Skippy Boy Genius part 3
Skip and I make plans to go to the Raser City Halloween parade with his flaky artist roommates. The parade is a big event every year but it's been forever since I've gone. I used to go with my Ren Faire friends but since we all drifted apart, or rather, since I let all my friendships and interests lapse while I was with Rollerboy, I haven't gone to events like that. Besides, I always borrowed costumes from them. The only costume I have now is the vinyl nurse outfit I bought early on in my relationship with Rollerboy, back when we were still experimenting and things were fun. I've never worn it out of the house, because it's so short that my ass hangs out the back, but I put on a double layer of white tights that are opaque enough to be like leggings, and I figure it's ok.
The parade is fun but overwhelming. We walk and walk in a huge mass, carried along in a crowd dressed in fetish gear, as anime characters, as giant insects and aliens, while people in the apartments along the street above us party on their balconies. After midnight, as the crowd thins slightly, there's a scuffle up ahead of us and we decide to duck out, but as we're running by, we see a knife dropped in the street. Skip seems more freaked out by this than I am. I'm just happy to be out doing things again, instead of hanging around a mall or watching TV all weekend like with Rollerboy.
Skip has a new job, finally. He complains about the pay cut, but I guess his unemployment has run out and he realizes he can't be picky. Whatever, his starting salary is still higher than mine will ever be. He shows me around his new office downtown, where he's doing web design for a direct-marketing company that sells electronic gadgets, the kind of things you might see in Skymall magazine.
Our hangout time is now curtailed to weekends only, which is a bit sad for me. But I am glad he found something, because he was starting to get kind of depressed and cranky. Hopefully his mood will improve now.
His silvery spiky hair has grown out, looking a bit darker at the roots. He wants to get it dyed again but money is still tight, since his first paycheck hasn't come yet.
"Why do you need it dyed? It looks fine to me," I say.
"My hair is not naturally this color," he points out, as if talking to a child.
"What are you talking about?" The truth is I had never even considered that--it seems so quintessentially him. So cute and endearing, like his dimples and bulldoggy underbite.
"My hair is brown," he says.
"No, it's blond," I insist.
He looks at me like I'm crazy. "It's brown." He pulls out an old photo, from when he was still married, and shows me. He has an ordinary guy haircut, with straight light brown hair--he's almost unrecognizable. It's hard to believe it's the same guy.
"You look better as a blond. If you don't want to pay for a salon, I can bleach it for you," I offer. Rollerboy had naturally blondish hair but he lightened it with the kind of cheap drugstore peroxide high school girls use, and I used to help him apply it. How hard could it be?
Skip agrees, so we buy the lightest color of blond we can find at the drugstore. He sits on a chair in my kitchen while I slather it all over his head. The whole time I'm doing this, he's doubting that it will look right, and I'm brushing off his doubts. Bleach is bleach, right? It will make his hair lighter.
When we rinse it out though, his hair has gone a bright yellow.
"Agh! What the hell is this!" he freaks out in front of my bathroom mirror.
I admit it's not what I was expecting, and not as cool as his previous silvery white look, but I don't think it's that bad. "Come on, it's ok."
"I look like a fucking baby chick!"
I feel extremely guilty for all this, but at the same time I think he's overreacting.
"I could put some light brown over it to make it look more natural," I offer, but he's done with my amateur styling. After repeated reassurance that he looks fine, he seems to get used to it after a few days.
Undeterred by this near-fiasco, I decide to try dying my own shoulder-length dark brown hair. I still have a Betty Page cut and I've been trying off and on over the years to make it jet black, but the dyes I have used only darken it very slightly, almost imperceptibly. I try instead to go in the opposite direction--a mahogany red sounds nice. I get a reddish box from the drugstore, figuring that the color will be muted because my hair is so dark. But this too contains peroxide, as I discover too late. When I rinse it out, my hair has gone bright, artificial red. Like Judy Garland in Meet Me in St. Louis. Except unlike her, I have thick black eyebrows and heavy dark features, which jump out hideously against the Technicolor red. I take one look at myself and rush back to the store for a brown dye. After a second dye, my hair is back to almost exactly its natural color. It's a relief, but I feel profoundly stupid. Why did I go to all this trouble to end up back where I started? Maybe I should have taken a risk and tried the red for a few days? I decide not to tell anyone what I have done, not even Skip.
