I Can’t Feel My Face!

I had two live-in boyfriends during my time in Cincinnati. The second one was Drummer #1, introduced by the guy who was in charge of our servers at the law firm. Apparently Drummer #1 had a weakness for women from Minnesota, with our light-colored hair and blue eyes (except mine are green). In theory he seemed like a good match for me too because of his musical leanings – besides drums he also played guitar – and he was a tech guy, which was my new field at that time.

I still remember our first date vividly. Drummer #1 was very tall (6’3″) with a big, toothy grin, deep-set blue eyes, short brown hair and a flannel shirt. He was very, very nervous about meeting me. We went on a double date with my friends, and we started off sitting across from each other at a crappy table with bad vinyl chairs while a band set up. An hour later the band was in full force and Drummer #1 managed to down four shots of Jaegermeister and two Jack & Cokes. He got up to go to the bathroom and when he returned, he sat down next to me instead of across from me, started rubbing my back and then poked his cheeks and said, “I can’t feel my face! I can’t feel my face!” Before the night was done he had four more Jack & Cokes.

I agreed to go out with him again, even though the drinking wasn’t ideal for a first date. I knew it was his nerves. Plus he kept telling me how cute I was.

It was another one of those things that turned into us spending loads of time together immediately. After the third date when he found out where I lived, he would throw pebbles and sometimes even dimes and pennies at my apartment window to surprise me and let him in. He was living with his parents at the time. After about eight months, Drummer #1 and I moved in together.

I didn’t have the easiest time with meeting his parents. I never went over to his house, he just met me out or came and picked me up. One time during the summer we were at a blues festival and Drummer #1 knew his parents were there as well, and they wanted to meet me, so we set off through the crowd looking for them. We walked back and forth and back and forth in mobs of people but weren’t able to find them, and I had no idea who to look for anyway. However, his parents saw us and didn’t call out to us every time we passed – because, as it turned out, his mother thought I was too fat and ugly for him. (Disclaimer: I was around size 8-10, pretty darned okay by today’s standards.) When they invited me to join them for Christmas that year, I absolutely did not want to go, but I did anyway. His parents ended up loving me.

Anyway, up to that point, Drummer #1 had been an irresponsible bill payer and so I had to have all of the utilities put into my name when we moved in together to avoid having to pay large deposits. For the first year that we were together he was one of the sole tech guys for a small manufacturing company. At this point my hair was falling out with a vengeance. He always wore a blue fleece pullover to work and every day he managed to pick up thousands of my blonde hairs on it like he was wearing velcro. At one point the guys he worked with asked if there was something wrong with me based solely on the volume of my hair that would show up on his clothes.

After the first year Drummer #1 switched to a job at the University of Cincinnati. For some of his time there he happened to work with a doctor who was researching cures for alopecia universalis. He would come home and tell me about seeing others like me who were examined under a magnifying glass so they could be determined to be the most extreme hairless cases for the studies. I still would never qualify because no matter what falls out I manage to retain a few sprouts of hair on my big toes. And for some of the time, Drummer #1 said that he was being sent down to the “hole” – some underground network where he would have to suit up in a big yellow suit for 2-3 days while he ran programs. He also claimed to work with some cops and even some FBI agents.

Drummer #1 made the mistake once of claiming that I was not doing enough to keep my hair. You know that old tired tune of “Why don’t you just _____?” like everyone else is the expert on your body? I made him go with me once for a session where the dermatologist injected each patch with a combination of Lidocaine to numb my head after the shots were done and prednisone to inhibit the white blood cells from taking over my hair follicles. Every session would be about 75 injections; that time, Drummer #1 said, with big eyes, that he could see the doctor flicking the needle up slightly after each injection so it looked as if he was tearing my skin a bit every time. After that, Drummer #1 never told me I wasn’t doing enough.

I finally started wearing wigs when I knew trying to keep my hair or grow new stuff was completely hopeless. At one point I purchased a styrofoam head with a super long neck so the longer wigs wouldn’t rest on the counter tops when I took them off. I would perch the head form and hair on the back of the toilet at night. Every morning for a week, Drummer #1 was so out of it that he would scream when he got out of the shower because he thought someone had sneaked into the bathroom while he was bathing. I would lay in bed nearly pissing myself laughing.

After a few months of living together, things started to slip with the bill paying for Drummer #1. We began receiving calls that our electricity and water were going to be shut off for non-payment and every time I’d have to hurry and pay them, with him promising to investigate why his payments hadn’t been processed. He claimed to be clueless as to why there always seemed to be lost payments.

Then one day in June we were supposed to be flying back to Minnesota for my 10th high school reunion. The flight was out of Columbus, a good hour and a half away, and at night, so I told Drummer #1 what time he had to be home from work in order for us to catch the plane on time. When the time rolled around, he was nowhere to be found. This was prior to the time of cell phones, so I had to call his office. When I got no answer, I called campus security and asked them to cruise around to see if his car was there. After striking out again, I opened up his top dresser drawer where I knew he put all of his receipts and mail. I was stunned to find six months worth of bills in there, all unopened, including all of the utility bills he had told me he had paid. I was incredibly angry and still panicked about not being able to make our flight in time.

The kicker, though, was when I went to get the mail before trying his work phone again, I received my credit card bill with another nasty surprise. When I had been sick the month before with strep throat and stuck in bed on my birthday, he had taken my credit card and charged up hundreds of dollars. I was LIVID.

Drummer #1 showed up an hour late at home and not ready for the trip at all. He hurriedly threw things into a bag. The entire drive up to Columbus I only had my demon voice to use on him. I told him that if he touched the mail in any way including just taking it out of the mailbox, I would get a post office box and he would have to wait for me to give him his mail. No more hiding and lying.  I hated him.

