I am 23
I am living in Austin. I meet my friends' boss. He is in his early 30s. I think he's kind of hot, but - he's old and he's my friends' boss and he has a girlfriend anyhow.
Friends' Boss (FB) quits his job to return to school - out of town - for a master's degree. He comes back to Austin for spring break and shows up at a party I am attending with my friends. We talk. A lot. He has broken up with his girlfriend. So I flirt with him, as much as I know how.
(Remember, I am the girl who was not asked to a single high-school dance - except the ROTC ball, which is still weird, because I never had one nice conversation with the guy who asked me.)
In retrospect, I see that youth is its own beauty. Twenty three is gorgeous. Twenty three is firm and unblemished and glossy.
This one is the hardest to write. I don't think I have ever told this story to anyone in real life. (I may have written about it here before.)
I told it to Primo last week and his first reaction was, "But - but why did you see him again?"
And Primo is the person who loves me most in the world outside of my mother, my brother, my sister, and my other blood relations.
When the person who loves you the most questions your actions, how do you not question them yourself?
This is the one that causes me the most shame. The one that makes me question myself the most. The one that makes me blame myself.
And then I get angry because WHY DO MEN PRESUME? AND WHY WON'T THEY JUST TAKE "NO" FOR AN ANSWER?
All I want is for my space and my voice to be respected. All I want is to sit in a seat and not be bothered by some man who decides that his desire for company overrides my desire not for company. All I want is to be able to tell a man to leave me alone and have him LEAVE ME ALONE.
No. All I want is NOT TO HAVE TO TELL HIM THAT IN THE FIRST PLACE. What makes some men think that they get to decide everything? That just because THEY WANT, I have to listen?
So FB calls me from Houston after the party. He wants to see me again.
Stupid me. I think he means take me on a date. Sure! I tell him.
He knocks on my door the next day. I don't remember what we do - maybe we do go out to eat. When we return to my apartment, I ask him - out of politeness, more than anything - where he is staying.
"With you!" he says.
That was not my plan.
"No," I tell him.
And what ensues is an hour-long conversation - and I use that term lightly - in which he convinces me he can stay - "I guess you can sleep on the couch" - and then convinces me to let him into my bed -
DO YOU SEE WHY I AM SO ASHAMED OF THIS? DO YOU SEE WHY I FEEL SO STUPID?
This is why I don't tell this story. This is why I know this is my fault.
Because I let him.
I let him into my bed.
And then I let him - you know.
And - this is where Primo was in absolute disbelief - I let him visit me again in the summer.
This is the part I don't even understand myself. If he didn't respect my wishes from the outset, why would I let him back into my life?
He was funny and smart and - I was going to type "nice" but how nice are you if you don't respect a woman's "No!"
I liked him.
And maybe by letting him return I don't have to admit to myself that he did not treat me well? That his talking and talking and talking until I finally just wanted him to SHUT UP constituted - what? - is that a form of date rape? I don't think so. I don't. But --- I had no intentions of sleeping with him. None. I hadn't even thought he would stay over at my place, even on the couch.
This one still confuses me. I still don't know what to think.
Except I am still angry.
After visit number two, he writes me passionate letters.
He asks me to move to California with him once he graduates.
I ignore his letters. I ignore his phone calls.
He writes more letters, telling me "not to be afraid of [my] passion," which simultaneously pisses me off and makes me roll my eyes. I'm not afraid of my passion. I'm afraid of him.
He calls one day to tell me he's leaving St Louis and will be in Austin in X hours. I hear the message on my answering machine and look at the clock in a panic.
I grab my purse and leave. I don't come home until after dark.
I never hear from him again.
Four years later, my friend Cathy asked why I hadn't warned her about my former boyfriend.
The only former boyfriend I can think of is Calvin, who is getting married to my former college roommate in a few months, so I am very confused.
No! she says. FB!
Right! She is in that same group of friends who worked for FB.
"He wouldn't leave me alone when I tried to break up!" she said.
I google stalk him every now and then. What would I do if he were nominated for some important position? Today, he just rolls on his very liberal credentials (he's super big in renewable energy). Would a story about his behavior discredit him? Would my story? No. No, it wouldn't, because just re-reading what I wrote, I can see that almost everyone in the world would say that I was asking for it.
This. This is why women don't tell.