I attended many community colleges in my younger days. It was at these institutes that I became sexually experienced by dating a string of men that I never failed to humiliate myself in front of, with a bonus of compromising of my sense of identity and well-being. Some of these men were quite nice and well-meaning, but these quasi-relationships always ended up with me being crushed into a quivering, crying pile of mush. It has occurred to me recently that I may have deserved it.
You see, when I was 20 I went to a small junior college settled into the lush hills of Gilroy, California. Most of my friends from high school went there and I met many new friends as well. During lunch, my friends and I would sit in the cafeteria couches laughing and doing various things that young women do. There was a young man that went to school with us at the time who had been severely injured in an automobile accident. He moved slowly with a walker and had difficulty speaking, his speech was so slow and slurred that he would frequently write notes instead of talking. He was also extremely horny.
Every day at lunch time I would cringe when the cafeteria door opened and I heard his walker screeching across the linoleum floor. Every day he would go through the cafeteria and ask out every single woman he came across with a gusto rarely seen outside of a nightclub (and only after much alcohol has been imbibed). My friends and I would pretend to be deep in discussion. But to no avail. He would pass us all notes that said: “Do you want to go on a date?”
I can’t remember what I told him every time he asked. It’s possible I gave a clear “No” once in a while, but I think that word was very hard for me to say back then. God forbid he ask me “Why?” and then I would have to say more words to him and I didn’t want to have to explain myself or look at the hurt in his face. So, I did the worst thing I could: I gave him a fake phone number and said he could call me.
Women do it to men all the time. If he was a non-handicapped guy it would have been funny (to an emotionally stunted 20-year-old). But, of course, it’s a really shitty thing to do to someone who was clearly suffering physically and emotionally. He came to me the next day and told me there was something wrong with the number I gave him. I’m not sure how I responded. I probably gave him another fake number. Eventually, he got the hint and stopped asking me out.
Later that semester, I opened the school newspaper and read an article he wrote describing the accident he was in two years earlier and warning about the dangers of drunk driving. He also encouraged everyone to say hi to him. I was friends with the journalism teacher and told her of my experience with him, cleverly omitting the crappy thing I did to him and emphasizing how he goes around the cafeteria every day asking out all the women, as if it was a crime.
“Well, how would you behave if you hadn’t had sex in two years?” She responded.
It was an odd justification, it reminds me of boys who tell girls that blue balls is a serious medical condition and a hand job is the only cure. As if we go around humping walls if we haven’t had sex in a while. I’ve had many long lulls in my sex life and never once lost my shyness about approaching members of the opposite sex.
But it doesn’t excuse my response. I already tell my 3-year-old to always be clear and explicit with men who ask her out. That she has the right to say no to everyone and anyone with no guilt. She doesn’t even have to explain herself. Being honest to men about what they want in a relationship is something I will be telling her constantly throughout her life. Otherwise, you may do something more hurtful that you feel incredibly sorry for many years later.