Legitimate Self Destruction #14 – Flashbacks

I’m just going to brace you, after last week’s eventful surprise we’ve got a flashback. That’s right, and it’s not to some cool time like the mid 90s. Nope, it’s to (probably) several months before this chapter takes place. It’s awkward, and embarrassing, and painful to read. But so is this whole story.

A month later, I’m working in the heart and soul of the big city. Time Square.

YOU GOT A JOB AT A MAJOR GOTH CLOTHING COMPANY AND MOVED TO NEW YORK IN A MONTH WITH A RESUME INCLUDING AN INTERNSHIP THAT’S TWO YEARS OLD AND AT LEAST ONE DRESS YOU MADE?!

I did not understand a single thing about being an adult who has to look for jobs in a moderately creative field.

I actually work for Element, and Tripp, in the floor right above the big outlet.

I’m 100% sure this store doesn’t exist anymore. Like the MTV store. And TRL.

Bam will occasionally stop by and post me ideas, and help me with what I’m doing. It’s actually really awesome.

I’m sure he found time to get stop by in between snorting Adderall and shotgunning beer.*

Also, again, how does she know Bam?! Where did he come from? Tween!Maria, you shouldn’t have thrown in every dude who you wanted to get with, but you also should have proofread. So here we are.

It’s two days before Thanksgiving, and me, being the idiot I am, said I would have most of my designs in by tomorrow. I’m sitting at my desk scarfing the burger that I sent Bam out to get me. I’m coloring furiously and shoving fries in my mouth.

And suddenly we’re in the present tense. *slams head against desk repeatedly* One of the biggest rookie writing mistakes there is, and I commit it no less than 3 times in this 30,000 word disaster.

“Maria, calm down.” Bam laughs standing next to me. I finally slow to a stop, and show him the finished product. He takes it in his hands and stares at it. I drew a new dress; my boss thought that we don’t have enough. It has a silky corset top, in a deep blue, with a light red to contrast it; the skirt part flows down to the knees and is black fishnet with a layer of green fishnet with another layer of black and another layer of blue. Bam looks back down at me, his face showing only shock, no mischief, no nothing.

“This is…the most astonishing dress I think I’ve ever seen you design.” Bam has sat and watched me design for weeks on end. He’s seen me design some of the most popular fashions in the punk scene without ever taking a moment to breathe. He’s never seen me design a masterpiece.

OKAY, it’s not that amazing. It actually sounds a little too late-90s-rave for my taste these days. But that’s just me. I hear late 90s raves are coming back into popularity.

When I was in college, my professors would tell me that my pieces were good. But then, then there was that one piece for each class, that I would stress over for about a week, and then when I finally finished…It was gorgeous.

“Thanks.” I say taking the design from him and placing it in my folder. I press the intercom button on my phone. “Jenny, I finished the designs for the winter line. Want me to send them down to you?”

Jenny is my boss. She’s a very nice person, she’s just very domineering. “Ya, send them right down.”

I look at my half finished lunch; I hear my stomach start to grumble and moan, begging for food.

“I’ll take them down.” Bam says taking the folder.

“THANK YOU!!” I say without giving him a chance to refuse. “Room 134, it’s right down the hall and to the left. You’ll know it when you see it.”

He nods and heads down the hall. I look at my office. Pictures from my childhood, and from all the early Green Day shows littered my walls. Pictures of my friends, and Gerard and I together were hanging next to a quote from each person. I love to create new ways to make something old seem new again.

“Ms. Armstrong?” Terri, the secretary at the front desk, rings in.

“Yes?” I buzz back.

“You have a visitor, would you like me to send him down?”

“Sure.”

