Part 1 of 3
You told me that it all started in night school. You said it was in Remedial Art, a Wednesday night class that this attractive young British woman—Mrs. Sharon—taught. You said that this woman was your first love. At first you were vaguely attracted to her. "But," you said, "she treated me like some mutant. Some half-eunuch and half-retard mutant."
Mrs. Sharon painted your pictures for you. She stenciled out your self-portrait and told you where to put the colors. She sculpted a big ashtray for your Midterm Project. She fired that sucker out herself, you said, painted it black, with piss yellow stripes. She gave it to you, said, "Glorious! Now this is your favorite, favorite pastime! A-Plus! A-Plus-Plus!"
You took up smoking cigarettes for a week, thinking she was doing all of this because she liked you. There were no delusions, however, after what happened with William Hornsby.
Before The Incident, as your mother calls it now, a lot of the girls you knew thought you were either retarded or sterile. You told me that he threw a big, mushy ball of papier-mâché at you from across the room and said, "Fuck you, Virgin!" You told me that it wasn't the gray booger sliding down your face itself, but that Mrs. Sharon commented on it. "What are you doing, sweetheart? That doesn't go on your face!"
You told me that the police report says this: The assailant marauded through the room, toppling over the little children, pushing the nice elderly women into their masterworks like some sort of hot-brained rapist, then the assailant wrapped Mr. Hornsby's tie snugly around his neck and kicked the stool out from under his buttocks. You said you vaguely remember tugging on the tie and waiting for his lips to turn what witnesses called a faint and icy blue.
Then, you said, the report stated: The assailant kissed Mr. Hornsby, on the mouth.
You said it was like you were some godfather in a mobster movie. You kissed William Hornsby, then you promised that if he ever did that again, you were going to fucking kill him.
You told me that you remembered the rest very much so.
Some old lady screamed, "Oh my God!"
You said you distinctly remembered this, yes, because she had somehow developed a nosebleed and was jumping up and down and waving her arms. Her nose-blood was spattering all over her canvas.
You told me that you thought, "Maybe that's Fine Art?"
Later that night, you were in the hall outside the classroom with Mrs. Sharon and the bleeding old woman feeling like some beaten-up dog. You said you didn't know why, but Hornsby's tie was somehow in your mouth.
Mrs. Sharon chastised you with, "That was not a very brave thing to do, Gabriel." You told me it was very difficult to take her seriously as you watched her blot away the blood from the old woman's nose with a rag the other people had always used to clean their brushes. It was hard to take her seriously too, because you loved her.
You asked Mrs. Sharon about fucking you, right there and then.
She looked up from the paint rag and said, "Sweetie, I'm washing my hair that day."
And you? You told me you didn't say anything.
You said to me, "I knew what this was. It was nothing but a cop-out."
You had heard it before, one of the many television show lines you remembered from the 90's. Mrs. Sharon emasculated you in one fell swoop, yes, and that really broke your spirit.
You said what hurt your feelings more, though, was not Mrs. Sharon's disgust at the thought of touching your body, but her clichéd sitcom rhetoric, when she refused you. She put no effort into it. She didn't really care. You thought about this too often and it became dull in its blatancy for you, you said. This was the moment you thought you'd always be a virgin.
Before The Incident, as your mother calls it now, a lot of the girls you knew thought you were either retarded or sterile. After The Incident, you were fairly sure they wondered, instead, whether you were insane or gay. It is unimportant to you now because whatever the case, no girls wanted to see your prick back then, let alone perform sex on it.
There was no use. Nothing you did was sexy. You were a Virgin. With a capital fucking V, you said. Those girls were fucking guys like that William Hornsby, and now those girls were raising their stupid fucking babies, who must be nearly pubescent. Those kids, so lucky, so young. None of them with the term The Incident within their family's common household vernacular. You really hated them.
You told me that when you didn't have night school to look forward to, a huge platoon of acne occupied your face.
When they sprouted on your testicles much earlier in life, you knew they would someday march forth, up your back or something. And boy, did they, you said. The flood gates broke when Sam was fucked and he hadn't even graduated high school yet. Huge pustules the size of shooting marbles inhabited places like the insides of your ears and the outer rims of your nostrils just after he bragged to you about it. Your brother Sam. He moved out to the suburbs, got a job with the Mayor. He had three beautiful baby boys, right after he fucked.
You told me that you grew a beard. People thought you were mourning something else. You gained fifty pounds eating cheese puffs and German Chocolate cake, reading comic books, watching your parakeets fight in their cage.
Soon, you were horrifyingly obese. You knew that every social hurdle was a tall one after The Incident, but now that you were this grotesque pile of shit, they were no longer social hurdles: they were towering, barbed-wire fences. Women were about as interested in your genes as you were in fitness, art, or grace.
So, you had failed at everything. You sat in your room all day and jerked off to Death and Climax Magazine and listened to your parakeets tweet and your mother downstairs complain about you on the telephone. This was usually to your aunts, but sometimes to the pastor, to salesmen, to anybody who would listen.
You tried to write in your weaker moments, but it never came out just right. You ended up burning all of your novels along with the Death Cherry porn you'd printed off the downstairs computer when your mom was at work.
You held these pictures of women dragging away the men they'd fucked. The mournful, awestruck act both of them put on.
You said that you were as afraid of her finding the novels as her finding the porn.
Soon, the entire neighborhood was calling you Square, or Virgin, or Fat Fuck, or Bridge Troll. You couldn't even get the newspaper without some smartass kid screaming at you from his Pinto, or something. One particular kid lobbed an egg at you, just to see if you were agile, flexible, coordinated or smart enough to escape the easy bomb, and you were unfortunately not; you decided it was time to take some steps in a positive direction. You wiped the egg from the back of your neck and took a mid-day nap.
