Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
You can also find Monica's writing here:
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Hey You! I Took Your Virginity 15 Years Ago!

"What if I just stood here and yelled 'Hey! I took Cody Hansen's virginity fifteen years ago!' Wouldn't that be funny?!" I say to Serge as we cross a busy street in downtown Salt Lake City, leaving Cody to his dinner with friends behind us.

Something is in the air, y'all. Some sort of weirdish wild wind has blown into The Beehive State, instigating bizarre interactions with ex-boyfriends.

As I previously mentioned, Serge and I have been rocking date night the past few weeks. Sadly, as our time in Utah winds down, we have acquired a most excellent babysitter. A girl I worked with at FOX. She comes every Friday or Saturday night. Serge impatiently waits in the car, periodically yelling at me to hurry up and threatening to drive away, while I run around like a headless chicken, prattling random, last-minute instructions:

"Henry's bottle is in the cupboard here and oh yeah so is Violet's dinner just heat up that mac and cheese and give her a slice of bread with butter on it she likes that and you could try to give her those orange slices sometimes she likes them and sometimes she doesn't you just never know and also give her milk and I forgot to tell you that I just fed Henry so he probably won't be hungry until seven and oh yeah put them both to bed between seven and eight you'll probably hear Violet in there talking to herself but that's okay I would only go in and re-tuck her into bed if she's been talking for more than a half hour but usually she goes to sleep before that..."

The babysitter, she already knows all this stuff, ain't exactly her first rodeo with The Bielankos, but I tell her anyway, I think it makes me feel better.

Getting into a car without children is strange, unfamiliar, freeing! I feel discombobulated, have grown accustomed to taking at least ten minutes to get into and out of the car what with all the unbuckling, unlocking, unsnapping and carrying of kids. To climb into a car with nothing more than my purse and a cell phone is a freedom like I haven't known since sneaking out of the house nights as a teen. With no toddler to tug, no car seat to carry, my body feels loose, all jangly joints and relaxed muscles. Still, behind the freedom, lodged heavily inside my gut like Thanksgiving dinner, is the ever-present parental concern. That never goes away. But "date night" keeps it from becoming overwhelming, keeps it from overflowing and drowning me in motherly responsibility. I drink a few beers (yes, I am still breastfeeding)(GASP) and hold my husband's hand in the movie theater and I feel more like the girl who met a guy in a band that played just a few blocks away from the theater.

It's on the way to the theater from the restaurant that we spot my ex-boyfriend, again. Last week I drank more than my fair share of Provo Girl pilsner at Squatters. As we walked, I spotted a man headed our way on the deserted sidewalk. 'That looks like Cody Hansen', I said to myself. 'It looks like Cody, but different.' Cody was my college boyfriend. Kind of a sweet, crazy kid who pledged a University of Utah fraternity, drank too much and had an intense fascination with all things Pearl Jam. In fact, he reminded me of Eddie Vedder, which was a part of his appeal, obviously. Love me some Eddie Vedder. Still do.

Unfortunately, I started working as a nanny and ultimately had that embarrassing affair with Older Married Guy. Yuck. Yeesh, y'all. I still can't think about that period of time without cringing. What was I thinking? I can only offer up the undeniable fact that I was still a teenager (nineteen) and my brain cells were compromised by all the hard liquor I had recently started drinking while dating frat boy, Cody Hansen, whose name I have obviously changed.

Things with Cody Hansen did not end well. I shamefully told him about Older Married Guy and a bizarre scene played out in my 1995 Dodge Neon during which he punched the dashboard, partially dislodging the airbag, which, incidentally, stayed that way until I sold the car years later. Then he dramatically tried to jump from the car - while it was moving. I sped around downtown Salt Lake City, running red lights and ultimately entering the freeway to keep him from jumping out. And then it was over. Aside from the occasional peek at his MySpace page, and more recently, his Facebook page - we haven't really seen each other in more than a decade. Then, last week, my jaw dropped and I gripped Serge's arm tightly as I thought I spotted him walking past us on the sidewalk.

Except I was tipsy, it was twilight, he was wearing sunglasses so I later decided it wasn't him, just someone who looked like him. And then last night, there he was again, sitting with friends at an outdoor restaurant on the same street we'd seen him last week.
"There's Cody Hansen." Serge said jokingly as we spotted the same hipsterish-looking fellow wearing the same sunglasses.
"It can't be him." I said quietly as we approached the table at which "Cody Hansen" was seated. As we passed, I stared unabashedly. I wanted to know if it was him.

It was. For sure.

I don't think he saw me, but who knows? He was wearing those damn sunglasses.
"What the hell?" I asked. "He must live down here or something. That's too weird that we'd see him at the same spot one week apart, right?"