Skip invites me to go to the Raser City Street Fair with him. I'm excited to go, in part because the number of times we have gone out to events has dropped sharply since he started working. Lately, whenever I go over to his place on the weekend, he expects me to sit on the couch and watch him play some new video game called Grand Theft Auto.
"It's like a whole new gaming experience! Each scene is so detailed you can just sit and watch it like a movie," he says hopefully.
"And look, there are real radio stations in the car. Even NPR!"
I zone out listening to Terry Gross as Skip murders and robs his way through the game, which I can tell you is not even remotely as interesting as watching a movie.
So I'm excited to go to the street fair, instead of yet another weekend spent watching video games. Skip's roommates are even more excited. I arrive in the late morning at their place so we can all take the bus downtown together. They are the kind of people who spend the entire year getting ready for Burning Man, and they are going all out on costumes for the fair. They declare my jeans and t-shirt too boring, and give me a quick makeover. I find myself in a tight, skimpy miniskirt and jacket made of shiny green spandex edged with fake fur, with riot grrl pigtails and mirrored sunglasses. The only shoes that will fit me though are a pair of platform flip-flops. I feel super cool, like Betty DeLuxe. We take a bunch of photos of ourselves clowning around, me making fake guns with my fingers, then head out to the fair in high spirits.
Experiencing the fair mainly involves walking slowly through massive crowds of people, which is fine for the first few hours. We strut about, eat sausages and cotton candy and fried dough, stare at the ugly and overpriced art until it starts to seem strangely appealing. The weather is gorgeous--a warm, sunny West Coast day. I don't even notice that I'm wearing almost nothing.
But as the sun dips in the late afternoon, I suddenly start to feel really cold, and my feet are killing me from wearing someone else's shoes. I suggest to Skip that it's time to go home. We've gotten separated from his roommates in the crowd, but it's ok. We hop on a bus and head back.
By this point, the sun is setting, the evening breeze off the water has picked up, and Outer Reach Beach is getting really cold. We trot back from the bus stop as fast as we can. I'm dying for a sweater and a bathroom.
We clatter up the outside steps to his front door. Skip rattles the doorknob then turns to me.
"Uh, I didn't bring my keys."
"We all left together. I guess I didn't think about it."
"So call them!"
He has his phone at least, thank god. Skip makes a quick call to his roommates then hangs up.
"They're at a bar," he says apologetically, sitting on the doorstep and looking like he's getting ready to settle in for a long wait.
"No! I'm freezing my ass off! Tell them to come home now!"
"Why should they cut their evening short? They'll get here when they get here," he says grimly.
I can't fucking believe this. How could he leave the house without his keys? And why can't he tell them to come home and let us in already? Are we supposed to just freeze out here until his roommates decide they're ready to call it a night? I'm so pissed at Skip, not just for being careless, but for insisting that my well-being is less important than his roommates' leisurely bar-hopping. It feels like the screening of Secretary all over again, where I'm supposed to just endure whatever bullshit rather than risk inconveniencing someone else even slightly.
It takes almost two hours for Skip's roommates to return, during which time I share most of these thoughts with him. When they finally return, I dash to the bathroom then back to his bedroom. Once I'm back in my own clothes and warmed up, I'm ready to put this whole mess behind me, but evidently Skip is not.
"What the fuck was that?" he glares at me as we are both huddled on his bed, since the gabled roof does not afford enough space to sit upright.
"What do you mean? You're the one who forgot your keys."
"Yeah, but that princessy fit you threw was not ok. Honestly, I'm just about ready to run out the door right now."
