Sunday, February 24, 2019

Men of the Skull Chapter 44: Resolved

It's amazing how Time gives you perspective.  I sort of knew it then, but what I didn't realize is that, on that night, I made one of the biggest mistakes of my life.  And I say that knowing about how many costly mistakes I've made (and continue to make.)

I probably won't be posting the later parts of this narrative (readership is dwindling) so I'll say this.  Virginia and I dated for over a year.  For a time, it was wonderful.  However, the Time of Magic ended that night- the time of courting Judy, and the fun it promised, was over.  I traded her for a sure thing.

I would cost me a chunk of my soul.

Virginia and I dated for around thirteen months before I learned that she was cheating on me.  And I wasn't exactly blameless either.  Our relationship was stormy as hell.  In the end, we stopped speaking to each other at all.  Since Fall 1988, I've spoken to her only once.  I called her in summer 2008 to tell her that I'd written a book, and that she was a major part of it (name changed of course.)  I offered her a chance to read the manuscript, and to request removal or revision of parts she didn't like. She demurred, and said she'd buy a copy when it came out.

Virginia graduated after I did, though I don't exactly know when.  She married the guy she starting dating after me, and has three children.

How do I feel about it all looking at it from the other side?  I see that I was thinking with the wrong brain.  I didn't want the relationship- I wanted the sex.  I conflated one with the other, and paid the price.  Well, I was only 20.  This was my first "adult" relationship, and I learned a lot- the hard way.  Even now, thirty plus years later and having transitioned to my Truth, I still don't understand Virginia.  I don't understand her motivation for what she did, or why.  I guess I never will.

Maybe I thought I could "save her."  I couldn't even save myself.

This entry finally closes the huge gap between the posted chapters.


Chapter 44: Resolved

Thursday, January 29, 1987 Agreement fails to end Manila Siege

            Cold, windy and snowing: another night at Penn State.  Absolutely raw.
            I felt strange all through the day.  The day before, I saw Judy at the Hub around lunchtime and she handed me a note.  What was she afraid of?  Why would I stand in the way of Virginia’s happiness?
            Why indeed.
            Why did I feel loss?  And anger?  Why did I feel jealous?  Yeah, I fucked her but it’s not like it meant anything. 
            She said she loved me.
            But Judy…
            No- I wanted Judy.  I wanted her smile, her soft jet black hair, her beautiful breasts, her whisper and her kiss.
            Virginia said she loves me- but she’s nuts.
            I mean, how could things be better?  Penn State was National Champions- and I was a Penn Stater.  Things with Judy were improving daily.  Even so, I had a girl tell me she loved me and all I ever did was fuck her.  I guess I was doing something right.
            Two girls, the best University, I was young and healthy.  How could it ever be better?
            The wind howled – cold and purposeful.  The snow pounded people, roads, buildings, and the Lion. 
            Don’t fuck this up, Lance.  You’ll hate yourself forever.

