punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

Back from West Virginia

The year was 1988, and I was at a con... I think it was Philcon or Disclave; I can't recall. I hitched a ride with Bruce and Cheryl, at any rate, and I believe we were promoting the new Castlecon 1. During this time, while I had been trying to keep it a secret, somehow the word quickly got out I had a girlfriend. For a few year prior, well meaning friends of mine tried to hitch me up with svelte young girls, all who looked attractive, but were all single for a reason. I never clicked with them, and three guys, whom I'll name Hubert, Louis, and Dewey, were sci-fi buddies from back in McLean who really tried hard to get me "laid." The girls they served up were shy, boring, and in some cases, a little nuts in that way that passed the blurred line of "quirky" into "touched." They found it incomprehensible that I didn't want to have sex with the first girl who asked. I never had a wild libido, but they assumed that was modesty or just "first time shyness." Actually, I don't know what they assumed, but at this con, they crossed the line of "wacky friends" to "asshats."

Well meaning, asshats, I am sure they see it as, which is why I won't mention their real names.

I hadn't expected them to be at this con, but they showed up, in trio, in the lobby where I was hanging out with Bruce (who was talking to people and handing out flyers from his old maroon gym bag). The trio wanted to "have a little talk with me." Two of them seemed dismayed, and the other a smirk on his face like he was about to see some good fighting. I felt intimidated by these guys, I'll be honest, because they were about a year older than I was, and were highly revered as "good friends" of friends of mine I hadn't seen since I graduated high school. Anyway, they took me to a hotel room, after not answering, "What's wrong? Is anything wrong? Are you guys mad at me?" all the way there. They sat me on the edge of a hotel bed, and paced back and forth.

"Greg, Greg, Greg-Greg-Greg-Greg..." said Hubert, almost whistling like I'd created the ultimate embarrassing mistake. "Whatever shall we do with you?"
"Have we taught you nothing?" asked Louis.
"What?" I asked, because I had no idea what they were talking about.
"We understand you got a girlfriend," said Dewey, like he was presenting a case file.
"From West Virginia," said Hubert.
"From WEST Virginia," said Louis, as if to differentiate from "NORTHERN Virginia."

The text that followed was shocking, to say the least. For a few seconds, I thought I'd get the "long distance relationships don't work out" speech I was starting to get from others. But this was even worse. They, in their shocking display of McLean snobbery, were worried I was dating someone, anyone from "there." There being the actual state of West Virginia, which they said was "like any other state, like State of Confusion" or "State of Dementia." Ha ha. There then followed a long, "frank discussion about the true nature of West Virginians" that left me pale with shock. Not shock as in realization they were right, but like when your good friend, whom you've known for years, uses the word "nigger" in a derogatory manner towards a dark skinned friend of yours, exposing a deep and disturbed prejudice that you had NO idea existed between his ears. At first, I nervously laughed. Then I realized they were serious, and I got mad. They assumed that I only was dating Christine for the "easy sex," but what Christine and "her kind" wanted was to get pregnant, force me to marry her, where she'd have the kid, take all my money, then divorce me and move back home to splurge her newfound alimony wealth she could kick back and live on for years. There were "tribes of these welfare moms," apparently, preying on innocent rich folk such as myself.


After I had heard enough (which seemed like a while, but when I think back on it, it was probably only a few minutes), I got up and left. I think I stated they were jealous I got a girl on my own, that they had no idea what I wanted in a girl, and how they were truly repulsive snobs. Dewey kept laughing, I don't why to this day, I guess he found it all really funny. The last thing Hubert said to me, in an Azriel-like voice, was that if I walked out that door, I would lose all my McLean friends, who would be forced to turn their back on me if I turned my back on them. If it was a movie, we'd see him from below, his finger pointed into the air, and a symphony with kettle drums and a big brass section would bellow ominous tones. But I walked out, probably to what they considered was an off-key piano solo from a bad melodrama.

At the time, my McLean friends were quickly fading. Most because I was on my own at 18, and I think that scared them a little. "Y-you have to work to support yourself? Woaaah..." It felt too close to home, and they wanted to stay in college and drink for 4 more years, I gathered. So I have no idea if many of my "McLean friends" decided to stop speaking to me over this, or if that was happening anyway. I figured they weren't my true friends, but for years I did miss them. Some stayed in touch, like Jason, Jack, Julie, and Ellen, and some new friends have formed over the years over the Internet like Merideth, Analiese, and Allison. But Fandom accepted me as I was, and dating someone from West Virginia only got a few pained looks of, "You know, 9 in 10 long distance relationships never last..." but not an ounce of prejudice of WHERE the LDR originated from.

I think about this when I visit West Virginia. I think about what West Virginia meant to me when I made that decision to say an angry "fuck off" to my "McLean Knowbetters." When we are driving through the huge wonder that is Sidling Hill Cut that made way for Interstate 68 so long ago, I see the layers that make the mountains. Layers like my memories, and how this blog cuts right through them.

And I think I made a damn good decision.

This weekend visit to the "Wild and Wonderful" state was odd, because my back was in a lot of pain. The car trip and over-cushy hotel bed didn't help, either. I realized this marks the SECOND time I have hurt my back over a large bag of pet food. I damaged it when I was lifting it out of the "Self-Service" area of BJ's. When you scan your items, they go into an area rimmed with a low acrylic wall, essentially putting them in a small pen. The feat of reaching over this pen, lifting a large bag of pet food with NO leverage, and carrying it over the small acrylic wall and into your cart requires a lot of back strength. In a mental image I replay over and over in my mind, like the car wreck you could have avoided, the second I cleared the wall, I heard that "twang-SNAP" and thought, "Oh no... please, no. Not again. It's been a while since I last... no." Yeah. It's not some critical thing, it's a standard "stay in bed with a heating pad and don't lift" sort of recovery. But that's hard to get on a road trip. Luckily, the Saturn Wagon car seats are kind of comfy, so as long as we didn't hit bumps or make steep turns, I was okay in the car. Getting up was another matter, best left to BDSM people who have been a bad, bad boy.

We drove there on Saturday, where painkillers helped me nap through part of the trip, so it seemed a lot shorter. I like West Virginia, but every trip we have less and less reason to be there. Many relatives and friends have either died or moved away. But aside from that, the small town of Keyser is almost like a second home to CR and me, and a series of childhood memories for Christine. We got to our room at the Candlewick Inn (which is where we spent our honeymoon), and then went to Debbie and Fran's apartment. There I fixed Deb's computer, which was swarming with Spy-ware and Ad-ware. One I couldn't get rid of, no matter how many programs I used, but it seemed only to affect the registry with data miners. But apart from that, it was in pretty good shape for a Win98 machine that hadn't seen a tech for over a year. Then I went back to the room, where I watched part of an "Addams Family Marathon" on TVLand. Christine went out to a bar with Debbie and Penny, and didn't get back until 2am, whereupon I had already fallen asleep through a rerun of Saturday night live.

This morning, I woke up in a HEAP of pain that was so severe, it had spread to my chest and part of my left arm. I decided to lie on the floor for a while, and it got a little better. Christine and CR went out with Debbie and Fran to a breakfast diner somewhere where the food was good, but the service was horrible. Then we dropped off some stuff at Penny's house, stayed at Deb and Fran's place for a while, then went to the graves of Mom, Nanny, and Brenda and left flowers there. Then we swung by and visited Heather and her daughter Courtney. Courtney is adorable! Then we took the long drive home.

It's good to be back in Fairfax. My back still hurts, but after some rest, a heating pad, and some more rest, I am sure I'll be fine.

This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000509.html
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