Bernadette, the witch doctor
Bernadette hated my guts growing up. I suppose I can see why. I did break up with her just before our Fall Seventh Grade Activity Night/dance. In my defense, I was only 12 – and besides, I was really, really high on acid at the time and she just wouldn’t stop talking. Everything in me said that I was in no place to cater to someone else’s emotional needs because, after all, I was way too fucked up – in the moment and otherwise. I had to take action, and it seemed like the right thing to do at the time.
I’m not sure what a “normal” reaction to breakup is when you’re a 12-year-old girl, but I do know hers was pretty fucking weird. She and a few friends got on the Internet and researched voodoo rituals, particularly voodoo dolls, and they created a little Knox doll that, I heard, was abused in untold ways.
I don’t think much of Santeria when practiced by adolescent white girls in a small, American city north of, say, Jackson, MI. Still. . . there’s something unnerving about a gaggle of one’s peers trying to castrate him through supernatural means. Just thinking about it made me uneasy. I had a couple of terrible dreams, too – somewhat of an adolescent reverse-wet dream.
Walking past them in the hallways, they’d snicker among themselves and I’d feel creeped out. Even hurt. But most of all, I was annoyed. I mean, c’mon—we only “went out” for a few weeks. We kissed in the back of a YMCA van. She was a terrible kisser, which made me mostly uninterested in whatever else she was bad at, and besides, her mom looked like Michael Jackson, from the cover of Thriller. I don’t deserve this shit, damnit.
Much to their—and I suspect many others’—chagrin, the voodoo rituals didn’t work on my man parts. It sure would have made adolescence easier if they had. And I often get to wondering what my life would have been like if I lacked the ability to please a woman. Certainly, you wouldn’t be reading this now.
But I digress. Years later I saw Bernadette at a bar in Los Baños, CA, wasted drunk and groping at an uninterested sailor. After she realized it wasn’t going to happen, she turned to me.
“Hey, do I know you?” she slurred.
“Can’t say you do,” I said. “The name’s McCoy. Just passing through the area and thought I’d check out this fine little town.”
“Heh. You’re a funny guy, Mr. McCoy. I’ve been trying to leave this dump for years.”
I guess I can’t blame her for not recognizing me. It had been 20 years or so and I had accumulated a few scars along the way. I humored her for a few minutes, until she went to the bathroom. I drew a picture of a voodoo doll on a bar napkin, wrote, “So long, Bernie,” and then I left that smear of a town.
Filed under: stories of heartbreak | 3 Comments