Please don’t bend

Last night was a deep dive into 2016-2017 when I was figuring things out and everything was so very messy. I couldn’t keep my distance and fell face first into a melancholy that hasn’t lifted with sleep. When I woke up and the sky was overcast, I knew I was going to have to sit with these feelings a little longer.

Here’s a more faithful account of what happened with Julie. The mera mera. It’s not pretty writing. It’s how I wrote back then. I didn’t remember the majority of these details, which is unusual for me. Or maybe it’s the forgetting that has me shook today because if I forgot these things, what else don’t I remember? And am I really being honest with myself? Or did the broad strokes I captured faithfully retell the story without needing to remember every tiny last thing?

I don’t know if I’ll keep this up. I don’t know if it’s kind to share.

The past isn’t sitting too well with me right now. And I don’t have a future to speak of at the moment. I’ve got to figure a hook into hope.

———————————-

I checked Facebook for the umpteenth time on that Monday, looking for something to get me out of my infinite Netflix loop. The previous week I’d seen The 1975 for the first time out at The Shrine in LA. The experience was liberating. I bought my ticket online, asked Hector if I could stay at his place for the night, flew out to LA by myself, and checked out the USC campus for a couple of hours before lining up to see a band I was only vaguely familiar with. The line was made up of mostly girls, some with braces. I was probably old enough to be some of their mothers. I didn’t care. The concert awakened something in me I didn’t know existed. I felt free. Sure my mother called me fifty times to make sure I hadn’t been stabbed in the city of Compton. But for the first time in my life I felt like I was flying free of any burdens.

On Facebook, I saw that R Bar was hosting The Posies. I went through my music to see if I had any of their music. I did, on the Reality Bites soundtrack. So I drove downtown last minute to see the show. I wore a cute dress and my “don’t fuck with me” maroon lipstick.

The venue was tiny. It couldn’t have fit more than thirty people standing. But it was set up for a much more intimate crowd. I sat down on a bench, a ways a way from the nearest person, an Asian-ish girl with Oxfords on.

A guy came out from behind a wall, and I recognized him as one of the band members. He introduced himself to everyone in the crowd, and I shook his hand and gave him my name.

The Asian girl asked me to repeat it, and I gave her the regular spiel I give to everyone about my name when I first meet them. My name is Italian…it means worshipped one…it’s a family name. Her name was Julie. I took in her face, her clothes and her demeanor and thought she must be younger than me.

She told me she’d been stood up by a guy she’d been seeing. After having a bad string of dates myself, I felt sympathy for her and we quickly bonded. She bought me a drink, and I reciprocated.

The concert itself was odd. The band was just two guitarists. Their drummer had flaked on them. What was remarkable was the movie screen behind the band, which showed endless bad short Polish films. They were just dreadful. One even included a man made out of clay trying to attach his penis and testicles while confined in a very cramped space.

We listened to the band for the requisite time, and then I asked Julie if she wanted to head out. She checked her phone to see if her guy had messaged her, but he hadn’t.

We walked passed the bar where he supposedly worked, and Julie wanted to hide, in case he was there. So I walked between her and the bar to protect her anonymity. I felt very valiant, which is rare for me, but the new post-1975 Vene had courage heretofore unseen.

I bought Julie dinner at The Hub. She told me all about this guy. His name was James, and he worked in the restaurant industry. He could be a great guy, and even told her he loved her on the first date, but he could equally be cold and distant. He’d even made her drop friends from Facebook that they had in common to keep their relationship on the down low.

We walked back to the garage, and I hugged her, telling her I hoped the best for her. She’d friended me on FB, so I had her contact info. I felt good about the night. I’d gone in expecting nothing and came out with a potential new friend.

Later that week, I trawled FB again looking for something to do. Julie had checked in at Congress, so I messaged her to ask if I could join her. She replied that she’d be leaving to the Rialto soon to see David Cross perform. One thing led to another, and we decided to go to the David Cross show she had a ticket for to see if we could get tickets together. They had them, and, like that, we were going to a show.

There was a while where we were waiting for the show to start. Julie told me she was so excited that we met up, and then asked me if I’d ever been a model. The question threw me, because I didn’t usually get that question. But yes, I had, I replied.

She then told me that her guy, James, had in fact contacted her, and they’d gone on a date to Target. I analyzed this as a secondary step in dating…doing mundane things together. It was a good sign, I said.

The show started, and David Cross was hilarious. Afterwards, we decided to go to dinner again, and ended up at the same restaurant as Monday. That’s when Julie showed me a picture of James. When I saw the picture it all made sense.

I recognized him immediately. He was a fixture downtown. Any show you went to, he was there, with his flashy suits and stylized hair. He thought he was the mayor of the Tucson music scene. Most of my crew thought he was a douche. But that was back in the days when I was with D, and back when I had a crew, circa 2003.

I handed the phone back to Julia, now with a totally different sense of what she was dealing with, or who, rather.

I never thought about this man kissing a girl. I thought of him assaulting a girl, because there were rumors about just that happening–whispering campaigns that go on in every music scene amongst women who couldn’t pursue rape charges because things were too murky, but knew enough to warn others. As for Julie, I really wanted to be her friend, and I didn’t want to dick her around the way that James has.

Julie and James started getting serious. But Julie always felt like James was withholding something. He’d told her that there were a lot of rumors about him that she would hear. She’d hear bad things about him. But she needed to trust him. I reserved my own opinions about James from Julie. She seemed really happy. He’d take her to Rocky Point down in Mexico to stay at a condo on the beach.

Things started to get heavy though. Julie never really felt secure in her relationship and James put severe restrictions on her…when she could call…where they could be seen together…all sorts of strange things. I predicted bad things. D had been very controlling in the beginning of our relationship. He told me what I could wear, where I could go, what I could say. It was a sort of conditioning that persisted through the relationship and left me without a sense of self that I was only beginning to reconstruct so many years later.

