I went upstairs to use the restroom since the one downstairs was out of order. I had to go through the curtain and let the bouncer know that I had permission to come in without paying. I walked past the stage where the dancer had a traditional Thai outfit on with his throbbing erection poking through as he was dancing with the pole.
I could still hear the music as I was peeing. The echoing synthesizers and beat were so familiar, but when that chorus hit, I suddenly remembered why I knew that song as the tears came down my face.
I was very tired. It had been a long, exhausting day. It was our final day of The Crucible and beforehand we decided to go see Dogma in the theater. I thought it was rather offensive but I was quite amused to see Alanis Morissette cast as God in the end of the film. Then we did our last performance, which was the only one without some calamitous mistake during out whole three-week run, followed by the cast party.
To say I was isolated is an understatement. So much drama had happened over the course of the show. Ron dumped Jill and started going out with Jamie, but at least he was keeping his clothes on in the lighting booth now. But that friendship had kind of iced me out. Rachael was going out more and more with her college boyfriend, and since Ron, Jamie and Becca started going to Bud’s, the swing dance joint we all hung out at, I was often left out of the plans.
But that’s not the only reason I was isolated. Joe and I had been going out for almost 6 months now. It was very weird, mostly because I couldn’t talk about him to anyone. He was almost 5 years older than I was. We’d become close during the Spring show, but he wasn’t driving all the way out to Elk Grove anymore. He was supposed to come pick me up tonight to celebrate my birthday which was a few days ago.
He told me sweet sixteen was special.
I don’t know about that.
Being hidden and concealed all the time is very frustrating. I was so unavailable to go to Bud’s that everyone stopped inviting me. Every weekend I was at some secret event with Joe, whether that was hanging out offstage while he played piano, or driving up to Chico with him and his friends for some crazy party that eventually turned into me having sex with way too many people.
I was still trying to catch up to all these new things he was showing me and it was taking its toll. I never told him about that, of course, I was just lucky to have any boyfriend, let alone someone as hot and cool as he is.
As I was slipping out quietly, Rachael gave me a wink and a wave. She was the only one who knew about us, but I don’t think she really believed me, however, she was often my alibi when I needed her to be.
Joe’s tiny truck was there, loud and smokey. I jumped in and leaned over to give him a kiss. His lips were rough like tree bark at first, but then they melted against mine. He smelled of beer, which I hated, and tobacco, which I also hated. I noticed the open can of Coors in the cupholder.
I chastised him for drinking and driving as we drove-off to God knows where. He whined that he only had one beer and a cigar with his friends after they finished their penultimate performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Joe kept telling me how much he hated the music in that show and I believed him, mostly because I hated most musicals.
Although I was thankful for being cast, I was having a hard time with The Crucible, it was my first time acting in a drama that wasn’t a musical. It was difficult and a real challenge for me. I wasn’t sure I was any good but Joe was encouraging. I was afraid I was too over-the-top which would look ridiculous next the the Seniors’ down-to-earth, realistic acting. Joe comforted me by reminding me that when the upper classmen boycotted the Spring play because it was a musical, leaving room for a whole new group to try their hands at the stage, I was the only one of that new group to be welcomed by the Seniors. They had faith in me. Ms. Townsend had faith in me. Why shouldn’t I have faith in me?
We arrived at some dinky hotel in Sacramento. Every time it was a different one, to avoid being seen. As I was getting out, I saw him push his seat forward to pull out his boombox and I knew he had something up his sleeve. Joe only pulled out his boombox with his special mixtapes when he had some new sexual thing he wanted to try.
I’m guessing that would be my birthday treat, but really I just wanted a cake and hold hands. My hole hadn’t really healed from last week and I wasn’t looking forward to it hurting again.
The room was dirty, but that was to be expected. Joe had already checked in because he had a bag already in the room before we got there. It was much larger than his usual overnight bag and I wondered what kind of gift he might have for me.
We sat around and chatted for a bit, he grabbed another beer, something he knew I hated. Then another. And another. It seemed like an eternity to me before he finally said he had a surprise for me.
“Close your eyes.”
So I folded my arms across my chest.
“Relax. Just relax.”
I let them hang loose, lightly folded over my lap.
I felt fabric on my face. He was blindfolding me. There was something around my mouth, muffling my voice. Before I could register what had happened, I realized my wrists were bound, too. I had been tied up! While I struggled to free myself, tipping the chair over in the process, I heard the music start.
I felt afraid. The panic increased when there was a flash of pain across my ass. He scolded me for falling over and said something about resistance. He picked me up and tossed me on the bed like a used piece of paper and I didn’t bounce, I landed with a thud. The springs dug into my ribs.
He was removing my clothes as I continued to struggle, my cries very muffled.
I had forgotten most of that night because the song he played was this very song. Fresh tears slid down my wet face as I pulled my phone out to Shazam the song. I needed to know what it was.
That was the night I learned about Joe’s enjoyment of BDSM. Don’t worry, he stopped fairly quickly when he realized I wasn’t into it. But it ignited a fuse in me that caused us to break up a few days later. We got back together a few months later, after the New Year in early 2000. I finally became more assertive and demanded more equal footing in the relationship.
He wasn’t going to drink when he was with me, I hated alcohol after what happened at Charle’s party (and gave me the nick name Octopussy). We also BOTH had to be in the mood when we were going to have sex, no more dragging me along on whatever adventures he wanted and we were going to discuss the possibility of monogamy (which did happen for a good chunk of our relationship).
I realized 10 years ago while I was in Paris that I have a tendency to only remember the best about Joe, mostly as a knee-jerk response to all the negative reactions I get when people begin to evaluate our relationship. I knew he did things I didn’t like, but I’d mostly forgotten them until that song reminded me.
My grandfather and I had a very complex relationship, much like Joe and I. Two conflicting things can both be true. I loved them both very deeply, in different ways, and they both inflicted great cruelties on me. But I still love them both and probably always will.