The Mirror

The Mirror

From Chicken Soup for the College Soul

The Mirror

Her name was Jillene Jones. Jillene Jones! The alliteration just added to her mystique. To me, she was a character in the great American novel; the star of a blockbuster movie; the president of my world. She was truly the woman for me. I just knew it. Now if I could only find out something about her.

I asked around. I was Jim Rockford, Sherlock Holmes and Magnum P.I. all rolled into one. First clue: She was into heavy metal. Cool! Well, not so cool. Actually, I couldn’t stand heavy metal. My hearing’s a little sensitive, especially when the noise level exceeds that of a cannon blast. So what—who needs to hear? A lot of unwanted noise in this world anyway. I started listening to heavy metal.

Second clue: She liked to work out. I joined her gym. The machines in there looked like they were designed for some sort of bizarre psychological testing. Since there didn’t appear to be any instruction manuals, I decided to stick to something simple like the treadmill. What fun! What a high! Actually, I felt like a hamster in a wheel. No matter. I was moving closer to my goal.

I decided to make some discreet inquiries among her friends. The fates were truly on my side because not only did the woman of my dreams, Jillene Jones, know who I was, but she didn’t find me totally repulsive. The die was cast. The plot was set. She would be mine. Even though the die was cast and the plot was set, etc., it took me another week to get up the courage to ask her out.

More research. Third clue: She loved Aramis. What an amazing coincidence! I loved Aramis, too—until I smelled it. Yikes. But surely if Jillene Jones loved Aramis, it must be an acquired taste. I bought the econo-size bottle of Aramis and began wearing it every day, everywhere I went. Every time I smelled my unique odor, I thought of Jillene Jones. And strangely enough, I began to notice a change in the way others perceived me. I always found a seat on the bus. If I had to stand in line, people would step aside and let me move to the front. Animals and small children fled in fear as I walked down the street. No matter, because I was on a quest.

A little more research and I would be ready. Clues four, five and six: She loved the color peach, bowling and sushi. I bought a peach-colored bowling shirt, found a bowling alley that served sushi and learned to throw strikes. Finally, I got up my courage and made the call. Luck was in my favor; the most popular head-banging band around was playing at our local college venue. I finagled great seats after draining my meager bank account. I put on my best Barry White baritone (which sounded more like Steve Urkel on a bad day) and asked Jillene Jones out on a date. She said yes.

The stars were aligned. All was right with the world. I saw my destiny and it had a name: Jillene Jones. The day of what would surely be the best night of my life began at the gym. Forty-five minutes on the hamster mill. I saw her out of the corner of my eye. Did she notice my Motley Crue T-shirt? I could only hope. The night finally arrived. I put on my peach bowling shirt, drenched myself in Aramis, spiked my hair and threw in a fake nose ring for good measure.

Her eyes lit up when she saw that peach bowling shirt. “You know I was watching you today,” she said. “You looked pretty cute on that treadmill. I didn’t know you were a metal-head!” She saw the shirt!!! My plan was working!!! I walked her to my car and popped in a little Ozzy. She didn’t seem to notice that the volume blew out all four of my speakers. She just grooved to the buzzing.

We went to the concert and I screamed at her for three hours until my ears felt like they were bleeding. Then mercifully the band finally stopped and we were able to leave. Sushi. She ordered some really slimy, expensive stuff that slid down my throat like dead goldfish. I had to pretend to use the restroom and sneak out to my car to gather all the spare change from the floorboards to pay the bill.

I drove her home and walked her to the door. She gave me a kiss that should be reserved for sailors going to sea. I had won her over. She was mine!!! Then she said the six words that I had never imagined, in my wildest fantasies, hearing: “Would you like to come in?”

Before my rational mind could answer, something came out from some part of my being that I heretofore did not know existed. “No,” I said. I looked around, wondering where that had come from. She looked at me in disbelief and said good night.

I drove myself home in silence. Well, I really had no choice since my speakers were blown. I walked inside and went into the bathroom. I looked at myself in the mirror. There I was with spiky hair, a fake nose ring and wearing a peach bowling shirt. I reeked of dead fish and cheap cologne. My ears were ringing so loud I kept picking up the phone. Who was I? Jillene Jones. I remembered some National Geographic special I had once seen on TV where the narrator described how lions hunt. “They become their prey.” But starting a relationship shouldn’t be a hunt. That didn’t seem right.

I took off the peach bowling shirt and the nose ring. I rinsed out my hair and put on some mellow jazz. I went back into the bathroom and looked again in the mirror. There I was. Me. And somewhere out there was a woman for ME.

Every once in a while I pass an Aramis counter in a department store or smell someone wearing that potent scent and I think of Jillene Jones. The name still rolls off my tongue. I wish her well and hope she found that special peach-shirt-wearing, sushi-loving, treadmill-running, Aramis-drenched, bowling metal-head to love.

Dan Clark

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