I am not a superstitious man.
I believe in empirical data, in scientific theories, and in a vague form of existentialism melded with utilitarianism and a strange blend of cynical thinking and Pollyannaism.
Because of this, I tend to laugh when people mention that bad news comes in threes or that bad luck happens in sevens. The idea of the universe periodically concentrating negativity for a short period of misery in a single person's life just sounds stupid to me.
However, I do believe in multiple bad decisions coming at the same time. This is mostly for two reasons:
- Bad decisions are controllable by humans. If one human is in a state of impaired judgment, it's likely that the same is true for other humans nearby.
- I don't believe that bad decisions are made in threes or sevens or one-sixty-nines. The only number I've ever been able to pin down is that bad decisions tend to come in fucktons.
This is, at least partially, a story about those fucktons.
I never go flying.
That is to say, I never get blazed, ripped, baked, stoned, or high. There are plenty of reasons for that - my being lame, health concerns, not having friends who smoke, how little money I have on any given day - but it mostly comes down to my personal preference. I don't smoke because I don't feel like smoking.
I also tend not to drink. That is, drink alcohol. While this is significantly less true than it is for smoking, I tend not to drink more than once a month. That's because I don't feel like drinking.
I also usually don't trust people. To be honest, I didn't really have a good group of friends from the start of middle school until I was about sixteen. Instead, I hung out with a group who either were the only people who I felt would accept me or were truly the only people who would tolerate the little shit that was twelve-year old me. This left me passing time with a group of five other misfits, ranging from the guy who I now write hate poetry about to the girl who now suffers from clinical depression and related anxiety disorders, wearing the same clothes as she has been for the past five years because she's not able to let go of anything she sees as having sentimental value.
I think everyone gets fucked up by some part of their life by the time they graduate high school. For my anxious and depressed friend, it was her broken home, where her legally separated parents live together because neither can afford Massachusetts rent otherwise. My friend's shrugging ambivalence to her situation, her warm tone while saying "Well, at least he never hits me," has stayed with me.
Anyways, like I was saying. Everyone gets fucked up by something.
For me, it was my fucked up friends.
My first girlfriend - the overweight girl with the nice parents and the poison-ivy acne patterns - was also my only girlfriend and, so far, my only real relationship. I haven't felt like re-exposing that part of my history to the open air.
That sounds melodramatic. Let me explain.
For starters, she knew I was gay and that she was, effectively, my beard. And she was fine with it. That gives you a type of insight into the sort of woman she is.
Also, as I found out in the shitty cafe down the main street of this small, rich, shitty town, we both had crushes on the same guys. That gives you a type of insight into the sort of relationship we had.
Now, I tend to refuse to use the term "abusive" with her. I still don't know why, when she is the reason I can't hug my family, why I recoil at the slightest touch and jump at the slightest noise, I can't call her what she was. Maybe it's for the same reason that I refuse to see anyone about the amount of plastic I eat per day, or about the three weeks last summer where I slept for three hours a night while otherwise not stopping moving, cleaning, helping, organizing, working, or about the winter when I wanted so badly to just lie on my lawn and let the snow smother me that I made a friend break the first rule of dealing with suicidal thoughts and agree to not tell anyone else. It's emasculating, and for some reason I still prize masculinity as defined by the Western world.
But this isn't a story about my bruises which eventually dropped off or the scars across my brain which never quite did. It's about bad decisions.
Now, like I said, I think everyone gets fucked up before they graduate. That was certainly true of the motley crew which ended up staying the night at a cast party for a school musical one dreary March night.
I already mentioned that my lowest point was during one long winter. I've suspected for a while - though these are just guesses, based on observation and family histories - that I've either got problems with Seasonal Affect Disorder or with a really well-timed variant of Bipolar Disorder, as the turning of the seasons always seems to line up with my cycles (as might be reflected in the fact that I have been consistently writing for the past seven hours so far, or the half binder of paper now gone, now that it's sixties and sunny and April). Either way, dreary March nights have never quite found me at my best, particularly when they make me be social with fifteen not-exactly friends at a cast party for an entire night which I'd rather be spending sleeping or pretending like I don't exist. This particular night wasn't an exception.
Other people were getting drunk. Other people were getting stoned. I was busy sitting on the brick front piece of the old fireplace, holding myself to the solid ground, hoping to not fall off the planet, listening to other people make plans for the night. Some people were staking out places to sleep, some were chatting about how much they hated everyone not in the room at that moment. The mousy Irish girl (who came recommended with assurances that no, I swear, she's hilarious when she speaks) was touching tongues with the suburban version of the Hulk. The faded-dye red hair neurotic was rapidly cycling through various positions in a desperate attempts to look like she was significantly more comfortable here than she was.
