Friday, December 10, 2010

Devo Diary Chapter 2

Devo Diary Chapter 2:

September 1996

I go hiking one weekend with Sharon and a bunch of her boyfriend's friends. It sucks. I'm so sore I can barely walk for a week. If I never go hiking again, my life will be that much better. It's nice being in nature and all, but I'm just not that athletic.
However, since I get to know all those guys, they invite me to a party, which is much more my speed. There's a guy there who had not been part of the hiking trip, and he totally hits on me. When I say I love Jackie Chan movies, he says, "Marry me!" He seems kind of goofy, but Sharon says he's a nice guy. I'm not sure I want to go out with him. I'm not really interested in going out with anyone. But if Sharon says he's ok, maybe I'll give him a chance.

October 1996

So I guess I have a boyfriend now.
His name is a really common one, and I know at least five other guys with the same name, so when I'm talking about him on the phone with Nam and Kara, to distinguish him from all our other friends from college, I started calling him Buttboy. I think it's funny, but when he finds out, he doesn't like it.
"Can you blame him?" Nam says.
Maybe not, but I can only say that he's earned it. It's only the second or third date when he reveals to me with some pride that he likes to put things up his butt. This is not wholly a surprise, since he has already mentioned on the first date that he occasionally liked to have sex with guys. "Sometimes you just gotta have a cock in your mouth," are his exact words. So when he says, "I like to put things in my butt" my first response is, "What kind of things?"
"Oh, whatever's lying around, you know, cucumbers, broom handles, whatever."
After making a mental note never to touch anything at his place ever again, I insist we make a trip to the local lesbian-owned sex-positive toy store to purchase the correct equipment. As we're eying the various butt-plugs, one of the lesbian owners, herself with a butt so big you could set a drink on it, comes over to help us in our selection.
"If this is the first time you're using a butt plug, you might want to start with one of the smaller sizes," she suggests, proffering a tiny one about the size and shape of a finger.
"Lady," he says, "I've had whole flashlights up there!"
In the end, we settle on a medium-sized red one shaped like a lava lamp. This is a big success, but since it's my first experience with butt sex, I charge him with supervising the procedure, specifically, insertion, duration and, especially withdrawal. I'm afraid of causing damage, and figure (wrongly as it turns out) that he would be the best monitor of his own anal health. Also I really don't want to see the poo-smeared plug when it comes out. But invariably, he leaves it in too long, or jams it in too hard, then waddles off to the bathroom to extract it, causing further irritation as he walks bow-legged, like a cartoon cowboy. I'd like to think that this trip to the bathroom is for my benefit, but I suspect the reality is he wants to give himself a thorough scrubbing. He is seriously obsessed with his butt. He's constantly cleaning it, or shoving things up it, or talking about it. All this attention takes its toll, and he yells out, "My butt hurts!" all the time: in the car, in the supermarket, in restaurants. So Buttboy it is.
I never even really wanted to date Buttboy. I didn't even want a boyfriend at all. Even though it's been two years now since he dumped me, I still think about K all the time. But somehow, when a guy starts flirting with me, I can't help but respond, then things get complicated.
 Even the Johnny Cash wannabe who was my former friend-with-benefits won't leave me alone. When he left to join the Army Reserves two months ago, we made it clear that things were over between us, or at least I thought we did. But boot camp turned out not to be the make-a-man-out-of-you experience he was hoping for, and hanging out with a bunch of whiny eighteen-year-olds is making him crazy. So Johnny starts writing me letters on military stationery at least twice a week, and calling whenever he gets a chance, which is usually at 2 AM.
The third time Johnny calls, Buttboy, who's sleeping over, says, "You've got to tell him."
So I do. Poor Johnny. When we were together he never seemed to like me, but when I told him I was seeing someone new, he acted like it was this huge betrayal. I feel bad for him, but he's just lonely at boot camp. It's not really about me.
Now it seems like Buttboy is my boyfriend. He follows me around constantly, like a little puppy dog. I go into the bathroom to cut my fingernails, and he follows me in. Jesus! I tell him to get away.
And he smokes! I didn't realize it at first, because he was pretending to quit for a few weeks when we first met, but now he's lighting up all the time. We go on a short hike together, and he smokes the whole time on the trail. What is the point of going out into nature if you're breathing cigarette smoke instead of fresh air? At least he's polite enough not to smoke inside my apartment. He goes out into the parking lot by the Burger King.
