I Thought You Were My John Wayne

On perfect nights we would lay outside of the Lex on 19th and Lexington in the mission of San Francisco. We’d watch the lesbians come out of the bar, my favorite ones dressed in boy’s clothes with fedoras. I would secretly be attracted to them and I would lean in your ear and tell you. Anything to make you think that it was anyone but you I wanted. I would lie to you. I would talk about tattoo shop boys who I adored. Covered from head to toe like wallpaper. I’d tell you that my heart would skip beats when I saw them. But lying outside of this bar on the ground I would tell you that I loved you. And you’d tell me you loved me too. But I knew it was too many beers and the high of a really great night that would pull those words from you. And you’d laugh and get up fast and run down the street. I’d chase after you and we’d change the subject. You’d pull me into dark corners and we’d sit down because we were so dizzy. We’d recite Built to Spill lyrics until we were sober enough to drive home.

“I’m gonna be perfect from now.” That was my favorite.

“I want to see movies of my dreams.” That was yours.

These were the same nights that we’d dance in clubs to 80’s and Brit Pop. I’d know the dj and she’d play my favorite Hall and Oats song. I’d dance too close to you and get nervous and move away. But I always found myself close to you again. All I wanted you to do is think I was amazing. You always told me I was. I would never believe you so I would deny it until you told me over and over again. I just wanted to hear the words. You told me you were John Wayne. You said you were riding off into the sunset on this one, that you’d never give up on me. I thought there was no way you didn’t love me.

On the bad nights I would lie in bed, curled into a ball, with the phone lying on my ear as you talked about her. I know her height, her hair color, that she’s been gaining weight, and that you like the fact that she’s gaining weight. I know the color of her favorite pair of pants. I even know her cat’s name. You’d confide in me how much you love her, and go off on drunk tangents about the speeches you would say to her. I’d think of Lloyd Dobbler in Say Anything. Your speeches sounded just like his. I’d repeat them to my friends. Tell them, “wouldn’t you love someone to say this to you?” We all agreed, we would.

I know her so well, the love of your life. So well I see her name everywhere. It’s like I love her too. I can’t get away from her. I wish I knew the sound of her voice, her laugh. I’d imitate them. I’d be her for you. But she doesn’t love you. She told you so. I remember that night clearly. You were going to spill your heart out all over the table. Tell her all of the things you told me. You would text me a 5 for all clear, or a 1 for danger ahead. I waited all night, my heart racing. So unclear on what I wanted to happen. I wanted you to be so happy I couldn’t stand it. But I wanted you to be that happy with me. Either way, whatever answer I’d get from you would tear me apart.

But you never responded. I imagined you together, holding hands. She said yes. She loves you too. You can’t stop looking into each other’s eyes. I should have said something sooner. I waited too long. I went through all of the things I should have said to you. I have my own Lloyd Dobbler speeches. But when you finally did text me it was a 5. I cried for you and rejoiced for me. I called you up and we talked for hours. I knew I couldn’t make it better. You said you weren’t a “giver-upper”. You said you’d always love her, that there would be no one else. I guess you’d be riding off into the sunset on this one too.

I thought you were my John Wayne.

One comment

  1. Ellie Lopez · · Reply

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