Monday, September 24, 2018

Men of the Skull Chapter 23: Red Bull Dancing

This entry really makes me look like a total jerk.  Because I was a total jerk.

To this day, I regret what happened that night.  I betrayed the trust of someone I cared about very much.  That night changed the tone of my time at Penn State.

Yes, what happened was consensual, but both of us were too drunk to consent.  I can say with absolute certainty that this night was the most drunk I'd ever been to this point in my short 20 year life.  There would be worse times, but I never felt so much shame after.  Yes, I was looking to "hook up" that night, but not with the person I ended up with.

As a guy of my age and at that time, getting laid was expected and celebrated.  Thrill of the chase.  The Conquest.  Of course, a woman who had the same attitude was a "slut" or "whore."  Of course, if she DIDN'T put out, she was a "tease" or "frigid."  The double standard was very much in effect then as it still is now.

I felt no "triumph" the next day.  I felt horrible.  The fallout is covered next chapter.

Picture of me wearing Drexel jacket.  Letters redacted- Dec 1986

I originally wrote this part a few days after the events occurred.  I wanted to get down what was said and how I felt.  I guessed that it would mean something eventually.  I rewrote it to this current version around 2005.  Back then, my Truth was still deeply buried, and I was in a lot of psychological pain.  I was trying to come to terms with what happened in the perspective of a male.  I never could achieve that- as I never really was male.

Looking back now, over four years after transition, I see that night for what is was- fulfillment of a need.  I needed to feel something.  Anything.  I was desperately lonely, and I knew that the person who I wanted to be with was unavailable.  I knew that the person I needed to BE would never surface, and I did my best to anesthetize the Pain with booze and whatever else.

I just wish that in trying to assuage my own Pain, I didn't inflict so much on others.


Chap 23: Red Bull Dancing

Saturday, Nov 8, 1986 President won’t deny Iran dealing

So I finally talked a girl from home into coming up.  Cheryl and I kinda sorta dated when we were in junior high.  We met at a dance in seventh grade, and we went to all the dances together and talk and stuff.  Never kissed her- I was too scared.  She was cute, thin as a rail, with angelic blue eyes, narrow nose and long straight brown hair at a time when the “Farrah Fawcett blow-dried-to-death” look was in. And her smile.  Oh her smile could light up a dark room.  We hung out until early in our sophomore year, when I said something reeeeeeally stupid and she stopped speaking to me.
We started speaking again at the beginning of our senior year, by which time she had grown up a lot.  Still the same eyes, still thin, but an incredible ass that she liked to show off and her face glowed.  She also told me about how much she loved sex.  We almost dated and I almost kissed her, but it didn’t work out.  She started dating some other guy, and a few months and another heartbreak later, I started with Julianne.
Anyway, she was going to Millersville, and agreed to come up to Penn State for a weekend of “partying, fun, and surprises.”  Of course, my plan was to fuck her brains out, and she HAD to know.  Or maybe she thought that I was too lame to try anything.  Well, I’d show her!
Red Bull bottle
The highlight of the weekend was Crow House’s “Red Bull” party.  Red Bull was a more potent form of Schlitz Malt Liquor, with a red bull on the label instead of the usual blue one- and malt liquor was a lot stronger than beer to begin with.  This was going to be fucked up.  Crow’s party was brothers, little sisters and invited guests.  I was invited by Judy and Virginia.  And I was bringing Cheryl.  Judy didn’t mind, as her big brother Michael would be up for the weekend, and having Cheryl there helped keep the illusion.  And besides, she knew me better than I did.  She knew nothing would happen.
Cheryl arrived Friday night, and I made her dinner: steak and green beans and powdered mashed potatoes.  After dinner, she put on a white top with short sleeves, a denim mini skirt that showcased her ass, and fuck me pumps. 
The House was having a party, so we headed over.  She was flirtatious and fun and some of the brothers even nodded in approval.  She stayed within eyesight in case she needed an assist, and occasionally came over to chat, show herself off, and make the brothers believe that I was with her. 
“So you think there was shit sent to Iran and Reagan is lying or what?”  Ben asked.
“Of course he’s lying- what else is new?”  I answered, finishing my beer.  “Need one?  I’m going downstairs.”
“Hey!  You fuck with Ronnie and he’ll fuck you up!”  Ben then made machine gun noises as he sprayed the room with his invisible Uzi.  “Yeah, while you’re there.  Thanks!”
Mark hit on Cheryl really hard and Cheryl “accidentally” spilled her beer all over him.  We left together around 2 and went back to my apartment.  Nothing happened, despite (because of?) my clumsy hints.  She slept on the couch alone.
The next morning dawned cool, bright and clear.  The leaves blew from the trees nudged by the slight breeze.  Rich (roomie) let me use his football ticket for Cheryl, as he needed the ten bucks and he wanted Cheryl even more than I.  He drooled every time he saw her.  We joined several brothers at an alumni’s tailgate in the sloping grass parking lot south of the stadium and had a few beers before heading in.  We sat high up in the sophomore section and watched the #2 ranked Nittany Lions struggle, claw, and finally beat Maryland 17-15.  What a game!  Cheryl even hugged me a few times when the Lions did something great.

