“Can you believe that?” She said, but more or less rhetorically as, even though I have paused the flow of her speaking by writing her ‘intent’ here, she didn’t delay between the question and subsequent statement, “I mean, give it some time.”
I nodded my head and felt myself slipping into judgments. On her, not the “she” speaking – who’ll remain anonymous for “her” sake. How easily I could be swayed into believing one thing over another. My forehead would heat, and it always felt like the speaker’s emotions (hot as well) reached a boiling point – or rather, a melting point – and it fused to my head and dominated my emotions. Like some kind of osmosis – I think, but I was a liberal arts grad, so don’t quote me on that.
But I caught myself. Just as my forehead heated, I stopped the intrusive, infectious assault. My emotions would remain my own – even if I had none. Here were the details we’d been given that I’ll accept despite not witnessing it myself.
Marc broke up with Luana. The next day, she met up with a “guy,” and slept over at his house. That’s what I understand to have happened. The sources, however finite and biased, corroborate with this.
Marc is not jealous or enraged, just shocked at the seemingly out-of-character move on her behalf. It’s implied that she slept with the guy, but even if she did not, it’s curious that she would sleep at someone’s house. Who is the “guy”? Old –friend; -flame? Some guy at a bar? I probably should’ve listened more intently. I don’t recall what his exact association with her is/was. I don’t believe it matters.
None of this information comes from Luana. I got all mine from the aforementioned speaker “she” – whereas Luana is “her.” We’ll call the “she,” Isabelle – I couldn’t tell you why. Isabelle relayed this information to me, thinking I would care, I probably would had I not caught myself. But I really needed to assess the situation for what it was – bait.
Whenever I reflect on my life – specifically people I’ve slept with – I think to the women I didn’t sleep with and pine. Sometimes I tickle these fantasies longer than they ever should go on – you can’t turn back the clock after all – but I dance with ‘what-ifs’ the way I child does with his hand out the car window. It’s absent-minded and playful, but lurking, there’s a sensation of wanting; a desire for this to last forever. I love windy days—
How I STOP tickling these fantasies is by thinking of all the women I HAVE slept with and the fallout. I much prefer thinking about the women left untouched, undamaged by me, than the ones who no doubt hold hate in their hearts for my transgressions. Yuck! I’ll have to watch my brow or Isabelle is going to think I’m thinking.
“C’mon I’m not going to do anything bad, just want to make sure we’re not still following her on Instagram,” she said (Isabelle).
Ahh, the password game, we’re not that close yet, “It’s ‘Isabelle Rules,’” I lie.
She types, clicks and grunts, “No it’s not.”
“Did you add a space?” However she responds will work.
“Add a space.”
She types, clacks, and makes a noise like a hungry lion, “Still not work—ing.” She adds a high pitch on ‘—ing,’ the kind you might expect of a onomatopoeic phone ring.
“Did you spell ‘rules’ with a ‘z’?” I ask.
“No-(wuh),” a peckish “wuh”—continuing the hungry lion metaphor… only now she’s full, but the sight of a limping baby lamb has her mentally drooling for the meal later.
“I’ll do it before you lock me out.” I take the computer and type in my password: ******** — you didn’t think it’d be that easy?
That’ll distract her long enough for me to continue.
I think Luana reacted… no different than how I would/might. Hopefully I’ve learned a bit from those past mistakes – I’ve had 2-one-night stands, and neither made me feel better; nor did they – I learned – stay secret.
I cannot fault Luana for sleeping with someone. If she even did. Having attended a traditional college – initially – I can say with some certainty that people love the drama. I remember one of my dormmates couldn’t go into his room because there was tape on the door lock – code for, come back later. I pulled this prank on my roommate once and he hated me for it. I wasn’t in the room at all, that was probably the problem. He needed a wallet or… something, but I wasn’t in there, even though tape was on the door lock. He panicked if he’d even be able to sleep in our room. I don’t know why I’m telling you this though. I have no good memories of him and don’t feel the need to apologize now. I guess my point is this, it was commonplace to “stir the pot” by making it appear as though sexual shenanigans were afoot when they were not.
