My PE teacher at Northwoods Elementary School reminded me of Alice from the Brady Bunch, but with more muscles.

Alice from the Brady BunchShe had short, gray-black hair, was pretty masculine, and could jump rope and do sit-ups like nobody’s business! I remember wanting to grow up to be just like her.

In retrospect, she was probably only 35 or 40, but to a skinny little 2nd grader, she was OLD – but in amazing shape.

She was going to live forever and I wanted to as well. I told myself I would never smoke like mom, would only eat healthy foods, and would do calisthenics religiously.

That oath lasted, oh, about 6 more years. By 8th grade I was drinking, pilfering smokes from mom’s pack of L&M’s, and kissing boys behind the Science Building.

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By ninth grade I had discovered pot and speed. Me and my best friend, Monica would find her mother’s stash always hidden in one of 3 spots, and use her handy rolling device for perfection. Sometimes there would be a small baggy of white pills that we would then pluck one from, crush up and sprinkle in with the pot.

I liked mixing speed and weed, because I hated the sleepy feeling I got after smoking. Once, we got really high without that special added ingredient and we passed out on the sofa at Monica’s house. Her mom’s empty wooden drug box was on the coffee table, her little pipe discarded by its side.

An empty box of Ring-Dings lay on the floor near her patchy balding dog, Mutley, that all the high school boys were in awe of due his extremely large member. Poor Mutley, he was about 13 years old and had the coarsest hair where the poor flea-bitten b*stard still had hair. Anyway, my pal’s mom walks in while we’re out cold.

She surveys the scene, and bellows, “Monica! Is that my pipe??” Monica snaps awake and retorts, “Yeah! And we smoked the last of your pot, too!

Now go fix us something to eat! ” Her mother’s vibe instantly shifts to Nurturing Mother Mode somehow, and as she heads for the kitchen, she says, “Okay, Ya’ll want some Potato Buds?” Fitness was far from my mind those days. Around that time, my fears shifted from being unhealthy to being alone. I could handle the thought of cancer or overdosing – I just couldn’t handle the notion of going through it all by myself. Health wasn’t a high priority.

I developed quite a healthy appetite for destructive behavior over the following years and didn’t curb it until I was in my early 20’s. I remember one of my last bleary nights at the bar; I very clearly envisioned myself sitting alone at the end of the bar some 20 years later, with too much makeup, trying to hide the obvious signs of a hard life.

I have a Kool in between two fingers, chipped polish over my yellowing nails, the cigarette smoked down to the filter. My hair is thinning, dyed an odd shade of beige, and I’m leaning on one weary elbow. My puffy eyelids sagging, eyes bloodshot, I peer at the young, tattooed junkie boy next to me with the sex appeal of a limp puppet. I appear sad and desperate, no sense of shame.

Alone, drunk and OLD. That vision would vary over the years during my clean living, instead of drunk and haggard, I would be wearing little baby barrettes, have bleached blond hair, a bad facelift or boob-job.

I would be smoking still, but enjoying a refreshing seltzer-cranberry combination in place of the pint-sized frozen pink margarita and bendee straw. I’d be wearing the latest teen fashions, my sagging ass stuffed inside too-tight jeans. Still too much makeup, still pathetic and desperate, still alone, trying to pick up some young thing 20 years my junior.

Not one with too much experience in long term relationships, I’m not only scared of getting old, I’m scared of getting old all by myself. Years ago someone once referred to me as the type you f*ck, not marry and I guess that’s always stayed with me. I’ve always exuded a sexual energy as a lure, then once I’ve hooked them in, I’d let my earnestness for love and want of a relationship show through.

I wished on stars and birthday candles for true love and long-life at every opportunity. As one can imagine, I wasn’t exactly attracting men who were with me for a relationship. I went through a period where I was convinced all men just wanted to date for sex, not understanding that the men I attracted were only there because of my sexy-independant-just-wanna-have-fun vibe.

Always one to report my sexy escapades and not my dreams, goals, good deeds accomplished, I developed quite a reputation, one that fed the image I was trying to lose.

Since I’ve gotten older, and inevitably, wiser, I’ve learned that I want sentimentality and romance. I’ve learned how to sift through the one-nighters and go for the ones that would stick around for awhile. Like that girl in second grade I once was, I want healthy clean living, but now I also desire a neat and orderly space, and a job that makes me feel useful and important. I’m not going to win the fight the against growing older, but I know I don’t have to do it alone.

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