Andi, part 1

04 Jan

Once upon a time in France, there lived a sociologist named Emil Durkheim. Doing what sociologists do, he hijacked the word “anomie” from its earlier context in philosophy, forcing it to make an unscheduled landing in sociological territory. It means a collapse of social norms and values, which is just a very stiff way of saying that, socially speaking, what worked for our parents doesn’t necessarily work for us. What worked for my parents in a relationship sense was having known each other since before puberty, and that ship tends to sail pretty early. They had met sometime around the incident when my uncle accidentally cracked my mother in the mouth with a rock while playing army with my dad, splitting the first of her adult teeth in two and necessitating the first in a long series of crowns. Her teeth are still mismatched. I needed to do something different.

Emil thought that anomie across societies caused spikes in the suicide rate. I thought about that while, deliberately unhelmeted, I biked around Columbus, mulling over the smug aphorisms I’d unconsciously absorbed since I was very short. Childishly, I’d more or less believed that if I followed them, they’d keep me from fucking up too badly. For example: You’re smart, you’ll know what to do. You’ll succeed if you just work hard enough. You just have to meet the right person. And so on. I hadn’t necessarily chosen to believe them; rather, it was the same sort of involuntary and unconscious faith that assures you that driver of the No. 21 Nite Owl won’t drunkenly drift into the bike lane, plowing through the fragile, poorly reflectored aluminum of your accidentally vintage bicycle while you pedal along on leaky tires, thinking about something else. None of these beliefs seemed to have any basis in, you know, actual events (the buses do tend to pass awfully close), but I couldn’t think of anything to replace them. I’d stopped driving a couple of weeks earlier to save gas money. Regardless of anything else, I wanted to move back home under my own power.

Fourteen numbered boxes lined the back wall of my mom’s basement, mother’s basements being the traditional cultural storehouse of late-twenties failure. Really, it was my parents’ basement, but I didn’t think of it that way. I hoped I wouldn’t have to stay long. On my laptop, I’d created a document that listed the exact contents of each box, so when I wanted to find something, I could just do a word search for it. Possibly this is the cleverest idea I’ve ever had. At the very least, it allowed me to have the feeling of organization and absolute influence over something. Really, at that point, anything would do.

Less clever was accepting Andi’s invitation to visit her in Dayton.

As she explained to me, Andi was short for Aanandi, a name she chose not to use with new people because of the predictable and tiresome questions about her heritage. She came from casual, obvious, and intimidating wealth, no doubt the consequence of having two doctors for parents. A few weeks ago, I would have allowed the conversation to die before it got to the point of going on a date, but I’d moved home resolved to do things differently. Earlier, I had excluded potential dates for any number of reasons. Looks, for example. Or tastes. Or saying “irregardless.” This time, I decided that I’d go out at least once for anyone who asked me. She looked different from the girls I usually liked, but the girls I usually liked lately had been turning out to be terrible people. I decided to give her a chance. Her photo showed her body in profile with her face turned toward the camera, revealing a wide, probably genuine smile and eyes that, as I’d notice later, were utterly glassed and empty, focused on absolutely nothing. It was the absent smile of an unhinged country clubber in the moments before she steals a golf cart and drives it through the plate glass of the pro shop display window.

She gave me an address and a time, and that was where and when I showed up to meet her. For the next hour, I waited awkwardly in front of her empty house in a neighborhood where people clearly do not park their cars in the street.


Leave a Reply


  1. Mathias

    January 10, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    Halfway through I began to be excited by this new prospect. However, the foreshadowing in your description of her doesn’t seem to bode well for this next encounter.

    Can’t wait to read what kind of crazy she’ll bring to the mix.

  2. Dan

    January 10, 2011 at 11:38 pm

    I hope she doesn’t disappoint you. Really, very few of these dates turned out anything approaching well, which possibly says as much about me as it says about any of these girls.

    Even so, Andi was and likely still is thoroughly bonkers.