The rest of the day passed quickly as I showed Cheryl around campus then went to Hi Way pizza for some slices.  Took a quick nap too because we both knew it was gonna be a long night.  She slept in Mark’s bed, because he was back home visiting his girlfriend.  I don’t know where Rich was.  
After showers and a quick snack, we walked up Beaver Ave toward the Bone.  She wore a light blue oxford and tight jeans.  I wore jeans and my favorite white polo shirt with a small fraternity crest.
“There might be some beer there to start us out.  Besides, I don’t want to get there too early.  Y’know, seem too eager.”
“Eager for who?”
“No one, really.  But it wouldn’t look good for a Skull to show up THAT early.”
“Your brothers are really full of themselves.”
“They’re used to getting what they want when they want it.”
She smiled at me.  “Aww diddums not get to scwew Wance’s fwiend wast night?” she said in a baby voice.
We walked up the steps and pushed open the door, and found a writhing pile of people right in the middle of the foyer.
“Get him!”
Keemo did a running jump and landed spread eagle on top of the pile.  “Dog pile on the rabbit!”
Cheryl and I laughed as the groans came from the bottom of the pile.  Soon they all unpiled themselves and there, on the bottom, was Dairy holding a football.  "Smear the queer"- Skull style.  He laid on his back for a moment, looked over at me, and tossed the ball right at me.  Instinctively, I caught it and then heard “Get him!”  SHIT!  I ran out the door with a wave of brothers chasing me.  Right- down the porch.  Left- jump the hedge into the yard THWAK!  Beef tackled me hard onto my face with the ball in my stomach and then I felt the brothers piling on.  Ouch!  I couldn’t breathe.  After a while, I felt the load lighten and Beef helped me up.  I was covered in dirt and sweat. 
“You ok?” he asked, helping to dust me off.  The other brothers were laughing and high fiving. 
I smiled weakly and nodded.  Then shoved the ball into his hands.
Fraternity front lawn, Sept 2018
“Shit!”  he shouted and bowled over two brothers trying to grab him.  “Get him!”  He made it another ten steps before the mass of testosterone laden burdens pulled him down.  My legs wobbled as I headed back to the front door and into the foyer.  There was Cheryl with two plastic cups of beer, one of which she handed me.
“At least they include you in the fun!  You look like shit.”  She smiled.  I wanted her so bad.
I smiled.  “I’m sure.”  Took a big swig of flat beer.  Ugh.  Last night’s keg.
From outside I heard “Get him!  Get him!” and another mass piling.  Then “owwww”.  The sound died pitifully.
“So, let’s have a few beers, then we’ll go back to my place, fuck like crazed weasels, I’ll get a shower and we’ll go to the party.”
She laughed a knowing laugh with just a hint of scorn.  “Yeah right.”
“Can’t blame a guy for trying.”  I led her inside.  A couple of little sisters stared as I walked by.
Two beers, no sex, a shower, and a change of clothes later, we walked up Locust Lane toward Crow house.  It was nearly 11:30.
We entered the door and there were a couple of pledges who took their time finding my name on the list as one of them sized up Cheryl.  Big guy, Italian, with a thick black crew cut, dark eyes and a big superhero-esque chin.  She loved the attention, and did everything but pose for him.  Her name wasn’t on the list, but no house ever turned girls away.
People were in knots carrying on conversations as Meatloaf blasted from their dance floor off to the right.
“Will you love me?  Will you love me forever?  Will you need me?  Will you never leave me?”
I led Cheryl through the maze of people to the stairs down to the basement.  A quick left into their wood walled party room, and another left to the bar.  Virginia was there behind the bar, playing flip a cup with maybe ten others.  She waved to me.
“Lancer!  It’s about fucking time!”  She was wearing a tight shiny grey button down top that showed off her tits, and tight jeans.  In seconds I had two beers, handed one to Cheryl, who smiled and mixed into the crowd.  I bellied up to the bar across from Virginia.  She was looking very cute tonight.  There were two cups working, and Virginia had one.  She flipped and it landed straight up.  She pointed her elbow at me.  “Down it, dear.”  She smiled with a touch of hate.
She did sign language for you’re welcome.  The beer was heavier.

Crow party room and bar. 2008  The tables weren't there, and a bench ran the length of the wall to the right