There are things I like about him. He's very intellectual, and he likes to talk about my classes. It's my second year of grad school, but I still feel freaked out about all the work, not being smart enough to keep up in class. On top of that, this semester for the first time I have to be a teaching assistant. But it's nice to have someone to talk to about what I'm studying, even if he does get lecture-y about stupid shit.
"I don't like the new Simpsons," he declares when I turn on the TV to catch the latest episode. "It was so much better in the first season, when it was like family hijinks." I disagree, but it's not worth arguing over.
It's the same thing with music. Apparently there's something seriously wrong with me because I don't love Stereolab. What is it with guys who insist you love their shitty music? It's not like he has any interest in my music. I try playing some Carter Family tunes for him, but he makes me turn it off.
"You're living in the eighteenth century," he says.
"You know this was recorded in the 1930s," I point out. I choose to take the eighteenth century comment as a compliment.
When we first met, I also didn't realize where he lives. "I live in Bessemer," he said, looking up at me sadly with those big blue eyes. I couldn't figure out why he was being so apologetic until the first time he drove me to his place for a visit. It's over two hours away. I guess I still don't know the geography around Raser City very well. With me not having a car, it makes things awkward. But he has a car, an old Ford Escort. I keep losing track of it in parking lots, going to wait hopefully by the passenger door of other cars.
"My car's not that nice," he says apologetically the first time it happens.
Still, he doesn't seem to mind staying with me for the weekend, or driving all the way down here then taking me back to Bessemer with him. He only just moved there, so most of his friends are in Raser City.
Actually, he doesn't even live in Bessemer proper, but about thirty miles out, in a small camping trailer, parked in a clearing at the edge of a forest on land owned by friends of his parents.
"You're dating a guy who lives in a trailer?" Rachel says with disgust. But he's not trailer trash. His parents have a lot of money, and he grew up in a privileged but soulless suburb. I think the trailer is his not very original way of finding something "authentic" or "meaningful" to do with his life. In reality, he's just another slacker with his parents paying his admittedly very cheap rent.
While the land itself is quite pretty, the trailer is a nightmare. It's about the size of a walk-in closet, crammed with ugly, tacky crap he bought at second hand stores. Another way of announcing his nonconformity and authenticity to the world. He also likes to dress in the same sort of thing, ugly orange polyester sweaters and a Lenin cap, as if reveling in the detritus of even more soulless suburban culture or propaganda of bygone fascist regimes could impart "authenticity."
The trailer has electricity but nothing else. The first time I went to visit, he showed me how to work the chemical toilet with great enthusiasm, but we have to drive to the Jack in the Box two miles away if we want to wash our hands. There is no phone. He likes to take advantage of the isolation of the little clearing to walk around naked outside.
"Isn't this great?!" he shouts as he urinates off the front step of the trailer. Not trailer trash, not trailer trash, I keep repeating to myself. There's no bed either, just a "soft area" as he calls it, a pile of camping mats and sleeping bags thrown on a single-bed sized shelf. The only heat comes from a shoebox sized hot air blower, which make the lights dim when you turn it on and creates a slight sensation of warmth in a two-foot radius. The heater does nothing to dispel the damp. In the mornings when we wake up, the metal walls are covered in condensation. It's like living in a giant tin can. One morning we make bacon for breakfast, and the stench of greasy fat lingers for weeks.
The first time I go to visit, while we were doing it on the "soft area"/shelf, he looks deep into my eyes and says, "I love you."
"No you don't," I say. "You're just saying that because we're having sex."
He looks a little surprised, but doesn't say anything. K used to tell me he loved me all the time, but he didn't mean it, not the way I did. My love for him was so overwhelming, so all-encompassing, I could never think about anyone else even for a moment. I could hardly stand being away from him. If K had truly loved me, he never would have dumped me for someone else. When I met K, I felt like all that fairy-tale true-love stuff was real, but not anymore. There's always that intense moment when you're right in the middle of having sex and you want to pretend you're more connected than you are, so you say "I love you" but it's not real. People just use each other up and move on. I will never love anyone again the way I loved K.

