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”.
Be A Marilyn
I met Eddie through a friend.
He lived with my (worst) best friend’s boyfriend. I have previously called this “worst best friend” Jan, and she can retain that name for this story. I relied on her at the time for all social occasions. I have spoken about her before so for this story all I will say is: I did not really like her, she intimidated me into being her friend, I listened to everything she said and she was always wrong.
I am twenty-one years old.
I am meeting Jan at the Toronto waterfront. She is already there with her boyfriend and a bunch of his friends. All of his friends are admittedly cute. They are also all drug dealers, selling weed together as some sort of mini-weed-based-Breaking-Bad ongoing drama. I really do not care for any of the stories she tells me about her relationship to this group, how she shows up makes them laugh, entertains them with her femininity, she is Marilyn Monroe, they are The Troops. I do not envy her apparent parochial notoriety amongst the young weed dealers of Toronto.
She is kind of obsessed with being friends with these young men, all of them younger than the two of us. Her ex-boyfriend had introduced her to them and, while he is away, her relationship to him still floating in ambiguity, she starts dating one of the quieter ones. I like him. I do not know his friends. I am meeting them for the first time.
I sit wearing a really cute skirt and a really tight tank top. I am finding confidence, at this point. I am properly psychiatricaly medicated for the first time in my life and the adjustment into normalcy is overwhelming, a little awkward but fabulously fashionable. For the first time, I care about the way I look. I look good. I sit in the grass.
Eddie appears on his bike. He throws it in the grass. He sits beside me. I don’t notice him. Jan is obviously flirting for me. She mentions me to him over and over again, as if I am not there as if she is setting me up with him and I am not there, as if he cannot see me. She keeps saying “my best friend” before qualifying sentences about me. She keeps pushing a chemistry.
I feel uncomfortable. I am overdressed, considering I am hanging out with a bunch of twenty year old drug dealers in the grass. I message a couple of my guy friends and they appear, unknowingly rescuing me from complete discomfort.
We spend the night by the water.
Eddie will not leave me alone.
He keeps sitting beside me.
He keeps walking beside me.
He keeps asking if I “need anything” which strikes me as presumptuous, as if he could get me anything I “need”.
I wonder “Do I need anything?”
No. I don’t. I don’t feel I need anything. I certainly don’t, at this point in my life, feel I need a man. Certainly not this man. I don’t need his attention. I do not need anything.
I live now, in the present, as a single woman wanting Some One, but at the time, and for many years before right now I really did not Need quite in the same way. His questioning isn’t comforting. It isn’t chivalrous. It is just annoying.
The night ends. Eddie gives me his phone number. I have no interest in him but I fake it. I am so nice to him. I am forcibly nice to him. I feel bad for him. I not only take his number, I swear I will message him. I go home. I completely forget about Eddie.
In the morning, Jan will not shut up.
She never shuts up so, this is really just another morning, but today she will not shut up about Eddie.
Eddie lives with her boyfriend, they all went home together. He was talking about me all morning.
“So do you want to see him?”
“I don’t know. I don’t want to. Should I want to?”
“It might be nice. He likes you. You should go out with him. Just to see what it’s like. He likes you. Just go.”
Jan is constantly positioning herself as the matriarch in my life. “Just go out with him” because that’s what young women are meant to do. “Just go out with him” because you never do it, you might learn something, mature a little, grow a little, come on, little girl, be a woman because your annoying friend insists that this is what women do: Women entertain men they hardly know. Be a Marilyn, Rachel. “He likes you” as if it won’t ever happen again. Just go.
I meet Eddie in Kensington Market.
We have made these arrangements via text message. He wants to show me his “favourite spot” in Toronto.
He parks his bike. He leads me to a parking garage. I recognize this garage. This is where my mother parks her car when she takes me to lunch at the vegan Chinese restaurant on Baldwin. We park the car here. That’s what most people do here: Park cars. Tonight. We Romance.