Now what you have to realize is that as much as college kids talk the talk, very few can really hang when they drink the harder stuff.  And that’s what this Red Bull shit was.  It had a hard flavor, kinda nutty.  It was copper colored- heavier.  Like it was telling you “don’t fuck with me ‘cause I WILL fuck you up.”  And it was.  This early, and many Crows and women were speaking in that slurred language exclusive to those about to puke and/or pass out.  On one of the benches lining the walls I saw some guy making out with some chick, feeling her up.  The speakers pulsed.  Can’t you hear me knocking…on yo’ window-oh!”  People shouting get a room.  Cheryl sitting near the back talking to that pledge from the door.
I chugged the beer and Virginia refilled it.  One of the cups passed to me, and I flipped.  Face down.  Pointed an elbow at Virginia.  She smiled, raised the clear plastic cup, and drank.
“Rules?”  I asked.
“Usual.  No d-d-d, no names, no pointing.  Five hits makes rules” Virginia said as I flipped and missed.  Flipped again.  Missed.  Drank and passed it to Virginia.
So it went for a while.  Went to the dance floor.  Springsteen “Devil with a Blue dress blue dress blue dress devil with a blue dress on!”  I danced badly with maybe fifteen others in the small room that was the dance floor.  I froze.
Judy danced with some guy nearby.  She was wearing jeans and her hooded maroon letter sweatshirt.  She saw me, stopped briefly, and smiled.  Tapped the guy on the shoulder, pointed at me, then motioned me off the floor.  I staggered off, following them.
“Lance, this is my brother Michael.  Michael, this is Lance.”
He was a little shorter than me.  Maybe 30.  Black hair, parted right, with olive skin and Judy’s eyes, but older, wiser.  He smiled and pumped my hand with a firm grip.  “Nice to finally meet you!  I’ve heard so much about you!”
I smiled.  “Pleasure’s mine!”
“I heard you’ve been keeping an eye on my sister.”
“She’s very special.”
He smiled and looked down at her, her arm around his waist.  “Yes.  Yes, she is.”
“Enjoying the party?”
“Absolutely.  Are you?”
“Ab. Ab.”  Shook my head.  “Absolutely.”
Smiled wider.  “I can tell.”
Judy touched my arm.  “Are you going to help Virginia home?”
“If she needs me to.  My friend is up.”
She turned to Michael.  “Lance is entertaining an old flame this weekend.”  Then she turned back for a quick icy stare.
Michael nodded.  “She’s a lucky girl.  Excuse me.  Judy, where’s the men’s room?”
She gave him directions and he headed off, leaving the two of us standing there next to the dance floor.
Take my breath a-wayyyyyy” the speakers crooned.
Judy shifted her feet.  “So.”
“How’s it going?”
I swallowed a burp.  “I think she’s getting laid tonight.”
Her face paled and she looked off to the right.  “Oh.”
“Not by me.  She seems to want one of your pledges.”
She looked at me and smiled.  “Why do I even listen to you?”
“Cuz you love me.”
She laughed.  “I already have a boyfriend.”  Her eyes flashed and she smiled wider.  I got hard.  Smiled back.  Her brother came over.
“Want me to introduce you to Cheryl?  I asked.
Judy looked up at Michael.  “Sure!”
I led them back down to their party room.  Cheryl was right where I left her talking to the pledge.  Virginia glared at me from behind the bar and returned talking to the guy next to her.  Ran her fingers through his hair.
“Cheryl, this is Judy and her brother Michael.”
She stood.  “So pleased to meet you!  Lance has told me so much about you!”  Smile.  Heaven.
The pledge also stood in the presence of letters.  “Beers?”
Judy looked inquisitively at us all.  I gave a thumbs up.  Michael nodded.  Judy held up two fingers.  The pledge threw a knowing glance at Cheryl, who smiled back, and he was gone.
“Lance tells me you go to Millersville.”
“Yes.  It’s great.  Nothing like this though.”
“What are you majoring in?” Michael asked.
I looked over at Virginia, who looked back.
“Brown shug-ah!  How com you taste so good?” blasted from the speakers behind the bar.
A touch to my elbow.  “I leaned over and Judy spoke to my ear.  “We’re going to go.  Have fun!”  Her lips lightly grazed my earlobe and she was gone.  The pledge came back with the beer.  And Cheryl left the party room with him.  So I was standing there alone holding two amber beers.  Looked to my left at Virginia.  Flipping a cup.  Walked over to the bar.  She handed a cup to me.  I flipped and it landed face down.  I elbowed down the bar at Snake, who drank.  New rules:  no cursing, must tap you cup on the bar before drinking, if both cups meet- the person who has them both chugs.
People were passed out on the benches.  One guy was on the floor in the beer swill.
Maybe an hour, maybe a year later, I staggered upstairs.  Virginia slapped the guy she was talking to when he “accidentally” grazed her left breast while turning to flip on his turn. 
People were passed out all over the floor and on the furniture.  It almost looked like a mass murder.  Red Bull.  Those still up were speaking in slurred tones that no one could really understand.  I was among those blithering idiots.  I found Virginia upstairs, putting on her coat.
“Need a walk home?”
“What about your friend?
“Shhhhhe’s busy.  Can take care of herself.”
“Isn’t it out of your way?”
I glared at her.  “Let’s go.”
The night was very chilly and a misty rain made it almost dreamlike.  We staggered down Fairmount, supporting each other, crossed Andrethestea, and down East Prospect.  Walked between KDR and Pika.  Pika was having a party, and we could hear the music clearly as we walked past on the cracked sidewalk.  Slow song. 
Former site of Andrethestea
“You know I love you but I’m in too deep”
I stopped and turned to Virginia.  We joined hands and started swaying to the music together.  Slowly.  I looked into her eyes.  She looked back.  A mixture of pain and something else.  So fragile.  We kissed lightly.  Then heavier.
Deeper.  I held her closer and she put her hands behind my head.  I caressed her back.  She held my head as if to let go would mean falling into hell itself.  Our tongues danced as well.  A tentative hand to her breast.  Her nipples hard against the cold.  A caress.  Her hands to my ass as she pulled me closer and felt how hard I was.  We groped each other and my one hand unbuttoned her top to expose her right breast.  She looked down, then in my eyes with acceptance and understanding, head cocked to the side as she swayed.  I caressed her more and re-buttoned her shirt.  We turned and walked down the street toward her apartment.  Stop.  Kiss more.  Then walk.  Kiss more.  Deeper.  Hungrier.
Her front door.  I pinned her to the wall and we groped each other, kissing savagely.  She put her fingers to her lips to quiet me, and turned the key in the lock.  Quietly we shuffled into the darkened apartment.  She led me straight into the kitchen.  We kissed and groped and explored.  I unbuttoned her top.  She pulled off my shirt.  My mouth on her breast.  Hers on my neck.  My pants at my ankles.  Her jeans off.  She sat on the counter.  I entered her.  We grunted quietly.  Hit the dish rack and a clank.  Freeze.  Down to the floor.  Entered her again.  We fucked quietly as our tongues explored.  I pumped hard trying to overcome the beer.  Eventually I did.  Virginia arched her hips to take it all in.  We lay quietly on the cold kitchen linoleum.  Virginia motioned me off, stood up and naked left the room for the bathroom, right past a sleeping Michael on the couch.  I started to put myself back together.  The floor felt cool- soooo nice.  She came back.  Kissed me more.  We writhed together.  Soon I entered her again.  But the beer caught up.  It was not to be.  I rolled off and sighed.  She kissed my chest, stood and left the room.  I got dressed.  She met me at the door and looked up into my eyes.  So much pain.  A last gentle kiss.  I smiled drunkly and quietly slipped out the door.  Back to Beaver Hill.  Bed.  Spins.  Bathroom.  Puke.  Bed.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Speech for Day of Peace

