Part Thirteen: My Lucky Number

When a woman asks you what you would do without her in a cutesy, playful manner, the correct answer is most certainly not to inform her that you would either be with someone else or you would be alone, and that either way things would probably be about the same. I could write a book consisting of nothing more than things not to say to a romantic partner, all of them things that I have said at some point in the past. One would think that, with all of my experience with women, I would not be such a truly abysmal jackass when it comes to talking to them…one would be painfully incorrect.

Contrary to all of my impulses, asking a woman if she washes her asshole with Windex because I can see my tongue in it is neither an appropriate pick-up line nor an endearing attempt to elicit a smile. Similarly, role-playing a mentally challenged cannibal during foreplay is no way to segue into intercourse. These are just a couple of examples of just how poorly I read the situation when it comes to interacting with women, even those with whom I am romantically involved.

It’s not all fun and games though. My failures when it comes to interpersonal relationships are often less entertaining and a good deal more shameful…not just where women are concerned, but that is what I’m talking about here.

One could argue that killing the first girl I loved might have set me off along a really dark path in life, and I certainly can’t disagree. I have fucked up my relationships in some unbelievably fantastic ways…but that remains the pinnacle of how disastrous I have been to another human being…at least so far. If only my poor judgment ended there.

Less than six months after the accident I began seeing a girl who was one of the friends of the girl who had died. We bonded over our mutual loss and similar interests and tastes. She was an amazing girl, sweet and funny while being aggressively punk rock and forceful enough with her personality that she dragged me screeching like a rodent from the shell I was comfortable living in…we will ignore the fact that only a truly atypical rodent would live in a shell; I’m atypical like that. We had a couple of months together, and I was beginning to function in a sense, in a way that I hadn’t since the accident.

Even at the time I knew that she was good for me (this isn’t one of those situations where it’s all in retrospect) and that I was probably about as happy as I could be under the circumstances. None of that stopped me from walking to the interstate one morning and hitching away that summer. I called home a couple of times to let my family know that I was still alive and I called that girl now and again only to hang up when she answered…I think some part of me knew that she would be able to talk me into coming home if I allowed her to speak.

I didn’t stay away too long, hitchhiking with little to no money is a recipe for ending up doing some terrible things for money. I avoided that unpleasant outcome and I returned to the region but stayed with various friends and acquaintances rather than returning home like I should have. I don’t regret not going home, a great deal of fun was to be had during that summer, but it broke my heart every time I called the girl I had abandoned…the answering machine message in her home had even been converted into a plea from her for me not to hang up if I was calling. I stopped calling. She was better off forgetting that I even existed.

It wasn’t long after that when I began running into a girl who thoroughly fascinated me; tall, with porcelain skin, eyes that appeared black unless the light hit them just the right way needed to reveal the green that they actually were, and with a sense of style that I found totally captivating. Of course she was involved with a friend of mine, or someone that I liked to consider a friend…though my subsequent actions proved me to be far less of a friend to him than he had been to me. He passed away recently, and I wish I had gotten a chance to spend more time with him before that happened. We had barely spoken in a decade or so and yet he was one of the first people to show an active interest in my novel after it was finished.

Fuck! I let myself get sidetracked; I do that sort of shit all the time…sorry about that.

I knew that she was involved with someone I respected a great deal, but no amount of respect I had for him was sufficient to override what I wanted…and I wanted her. How she could have conceivably ended up with me eludes me to this day, when she had someone better…especially when I consider our earliest interactions.

She was quietly sitting by herself on the trunk of her car when I sat down beside her, the first time I ever made the choice to speak to her. I looked directly into her eyes and suggested that she either thought that she was somehow better than the rest of us which was why she was always off by herself or that she was mentally challenged and knew we would deride her if we all found out just how deficient she was. It was only a week or so later that I stole the keys from the ignition of her car and told her that she would only be getting them back after she kissed me.

Sometime around Halloween of that year we conceived our daughter, my first born…her’s as well, but that’s irrelevant because this is about me.