Eddie loves the view. I take a look: A million other buildings. I see walls. I see old faded tags written by old Graffiti artists who themselves haven’t been up here since they claimed territory in whatever decade. I see the street. I see sky, a little bit. But, there is no view. This isn’t the Empire State Building of Toronto, we cannot even see the water, there is no skyline, I do not know where Eddie has been in his life other than right here but I am sad, a little bit for even his lack of imagination regarding where he could go. This parking lot is where he wants to go. He wants to stare at walls. And, possibly cars. I hate it here.
I say, “Oh, it’s beautiful” and he spits out a stream of poetic nonsense meant only for women who either drink a lot or are pretty dumb. As a female writer, I am used to this: Men try to use language to impress me, it never works. It never really fails quite like right now but it isn’t completely shocking. He poeticizes the grit of the scene. I smile, roughly. I mention I am beginning
to get a little cranky without beer. We go to a Mexican restaurant and we drink.
It becomes clear that Eddie has already fallen in love with me. It might be that he fell in love with me the first night we met by the water, I cannot pinpoint his emotional climax regarding my existence but it certainly feels delusional. Eddie made a decision about me early on. Maybe it was my skirt, maybe it was my tight tank top, maybe I am just so perfectly medicated that someone else’s insanity is a huge turn off right now and I see it immediately. I see Eddie’s Crazy. I don’t label it but, I only have one drink knowing that I need to get home.
The red flags include: Open eyed nodding at absolutely everything I say, a lack of questions about me which indicates that he’s already decided Who I Am, an overload of comments about me which indicates that he’s already decided Who I Am, a leaning in towards me that is much too close as if he’s about to kiss me at any moment should I allow it and I don’t allow it, an over-pronouncement of his pride in himself regarding “wholesome things” including his dedication to his mother, his sister, his home. In short, Eddie forces character on both of us. I become a Pretty Girl and he becomes a Good Guy. I do not really identify any of this as I continue on the date, I just know I don’t like his presence, something about it is contrived and I go home.
I do not let Eddie walk me home. He tries to but I insist it would be too much of a gesture considering he has his bike and it would just be easier for him to bike to his place which is in the opposite direction.
He kisses me.
I really hate it.
I hate that a man I don’t like is kissing me in public as if we’re making a statement on purpose when really, he’s making a statement, I just happen to be the object he has attached to his statement. I hate that I cannot avoid the kiss. I hate that I have only ever kissed one other man in my life and I did not really like him either. I hate that this evening is happening.
I walk home slowly.
I feel the opposite of Good but it is not just Bad, it is degraded. As if there are holes ripped of me or my skin is rotting or I just ran through the jungle and I can smell the bird shit caked in my hair but I do not know what the smell is yet, I have not found the shit yet, I just can smell it: That is this feeling of an unidentifiable Grossness.
Jan calls me in the morning to tell me that Eddie came home and was over the moon about me.
“You guys could be a couple. And then we’ll be like…two couples. One apartment. Like…best friend couples. Oh my God.”
“Oh my God.”
“Are you going to see him again?”
“I don’t know.”
“You should see him again!”
“I don’t really know.”
“He’s obsessed with you. What did you say to him? He has so many stories about you.”
I never would have thought that a man would obsess over me the way I have obsessed over men I have hardly known. I never thought that someone else would develop a crazed concept of me in that way I used to crush over guys when I was younger and more mentally unprepared for attraction. Eddie is clearly immature. He is behaving like a twelve year old girl or, more appropriately, a twenty year old guy who probably has not had sex in a while and now sees an opportunity (once again, isn’t it charming when women become “opportunities”).
It takes realistic hindsight to know that Eddie saw me as an upgrade.
He thinks I am fancy. Even though I am not. He indulges my details. I wear skirts. I wear makeup. I write. I am intelligent. I am unlike his friends. I am unlike where he comes from. I impress him. He wants me for my perks. I know it a little bit at the time. I feel rude articulating it. I am not above anyone but he places me above him and it fuels his obsession. I used to do the same with men. Fantasy leads us away from ourselves. It is the basis of insanity. It is the basis of this romance.