On September 21, 2018, I spoke at the International Day of Peace rally in West Chester, PA.  The event was held on the steps of the Historic Chester County Courthouse on High Street.  My roomie and bestie Linda was on hand to record was speech.

I appeared in the middle of the bill, just as night was falling.  There's already been one disruption from a Trump supporter, and nearby high school kids were making a lot of noise.  Didn't matter. 

What follows is my speaking copy of the speech.


Speaking tonight

Today, we gather to mark the Day of Peace, and celebrate the Universal Declaration of Human rights.
Article 2 is “Freedom from discrimination.”  It reads, in part:
Everyone can claim their rights regardless of sex, race, language, religion, social standing, etc.
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
One of the definitions of Peace is freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility.
Another is freedom from or the cessation of war or violence.
Are we, as Americans truly at Peace?  Our soldiers have been in harm’s way constantly for 17 years.  In fact, history shows our country has been at war for 223 out of the last 240 years.  Unarmed citizens are being gunned down by some police because of their skin color- giving the many GOOD officers a bad name.  And the news today is that another 1000 Latino immigrant CHILDREN have simply vanished from federal custody and thousands more are still in cages, separated from their parents- in defiance of the law. 
I am a transgender woman.  In this commonwealth, I can be fired for that.  I can be denied housing, medical care, and employment.  I’ve been unemployed since February, despite holding a master’s degree and years of experience. 
In some states, I cannot go to a PUBLIC RESTROOM in peace!  Because I’m transgender, right wingers want you to fear me.  Never mind that there has never been a single instance of a transgender woman attacking someone in a restroom.
If I’m in a stall in the ladies room, and you’re peeking in to see what genitals I have, then I am not the pervert.
If a person can’t even go to the bathroom in peace, than there’s a problem.  
Peace.  What is Peace?
In truth, I don’t know. 
I don’t know.
Dr. King once said “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
On this day of Peace, let us pledge to each other, in the sight of God, NOT TO BE SILENT.  Not to allow others suffer while we stand by, afraid to act.  Let us reaffirm that the forces of HATE CANNOT WIN, WILL NOT WIN, because there are still people who believe that we are ALL created EQUAL, and because we believe that we ALL have the inalienable right to LIFE, LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS!

Thank you!

If you want to see me deliver this speech, the youtube video is HERE.

Sunday, September 16, 2018


Dearest Lisa,

I can't believe it's been five years already.  I can't believe I've survived this long without your help, your laugh, your guidance and your love.

How does one live with someone that they cannot live without?  Well, I've been doing it for five long years.  And I didn't even have the worst of it.

Five years since I learned- since we all learned, that you decided to leave us.  That the Darkness finally took you.

You left us all behind.  You left me behind.  We had a promise to each other- that if the Darkness was closing in on either of us, we would call the other, no matter what time it was.  We looked into each others eyes and promised each other.

And you fucking lied to me- lied to my face.

Laptop Lounge, August 4, 2012

Five long long years.  So much has happened, yet, really, nothing has.  Yes, I went full time.  Aside from that, not much has changed.  You left so many of us in Pain.  THAT is the biggest change, really.  Before, we had you- your wisdom and smile.  We had your presence.

Now, we don't.

I would argue that in some ways we still have you around- that I think you are still watching over Sandy.  That I have felt your love across the veil.  You would laugh and scoff at that idea.  After all, you thought that death was The End.  Guess you found out five years ago.