Thinking back, only people who loved the drama of it all did this. It was like asking the RA for condoms in the dorm meetings instead of, you know, private. Course what was private in the dorms. I remember when Erin’s boyfriend would be in town – we’d hear them echo through the halls long before we actually bumped into him.
My point is, Luana’s choice, may be for show. That’s something I wouldn’t put passed her and it would be all the more reason Marc’s choice to dump her was for the best. A girl whose manipulation extends beyond the grave (of their relationship). That’s a controlling woman. That’s a woman, I don’t care to know.
Sadly, when I reflect on it objectively, if the ‘other thing’ happens to be true… she has my sympathy. Let’s say she did meet a random guy at a bar and went home with him. People that do that are looking to sow oats, they’re trying to hurt the person that hurt them and, in effect, hurt themselves. It’s not a mark of pride – another notch on the belt – it’s a stat. They’ve known you intimately.
Speaking as from a man’s point of view, I’ve felt “conquered” by these women. Even if I’m the one that calls it off, they enveloped me. They won and I feel emasculated… so my imagination runs rampant if I were a woman. Someone else was inside me. Ewwyuck. It gives me the chills. My one-night stands left me broken, somber, confused, and obsessed with escaping.
The first one… she went to the bathroom in the dorms, by the time she came back, I was very gone – literally and metaphorically. I was high and drunk already, but the realization of what had happened, I had barely gotten my shorts off… no wait, I hadn’t. I remember now, I used the slot in my boxers, unable to skip out of those. What a faux pas.
It was a disaster. I tried to appear everywhere that night. Cafeteria, smoking section, the apartments across the street, tennis courts (where people get high), 4th floor, neighboring dorm’s cafeteria. Everywhere. I ran through each of these, saying ‘hi’ to any passerby I recognized to disguise where I had been and with a woman I loathed.
“Do you know this person or not?”
And she seemed so smug. She’d play up the drama – she was one of those – and say how I was the one who initiated, but blame is stupid. It happened and it was awful. And I imagine she feels confident that she conquered me, forever a ‘number’ for me to disclose to truly intimate relationships. Ugh.
“What’s that face for?”
Shit, I thought. It was one of those times where my mental recollection of anguish managed to reflect itself on my present face. Isabelle snapped me back from the depths of memory – “depths” should be given an ocean connotation – as my brow mirrored the lowercase w’s and/or m’s of a beach shore. And you’d think that, because I were back in the present (on the beach) that the humiliation in my brow would even out as the memory ebbed… but the realization that this episode still had an effect on me even though it was 10 years old only creased my brow further. I wasn’t safely ashore, I was constantly being sucked back and pulled under.
“Sorry, just—” Not quick enough, “I was thinking about something.”
“What were you thinking about?”
“Where I know her from?” I diverted attention back to her phone screen. My Instagram profile was open and I had a friend request, no doubt, what she (Isabelle) was trying to get an answer on. “Her name sounds so familiar but I don’t recognize her at all,” nice save.
“So I should reject it?”
“No,” I recognized her, it wasn’t a high-profile female – no one I’d dated, slept with, or even regretted NOT doing either with. She was, by very definition, harmless.
“Okay.” She accepted the request, immediately followed by snooping. “What is she wearing?!” Aghast at her ratty jean shorts with a bikini top. I glanced briefly and returned to my book, “It’s probably a beach day.”
“Oh my GOD!” she was excited now. “Who is this?!”
I looked up again. It was a puppy.
The second one-night stand was better. Er, better for me. Had I not sought her affections after being destroyed by another relationship, we could’ve had a long and harmless affair – more mutual. But I had already vowed not to do another one-night stand from that first-time night (sshiverrr). So I made the opposite, and equally – if not worse – mistake: I jumped all-in. The sex aspect was one night… and I knew – when we reached that point – that it’d been a mistake. I didn’t sleep that night. She did, until I accidentally awoke her and we talked and watched a film together. And every encounter after that night was… all-in. I was the most romantic man imaginable. We went on dates – beautiful dates – we hiked, we danced, we played – anything but the sexual component to avoid deepening the wound… this did the exact opposite.
