Jennifa was one of my managers at the Bookstop. I had several managers. The top dog was Sondra, and under her were Gary, Cody, Mike, and Jennifa. Mike was the gay blinky one (I think it was a form of Turret’s), Cody was the one who had hired me, Gary was the smoker, and Jennifa was…. Well…
I used to hang out with her in the back next to the loading dock. We’d sit out there with the loading manager and stick our cigarette butts on the telephone pole. I have to admit, it was kind of fun working with a Julia Roberts looking chick who was constantly “Stoked!” "Nice!"(only it came out more like “Shtoked!” and “Nishe”) and who had plans of taking over corporate America.
In early 1996, Mitch started working at the café in the Bookstop and Jennifa was looking for a place to just hang out and drink because her roommate wasn’t cool with her smoking inside and her fiancé was in California. I suggested she come by my place since my roommate didn’t have any trouble with it at all. And while we were standing there talking about it, Jennifa (who had been eyeing Mitch since he started there) asked, “What about him? Do you think he’s a smoker?” I agreed that he probably was and he was invited as well.
Now, Mitch had found an interesting way to deal with the pressures of working at a low-paying café-in-a-bookstore kind of job. He had made up little stories for each co-worker on "who they were" and "why they worked at a bookstore". Mitch’s story for me was that I had a miscarriage and that’s why I drove a station wagon and worked in the children’s section. I was doing it for “the children”. (Actually, I drove a station wagon because if I’m going to live out of a car, I want to have room to lay down comfortably. The reason I was supervising the children’s section was, well, they made me a supervisor and that section was open. Actually, it was easy to work with and I like children’s books. They’re more honest. )
But back to the point. Mitch accepted the invitation and joined Jennifa and me in just hanging out and smoking at my Wildflower apartment. At this time, I was still lighting rooms with Xmas lights and the lights in the living-room were blue and green. So there was Cris, sitting in his big captain’s chair, lit by this eerie, blue-green, sickly lighting, and Mitch already thought I had a fetus in a jar somewhere...(I remember Mitch telling me that the first time he met Cris he thought that Cris would raise his hand and it would start to crumble, like something out of “Akira”. He described him as “the most defeated looking man I know.”)
Thinking back on it, maybe he was. Maybe that’s why he and I didn’t do so well after we broke up. I was fresh out of my parent’s house and there I was, supporting my EX-boyfriend on a more, but-not-much-more-than-minimum wage job. I was new at it, I didn’t have much to work with, and I was doing a better job at making it than he was. He had a car, he had a job, he even had a cat—but I was supporting him, and he would be “on the streets” if I moved out.
But maybe that’s just me remembering things the way I want to.
Anyway. Jennifa started dating Mitch after that. Which was really creepy, because she had been flirting with Cris all night.
Later on, Jennifa had to move back in with her parents in Las Colinas (aww--someone got depressed and spent $900 at J. Crew). Cris and I helped her move from her lower Greenville duplex to the monstrous house her parents were occupying opposite ends of. Cris was pissy with me for the rest of the night afterwards.
In March or so, Mitch's band was playing at the Major Theatre, a trashed older movie theatre where punk bands would play, and the three of us—myself, Jennifa, and Cris--went to see that. Mitch was lead singer for "Bean". The band broke up three months later after the drum player left to live with his parents in Seattle, the lead guitarist joined the Army, and the base player got in a fight with Mitch about God. This story takes place before then.
Mitch was nervous as shit and had already broken a guitar string. Later he broke another and the guitar strap came loose. "Mila, help!"
I was sitting on the front row. "What?"
"Come up here and sing that song!"
"I'll come up, but I won't sing," and I leaped out of my chair and on the stage.
I was scared shitless to do it, and I wasn't going to sing something the band didn't know how to play, so I told a story. The dead kitten story.
Cris and Jennifa spent most of the time on the back row doing whatever
and when Mitch asked her if she liked the show she responded, "I wasn't
really paying attention; I was too busy talking to Cris."
Then, one incident that Mitch confessed to me (because he felt so lousy about it) was the legacy of the broken plate. Jennifa was house-sitting for her fiancée’s mom and Mitch came over. He and Jennifa wound up fucking on the fiancée’s mother’s couch and somewhere along the way someone’s foot knocked over a decorative plate.
Now that Jennifa was living with her folks, and Mitch had moved back in with his, there was no-where to smoke out but my place. Cris was spending the weeks out of town, staying with his father’s fiancée in Arlington (where he eventually moved) so he missed out of this little gem.
Mitch and Jennifa fucked on my couch.
What I remember the most about this was trying to get to sleep. Image trying to sleep when down the hall you can hear:
MITCH: Oh God, Oh God, Oh God…
JENNIFA: Yes, yes, yes…
COUCH: Squeak, squeak, squeak…
When Cris got back into town, he said they were never to come over again. I think he was kidding.
At least, I hope he was kidding, because the weekend of Palm Sunday, 1996, Jennifa came over to our place to give Cris “a piece of her mind”. She had already asked Mitch for backup on this little reconnaissance mission because she “just didn’t trust herself”.