Do you realize how many times I was ready to follow you into the Light?  All the planning.  All the Pain.  Yet, here I am, still.  Because in the end, I'm a coward.  In the end, I listened to those people who pulled me back from the brink.  They did what I could NOT do- keep you here.  I think of that every day.  Every fucking day.  Yeah, in addition to all the Pain I already live with, I have guilt.  Thanks a whole hell of a lot, Lisa.

Yes, I realize I shouldn't feel guilty- I'm not the one who started those paint sprayers.  I wasn't in that van.  YOU made the choice, not me.  Those are all logical arguments.

Doesn't matter.  Never did.  Never will.  I feel how I feel.

My therapist (remember her?) tells me to look for silver linings on things- like how if I hadn't been thrown out I never would have transitioned.  If I went into the light in 2016 like I planned, there are so many things I would've missed.  Yeah, I think I could've done without living to see who "won" that election, thank you.  Thing is, I really can't think of ANY silver lining in your death.  Yes, the local trans community had a serious reflection about suicide.  That's about it.  Maybe that would've happened if anyone else had gone, maybe not.

After all, you were an Icon.  Still are.  Five years later.

I've learned a lot since you left.  I learned about myself, and about you.  Did you know Sandy asked me to write a book about you?  Of course you do.  You were always a private person, Lisa, so I wonder what you'd say about my learning all I have.  I don't think you'd be happy about it.  Well, tough luck, girl- price you pay for lying and dying.

I still think about you, Lisa.  I still cry for you.  I hope you've found peace.

I will always love you and miss you.


Friday, September 14, 2018

Men of the Skull Chapter 20-22: Three linked chapters

These three chapters are short and related, so I figured I'd post them together.  I can say without exaggeration that this was one of the best times of my life.  When I think back to good times at Penn State, this period is the time I think about the most.

So obviously, they couldn't last right?

I remember writing these chapters and being very sad.


Chapter 20: Early wake up

Wednesday, October 29, 1986 Contra supplier Hasenfus paid by a firm in Lancaster County.

Her lips were soft on my neck as she ran her nails down my back.  I felt her naked breasts against my chest as she breathed heavily.  She stopped kissing my neck and looked up at me, her beautiful grey green eyes unlocking everything.  Demanding all of me.  We kissed as her fingers unbuttoned my jeans, then she pulled them down with her foot.
I pulled down her dark blue panties and guided her to her back on the couch.  Her black hair formed a halo around her pale white face.  She didn’t smile- this was serious.
We kissed deeply as I caressed her silky skin, licked and gently nibbled her beautiful breasts.  Ran my tongue from her left nipple to her navel.  My fingers gently probed her and she moaned.  Her back arched and she closed her eyes.
“Oh Lance…”
I don’t know how or when my underwear disappeared, but her hand caressed my equipment.  She spread her legs wider and whispered.
“Make love to me.”
I withdrew my hand and Judy guided me into her…

I woke up.

The same dream again.  This wasn’t good.  “I think I may be falling too hard fro a girl I can’t have” I thought. 
Fucking four o’clock in the morning.  I turned over and tried to go back to sleep.  Maybe I could pick up that dream where we left off.

Collegian, Oct 29, 1986

 Chapter 21: Sunshine

Tuesday, November 4, 1986 Scarfo, 17 Others Are Charged in Sweeping Mob Indictments

            Class ended, so I walked down the hall and out of the bottom floor of Willard building into the bright late afternoon.  Sunny days were becoming a rarity as autumn shriveled into winter.  Heavy gray and white clouds normally coated the sky.  It’s amazing how a cloud covering and bare trees can make the world as gray and heavy as the sky above. 
            But not today!
            I looked to my left.  There at the top of the short stairway to the mall was a smile bundled up against the chilly wind.  Judy gave me a quick wave.  I smiled and hopped up the steps to her.
            “Hey babe, come here often?”  I asked.
            “All the time!” she said, smiling.  “Are you always so cheesy?” 
            “All the time!”  I said.
            We headed past the front of Old Main.  Judy’s next class was in the H&HD East building, which was next to the Hub lawn.  I wasn’t a long walk, but we’d been walking it together every Tuesday and Thursday for a couple of weeks.  It gave us an opportunity to see each other.  I really looked forward to it.
            We quickly arrived at her building.  I looked into her eyes as the wind tossed her black hair carelessly.  She smiled, then hugged me.
            “Are you coming over tonight?” she asked.
            “I don’t know.  I might have better things to do” I replied, trying to look snobby.
            She hugged me harder.  “Why don’t I believe you?”
            “You’re no fun!”  I said.
            “I’m lots of fun!” she said smiling mischievously.
            She gave me a soft lingering kiss then turned to head into the building.  I watched her for a moment, then turned and headed uphill toward my next class, walking through the fall late afternoon sunlight.