November 1996

One weekend, Buttboy comes down for a visit. We're messing around on the futon sofa, which I've covered with a bedspread to hide the hideous pink. I'm sitting in his lap. We're teasing each other, just talking nonsense, when he says, "What's your fantasy?"
I freeze, ice in my veins, and look away. "I can't tell you." Of course then he keeps after me, but how could I tell him? All I can think is, I don't want tell him about K, and all my weird thoughts about blind guys and guys in wheelchairs. He'll think I want him to be disabled, but I don't. That's not it at all. I don't even know what it is myself. I can't even start to explain it.
But he keeps pestering me, trying to guess. "Do you want to tie me up?" I don't answer. "You do, don't you?"
"No! How do you know?"
"Because your eyes just lit up like Christmas trees when I said that. Come on, let's try it."
So we do. I read somewhere that nylon pantyhose are better than rope for tying someone up, because they won't cut into the skin. Anyway I don't have any rope, but I do have plenty of stockings, so that's what I use. I didn't even buy this bed myself, it came with the furnished apartment, but it's perfect. It's a cast iron frame, with a thick bar at the head and foot. Using my old stockings, I tie him spread-eagled by the wrists and ankles to the bed frame. Then I tie another stocking around his eyes as a blindfold. I haven't felt this excited in a long, long time.
I straddle him and stare down at his immobilized body. Now what? Sure, he looks super hot, but after a few minutes of kissing him and running my hands over his chest, I realize I've made a tactical error: there's no way to get his clothes off with him tied up like this. But I'm not ready to untie him either, so I just keep kissing him all over, more and more insistently, and as I do that, he gets into it too, and starts writhing around. Within a few minutes, the stockings and blindfold have come loose and he isn't tied up any more. So much for that. We end up having sex in the normal way.
When it's over, he says, "Wow, we definitely have to do that again. You were like a different person." I hide my face in the pillow. Good girls aren't supposed to do things like that. It feels weird and embarrassing. A different person, god, he has to know. He pulls me back by my shoulder so I'm facing him. "What are you so embarrassed about?"
" was the blindfold," I whisper. What am I doing? Earlier I couldn't bear the thought of telling him. I spent my whole life reminding myself, I can't ever tell anyone about this. But suddenly I just have to let him know the truth.
"Ok, we can use the blindfold again," he says, like it's no big deal. Arg, he isn't getting it!
"I mean, I really, really like it," I say.
I take a deep breath. "My last boyfriend was blind."
He looks at me a little funny. "I thought he was in the army."
"No, not that guy, I told you, he was never my boyfriend. No, the guy I dated for two years in college, K. It's just...he's blind." He looks at me like, so what? With my heart pounding, and feeling like I might throw up, I add in a tiny voice, "I think it's sexy."
"Big deal," he laughs, staring at me. "Why are you so worked up about this?"
"Come on, it's weird," I say defensively. "Not just blind guys. Any guy with a, uh, disability. I think it's sexy." I can still barely get the words out. My mouth doesn't even want to form the sounds.
"I don't understand why you buried this."
"I thought you wouldn't, uh, want to let me tie you up if you knew," I say.
He shakes his head and gives me that duh look, like I've just said something incredibly stupid. "I don't know why you buried this," he says again. "It's nothing. You can keep tying me up if you want."
I smile. Maybe he's right, it is nothing. He keeps telling me it's ok. Lots of people have fetishes. Rachel's boyfriend Pete has a thing for bodily fluids. She told me that he asked her to pee on him, which is kinda hot if you ask me. A few weeks ago, when we were all at a party at their house, Sharon announced that she had to change her tampon, and Pete got this funny look on his face and asked if he could have it, so she wrapped it up in tin foil and gave it to him. Rachel thought it was hilarious. Maybe I'm not so weird after all.