The three of them piled into Cris' room and started talking. I had to work the next day (I missed a lot of things because I had to work) so I kipped-out early.
And woke up to: “FUCK YOU! Just Fuck You!” Smack! Pop! Smack!
I asked Cris what happened and he couldn’t really tell me. Later on I asked Mitch about the whole thing.
So here’s what happened:
Mitch points to a picture of Gary Oldman from the film “Sid and Nancy” and says, “That’s a cool picture”. Jennifa says that’s what wrong with Mitch, he’ll never conform so no-one will ever take him seriously. Jennifa tells everyone she wants to take over corporate America. Jennifa is wearing a hat that Mitch’s friend Josh gave him. Josh is one of those guys who will never conform—never. Cris has a hat that only Cris and people he’s fucking are allowed to wear. Mitch has fucked Jennifa and there are certain clues and signals that maybe Jennifa is fucking Cris as well. Hat equals fuck and Jennifa is in Mitch’s hat—a hat given to him by a guy who will never conform and she’s spouting how not conforming is bullshit and that’s the only way you can get anything done, and so Mitch asks for his hat back.
Did that make sense?
This is when Jennifa screams at Mitch, throws the hat at him, and runs into the bathroom to kick in the cabinet door. Mitch runs in with, “Don’t break Mila’s stuff, hit me instead; I heal.” Jennifa hits Mitch and he adds, “And it gives me an excuse to hit you back.” And Mitch hits Jennifa and suddenly everyone’s crying about all those non-conformists who couldn’t take being crushed by the system anymore and all that brave-face hypocrisy bullshit.
But wait, it gets better! Mitch was supposed to put on a concert out
in Los Colinas but it was rained out, so we stop by Jennifa’s where I teach
her how to make a “rusty nail” (it’s Drambuie and Scotch, folks). We then
proceed to Mitch’s place. But we had left Jennifa’s car at the bookstore
(down the street from Mitch’s) so Cris and I take my car to go get her car.
I was walking the keys back up to Mitch when he came running out, “We’ve
called 911 and you’re welcome to come with.”
The cops showed up and found poor Mitch, crouched over a half-naked, passed-out, puking-up-blood suburbanite. Mitch still had glitter on his head from earlier that night and as the police officer pointed the three-foot flash-light in Mitch's direction, the six-foot-plus officer said, "Hey, I know you; you work in a coffee shop." At the hospital, we discovered what the problem was. It appears Jennifa was on some sort of medication that said ON THE BOTTLE to not take with alcohol.
At this point, Mitch decided he didn’t want anymore crap and quit the
bookstore. This, coupled with never returning her calls, signaled an end
to the Jennifa affair.
For Mitch at least.
I remember one morning in particular: Cris and Jennifa were in his room and giggling. I walked by and knocked on the door asking what was still going on and Cris told me to go away because "neither of us are decent". I left the house, closed my bank account, paid the rent and came home. It was my day off. On the way back, Jennifa and Cris were leaving the apartment to see a basketball game (her treat). Jennifa asked me where I was going. “Home,” I answered. “Your nose is bleeding,” she pointed out. I ran inside to clean it up. No-one ever followed me in to see if I was okay.
Jennifa denied time and time again that she and Cris had ever done anything, but with how she was treating her fiancée and Mitch, I couldn't trust her.
A week later, Cris tried to make good with me (I respect the idea) and said that dinner would be waiting for me when I got home.
When I got home, he and Jennifa were on the couch, drinking wine, and watching “Raise the Red Lantern” or something like that. “Dinner” was leftovers.
And that’s when I started packing my shit. Final straw time. That was it. I was out. Cris tried to cajole me into staying for a bit, but then just turned nasty when it was obvious I was leaving, no, but really.
And then the shit REALLY hit the fan. Jennifa’s fiancé came back into town.
Now, I swear to God as my witness I didn’t tell him. I didn’t even have the guy’s phone number, or any other way of getting a hold of him, so how could I? And there is nothing more insulting that having someone who you KNOW—I mean, you have evidence and witnesses and all that other wonderful stuff—but having someone how you KNOW has lied to you, and lied to you over and over again, accuse you of lying to them. It’s as if they deserve more common courtesy than you?
So I was in the back room of the Bookstop and Jennifa came back there and started yelling at me. Hard-core yelling, screaming, shrieking kinds crap and I HATE shouting. I stood there and took it because I knew that yelling back wouldn’t help. The noise attracted the attention of our head manager, Sondra, and then she and Jennifa were in a full scale screaming match. Customers up front were wondering what the noise was.
Finally, Jennifa was informed that she needed to leave and if she had a problem with that, the police would help her. She was fired on the spot and banned from the store.
I saw Jennifa recently. In the spring of 2000 I saw her at a local used bookstore, looking the worse for wear. Her hair had grown out and she’d gained some weight. There was also some slight scarring under the eyes from…from whatever.
Ah…. What do I know? She probably owns the joint.
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