           From that day's Collegian
            So today was my first day of student “teaching.”  I was observing a kindergarten class out at Brown Elementary school, maybe twenty minutes outside of State College near Lewistown.  It was a long day, made longer by a kid named Ben Satan.  He was a devil.  Son of a prostitute, he didn’t know who his father was, and his mom never disciplined him.  “I want you to break him” was what she said to Mrs. Shanks, the teacher.
            Long fucking day.  Didn’t get back until sunset when the snow really began coming down.  I ate dinner at the house, and then went back to my apartment to do homework.  Maybe an hour later, Judy stopped by on her way home from the library.  She was cold and wet from the snow.  I made her some hot chocolate.
            Virginia invited Chuck over tonight” she said.  She watched me intently.
            “That’s good” I said.
            “Don’t mess this up for her, Lance.  She can be happy.”
            “Wow…I…why in hell would I want to screw things up for her?”
            “I don’t know.  I just…  I don’t know.  I’m worried, that’s all.  I worried about you both.”
            “Well, thanks for worrying.  She’s happy and that’s what counts.”
            “Lance, what about you?”
            I looked into her eyes, hoping for a smile or a spark, but all I saw was concern.  I didn’t understand what was going on in her head. 
            “What about me?”  I said.
            She sighed.  “What about YOUR happiness, Lance?”
            “When did my happiness enter this equation?”
            Judy gave me a “stop fucking around” look.
            “We could continue what we started a couple of nights ago…”  I said.
            “Oh Lance, stop fooling around.  You know what I’m talking about.”
            I looked directly into her beautiful eyes.  “No I don’t Judy.  I told you: I’m ok.  I told you what would make me happy.  I want to be with you, but you have Rich.”
            The door opened and Marc shambled in.
            “Yo dude!  Crystal called.”  I shouted over to him.
            “How long ago?” he asked while pulling off his boots.
            Exactly 28.673 minutes.  How should I know?  Maybe an hour.”
            “Jeez, calm down man!”  Marc said.
            He turned to Judy as he hung up his coat.  “Could you fuck him already and get it over with?  He really needs to get laid!”
            Judy blushed and laughed a little.
            “No thanks, I already have a boyfriend” she said.
            Marc went into the bedroom.  Judy leaned in to say something.  “Thanks a lot” I said before she could speak.
            She smiled slightly.  “Let’s go get some fries.”
            “Do you wanna go to the Peppers near here or the one down by you?” I said.
From that day's Collegian           
            We slowly walked down the snow covered streets toward Sutton Court.
            “Nothing crunches like snow!”  Judy said as we, well, crunched.
            “You make it sound like a cereal commercial.  Snow Crunchies!  Stays crispy- even in milk!”
            “But remember don’t eat yellow Snow Crunchies!”
            “Why not?  You don’t like the New Banana flavored Snow Crunchies?  They’re better than the chocolate ones!  The chocolate ones taste like shit!”
            Judy laughed.  The snow kept falling.
            After two servings of CC Pepper’s fries, Judy and I were sufficiently warmed up to make the trek across University Drive to her apartment.
            Back to Virginia and Chuck.
            “Think they’ll be in the bedroom?”  I asked as we walked back out into the cold cold storm.
            “I’m not sure.  Virginia can be pretty easy at times,” Judy said, shooting a look at me.  I decided not to take the bait.
            The walk through the deepening snow took forever.  Maybe it was two feet deep?  Twenty?  It didn’t matter.
            The door was locked, and Judy fumbled a little too obviously with the keys.  She made a lot of noise.
            After we walked in we shook off the coating of snow, removed our soaked coats and shoes, then walked into the living room.  Virginia and Chuck were sitting close together on the couch.  The TV was on, but the sound was down.  Both of them were rather disheveled.  Virginia was smiling and Chuck just looked uncomfortable. 
            Chuck was maybe my height.  He had a big blondish “Greatest American Hero” afro.  His face was pale and unremarkable except for his small eyes set close to his long narrow nose.  He had very thin lips and a delicate chin. 
            I had no doubt I could easily fuck him up.  He probably thought the same thing- I wasn’t very intimidating.
            But why would I want to fight him?  He was making Virginia happy- drawing her attention so I could finally lay Judy.  Lay?  No, that’s not right- make love to Judy.  Chuck looked directly at me and shifted slightly away from Virginia.
            “Hey guys!  How has your night been?  Judy said maybe a bit too cheerfully. 
            “Great!” Virginia said.  “Oh, Chuck, this is my roommate Judy, and this is our friend Lance.  Guys, this is Chuck.”
Greetings exchanged.
            Virginia was beaming.  She was happy.  Finally.
            Smile Lance!  Don’t be a jerk!  You still sort of have Judy, and Virginia is happy and off your case!
            I was fucking miserable.  I was completely jealous.  I mean, she loved me- not him!  She told me so!  Who cared if I didn’t want to date her- that I lo- wanted her roommate?  She was mine!
            Wait a second!  Was I insane?  Get over it, asshole!
            I leaned against the wall and watched TV.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw Judy walk into the bathroom.  Virginia and Chuck talked quietly, and then Chuck stood up.
            “I have to get back to the house,” he said.  Virginia escorted him to the door.  As they walked past, Chuck looked at me.  “Nice meeting you,” he said with a half smirk.  They disappeared out the front door.
            No doubt groping each other.  He was caressing her breasts, holding her close, feeling me lips and her breath on his neck. 
            Judy was still in the bathroom.
            So I was alone- watching MTV.
            Def Leppard was in the studio singing “Love bites, love bleeds it’s bringin’ me to mah knees!”
            So- the question was: who would bring me happiness?  Now If I understood what was going on, I would’ve realized the question REALLY was “who will fuck me?” 
            Hey- remember I’d only been with two girls up to that point, and one of them was outside the door making out with some reject from the 70s.
            Judy or Virginia: even my addled brain knew I needed to choose.  Did I mention I was stupid?
            Judy came out of her room (wasn’t she in the bathroom?).  “What’s wrong?” she asked.
            “Nothing.  I just don’t like this video.”
            She looked at me for a moment, then she said “I want to get changed.  I’ll be out in a second.”
From that day's Collegian           
            Virginia walked back into the apartment behind me.  She brushed my arm as she passed. 
            “So what did you think of Chuck?” she asked with just a tinge of smugness.  Her face was flushed.
            I looked at her, trying to mask all the shit I was feeling.  However, I still hadn’t learned how to do that.  (I did eventually- wanna play cards?)  Of course, she saw right through me.
            “Don’t you like him?” she asked.
            “It doesn’t matter if I like him does it?”
            “I’d like you to?”
            She looked at me, almost dropping her guard.
            “Fuck you” she said.  She stormed into the bathroom.  Judy came out of the bedroom wearing shorts and a navy t-shirt, her face a mask of calm.  She had to hear all that shit.  I glared at the TV.
            The Bangles were dressed like harem girls and dancing around to their new song. 
Foreign types with the hookah pipes say Ay oh whey oh, ay oh whey oh…Walk like an Egyptian”
“So what do you want to do?”  Judy asked.
Fuck you hard that you cry and scream my name.
“I don’t know.  What are you up for?”
Virginia came out of the bathroom.  “So what’s up guys?  What are we doing?” she asked as if nothing had happened. 
“My house is partying tonight, but I’m guessing Judy is in for the night.”  My expression was as cold as the snow tickling the windows.
“So why don’t just go to your asshole house?”  Virginia said.
“Hey!”  I said.  “There’s no need…”
Virginia that was rude!”  Judy said at the same time.
“Don’t jump all over me!”  Virginia shouted.  “They’re assholes and we all know it!”
Judy half snarled and half sighed as she threw her hands in the air.  “I don’t need this!  She said then ran back into the bedroom and slammed the door. 
Virginia and I glared at each other. 
“I hope Chuck realizes what he’s getting into” I said.
“That’s none of your business” Virginia said.