Five months later Drummer #1 made arrangements to buy a car through a program with the University; the payments would come out of his check directly so he wouldn’t have to worry about making timely payments. However, “something” happened where payments were still missed and his car ended up being impounded. Drummer #1 promised to pay me back but it required about $1200 to get his car back.

I had vowed to return to the southwestern U.S. about two years into our relationship. I didn’t feel any real connection with the city and the winters were depressing. I told Drummer #1 that I was moving with or without him. He seemed enthusiastic about a major change and we even took a trip out to Arizona to check it out. When we were driving back from the Grand Canyon towards Phoenix, we were stunned by a quadruple rainbow that glowed across the sky. I know now that it’s an extremely rare phenomenon, and believe me when I say that even truckers pulled over on the highway so they could snap pictures of these four perfect arcs filling the sky. I took it as a sign that I was making the right move.

When we returned from the trip, I went into working and saving mode. I put in about 70-80 hours between two workplaces to make sure I’d have money for the big move. Drummer #1, however, was still not being responsible for his bills and wasn’t making any effort to pay me back.

In January of 2003 I received a strange phone call from a girl who addressed me by name and informed me that she had been fucking Drummer #1 for at least a year. I kept calm and asked him about it when he returned from work. He said that the girl was calling all of his friends and trying to make their girlfriends freak out. I had no way to verify this because I didn’t know any of the girlfriends.

In July 2003, Drummer #1 missed more car payments. I was at the end of my rope. I told him he was on his own with figuring it out because I had to save money to move. Then in September, I received a call from the landlord who told me that he knew I was leaving, but Drummer #1 asked if he could stay on. Drummer #1 never had any intention of moving.

I bagged up all of his belongings in garbage bags and threw it all to the bottom entryway stairs. I went over to his parents’ house and told them he would need a new place to live. They revealed to me that he had borrowed $1600 from them, telling them it was to pay me back. None of the money made it to me, though. His parents told me that he had been a pathological liar his whole life and they hoped that living with me would have cured him of that. I wish that they would not have remained so loyal to their son and instead warned me.

My friend’s dad, an attorney, wrote a letter of intention to file suit if he didn’t pay me back all of the money by October 29th. On October 29th he appeared at my workplace with a cashier’s check for the entire amount he owed me, nearly $5,000.

I used that money to pay for the moving van and my new apartment in Phoenix.

Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word

When I was 21, I worked two jobs with the goal of saving up enough cash to travel for a while. I also wanted to pick a new place to live, but I wasn’t sure where. My best friend and I packed up my car, converted most of our cash to traveler’s checks, borrowed my dad’s 6-person tent and took off. We stayed for a month on Mackinac Island to earn some more cash. After that, we cut across Canada and started at Niagara Falls and camped our way down the entire east coast. It was my first encounter with the ocean.

I almost set up residence in Hilton Head Island, but I kept seeing all of the hurricane evacuation signs and they freaked me out. As we looped back up and cut through Tennessee, I considered Nashville, but then I figured all of the country music would make me want to jump off a tall building. Later we cut back through Missouri and headed to the southwest, and I finally ran out of money in Albuquerque, so there I stayed. Within a short amount of time I landed two jobs and a place to live. My friend opted to go to the Everglades in Florida to live and work.

A year later, she made her way back to New Mexico, and I was happy to have a good friend so close after floundering for a year with trying to make friends. We decided to take on dating together. Back in 1996, the best way to meet the opposite sex besides getting tanked at a bar was either posting or answering personal ads published in newspapers. Let me take just a little time out and post an ad that I found, clipped and saved for these almost 20 years:

SPM, 31, seeking female amputee, age 18-99, for romance. Your beauty and grace astounds me. Box ID 23394.

Talk about a fetish!

My friend and I placed an ad saying something to the effect that we were looking for double dates. The ad was free, but to initiate a call to someone is where the fee kicked in. We got a couple of bites but they were from men who didn’t have single buddies. One was a guy I will call Bear; he had a really deep voice and was very articulate, so after talking to him we agreed on a date.

Bear was tall, 6’2, with glasses and a bookish manner – or if you prefer, he was geeky or nerdy in general. Our first date was right after Christmas that year. Immediately, we hit it off. We hardly spent any days apart and were on the phone constantly. I remember telling him one time that I couldn’t get close enough – I wished that I could crawl under his skin and live there.

A month after we started dating, we were at a restaurant eating dinner in the middle of some serious winter weather. We looked around the place and noted all of the kids having meltdowns and said, “I’m so glad we don’t have kids.” Bear then said, “Why don’t we go to Las Vegas?” We both had never been and Bear liked to play blackjack. He revealed that he had saved up a wad of cash (something like $600, which was a pretty good chunk in early 1997) and decided he wanted to use it to take a short trip with me. We ran to our respective places and quickly packed backpacks and called for tickets. We didn’t even take time to book a hotel.

When we arrived, we realized our mistake – it was the electronics convention, and EVERY hotel room was booked. However, our chain smoking cabby with the biggest, flashiest earrings told us that the Happi Inn was a sure thing – she always took people there for situations like these. Sure enough, they had a room. And what a room it was! Mirror on the ceiling, garish orange bedding with a bed sagging horribly in the middle, one TV station and cockroaches in the bathroom. We were also being price gouged because of the convention, $80 for the night. We did the best we could because we were flying out the next day.

It was a fun day. We played slots, and Bear got three blackjacks in a row, which was noticed by the pit boss, and we were rewarded with two tickets to the Ceaser’s Palace buffet. We took many pictures around the strip and visited M&M World. We even saw our first Cirque du Soleil show, “Mystere.” It was a fun little trip…or so we thought, until we tried to fly back. Because of snow storms all over the U.S., we couldn’t get a flight home until the next day at 1 p.m. I left a message on the work answering machine to tell everyone I was momentarily stranded and that I would be back to work Tuesday. The managers didn’t think to check the messages when I didn’t show up to work Monday morning, and they were in the process of calling the police to do a wellness check on me when I called in to make sure they got my message.

