Friday, February 29, 2008

The Reality Of My Surroundings

It was 1992, or maybe it was 1993. I had recently graduated from college and, like many in my generation had, moved back home with my parents.

I was dating a man who turned out to be the last in a long line of ill-fitting, long-term boyfriends. "A nice guy," I always tell people, "but not for me."

He had everything a woman should avoid but tends to want to fix: Depression, poor self esteem, non-existent job skills, the inability to get his life moving forward. And he had a chip on his shoulder. He was too smart for his measly, under-employed, existence. He felt sorry for himself and couldn't dig himself out of the hole he'd planted himself into.

He lived with a bunch of guys he knew from his old didn't-finish-college days. I paid his rent. And his insurance. And for all our entertainment and food. Anything that cost money came out of my wallet.

I didn't mind so much. He brought it up constantly.

I knew how to pick them. The traits were similar in each new relationship. Needy, misunderstood but nice under the surface. Always his hidden insecurities would outweigh the insecurities I wore on my sleeve.

He taught me to appreciate (but never really like) Led Zeppelin, Yes and other "mind expanding" purveyors of insite from the psychedelic 70s. He opened my eyes to Ravi Shankar, hot house Jazz and the folk music of my Irish heritage.

But I knew the five-year relationship was doomed a year into it. Why did these relationships always drag on?

Convenience maybe? Laziness? I had no long-term plans, and finding a social life was hard enough.

Independence perhaps? A controlling nature? I seemed to be attracted to men who didn't drive, couldn't keep jobs and didn't really seem all that ambitious in the world outside of their imaginations. They also didn't really seem that interested in me. Socially, I felt like I was always waiting. Waiting for someone to talk to me as he cruised the bar, trying to be noticed by other members of the band.

Confidence, as mentioned, was definitely part of it. Men didn't flock to me. People in general found me standoffish. I was painfully shy and afraid of rejection. I was also painfully aware of how those hurts felt and didn't want to be the breaker of hearts.

So I stayed many years past the expiration date. Feeling guilty. Feeling I was wasting time; my own and his.

The reality of the relationship's eventual demise wasn't lost on him, nor on any other paramour who had been in his place. It bred contempt.

When I began to listen to the music of the 90s, he knew he had lost me. His fears slipped out in short bursts of contempt; escaping in little comments spat out in bitterness.

But I didn't know it was over until the moment he flew into a rage, hurling hurtful accusations my way as I mindlessly tapped my foot to Fishbone's "Pray to the Junkymaker."

"DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TAPPING YOUR FOOT TO?" he bellowed as I looked up from the backgammon game I was losing to his roommate.

I didn't.

"In a cold sweat you will
In a deep need you will
In the rock house you will
With a dick in your mouth you will
In a mental rage you will
When your body craves you will
Demonic let’s make a deal
In the hospital you will
P.m.r.c. you must be
In the business office you will
In the limousine you will
In the white house in a !
In the school house you will
In the church house you will yes !
In the police station they do
Shippin’ to the ghetto you devils
As long as you’re married you will
Rocked up in the kitchen you’re trippin’
Sellin’ your child for the rock pile
In a straight jacket in a !!!
Forced for a divorce of course
In the jail house you will
Way black in the plantation
Trippin’ in the bum bus station
Mental m-m-masturbation"

He hammered out every syllable, hoping to shame me with the lyrics.

But he didn't really want to shame me. He wanted to stop me from moving away from him. Because he knew it was going to happen.

That's when I knew it was over. A song that had no real anthem in my life on a social level had nonetheless changed it entirely.

I didn't need to apologize for tapping my foot.

*** This was written as part of Flashback Fridays, a writing prompt extended by the brilliant and talented Catherine of Her Bad Mother. Play along why don't you? You might just learn something about yourself.


angela said...

you are so awesome. seriously.

Bridge said...

ahhh...memories. I had one of those. He wrote a song called "If your girl's hot, my girl's burnin"
And he drank like 20 beers a day, 30 on the weekends, smoked camels in a chain and knew every beatles song written could jam out on guitar (that was the sexy part)