She fell hard.
We had had sex, and had I been another, more self-effacing man, I would’ve ended that night with a “I got mine” mentality… but the guilt, the realization that every one-night stand brings, that I’m ultimately alone and in pain, and tried to find the most carnal pleasures to mask it, made me react in a way that would crush her.
We never had sex again, rarely even kissed due to the fact that my guilt had caused me to unconsciously chew my lower lip until a blister formed and it was incredibly painful to the touch.
She didn’t mind – despite its herpe-like appearance. She was in love. I knew it. I texted, I called, I drove. We dated. And I had fun, believe me I did. I enjoyed her friendship and, like I said, had it not been for the amount of pain I was in, there’s a chance our romance could’ve blossomed into something… dare I say “permanent” – except I can’t say that for fear that she’d reach into my thoughts and be overcome with the dregs of our romance, causing fury at ‘what-could-have-been’; she’d take fantasy too far, no longer would the fingers dance in the wind outside the car window, but her fists would be pounding against a whirlwind, fighting to reach the eye of the tornado.
She was in love… but once the sex was a “distant” memory – all of a month ago – I ended things… even trying to claim that we were better as “friends” wouldn’t you say? Would you? No. No she wouldn’t. She was blindsided. She didn’t know what to say but accept it… then came the texts. The flurry of “pleases,” the begging. The self-doubt, the self-loathing. She’d had one serious relationship before and thought she knew love, until she met me. She was swept away in the hurricane and now it was playing lightly on her fingers, she wanted the torrent back.
I read her blog, her poems, I read her texts somberly – privately – and she was wreck.
And the worst part was that she hated herself. She hated herself for falling in love so deeply in such a short amount of time. She hated that, perhaps the one guy who wouldn’t privilege sex (seemingly) above romance, left her. All future boyfriends would pale in comparison… now it just sounds like I’m tooting my own horn. I do, believe me, I loathe myself for this. But you have to understand the lengths I went to to repent the guilt of the one-night stand. I fucked up. After the sex, I was in pain – if you can believe it, I didn’t even reach orgasm – I just stopped and hated myself… and she, no doubt, was self-conscious, but I stroked her hair and said things to her. Held her. It was comforting. And then, because I thought it would be selfish of me to play the “I was in pain” card to someone who had given herself to me, I thought it would be easier to repent and give her a life I couldn’t promise for eternity.
I gave her excellence in response to my wickedness. And did not have the foresight to see that I was doing more harm than good. You see, when I say no other boyfriends will compare, I’m speaking the truth.
Had I called it off after the sex, I would be the asshole – what I truly am – and all boyfriends going forward would strive to show her how much better off she is without me, how I was a loser and a monster for taking a girl like her for granted. In essence, had I been upfront, the narrative to her life would’ve been secured. She’d meet her prince, a man who would provide the things I gave a glimpse of, but for all time.
Instead, I brought all the romance I could inspire… leaving her to feel, I was the prince and she was undeserving. I left her. Now the walls will go up and she won’t so easily empathize. Boys will think she’s hard and cold… and worse, she’ll give herself away. She’ll think that “love” didn’t want her, that she’s undeserving, so she’ll take one-night stands because romance is dead.
And that’s the sad truth… I heard by proxy. She was destroyed and no one knew the truth but me.
So… in the case of Luana and Marc, and her sleepover… I want to believe she’s just a manipulator. That he is better off – since I’m closer with him than her… But Marc had confided in me and Isabelle that he’d been wanting to end the relationship with Luana for a long time (several months) in fact. If she did sleep with that man, then I can only pine for her. Marc didn’t want the relationship to continue, but didn’t want to be the bad guy and, in so doing, he’s turned into the knight too good for her.
But we don’t know. We don’t know what happened with Luana… but I pray she’s an asshole manipulator, because the alternative is unbearable.
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