Just so you guys know this one is going to a) get a little sexual b) get a little gross and c) generally be depressing. If you’re looking for comically harsh invective, this might not be your day. Try on Thursday when I have a fresh paycheck in my hand.
Not trying to be mean here, but I have to break down someone else’s story for you before I can tell one of my own.
I posted an ad on Craigslist, quite some time ago now. In my typical fashion, it was probably rude and not very inviting, a little bit funny, a little bit true, and mostly bullshit. That’s how all my stories go. But I got a response (actually, most of my ads get responses, they’re usually just pretty vapid). I answered, and was pulled into someone’s insanity, just a tiny bit.
She responded to my ad, that she was single, and jobless, but that she really had a lot she wanted to do. She wanted to travel, but it had to be put on hold, because her father got hit by a CTA bus in Vancouver. She wanted to go back to school, but it was just too hard, because her father got hit by a CTA bus in Vancouver. She had a job lined up, before her father got hit by a CTA bus in Vancouver. She really hated this time of year because, well – her father got hit by a CTA bus in Vancouver. We emailed a few times, she read my blog, and then she sent me a link to hers.
It was called “Bus Crash Blog”. It was nothing but poetry about how much she missed her father, who had been killed by a CTA bus in Vancouver.
That’s the whole of our interaction. I put my cowardly nose out of my cave to see what was out there, dating wise. And I got the picture pretty clearly. I stuck my head out, just long enough to see the madness in the shadows and then I bolted.
She was crazy. I called her Bus Crash. Sometimes, when I was feeling mean, I’d joke about it with my friend.
But the reason I bolted wasn’t because she was crazy. That was just me pigeonholing her, and pigeonholing someone like that is just an easy way to avoid getting hurt.
The problem is, I’m the crazy one.
I’ve told this story many times, and in many ways. And I realize now I’m going to have to keep telling it, until one day it stops hurting. Until the time I tell it and I don’t feel like I want to crawl into bed afterward and sleep forever. Until the day I realize I don’t need to tell it anymore.
I dated a girl named Jackie.
But this isn’t about her.
Jackie had this friend named Kim. She was always kind of on the periphery.
After my utter failure to win, place, show, or frankly to stop smoking pot and masturbating long enough to even _attend_ college, I returned to Chandler, utterly adrift. I sort of fell into a pattern of late nights and early afternoon wakeups, meandered aimlessly around town, stopping only long enough to get an illicit smoke in or bemoan my lack of “luck”. Life was at once moving too fast and too slow for me. I would whine at length about how my life was never going to take off, because things were moving too slow. But then at each turn, it seemed like I had been taken by surprise. Some unforeseen thing would sideswipe me. Another bill (has it been a month already) another friend leaving. Another paycheck turned to liquor and drugs and pounded down in a long weekend of crosseyed manic cycle. Another whole week spent sleeping every moment I was not at work, my neckbeard growing patchy and irritated with the sedentary, unhygienic sprawl of my life.
Eventually, I found myself hanging out with the only one of my high school friends to not leave town for school. His name was Deb and he lived with his parents, took a medium load at ASU, and was willing to put up with my self destructive emotional thrashing, so of course I spent my time trying to punish him for accepting me.
We went to coffee shops, we went to movies. We ate all the things that his mother wouldn’t make him at home, beef beef beef. We went to Coffee Rush. And one day, I noticed the girl behind the counter. She was familiar somehow, in a distant way. And one day, I walked in there after work, hung over, and I looked at her face and knew instantly. It was Kim.
We chatted. It was nice to have a girl I was familiar with to talk to, and she was attractive. She was my type, anyways. Broken, a little, but quirky. One day in front of a movie theater, she showed me proudly the landing strip of pubic hair she had dyed purple. The three of us rapidly became a fixture, sitting outside the coffee shop, smoking, drinking sugarwater. Eventually, this turned into hanging out when she wasn’t on shift. We became a little trio, wandering aimlessly in a group, which always feels better than doing it alone.
She and I dated, briefly and to no real end. There wasn’t a romantic link there. Not that I wasn’t attracted to her, but I think my milquetoast style didn’t work for her (it sure didn’t work for anybody else) and we settled into “uncomfortably platonic” nicely. The days were filled with unintentional sexual tension and general malaise. Eventually, she turned her affections to Deb, which was not an uncommon thing in my social scene. They did it up proper, a whirlwind of young lust painted with love. There was drama and phone calls and stolen kisses and deflowering, followed by the grim realization they had nothing in common and fighting and a breakup and then the uneasy wobble of our social triangle as it sauntered along.
One thing remained throughout this entire time. If there was a party, and there would be booze at the party – I was going. Little could stop me. Certainly not work, definitely not family, and my friends were all friends I drank with, so it was quite convenient. Each time I heard about a party, I’d just call up my friends, load them into my car, and off we’d go, to debauch ourselves on cheap beer, stolen booze, and loud music.
The three of us had been peas in an incredibly dysfunctional pod for about a year. Kim and Deb’s breakup was fresh in the water, and I had started to disarm the internal tension by injecting copious amounts of marijuana into the mix and a coping strategy I’d use time and time again in my life: When your relationship with people starts to struggle, try to get new people involved in your mess. It never works, but it makes the mess seem a little fresher when new entanglements start.