December 1996

In the first month or two that we were dating, Buttboy would come pick me up and drive all the way back to the trailer, but now he's started to complain.
"You want me to drive all the way down there and all the way back just to see you? That's four hours in the car."
So I start taking the bus every weekend, doing my homework on the way and grading homework in the trailer at night. At the insistence of his parents, Buttboy got a job finally, but to piss them off, it's a job as a bartender at a dive bar on the outskirts of town called the Hitchin' Post. It's the kind of place that opens at 11 am to accommodate the local drunks. Junkies shoot heroin in the bathroom at night, and he calls the cops at least twice a week to break up fights. Whenever I go to visit, we spend Saturday afternoon together, then he goes to the bar while I stay by myself in the freezing cold trailer in the middle of nowhere, making ramen for dinner and grading student papers, all the time wondering when he'll come home, or if there was another fight at the bar. Every time he promises he'll try to get off work early, but he's never back before 2 AM, then I have to catch the bus back on Sunday morning. Ugh, this sucks.
Still, the sex is pretty hot. Whenever he does come to my place he lets me tie him to the bed frame. I'm not that good at it though. No matter what I do, the bonds come loose halfway through. Sometimes he'll just stay in the same position and pretend, but lately he's been doing that less and less.
"This is stupid," he says, pulling the limp stocking off his wrists. I know, I'm no dominatrix, but why can't he just play along?
We've been bickering more and more over stupid shit. I can tell when I'm really getting on his nerves because he has to go outside for a smoke. He's been smoking a lot more lately.

January 1997

Over the winter break, Buttboy calls me while I'm back east at my parents' house.
"I went to the doctor today," he says, sounding upset. "He says I have a hernia. I told you! I said something inside me was broken."
Huh? I vaguely recall him saying something like that before I left, but I thought he meant psychologically.
"You said I was fine, but you were wrong," he continues accusingly. "I know when it happened, too. It was that time we did it a few weeks ago. This is your fault."
"What? How is this my fault? Don't you think it's from lifting those beer kegs at work?"
"No, it was that last time we did it, and I came really hard--I swear I felt something snap. How could you do this to me?"
I can not convince him that it isn't my fault.
He explains to me that he has an inguinal hernia, meaning that the muscles in his lower abdominal wall separated just enough to allow part of his small intestine to protrude. There's actually nothing to see, but you can feel a little lump at the very bottom of his belly on the right side near his leg. From now until he has the surgery to correct it next month, he has to wear a truss, which is really just a cheap-looking plastic bulb attached to a strap that pushes the intestine back in. He's all freaked out about how gross it is, but I think it's kinda cool.
His surgery is going to be at a hospital here in Raser City. After I return from the break, I suggest that he should stay here while he recovers.
"No," he says, "I'm going to stay with my sister. Besides, I'll be fine in a few days. In the old days, they had to sew the muscles back together, and it took forever to heal, but now there's a new procedure. I'll have a mesh placed over the muscles that will hold them together. Recovery is three days, max."
"Come on," I plead. "I'll take care of you."
He looks at me suspiciously. "Oh yeah, I'm sure you'd like that," he says. "It's better than tying me up, huh?"
I blush, but once I have the idea in my head, I have got to make it happen. "I can lay out the futon bed, and you can lay in the front room and watch TV, with the bathroom right next to you. I'll rent movies and make whatever you want to eat," I offer. It takes some coaxing, but I think I've convinced him now.

February 1997

The day before his surgery, Buttboy drives down with his stuff. I lay out the futon bed in the living room like I promised, although now the apartment is really crowded. It's hard to even walk around and I have to sort of hover over the desk to use the computer because there's no room for the chair.
Buttboy is completely freaked out about the surgery. I didn't fully realize it until now, because he kept saying how it was just an outpatient procedure, no big deal. But as I'm making dinner (bangers and mash, his favorite), all of a sudden he goes, "Maybe I should skip the surgery."
"What are you talking about? You were just complaining about how long you had to wait."
"Yeah, but they'll be cutting me open while I'm unconscious. Who knows what they'll put in me."
I flip the mashed potatoes in the pan. "First, you said you won't be fully unconscious, and second, you know they're just putting the mesh in."
He's sitting on the bed behind me as I cook, and I can hear him squirming around, the bed springs squeaking. "But I'll be sedated. They could do anything! Like horrible experiments or something. What if they try to turn me into a cyborg?"
What the hell? I assume he's joking, but when I turn around, he's crying. Real big fat tears streaming down his face. "Have you been reading the Cyborg Manifesto again?" I ask. It's one of the books for my grad seminar "Futurist Feminisms" which I think is mostly BS but he's obsessed with it.
He nods miserably. I scrape the mashed potatoes and sausages onto plates and set them on the tiny card table by the bed and walk-in closet, then sit down next to him and put my arms around him. It takes me half an hour to convince him that the doctors are not going to try to make him into a cyborg, and by then our dinner is cold.
After dinner, I grade papers and do homework while he watches TV, then when I'm finished I check my email. And there, sitting in my inbox is a message from K.
I feel all the blood drain out of my head, and my stomach harden into a knot. Why has he written to me? In that last screaming match on the telephone after he dumped me, when I couldn't bear to hang up because the idea of never speaking to him again was too huge to comprehend, I had said I would contact him again in ten years, but until then, radio silence. It seemed like a good compromise at the time, when I couldn't bear to say never. Ten years still seemed like forever, but talking to him was even worse. Almost two years have gone by, but I never once thought of writing him. No contact, we agreed. So why is he writing now?
With a shaking hand, I open the message. It's short.

