Bad Puns

I have a memory that popped into my head recently, for no easily discernible reason. It is a memory of something that would become one of my personal trademarks; an incredibly forced pun based on environmental signage/text. This memory is perhaps the first time in my life where I consciously recognized that a joke I had made was, to put it lightly, extremely labored. 

In the memory, I am around 9 years old, which would make the year 1995.Summertime, it’s warm, and sunny out, but not so warm that I remember complaining about the heat. I am playing outside of my friend Laura’s house. We are playing pretend, with a number of dolls and toys. I don’t remember exactly what the game was, but in the memory I am holding a yellow stuffed duck, a “Beanie Baby” called Quackers, which at the time I was very fond of.

Laura is tall for our age, gawky, with a long, oval face covered in a starfield of freckles, with a cascade of ruler-straight bright red hair that I am positive had never been cut, only trimmed to make the bottom even. I remember at the time always feeling jealous of that hair.

We’re playing on the sidewalk, because the house Laura’s mother (Susan, a tall, gawky masseuse with a thatch of curly black hair) owned, like the rest of the houses on the street, butts right up with its front against the narrow road. The little space between the front door and the sidewalk is overtaken by large and rather wild flower bushes, that attract fat, fuzzy bumblebees, of which I am irrationally afraid. It is a city side street, on a steep hill, and almost no one drives down it aside from the people who live there. Neither of us are particularly worried about being run over while we play.

There is, however, a small commercial truck there. I don’t recall if it had just pulled in, or if it had been idling when we arrived outside to play. In either case, it is somewhat precariously braked a couple of houses down from where we’re playing. I don’t remember, or perhaps didn’t know, what exactly the truck was for. Looking back, I suspect it was a moving truck, or perhaps installing some appliance. 

On the side of the truck was emblazoned the name “Hurtz”.

As I said, I don’t remember the context of the game we were playing beyond ‘pretend’, but I suspect it may have been a general babydoll/playing house game. Either way, when I saw the truck, the connection between ‘Hurtz’ the name, and ‘hurts’ the verb popped into my head and demanded to be shared with the world.

I don’t remember if I said it out loud, or if it stayed in my head. I suspect it might have stayed in my head, because I don’t remember Laura’s reaction to it.

“Mommy, mommy!” said Quackers the duck, using my voice as I waved him around in my hands, “It hurtz, it hurtz!”

In that moment I was suddenly, terribly aware that thoughts could be not as amusing as they were when I had them initially. It was a loss of humor based innocence.

And that…. Pun?…wordplay?….mistake?… was so memorably forced and bad, that I still occasionally cringe about it 25 years later.  I do wonder if I managed to restrain myself from saying it, since I usually let them out, albeit I didn’t have such a finely honed sense of ironic terribleness at nine. Contrariwise I was a very serious and sincere child. So I wonder. But either way, I guess it’s thanks to that awful pun that I remember that otherwise pleasant summer moment, so, it certainly isn’t all bad. Just a bit labored.

Meeting the Serpent

The Serpent and I met for the first time, in mundane terms, in the afternoon of June 20th, 2011, when she randomly messaged me on Pesterchum, a niche IRC client meant for Homestuck chat and roleplay.She was bored, waiting for someone else online to come back so she could share a drawing with them, and had messaged me randomly from the online list because my handle at the time as near the top of the alphabet, and a little bit strange (atypicalTraitor).

We started chatting, and fell into sync almost immediately, connecting on topics of games, writing, homestuck, and especially horror. Specifically, we were both deep into Slender Man/Marble Hornets, which was still in its heyday at the time. After a little bit, she had to go AFK and I went back to working on my comic, Silent Hill: Promise.  But we kept coming back to chat with each other repeatedly over the next couple of days.

Almost immediately the Serpent expressed a desire to get into a Homestuck rp, but no confidence in getting into one due to her inexperience. She was definitely more anxious that necessary about it (which would kind of be a theme for her) but to me the solution was obvious. I’d run my own Homestuck rp and obviously, invite her to participate. Unbeknownst to me at the time I was launching into what would be the defining relationship of my adult life so far.

