Monday, November 07, 2005

I Could Have Been A Townie

My sister took a trip back to our hometown in New England this weekend. She hung out with her old friends, took a tour of our old neighborhood (wherein my old house is now a crack house, which makes me want to cry), and ended up at a "townie" bar and lounge on the outskirts of town.

While there, a guy walked up to her from the bar and said, "Are you {her name}?" She said yeah, and then realized that she was speaking to my evil ex-boyfriend from high school. He said, "Tell E I say Hi! How is she!?" My sister was noncommittal in the extreme, except to say "yeah, let's not go there" to his idea that she should call me on her cell so he could say hi to me. She said he was totally wasted at 8pm and obviously desperate to speak to her about me.

I don't know if I have ever mentioned it in these pages before except in the most general terms, but this is a guy I dated in high school who, if I was the girl I am now back then, would never have gotten within one mile of me. The short, not-too-detailed story is that it was an emotionally and borderline-physically abusive relationship. He had lots of anger issues, and I was the closest target. Oh yeah--and "I Looooooved Him." Grrr. Makes me so mad to know I was that girl who stays because she "looooves" someone who treats her like dog shit. I had dumped guys before him for, like, nothing, but something about the chemistry, alchemy, where we both were at 16 years old, something in our respective psyches and environments, whatever, created the perfect storm of dysfunction and I stayed.

My parents never knew because I didn't want my dad to literally kill him and end up in jail, which I knew he would. My sister sort of knew and was the one person who made life tough for him, but I still hid so much of it from her. My brother had already graduated and he was in the same category as my dad, ie, I knew he would actually physically engage my boyfriend and go to jail for forcible castration and feeding thereof, and I couldn't deal with the guilt of being not only stupid enough to be with this guy but to be responsible for my family's anger because of it.

And so I stayed. Until I didn't. And that's when the party really started. And that's when restraining orders were acquired, father and brother were planning serious consequences should he even breathe in my direction, my mother calling his mother to try to shame her into controlling her clearly out-of-control son. Blah blah blah. No point going over it all. The point being, that his and my last interaction was by no means positive, and we have never spoken since. Thank you, God.

And so I found my sister's retelling of her evening to be simultaneously upsetting, bemusing, and laugh-out-loud hysterical, because the truth is that people don't change. This thirty-something year-old guy was out at a bar getting hammered by 8pm, obviously pulling his well-practiced "I'm so sorry; I'm really a nice guy--see?" routine on my sister who thankfully was havin' none of it. He told her he had "repented" for what happened "back then" and that he would love it if she would make sure to tell me he says hi. She said she'd pass the message along, never believing for one minute that he was capable of "repenting" for anything. Because after all, how can you be sorry for stuff you did that isn't your fault? How can you be sorry for doing something that someone else made you do? "Cause you know, if E hadn't been so friendly and had so many guy friends I wouldn't have had to be so jealous. And if she hadn't questioned my whereabouts when I was out with other girls but telling her I was with the guys, I wouldn't have had to be so offended at her distrust. And if she hadn't been so headstrong and good in school, I wouldn't have had to feel less-than in comparison, which you know how it is for guys; you're the king of your castle and sometimes women just need to know who's boss no matter how important they think they are elsewhere... (Can you smell the dysfunction from 15 years out and a world away?!)

Fast forward to an hour later where there is a huge commotion in the bar area. My sister and her friends get up to see what is going on, and what do they see but Evil Ex-Boyfriend up against the bar getting handcuffed by the cops for Drunk and Disorderly?!

And here's the best part that shows he hasn't changed: As he was being led away, he turned to my sister, and instead of being mortified and humiliated at being cuffed by the police, he turns to my sister and says nonchalantly, "Now, make sure you tell E I said Hi, okay?! Thanks!"

Exeunt various and sundry townies. Of which I could have been one but for my parents and my upbringing which finally, at long last, kicked in at the most crucial moment for me. He's married now, and all I can think about is his no-doubt cowed wife going down to the station to pick him up AGAIN for punching a bartender. And I thank god for my life today. There but for his grace go I.

2 comments:

Cicely said...

Oh--I think I dated him too. I know exactly what you are saying. Nothing is ever his fault. He wouldn't have done A if you hadn't upset him about B.

Amen to that being in the past.

Joe Tornatore said...

seems he can't do without bars either way. good riddance.