Hi there, I just wanted to see how you are doing. Maybe enough time has passed that you no longer feel like perforating my liver with a steak knife. You accused me of ruining your life, but I'm sure that's not true. How is grad school? I'm sure you're doing well.
I'm still with M***. She convinced me to grow my hair out again, and now it's long enough to put in a ponytail. I'm still doing massages at the fitness center. Did you know your ex-housemate Julie is the sister of one of my coworkers? Small world, isn't it.

I stare at the message, the lines all jumbling together as I hover over the desk.
"Hey," Buttboy says from where he's lying on the futon, "Can we go to bed already? My sister's coming to pick us up at 7 AM."
I turn to him, stricken. "I just got an email from K."
"So what?" He goes to brush his teeth, as I sink slowly onto the edge of the futon, the lines from the email still running around in my head. K is still with that bitch he dumped me for. And that line about his hair--why put that in there except to needle me? He knows I liked his hair long. We almost split up when he shaved his head. So he broke our ten years of silence pact, and for what? To torture me with how happy and handsome he is with some other girl? I feel a squeezing in my chest. All that old heartache which had finally started to fade now comes back as sharp as ever.
Buttboy finishes his teeth and crawls under the covers. "Come on, get ready for bed," he demands.
"You don't understand!" I insist. "This is K! I told you what this means to me! How could he just write to me like nothing happened?!" I start to cry.
"Hey! Can we focus here? I'm the one having surgery tomorrow! Me! Can't you put your own selfish concerns aside for one minute and think about me?" he whines.
We go around and around like this for a long time, both of us crying and stuck in our own personal misery, until we're too exhausted to continue.
God damn it K, I'm sick of you having so much power over me. I have other things going on in my life now. I don't have time to think about you.

February 1997

I bribe one of the other TAs to cover my class for me so I can go to the hospital with Buttboy and his sister and brother-in-law. There's no way I'm going to miss this. As we walk along the airy, antiseptic corridors, I feel strangely excited. I don't know why, hospitals just do that to me. I never understood people who are phobic about hospitals. Just being there gives me a kind of fluttery feeling in the pit of my stomach.
The procedure doesn't last that long. I pass the time in the waiting room doing school work. In about an hour, a nurse comes to tell us the operation went fine, and after another hour we're allowed into his room. Well, it isn't a room, exactly, just a curtained-off area. He's sitting in a chair wearing nothing but a surgical gown, and completely out of his head on morphine.
It's so strange, because he seems perfectly lucid, making crude jokes and gesturing around wildly like he always does. Except he doesn't seem to notice that whenever he gestures, his gown falls open, exposing his junk to the world. Also he keeps doing that junkie thing of restarting conversations from hours ago as if they had just happened. We sit with him, joking and chatting, while the nurses feed him orange juice and check his vitals every so often. He's hooked up to a machine that I guess monitors his heart rate and blood pressure. I can see numbers flashing on a display behind him, and every so often it emits an electronic beep. After we had been sitting there for at least an hour, all of a sudden he notices the beeping and turns around in alarm.
"What the hell is that?" he exclaims, his face, already pale from the surgery, going even whiter.
I look at him completely deadpan. "It's programming your cybernetic implants," I explain.
He freezes for a second, his eyes bugging out, then he starts thrashing around and yelling, "Get it off! Get it off!"
"She's just kidding!" his sister shouts, doubled over laughing. He had been carrying on about the cyborg thing the whole way over in the car.
He looks at me suspiciously, but fortunately for me, in his drugged-out state he can't concentrate on anything for more than a few seconds, and soon he's rambling on about something else.
By the afternoon he's allowed to leave. We settle him in the futon bed and he falls asleep almost immediately. When he wakes up later, I give him some water in a bottle with a sport top and some crackers, then help him get to the bathroom. He doesn't like the water bottle, says it made him feel like a hamster. I don't like the idea of him getting up to use the toilet. The incision is right at his groin, where all the big muscles come together. Whether he's sitting up or walking, it's impossible not to pull on the stitches. But he insists, going on and on about how his muscles could atrophy if he doesn't get up. I try to explain that it takes longer than a few hours for muscles to atrophy, but he doesn't believe me. When he lies down again, he shows me the incision, and lets me feel the little square under the skin. I felt dizzy poking at it. It's inside him now forever.
I let him have the futon to himself tonight, and go to my own bed in the back room, but I can't sleep. Whenever I close my eyes, I see horrifying visions of him stretched out on an operating table, pulled taut and sliced open. Now that it's over, suddenly I'm afraid for him after the fact--anything could have gone wrong. I hate myself for feeling turned on at the hospital. I don't want him hurt. Oh god, what is wrong with me?

