Matthew, part two: verbal chew toys

In the days that I first knew Matthew, back in the disillusioned haze of high school, he was good friends with Markus, who lived nearby. I would occasionally stay with Matthew's parents, who were by far the most intelligently daunting twosome I'd ever encountered up until that point in my life. Both of Matthew's parents worked at the nearby university; his father as a professor and his mother in some forever-undefined-to-me role in the foreign studies department. Markus, one of Matthew's closer friends, lived nearby. I had met him, but had never been introduced to his ... uh, girlfriend ... Heather.

Ah, yes, Heather. Not our Heather, our physics chickie, but Our Heather Who Art So Stupid, who, to this day, is my benchmark for human devolution.Dear God. Until Matthew introduced me to Heather, I had no idea it was possible for someone to be breathtakingly stupid. Intentionally stupid. Savagely, unrelentingly, jaw-droppingly stupid. Even now, all these years later, I just can't sit at the computer telling this story without tears running down my face.

I knew I was in for something good when Matthew's mother turned to me with her deceptively innocent smile (rule: never trust when anyone in Matthew's immediate family smiles without showing you their fangs) and said, "Oh, Matthew, you must introduce Amy to Heather. I'm sure Amy will just... adore her." Everyone at the table (except me) convulsed in derisive laughter; I looked at Matthew in puzzlement.

When Heather visited, I understood.

Have you ever met someone whom you know, just intrinsically know, spends the majority of her brain cycles on her appearance, because everything else is just too difficult to comprehend? Heather was the ultimate expression of this idea. She was a frightening combination of every Caucasian ideal of beauty, taken past all reason and explanation over into the land of obscene and frightening. Her hair was the lightest white blond obtainable from a bottle. Her skin held the darkest, most leathery tan I've ever seen on anyone so obviously Caucasian in origin. Her pants were vacuum-sealed to her ass, her heels several inches off the ground, and she wore the most disturbingly gaudy metallic gold lamé top I have ever seen before or since. She topped it with a face so encrusted in makeup (think barnacles) that I could stare at her without much idea of what she actually looked like underneath it all.

She was actually trying to be Barbie, and it made her into one of the most disturbing specimens of humanity I'd ever met. "More is better" was her motto. If blonde was good, white blonde was better. If tanned was good, she was going to be as tanned as humanly possible. She would wear the highest heels, the tightest clothing, the most makeup...and the moment she opened her mouth you knew, immediately, that you were in the presence of the most willfully stupid woman who had ever walked the face of this planet.

How I wish I could remember what she said to me. All I can remember is smiling very, very brightly, teeth clenched together to the point of pain, determined that I would concentrate on the pain so that I would not laugh out loud. I later learned I shouldn't have bothered. She wouldn't have noticed.

Matthew explained to me that she managed to miss the point of virtually any conversation she tried to participate in. When they were in high school, she asked Matthew - in all seriousness - which side had the slaves in the Civil War. Anyone who has to ask such a question isn't likely to catch anything that isn't applied liberally with a baseball bat.

She became our conversational equivalent of a chew toy.

She scored a 13 composite on the ACT. For those of you who aren't familiar with that test, it's a set of four smaller tests, most commonly used in the South, to determine preparedness for collegiate work. The lowest possible score in each section is a zero. The highest possible score in each area is a 36, and the four scores are averaged to create a composite score. A 19 in each area is required to avoid remedial work. By stepping backwards and doing the math, you eventually realize that Heather's score bore little difference from someone who went into the test and marked every answer 'C'. (When you're having trouble beating random guessing, that's not a good sign.)

She later did the impossible: failed out of community college. We honestly weren't aware that it was possible to fail out of community college. Normally, abject failure requires nothing but a lack of effort, but failing out of a community college requires time and dedication.

Ten years later, Matthew and I still get far too much glee out of telling the story about how Heather and Markus flushed so many used condoms down the toilet, they caused a clog so strong a plumber had to be called to fish the mess out. Ten years later we're still speculating about the hilarity that must've ensued when the plumber showed the mess to Markus' parents.

I'm guessing those new-fangled trash cans just weren't good enough for her. Sure, it leaves a potential evidence trail, but it certainly beats flushing a nonbiodegradable object into a septic tank, where it does nothing but hang out and wait for other nonbiodegradable objects to come by and help make a nice, large clog.

Maybe the lesson on biodegradability was probably given in the period after the Civil War lecture. Anything's possible.


"Have you ever met someone whom you know, just intrinsically know, spends the majority of her brain cycles on her appearance, because everything else is just too difficult to comprehend?" If exposure to just -one- person like that brings you to tears, I fear you won't last five minutes when you come here to Los Angeles.

Actually, a quick correction: they broke the septic system at Heather's house. Then Markus started...transporting...the condoms to dispose of elsewhere. He'd tie them off, put them in his pocket, and toss them out of the car during the drive home (which took him past my house, so I remember at least one morning going out to get the paper and finding a little gift near the end of the driveway). Anyway, you can probably guess what happened one night. He forgot to dispose of it and threw the jeans in the wash. Well, talk about leaving a present. His mother must have thought it was Christmas AND her birthday when she went to transfer the laundry from the washer to the dryer.