Wicked Game

The most awful thing I ever did, I did by accident.

May 2, 2016: I went to a Posies show at R Bar in downtown Tucson all by myself. Last minute. I saw a woman sitting by herself. Asian, bookish, vintage, stylish, cute. I asked her if she minded having a concert buddy for the night. She said she didn’t. We became friends. Her name was Julie and she was kindred.

We were both nerdy. We both loved Haribo gummies and rock n roll. We had an imaginary band called the Dodgy Jammers, named after the cookies. She thought I was cool. I thought she was cool. Neither of us had a lot of confidence. We partied a lot together. We went to tons of shows. We played Geek Trivia on Tuesdays at Congress. We talked Star Wars a ton. Julie would disappear occasionally but she’d always pop back up. And when she disappeared, it would be a total media blackout. She’d take everything down.

Julie liked this guy named Theo. She talked about him a lot. I guess they spent a lot of time together and she couldn’t get a read on whether they were friends or something more. He sounded like a typical hipster with beta male unavailability. I wasn’t impressed.  But her heart was so into it that I just listened to her.

Theo friended me on Facebook for some reason and started commenting on my posts. I didn’t like the way he treated Julie, so I’d post obnoxious things to let him know I wasn’t cool with him. Even though I’d never met him. Things like this:

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I know Theo read them because I wasn’t an idiot.

Julie did her disappearing act for the millionth time and I was really lonely. She’d become one of two friends who I relied on for my self-worth as I navigated the new me I was trying to become. And without her there to prop me up, I was vulnerable. I missed her.

It was about this time that Theo started hitting on me over Facebook. Not even veiled flirting or witty flirting. Just some dominating language like that he was going to “give it to me good.” On posts of mine. That were viewable by other people. I was pissed. Who did this guy think he was to have the right to hit on me at all? We’d never met. I ‘d never given him the impression that I was interested. And he knew that my friend Julie was into him. It was disrespectful in ten different ways.

Another thing that had been going on around this time, and this is for context, is that guys started sniffing around my Instagram account and stalking me. A guy I’d dated. A guy I’d rejected. A married, born again Christian, skater punk who I’d met at the sushi bar at AJ’s grocery store named Ernie. I would post pictures of something I’d seen at night and, within hours, one of bozos would be commenting, asking who was in the picture and where I’d gone and how come I didn’t invite them and how I looked pretty in the picture. This irked me to no end. None of these guys had any right to me, but they were acting like they did. So I put up a Instagram post of a screen shot of my phone saying, “My Instagram page is not a homing beacon or a dating app. Go away.”

Courtney said it was pretty savage of me but it worked.

Another another thing that had been going on this time is that married men who’d known me as a child had started hitting on me via Facebook out of the clear blue sky. This phenomenon is common amongst conventional loser males who reach a certain age and John Cougar Mellencamp their past, looking for the good ol’ days of beer and bonfires. They imagined some alternate universe in which they had chosen me instead of their wives. I didn’t have kids. I was traveling a lot. I was having fun. And these dudes thought they could map some kind of mutual relationship over my life and claim me as a victory.

This phenomenon isn’t unique to me. It’s so common it’s a fucking parody of mid-life crises. And unsuspecting women get dumped on by married men and the wives get suspicious and even a little mean because they know they can’t compete with a figment of their husband’s imaginations and they sorta kinda figure all us single women for sad, covetous whores.

What they don’t understand is that we don’t want their husbands. If we wanted them, we could find a million others like them in every sports bar and every Home Depot. We are single intentionally. Yes, there are women who go out looking for others’ husbands. But married men are not victims of circumstance, picked off by femme fatales. If they stray it’s because they’re not happy at home. Sweep your own porch before calling others dirty.

So it was within this context that Theo began hitting on me. I was incensed at the idea of another man claiming me and threatening my relationship with sensitive Julie, who was a bit fragile. I became convinced that the only way to deal with Theo was to call his bluff and maybe scare him a little. The next time he slid into my DM’s, I’d take him up on his offer.

It didn’t take long. I went to his house, dressed in my armor…which is always black and Goth. Tons of black eyeliner. Slicked back hair. Maroon lipstick. And lace underwear.

The night started off as all cliché hipster dates start…IPAs, tequila, the exchange of music tastes and their unwaivering love of all thing PT Anderson/Herzog/Lynch/David Foster Wallace.

I finally had to ask him if he was going to make a move. He tried. It was meh. He couldn’t sustain a boner. Nothing really happened. He tried to explain it away. For all his sexy talk, he was a dud. I’d made my point. I got dressed and left.

I know what you’re thinking: Vene, you had to have known you were hurting Julie. You went in Theo’s house in lace underwear. You didn’t get there by accident. I will tell you that no, I didn’t. I was very young then. A baby of 37. I was trying to figure out who I was. I was trying to own my identity. I was trying to establish my power and dominion over my own life. And I was incredibly protective of Julie. My little autistic brain couldn’t plan more than a step ahead.

I thought I knew so much when really I knew nothing at all.

When Julie did finally resurface, I didn’t spend more than five minutes in the car with her before telling her what had gone on with Theo. I couldn’t keep it a secret. She needed to know who he really was and she needed to hear it from me that I’d done a horrible thing. I spilled my guts and she took it in stride. She took everything in stride because she thought she deserved to be treated poorly. And now it wasn’t Theo but me who’d done it.

Our friendship eventually did fall apart. Julie couldn’t sustain any friendship that required her to be confident and I was coming into my own. No matter what I told her about how great she was, she couldn’t integrate that part into herself. She eventually ghosted me.

I saw Theo once more after that. It was 2018. I’d just gotten off stage after a FST show at Plush. The stories I told at FST were bloated 15 minute drivel that I read directly off of my phone. They were probably better than I remember them. I had to go through that adolescence as well.

I walked outside to smoke and ran smack dab into Theo. He stuttered out a compliment about my story. I was nonplussed. By this point, I was already mentally checked out of Tucson and trying to drum up the courage to move to NYC. I hated FST and its cliques. I hated Tucson’s cool culture that bored me and excluded me. I hated living in Groundhog Day mode:

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I eventually got my shit together and moved out. But the Julie thing always haunted me. How did I get it so wrong?  I think I had an addiction to saving people and needed to feel needed. It led me astray. I learned the lesson and moved on from it. I’m just sad Julie, who really didn’t deserve what I did, had to take the brunt of my anger and stupidity.

I saw her, Julie. In Tucson at Target when I was there this Covid Spring. She was checking out at the self-checkout as I walked into the dollar section. I looked at her from afar but decided not to approach. Sometimes, it’s best not to revisit old loves.

Thank you, I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me.

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