Ex-boyfriend sightings are weird, aren't they? A slew of memories, good and bad, come rushing back. People change in ways we never thought imaginable when we knew them. Are they the same person beneath such a changed exterior? Or completely different? I dated Cody fifteen years ago. How can I be old enough to have dated someone fifteen years ago?

Another ex-boyfriend "friended" me on Facebook last week. The extended olive branch took me by surprise. We didn't exactly end on the best of terms either. We both work (until I recently quit) in local television news, for competing stations. He's an on-air personality so it's not like I haven't seen him all these years. Still, it's strangely nice to exchange words with him. To put lingering bad feelings to rest. Our relationship ended suddenly. Felt like a severed appendage and the wound never fully healed. Just scabbed over, bleeding a little every now and again. Now, with the aid of the 20/20 vision hindsight always pals around with, apologies have been exchanged and that feels really good.

Which brings me back to the first sentence of this diatribe. I wonder if we'll run into Cody Hansen again next week?

Reader Comments (8)

"People change in ways we never thought imaginable when we knew them"
Yes, yes they do. My first serious boyfriend, who was older (not married) had just finished serving 4 years in the US Army. I had a huge crush on him when he was dating a friend of mine while they were seniors and I was a freshman in high school. He was the perfect picture of masculinity. A tall, blond, muscular bad boy. We dated for 6 months during my senior year of high school. We too ended our relationship on a bad note and parted ways, never to see each other again. About 15 years after I married my husband I ran into my ex-boyfriend's his sister and she informed me he was now a she. And not just a guy who dressed like a woman and wore make up, but hormones and all the other stuff... minus getting his junk removed because he still was attracted to women. So my ex-boyfriend is now a lesbian. Anyone wanna top that change?

May 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJuli

Oh wow. That is quite THE change. I thought I had you beat with a high school boyfriend who later turned out to be gay. I never suspected he might be gay either. It would be so weird to run into him now, nearly ten years later.

May 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterS

Monica - I just read the married guy post from years back and it was A-MAZ-ING. It was like an episode of a fab drama - I was on the edge of my seat - desperate to know what happened next at the Jazz game... You are such a talent - a genuinely brilliant writer. Just a joy to read as you take us into the centre of the action - we feel our hearts beating quickly in time with yours. I'm so happy you are finally getting paid to write - it is so so deserved. It is funny because I found out this week that a dear friend of mine is dating the boy who broke my heart years ago (there is always that boy - we all have a such a boy) and she didn't tell me. I don't have feelings for this ex but yet it felt odd. The whole ex thing is a minefield. Anyway, good luck with the move and thanks for the shout out you gave my blog on Babble - very kind of you.


May 8, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercrummymummy

Happy Mother's Day x2 babes!

May 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

I can't possibly run into any of my ex-boyfriends as they've all joined a monastery.

I completely understand those horrible gut feelings that come rushing back when you see ( or think you see) the old bf.... I remember being on a cruise ship way out in the middle of nowhere and glancing up from my lounge chair as a man I believed to be my first husband walked by with a woman. Everything in me believed it was him and his wife. The face, the body, the type of clothing, the hands, every subtle movement. Or maybe it's not. I tried to detect that familiar skin tag near his right armpit but could not get near enough. Okay, this is just too awkward and weird and sickening. So I quickly got my stuff together and left the scene. Should have checked the roster but I was too freaked out.

The same thing happened just a couple of before. Same guy. I'd gone back out to visit friends in Colorado where I knew my ex was living with his 2nd wife. Last I saw him we were still married. He had since I knew he was up there with HER, and the fear of seeing him again caused me to spend 4 days driving around the state. So finally I got up the nerve to get up there and while visiting, I had to ship some books and stuff back home to Jersey. Mind you, I had not seen this guy since he ran off with Suzie Creamcheese. So I take a drive down to the liquor store to get some boxes to ship stuff in, and had just thrown the boxes in the back of the car, when I look up and there he is, in all of his handsome surfer dudeness sauntering into the same liquor store! I sat there in my car shocked and numb. Last I saw him we were married...and now he's with someone ELSE. I watched until he left and then ran back in for something to drown the pain and sat parked in the woods crying my eyes out. So... How much are you charging for this therapy??

May 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commentergina

Eddie Vedder has a new album coming out at the end of the month - I just pre-purchased on itunes. The Into the Wild soundtrack is one of my all time favorites - I sit here and listen to it over and over while I make stuff...

May 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHanni

So can we get some clarification on the Surge issue? Is he done blogging?

May 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSammy Soma

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