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Untitled Ashton Kutcher Romantic Comedy Project
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Girls Are Neat
The Dating Lame
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(Pre-English 127)

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Katherine

Her name was Katherine. Not Kathy, Not Katy, and absolutely not Kate- Katherine. But this is not Shakespeare (or Cole Porter), and I am not Petruchio. She was never a shrew, and I never wanted to "tame" her (as if I would have had a chance at that). She was beautiful, and while I will admit that was part of what drew me to her, her appearance was not what held me there.

She was a young feminist in full bloom, and she worked hard to be treated equally- even if her methods didn't always work out exactly as she planned. She had a bright green t-shirt with the proposed Equal Rights Amendment written on the front of it in white. She liked it because it let her show her support for the E.R.A.; I liked it because it gave me an excuse to look at her chest. When the drama classes took group pictures, she stood apart from me in some of them "so we wouldn't look like we were always together." Unfortunately, her new spot turned out to be standing on the step below mine, with her head at my beltline.

The El Camino Real High School campus has several buildings, each labeled with a letter, and each for the most part dedicated to related subjects; The A Building was mostly offices and administration, B was English and history, and C was math and science. Katherine and I spent most of our time at school in the D Building, where all the performing arts classes- drama, choir, band- met. We'd sneak into the green room (that's the room backstage where actors wait to go on) and make out. We would spend hours adjusting lights for a play that most of the school would never see. We would run through lines, figure out blocking, sing show tunes in the halls with our friends- always near each other, always looking for a quick kiss or a chance to hold hands.

After school, we would go to her parents' house, lay on the couch, and watch her tape of that day's episode of General Hospital (yes, she had me hooked on a soap opera). Then we would go to her room and close the door so we could "listen to records." For some reason we tended to let her turntable repeat one side of a record over and over until we fell asleep. Eventually, we would wake up late in the evening and, since I had no car, Katherine would drag herself out of bed to drive me home. Along the way, we might stop for a high-quality meal at Denny's, which is sort of like a training restaurant for obnoxious young adults.

My parents rarely complained about my late hours on school nights- I had an older brother and sister who had done pretty much every wild thing teenagers could do, so my folks were just happy that I never brought home someone's body parts. Her parents were open-minded (or realized things were going to happen whether the liked it or not and figured it was better for them to at least know where we were), but they found subtle ways to make sure we knew that they knew what was going on- one morning, after Katherine and I had spent a good part of the previous night in her parents' Jacuzzi, Katherine's mother said to her, "You know, sometimes when your father and I use the Jacuzzi at night, we like to turn the lights off so we can see the stars."

We were a perfectly matched set of goofballs. We chose Heaven 17's "We Live So Fast" as our song- not because it had any sort of romantic link to our lives, but because it sounded like the band chanted "bullshit, bullshit" during the chorus. (judge for yourself!) When we went to the prom, I wore a classic black tux with tails, a bright red bowtie, a bright red cummerbund, and bright red Chuck Taylor Converse hightops with fat black laces. (In 1984, wearing sneakers to the prom was goofy but still unconventionally cool. Now, wearing sneakers to the prom is goofy and conventionally uncool.) To compliment my outfit, Katherine wore a classic black tux with tails, a bright red bowtie, a bright red cummerbund, and bright red Chuck Taylor Converse hightops with fat black laces.

Oh look, a picture.

After graduation, we lost a lot of our time together. I stayed in the San Fernando Valley and she went to UC Irvine, which meant one of us had to drive over an hour any time we wanted to see each other. Still, we managed to see each other most weekends, and the time apart made the time together more intense, more important.

Katherine came up to visit one weekend and I met her at her parents' house. We were on the couch in the living room, the General Hospital couch, and my head was on her lap, my eyes closed. I smiled and said, "Couldn't you stay like this forever?"

She said "Well..." in a voice that told me it was time to sit up. She gave all the standard reasons for breaking up: We're growing apart, I'm too young to be tied down, I want to see other people. I accepted them graciously and pleasantly- "Oh, I understand"- and smiled and laughed as I said "You'll rue the day!" in a silly movie-villain voice. I didn't get around to crying about it for a few days.

How could she do this? How could she leave when we were so happy together? Maybe it was like she said- we were growing apart. Maybe we were too young to make lifetime commitments to each other.

Or maybe it was because I had cheated on her.

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