It didn’t take long for Bear and I to move in together. He was my first love (though he had had other loves before me). I loved him deeply. He was a patron of the arts. He wrote me love letters. He talked about the future.

However, there were problems at his workplace, and he decided to try to land a job closer to the Midwest or east coast. He almost took a job in Allentown, PA, but decided to take an offer in Cincinnati, OH instead. It was still early in our relationship and I wasn’t ready to say goodbye, so I moved with him. I figured I would get a job after we relocated. We rented an apartment on a short lease without seeing it first on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River.

Shortly after we moved to yet another city where I didn’t know anyone else, Bear told me to make my own friends because he wasn’t going to be my entertainment. So I did. First I went out a few times and partied with a lady I met while working a temp job as a proofreader. Later I partied a lot with the people who worked with me at the large law firm. It seemed that his declaration was the turning point in our relationship, and nothing was ever the same after that.

Bear also became somewhat addicted to the internet. His nerd side was strong – his mind was blown with the potential the internet held at that point – and that meant that he was on it constantly. Part of the problem was that resources were available that never had been before, like being able to buy video games that weren’t always sold in the immediate vicinity. Oh, and the porn…

So the problem was that money that was supposed to go for rent was being used up by video games and porn. I was unhappy because there were a few times when Bear would blow his portion of the rent on games and I would have to pay for everything. He also spent money and time on porn instead of joining me. There were so many times I would beg him to come to bed, and he would refuse. I felt ugly and undesirable. Since I was living with a nerd, I was becoming more computer and internet savvy myself. I started to go to chat rooms, and then I began talking to men in private chat sessions.

My first trip to Europe was in May of 1999. I was visiting a university friend who lives in England for ten days. I had been saving and saving, knowing that even though I had a free place to stay, there would still be lots of expenses. A week before leaving, Bear revealed to me that he didn’t have the rent money again because he had purchased video games. I was absolutely furious. Like a true daughter of an alcoholic, my brain went into dissociation mode and I completely forgot what Bear’s face looked like. In fact, when he picked me up from the airport at the end of my trip with a fist full of flowers, I walked straight past him like he was a stranger – he had to call out my name and grab my arm.

A few weeks later I met up with one of the men from the chats while Bear was working. I was so eager that I failed to properly turn off the computer, so the message box was still there for Bear to see when he got home from work and the house was empty. Of course he read it, all of it. When I got home, he was sitting on the edge of our bed, looking absolutely crushed.

We broke up but continued to live in the same apartment and sleep in the same bed because we were still obligated to the lease we signed. Luckily it ran its course within two months and we could move on. We actually stayed friendly through the breakup – he helped me move into my new apartment, and he joined me at a friend’s house for Thanksgiving (my friend’s mom introduced us as, “This is Kiwi and this is Bear and they were dating and now they’re not, so I don’t know”).

Bear later went on to marry one of our mutual friends and have two sons – the two sons we used to discuss when we were a couple and talking about our future. He even named them the names he had picked out then.

Today I had a chance to trade messages with him and catch up. Bear is now divorced and in a relationship with another woman, and his sons have adjusted well to the major shift in the household. We exchanged information about our families and friends. I also sincerely apologized for cheating on him, acknowledging that I did not have the best tools at age 25-26 to deal with my anger and disappointment, and I hurt him deeply. He very graciously told me that it was forgiven and forgotten. I cried big, fat tears.

The Professor

Yesterday I received medical records from St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix for all of the 10 surgeries I had there, plus numerous visits in between to the ER. The packet included one entire ream of paper with printed chart notes, EKG readings, surgical notes, allergies, and even my signature on some documents. What they didn’t print out on paper they included on a disc for me. Now that I have to set up a whole new team of doctors to help me through this Magical Medical Mystery Tour, I figured it was best to keep track of things and distribute them myself instead of relying on others to gather the info. It’s a plus that I have a laser copier/fax/scanner/printer here at home so I make sure everyone gets what they need.

Some things were a little tough to read. For instance, nearly every time I told the neurosurgeon or the ER staff that my shunt wasn’t working like it should have been, they would tell me that everything looked fine in my scans and that it must be “something else.” After I would beg and plead with the neurosurgeon to do another surgery so I could function again, he would again tell me that everything was fine and he couldn’t say exactly why I had symptoms, but he replaced everything. One of the times was in February of 2013; Dr. N. was out of the country teaching in Japan, and I went into full failure – face drooping, blurred vision, fatigue, vertigo, and I was walking funny, like a cat with anesthesia from a vet wearing off. One nurse told me to go to the hospital four miles away from my house to see if they could treat me for headache. That hospital ended up doing a nuclear shunt study, which they had NEVER done before – I had to tell the radiologist where to inject the nuclear material in my shunt under live x-ray – and they kept me for six days. At the end of the six days they told me the study was “fine” but opted to transport me to St. Joseph’s because Dr. N. was back in the country. I was at St. Joe’s for another six days, during which time Dr. N. did another surgery on me. Now that I’m seeing what was in the report, Dr. N. actually agreed that the shunt flow was sluggish. It wasn’t my imagination and everything was not “fine.” Suckage. I wish they would trust me more when it comes to knowing what’s going on with my body.

I remember vividly the first day I went to St. Joseph’s when I was still trying to get a diagnosis. At that point I had been to at least a dozen doctors over the course of 10 months. I waited to go to the ER until the day after my birthday – I wanted to have a really good dinner out with friends, because I knew I was probably going to have to go through a little hell. At the time, I was dating this guy I will refer to as The Professor, and he accompanied me to the hospital.