I wait expectantly for this guest. In my head I’m picking off people who it couldn’t be. Lisa’s back in Oakland with Addy. Billie Joe, Mike, and Tre are all back at home for a good needed break, they wouldn’t come the Tuesday before Thanksgiving to pick me up. Mikey’s with his girlfriend, Frankie’s probably not going to come see me, Ray and Bob aren’t either. Gerard. While he was touring I made it to the Lowell show, and he met me backstage. At the concert I actually met a new friend, and thanks to her I have most of the designs I do. Instead of trying to explain what happened. I’ll show you.

Okay, that last sentence reminds me of Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets. But I’m not nearly as interesting as Lord Voldemort, just cooler, less evil, and not a bigot.

I also have to preface this next part with two things.

1. I, to this day, really hate to read this flashback because it vibrates with insecurity, and anxiety. I wrote it at a time when I had almost no self esteem, I was awkward, and gawky, and hated everything. Middle school is really rough, I think everyone can agree on that. So part of this is a fictionalized version of the first My Chemical Romance concert I went to. You’ll probably be able to tell what’s real and what’s not. It was essentially my way of retconning my life because I let my anxiety get the best of me at that concert.

2. Because it’s about something that happened in my actual life this takes on a new level of meta. So, when I wrote this I envisioned myself as the main character, Maria (duh), and since I’m writing about me as just me, I had to give her a different name. I don’t even want to imagine the amount of confusion having two Maria’s in one scene would have caused 13 year old me. So there’s fake me, Maria, and actual me, Elena.

Don’t worry, I’m ashamed just the right amount. But also, goddamn I did not give a single fuck. I wrote whatever I wanted and didn’t bother rereading or editing, or thinking about plot structure. Such carefree times…

Flashback # 2

I arrived at the arena about 3 hours before the doors opened. So that would put me at 4:30.

Oh thank you for the backwards math.

I flashed them my pass, Gerard had sent me, and meandered through the halls until I found the most noise. Gerard was sitting on the couch listening to the other guys yelling over something.

“No way man,” Ray said shaking his head, his hair moving with it. “Maria could beat up Mikey any day! She may not know Jedi but she can street fight pretty damn well.”

Gerard laughed. I leaned against the door frame and crossed my arms.

“She may be able to street fight, but I can go all Jedi mind trick on her ass.” Mikey said looking as if he were in deep concentration after the comment. Everyone laughed, and I chuckled softly, so I wasn’t heard.

“Gerard what’s your call?” Frankie asked. He’d sided with Ray, and Bob with Mikey.

“I think that Maria can beat up Mikey in a heart beat,” he said looking into my eyes.

YES! The big romantic look comes when discussing if your girlfriend could beat up** your brother. Perfect, Gerard. Absolutely perfect.

Rats. I was caught. The rest of the guys turned around and smiled at me. I walked into the room receiving many hugs and cheers for my outfit. I was wearing a short red plaid skirt with blue and black striped stockings, black combat boots, a red muscle tank top that said “Gerard Way…I don’t need anything else”. I had about 100 rubber bracelets on each arm and my hair was down, and pin straight. It was now deep red with neon blue streaks.

The only thing about this outfit that I don’t hate is the combat boots. I will forever stomp around in Doc Martens.

This is during a period of time where I thought coming up with t-shirts you would see in Hot Topic was a cool pass time. Like I said, middle school is rough.

I hugged Gerard and he kissed me softly. I returned the kiss, and placed my hands gingerly around his neck. He slowly pulled away, savoring every last moment of the kiss.

I sat in his lap and turned to the other four band members. “Well I know the complete art of the Jedi and I can street fight.” I smirked as everyone else laughed. The next few hours were spent talking and laughing about things that had happened, and how their tour was going.

We talked about stuff. It happened. It’s happening. It will happen. Stuff. Things. Other stuff. More things. You know.

Gerard had to step outside for an interview, I sat and talked with the guys.

At 7:30 I decided to go out to the arena and take a seat. Yes a seat, I never was one for mosh-pits, or anything like that. Slowly the arena filled up, and about 5 young girls came and sat in front of me. Four of them looked like they were going out on any normal day, but one. She reminded me so much, of me at that age, it was a little scary.

