Jackie.

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by / Christine Rho

Sunday Fun day. Not really. I was horizontal watching the best of 2013 as told by the news worthy folks as Access Hollywood. Something about babies, marriages, break ups, and all those stories that count if you live in LA. Then I received a text from a girl I was messaging on Ok Cupid. I couldn’t tell much from her profile, except that she was fairly attractive, somewhat artsy, had a nice body, and was “spiritual”.

“Wanna hang?”
“Sure. Coffee?”
“Sounds good.”

We met at Stories, a café/book store, where hipsters went to talk about bands and write their latest screenplays probably about drug addicts set in a Wes Anderson backdrop of some sort.

I arrived at the coffee and saw her. She was fit, attractive, nice set of thick curly hair and by all means, normal and typical of the setting. We gave each other the polite; “nice to meet you” embrace and purchased our respective drinks.

I felt at ease in her presence because I sensed that she was pretty open and otherwise sane. And as if we had been friends for years catching up on some much needed gossip on each other’s lives, we walked towards Echo Park while she told me about her latest adventure the night before.

She was apparently still babysitting a hang over after a night at Stella where she was entrapped into conversation by two Indian men who were apparently directors or photographers for Vogue or some such fashionable thing. She then went on to tell me about how one of the guys propositioned a potential job as his assistant for an upcoming project he was slated to direct. Of course she became curious since she had just moved from Philly and was looking for a job. The conversation got grimy, aggressive, and arrogant, typical of anyone who thinks offering an invisible job to a girl at a bar can get. He was bragging about his latest photo shoot, the big shot producers and actors he works with on the regular while stroking his beard (or so I imagined). Then “Jackie”, I’ll call her Jackie because it’s a good hardy name, started getting turned off by the conversation and wanted to leave with her friend.

“So why didn’t you?” I asked.
“Because he kept buying me drinks and I wanted to see if he was serious about that job.”

Woof. I knew this story would take a bad turn. Still, I let her continue.

“At the end, he asked me if I wanted to hang out. Of course I said no. So then he offered me a ride to my car. I was like Ok.”
“Really?”
“Yea, I guess it was a stupid of me but I wanted to be nice. So anyways, he takes me to my car which was like literally ten feet away and then he tries to make out with me!”
“No!” Though what I was really thinking was, “duh”.
“So I kind of punched him in his face. And he was like ‘I can’t believe you just punched me!’ but like what was I supposed to do?”

Normally, I would say “You go girl”, or something empowering along those lines but as I saw this formerly sane attractive girl starting to unravel, I sensed that this was not going to be inspirational for either of us.

We arrived at the park and made camp on a quiet spot overlooking the lake, and masses of people walking their dogs. As soon as we sat down, I knew this girl was trouble and boy did she prove it. I was barely talking at this point because my insides were starting to crumble with anxiety. Jackie was wearing shorts and she had scratches and bruises alongside her entire unshaven leg. I asked her about her aspirations, what she was looking to do, etc.

“I wanna work in something non-profit, in film, like documentaries.”
“That’s cool.”

I asked her how her Christmas was.
“Oh it was really great!” she said without a note of sarcasm. She went to this sad little Unitarian church in a basement somewhere in Korea town where a mentally ill and inebriated Santa Claus crashed into the service asking the congregation what the fuck they were doing there. She retold this part of the story complete with an accurate and somewhat disarming impersonation of this crazed Claus loud and weird enough that passerby’s stopped to see if Jackie wasn’t the crazy one. Throughout her story, I noticed her movements and gestures became more erratic and jerky like she had just snorted copious amounts of cocaine. Then without segue she jumped into a story about a guy she was dating, but not really, but was really her best friend, who she later fell in love with, who was actually dating someone else, and apparently gave lifts to girls cross country, Jackie included. She was telling me this story in such a nonsensical manner that I felt my insides strangled under prayers to God to release me from his depressing girl who was obviously on her way to crazy town. She kept shaking, and I saw the saliva from her mouth slide all over her teeth against her chalky lips.

“It’s like we were dating and I kept telling him I couldn’t date but then we’d sleep with each other but I wasn’t ready to date. But I loved him. And like all the while I find out he has a girlfriend? Like what was that all about? He asked me when he was in Florida to break into his house and I was like that’s crazy but I was like fuck it why not and got a ladder and everything and broke into his house and made this shrine for him with toilet paper.” I stopped listening half way through and just prayed for a friend to call or text me so I could find an excuse to leave abruptly. “And like all the while he has this girlfriend. Like…what????” She kept saying while laughing this laugh that was on the brink of a sob and all I could muster was a lackluster, “That sucks…”

Then she talked about the dance clubs she likes to go to and how weird it is that clubs in LA don’t get into world music. She went to a couple of clubs that played World music and ran into a Black Muslim man whom she ended up befriending. They became dance partners and friends I suppose enough so that she let him sleep at her house. And throughout the conversation she kept emphasizing that she wasn’t in a place to date, that she had to “recalibrate her emotions” and then the next second she’d be telling me a story about a guy she fucked after doing coke with at some party filled with 18 year olds. And about another guy she fucked after punching him in the face. (Apparently, punching guys in the face is a past time of hers). She was one of those girls who subconsciously or maybe consciously got into situations where violence, coke, sex, sadness, and dangerous moments of possible rape could occur. I wanted to shake her from her stupidity and weakness but saw through her manic laughter, jerky movements, and saliva laden grimace, that she was already a bit gone, which is what I wanted to do. So I let her finish the last of her latest depressing stories and suggested we head back.

I cursed Ok Cupid, Sunday, myself, and Jackie for this heavy feeling that resided in my gut like I had just watched a documentary on abortion in the Middle East or something. I wanted to go back home, get horizontal, and bury myself under a cluster of pillows and maybe a glass of wine. We arrived at the parking lot and I hugged her wishing her the best of luck and hoped that things would get better for her. She smiled this really optimistic smile and left. I went home and deleted my Ok Cupid profile and prayed to God that he give Jackie a break.

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