We met through OKCupid. It seemed like he and I had a lot in common. He was educated and was planning his first trip to Europe. His picture was just a face shot, and I could only make out that he was smiling and that he had dark hair. We met in January after exchanging some friendly notes; in person, I was a little startled because he had on blue jeans with a bright white belt and bright white shoes, and the pants were sitting high up on his very rotund belly. The Professor’s hair was also dyed dark brown, which was unfortunate – because the very large bald patch in the back shined through like a pink baboon’s ass. I still wanted to get to know him because I’m much more attracted to brains and a certain amount of worldly experience, and so we fell into dating exclusively.

The differences in our beliefs and backgrounds became apparent over time, as they usually do with anyone you date longer than one night. First, he grew up in the middle of small town Indiana – and was exactly like the people I so desperately wanted to get away from in the little town of 300 I lived in in Minnesota for five years. He was strictly a meat-and-potatoes, salt-and-pepper guy – he refused to eat any vegetables or try anything that had flavor. He hadn’t ever even seen a bagel until he was 24!!! To him, those were exotic. He worked at the law library on the main campus of Arizona State University (ASU) and held a bachelor’s degree, but was re-enrolled for his Master’s. However, ASU let him teach one class: Critical Thinking (hence the use of his nickname “The Professor”). We would laugh over some of the things his freshman and sophomore students would come up with in who exactly they hated in the world but couldn’t explain why. But what really bothered me is that he was in his mid-40’s and his mommy was giving him cash every time he got an “A” grade on a paper, and then he’d get a bigger amount if he got an “A” for an entire class. He bragged about how easy school was for him and how smart he was. I would ask him why his mom was paying him for good grades when he had just said how easy it was for him to get high grades. He did not like that question.

The Professor was also a big fan of comics. I helped him to make a transcript of some of his interviews as he was a contributor for an online publication for comics fans. The Professor would brag about how he was a much better interviewer than anyone else, but after putting together some transcripts for him, clearly he struggled with having an actual conversation and he was asking all of the artists the same exact questions. He was just talking to hear himself talk. I am not a fan of comics myself (despite many artists trying to get me hooked), so having to sit through that stuff was a little tedious.

When The Professor talked about his trip to Europe, I really had to bite my tongue. He was likely going to be scared by some of the cuisine (though in England he would fit right in because everything is boiled), but even more importantly, it was going to be a BICYCLE tour. I knew his weight was going to hold him back; when we were simply driving in the car or watching a movie, I could hear him constantly gasping for air and groaning with the effort. The Professor was a mouth breather and sounded like a monster from a horror film. He also had terrible allergies but refused to take allergy meds because he didn’t want to be a “pill pusher.” I found an OTC brand that dissolves in the mouth and he was in heaven. Even the brands that do not have dissolving tablets manufacture incredibly small tablets, so it’s nothing to swallow them. And since when is taking allergy medicine being a “pill pusher”?

Lastly, The Professor refused to wear antiperspirant or deodorant because he said he didn’t like how it felt. He was about 350 lbs. and like everyone else in a super hot city like Phoenix, he sweated profusely. One time when we sat outside of a restaurant after a meal and enjoyed the sunset, he put his arm around me, and his sweaty pit rubbed that sour smell all over all over my shoulders and wig. I hate having to wash my wig more often than is recommended because the fibers and cap wear out faster.

We had connected at a time when my symptoms were somewhat dormant; I could still see while sitting upright and still drive. However, when I became sicker and sicker and still had to deal with our differences, I debated sending him on his way. It was just exhausting. I am not good at projecting a poker face.

The Professor was with me after I spent a week in St. Joseph’s when the group of doctors filed into my room and told me they decided to operate on me. I cried like a baby after they left the room, and The Professor held my hand and tried to comfort me. But the next week when I was home again waiting to be cleared for surgery, I decided it was time. We sat down on my couch and I held his hand and told him that I didn’t think we were compatible. He told me he expected me to break things off because I would sometimes look at him like he was an idiot. I honestly can’t remember most of the exchange, but I do know that I ended it with telling him that I thought he ought to re-think his stance on deodorant. The Professor then said he didn’t use it because he was allergic to it, and I told him that just because he was allergic to one brand didn’t mean he would be to all brands – I broke out in hives from Secret products, so I went and found one that didn’t do that to me. I also called out the fact that he told me previously that he didn’t like it, not that he was allergic to it, and that’s a big difference.

Last year, when I was having a particularly rough night with pain and medication, I sent an email to The Professor saying that I was sorry about the way that I ended things with him and that I wished him happiness. I didn’t hear back from him, but after doing some searching on Facebook, I confirmed he’s up to about 400 lbs. and is engaged. Good for him.

Three Is A Crowd

For the past, oh, two decades or so, men have been trying to talk me into three-or-more-somes. I’ve been accused of turning down the requests without knowing what I like, which is completely not true. I like men. Specifically, I like one man at a time. It’s tough to believe, I know – with the easy access to free porn on the internet (Pornhub, Youporn, XHamster, etc.), it’s pretty much shoved in your face as a consumer of sex that if you are a woman, you should want to fuck both men and women, and it should be enough for the women in porn that the men and/or viewers get off on what they are doing, not the woman who is actually going through the experience. I also blame the phenomenon that seemed to start right around age 23-ish for me, which was that women began making out with each other on the dance floor and in bars if they knew that they could gain attention from men. I’ve heard the theory that women are a lot more fluid in their sexual preferences than men are, so maybe they enjoy making out with their female friends, but I know that getting attention is a huge payoff. The problem with that is that men are now conditioned to look for that in every woman they meet, so if a woman balks at that demand, then the man moves on to the next tasty morsel.

My first live-in boyfriend was nerd before nerd was cool. He was also hooked on porn and had had some bisexual girlfriends before dating me, and he hoped to convert me into inviting others into our sex life. We even went to a swingers’ club one night when we were still living in Albuquerque. It was a bust though – not many people were there, and the three men who hit on me were in their 50’s and slightly inebriated. The bigger problem, though, is that I wasn’t ready to bring someone else in, but I was trying to please him.