GUESS WHO IT IS!

This literally hurts, the back of my neck feels all hot and tingly, and not in a good way.

Her mom was with her, and had dyed her graying hair, pink.

True story, my mom dyed her hair pink that year.

The first two bands were very good and I could see everyone around me enjoying themselves, just like I knew Gerard would want them too. When My Chemical Romance came on, man did those fans scream. I thought I was going to go deaf. The girl in front of me looked as if she were sad. Now to me, a concert is where you go to have fun, not to be sad.

On the contrary, I would argue there are certain concerts you go to to be sad. Like Death Cab for Cutie.

Her friends had left her with her mom, and she was singing every single song. About 2 songs in I went up to her.

“Excuse me,” I said politely. She looked over at me. “But you seem to be having a bit of a dilemma.”

She looked at me and nodded.

“I’m Maria Armstrong.” I said holding out my hand.

“WOW!!! I’m Elena Spiridigliozzi,” She said back shaking my hand. I smiled at her and looked at her hand.

I was terrible at coming up with names. I’m still terrible at coming up with names.

“What’s that you have?” She had a grocery bag, with what looked like t-shirts.

“They’re shirts I made because I couldn’t enter the design your own contest. I thought that if I left them here someone would find them.” She looked sad. It almost made me cry.

“Honey, I can make it so you personally hand them those shirts.” She smiled up at me.

“How?”

I whispered in her ear. “I’m Gerard’s girlfriend.” Her face lit up like that broken light on the Christmas tree once you get it to brighten again. “Just follow me and hang on to that bag.”

I lead her through the arena to the backstage area where I showed them my badge.

Normally I would point out that it’s pretty unrealistic for a mom to let her 13 year old daughter go off with some random woman. But my mom probably would have seen that she had a badge and been like “Yeah, that’s cool. Just don’t die.” and gone back to watching the concert that she very nicely took me and my friends to.***

I walked over to the side of the stage and motioned to Gerard as he finished “Helena”. He looked over to me and walked over.

“Ya babe?” He asked shoving his sweat soaked hair from his eyes. I always thought that Gerard wet, was the best way to have him.

PLEASE NO! Not in front of the 13 year old, who is also you, who is also me.

”This is my new friend, she has presents for you guys.” I said patting Elena’s shoulder. She smiled up at Gerard, and he smiled at her.

“Well then get your ass on stage with me!” He said taking her hand and leading her on stage with him. He walked up to the microphone. “ALRIGHT YOU GUYS!!!!! THIS IS TURNING OUT TO BE ONE OF THE BEST CONCERTS EVER!!!!!!!!!!!-” The crowd cheered loudly and I could tell that her friends hadn’t realized that it was Elena up on stage.

There should be a limit on how many exclamation points you’re allowed to use in one paragraph.

Is it your psychic abilities again? God, you really need to get yourself to a magic GED program.

Also, when you’re in the back of the crowd everyone on stage looks like tiny ant people.

“THIS GIRL RIGHT HERE HAS SOMETHING FOR THE BAND!!!! WHAT’D YOU GUYS SAY SHE HANDS THEM OUT!????” once again the crowd cheered loudly and I saw Frankie’s slightly dim expression brighten.

“ALRIGHT SUGAR, WHAT’S YOUR NAME??”

“ELENA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” She screamed into the mice. Gerard smirked, he looked over at me, and I smirked right back at him.

This is an upsetting amount of exclamation points.

Elena opened her bag and took out the first shirt, I looked at it, it said “Frankie’s Magic!!” in very impressive pointed lettering, it have a very intricate spider web with what looked like blood dripping down, the shirt was red, and the web was black, the lettering purple. I thought she did an impressive job. She walked over to him and handed it to him. He looked at it for a while and then took off his Bella guitar and pulled the t-shirt over his head, fit like a glove. He smiled like a maniac on a killing spree, he hugged her tightly.