February 1997

It's been two days now since the surgery. The morning of the first day was rough--the painkillers wore off and the doctor didn't want to give him more, but eventually we got just one more dose, and that seemed to be enough. He doesn't seem to be hurting that much now.
I've been staying home as much as I can, bringing him food and water, keeping him company while he reads or watches TV. I still have to go to school for a few hours every day, but the whole time I'm thinking to myself, there's a naked man lying helpless in my bed, waiting for me to get home. I'm so turned on all the time, and it's killing me because we can't have sex until the incision is fully healed.
"I bet you're just loving this," he says suspiciously as I bring him a water bottle or a slice of toast. Well, and why not? I told him the truth about me and he said it was ok. I'm not burying this part of me any more. After the first night, I've been sleeping in the futon with him, but lying naked beside him, it's just too much. I asks if he minds if I masturbate, and he says go ahead, so I do, pressed up next to him, almost as if we're having sex. Almost. I do it again the next day too. I just can't help myself.
Now that the drugs have worn off, he doesn't remember much about the day of the surgery. He does remember me teasing him about the cyborg thing, though.
"How could you say that?" he says, although he's half laughing himself. He admits that he was raving about cyborgs the whole time the doctor was operating on him too.
"I'm sorry," I say. "I know it's scary to be cut open. You feel vulnerable, like anything could happen." I tell him about my panic attack the night after the surgery, and he seems touched.
"Thanks for being brave for me," he says. "You don't have to worry, it's ok now." We hug, and I've never felt so close to him. We talk about all the things we want to do together when he's healed: trips down the coast, a live show, a new restaurant.
I finally write back to K and tell him off. I'm so angry at him--how dare he disrupt my life, and at the worst possible moment. He broke up with me; he's go no right to barge back in whenever he feels like it. I tell him not to contact me again until the ten years are up. I still can't bring myself to say never. In his response, he writes back, "Why do you always push people away?"
That stings. The words keep echoing in my head, dragging me down, making me cry. I don't think I push people away, do I? Maybe he's right. Well, it's too late for him, but I have a real boyfriend now, and I won't push him away. I'm resolved to be nicer to him, to stop teasing and bickering and treat him right. We're together forever now.