A man I fooled around with was, well, very good at what he did, so he probably could have talked me into anything. He told me that he had a buddy from the gym who would be willing to do a threesome. I was tempted because it wasn’t the usual request of going at it with another woman, but I had some hard limits that I wasn’t sure would be honored because I didn’t know jack about the other guy. I don’t ever like to feel outnumbered, whether it’s with trying to wrangle toddlers or penises or anything else that has the ability to turn an experience immediately to shit.

A Greek guy I dated in Ohio talked me and another couple into a post-hot tub rendezvous, but that quickly soured for me because all my boyfriend would talk about was how hot the other woman was, and if he was taking care of her, she would have orgasmed immediately. He got his chance and he was proven wrong. (Pro tip: If you’re going to tell your girlfriend over and over how other women are prettier than her, don’t expect hero worship.)

Through a social group that I belonged to in Phoenix, among the many people I met, I became friends with a husband and wife with a young child. The husband was a nurse at the hospital where I volunteered, and we met while I was in my first year back at school to earn my RN degree. The wife provided writing and grammar services on the side, so I had some things in common with both of them. About six months into the friendship the couple explained that they had an open marriage and they were both interested in me. After I told them that I was the straightest girl they knew, they seemed to accept it and we continued our friendship. One night after the husband and I were hanging out with a group of 10 or so at a bar, he propositioned me and told me that his wife understood, and that he had her permission to have sex with me. I thought to myself, “Okay, I haven’t tried this before where everything is out in the open, so I’ll give it a whirl.” The husband asked if he could have some privacy in my living room to call his wife so they could talk about it again before anything happened, so I was not privy to the conversation. When he joined me in my bedroom, he told me that he told her what was happening and made sure she was okay with it. Can you guess what happened? She wasn’t okay with it. She called me, and then she called him, and after questioning me and him thoroughly, she determined he lied to both of us. Oh, yeah, and he was also screwing another married woman on the side. And the married woman he was screwing had another guy on the side. Are you keeping up with the math? There were at least six of us that had to go in for STD testing. And even though she figured out that the husband was lying through his teeth and I hadn’t maliciously tried to insert myself into their (oh, surprise – not-so-open) marriage, she told everyone in our social group that I was a homewrecker. I ended up dropping out of the group only a week after all of this was discovered. I had made a lot of friends and was attending weekly events and suddenly I was out.

A little older and wiser, I’ve seen many polyamorous relationships thanks to FetLife. I haven’t seen one group of three or more people who have successfully navigated love and sex without someone having to leave, usually in tears. Whether or not a relationship works strongly depends on everyone’s level of comfort with various dynamics. For example, are you okay with your man being a “pony” for a mistress as long as he doesn’t have sex with her? Are you open to being one of three wives to one man? What if your man kisses every woman he meets on the lips while you stand there and it’s obvious to even the casual bystander that it takes a little piece out of your heart every time? And probably the worst scenario is being singled out while everyone else bands together in a group that is supposed to be all-inclusive – it can be very lonely and traumatizing to be ganged up on.

What works for me is to make a relationship work between me and one other person, because damn, even that isn’t easy. I want less strife and heartbreak in my life.

Two Dolla, Make You Holla

in 2006, I was working on a campus with about 4,000 employees full time, and I worked across the street part time at a women’s clothing store to earn extra money for a trip to Europe. The full time job put me in contact with a lot of people – and when I say people, I mean men, especially because it wasn’t as common as it is now for women to be in the IT field.

I met a woman through work who ended up being my traveling companion to Europe that year, and she had a little brother who was up to all kinds of shenanigans. We played designated driver for him when he partied too much to drive, and every time he would see me, he would stick my head in his sweaty armpit and tell me that he loved me. At one point, Little Brother told me that one of his co-workers had the hots for me and wanted to be set up. He wouldn’t tell me who it was and wouldn’t point him out, which made me pretty nervous and self-conscious, but I was flattered that the guy was interested, and Little Brother assured me that he was a good guy. So I agreed to meet the mystery man at a bar/restaurant in front of my second job on a Sunday night after my shift was done.

I arrived, and since I wasn’t sure who I should look for, I waited outside the front door. I was pretty hungry so I thought it would be nice to chow down and get to know this person. After about ten minutes, a guy came out of the front door and introduced himself; I’ll call him Sailor. He was handsome with blue eyes and dark hair, muscles and tattoos. I was pleasantly surprised. He invited me inside, but instead of heading to the restaurant side, he led me to the noisier bar and told me he had already started drinking. I ordered a drink and some fries.

Sailor was immediately ready to share. First he told me that he had singled me out because I “looked like a party girl.” (I wondered what gave him this impression, since I dressed in always-appropriate attire and never did the walk of shame into work.) Turns out Sailor really liked my long-ish red hair (wig! It’s a wig, buddy!). He told me that he had been in the Navy, and that every time they docked, he would pay for a prostitute because they were so cheap, usually $2, and they would do anything he asked. Sailor then told me that he was currently married but wasn’t sure if he should get a divorce or not, because his wife had gotten hundreds of thousands of dollars from a boyfriend who died, and he liked that they were able to buy cars and houses with cash. He asked me about my dating/marriage history, and I explained that when I first moved to Phoenix, I went on many, many dates because I didn’t know anyone and it was a great way to socialize as well as get to know the city. Sailor told me I must be a big whore for going on all of those dates.

This all happened in the first half hour. At this point, my mind switched from “He’s hot” to “Okay, now I have to stick around to see what happens.”