Jan sets up another date for us.
“Just go out with him this week. It should be this week.”
It takes nothing for her to pressure me. This pressure is the hallmark of our relationship. I believe that I am crazy and stupid and she is rational and smart. I have believed this to be the dichotomous charm of our friendship for many years because she has told me: “I’m like your left brain”. I let her claim an entire portion of my brain to herself and it is the portion that makes decisions. I let her make my decisions for me.
I see Eddie again.
I do not want to think about it. I do not want to scheme up a plan for our date.
I am today embarrassed to tell the rest of this story because it marks the evening where I realized men are dangerous. I should have been smarter.
I am medicated. I am more mature than my date. I should accomplish Smart tonight but the result is much more embarrassing and pathetic.
I tell Eddie to come over.
I do it because I do not want to deal with his parking lots or trying to find somewhere new for him to humiliate me by kissing me in public. I do not want to be in public with Eddie. I do want not to see Eddie and I do not know why I am doing it. I have not yet identified my subconscious desire to conform to standard Girlness, the desire to be a Marilyn. I haven’t realized that a desire like that can force dangerous circumstances and so I mindlessly tell him he can come over.
We drink wine.
One bottle gone.
Everything we speak about is just conversation that moves time.
The mistake is that we speak about sex.
Embarrassed about my virginity, I pretend. I pretend to be a Marilyn.
I do not tell him that I have not yet lost my virginity.
I make up stories. Sex stories. I make up men. I just make things up. He is intrigued further but, more than that, he is reassured.
I am drunk.
We are sitting on my balcony and I am talking about a trip I am taking to New York City to visit friends. I have not realized that I have mentioned this trip to Eddie already on our last date and I must have only done so in passing because I have not booked it yet but alarm bells screech when he says
“I told my mom that I need to get a passport so that I can come with you.”
“Yeah. I went to see my family. I told them about you. I told them all about you. And I told them I want to go to New York with you so I need a passport. I should be able to get it.”
Well. Now I know I am at home with a psychopath.
I have known Eddie for two weeks. I would never get on a plane with him. I would never fly to a different country with him. I did not even want to see him tonight.
I say, “oh” and I guzzle more wine.
All or my focus is now funneled into getting this man out of my house so that tomorrow I can wake up and tell him never to speak to me again.
He will not leave.
He will not leave and each time I try to get him to leave, it is as if I am giving him the option,
“Maybe it’s late and you should head out.”
“No, I’m good.”
Yes, Eddie, it is clear that you are good but I am terrified.
I am terrified because his unpredictable nature is now flamingly clear. I am terrified because I know I will be nothing but polite to this person until he chooses to leave.
The wine is done.
Eddie is kissing me.
I just let it happen.
I use no foresight. I use no thought. I just let this happen. I am not nervous. I am not excited. I am tired and drunk and increasingly sad.
“Maybe I won’t go home.”
“I can stay here.”
“Really! Of course, really. I can stay here, I just need to check on my bike and I’ll come back in the morning.”
“I don’t want to have sex.”
“Did not you say you were a really horny person earlier.”
I did say that. It is not even a cute thing to say but somehow that is what I managed to say to this person earlier on our date.
“It’s funny then.”
“Just that you won’t.”
“Well, do you have a condom.”
- Don’t. Want. To. I am stalling, maybe.
“In my bag.”
Which excites him. I am obviously surrendering. He does not notice or he does notice but he does not care.
“I have to go check on my bike.”
“Will you let me back in.”
And, I say, “Yes.”
I should not have let him back in.
I get naked. I go to bed. I pray that he gets lost.
He comes back.
He gets naked. He gets in bed. He starts kissing me.
I hate it so much.
