for the me that is actually me, the one that said “NO” and made a very very cute third grade boy cry. I wonder if that me is sitting in her estate somewhere, drinking a glass of wine and waiting on her hot husband to come home, wondering where she would be if she had said “no” and made a very very cute third grade boy cry.