March 1997

I don't know what is up with Buttboy. He was barely healed from the surgery before he headed back to Bessemer, saying he couldn't take any more days off work. For the past few weeks we talk on the phone pretty often but we've only seen each other a few times. We've been fighting worse than ever. He's all mad because I don't like hanging out getting wasted with his friends, but when we only get to see each other for a few hours on the weekend, why can't we have some alone time? Even though we met through Sharon, it turns out he doesn't really hang out with her, and his circle of friends is pretty separate from mine.
"You think people don't notice how you blow them off, but they do," he says. "Why does it always have to be your way or fuck you?"
I grit my teeth. "Your friends are hipster douchebags."
"Oh yeah? Well, your friends are dirty hippies." Actually that's true. Last week I was visiting Sharon at her house, and she hopped up on the kitchen counter as we were chatting, at the corner where it forms a V, and sat with her legs spread wide open on either side, which would not have been a big deal except that she was, as usual, wearing a long tie-dyed dress and no underwear. That was a bit much even for me.
So Buttboy and I hate each other's friends, and suddenly everything between us has become a battle of wills. He never wants to come down to visit anymore, and rarely calls. When we do talk on the phone, he keeps talking about some girl he met in Bessemer. I'm pretty sure he's started seeing her.
In the midst of all this, he finally moves out of the trailer into a real house only a few blocks from the bar where he works. I go up to visit one weekend, grateful and happy to be away from that nasty old trailer, but the house is a thousand times worse. For one thing, it's not that nice: it's a run-down old place that's clearly housed a succession of students, so it's a dump, and even worse, he has no furniture, only a mattress on the floor in his bedroom.
For another thing, he has housemates, three hipster douchebag guys I have never met before. While it sucked to be trapped in the trailer in the middle of nowhere with no phone and no internet, it sucks even more to be trapped in a house all night with strangers while he's off at work. The guys keep looking at me funny and laughing behind my back. I know he's had another girl there, and they're laughing at me for not figuring it out yet. I should confront him about it but I just can't. I don't want to push people away. And I think I really love him. I thought he was kinda funny-looking at first, but now I see how handsome he is, with those big blue eyes and that long, thick blond hair. All those things we talked about doing together, like taking a trip down the coast, or up to the mountains, I still want to do that, with him.

April 1997

Buttboy breaks up with me. Over the phone, the coward. He's seeing someone else--I knew it. But instead of admitting that he's been cheating, he says, "I never really thought of us as boyfriend and girlfriend." What? It seemed clear to me, but we never sat down and had a "relationship" talk. Maybe I wasn't really his girlfriend. I feel like I don't know how these things work.
"When I first met you, I thought we would have all these intellectual discussions, but all you ever talk about is your TA work," he whines. It's such a ridiculous complaint, I can barely splutter out a reply. Eventually he gets around to his real reasons for breaking up.
"It was when you said that I didn't love you, that I was only saying it because we were having sex," he elaborates. "I was really shocked that you said that, but when I thought about it, I realized you were right."
"But after the surgery, I though we had gotten so close," I say, starting to cry a little.
"That's just it, I feel like I could never repay you for that."
"What are you talking about? It's not a debt you have to repay. I did it because I care about you. You just repay it by being with me."
"No, all the things you did, I could never give repay you for that."
"So you're repaying me by breaking up with me?"
We go around and around on that point, but I can't pin him down to anything that makes sense. He starts to go on about how great his new girl is, just like K did. Why do guys think I want to hear about the girl they dumped me for? I slam the phone down in disgust.
Immediately after, I call up Kara to cry about it, but she isn't home and I end up talking only to Nam. "You never seemed to like him that much," he points out.
"I know," I wail. "He only liked me when I didn't like him, then when I really fell for him, he wasn't interested any more. How fucked up is that?"
"You can't expect relationships to make you happy. True happiness is only possible once you are released from desire," Nam says. Note to self, never ask a Buddhist for sympathy after a breakup. I know attachment is the root of all suffering, but would it kill him to be a little more compassionate?
But I know the real reason he broke up with me, and I can't talk to Nam about that. It wasn't the bickering or the way I called him Buttboy. It was the surgery--he knows my secret, knows how turned on I was about taking care of him. I revealed myself to him, and he used it as an excuse to break up with me. I'm never telling anyone else ever again. Well at least now I have a benchmark for the worst boyfriend ever.


  1. Even better the second time around! :)

  2. Love it so raw and real please keep updating the story is so refreshing to see on this site keep it up!

  3. Hits so close to home it almost hurts to read. Great, talented writing.

  4. I would have read this purely for the mortifyingly hilarious portrait of Buttboy - but I'm deeply moved, too, reading about the protagonist's circling self-doubt, and her desperate, furtive attempts at expressing her sexuality without shame. Ditto what Laulu said, on that front.

    Thank you SO much for sharing this. I really enjoy the confected romances on this site, but I find that this story makes me feel understood and companionable in a way that they don't quite.