I loved my friend, Chelsea. Naw, not in a romantic sense. I’m talking about the type of love that develops when a genuinely goodhearted girl enters your life and unintentionally warms her way into your heart. This is for her and if I manage to get a few teeny tiny details wrong, who gives a shit – it’s still true.
In May of 2001, Chelsea graduated high school w/honors, earning herself an academic scholarship for college. She decided to take pre-law at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu. Said courses to begin in September. Having an entire summer ahead of her, she came to Longmont, Colorado and obtained a waitress job at Village Inn, the same restaurant where I was a cook because I was a resident at the halfway house, also in Longmont.
The night Chelsea began to work I was speechless. Chelsea was so beautiful to behold that she took my breath away as well as my voice. I’m telling you, there was zero conceit in Chelsea. Besides being gorgeous, she was funny, out going, generous, helpful and it was goddamn joy-joy to work w/her. I’d dated many of my waitresses, and had a reputation as a gentleman. So when I worked up the courage to ask Chelsea out, she said “maybe.” But she wanted to make certain I knew she was a Christian and a virgin. That tripped me out. I mean, 19 year old Virgin in 2001!? I asked her “Why?”
“Well, Big Mike, I admit it’s frustrating as hell, but it’s what I believe in. When I get married I’m definitely going to be a nymph. Probably end up killing the guy on our wedding night.” She said this w/ a twinkle in her eye.
I had the habit of walking each waitress out to their car every nite after the restaurant closed, making certain each girl was safely in her car, doors locked, engine running until they drove off. Daddy Katfish simply looking out for his Kittenfish.
After awhile Chelsea began to wait for me, insisting on giving me a ride back to the halfway house, even tho’ said Halfway House was but 8 blocks from Village Inn. And that’s when she also began trying to force 15% of her tips upon me. I wasn’t having any of that nonsense, she’d earned those tips, not me. She insisted she only made good tips on the nites she worked w/me, so she wanted me to have my issue. I refused. This is when she began her hug trick. I’d refuse her money, so she’d get a sexy pout on her face and say, “fine, give me a hug then.” Delighted, believe you me. And that’s when she’d slip the folding money into either my shirt pocket or gym bag. Sneaky lil’ shit.
Kimmy also worked at Village Inn. Yes, my Kimmy from “The K-Papers.” Kimmy and I, altho’ having gone out a couple times together, wouldn’t hook up for two more years (August of ’03).
I loved, just loved working w/these two. When three of us were kicking it was always very funny. One night, during a long lull in business, the three of us were kicking it at the break table out front. Chelsea the 19 year old virgin, Kimmy the 19 year old mother of a 3 yr old, and me, a 41 yr old bad boy.
Kimmy & I were constantly flirting w/one another, sexual innuendos to and fro. On that night we were debating condom/non-condom sex. Chelsea suddenly jumped up and said, “You guys are heathens!”
“But Chelsea,” Kimmy said, “Heathens have all the fun.”
“I know!”, and Chelsea cried GOD, naturally. She then slapped the table and said “That does it! I’m going to become a heathen too. In fact, as soon as I get home tonight, I’m going to go and tear all the labels off every mattress and pillow in the house, so there!”
As all summers do, the one of ‘ol came to an end. Chelsea gave notice and prepared to go out into the world. The evening before her parents were to drive her to Denver and put her on a plane, Chelsea came to Village Inn to bid her friends “Aloha.” She gave each person a hug and a smile, saving me for last. She hugged me fiercely and then produced one of those pink gift bags. The kind w/this string handle. She’d brought me, and me alone, parting gifts. Chelsea gave me a bottle of Black Leather cologne. She then handed over two CDs she’d personally burned for me, said CDs containing some of the best tracks by one of my favorite bands, “My life w/the Thrill Kill Kult.” My precious lil’ Christian Virgin, recording song like “The Devil Does Drugs,” and “Kooler than Jesus.” Next she handed me two Bandannas for work (I wore bandannas on my head cooking to stop sweat from rolling off my pointy not and onto the grill). I’d later discover that the bandannas had been sprayed w/ her perfume. Chelsea also gave me a tiny bible, always concerned for my soul. Next she gave me a cheap dollar store picture frame in the shape of a Pink Heart. It was about 3 inches across. Displayed in the window was every tag and label from the pillows and mattresses in her house. And last but not least, she gave to me a joke/gag ring that had a diamond solitaire shaped knob of glass on it the size of golf ball. As she took my hand and slid it on my finger, she said, “This means when I get back from school we’re getting married, Big Mike. I even have our wedding music picked out.” And she hummed the Calliope music from the circus.
Chelsea and I stayed in touch. She came home for the holidays. Brought me a box of Macadamia nuts and chocolate candy. I ate the whole thing in one sitting and very nearly got sick. By then I was out of the halfway house and already up to no good.
Chelsea finished a Pre-law course in 18 months. She came home for the summer of ’03. Her plans were to go finish her schooling in San Diego, part student loans, part funding from her parents. Before she left, she came to my apartment. Kimmy was there, so Chelsea took me in the hall. She hugged me, gave me a sad look and said, “Quit being bad, BigMike. You’re acting weird….” And she went back to school.
Well, one thing lead to another and bang, back in jail again. Guys in jail need mail. So I had Chelsea's parents’ address looked up and I sent letters. Chelsea immediately wrote me back. She was dismayed at my circumstances and pretty disappointed w/me. I wrote her back, told her I loved her dearly and never wanted to disappoint her. Chelsea being disappointed w/ me was terrible. I mean really.
For whatever reason, Chelsea’s folks began to open and read Chelsea’s mail from me. And so I received my last letter from Chelsea. She began it upbeat as usual. Told me her days were filled w/ homework which she found insultingly simple, so she’d volunteered her time down at the Y, swimming w/handicapped children.
And then she dropped the bomb. She explained how her parents had violated her privacy by opening my mail. They told Chelsea that they were certain that I would be an undesirable in her career. They then insisted she break all ties w/ me or they would halt their fiscal allowance on the spot, leaving Chelsea high and dry. Blackmail at it’s dirtiest. Nevertheless, I understand and never attempted to contact again. She would’ve been 21 that April.
I miss Chelsea. It’s been 5 years now. Friends like that are so very very rare. At least to people like me they are. I still think about her every now and then…..”Goodnight, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are!”