I’ve decided to share my latest book (The All-Important, Well-Fed, Giant White Man) with my followers here, free of charge, one chapter at a time. So… Where were we on this read-along… Oh, yes…
Chapter 15: Tenniele
In the aftermath of Rachel, the insecurity ghosts of my adolescence began howling really ugly things in my ear. And I’m talking hideous Thanksgiving turtleneck ugly. “Yoooooou are unlovable. Yooooooou can’t get a girlfriend. Nooooooo girl will genuinely like yooooou. Your feet looooooooook like they have bat wings built onto them.” (You’ve got to read that in your head like a ghost would. Or at least how my ghosts would.)
Yes. After Rachel, each day I seemed to talk myself into liking myself even less than the day before. I became consumingly homesick, and my thoughts began spiraling in so many new and dark directions.
While on that island, I wrote weekly letters to my family. The Internet was still fairly new, and while email existed, I still preferred the hand-written stuff most of the time. In my letters, I told them all of my going-ons, my classes, and my friends. I shared some of my honest struggles and triumphs, and sent home photos as often as I could.
But for some reason, I never sent home anything about Rachel. No photos. No quick mentions of, “hey, there’s this awesome new chick in my life.” I think some big part of me never wanted to tell them about this amazing girl because I knew very well that botching it with her was inevitable. A big part of me knew I was too cowardly and insecure to make the relationship last. I suppose it could have been the scared part of me that, oh, I don’t know… was continuously obsessed with how I had so quickly bungled it with each and every girl since that first childhood wart-hiding love.
And then, about two weeks after Rachel, I met Tenniele.
Tenniele was gorgeous. 5’10”. She was a full-blooded Hawaiian, yet slender-boned and thin like a white movie star. She had ample bosoms. She was big into surfing. She had a laugh and a brightness that could pleasantly melt a tub of gravel. She was kind to everyone. She loved to dance. She loved to sing. She volunteered wherever she could. She loved animals. She loved her large family.
And she loved me.
She loved everything about me. She wanted me as much as I wanted her. And we had quickly fallen in love. We spent our days on the beach doing homework together. She was teaching me how to surf. One time her surfboard got stuck in a cave and I went to rescue it for her. She rewarded me by tackling me, pinning me into the sand, and kissing me passionately. She didn’t care about my weight. She didn’t care about my awkward looks. She was, in a word, flawless.
And I did write to my family about Tenniele. I told them of our great adventures and our moments of wild romance. I sent photos of her. I asserted my love for this girl every chance I had. If Facebook would have been around back then, I would have driven everyone crazy with walls full of the gooey eye-rolling stories behind our whirlwind romance.
In fact, Tenniele was so close to perfect that I can honestly say she had only one teeny tiny flaw.
Okay, it was a huge flaw.
Tenniele wasn’t real.
And I’m not saying that in the kumbaya, everyone be real sense that people like me love to rant on about. I’m not saying it in the kind of be real sense that this book and the stories within are ultimately centered around. I literally mean that she wasn’t real. As in, she didn’t exist.
Just like that, I was back to my old high school lying-and-making-up-pretty-girl ways.
In the thick of my greatest insecurities, I had invented someone else out of thin air to love me. Only this time, I took it much further than I ever had before.
I created a fake human so that nobody else in the whole world would see just how big a loser I really was. I designed a fictitious love because I still, even after leaving home and flying across an ocean, could not find a real one…