I don’t know how many beers he had. I stopped at half a drink. He started getting sloppy and singing the praises of being black Irish and said over and over how much he liked Irish pubs. I told him there was one about four miles away, so Sailor got a wild hair about going to that one. I insisted on driving. En route, he rolled down the passenger window, flapped my sun visor at passing cars and quacked at them. Sailor also said over and over, “I’m in Kiwi’s car! I can’t believe it!”

We pulled up to the pub, and he became very quiet, then mumbled, “I think I got thrown out of here and banned.” We went in anyway and sat at the bar, making the total patron count 5. The bartender took our drink orders and said, “First date, huh?” Sailor got up to go to the bathroom and the bartender told me he was sorry for me, and that he would pay for my soda. Sailor stumbled back from the bathroom; his mood had changed, and he was pouting and belligerent. I dropped any pretense of being nice – I was anxious to get home and have some real food and relax before working 14 hours the next day. After he finished his drink, Sailor decided he was ready to leave. On the way out, he high kicked the white erase board with the day’s specials – maybe to show the world how mad he was about being kicked out the last time he was there? I stopped to pick it up and reposition it, and Sailor stumbled toward my car, yelling “Just leave it! Leave it!” Of course I didn’t. Rude.

We got back to the first location and I parked my car but left the engine running. At this point, Sailor tried to sweet talk me into allowing him to come home with me to bang. He also tried to attach himself to me like a sucker fish. I told him no, and he said, “For sure, that’s a ‘No’?” I said, “Yes,” and he said, “Awww, you said yes!” Then he was on me. He tried to mash his lips to mine while simultaneously going under my shirt with his hand and ripping the right cup of my bra. The kicker is that he was doing this in front of an outdoor porch filled with about 30 people. I said “No!” even louder and shoved my forearm against his windpipe. Sailor got pissed, said “Fine!” and got out of my car and slammed the door. I didn’t hesitate, just took off. There was no way I wanted him to try to follow me or be on the road at the same time as him.

Two days later he sent me a message through the work messaging system telling me he thought the date went well. I told him that it was pretty bad – he called me a whore, he got drunk, he kicked over a sign and succeeded in ripping my bra. Sailor told me that he got a DUI on the way home that night. (YES!!!) Then he said it wasn’t so bad for someone who hadn’t been on a date for four years. I said, “Yeah, you haven’t dated for that long because you’re married.” Sailor then said that he would be happy to buy me a new bra as long as he could come into the dressing room with me. I told him it was time to figure out his life.

The next time i saw Little Brother, I punched him in the arm repeatedly and told him that he was permanently off of matchmaking duty.

Yes, I Have a Type

I like men. Tall ones, short ones, fit ones, cute ones, nerd ones, “dad body” ones, I can find something to appreciate in many. However, there are certain things that make me stupid – panty-droppers, if you will. They are:

  1. Firemen. I mean, c’mon, this should be a no-brainer. Granted, some are cuter than others, but family and friends alike encourage this particular addiction by sending me photos and buying me calendars. Even my realtor sent me a picture from a property she was renting to five firemen in Tempe, AZ – one of the guys was posed naked on top of a bicycle out back at the pool, helmet on his head, cigarette in his mouth, and holding a rifle. He was quite fit. His leg very coyly covered up his frank and beans. It was my dream photo minus the rifle and the cigarette. He had it blown up to poster size, which made it easy for the realtor to capture and forward to me. Nearly every day someone posts a half-naked fireman (or if it’s my lucky day, fireMEN) on my Facebook wall. My best day was just a few days after I got Dumb and Angry to move out of the house, I had to call 911 to get help because I thought I had popped my shunt out of the little hole in my cranium, and I was in heaven because I had a house full of firemen. They were all running through my house telling me how much they loved it while a couple stayed with me to work me up, so as I was being wheeled out of the house, I told all of them that I was looking for a roommate. Pass that up? Not me! Of course, I was in crazy pain and had just taken a big dose of painkillers so I was high as a kite, so who knows what else I said to them. I’m pretty sure I didn’t try to stuff dollars down their pants.
  2. Tall men. My first two live-in boyfriends were 6’2″ and 6’3″, and a former boyfriend was 6’4″. I tried twice to make a date happen with a guy who was 6’6″ (he wussed out, had just gotten divorced and was too damaged to follow through), and I think the guy who told me I looked like his dead wife was at least 6’3″. What is it about the tall guys? I’m not sure. I mean, yeah, they can see the top of the fridge, but big deal. I think because I’ve never been considered small, I don’t feel like Godzilla around the tall guys, as in, “Me smash little puny men and snap their thighs like twigs!”
  3. Musicians. I’m talking real musicians, like the ones that can play seven instruments or don’t rely on electronic alterations like auto-tune. I’ve lived with two drummers who could also play other instruments. I think I would give my left pinkie finger to go out with Glen Hansard (at least until I figured out the hard way that he’s a nutter or something). I think this stems from playing a few instruments while in high school and teaching myself a little piano, because I understand what is needed in order to be really good. Kid Rock can kiss my fat ass, he’s as talent-less as they get.

What I miss the most is being able to flirt, especially when I encounter a guy who would normally be somewhere on this list. If I attempted to flirt, any reciprocation would be along the lines of, “Oh, look, the sick lady with the cane and the droopy face is trying to get some action!” I can’t walk down the street with confidence while simultaneously looking for strong biceps or shapely buns because I can’t see further than a few feet in front of myself. You could parade a tall, naked fireman playing a guitar in front of me and all I would be able to see are his toes. All of my good years are being wasted in this bed while a whole new dating pool churns in the world outside my door. It seems criminal.

Do You Believe in Ghosts?