The somewhat less-than-inhibited crowd was quick to start up various party games. It was the truth-or-dare that finally caught traction with the whole group. The larger girl hosting the party (They call me Tila Tequila, she says, swigging from what the somewhat-Asian looking gender neutral ex-girl would later mistake for a bottle of water while looking for something to chug to soothe a raw-rubbed throat) tried to put pants on the tall, egocentric, closet case boy who would two weeks later break his hand by punching a wall and hitting a stud (as he said, I figured the wall would get less angry being punched than my parents would). We all found out too much about the (pansexual, gender neutral) person with the overly permissive parents and thirty-something year old brother. The exhibitionist Native girl was dared to give me a lap dance.
Now one of the disadvantages of having had semi-decent friends for a grand total of one year is that you're left with a poor idea of what's a proper way to respond to certain situations. Playful sexual harassment from a (to be honest, extremely) good-looking member of the sex you pretend to be attracted to happens to be one of those situations. I'm still not sure if the proper response is an exercise in willpower and mastery of the human anatomy or more of a "let's talk about the first thing that pops up," but I went with the first. I said "hi" as I was straddled, tried to make it as awkward as I could, explained my theory that after having known my entire grade for twelve years it was difficult to be attracted to anyone my age.
After the exhibitionist had finished, the suburban Hulk called the boy with the strangely blank face over to try, "for comparison."
When it comes to profanity, I am usually a very generous man, but even I would be ashamed of the mental tirade I launched into as the somewhat attractive boy who somewhat resembled a marionette started walking over.
Luckily enough, the semi-attractive boy was not gifted. We separated without incident, and the night launched back away from me.
Later in the night, after the truth-or-dare had dried up and been swapped for a variant of never-have-I-ever, I started getting too honest. After admitting to a specific detail about my sexual history (namely, that I had one), the semi-attractive boy started shouting across the room.
"Were you with a girl or a boy?"
Like I said earlier, I don't trust much. By my count, this was a secret I had trusted to about six friends over the roughly five years I had known.
I've wrote before about how coming out is like crowd surfing, where you throw yourself at another person and hope like hell they catch you.
I'm not sure if this fits in with the rest of the story or not. This is a story about bad decisions, and I still haven't decided how this one ranks.
I stood at the edge of my stage, looked out into my audience, and jumped.
Eventually, the night launched back away from me again.
The red-headed boy who doesn't speak much showed us his double ankles. Some people began passing out, sleeping bags and limbs melding to become a spiderweb upon which a few other people rested. Other people started coming out.
Being in a room full of not-entirely-straight people is a strange experience I've started to have more and more these days. This was the first time I've been around for that we all admitted it together. There's a certain intimacy given by the total acceptance, by the fact that for once you are part of the majority and that everyone in the room understands a little piece of what you've been fighting with. I'll never capture it with words, but, on some level, we made magic that night.
The girl who is surprised every time someone tells her that she's quiet is on the lesbian side of bi. The semi-attractive boy is gay. The entire right side of the room is pansexual. The exhibitionist is bi. The neurotic is a repressed bisexual, hiding a girlfriend away in the little old town that she moved here from, but she didn't mention that.
Instead, the intimacy of the moment struck her in a different way.
She was laid out on top of the Hulk and pretended to doze, until the two of them - sitting in a room full of people, lying on a web made of people - began to make out, with the gender neutral Asian narrating every movement they made in a futile effort to make them stop.
It was a night of breaking down our inhibitions.
Meanwhile, my friend - the one who would in a few weeks break his hand against a stud - told me that the first friend I had trusted with my secret had told already told him everything about me. Later, I would cut up my hand by repeatedly finding the metal pole in the center of a cheap punching bag while relieving stress with no gloves on.
Then, it got late.
Rumor has it that the neurotic tried to go further, that the Hulk turned her down. A few of us traded numbers, made promises to meet up again. When the sun came up, people started leaving in clumps, in strings like jellyfish tentacles splayed across the surface of the ocean. As they left, they took a little piece of intimacy out with them. Walked out with a little part of the atmosphere, and made the quickly emptying house more and more suffocating.
When I came home to my empty house I immediately went to bed. When I woke up, I couldn't help but fixate on one part of the night. I had chosen to try and crowd surf on strangers when apparently I wasn't a good judge of character when it came to my closest friends. It seemed like a stupid risk, like I was threatening the shield I had been building up around myself for the past five years.
But then, I didn't want that shield anymore. I didn't want to keep lugging that monstrosity around with me any longer. Jumping into a pile of acquaintances seemed like a good remedy.
Anyways, everyone gets fucked up by something.
And, after all, I never get to go flying.