I can't believe I'm hearing this. He fucked up and now he's threatening to break up with me because I got annoyed. Before I can get really defensive, panic sets in. Is he really serious? Does he actually want to break up over this? He seems serious. I really don't want to lose him! And it's not the first time I've been accused of acting like a princess. The more mature thing to do would have been to just wait quietly without complaining. I guess he is right. Shit! What is wrong with me?
I spend the next four hours apologizing and pleading with him not to break up with me, feeling deeply ashamed and terrified that this amazing, super hot relationship could end so quickly. I really love him! What the fuck is going on?
In the end he grudgingly accepts my apologies and we fall into an exhausted sleep, well past midnight. I feel like utter crap.
After this fight, we can't seem to get back to the fun times we had at first. We go to see the latest Harry Potter movie together, but as we are waiting in a long line at the multiplex, I give him my hat and gloves to hold for a minute, and somehow he loses one of my gloves. Despite my promise to him (and to myself) to be less princessy, I can't help but be upset over the lost glove. I mean, I really liked that pair of gloves. He doesn't even apologize.
When we first got together, we couldn't keep our hands off each other, but now he seems a lot less interested in sex. My sex drive is still as high as ever, but he's just not into it like he used to be. One evening he sleeps over at my place, but that's all he wants to do, just sleep. As we're lying in bed together, I pull off my t-shirt and wave my boobs in his face.
"Come oooooon," I whine. "Let's do iiiiiiit."
"No, I'm tired," he replies, pushing me off him.
"Come on, you know you want to," I insist.
"Stop it. You wouldn't like it if I pressured you for sex. Turn the light off and go to sleep."
I tug my shirt back over my head and snap the light off, mortified. He's right, I shouldn't be pressuring him, that's a shitty thing to do. What's wrong with me? Yet I still feel swollen with desire, and I'm just dying for some release. The sting of his rejection hurts, and in my double bed, I can't even get away from him. I lie in the dark awake for a good long time.
Once I do fall asleep, I dream that I lost my wallet. It's not until I have the same dream every night for a week that I remember this was the same recurrent nightmare I had right before Kevin dumped me.
The next weekend, when Skip comes over to my place, he sits down on my couch and says very seriously, "We have to talk."
My stomach drops and I feel nauseous. This is not going to be good.
"You know I got divorced because I wanted more space to explore my sexuality," he leads off. "Well, I don't feel like I'm done with that exploration yet."
"Ok. There are still a lot of things I want to do too that we haven't done yet."
"Um, that's not what I mean. I love you and I want to do those things with you, but I'm not ready for a monogamous relationship yet. I want to have an open relationship."
"Uh....that's really not my thing."
"Ok, but this is something I really feel I have to do."
"So are you breaking up with me or what?"
"I don't know." He looks anguished. "I don't want to lose you. I love you!"
I start to tear up. "I love you too! I don't want to break up either."
We hug for a while, but then he pulls away again. "But I'm serious, this is something I have to do. I still feel like I need to find myself."
"Ok." I'm trying hard to be respectful even though this all sounds like bullshit to me. "So what, are you talking about sometimes hooking up with someone else?"
"No, I mean polyamory. I don't want to be tied down. I want to be able to be with more than one person."
"But I don't think I can do polyamory."
"How do you know? Have you ever even tried it? You know, having only one partner is so narrow and limited. Everyone in the Sub Rosa Society says it's so liberating, like, to evolve beyond jealousy."
"In my experience, it doesn't work that way. The jealousy never goes away, it just gets worse over time. Believe me, I've tried."
"What do you mean you tried? Are you talking about ethical polyamory or just some asshole who cheated on you?"
"I know the difference," I say, annoyed. "I'm serious. I really, really tried. It was with K, my boyfriend in college."
"The blind guy?"
"Yes. We were together for two years, but he had another girlfriend at the same time. They were in an open relationship, and I was the third."