May 7th 2013
Story originally written and experienced: March 23rd 2011
Everyone stood in complete silence after he shoved her into the dining room table and watched as she tOpPlEd onto the wine-stained floor.
“You’re crazy!” She told him. “You’re crazy and you need help. And no one likes you anyway.”
This was not the way they intended the party to go…And the joke was never supposed to go this far…
But it did.
It was the perfect excuse for a college gathering. Good weather. Good friends. Good music. Good…everything.
And there I was.
Standing in the kitchen mixing myself my second solo cup of cranberry vodka, when I overheard a group of Dane’s housemates crowd around a girl in a tight blue dress.
I swirled the cup in my hand, tipped the vodka to juice ratio a little more in my favor and was en route to taste test two when suddenly I heard one housemate say to the girl
“Hey. See that guy over there? In the red shirt?”
“His name’s Dane. He’s really shy and really not good with girls. We’ll give you a free shot if you just bother him for a little bit. We just wanna see his reaction. It would be so funny! Just act like you’re really into him. We just wanna see what he would do.”
She laughed. Ran her hands through her perfectly curled hair. Wiped the remnants of her perspiring cup down her tight blue dress, and said, “Okay!”
It was a deal.
And she’ll take that shot in advance.
One shot later, she scampered out of the kitchen, leaving a trail of diabolical laughs on her way out. And I looked over at them from my side of the kitchen, fresh drink in hand. And I didn’t even have to say it.
“Olive, it’s fineeeee. It’s going to be funny. Besides, it’s Dane. It’s not like anything is going to happen. I don’t know why you’re always so protective over him.”
And in that moment, I wanted to tell them what he had told me 2 weeks ago.
But I didn’t.
As the night went on I watched the girl in the tight blue dress run her hands
Sit in Dane’s lap when he didn’t want it. Ask him what kind of a man he was?! when he wouldn’t dance with her in the center of the living room floor. He didn’t like it. I know he didn’t. He wasn’t used to it. He had never really had this kind of attention before. And he didn’t like it as much as he thought he would.
Probably because he knew it was a joke.
That he was the joke.
But every “No thank you.” or “Please leave me alone.”, inflated her rum-induced mindset causing his patience to slowly but surely go the complete opposite way.
I could see his housemates laughing on the sides. Enjoying the utter humiliation of this bargained discomfort. And the thing is they weren’t bad guys. Not at all.
But I know they felt that way. 10 minutes later. When Dane was flying through the dining room to escape the girl in the tight blue dress. She grabbed his arm. Pulled him <<<<< backwards with one arm and held a glass of cheap wine in the other while she said
“A real man would never turn someone like me down. You’d be lucky to have me. You’re a joke. This was all a joke.”
1 second later
She was shoved into the >>>> dining room table. And tOpPlEd onto the wine-stained floor.
She told him he was crazy. And that he needed help. And that no one liked him anyway.
And we all just stood there.
A little shocked. A little confused. As she laid there in a tight blue dress,
s p r a w l e d across the dining room floor.
And there he was in the center of the room
A little terrified. And a little shocked.
And I was too.
But only because.
The silence he evoked from the solo cupped crowd, wasn’t only because of freshly the shoved girl.
But also because, right after he did it.
He looked directly at me. In front of everyone. And said,
“Olive, I’m so sorry.”
And ran upstairs.
And there I was.
Solo cup in hand. Blushed to hell with all the eye contact now shifted on me.
>>> All on me. <<<
Without an explanation. And all I could think to do. Was walk out the room. And follow him up the carpet-torn stairs.
I opened the door to his bedroom and shut the door behind me. I sat about 9 feet away from him and waited for him to talk. And finally he said “Did you tell anyone about our talk we had talk 2 weeks ago?”
“Olive, I’m really sorry I pushed that girl over. I just. I just…I don’t know. It was just I knew someone had put her up to it. And I knew I was the laughing-stock of the party. And I know I normally am. Because that’s the way it always is. But I just…I don’t know. I totally lost it. I lost it. I just did. And I’m sorry. I know we said 2 weeks ago that I was better than this. All of this. All of this shit. Of being made fun of all the time. But I just. Sometimes I just can’t. I know I fucked up. I’m sorry.”
“Why are you apologizing to me?”
“I don’t know. I fucked up.”
“You didn’t fuck up.”
“Yes I did.”
“Why do you let them do this to you?”
“I told you this already. Two weeks ago. I’ve always been this guy. The guy who gets picked on. The kid you read about and watch in movies that gets bullied and never taken seriously. The joke. In my family. With my “friends”. Anywhere, really. It’s pathetic. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’ve got social anxiety. I wish I could be socially normal. And not have social anxiety. But I do. And… right now these people are the closest things I’ve ever had to friends. And I fucked it up tonight.”