Julie’s relationship with James got worse and worse. It was to the point where I had to extract myself from the equation because I couldn’t support Julie’s decision to continue with James. I unfriended her on Facebook.

Months went by, but I couldn’t get Julie out of my mind. I wished her well, though I couldn’t envision a good ending to her story. Eventually I saw her name on Facebook and decided to friend her again.

Julie and I reconnected. Things were bad. Her relationship with James was so toxic she’d started taking antidepressants and drinking heavily. She finally got the courage to break up with James, but the damage was done. He’d emotionally abused her and gaslit her to the point where she was putting up walls. She was emotionless.

I’d force Julie to go out. We started having adventures. We had a tea party on my bed and ate Jammie Dodgers and Haribo Gummies. We decided to form a punk band called the Dodgy Jammers. We could laugh for hours at stupidities. But these episodes were mere punctuation marks on long stretches of her being alone and depressed.

A new man entered her life around this time, though, and there was hope. Theo had been her friend on Facebook for years, but she told me he’d begun to show interest. One night, she’d gone to watch a movie at his house and he stroked her hair. For some reason, though, he told her he couldn’t take it any further. Or, at least, that was the sense she got.

Julie’s grasp on sanity was tenuous, and there were weeks when I didn’t know if she was alive. I figured out where she lived by going through the Pima County Assessor records.  Finally I found a house with a white Honda Scion in the carport. I knocked on the door to no avail. I left a note for her to call me.

I eventually got a message. It was from Theo. He told me that Julie had contacted him to tell me she was ok. I thanked Theo. After that Theo and I would occasionally chat about Julie and what we could do to help.

I told Julie the next time I saw her that Theo and I had communicated. She told me it would be great if I would go out with Theo and the she could live vicariously through me. I told her I wasn’t about to fuck Theo for her, let alone go out with him to make her happy.

And then Julie disappeared again. The last thing she’d told me was that her doctor had told her to go off her antidepressant. Without stepping down, I asked? Yes, she said. And then she was gone. I was frantic. I checked on her at her house. Theo and I talked a lot about it.

And then something funny happened. Theo had been lurking on my Facebook page since he first contacted me, randomly liking stuff I wrote. Mostly I posted song lyrics for a book I was writing, but occasionally I would write something from the heart. One night I posted a collection of dubsmash videos I had made while hanging out in bed.

“You’re charismatic.” He posted.

“Charismatic/crazy. Tomato/tom-ah-to.” I replied.

“You crazy tomato.”

“Ooh, my kind of pillow talk.”

Theo messaged me, talking in veiled sexual comments about vegetables in bed. And then he told me I was almost in trouble, but for the fact that he had to go to bed. I told him there wasn’t going to be any kind of trouble because of Julie. In any case, we should meet though.

The next night I had a ticket to see a documentary and The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album. I asked Theo if he’d like to join me. I really wanted Julie to come, but she was lost to the world. Theo had plans, but he suggested we meet up afterwards.

After the show, which was phenomenal, I was on a bit of a music high. I messaged Theo. He said we should hang out and listen to music. I said yes on two conditions: 1) no touching; and 2) not at his place or my place. He said yes on one condition: that we ignore both my conditions.

I decided to put Theo to the test. This was the same guy who had my girl Julie going in circles trying to figure out his “signals.” Yet he was being pretty clear with me. And, without even knowing me, he wanted to get down. He was objectifying me. And for both of those reasons, I was determined to make him suffer.

I showed up at Theo’s house. He looked like his pictures–cool dad vibe, hipster glasses, Nick Cave t-shirt and a soul patch. After a few pleasantries, he asked me if I wanted a drink. I picked out a tequila, he a scotch. He put together a small plate of berries and chocolate, and we sat down on the couch. He played his music first, and I nixed it. I took over as DJ. He liked what I played from my hipster mating call playlist.

We talked for a long while. He showed me a pouch his daughter had made for a tiny gourd she carried around on her shoulder with Velcro. He lovingly thumbed through the capes and outfits she had handcrafted for this gourd. Maybe Theo wasn’t evil after all.

We got to talking about writing. Theo had a couple of screenplays in the works. They didn’t sound half bad. I began humanizing Theo. That was, until he started to rub his foot up on my leg. And I remembered my point for being there. I called Theo on his bluff.

“So, what did you want to do to me last night?”

“Go to your house and tie you up.”

“Well I’m here now. Show me what you got.”

Theo moved in slowly. He was ok as a kisser, which is to say there was nothing much to report. After some couch kissing we moved to the bedroom. I scanned the room for whips, handcuffs, anything kinky he might use. Instead he just told me to bend over and put my hands on the bed. Actually, no. He asked me to put my hands on the bed. Politely. He said, “Please.” And then he proceeded to spank me with my jeans still on. Lucky for him, he couldn’t see me rolling my eyes and laughing.

We got naked and he attempted to have sex with me. But he couldn’t get hard. And there was nothing to do to change the situation. Really, there was nothing I wanted to do to change the situation. I was so sick of him using the word, “Please.”

We agreed not to tell Julie about what had happened, for her sake. I went home, almost wishing that I’d never gone over. But I didn’t regret it. I’d proved the better equipped of the two in this showdown. And as soon as Julie could handle it, I was going to tell her everything. Especially about his big talk about tying me up, and then being the worst dominator in the history of kink.

The next day Theo wrote to me, trying to explain how he was older now and his head to to follow his heart and not the other way around. But really, what he was saying is he couldn’t get it up because he was old. And I wasn’t attractive to him after he got to know me and I was no longer an object to him.

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