Collegian, Nov 4, 1986

Chapter 22: Second Tree

Wednesday, November 5, 1986 Casey and Specter Are Winners; Democrats Capture U.S. Senate

            She forgot the brandy, so we had to go back.  Judy and Virginia came over to watch movies and drink with my roommates and me.  Judy forgot her blackberry brandy so I volunteered to walk her back.  No wait- it doesn’t start there.
            “How about you guys come over to my place for a change?  We could watch a movie- I have a VCR” I said to the phone.  (Not everyone had VCRs then.) 
            “Let me ask Virginia” Judy said. 
            Muffled silence.
            “Ok.  If you let us make dinner.”
            “How could I turn down dinner with two beautiful women? Will you be naked?”
            “Maybe” Judy said, and then laughed.  I heard her tell Virginia “he wants to know if we’ll be naked.”  I heard Virginia answer “In his dreams!”
            We made arrangements.  Dinner at their place.  Then we’d all walk back to my place to watch whatever Mark and Rich picked out at Mike’s Video.  Those two already had dinner plans. 

            So the three of us had dinner and headed back into the misty rain toward my place.  We made it half way up the hill when Virginia stopped.
            “What’s wrong?”  I asked.
            “I forgot we’ll be out past nine o’clock,” she said.  Judy and Virginia always took their birth control pills at nine.
            “Do you want us to walk back with you?  Or perhaps wait here?” Judy asked.
            “Could you wait here?”  Virginia said.
            “Sure!”  I said.
            So Judy and I stood by a newly planted tree along the street, second one from the base of the hill, and watched from under Judy’s umbrella as Virginia walked back down to the apartment through the mist and rain.
            When we were sure she couldn’t see, Judy and I started kissing hungrily.  We ground our hips together.  I wanted her so much!
            “Do you think the tree will tell on us?”  Judy asked, smiling.
            “Nah.  Second tree is cool.  It won’t rat us out.”
            We kissed a little more than stopped.  Virginia would be coming back soon.  And she did.  Judy was smiling broadly.
            “What did I miss?”  Virginia asked.
            “Nothing.  Just some of Lance’s bad jokes” Judy said.
            “Hey!  They weren’t ALL bad!”  I said.

Second Tree, July 1988.  It is still there, but now over 30 ft tall.

            We walked the rest of the way to Beaver Hill talking about classes and the football team.  Could we really go undefeated?  Wouldn’t that be cool?  We made it to my apartment and were settling in to watch “Top Gun” when Judy suddenly remembered.
            “Oh my God!  I forgot my bottle of blackberry brandy!”
            “Does it matter?”  Virginia asked.
            “We have plenty of beer,” Rich said.  They bought two cases of Bud.
            “You don’t want shots?”  Judy asked.
            “I’ll walk you back if these guys don’t mind waiting to start the movie,” I said.

            So Judy and I walked back through the cold mist and rain to Sutton Court.  Of course we stopped a couple of times along the way to kiss and fondle.  At one point when we stopped she asked again “What about Richard?”
            So I gave her the same answer: “Nothing has really happened yet.  Just innocent fun between a guy and a girl.”
            We entered her apartment and I pinned her to the wall- kissing, feeling, wanting.  After a bit, she led me to the bedroom, where we lay on the bed as I undid the buttons of her pale blue and white striped oxford. 
            Her bra had a clasp in front.  I’d never seen that before, but I figured it out fast enough.  Judy’s skin was soft and her breasts firm as I kissed them for the first time.  She moaned quietly.  I sat up to look at her, smiling, laying on the bed, her shirt wide open, her beautiful breasts waiting- waiting for me to make the next logical move.
            “So is this still innocent fun?” she whispered.
            Guilt!  Guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt!  I didn’t want to be the other guy.  I wanted her so badly but I wanted her to be mine and mine alone. 
            I leaned over to kiss her some more.
            She nibbled on my next for a moment then said “They’re going to wonder where we are.”
            Um, I could call them?”  I said.  So I did.
            “Judy got a call from her brother.  We’re on our way now” I told Rich over the phone.  I didn’t think he would mind being stuck entertaining with a single girl with big tits.
            Judy and I made out for another ten minutes, and then headed back out into the rain.
            “I WILL fuck her,” I thought.  “It’s only a matter of time.”
            I don’t know what Judy was thinking.
            On our way back up the hill, I stopped her.
            “What?” she asked, smiling. 
            I pointed at the young tree we stood next to.  “Second tree up the hill.  We stopped here earlier while we waited for Virginia.  Why not stop again?"  

Second Tree:  Sept. 20, 2018

            We kissed again.
            After a few more stops, we arrived at my apartment where we all drank and watched the movie.
            “Highway to the Danger Zone!  Gonna take you…  Right into the Danger Zone!”
            I sat on the floor in front of the couch.  Judy sat next to Virginia on the loveseat maybe five miles away.  Or so it seemed.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Trapped in a Memory

Have you ever been trapped in a memory?  A feeling of nostalgia brought on by a place or situation that is so strong it pervades the day, night, time?

I really hate the month of September.  I've written about that many times.  I've written about being thrown out.  I've written about Lisa's death.  I've written about my hatred of the fact that I was even born.

But there is another September... event... that started my hate and dread of September long before that.  I have mentioned it here and there in passing.  I think it's time I discussed it further.