He is on top of me. Tall, thin, large mouthed, just a wild agent of desire, eating my face and I hate it. He smoked just before doing this. I am choking on the taste. Each piece of his body is strong. Each piece. And it’s all hurting me.
“Ok stop. Ok stop!”
He gets off of me. I want to tell him to leave. In my head I plan: He will leave, I will cry, the end.
He lies beside me. We do not touch. I am tense everywhere. Just a wooden board of woman, lying still, silently praying.
“I thought you were such a horny person like you said.”
I hate this person.
He grabs me. I struggle to believe that this is affection. He cradles me with his head leaned into my shoulder.
“It’s ok, we can go to sleep.”
“We can have sex in the morning.”
He falls asleep.
I stay in bed until 3 AM. Without knowing what time it is, I push him off of me. I get dressed and stare at a book on my balcony under the one dim light above my building. I chain smoke. I watch the sun rise. I hope.
Eddie appears, half-dressed in the doorway.
“Are you ok.”
“I just have a busy day. I have to get to work.”
“Ok. Can you see my bike from here.”
“I have no idea what your bike looks like.”
I stare at the street.
“Well, I can take off then. I don’t want to be in your hair.”
And he touches my hair.
He goes inside. I hold my breath.
He comes back out, dressed. He smokes. He says he had a good time. He’s sure we will see each other soon. He kisses me goodbye. I hear the door shut.
His touch haunts me for days.
I cannot believe I let a man I do not know into my house. I cannot believe I made up lies to impress him. I cannot believe I did not know, did not think, that my invitation and my lies would corner me into bed with a stranger. I cannot believe I was in bed with a stranger. I do not know what to do about Eddie.
I could stop speaking with him.
Men have done that to me, I can do that to him but I will not do it. It goes against my heart to leave someone without considerate mention of why.
I sit on my couch in the darkened evening, staring at my phone.
I call Eddie.
“Do you want to meet up.”
“Oh. So then. How are you?”
“No. I don’t know. I just want to say: I think you’re really into me and I’m not quite there, like I don’t really feel that way so maybe it’s a good idea if we don’t see each other anymore.”
“Like, where is this coming from, you seemed to really like me.”
“You definitely really liked me, like. Ok.”
“I’m sorry if I led you on I was just being nice I did not mean to like…”
Like like like like like like: We are both in our early twenties and we do not know what to say. Two or three sentences later, I hang up.
Days later I am at Jan’s house.
“You know you ruined Eddie.”
“He’s destroyed. You destroyed him.”
I tell her the whole story. She is my best friend and I have not told her this story because I am embarrassed to have failed at Boys but I tell her because I know I did not do anything wrong.
Her reaction leaves me less sure.
“Well he treats me like shit now.”
Well, he treats her like shit now.
Of course. The object of my actions: Jan. Jan and the way people treat her. He treats her like shit now? How about that one time he was in my bed and I could not get him out? How about that kind of treatment of me, Jan? Jan does not care.
I do not know who is dumber Jan or Eddie.
I do not know why I listen to narcissists.
I do not know why I let them help me away from myself.
I do not know why I could not convince Jan that Eddie acted insane, he was going to get a passport just to follow me out of the country, he was going to implement himself into my life without my permission, he told his family about me, he exoticized me, he made me afraid and it felt worth the heartbreak to tell him to go away.
I do not know how to ask her what she would do.
I do not know how to reconcile that she would probably have kept dating him.
I do not know how to believe that dating is a healthy activity.
I do not need this. I did not need this. I never needed Eddie.
I have since seen Eddie twice.
One time was at Nuit Blanche. He ran into me while I was with a completely different Eddie and apparently (Jan says) he ran home crying directly after speaking with me.
I saw him one more time after a fundraiser I attended that Jan was apart of. He was very sweet and seemed much more grounded. He asked me about my writing and nodded while blinking that time which made me feel just that slightest bit more comfortable.
Eddie, I hope you are in love now.
And, I hope she listens to your poetry in your parking lot.
I hope I did you a favour. I know I probably did.