The Robin's Diary Book Club
When we last left our intrepid heroine, she couldn't get Michael Cates out of her head, even though he is the antithesis of her grammar-loving, verb-conjugating self and refuses to refer to him as Stone.
For those of you who are interested, there are used copies available on Amazon, and ebay. It is worth it for the 90s flashbacks you will undoubtedly have when you flip through it (I may need to post such flashbacks in every post, because I know some of you have the same memories. I was reminded quite randomly today, while reading, of Now and Then. Why? I don't know. And that made me remember the vicious fan wars that girls had over Devon Sawa and Jonathan Taylor Thomas. My generation was a sad generation) and it is good to have on hand to remember a time when GH was excellent and had a large cast and socially relevant and exciting storylines. The downside is that you will sometimes start sobbing after sitting through an episode of current GH when you compare the two....
January 25, 1994
Okay, so I'm obsessed; sue me. (Only Robin Scorpio would bother to punctuate that with a semi-colon.) There, see! Right there is the problem:
I'm sure Michael Cates, if he ever met a semi-colon, would put it in its proper place, which is nowhere in his life. (So how can I imagine that a person who thinks this much about punctuation could possibly have a place in his life, either?)
Probably this obsession has to do with my current boyfriendless state. The only boyfriend I've had so far was Roger Hollander, and I don't think we really liked each other. Then I had this large crush on Jason Quartermaine, who was very kind about it.
Maybe that's all this is about Mike Cates (okay, I'll give him Mike, but not Stone)--a raving crush. It feels like more, but how would I know? I may be some kind of sexual retard.
Tiffany keeps warning me about "raging hormones". I have reason to believe my hormones are awake, but they're not anywhere near raging. Felicia keeps assuring me I am probably a late bloomer. Then there's Brenda, who I guess bloomed early and could probably give me some advice, but I don't even know what to ask. Anyway, it's not any of their business.
Lucky for me, virginity has made a comeback. Given today's public health problems, abstinence is becoming cool. Still, I'd prefer it to be by choice.
Actually, I suspect the reason I don't have a boyfriend may have less to do with sexuality than with the conventions of communication, which I haven't exactly mastered. My never learning what you say and what you don't, or how to cover up what I really think until it's safe. And maybe I'm attracted to Mike Cates because he mostly can't be bothered. I guess living on the street doesn't equip you much in the way of niceties.
It's not that I don't know how to be polite. It's the space between "manners" and genuine connection that gives me trouble. Maybe I'm missing a gene.
And maybe Michael Cates is, too. Which is why he wouldn't give up his seat for me the night I met him. September, the match between A.J. and Jagger. (I loathe boxing as an institution, but this fight was almost a class struggle.)
Mike was sitting next to Brenda on the aisle. I came in late and she introduced us. I knew who he was, of course--Jagger's lost-and-found brother--but I'd never seen him. We said hello I asked him to scoot down so I could take the aisle seat, and he directed me to the empty seat on the other side of Brenda! I said I liked the aisle, and he said so did he--and he got there first. "What a gentleman," I said, meaning what a creep.
He's been on my mind ever since.
February 3, 1994
I am going to murder Brenda Barrett! I am going to chop her gorgeous body into small manageable pieces, and flush them. Turns out the reason Mike never followed up on seeing me again was that my friend Brenda had warned him off!!!
When I confronted her with this she wouldn't even apologize! Only for embarrassing me, but not for "trying to watch out" for me. Like I asked.
Like I need this. Then she says Mike is "bad news." She is the person who pointed out his assets to me in the first place! (Not that I hadn't noticed.)
I found all this out in the most mortifying way possible, of course--from Mike himself. I ran into him at Kelly's and he just happened to mention that the day we'd all been there together Brenda had told him to keep his hands off!
I blurted out (see, there I go), "Just forget her, Mike. Forget whatever she said!" Subtle, huh? God, I am so humiliated.
February 5, 1994
Yes! A Next Conversation
Jagger and Karen brought him to the wedding with them (Mac and Felicia's, which turned suddenly into Jenny and Paul's), and I guess he was wandering around the party not knowing anyone, because he seemed strangely glad to see me.
If in fact I have this major communication problem, why is it so easy with him? The only thing hard is not to look at his face too much, because I'm afraid what I'm thinking is written all over mine. But talking, that is so easy.
Mike has a way of getting to the center of things, assuming you know where it is, too, and going on from there. He knew exactly how I must feel about what just happened (Mac hurt, everything turned around): the feeling you are not in charge of anything that happens in your life, and whoever is doesn't know what they are doing.
What does he do about it? He says he tries harder not to care. If he has nightmares, he gets up and roams around by himself in the night. (The thought of this makes me hurt for him.) Tells me I could call him then (in the night) if I need to. I doubt I'd do that, but I am blown away by the invitation.
February 17, 1994
I ran into Mike again today. (Okay, I've been spending more time at Kelly's; it's the only place I've ever run into him.) He said he hadn't been in touch since the wedding because he thought my family probably didn't need any complications.
I was so glad he felt the need to explain that I couldn't think of anything to say back. He didn't seem to notice, asked if Mac and Felicia had set a date for a "rematch", so to speak, but I told him Maxie's sick with some weird thing (Kowasacki Syndrome) and it'd be shelved till she's better. He said he hoped that would be soon.