Early September for the longest time meant a mental replay of an older Pain- a memory of what could have been, and wasn't.  These events led to my first suicide attempt, which I have detailed elsewhere.  As the weather subtly shifted from sultry August nights to crisper September days, I found myself trapped by sights, smells, and feelings of a particular September.

In 1990, I was working at TGI Fridays.  I was a bartender/server and wore the silly red and white striped uniform required back then.  I called it "the Clown suit."  (The movie Office Space brilliantly parodies this uniform with "Chotchkie's.")

Me.  Spring 1990.  I still have the hat.  And suspenders with "flair."

I was deeply depressed, and had been for over two years.  The betrayal by my college girlfriend, and leaving the first place I ever loved (Penn State) due to graduation sent me into a deep tailspin, which wasn't helped by my inability to find a real job.  Also, there was the fact that for seven years, I'd denied my Truth- by this point, it was just a dark blot on my rotting soul.

But, in late December 1989, I met someone.  I'll call her "Becky" to preserve her anonymity.  She was 19, and an English Education student at a prominent local university.  Through the winter and spring our romance blossomed.  Despite my feeble attempts to stay detached, I fell head over heels in love.  She said she had as well.  In fact, we talked about getting married someday after she graduated and I found a "real job."

However there was a slight hiccup.  You see, she'd accepted a summer job as a Ranger at Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico.  She's worked there before, but in staff positions.  Now was the chance for her to fulfill her dream of being a Ranger!

Of course, that meant we'd be apart from late May until late August.  In addition, she wouldn't have much telephone access.  Our main form of communication would be letters.  I also would sent cassette tapes I'd record- one side of me talking and the other of local radio.  I figured I'd be fine.  She told me that if I wanted, she would cancel her trip and stay home that summer.  I knew that if she did, she'd always regret it, and would blame me for it.  Besides, it's something she really wanted.  So in late May 1990, she flew to New Mexico.

However, I managed to save enough to visit her for her 20th birthday in late June.  It was my first flight since I was five years old.  I flew to Denver, rented a car, and drove south to Cimarron.  It was a long drive.  Maybe someday I'll detail this trip in another blog entry.  It was, for a time, one of the most amazing weekends of my life.  In any case, we promised each other that we would spend the rest of our lives together- that we would get married.

As July became August, the tone of Becky's letters changed.  She didn't share her feelings as much (which she's always done previously.)  Then, a rare phone call- there'd been a car accident.  She'd been out riding in another ranger's car when it went out of control and crashed.  She was hurt, but "not badly."  However, it was bad enough that she couldn't hike for the rest of the summer.  She spent the remaining month in base camp, recovering.  While there, she struck up a romance with that other Ranger- I'll call him "Chaz."

I heard about Chaz on the more infrequent phone calls- and in one letter.  (Yes, I still have her letters.  They are in a pocket folder in storage.) She didn't SAY that they hooked up or anything, but I knew her well enough to read between the lines.  My college girlfriend cheated on me- now Becky was.

With age, I understand a few things I didn't back then.  These were young women (Becky and college girlfriend)- too young and yes, immature to really commit to something like marriage. Actually, so was I, but I wouldn't admit it to myself.  I HAD to get married- only that would cure me of the Dark Secret I knew was still inside me.

I plunged into a deeper depression, fueled by Fear and Doubt.  I counted the days until she was expected home.  One of the agreements we had was that I would write a lot while she was gone.  I started a story in early summer, but that story took a much darker turn during this time.

In mid-August, a letter arrived from her.  Instead of flying home as planned, she was going to drive home- a road trip across the United States.  After all, she wrote, when would she ever have another opportunity like this?  What could I do?  Say no?  I was already deep in paranoia and depression, and she knew it.  It was scaring her, she wrote.

Fridays placemat, 1990

So it was that she started across the country.  She had no idea how long the trip would take- so I had no idea when she would arrive.  She called me once during that trip- from Colorado.  She'd been to the top of Pikes Peak that day, and was staying at a motel near there.  She told me who her travelling companion was:  Chaz.

I was back working at Fridays by then, after a short leave of absence to work an editing contract at Boeing Helicopters.  The Pain and depression piled onto the stress of that job (and if you've never worked food service: it can be VERY stressful.)

One night, my friend R was home on leave from the Army, so all of our group gathered for a late night poker game.  Part of me didn't want to go, as I didn't want to miss a phone call from Becky (we didn't have an answering machine then.)  I left a note for my parents saying where I'd be, as well as a phone number.

Typical Card night on R's back porch, July 2010

Around 10:30 that night, the phone rang there- it was for me.  Becky was home.  She wanted to see me.  I cashed out my chips (I was up one whole dollar) and drove at very high speed down 422 to her parent's house.  I remember WMMR was playing a block of John Cougar Mellencamp.  For years after, I couldn't stand to hear his music.

I arrived at her parent's house.  She was waiting outside on the side porch.  She's gained weight and walked with a slight limp. Her hair, having not been cut for months, was a shaggy curly chaos.  We hugged and kissed.  I sensed hesitance.

We talked.  She told me everything- about the accident.  About Chaz being the driver of that car.  About the trip back.  About hooking up with Chaz.  (They didn't have sex- Becky was adamant that she was waiting until marriage.)