There didn’t used to be a catchy phrase assigned to it when I first entered the dating pool roughly 25 years ago. You think everything is going well and you’ve made a real connection with someone who seems just as enamored with you, and then suddenly they disappear. That’s all we could say – “disappeared” – and shrug our shoulders, and wonder what in the hell happened. Back when all we had were street addresses and land line phones to go off of with information, it was much easier to disappear, especially if the person disappearing didn’t travel in the same circles as you. There was no chance of someone coming back to you and saying, “Oh, I heard about Ben – turns out he ran off with a stripper, and I know where they’re living – wanna TP their single-wide trailer?”

Here is the Urban Dictionary definition of ghosting: “The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date. This is done in hopes that the ghostee will just “get the hint” and leave the subject alone, as opposed to the subject simply telling them he/she is no longer interested. Ghosting is not specific to a certain gender and is closely related to the subject’s maturity and communication skills. Many attempt to justify ghosting as a way to cease dating the ghostee without hurting their feelings, but it in fact proves the subject is thinking more of themselves, as ghosting often creates more confusion for the ghostee than if the subject kindly stated how he/she feels.”

Our current technology has made it nearly impossible to disappear like we used to. We can pay for electronic searches, we can search online public records, we can search for friends of friends on Facebook, we can…wait, I don’t want to give everything away. But it can be done. (Disclaimer: If I am looking for an ex, it is usually to find out if he is staying put while I move around so I feel a little more safe.)

I have become a lot more forward and plain-spoken than I was in my 20s, and so I’m much less likely to ghost someone. In other words, I’ve learned from being both the person on the receiving end of the ghosting as well as being the ghost, and I’ve evolved enough to know that it’s better to communicate than to leave the other person wondering what in the hell is going on. Do not mistake this for other situations where you have given the other person reasons ad nauseum as to why you’re not interested or you don’t want to be contacted again, because that is not the same as a ghosting.

The worst ghosting that was ever done to me was from a guy whom I dated for 6 months from 2004-2005. We met through an internet site – maybe Lavalife? – and bonded over our love of the arts and singing. He was going through his second divorce and at the time had a 3-year-old son. He worked for a credit union, but that only paid the bills; his real passion was doing voice-over work (he was hired for the animated show “The Critic” to perform 30+ voices shortly before it was cancelled), and he liked to write children’s sci-fi. He LOVED the movie “The Incredibles,” and in fact, one of the books he wrote (and copyrighted before the movie was created) was almost exactly like “The Incredibles,” so from this point forward I christen him Mr. Incredible.

Mr. Incredible and I talked on the phone every night – or rather, HE talked about himself for 2-4 hours every night. He moved out to Queen Creek because it was the only place in the Phoenix area where he could afford a house like many others being priced out of the market during the housing bubble, so that meant I had to drive an hour on back roads from my apartment in southeast Phoenix to get to his house even further southeast of town. It meant a lot of driving for me – and I can’t remember why I agreed to do most of the work on that. Also, shortly after we started dating, he acquired two cats for his son because he thought it was really important for him to have pets, never mind the fact that his son tried to kill a cat the year before by throwing it off of a second-floor balcony. (The kid was two. He didn’t know better and they didn’t bother teaching him.) I’m deathly allergic to all animals furred and feathered and it was hell to sleep over. I had also taken a huge pay cut when I relocated from Cincinnati to Phoenix so I didn’t always have cash to buy dinners or even groceries. More often than not, I found myself stopping at the grocery store buying food for Mr. Incredible that we would sometimes eat together, but sometimes it would just be for him and his son. Also, I let Mr. Incredible borrow furniture and blankets for his new house. I met his mom and brother, and he met my parents.

I remember that Mr. Incredible was sad the weekend he found out his divorce from his second marriage had been finalized. I understand that feeling even though I haven’t ever been married or divorced myself, because it makes the split so final. Or so I thought.

Some things changed our dynamic. One was that he accidentally saw me full-Mr. Clean in the bathroom because he walked in on me getting dressed after a shower. This was about four months into the relationship and I could tell it bothered him. Up to that point I had slept in full wigs to try to spare him – and got very little sleep because I would worry about moving around too much and ruining the hair fibers of the wigs, and these wigs in general are miserable to sleep in. The materials they are made of scratch up my tender skin and rub it raw. Around this same time, Mr. Incredible was letting his always-cheerful facade slip. I think he got it in his head that he was a dad and therefore had to be all little league instead of a little dirty, so every time he would suggest something slightly sexually deviant or tell me about his marathon coke-snorting sessions of the past, it was disturbing. That is not to say that I was demanding that he always be cheerful, but I felt as if he wasn’t being his true self.

Mr. Incredible lost his job at the credit union; he said it was a layoff and I have no idea if that was the truth. Our marathon phone sessions began to revolve around revamping his resume and searching for jobs. When we weren’t doing that, he pulled out his Incredibles-esque book for me to edit for both grammar and content. I remember we had another 2-hour phone session on a Saturday night and I knew he had his son that weekend, so I didn’t expect to talk to him until at least Monday. We also traded emails daily up to that point. I (thought I) knew what to anticipate.

I didn’t hear from Mr. Incredible Monday or Tuesday either by phone or email. I left him a message and also emailed him and got no reply. I tried the same again Thursday with the same results. For all of the time we were together, a single day didn’t pass without us communicating, so I knew something was happening. Email and phone weren’t getting the job done, so I decided to stop trying to ask what the fuck was going on.

I drove out to his place on a Saturday morning at around 7 am, when I knew he would still be in bed. I was sick to my stomach and shaking. I rang his doorbell, and I heard some rustling around, and Mr. Incredible came to the door, his hair sticking up all over as if he had just peeled himself off the wall like velcro. He had horrible circles around his eyes and what looked to be three cold sores around his mouth, and all I could think was, “Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!”  I said, “I don’t care what is going on. I came to get my stuff.” (Mind you, a lot of my belongings were forever donated to him and the house, but I definitely wanted to get back a quilt my mom had made.)

