Way back in the last century there was a twelve year old girl who decided that she was going to marry the boy next door to the boy next door. The year was 1969, and the boy was a seventeen year old nerd who used a slide rule and had built a ham radio receiver, a guitar amplifier, and did all sorts of other nerdy stuff.
Unbeknownst to the seventeen year old nerd, all of the twelve year old girls thought this nerdy kid was really, really cool, including the one who swore that the seventeen year old would some day be her groom.
Of course, no seventeen year old boy wants a twelve year old girl. Not unless he's some sort of pervert child molester. This particular seventeen year old made his geek supply money at the drive-in theater, where he sold tickets, cooked, worked a cash register, and other sorts of mundane stuff that kids who worked at drive in theaters did.
I was that seventeen year old nerd.
After graduating high school, I went to college, where I dropped out after one quarter and joined the US Air Force.
This book is not about the Air Force. This book is not even about going back to college after the Air Force.
The summer of 1975 saw me mostly sitting in a lawn chair on my parents' patio, drinking beer and watching traffic drive down the street. Especially the girls on bicycles in their summer clothes. One in particular caught my eye. I didn't know who she was.
One day she was walking, and I decided that I would get in my car and offer her a ride. Half a block down I stopped next to her. She was frowning a frown that should have chilled my spine and made me run away screaming. But I wasn't that smart.
“Want a ride?” I asked. I had some pot rolled up and wanted to go for a ride to smoke it anyway, as I didn't want to smoke pot at my parents', or indeed even take it inside.
“Fuck off, asshole!” she replied. I drove away, and once out of earshot I told myself what a lucky fellow I was that this bitch had not wanted a ride. I had no idea how right I was, nor what a mistake even asking her was.
A couple of months later, that November, I was in a Pizza Hut with my old friends from the drive in theater years, laughing and drinking beer and eating pizza and having a good time when a very drunken young lady staggered over with a pitcher of beer. “Hey, I know you!” she slurred. I didn't recognize her, which was a very bad thing indeed. She was the one I'd offered a ride to and been so rudely put down by.
“Oops!” The drunken fool tripped on her own feet and spilled the entire pitcher of beer on me. “Oh my god, I am SO sorry,” she said, wiping at me with napkins. I left to go change clothes, and when I returned she was gone.
The next day she called and invited me to a party. When I arrived I found that she was the only one there. We were married the next summer, the day before the US Bicentennial.
Twenty seven years after the spilled pitcher, after she had been unfaithful five times I knew about, and producing two daughters, I bought her a new wedding ring and a new car.
She was actually in the middle of affair number six (that I found out about) when I bought the car. She left me and the teenaged daughters for her new lover two months after I bought the car. The last night she slept in my house was Friday the thirteenth of September, 2002.
The daughters and I sought counseling, and were prescribed various antidepressants. Mine was Paxil. I recounted the aftereffects of the lost marriage and the subsequent Paxil use at kuro5hin.org (“corrosion”, or “K5”) as a kind of self-help therapy. The stories are known as “The Paxil Diaries” and are reproduced here as chapters in this book.