That’s disturbing, especially since I was 13 when I wrote it.

She smiled and went on to Mikey.

His was a very dark grey, and had a picture of coffee, and said “Take my coffee and I’ll set my brother on you!” I laughed. That was classic Mikey.

This keeps reminding me of Justin Timberlake on the Target Lady sketch going “Classic Peg!”

She gave it to him, and he hugged her tightly as well. While this was going on the crowd was going crazy. I saw a group of girls in the back turn to look at Maria’s mom, they finally noticed.

She went through Ray and Bob, and then to Gerard. Saving the best for last.

Code for: I couldn’t think of anything clever for them, because I didn’t really care about them, because all I wanted was for Gerard Way to be my boyfriend.

His was jet black, it had blood red writing on it, saying “Vampires are awesome…but they got nothing on me…” and it had a picture of a smile with vampire fangs. Gerard stared at it for a good five minutes before smiling insanely and hugging the living daylights out of the poor girl.

Well, five minutes is a bit long to leave an entire stadium of people staring at someone standing still. Also, see what I mean about those Hot Topic t-shirts? Actually, these are too much even for Hot Topic’s standards.

He tugged the shirt over his head and smiled down at it. “ALRIGHT LETS GET A FUCK YA FOR THIS KICK ASS GIRL!!!!!!” The crowd screamed Fuck Ya, and then Gerard turned back to her.

“HUNNY, WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE SONG ON THE NEW CD?”

“I NEVER TOLD YOU WHAT I DO FOR A LIVING.”

Right now it’s The Sharpest Lives off The Black Parade. In case you were interested.

Gerard smirked at me, he always made me sing with him for this. I walked out on stage and smiled at everyone.

Always? What is this always? Didn’t you only get together like a month ago? What is the timeline on this shit?

A few whistles and cat calls were emitted from the audience.

“BACK OFF SHE’S WITH ME!!!!!!” Gerard screamed.

Oh the mis-characterization, it pains me. I want to apologize to Gerard Way for this, but I also never want him to know this exists.

I smiled and Frankie started the guitar riff. The song went great, Gerard and I sang and Elena had the time of her life shaking her head and jumping with us. I could tell that we’d become friends.

The concert ended, and Elena had watched from backstage with me. I had given her my address in Time Square, and e-mail and IM, she’d, in turn, given me hers. All the guys came out and signed her jeans, and took pictures with her. She handed Ray a Canadian flag and smiled as she took a shot with her digital camera.

“Sorry,” She said as he looked confused. “But my friend and I think that you look Canadian, so we swore that if we met you this is one of the things we’d do.”

For some reason I and one of my friends at the time thought Ray looked Canadian. Like he would look really at home in a flannel jacket and beanie, standing in front of a log cabin.

We had a good time, until her cell started to ring.

“Hello? Ya mom, I’ll be right there. Ya. It was great! Thanks.” That smile couldn’t be taken off with the Jaws of Life. I laughed and gave her a hug. “Thank you Maria!!”

“No problem kid. And remember next time you design something either e-mail it or mail it to me.” She nodded and walked off. Gerard wrapped his arms around my waist and leant his chin on my shoulder.

“She was really sweet.” He whispered. Oh when he whispered…chills ran up my spine.

“She was,” I said back. Finally, at about 2AM I left as the guys were outside signing things.

End Flashback #2

You know a really great way to stroke your own ego at 13? Make two of your characters have a conversation about how great you are.

Oh this flashback. It’s… well it’s a thing. Hope it didn’t hurt you as much as it hurt me.

*Guys, Bam was in a really bad place for a while there. Don’t worry, he’s better now, and on a VH1 reality show fixing his relationship with his mom. Presumably for money.

**Fun fact, I have had multiple conversations with friends, a boyfriend, and a dude I date about how I can probably beat them up.

***Thanks mom!

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