That’s my dad on the right. NOT the Big Jerk. This picture was taken about four years after the Big Jerk incident. There is no reason this photo is here. Other than the Big Jerk does not deserve to be pictorally represented.
In the sultry late summer of 1993, I packed up my ’87 Hyundai Excel and drove from San Diego to my hometown of Chicago. Before that long and fateful cross-country drive, I’d lived in Los Angeles for more than two years, worked at a magazine, spread my early-20s wings, met a big jerk, then penultimately tired of the Southern California lifestyle. I yearned to return to meat and potatoes, blue collars, and best friends. Complicating matters was the fact that I couldn’t leave Big Jerk behind me. No see, he’d moved to MY Chicago six months before I decided to make the transfer myself. A jerky man, who was once unfamiliar with the city’s windy wonders, only discovered Midwestern goodness after I invited him to join me at a college friend’s wedding in a suburb near downtown. During that unfortunate visit, he decided he loved the city by the lake, and soon after set up shop in Oak Park. Where “shop,” means “went back to college.” He was 27, assuredly past freshman-in-college-age. And most relevantly? A Big Jerk.
For several weeks after Big Jerk moved from L.A. to MY hometown, I suffered in a stuffy San Fernando Valley studio apartment. Truth was, I’d felt alone in California since I moved to Encino after college. That first year I lived with an actress (read: waitress) to whom I was not cool enough. My hair was too fluffy, my ass too big. I spent many hours reading “The Fountainhead” in my twin bed, alone. Then, five months after my move, I met Big Jerk and things seemed to turn around a little. I could see movies with someone other than myself, and there was a person around to wish me happy birthday. A person who was, so very unfortunately — say it with me now — a BIG JERK.
Never mind. After two years of dating and not dating, and being cheated on and getting back together, and feeling even more aloner, he left for the “final” time, adding insult to injury by escaping to MY refuge. And so once he moved to where I felt the happiest — MY hometown, I floundered in self-pity. I’d always known I wanted to move back, but knowing he was there, and I wasn’t, lit a giant fire under my big ass. So I made plans to move myself. In a fit of self-motivation, I gave six-month’s notice to my job, moved to my aunt’s house in Torrance (NOT recommended) to save money, and alerted my gal pals to my impending transfer.
I acted with purpose, moxie even. By God, I was taking my life into my own hands! I saved over 1,000 dollars for the move, (NOT recommended), and prepared to get myself back to Happy Town. Then.
Then Big Jerk called me at my Torrance temporary residence. He’d been listening to the Gin Blossoms’ “Hey Chelsea” (IDIOT), and thought of me. I refrained from telling him it was “Hey Jealousy” (IDIOT) and melted under his “I love you, I’m sorry” advances. When I finally admitted that I would be in Chicago in less than two months, he offered to fly to my parent’s home in San Diego and drive to Chicago with me.
After some hems and haws, I agreed. OK FINE. He could demonstrate his newfound NEEDING ME FOREVER and fly his Big Jerk ass to San Diego to help me pack and accompany me on the four-day drive.
And what a drive it was….
TO BE CONTINUED….