“You didn’t fuck up.”
“Yes I did.”
“Do you really consider this real friendship?”
“I don’t have any other friends. I’ve never been good with people. I know I’m the person someone talks about when I walk out of the room. I’m not dumb. But fuck. If this is the closest thing I can get to real friends, then that’s fine. It’s fine. It really is. It’s fine…”
We sat there in silence for a few minutes. Listening to people walk to and from the bathroom and linger in hallway chatter.
And it was hard to see his face every time we heard a
“Did you see that kid freak out? What the fuck he’s crazy!”
“That’s that Dane kid my boyfriend was telling me about. I heard he barely even talks.”
“Holy shit what kind of psycho pushes a girl?”
But only because I knew the person who was judging him the most, was him.
Eventually I told him we should get up and join the party. Join my boyfriend and the rest of his housemates. I reached my hand out, and he grabbed it and we were on our way to the door when he stopped me in my tracks and said “Shhh…”
We heard something on the other side of the door.
It was a girl. And she was crying. And she was drunk. Very drunk. And sad. Very sad.
We quietly pressed our ears against the door and in between sobs made out this:
“I can’t believe my brother did this to me, I just hope he would never do this to his future wife. Or even his kids. I’m his sister for Christ’s sake! He…he shouldn’t touch me the way he does. And I..I can’t even look at my sister in law in the eyes when we’re all together. She doesn’t even know. What he’s done to me. And I hate myself for it. And I hate him for it more. And I hate that he’s turned me into this person who sleeps around, just so I can feel less dirty about the way he takes advantage of me.
The way he’s always taken advantage of me.
And it never works.
And I hate myself so much for it. For all of it.”
She didn’t know I heard her.
That either of us had heard her. As she sat in the hallway. Knees tucked to her chest. Collaboratively sharing her confessions with a glass full of gin, into the arms of a guy she picked up from downstairs.
Who didn’t care much for her story.
Just what he could get out of it.
And a few minutes later I emerged from the room, partially to use the bathroom but mostly because I wanted to get a glimpse of the girl unraveling her confessions at the mercy of her tall glass of gin.
She was skinny. Wore a leather jacket. Black jeans. Beautiful. Blonde hair. Green eyes. And a red ribbon around her right wrist.
And I remember seeing her again. A few months later at another party. I was with my friends and we were standing 10 feet away from her on the back porch when I heard someone whisper “Ah shit. That girl from my English class is in here. The blonde one with that red bracelet thing on her wrist. She’s such a slut. She sleeps with everyone’s boyfriends and flirts with our professor all the time. It’s fucking gross.”
And it’s crazy because.
No one had any idea I had heard the things she said a few months before.
And it reminded me of the time an old friend of mine and I stayed out later than anticipated at college bonfire back in 2009. Catching up and sharing stories. And I asked him how his dad was and he told me that his dad was still an alcoholic. A terrible, terrible alcoholic. And…he wasn’t getting better. And I asked him if he still didn’t drink because of it. And he said “You know I don’t want to turn out like him, Olive.”
And overhearing everyone at every party we ever went to say “Yeah that guy doesn’t drink. I don’t know. It’s weird. He probably thinks he’s better than anyone else.”
But only because they had no idea.
In fact. I remember the specific time the girl with the red bracelet happened to be at the same party again. And she stumbled up to me and my non-alcoholic friend, and she asked him why he didn’t have a drink in his hand and he told her that “He just didn’t want one” And she told him “He was a pussy for not drinking at party!” That he should have some of her drink and maybe they could get out of here later. And then he told her that maybe she should stop sleeping around so much. And have some self-respect.
And he only said that because he had no idea.
And neither did she.
And it made me think of all of people in my life. My friends, my non friends, my co workers, my family, complete strangers and more. How we retain top-secret information that silently molds us into decisions, personas and attitudes that rarely come complete with a verbalized explanation.
How we all have a story. An incident. A reason. As to why we are the way we are. Think the way we think. Do the things we do. Love the way we love. Judge the way we judge. And care the way we do.
How our ambition, mindset, decisions, friends, self-esteem. self-respect and character revolves around the things that we’ve been through and the things we haven’t been through. How we’re all an incredible product of our personal timelines that couldn’t ever be replicated by anyone else in the entire world.
Not even if they tried.
And I remember telling Dane the next morning as we were picking up the dining room table that had tOpPlEd sideways onto the floor that
“This world would be a boring place if everyone came complete with a pre-packaged personality, pre-determined decisions and perfect behavior thrown in as a free gift. That we all fuck up. Get confused. Disagree. And often times find ourselves involuntarily falling apart. Just so we can inadvertently fall back together. And how vital, personal and non-explanatory that really has to be for him, and for anyone else.”