This was the first time I saw the inside of their apartment, a cute homey place except for the racks and racks of horror movies everywhere. (Seriously, who wants to sleep next to more than one installment of Human Centipede?) I loved his cats instantly—he rivals the Mayor of Kittentown in terms of breakup pet-regret.
We tried to talk but we were both exhausted and not really getting anywhere. I said I was embarrassed about arguing loudly with Sadist Girl and he was all “Yeah, well, you’ll just have to mend some fences.”
“What? Mend some fences? After what she did?” I just couldn’t believe it. There was less hope of renewing trust with him with every word out of his mouth. I couldn’t believe that that’s what he was gleaning from the situation—a need for me to preserve some imagined friendship with someone who’d helped him completely screw me over. I just didn’t get why he was so desperate for me to connect completely and immediately with the women in his life, but, spoiler alert, that’s what he ended up calling the deal breaker.
Mending fences? Really? I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t mad at her when I was clearly so hurt. The more I type this story, the more I think maybe they planned it without me, that it was his idea all along.
Talking wasn’t working, so we went to bed. He and his wife have an agreement that others can sleep in their bed, they just can’t have sexytimes there. Even though I couldn’t feel safe with him, I still felt something like affection lying there in his arms, with the cats hovering around us, nuzzling and sweet. I really, really wanted this to be real, not just a hollow shell of a snuggle.
He fell asleep immediately, the blissful sleep of the not-panicking, and I lay there feeling trapped and sad and horny and broken. I woke him up a few times to try and get him to help me calm down. His face trying to stay awake was really sweet, but the conclusion was always the same. She was his friend, and of course he loved his venue, and there was nothing that could be done about it. I felt like he was choosing brutality over everything I’d had to offer, over the very, very much I’d already given. It didn’t make sense to me then, and it doesn’t make sense to me now.
Around 6 A.M, something piped up in my brain that told me I had to get myself home. I told him I was leaving and he offered little protest. He just said goodbye. I don’t think I could stand to know that he valued me so little, I felt like I had to stay and change his mind. I went back to bed and finally drifted off.
When he woke up (He kept mentioning a thousand times that he had to go and pick up his wife at a horror convention. He had, in fact, asked ME to go and pick her up, because he is man-with-no-boundaries. I’d declined.) Anyway, when we woke up, I told him to hold down my heart to keep it from breaking—he has these big, beautiful meaty hands, just like I always go for. I can’t believe I never got to write about those hands having happier times. Maybe I’ll come back to it. He held my heart down so hard that it pressed my neck and felt like choking-as I pushed his hand down, he felt exactly like Bill.
And yet the warmth from him still felt like love or like some kind of connection. I forget sometimes, I forget over and over that some things are just about sex, just animal attraction that I tend to give more meaning than it deserves. I just forget.
“Let’s go to the couch and make out,” I said. “It might be our last chance.”
I climbed on top of him and ground myself against him, that teenage dry-humping thing I always miss when there are no guys around. (Although, teenagers probably don't really do that anymore, now that I think about it.) No way in this world was I going to let him inside me, but I loved feeling his (admittedly insubstantial) stuff against mine. We kissed and kissed and he played with my nipples just as much as he possibly could.
He said “Tell me the things you want to tell me. Get the anger out.”
“Well, you are just gonna have to get it together. I have 23 first graders and I don’t need one more. In fact, I don’t need a whole venue full of first graders who can’t keep their hands to themselves. Be my hero and clean up your fucking mess. Rise to the fucking occasion.”
“No matter who else you belong to, no matter who else you LOVE, when we are together, you are MINE. These lips are mine, these ears are mine, this dick is mine. MINE.”
After I said that I felt a lot of the tension drain away. The feeling of wanting to claim him was deep and scary—I’m still very scared of it, but I am also glad I acknowledged it.
“Unless (the wife) is there.”
Ugh. Goddammit that wasn’t what I was talking about. But also, I totally can belong to somebody else if my wife is there. I think we’ve reached the actual problem, or one of them.
We kept kissing for as long as we could, and I made myself come with him on top of me.
Then we talked, and in a way it felt like the first real talking we’d done. He told me all about his family and his background, and how he’d joined the military because they called the day his mom died. I was uncomfortable with the whole ex-military aspect of him, but that was such a sad and broken fact, it endeared him to me, and when he asked me if I wanted to see photo albums, I was so touched and said maybe next time. This is what made it seem worthwhile, what made me want to give him every possible chance.
We agreed that we would talk a whole lot, do lots of vanilla things for a long while before we ever set foot back in a dungeon again. We made plans for a long walk the following weekend, assuming I decided to continue things. We were gonna give things a few days to simmer down and then talk.
Then he told me to bring a toothbrush next time, but to make sure not to leave it at their place. I need someone who wants me to leave a toothbrush. Yet another time when I should have just broken it off right then.
But all morning he’d told me that he was going to get better for me, stronger and more courageous, that he was going to be the man I deserved, and that, as an added bonus, he’d work out until he could lift me over his head. He said that I deserved everything I’d been asking for.
“And you tell that girl what my REAL NAME IS.”
I was supposed to meet Sweetie downtown for the flower show—it was our big date. I parked pretty far away and walked toward where she got off the bus, feeling disoriented and young, the way I’d felt when I first lived here in 1994—lost, unformed. We never made it to the flower show because I couldn’t stop crying, and that is what I regret the very most.