So I was telling you about Stan, the older guy who was my friends' boss who had moved from Austin to attend grad school and who had necked with me in his car or maybe it was my car in the parking garage on Sixth Street after a happy hour and then called me from Houston the next day because he wanted to see me again that week and I told him OK but he wasn't staying with me but he pushed and pushed and pushed and I gave up, which was stupid of me.
He arrived at my place. He didn't even bring me kolaches from the Bon Ton Bakery on 290 between Houston and Austin. But I guess he didn't need to, did he?
I don't remember if he took me out to dinner. I certainly hope so. So many good places to eat in Austin: Threadgill's, Chuey's, Green Mesquite. I hope he didn't get free milk.
I gave him some sheets and a pillow and showed him the couch, not that it was hard to find because this was a tiny apartment. I had gotten the couch at an estate sale in Houston and had yet to get it re-upholstered, which it badly needed, but its condition made me mind less that someone would be sleeping on it, even though it was white. When I bought that sofa, my mother sighed and said, "I'm never going to be a grandmother, am I?"
10 For I = 1 to infinity
20 He asked why he couldn't sleep in the bed with me.
30 I told him that wasn't happening.
40 Next I
After 15 or 20 or 30 minutes of arguing, I was exhausted and surrendered.
I wish I hadn't.
Because it's like vampires: once you invite them in, that's it.
So yeah. I consented, but is it valid consent when you have been worn to a frazzle saying no? And if you're a man, is that how you really want to get someone into bed? By exhausting her with argument?
I hope that he has a daughter now, thinks about how he acted, regrets it, and prays that nobody ever treats her that way.
Once you've slept with someone, you might as well sleep with him again, especially if he is very persuasive. Even if you realize that he is kind of icky naked as the human body needs some exercise between zero and 36.
I was 23 at the time. Thirty six seemed old. Now I know it's not old. Not at all. I suspect when I am 70, I will look back on me now and think, "Baby! I knew nothing!" But I have not changed my position on exercise. He needed it. Seriously. He did not have a weight problem, but he needed to get some muscles.
I don't want to make more personal attacks on him because that doesn't seem fair, but I will just mention in passing that I find men with a little bit of tan or some sun exposure on their bodies in the past 36 or 45 years and with chest hair also to be more to my taste. Just saying.
He stayed a night or two, then visited me again a month or two later. He got sick while he was there and I went out in the middle of the night to get him drugs and ice cream. No wonder he didn't want to break up. Who doesn't want a woman who will go to Walgreen's for Hagen-Daz chocolate chocolate chip and Nyquil at 1:00 a.m. for him? Plus I am a good cook.
He wrote letters. He called. He told me he had burned his draft card, which disgusted me. If you are sincere about being against a war, then be a conscientious objector. Back up your words with deeds. But telling someone whose father fought in the very war you protested that you burned your draft card probably will not endear you to that person.
While he was gone, I met someone I liked better: someone who did not pressure me to do what I did not want to do, who was easygoing and cooked me supper. I told Stan that I did not want to see him any more. Fair enough, right? That's the beauty of dating as opposed to being married: you have a Get Out Of Jail Free card that you can whip out of your pocket AT ANY TIME.
Stan did not agree. He wrote me a long letter (I wish I had kept it because it was so bizarre) in which he told me I "shouldn't be afraid of my passion" (I don't have the letter, but I have never forgotten that line - I wasn't afraid of my "passion," I just didn't want it with him) and that he had thought I would move to California with him. Not an offer of marriage, mind you (not that I would have accepted it), but just that I should pick up and follow him without any commitment whatsoever.
I didn't answer the letter. He called. By now, I was screening his calls with the old answering machine my friend Terri had given me because I was still too poor to buy one for myself, what with repaying student loans and all, plus my philosophy then, as it is now, was that if it was really important, they would call back. When I didn't answer and didn't answer, he left me a message that he was driving to Austin to see me and would be there in X hours.
I left the apartment. I didn't want to be there when he arrived. I was a little bit scared, actually. This was moving into stalker territory. Yeah, I know I'm a good cook and men like that about me and then the whole Hagen-Daz thing, but honestly? I cannot be the only woman in the world who can provide these services.
For the life of me, I cannot remember what happened after that. Did I talk to him at all? Or did he knock on the door and ring the bell and wait and wait?
No matter. We were done.
Stan later dated a friend of mine (the sister of the wife of my friend Nathan who worked for Stan), which I did not find out about until my friend, C, asked me why I hadn't warned her that my former boyfriend was so weird. I thought she meant my college boyfriend, who was also a good friend of Nathan's, but my college boyfriend was not weird,* so I didn't understand what she was getting at.
"You're dating M?" I gasped. I really didn't think she was his type.
"What?" she asked. "No! I mean Stan! Why didn't you warn me?"
I would have warned her had I known she was interested, but she probably wouldn't have listened. [See: My Landlady/Fairy Godmother warned me about the guy who was so mean to me but I would not listen to her, even though she had known his family since he was a little boy so she was definitely in a better position to know than I, who got sucked in by the charm. I no longer trust charm.]
Nobody ever wants to hear that kind of advice. "Oh, you really shouldn't date him. He's a lunatic."
"Really?" they think. "No, it's just Golddigger. She brings out the crazy in a guy. He's great! I can tell!"
And then, two months later, it's crying in the beer or the diet Coke, which is the first step, after which comes the frantic consumption of Dove Bars and then the dying of the hair. "Why didn't you tell me? Why why why?" is the lament.
But I tried to, you think. I tried. But would you listen? Nope.
And then you can't even say, "I told you so," even though has it ever been so well deserved?
The good part was that I now had two data points, two equations. Stan was the X. C and I were the whatever the not-X part is of an equation. Solve for X and there you go.
X + girlfriend1 = stalkerish behavior
X + girlfriend2 = weird
And then a miracle happens and you get
X = weird stalker
Don't you love math? Anyone who says they will never use algebra in real life is wrong.
It wasn't me.
It was him.
* Maybe a little weird, but in a good way, bless his heart. He is an incredibly organized person, like Primo but without the clutter. Well, Primo isn't exactly organized in the traditional sense of, "Things are in order," but he usually knows where everything is in the structured chaos that is his office. To the extent that you can be organized and be cluttered at the same time, that is Primo.
My boyfriend had all the pens and pencils with their points aligned in the upper drawer of his desk. Notepads were squared against the edges. Everything was perfect. So neat and tidy. He was such a nice guy and he did not deserve the way I broke up with him.