I waited outside while he gathered what he could. After I slammed the trunk shut and got into the driver’s seat, he hung off of the half-open window and said, “I know you were concerned about me finding a job, so I just wanted to let you know that I have some interviews coming up.” Nothing at all about why he had gone radio silent. I told him I didn’t give a shit and I tore away from the curb. I blocked his email and de-programmed my phone so that his number was no longer in my speed dial.

I really didn’t have any idea what happened until I went searching on MySpace a year later and discovered that while we were together, he was also messing around with his most recent ex-wife and got her pregnant.

In 2009, while I was living with Drummer #2, I got an email through YouTube. I didn’t even know that YouTube had an email system! There was a letter from a screen name I didn’t recognize, which started with Mr. Incredible saying that he was using YouTube because I had blocked him everywhere else. At the time he was writing the email he was in the process of divorcing wife #2 a second time (divorce #3, for the record), but the best thing that came out of their second marriage was their second child. It wasn’t an apology. Rather, it was a way for Mr. Incredible to talk about himself yet again. Drummer #2 was actually in the room with me when I got the email and told me I looked as if I had seen a ghost. All of the old emotions came right back up again, dominated by hurt and anger. I wrote back a scathing note basically telling him he was a piece of shit to treat me so poorly after all that I had helped him with, and why did he think it would benefit me in any way for him to tell me that he didn’t regret anything and that he got a daughter out of the deal to boot? Drummer #2, dick that he was, told me that I shouldn’t be upset because at least the guy tried to find me again. The reply I got from Mr. Incredible said that I was right and he was sorry, and he wouldn’t try to contact me again.

And he hasn’t. But every once in a while, I check his Facebook page, and I confirm he still sucks at dating.

Been There, Had That Done to Me

For the past three hours, I have been reading all of the submissions on the “Straight White Boys Texting” Tumblr site. It’s for real. We couldn’t make this stuff up if we tried – and by “we”, I mean women. We are barraged by unsolicited sexual taunts, messages, photos, groping and slander constantly. Is it lucky or unlucky to be an attractive woman? Of course, this is a hypothetical question, because I don’t put myself solely in either category. No matter what, if you are a female, you’re going to be on the receiving end of stupidity and hatred.

Facebook has been great about allowing me to connect with people I haven’t seen in about 23 years or more. I get little glimpses into their lives, such as who is cranking out the babies, who is getting married (some even for the fourth time!), who is getting divorced, and who has left this earth – and everything mundane in between, including which recipes friends are going to try this week.

One such friend whom I haven’t seen for a few decades had many posts over a short period of time regarding his polygamous arrangement disintegrating. (By the way, he’s a self-proclaimed Christian and even posts church events he attends or pictures of the bands performing for whom he has run the sound. Polygamy isn’t just for heathens!) Both his wife and their girlfriend left him – and I have no clue as to why, because no one is going to admit how and how much they fucked up. Besides becoming “friends” on Facebook, he and I hadn’t traded any messages. Then BAM! Out of the blue, I get a message saying something to the effect of “Hi”. I answered back with a “Hi,” and then the next thing from him says, “I’m horny and lonely lol.”

Let’s break this down: 1) There’s no pretext before the declaration of horniness; 2) We’ve never previously talked about feeling lonely or horny; 3) Does the “lol” at the end of the message instantly make it a “joke” so that if I’m offended, he can just say he was joking and that it doesn’t mean anything? 4) So what??? Does he want a medal? Oh, no, wait – I know what he wants. He wants to bang, to be told he’s the best/biggest and that no one else compares, and he wants it NOW. Talking to me like a human being isn’t going to get him what he wants, obviously.

This is one of the biggest problems we face today as a society seeking social partners. Instant gratification is killing our skills. Now, males don’t want to “waste” time on such simple things like conversation – let’s get straight to the sex!! On top of that, anonymity makes it easy to throw out insults and degradation like handfuls of slimy shit. So if you’re a guy, or a man, or a boy, saying hello and then instantly wanting to know if someone is into anal sex is just like monkeys slinging around turds. Sure, if you do it 100 times, you might find someone one of those 100 times who replies back and says, “GOD YES, I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR YOU TO ASK! NO ONE HAS EVER ASKED ME THAT BEFORE! I AM DTF RIGHT NOW!” But my guess is that she is also going to sneak into your place and cook your daughter’s pet bunny. You have no filter + she has no filter = scary crazy and shit is going to escalate quickly.

And when women turn down these handfuls of flying turds, it’s disturbing that we are instantly and consistently called bitches/sluts/whores/ugly. Is that some sort of reverse psychology, where guys think that being nasty is going to suddenly open our legs? They don’t even make the connection that if they treated us like human beings, the Holy Grail might, in fact, be attainable – they just have to not act like assholes. As soon as they do, though, that shit slams shut and the rivers of love and affection dry up instantly. It should be no great mystery. In fact, what I am saying here has been repeated thousands of times over.

Occasionally the moderator of the “Straight White Boys Texting” posts question and answer exchanges that she has received. There have been many times where she has been told that she just needs to get laid. Therein lies a specific problem, too: The perception that the penis obviously solves all ills. Running a temperature and colors are coming out of your nose? Just get laid. Your best friend died? Just get laid. Lost everything in a fire? Eat a dick, it will make you feel better.

I wish I could say to some of these guys, “Hey, I’m someone’s daughter/sister/aunt too – would you want the females in your life to be treated this way?” Sadly, I don’t feel like this is an effective way to reach them. Often their impatience and hatred of females is universal. If they had a daughter who was being treated this way, it’s more likely that he would say she deserved it or that he should teach her how to defend herself, but never would it enter into his mind that he ought to not attack women or that he should lead other males by example.

Protected: Dating an Aspie (Or Four)

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Protected: I’ll See You Your Stupidity and Raise You an Eye Roll

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