Misadventures of a Misspent Youth, Part III
It was the fall of 1990. My sophomore year in college was well underway. Then something notable happened. A dating relationship I was in ended rather badly. I don’t mean “badly” as in having an unpleasant conversation and deciding to part ways. The kind of “badly” I mean is more like the way WWII ended badly for Japan. Or the way that little volcanic eruption ended badly for the people of Pompeii. Or the way a few dishonest business decisions ended badly for Ken Lay. The way this relationship ended badly was of biblical proportions. Ask anyone who knew me then. It’s true.
What made this situation worse than it had to be was that after it ended badly, it kept ending badly. The guy (let’s call him… oh, I don’t know. Wait, I’ve got it.) Dick Cheney started being mean. Just plain mean. He talked smack about me to people I was friends with. He folded up my photos and sent them back to me through campus mail with an ugly note attached. Once, when my bff Carol and I walked past him, he yelled the “b” word at me. (OK, there is a little more to that story, but that’s the version I like to tell.) All of this silliness was BUGGING me. I just wanted to get on with my life. But I also wanted to get him back for all the harassment.
One weekend, I came up with a plan. Something that wasn’t illegal or even that big of a deal, but something I knew would annoy Dick Cheney and give me a nice sense of satisfaction. Dick Cheney happened to be what we then called a “metalhead” or “headbanger.” If music didn’t have people screaming and farm animals being slaughtered in it, he didn’t like it. On this weekend, I knew Dick Cheney was going to be out of town. So all day Saturday, I kept calling his phone and playing Debbie Gibson (someone he found particularly annoying, but didn’t we all?) on his answering machine until I filled up the entire tape. When I called one last time and only heard a “click,” I knew the tape was full and my work was done.
But you know, this still didn’t quite do it for me. He had been SO MEAN to me. I had to do something else. I thought long and hard about sugar in his gas tank. Oh yes, I did. But rational thought prevailed and I decided to do something less destructive. One night, my friend and I saw Dick Cheney’s car in a campus parking lot. (Once again, I must emphatically declare that this friend was not my bff Carol. Carol would never dream of participating in something so juvenile and… well, illegal as what my other friend and I did that night.) Let’s call my friend Marilyn Monroe. Just for fun.
So Marilyn Monroe and I spotted Dick Cheney’s car. I said, “Hey, let’s steal his gas cap. In a few days we’ll put it back. Just to mess with him.” So we did. Stole his gas cap. A few nights later, we spotted his car again. We opened the gas tank cover to put the gas cap back, and wouldn’t you know it, he had bought a new one. So we took that one, too.
Marilyn Monroe put the two gas caps in a box and they moved around with us from dorm to apartment to apartment over the next couple of years. Then we graduated and Marilyn Monroe took them home to her parents’ house in Missouri. (Where her perplexed mother discovered them one day.) Marilyn Monroe and I had talked about waiting 20 years or so and then mailing them to Dick Cheney from some random address in a random state. I’ve stayed in touch with Marilyn Monroe and just about every time we talk, she says, “You know I still have those gas caps.” And now it’s been 19 years. So I have a year to figure out if I should mail them to Dick Cheney or not. I’m not the type to hold a grudge, especially over a relationship that ended so long ago. But I am just obnoxious enough to think that mailing the gas caps to Dick Cheney would still be pretty funny.