I’ll be writing for the next month, the last month of my twenty-eighth year, to purge stories from my “romantic” history (inspired by recent abandonment).
In an effort to not be such a bitch, I’m going to protect the anonymity of my past lovers by calling them all Eddie. I have thereby entitled this series, “Eddie, I hate you”.
I Heard My Brother Screaming
I had my first secret affair when I was eleven years old.
I have two older brothers. Only once have I ever felt that it was truly necessary to exaggerate my attraction to one of their friends.
It was kept secret from my brother because Eddie and I both knew that he would not like it if the two of us were together. The wisdom that underlies the knowledge that my brother’s friendship with Eddie would be threatened by my (potentially but also obviously necessarily dramatic) relationship to Eddie seems almost too sophisticated for either my brother or I to have had at the time. Perhaps there’s an evolutionary explanation to the fact that we all knew, with reason, that the engagement was unfair to my brother. It didn’t stop me.
I couldn’t be stopped in the face of potential affection. I was ugly. I was kind of fat. I couldn’t really believe that any boy would ever look my way. Self-doubt made me an easy target. Eddie might have known that. Cynical adult hindsight suggests that Eddie absolutely knew that. Twelve year old Eddie knew: “Ugly girls put out, my adolescent phallus will rise and she will find something to do with it, puberty is finally paying off, I’ve found an ugly girl”.
Early love is shaky.
No one knows what it is.
At that point, I had seen a lot of movies. Most of them weren’t for kids. A lot of them included romantic exploration. I had an ideological basis for assuming that if a guy is paying attention to me and I notice him, a relationship might develop.
The value of that relationship is lost on an eleven year old.
Would we kiss? Was that the goal? For me? Would we kiss?
I don’t know what I wanted. In fact, I realized now, this affair was the foundational floor for me now never knowing what I want and allowing casual relationships to develop without anyone ever asking.
The need for attention and sexual exploration is competitive at that age. If all the other girls had boyfriends, and a lot of them did, usually at summer camp, sometimes at school, if they could manage the sanctity of mutual love or at least attraction, I had to do the same. I wanted to do the same. I deserved to. No one told me that I deserved to but I felt a crawling ghost of a maternal guide patting me on the back reassuring me that, yeah, yes, I deserved a boy’s hand.
All it would have been was exciting. But, it would have been exciting.
This hasn’t been my only secret affair but it has been by far the least sexual.
Eddie was a part of my brother’s clique, they had a little group,quite popular, a little goofy, sweet enough, not too athletic, sort of a huddle of class clowns in a way, some of them still friends with my brother. Eddie is no longer a friend.
When we were in middle school, I’d see him in the hallway. I played basketball at the time, I was the team captain even though my hand-eye co-ordination prevented me from succeeding in much more than good humoured failure. Eddie played basketball too.
I looked up to him.
I feel bad thinking about it because I realize: He was just being nice to me. The tendency to feel bad about having pursued a man is ongoing, consistent and absolutely demoralizing. I have never been with a man who didn’t leave me and, moreover, left me to feel apologetic about it. Never. Eddie was the first.
I would see him in the hallway but he would also be in my home all the time with my brother and his friends just sitting in the basement being boys.
I would fantasize about them coming to my room.
The fantasy would end at the part where they were in my room, I don’t know, I still don’t know what I thought would happen but I wanted them in my room, I wanted Eddie in my room, I hoped all night, waited all night for an appearance. The mirror today projects a woman, much older, waiting for a text message from a man she can only picture sitting in a basement with his friends somewhere. It kept me up at the time. It still keeps me up.
Eddie never came up to my room.
He did start messaging me online.
We dated online.
It was 2001.
ICQ made it possible for us to speak to each other online but in person, at school, it was a secret. The things he would say, all sweet, nothing disgusting, had it been disgusting I would have been scared, I wouldn’t have known how to respond, he only said sweet things and they were all benchmark remarks. He said everything men still say to me. He said it first.
“I want to see you.”
“Damn, I wish I could see you right now.”
“Find a way to come here, just come here and be with me.”
“We’re together, ok? I don’t want you to think I’m not here.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll be there soon, I’ll find a way to be there soon.”
“I thought about you all day.”
“Are you alone?”
I wish I had screen shots. I wish I had evidence or at least digitalized quote-stickers so that each and every time I hear any of these phrases now, or anything like them I can just punch it back: I hear you because you echo every man I’ve ever known.
There’s no app for that yet.
Eddie graduates with my brother. He goes to a high school none of his friends ever go to.
He’s alone. But, he still has me.
We’ve written letters to each other over the summer. We’ve be in touch. He might have been my boyfriend but I still don’t know.
He volunteered at my school to get his volunteer hours. He told me the night before, he’dbe there.
“What do I do?”
“Just find me.”
“And then what do I do?”
“I’ll be there.”
I wanted to know what he wanted from me.
At this point, I had heard more about sex than about love and it made no sense to me that a high school boy would be dating me without me ever even having kissed him.
It makes no sense to me still.
I had developed and believed in the unfounded prediction that he was very experienced sexually. I was already embarrassed in front of my own classmates for being the first girl to have breasts, the first girl to get her period and the only girl, presumably, that had never been kissed. At that time, most girls were bragging about having given blowjobs. I had never seen a penis. I didn’t even know what an erection really was. In fact, I remember thinking up an ongoing cycle of wonderment regarding whether or not an erection and a penis were the same thing. I had already taken sex-ed but it has to be said, nothing makes sense until it’s happening to us, least of all Erections.
To be honest: I really, I still don’t know.
He told me that he would walk by my classroom and to come out when he walked by.
He walked by my classroom.
I met him by the lockers beside the washrooms.
He leaned, hands behind him, chest and shoulders jutted towards me, his tall and thin frame curved to resemble a standing sexual failure and I stood in front of him, kicking my feet at the floor, staring at the ground.
He asked me some questions.
I laughed at every single question.
“What do you know.”
“I don’t know.”
I looked at him. He looked at me.
I wanted to scream DO WE KISS NOW.
But, we hugged pathetically after he insisted “Ok, you should go inside.”
So, I went inside.
That night I left my ICQ logged in.
Probably on purpose.
He didn’t speak to me.
I saw him come online, I waited for a message, I waited for a message, I waited for a message. My time was up. My brothers and I had assigned chapters of the evening to be on the computer. My time was earlier because I am the youngest. My brother would come after me, the second youngest.
I left my ICQ logged in.
I left the chat window with Eddie open.
I had been reading through it.
I wasn’t crying. I was too worried to cry but I had been reading through it, scheming.
When I was younger I lied and schemed a lot. It was the product of my anxiety. I never knew what to do and as a solution to “what do I do” I fucked up everything further by lying and scheming a lot.
I didn’t even know I was doing it.
I hear my brother yelling.
And, I hear my brother yelling.
And, I heard my brother yelling.
I don’t know where Eddie is now.
My brother has since run into him, at university. They’ve become distanced friends.
I’ve fantasized here and there about running into him but, somehow these ghosts remain departed.
I think he works for his father now.
I hope he’s married.