And so it went, until the night in question.
Daniel was my oldest friend. We had been friends essentially since second grade, though the length of our friendship was inversely proportional to the depth. We were friends not because of our deep similarities but because of the passage of time. It was more nostalgia at this point than actual fondness, but still, he partied, and I partied, so all it took was the talk of a birthday party to send me scurrying off to east Mesa or west Tempe or south… whatever. I can’t really recall where we ended up, but I do remember the booze. So much of it. I remember a river of it and I remember the waterfall of secondhand beer from Deb’s mouth as he doused the downstairs patio from the balcony. I remember Kim having her nipple rings taken out by the birthday boy. I remember her and the birthday boy in the bathroom for ten, twenty minutes, thirty. I remember the uncomfortable silence in the room when they came out. I remember Deb wanting to leave. I remember driving him halfway home before he asked to be taken back. I remember them fighting and making up. I remember Kim and I on the stairwell, telling her I loved her. Telling her I wanted to try it again. Telling her I thought she was beautiful. (She was. She was so beautiful.) I remember the trip home in my car, the vomit out the window. I remember it all, despite the booze and the tiredness and the mania. It’s set in my mind like a crystal fishhook, irritating and omnipresent. Indigestible, my brain incapable of digesting it or ejecting it.
I remember the rolling on the bed and the sweet smell of her and the cigarette on her lips and seeing her roll over to Dan. Feeling his fingers touch mine on her chest, the quiet acknowledgement of intimacy between us. The wetness of her on my fingers and her tongue in my mouth. I remember the taste and the heat and being tickled on the nose by that now-faded purple pubic hair, mousy roots parting beneath my tongue. I remember her telling me to lay down, and her riding me, the swell of her perfect breasts swaying as she ground down. I remember the hot spray of my come on my stomach and chest when I pulled out. I remember the laughing after, the awkward talk. I remember her taking my hand and putting it on Dan’s fat cock. (If this sounds erotic, that is the point. This scene is etched in my sexuality, every moment of it. Every bit of her will contribute, forever, to the basic code of my desires.)
I remember her being in a panic because she had to be at work. I remember she was still drunk and I was still drunk and I remember the cigarette out in the cold night air. I remember Dan going home and hiding the booze and cigarettes. I remember laying down, satisfied, drained, past drunk and nearly euphoric. I don’t remember falling asleep. I do remember the knock.
This next part, I have had to piece together from what the police told me and what Deb reportedly later told a mutual friend.
Deb took Kim to work.
Kim went into the coffee shop, and instead of seeing the coworker she thought she would find, she realized she was going to have to work a shift, drunk, with the store owner.
The store owner asked her why she smelled like alcohol, and why she had dirty clothes on, and Kim started to cry.
The store owner asked her if someone had hurt her.
Eventually… Kim told the store owner that she had been raped. The police were called. They took her statement, took her to the hospital for a rape kit.
This is where the story breaks down. Some times I heard that the store owner called it rape and she just said yes. Sometimes I heard that she said it first.
Either way, when you say a guy raped you… Certain things happen automatically.
And that is when the knock happened. Unmistakable, loud, authoritative. Five sharp raps.
I was arrested, and questioned, I was humiliated. I was disgusted. I was suicidal. I was enraged. I was sad and confused and depressed. I wished that an officer would walk in and just put his gun to the back of my head and make the entire mess spray, in a tight cone, out onto the wall ahead of me. I didn’t want to hear this cop try to be my buddy to get me to confess. I didn’t want to justify my story. I just wanted to stop existing.
I wanted the world to stop existing. I wanted to kill every. single. thing.
Finally the detective came in. He gave me a coke. He told me he believed me. He told me he wanted me to go take a polygraph, to help prove my innocence. He told me that it’d all be fine, as long as I just did this one thing.
“Stop thinking with your dick.”
So I did. I just stopped pursuing romance. I was repulsed by the idea of it.
My dad told me he had heard everything, and knew I was innocent. But that he needed to treat me as if I were guilty. He explained to me that he would “not have to have that conversation with his parents again” about me getting arrested. He called me an idiot. From then on, he treated me as a rapist. Things have never been the same. (though they are better now).
I mean, I had a few relationships after that, but they were short and torrid. They were plagued with mistrust and hypercompensating love declarations. I even had sex after that but never sober. And eventually I could not even muster the enthusiasm for that. I quit my job. I moved out of the state. I dropped all my friends and made brand new ones.
I tried to think about sex as an unnecessary biological function, something like defecation. To think of my body as a machine. To stop needing humans, all I needed to do was reject my humanity, right?
And one day I looked up and a year had gone past. And then two. And then five. And then eight.
And one day I wake up and I am 30 years old.
And now I realize I even miss the bad parts of dating. I even miss the awkward first date.
I miss the fights. I miss the unrequited love.
I miss feeling like a human being.
And I miss her sitting next to me and Deb while we stare at the fake lake in Dobson Ranch, wasting away the heart of what should be the best years of my life in the overexposed Arizona heat.
And I miss believing that someone could love me.