I took it all stoically.  I didn't show it, but my spirit was shattered.  But I'd be damned if showed her that.  Yet, I didn't want to lose her.  She was my "last hope at a normal life." Becky told me that I took the news far better than she thought I would.  That she thought all along that she was mature than me, but she saw now she was wrong.  But she wasn't.  I was just hiding the Pain.

I'd become an expert at hiding Pain.  I still am.

I told her what was done was done.  That if she could stay faithful from then on, I'd forget it ever happened.

Then she told me that Chaz was there- at the house.  He hadn't just dropped her off and left.  No, he was staying a couple of days before heading home to Pensacola, Florida, where he was stationed.  He was a Navy pilot.  I remember that news hitting me hard.

At this point, my memory blurs, and my journal entry from that day is vague.  Before I left, we agreed to meet for lunch the next day at Fridays: me, her, and Chaz.  I remember driving home around 1 AM and hearing a song that was very popular at that time.  It was from Don Henley's current album, The End of Innocence.

It was years before I could bear hearing that song again.

The next day, I stopped at Becky's house, as she requested I drive.  She was upstairs in her room, she told me.  I went upstairs, and there, coming out of the bathroom, was Chaz.  He was an inch or two shorter than me, short sandy blond hair parted to the right, and powerfully built.  He had a towel wrapped around his waist.

"You must be Lance," he said.  I said I was.  "I'm Chaz.  He held his towel with his left hand and offered his right.  He had a firm grip- he was trying that whole male dominance thing.  Whatever.  He then went into the guest bedroom, and I went into Becky's room.  She was in a t-shirt and shorts.  We talked briefly.  I gave mostly one word answers.  By then, the enormity of what was happening set in.

We went to Fridays for lunch.  I ordered Wings.  I think I ate one- I lost my appetite despite having not eaten at all that day. I took them back to Becky's house, dropped them off, and headed home.  Chaz was leaving the next day, but that night, he and Becky were going out somewhere. When I asked her if "anything would happen" she said "probably."

I had to work that night- closing shift.  I don't know how I made it through.  I wanted to die so badly.  the fact that she and Chaz were together, and she was cheating on me tore me apart.  But I could not cry.  I was incapable of it.

The next day Chaz was gone.  I started trying to repair what was left of the relationship.  She had already checked out.  She told a friend that she wanted to wait until after my birthday to break up with me.  I thought I couldn't do it myself.

On my birthday, I worked day shift.  As I was leaving, my coworkers bought me a drink: a Russian Quaalude.  Becky and I were going to the movies that night.  We saw For All Mankind at the Ritz 5 in Philly.  She made me a cake- a heart shaped chocolate cake with orange icing.  We went back to my place.  I walked her to her car.  I told her it was over, and went inside.  I didn't cry.

Drinking the Russian Quaalude, Sept 13, 1990

I did my best not to contact her over the few weeks, but she kept popping up at my one friend's house.  I stopped going there. I tentatively started dating again.  One night, I brought a friend/coworker/date to a party at that same friend's house when Becky showed up.  She saw me with someone else and became very jealous.  She asked to speak with me outside.  We talked, argued, and talked more.  The next day, we got back together.

One night she came over my house.  My parents were away.  She made me dinner, and showed me the huge bruise on her hip.  It was the size of two fists and still very dark.  Months after the accident, she was still badly bruised.

She was flying down to see Chaz in Pensacola.  She planned to break up with him there.  When she came home, I picked her up at the airport.  I asked her if she'd broken up with him.  She said 'No."  We broke up again- this time for good.

My depression kept swirling until Halloween night, when I saw her.  She "wanted to talk."  She told me she was in love with Chaz.  I snapped.  I punched a wall, breaking my right hand.  Eventually, I ended up in a Psych Ward after my first suicide attempt.  (I've detailed that elsewhere.) What did Becky do when she found out I'd attempted suicide?  Went on a date.

The following May, she married Chaz.  by then I had just started dating Wife.  She helped me through that tough time, and essentially put the pieces of my broken heart back together.

We didn't speak again for eight years.  I don't remember who sent the first letter, but we slowly started writing to each other again.  Eventually, we had lunch.  After more time, we became friends.  She and Chaz had divorced.  She was back in Pennsylvania.  Eventually, she married again.

When I finished the story I started that summer, I called it Disorganized Light.  I gave her a copy when she told me she was getting married (she's stopped at Fridays.)  She hated it.

I've told this story many times to therapists.  After all the repetitions, and the time, I've gotten to the point where I don't feel the Pain of it anymore.  But...


Come September, I always had that feeling of dread- the memory of all that Pain and betrayal.  Then in 2013, more Pain was heaped upon the old scars.  More Pain than I could handle.

September 2018

28 years after that horrible September, and 5 years after the next horrible September, I am still here.  I had my second suicide attempt in September 2016.  Obviously, I failed.  The worst of the September anniversaries are coming up fast.  I've already started writing a blog entry about them.

I hate September.  It always takes me back to Pain.  Old Pain.  I feel things that happened in another life, to a person who is gone.

Trapped in a memory.

[Note: I have a hard copy of Disorganized Light that I'm typing into Word.  I'll post it when I finish]