I was, at the time, trying to get back into rp myself, after losing all of my writing partners after highschool, and having had a few bad, early attempts to rp online, mostly on Livejournal, where the games I would join kept dying. Homestuck had inspired me to give it another try, and I was currently in a game that itself was having a rocky start, a troll/alternia based game called “Psychosis”.

Psychosis never ended up happening, but I did invite one of the other players (a frenchman) to join my new game with the Serpent. This was a mistake that would also help define the next several years of life for the Serpent and I but really only a footnote here.

I started a persterchum rp called “New Game Plus” with the Serpent, the Frenchman, and a few other players who would quickly end up fading into the background, both of the rp, and of my life, in ways the Serpent certainly did not. She and I spent all of our time not RPing (which was very little), chatting out of character. We exchanged phone numbers and texted one another during the day, and even during our respective jobs.

I stubbornly refused to acknowledge my obvious crush on the Serpent for the first couple of months. I had even warned her about the kind of ‘crazy rp girls’ who can’t tell the difference between an in game relationship and an out of game one. I did not want to be that person. But… we were inseparable. As inseparable as two people parted by hundreds of miles of space could be.

New Game Plus started to die off about the same time that the Serpent and the Frenchman had to go back to college– the end of august– which wasn’t that surprising. It was, however, heartbreaking. Instigated by my own emotional outpouring over the subject, we shared pictures late in the night, sleepless, and made promises that we wouldn’t lose contact.

The Frenchman started preparing another game for the three of us (and some other players), called Meta. Another bad idea.

Meanwhile, my then-roommate offered me some delicious alcohol (a drink called a “creamsicle”, involving orange vodka), and I got enough of my courage up to confess to the Serpent that I had a huge crush on her. I don’t know that I would have been able to do it so soon, except for two things. First, during this summer, the Serpent had been ‘on break’ with her terrible garbage girlfriend, and I was convinced they were going to get back together once college started. And second, the Serpent and my characters in New Game Plus were a pair of star-crossed lovers, reunited in another life after they had failed to confess their love for one another. 

I didn’t want to miss my chance.

It came out, like much of my writing, confused, and rambling. There was a pokemon analogy in there somewhere.

She needed time to think about it.

I was kind of devastated. It turned out later of course that she needed time to think about it, because I’d understated the nature of my crush, not wanting to fuck up a perfectly good friendship. She, meanwhile, already had deeper feelings and didn’t want to settle on just a crush.

It shook out a few days later, apropos, when she had a drink too.

We started dating, long distance. 

The first time she called me on the phone,we talked for hours and hours. All through the night and until the sky blushed with dawn. I remember mumbling to her dizzy, and sleepy on my bed, staring up at the ceiling in a waking dream, not wanting to let go of the sound of her voice. 

Less than a month later, she came to see me for the first time, on September 15th, the day of a Jonathan Coulton and They Might Be Giants concert I had originally gotten tickets to for my emotionally abusive then-boyfriend’s birthday. In August, before we’d even started dating, the Serpent had given me the strength to finally kick him to the curb. Once we started dating, we decided she had to come down for it, to celebrate.

I cannot overstate the joy of that weekend. The anxiety and building excitement as we texted back and forth while she rode the bus closer and closer to where I was waiting for her. Running to her at the bus station, embracing, and kissing for the first time, like it was a movie, like we were long lost loves reunited. If I hadn’t known before, I knew then that I would never, ever let go of her.

It’s been nine years and three months since that September. We’ve been through a lot. Three years of long distance relationship while she finished her degree. A mad summer spent living with her and the Frenchman, and my Moirail and his husband, all of us in a 2 bedroom apartment. A year living in the Serpent’s mother’s basement in Massachusetts. 2 years living again with my moirail and his husband, this time (thankfully) sans Frenchman. And now finally three years living peacefully together in our own place. 

I have never loved her more than I do now. Every day, I wake up and I am more in love with her. I have not spent a full 24 hours away from her side since that mad summer after she graduated. I wake up curled against her warmth, and kiss the softness of her hair. I spend my evenings with our feet entangled on the couch, watching her beautiful face while we write, or play video games together. When we go out, I walk with my fingers entwined with hers. I brush and I braid her hair. We sing together when our songs come on in the car. I wait anxiously by the door to embrace her when she comes home from work. I will never let her go.