That is absolutely all that happened. Why am I so insanely happy?
February 25, 1994
So he finally made a move,
AND NOW I AM GROUNDED. GROUNDED?!
Note: The above sentence is written in "Robin's" handwriting, which is unsurprisingly neat. One of my favorite parts of diary type books like these is when they use actual handwriting; I always loved that about The Babysitters Club books, even if their penmanship didn't match up with what I picture in my head (I hated Mary Anne's handwriting!). This is the second time this week that I have mentioned the BSC. My age is showing!
I think Uncle Mac must have studied parenting techniques on Friday night sitcoms. The ones with the adorable families who learn warm, so-cute-you-could-throw-up lessons about life and love in half an hour? Of course those shows are on Friday because no elf-respecting kid over twelve would be home that night, and the sponsors think they can con millions of middle-aged people into believing they understand their children.
Did Uncle Mac think it was cute to ground me? He is not an intrinsically mean person. Okay, I did something that I suppose from an adult-person-in-charge's point of view looks bad. But why can't he see it in the context with the rest of my behavior--my entire life? Does this cancel out all the effort I've made for as long as I can remember to be responsible and make them proud of me? Maybe I got tired of making them proud. And who are "they" anyway? Mac and Felicia? My mother and father?
There is a point where if you work your butt off to do remarkable things year after year, nobody finds them remarkable anymore. They are expected--no, required. You are stuck on a treadmill of excellence, and suddenly you look up and see the world waving all the things you've missed at you. The world, of course, being Mike Cates.
Here, for posterity, are the facts of my heinous behavior: Last night, February 24: Felicia was upstairs putting Maxie to bed. Mac was at the Outback. I was in the middle of my usual ninety pounds of homework when the doorbell rang.
I went to answer and checked the peephole (a habit drilled into me since I had to get on a chair to do it) and almost stopped breathing, then felt like an idiot.
I opened the door and Michael Cates is standing there, so nonchalantly you'd think it was usual, and he smiles this outrageous smile he has and just says "hey." Great opening. To which I respond brilliantly with, "hi," and then stand there like a dweeb staring at him.
He finally explains he was just hanging out and saw our light, though what is strange about having a light on at nine o'clock in the evening, I don't know. "Homework," I say stupidly. "Drag," he says, and asks if he gets to come in "or what". This makes me very tense, wondering what "or what" is, but I let him in.
He stares at my assembled homework stuff like it is material from another planet, and we get into an immediate discussion about why good grades are or aren't worth the trouble.
He has this "why bother" attitude, which I suppose comes from years of being tossed around and nobody caring. It's not that he's dumb--you can tell he's smart by the way he argues--but he questions a lot of things I take for granted, like "the work ethic".
We are in the middle of this philosophical debate, and I am trying unsuccessfully to be unaware of his eyes, and he is, I'm afraid, aware of my effort, when Uncle Mac walks in and immediately goes all suspicious. I am totally mortified. (It is interesting how much time I've spent in that condition since I've known Mike Cates.)
I introduce them, which is hardly necessary, since Uncle Mac spent so much time looking for him for Jagger last year, and when I look at Michael, I see that a humongous chip has been hefted onto his gorgeous shoulder. There is a somewhat negative exchange in which Mike blows off the idea of school and Uncle Mac blows off the idea of him, and all but tosses him out of the house!
I can barely talk, I am so furious and humiliated, and when I gasp out, "That's the most horrible thing you've ever done to me," Uncle Mac makes this huge pronouncement: "He is not for you." Like that. Zeus or somebody has spoken. Then I get the "I am responsible for you" lecture I've gotten every time in the last two and a half years that I've wanted to do something he didn't want me to do(and always wound up not doing it).
I point out he doesn't even know Mike, but he is on Automatic, now into "I-care-what-happens-to-you-Robin" mode. Though obviously he doesn't care what I think or feel. He wants to "air this out" now, but I know this just means more pronouncements, so I leave and go to my room with my books.
Five minutes later there is a little sound on my window--a little haphazard tapping sound. I think it is a squirrel or a branch or something, but it keeps up, and I go and look out and it is Mike. He has climbed up onto the extension roof. I am still hideously embarrassed, and I apologize for Mac's rotten treatment of him, but he only seems to think it's funny and asks if I have plans for the rest of the evening. I do not consider the question long.
I grab my coat and climb out the window onto the roof and over to the terrace. Mike is impressed by my agility, says I must've been doing this for years. No, I say, I've been waiting for years. And I go off with him feeling freer and bolder than I have in my whole life.
The upshot is because I am overly enthusiastic in the pool hall--I believe my words were "I'm ready to kick some butt"--we get noticed and not just carded, but the manager takes one look at me and calls home. The rest is history. I apologize to Uncle Mac, but he isn't having any. I point out that his behavior was less than brilliant, too, but he doesn't take it well. I go upstairs and think about the feeling of Mike's arms around me, teaching me how to hold a cue.
There is a coaster from Jake's "taped" on this page, and Robin plans to celebrate her 18th birthday there...