The Skyfall Story
Throughout college, I collected many of what I call “lovers,” sometimes also referred to as “suitors” of mine. And what I mean by lovers and suitors were boys that I casually interacted with on a somewhat regular basis who I liked, and who would never find out that I liked them. Most of them ended up being good friends, and most of my objectification of them was just in good fun. A little practice to pad my ego, to make it easier to accept that I was really just a little too insecure to make a move.
First, I’m going to give you a little pre-requisite knowledge. Then, once the actual story starts, it’s going to be really important that you are listening to Skyfall by Adele, which I’ve conveniently linked here. Pay attention to the timestamps, and jump to that section of the song when indicated.
During my freshman and sophomore year of college, I got it particularly bad for one boy I met in one of my classes. Initially, I lopped him into my group of other suitors, casually gossiping about him as Cady Heron talks about Aaron Samuels in Mean Girls. For the sake of our mutual dignity, I’ll keep him vague and nameless for the duration of this story. Actually, let’s call him Aaron for the sake of parallelism.
“Today he asked me for a pencil holy shit!!”
As I got to know him better, however, I wouldn’t even really joke about him being one of my “lovers.” I truly cared for him. And he made me nervous.
During this semester, I was also taking Discrete Math, which I absolutely and genuinely loathed. It was probably mid-October and I had just finished my Discrete midterm. I’d stayed up until about 3 am studying and I felt like absolute shit. I was dressed in all sweats, my frizzy, curly hair wrangled into a bun (this was the phase before I started wearing my curls neatly), the bags under my eyes were packed for a trip to Timbuktu, it was just unfortunate. While I knew I certainly hadn’t failed the exam, it wasn’t my best performance, which was a running theme in this particular class. I decided that I’d just haul my decrepit body into the dining hall, what we call the Marketplace (MP) at Occidental, and get some coffee and cereal.
As I packed up my pencils and left the classroom, I popped in my earbuds (NOT AirPods, it’s important that you understand there was a wire) in and headed towards the MP.
“Ugh, I love this song,” I thought as I shuffled into the expansive dining hall and made a beeline for the coffee machine. The coffee in the MP is famously vile, especially considering that the Green Bean, our student-run coffee lounge, is immediately next door. But the MP had these nasty-looking brown, plastic camp mugs that I liked using. I think they made me feel very #cottagecore, sort of like I was a misunderstood, outdoorsy girl. So I poured myself a mug.
Then I turned and saw the Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
“This will fix it all. It’s the taste you can see, Chloe. This is a sign.”
So I got some Cinnamon Toast Crunch too, but in keeping with my weirdly disheveled main character plot-line, I decided that a bowl was far too mainstream. So I grabbed a paper soda cup and filled it with cereal and milk. Truly a low-point. I get ready to turn around and head to the register. I pick up my coffee with one hand, this McDonald's-esque vessel of cereal with the other, and have my $400 Discrete Mathematics textbook (my most expensive possession) crammed under my elbow. I make an agile pivot towards the register and raise my gaze.
I make immediate and highly intimate eye contact with Aaron who just happens to walk into the MP at that exact moment. I sort of swoon for a moment and continue my forward shuffle when for some cosmically cruel reason, I begin to trip.
I’m officially no longer in control and a kind of SAW-style Rube Goldberg machine situation begins to unfold:
- The textbook slips from under my arm and falls on the dangling cord of my earbud, ripping one of them from the inside of my ear. The other remains in my ear, and the music appears to be getting louder with each passing second.
- Because I was so startled from the violent earbud rip, I drop my cup of cereal all over the floor into a big puddle.
- I proceed to slip on the milk in my cute little breakfast puddle, and time starts to slow as I realize the severity of the situation I’m entering.
- My feet lose contact with the floor, and now in slow motion, I look over at Aaron and watch him watch me descend from the small amount of grace I had moments earlier.
- My coffee then launches out of the cup with the inertia of my fall, and I watch its parabolic peak. I genuinely roll my eyes in midair at how colossally awful it will feel when it inevitably sears my skin. Which it does, about a moment later.
- I finally land and the chaos slows. Again, I raise my gaze to meet Aaron’s.
Once I’ve spent a moment feeling deeply humiliated, I break eye contact with him and notice that everyone else in the MP happens to be looking at me too. Sort of like when drivers start rubber-necking a horrific car crash. Then, like a fight-or-flight setting, a nice mix of rational thought and self-deprecating humor kick in, and I yank the remaining earbud from my ear to stop the deafening and tragic serenade. I begin to belly laugh at myself on the floor.
The Rest of the Story
Aaron came over to see if I was ok because of course, he did. That’s why I liked him.
I never actually told him how I felt, and I think this story, the way I felt taking that exam, how I felt afterward, the embarrassment I felt in the moment, and my fear of being vulnerable, it's all holistically indicative of a former version of myself.
23 year old me, a.k.a. the me writing this article, I don’t think she would’ve fallen. She wouldn’t have fallen for Aaron, and I don’t think she would’ve fallen on the ground. And it’s not because he's ~secretly evil~ or that I no longer make stupid and clumsy mistakes. He’s a wonderful guy, but I’ve grown out of the girl that I was when I fell for him, the girl that carried the embarrassment of that day into an excuse for self-loathing, and a justification to not be honest about my feelings for another person. I don’t fall like that anymore. I would’ve felt ok leaving that math test, knowing that as long as I did my best, I felt fulfilled. And maybe I didn't need to be listening to sad music all day, making decisions about my dishware to express my personality, rather than just being myself.
After this moment happened, it was one of the first times where I began to think “why do I feel embarrassed at all? What do I have to be ashamed of?”
“The Skyfall incident,” as my friends and I lovingly refer to it, wasn’t really a fall from grace, much more a fall towards it. Thus, it has transformed, much like I have, from my most embarrassing story to just another one of my uncountably goofy moments.