It was hard to ignore your failings. When you turned out the lights that day, you felt it glowing from you. Virginity. Virginity. You dreamt of women, all types. All naked. Their hair was always green. They always had vampire teeth. You said that you clicked on your lamp, and wrote a list to ease your mind.
The actualization of this list surprised you. It started when you unwittingly bought acne medication. This was followed with swimming every day in Bull Run Creek, which was more of a brook that trickled outside of the city where nobody could see the rolls of your fat jiggle as you escaped your shirt and pants. But, you liked Bull Run Creek. There, you became more confident. So confident, in fact, that you bought spray-on tanning solution. Then, you shaved your beard and put the fluffy black contents in an old mustard jar and labeled it Old Me Hair. It was the beginning of a new era, for you, you said. You practiced salsa in front of your full-length mirror and bought a top hat and a cane. When you pulled off something particularly complex—a perfect slide or hip-shimmy—-you gave your chubby reflection a high-five and twirled your cane around.
In three weeks, you were still acne-ridden, and had turned a mellow orange. But, you had also slimmed five pounds and could keep a decent rhythm. Your aunts said you were looking a little more attractive, too, in their way. (That is, even though they were your aunts, and fat themselves, and had not performed sex in many many years, you took their usual You're a husky boy as complimentary, instead of as a back-handed insult or some grave ulterior concern.)
You decided to go back to night school, which forced you, by proxy, to file an appeal to the Education Board's restraining order, to inevitably promise that you would avoid Mrs. Sharon and Art, in general.
You said, "I am okay with that."
It was in Archery Class that you eventually met somebody. A woman. Me. Laurie Marsh. You met me the first day and we chatted about television. You were thinking, Thank God a Woman Who Likes Me For Me! I had a pretty face and long legs. That was enough. You didn't know anything about the other stuff, you said. But then, you didn't care.
You were older than most men, and a 235-pound salsa aficionado. No girl in night school had low enough standards to perform sex on you. Just me. First, you found out that I had no breasts. Literally, no breasts. I had had a double mastectomy. You didn't mind it, because of the balloons I stuffed down my bra. You asked what color they were, not because you were horny, but because you were tepidly curious. Second, I didn't like your parakeets. You could tell. I thought they were creepy little demons. I hated comic books and said German Chocolate cake puts too many inches on my ass. Worst of all, I wanted to wait until marriage to perform sex on you. Though, I told you this, was honest about it. You said, that it somehow made you feel sexy, before you actually understood what it meant.
You said you understood, though, that this was a relationship. This meant no groping, no cunnilingus, no fellatio, manual stimulation or sodomy. It meant holding hands. It meant going to church. It meant dipping your fat ass in a shower every now and then and learning how to cross yourself while you genuflected. It meant holding the Styrofoam-tasting communion wafer on your tongue until it dissolved into mush.
Three months of this and you told me you were overwrought with a deep, chest-bending sorrow. On the warm, starry nights that you rode your bike home from night school, you said, you had pictured my genes melding with yours like iron with copper. You had pictured a little baby boy named Carl or Bill, something to surpass your own legacy. You told me that after three months, you strangled the baby in your imagination. You told me you let it bleed a little from the neck, then it disappeared into a plume of wispy purple smoke. You wondered where it went off to, in your big, vacuous head. You said, ultimately, that you wanted it back. Sometime later, I asked you again, formally, if you were willing to wait until marriage for sex. This shocked you. You knew I was on to you, with how you stroked yourself through your slacks during mass when I knelt.
Still, you lied to me.
You said, "I'm totally willing." "Okay," you said, "I can totally do that yeah, I can do it. Why else would I be here with you? I love you," you said. But, really, what else were you going to do? You were older than most men, and a 235-pound salsa aficionado. No girl in night school had low enough standards to perform sex on you. Just me.
You considered drugging another girl, any girl, then performing sex on her yourself. You realized, however, that this didn't jive with the new principles you had picked up, somehow, in church. You still wondered what position you might die in, in the rape-murder-suicide. You thought what the newspaper might print.
Crazy Fat Man Unknowingly Rapes Mother then Dies, it had said, in your imagination. You sat around and flipped through comic books, you said. You felt like a fucking monster.
It was that night when you decided you'd attended St. Christopher's daily, sometimes with me, but mostly without.
With all the time away, you started to hate me. You had once thought my eyes were beautiful, once made a comparison with the sea. After this time, you said, you thought that my jawline was shaped like an inverted birdhouse, that my skin had a yellow hue, that the sound of my voice made your prick feel gamy and gelatinous. (I did have an unpleasing voice.)
You pictured our collected child again, and instead of nostalgic feelings, it sickened you.
You tried to get over it by asking me, "Finally, after nine months of dating, would you wanna dry-hump me?"
You don't remember the context (though I certainly do). Dry-humping. You had felt particularly bold because you had read about an article on it in Death and Climax Magazine. You mentioned it to me, first, then made asked this stupid question.
To your surprise, I answered yes.
I got on top of you and sawed.
There was no enthusiasm in my movements. Not, at least, what you expected. (I thought you'd say so. You didn't.) You thought about stopping me that night, putting your hand on my concave chest, but then didn't do that either. You could tell that I was embarrassed up there, you said. It gave you so much pleasure, that pleasure wasn't even the word.
This went on for another three months. The church, the lackadaisical dry-humping, until one night you found out that I had performed sex on some semi-famous short story writer named Bugles in a rest stop on the Canadian Border.
You cried for nights upon nights upon days upon nights. Your mother sang to you, combed your hair until you went to sleep. You knew that I felt sick with grief and slaked my grief with booze.
You then decided that there was no use getting mad about it. Bugles, whoever he was, was gone.
You were going to have some baby to take care of.
You thought that that was the end of the road for me.