My First Love

The First Cut Is the Deepest

I majored in fun and minored in heartbreak

Photograph by Getty Images/Flickr RF

Doug Anonymous broke the shit out of my heart back at NYU in 1981. He was this gorgeous Italian dude who was dating my roommate, who at the time was Junior Miss Cape May, New Jersey. I was dating his roommate Anonymous Anonymous. He was no Doug, but then again, I was far from being crowned Junior Miss Queens, New York.

We all lived next door to each other on the 10th floor of Reuben Hall in the Village. Months went by until I finally realized that I had a major crush on Doug. I always knew I liked him more then he liked me, and although Junior Miss was way cuter, I had my Queens thing going for me. I knew I was funny and adventurous, but the most important thing was that Doug and I just got each other right from the start.

I guess it began when he let me copy off of his papers in our Intro to Writing class, which made me like him even more. We also spent a lot of time waiting around for Miss Cape May and AA, and it was during these hours together when we actually fell in love.

Doug was so beautiful that he was hired to greet people as they entered Studio 54. He was smart, understood my jokes and had a movie star's sparkle to his smile. He once wrote me a “like” letter that I wanted so badly to preserve that I Scotch-taped the whole thing, only to dig it out years later and watch it disintegrate into yellow flakes in my hands.

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For my 19th birthday, he wrote me a few quotes from a Shakespeare sonnet, replacing the word “love” with “like.” Maybe I should have read that as a sign.

He eventually broke up with Cape May and I broke up with Double A, and we very slowly become a couple. I’d bring him home to Queens to hang out with my family and my grandmother loved him despite his being a goyim. He became great friends with my older sister, and actually years later, when I left the apartment I was sharing with her to get married, Doug became her roommate and lived in my old bed.

So Doug was my boyfriend and I was beyond happy. To be honest, I couldn’t believe he really chose me. I was a round-faced Deadhead and he was a Greek god from Italy. But we connected. We talked for hours and hours about life, saw films, went clubbing — we were just two kids having so much fun in the big city. He never did come with me to any Grateful Dead shows, which I should have taken as another sign.

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About six months into our relationship, I was waiting on line in the dining hall for breakfast when I overheard two girls in front of me talking. Stacey was telling her roommate Julie about this amazing date she had the other night. How she and this guy took a bath with candles lit everywhere, and how he was the hottest thing ever. Then Stacey asked what room he lived in, and … I'm sure you know where I'm going with this.

My first reaction was a mix of disbelief and a gut punch to my already low self-esteem. Then my flower child, Deadhead side kicked in with the whole “love the one you’re with” vibe. I laughed inside, knowing how bizarre this was and how dramatic it was going to be when I confronted Doug.

I decided to play it cool and went up to his room later that afternoon. “Doug," I said with all of the enthusiasm of a young Sarah Jessica Parker, "I overheard the craziest conversation this morning.” He immediately got quiet and fidgety and just sort of stared out into space.

“Don’t worry about it, man," I said, finally letting him off the hook. "Shit happens.”

Deep down, I was beyond crushed, as I really did love him. He was my best friend and maybe because it began as a friendship, we were eventually able to go back to square one. Or maybe it’s just because girls from Queens are cool that way, who knows?


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