At 24 I felt like an old maid....
Brian was almost ten years older than me, and inexplicably attractive despite his red hair and his FUCKING FEDORA (it was wool, which makes it slightly more OK? Maybe?)[sic] He was my overlord at a menial restaurant job, a cynical foodie whose maxims included "It would suck to live past forty-five." And, even though he kind of had a girlfriend, we flirted. The flirting consisted of him questioning my general intelligence and noting my lack of spacial awareness and occasionally winking to let me know it was all in good fun. No one had ever really spoken to me like that, except for one guy on the college newspaper which I quit anyway for mononucleosis reasons. Brian was absolutely impertinent and despite my "why I ought!" faux-consternation, I was melting. He was Snidely Whiplash and I was the innocent girl tied to the tracks, but I didn't want Dudley DoRight to come. What followed was almost two years of on-and-off ambiguous sex hangouts, culminating in the worst trip to Los Angeles ever seen outside of a David Lynch film. As my professional life began to unfold I thought his respect for me would increase, but all it did was provide me with more money to take cabs to his house late at night.
If I was writing this even a year ago I would have glamorized this whole story for you—told you how misunderstood he was and how, despite his American Psycho qualities, he was just sad and scared. I would have laughed as I described all the weird sexual liberties I let him take and his general immaturity (towel as bed sheet, cash in a cigar box, fridge flu of hot sauce and beer. The first night I want to his place all I could think of was that house where the molesters live in Ben Affleck's directorial debut Gone Baby Gone). I thought of myself as some kind of spy, undercover as a girl with low self-esteem, ready to bring back a detailed intelligence report. But suddenly and swiftly it stopped seeming very cool at all when I realized what I was doing and why.
I had a lucky little girlhood. It wasn't always easy to live inside my brain, but I had the best care and feeding (lots of ravioli) and we lived in a sun-drenched loft on Broadway and didn't worry about very much except what gallery to go to on a Sunday and whether or not my child psychologist was helping me with my sleep issues. When I got to college I suddenly had the sense that my upbringing hadn't been very "real." One night outside my freshman year dorm a bunch of kids were smoking and shrieking with laughter—it sounded like a really giggly crime was occurring and I rushed outside in my pajamas. "What's going on?" I asked. "Oh" said Allen Strouse, a weirdo from a Pennsylvania steel town whose little sister was about to marry a meth-addicted Marine. "Don't you worry about it. Don't you worry about it Little Lena from Soho." What a snarky jerk. (Obviously later I slept with him.) I felt I had some experiences to gain and some things to learn about the world.
That feeling was the crux of my whole relationship with Brian.
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