During my early twenties, I went through what I now like to call my I-prefer-that-he-appear-homeless phase when it came to men. It was purely an aesthetic thing. After all, I wanted whatever guy I invited home to actually be gainfully employed and I definitely wanted him to have a home of his own to head back to once I was finished with him – I’m just a girl who likes herself some solitude. But when it came to what turned my head in a dark Manhattan bar, it was always the same: longish hair, sexy scruff, a tissue-thin cotton tee that I figured I’d end up sleeping in one night very soon, at least one tattoo that wasn’t some bullshit tribal vine wrapped around his bicep, and a hint of spicy cologne that smelled like mystery basted in swagger. Only once did a man wearing a suit and tie cause me to stop and gape like someone who was tragically born without the ability to stop drooling, but that rather undignified moment did not occur at a bar. No, that guy was a Secret Service Agent who used to show up at Yankee games when George Pataki was Governor. This stunning male specimen would stand in the aisle behind home plate while Pataki and Giuliani chowed down on hotdogs. (This was back during those days when New Yorkers cheered Giuliani’s presence instead of wondering about which year it must’ve been that the man lost his entire mind and started ranting and raving on Sunday morning talk shows.) I sat right near them – I was blessed with a stepfather who has really good seats for Yankee games – and whenever that Secret Service guy was around, I could not take my eyes off him. I have literally no idea what happened during the games he attended because I never so much as glanced at the field. In fact, I easily could have been knocked out cold by a fly ball on any one of those crisp autumn nights because I paid attention to nobody and nothing except for him, though I did once consider that if such an accident were to transpire, perhaps he’d rush over and give me mouth-to-mouth like he was taught in Secret Service School. (That’s a thing, right?) I even started praying for out of control foul balls to pummel me right in the temple since it started to seem that being struck unconscious might be my only hope of this man ever sliding his lips on top of mine.
Then came one particularly memorable evening when I looked over at my pretend boyfriend who was wearing an expensive suit that nicely concealed his loaded weapon and he smiled right at me and sort of raised his eyebrows and nodded in a greeting. I flashed my dimples back at him, but in the next instant I felt all possibility drain away. Since he could hardly walk away from the public figure he was hired to protect and nobody was allowed to get anywhere near them without the right sort of clearance, I realized that unless I attempted to assassinate his boss, I’d never get to actually meet this guy. As one of the many differences that will always exist between Squeaky Fromme and myself is that I will never be the assassination type – and I don’t have red hair or worship a crazed guru – I realized with a tragic thud that this was a relationship that could never even begin. When his term was over, Pataki wasn’t the Governor anymore and he didn’t show up at Yankee games and I never saw the gorgeous guy ever again. Quick question though: is there maybe a summer camp for former Secret Service Agents where they show off their knot-tying skills and spend afternoons crafting one another friendship bracelets made out of lanyards and wile away the evenings making s’mores beside a roaring campfire as they trade gossip about who was the biggest pain in the ass to protect? Because, if so, I’d like to be Head Counselor.
I do apologize for that little memory-induced digression, but I haven’t thought about that guy in a long while and now I feel positively fuzzy inside. My point, however, is that I typically only went for guys back then who looked dirty. My vetting process stayed consistent for a very long time, until a bunch of years later when an extremely pretty man caused me to do an emotional double-take. But back in the days when filth ruled, one guy I was briefly smitten with seemed like he might be a real contender. He had long hair (blonde – not usually my thing) and his face looked like it would be scratchy to kiss. He always wore jeans and a tee, loved good music, spoke Sarcasm as fluidly as he did English, worked as an editor, smoked like a chimney, enjoyed stroking my hair whenever we were next to one another in a bar or in an alley, and had a tattoo that read “No Regrets” brandished across his chest in huge black letters. And it was that tattoo that sort of moved me beyond that type of man. It was that exact tattoo that made me wonder if I could maybe train my brain to begin to feel attracted to something else. It was that very tattoo that caused me to call my friend Nicole late one night when it was very dark and I could see no hint of the stars and whisper to her, “I just don’t think I am supposed to live a life where ‘No Regrets’ wanders through my kitchen first thing in the morning to get some coffee.” I knew: it was time to make some different choices.
I bring all of this up because I’ve thought a lot recently about people who proudly proclaim that they have no regrets coloring their lives or taunting them in their dreams. It’s a hard thing for me to believe is possible. I have several huge regrets and most of them involve hurting someone I love or allowing myself to be hurt by someone I shouldn’t have loved. While none of these regrets haunt me constantly, in my lowest and dreariest moments, I do wonder about their impact on both my mind and my soul. I am able to realize that it’s hardships that trigger growth and I can say with certainty that making some of those questionable decisions shoved me onto a journey where I learned some gut-wrenching but important lessons about life and men and the resilience of the human spirit, but it wasn’t like any of those lessons were fun to learn. It wasn’t as though admitting that I had a regret (or twelve) brought me any sort of immediate comfort, but I’d never even consider not admitting that my regrets exist.
Knowing him the way I did back then, my longhaired former crush probably earned the right to emblazon those words across his skin in indelible black ink. In the time we spent together, he was brutally honest – with himself and with others – and he also gave really good massages, which I know shouldn’t really figure into this in any real manner, but they were just that impressive. Still, though I was able to believe that his tattooed motto was both reflective of his past and a warning about how we wanted to live his present and his future, we eventually drifted apart, a choice I’m certain has caused neither of us any regret. He hasn’t passed through my thoughts in a lot of years, but I couldn’t help thinking about him during part two of The Real Housewives of Orange County Reunion because I think Kelly Dodd should leave that set where women who hate her sit on overstuffed couches and drive directly to a tattoo parlor and get “No Regrets” inked straight across her Botoxed forehead. This woman (who causes me to feel spiking levels of hatred whenever her grotesque smirk appears in high-definition on my television screen) spent her inaugural season insulting her coworkers viciously and constantly, yet she still idiotically maintains that she has zero regrets for any of her psychotic behavior. She wouldn’t redo any of it! She would happily inform Shannon that she’s ugly one more time! She would love to call Heather “an interloper” yet again just so she can prove that she can pronounce words with more than three syllables! She would definitely not walk back on the choice of appointing Vicki Gunvalson her Life Coach because who better to guide one fucking asshole than another fucking asshole? No, Kelly has absolutely no regrets for anything and if anybody so much as attempts to suggest that perhaps she should, she will just smear on some more lip gloss and take yet another shot of tequila and mumble that anyone saying such a thing is doing so out of pure envy because Kelly is a fucking idiot who sold her depleted sanity to Bravo and I have no doubt that she will be back next season because it’s the crazy ones who tend to get the raises. I will say this, though: I hope that one day in the very near future Andy Cohen feels a pang of regret for thrusting another preening narcissist with no self-awareness upon us during an election season that has already felt like an exercise in abject fucking misery.
The Reunion finally concludes tonight and I feel the need to announce that if Vicki is hired back for next season, my recaps of this show will be concluding as well. I just can’t expose myself to such a horrible person and her barely lucid sidekick anymore, not when I can better spend my time tracking down my Secret Service Agent who will surely enjoy spending his Monday nights feeding me ripe strawberries while inquiring as to which Real Housewife I’d like for him to destroy first. As I enjoy being accommodating, I’ll give him a list with the names Vicki, Kelly, Kim, Brandi, and Luann on it and allow him to plot against them at his leisure. But since it’s not currently strawberry season, let’s instead settle in and discuss how this shitshow finally ends, okay?