Last Saturday, I was babysitting an old alum. He was in town for the night and presenting a paper at some convention the next morning and wanted to have a good college time because he was creepy. I wanted to be around other people, because I had suspicions that he was creepy. So he left his stuff in my apartment and I took him to a couple parties.
Bringing a 55-year-old escort to friends’ apartments: definite party foul.
Bringing a 55-year-old escort to GPSCY: definite life foul.
He became predatory. I feigned drunkenness. When I brought him back to my apartment to collect his things, he opened a beer and began rotating his distended torso in a way that I think was supposed to be dancing. Then his face lunged at my face. I shifted just in time.
“Um … I’m really drunk. So drunk,” I squealed.
Drunkenness could not deter a lech of this league. His puffy hand gripped the small of my back. I gently removed it and then ran away to fetch his belongings.
“Sorry,” was the last word I said as he shuffled out my door.
Was I apologizing for the general discomfort of the situation? Or for his wife and children? Or for his circumference? The tragedy of his life? The tragedy of my life?
No. I was apologizing because I didn’t want him to think I was a shitty person. Even though his tongue had attempted to slither across generational and ethical boundaries, I still really wanted him to like me.
Tragedy of my life.
I explained this to my housemate later that night, as I drank microwaved Campbell’s condensed pea soup from a cat bowl, which is an irrelevant detail to my story but a relevant detail to the state of my life.
She nodded her head sympathetically, as she sipped hot chocolate out of an oversized Tupperware container and stirred it with disposable chopsticks.
“Do you get what I mean?” I said. “About not wanting boys you don’t like to not like you?”
“Yeah no. I have no problem being unlikable,” she said. “Especially with boys.”
My sister expressed the same sentiment back in high school. She plotted her relationship power games with remarkable emotional detachment.
“But they’re not toys,” I said.
“Who’s not toys?” she asked.
“Boys,” I said.
“Boys aren’t toys?” she asked.
“Correct,” I said. “Boys aren’t toys. Boys are human beings.”
The actual conversation didn’t rhyme. But in my head everything has begun to rhyme, because I am tired, and it makes thinking more joyous.
Not being able to think very well this week has led to some uncomfortable last classes. I have begun adamantly expressing views and constructing theses that I in absolutely no way believe.
In an Af-Am class I concluded, with conviction, that all white people are racist. In a film seminar I argued vehemently that the 2001 drama “Seabiscuit,” starring Toby McGuire, was “excellent history.” At some point in my nine-hour movie-making marathon in the Film Studies Center, I decided that playing Nazi footage with the Beatles in the background would be really sweet.
Standing in front of that alum, with his moustache blocking my vision and his torso blocking my movement and his presence blocking my hope for humanity, I chose a thesis I’m pretty sure I don’t believe: This is my fault.
My logic: When I thought I was just being friendly, I was actually leading him on. It’s true that my “friendly” and my “flirtatious” are very similar:
a) Extended eye contact.
b) Saying their name a lot.
c) Placing my face at a 30-degree angle down and to the side (my go-to mirror and Photobooth angle).
d) Laughing for a little bit longer than normal to put the other person at ease, while buying myself time to think up something else charming to say.
So my friendly and flirtatious are already easily confused. And I began to think, with guys — even old and physically grotesque ones — do I sexualize my friendly because I think that’s the way to get them to like me?
This is what I thought with the agéd alum. I led him on. So I felt guilty. And I apologized.
But do I also flirt with my male professors? Professors whose sweaty, wrinkly forms in no way attract me?
Yes. I probably do. I probably subconsciously reduce myself to a sexual object around the sweaty, wrinkly forms I want to respect me.
Cue footage of the Nuremberg Rally. Cue the Beatles’ “Something.”
Something in the way she moves,
Attracts me like no other lover.
Something in the way she woos me.
I don’t want to leave her now.
You know I believe in how.
My editor said juxtaposing Beatles lyrics with Nazi propaganda is the equivalent of raping Julia Roberts and should in no way be permitted in the sanctified pages of scene. BUT this is my last column of the year. And my editor is drunk. SO WHATEVERRRRR!!!!