Both of us were too damn young and ill equipped to be parents…but I was definitely the more toxic component within our relationship. When it was good, she and I were almost perfect together…the problem was that the good became more and more frequently occluded by the rest of our relationship, which is to say, the bad.

She is, thankfully, the only woman I ever laid a hand on in anger. I can offer up rationalizations and justifications, but they are all bullshit…no matter how many other factors were present at the time, there was no excuse for me hitting her. You can condemn me for it, I wouldn’t blame you, and I have already done so myself. But I am not here to make myself look good, I tried to warn you about that before…sincerity requires that I share these details as well.

Our daughter was still a baby, no more than a month old when it occurred. Her mother and I had been at each other’s throats more than usual since before she was born, and the additional stress and strain of being new parents was not alleviating things in any way. In the middle of this particular fight I packed up our daughter in her baby carrier and headed to the door. She ran after me and tried to yank the baby carrier from my hand. I told her that I was going to spend an hour or two with my family and that I was taking our daughter because she was my daughter too. Her response was to shout, “She is not!”

I think back to that moment and I wish that I could step back for a second and breathe. In that moment though, there was no stepping back for me. I hit her…before I even knew that I had moved, it was done. No, I didn’t hit her in the face or anything that dramatic, as if that somehow makes things better.

She was on the phone with the cops almost immediately, still fighting with me the whole time. I knew that the police were on the way, but I stayed right there. I did end up hitting her a couple more times, kneeling on the floor in front of her, deflated as I was from the shock of what had happened; these were not blows like the first one, there was no intent to harm her, more ineffectual bursts of frustration and sadness than anger…there was no strength left in me. Even worse than the action itself, a couple of friends had arrived at that time and were witness to that final, proud few moments before the police arrived.

I went with the police without putting up a fight at all and I spent a couple of nights in a juvenile detention facility before being released to my mother. I can’t imagine how my mother thought of me when she had heard what happened or when she picked me up from my incarceration, or how she felt bringing me back to her house for a couple of days before I went to live with my father. While I was locked up my things were moved out of the apartment that she and I had shared and moved into my father’s house. When he was picking up my things he apparently apologized to her and told her that this was his fault…but it wasn’t, I had done this to myself, and there was no dispelling my guilt and passing the buck on to someone else, not even my father.

Obviously she and I tried to work things out after that, primarily for our daughter’s sake, and we both believed that things could be different if we gave it another chance. She and I had our son only 15 months after our daughter was born…but we were never ok after that incident, and we honestly didn’t last too long after giving it another chance.

We continued living together for a couple of years even though a relationship between us couldn’t possibly function after what had happened…we tried our best to keep things stable for our children, and we did a surprisingly admirable job of it, all things considered, which isn’t saying much. All we really accomplished was making us hate one another and ourselves. It was not a good place for either of us; a place filled with recriminations, eroded trust, and hostility.

We dated other people near the end, but hated having to bear witness to one another trying to be happy with someone else, perhaps because we both still carried around some faint shred of the hope that we’d had when we first found each other….this led to some awkward situations.

It was shortly before our son was born that I began seriously dating another girl who is still an important part of my life and one of my dearest friends. She was too good for me from the beginning, she was (and still is) almost unnaturally beautiful, smart and talented, and she had a family that would have placed her in a higher caste if we lived in a different society from this one. I still don’t know what she ever saw in me.

It was shortly after my son was born when we discovered that she was pregnant. This brought to light some questions of paternity, since I was bachelor number two in this scenario…but of course it would turn out that she would be giving birth to my second son.

She and I finally ended up falling apart after she cheated on me with another guy…even though I tried to still work things out after that, she left me. It was probably in her best interests to move on, away from me. The problem is that the guy she left me for turned out to be a total nut, but that is a story for another time.

A while after that, after she and I had both grown and reached different places in our respective lives than we were in when the relationship dissolved, she expressed an interest in trying to give our relationship another chance, but I was too stupid and self-loathing by that time to take advantage of her obvious lapse in judgment.

This will never end if I keep going into details here. I will stop this particular chapter here and write up an addendum later on, so that I can provide further examples of how I am unsuitable for relationships. I feel like I have covered that enough for now. You might need a reminder later on.

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