“Look- we have to talk” I said.
“Why?  Do you want to yell at me some more?  Unless you’re…Nothing.  I have nothing to say to you.”
I grabbed my coat and hat, put my shoes back on, and headed out into the snow.  I’d only been hanging out with Judy and Virginia a couple of months, but this hurt badly.  The magic and fun we had were gone.  Maybe I could still have a relationship with Judy, but now there’d be a fourth person around…
The wind blew the snow into my face.  My nose was numb.  My face was wet and cold.  I wasn’t crying- that was the snow stinging my eyes.
“Hey asshole!  Wait up!”  She yelled, muffled by the storm.  I turned and saw Virginia jogging up the East Prospect street hill behind me.  I waited for her.
“What do you want?  I thought you had nothing to say to me!”  I said.
She finally caught up to me.  “I’m sorry.  I was rude.  I didn’t expect you to leave.”
“Well Judy was pissed off and you had nothing to say to me.  Why should I stick around and listen to you bad mouth my fraternity?”
I turned and kept walking.  Virginia followed me.
“You bad mouth MY house.  You constantly put down women saying we’re whores and we can’t be trusted, and I have to take it!”
“You don’t have to listen to anything.  You can walk away anytime you want.”
“I should just kick you in the nuts?”
“You do what you want.  I’m cold, and I’m going to go home then go to my house and get drunk.”
“Fine!  Fuck you!” she shouted as she stopped. 

I kept walking.

Past PIKA. 

After some seconds she figured out I wasn’t stopping.
“Wait up!” she shouted.
I stopped and turned.  “What?  What the fuck do you want?  You made your choice!  You said your piece!  What else is there to say?  What?!?”  I shouted.
She stopped.  Her eyes were so sad.  She looked so vulnerable standing there in the storm.
“Whatever” I said and kept walking- past Beaver Hill and up onto campus as the snow slowed to flurries. 

I kept trying to straighten things out in my mind.  What to do now?  How did I fuck this up so badly?  My feet carried me up the hill without thinking: Up the hill to the Lion.
The Lion was watching quietly from under a layer of white.  Cold snow-covered stone.  With my blue Member’s Only jacket, I completed the proper colors.  I cleared off a bit of the base and sat down.  My chest heaved with a heavy sigh.  I wouldn’t call or visit for a few days.  Let things cool down.  Let Virginia’s relationship take root.  My face was buried in my hands.
The snow stopped.  I looked up- at the corner of the parking lot stood Virginia.  She followed me, but I was too lost in thought to realize it.  When she saw me look up at her, she approached quietly; walking in my footsteps through the maybe eight inches of snow.
“I thought you were going to your house” she said.
“I will.  I just made a detour.  Why aren’t you over at Phi Tau with Chuck?”
“He’s studying.  Some people actually do that on Thursday nights.”
“You can’t resist any opportunity to bust on my house, can you?”
“It’s only fair!  You dragged me all the way across campus” she said.
“Hey!  Don’t try to blame that shit on me!  I didn’t tell you to follow me!  I didn’t want you to follow!  You did that on your own!”
“I didn’t want to end things like that” she said.
“Whatever.  What do you want from me?”
I…  I just want us to still be friends,” she said.  She was now standing right in front of me, maybe three feet away.
“You made your choice.”
“So I can’t have him and still be your friend?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“Yes you did!” she said.
“I meant…”
“What?  Why can’t we still be friends?” she said.
“Because it won’t be the three of us anymore.  He’ll be there.”
“Can’t stand a little competition from a Phi Tau?  Well, it’s not like you were going to go out with me, so I found Chuck” she said.
“I never said that!” 
“No, you just wanted me around to fuck once in a while, asshole!”
“You could’ve kept your legs closed!” 
“Yeah, and piss you off!” she said. 
“How would that have pissed me off?”
“You would’ve…”
“I would’ve what?”

“It doesn’t matter.  You weren’t going to ask me out, so I found someone else” she said.
“Fuck him yet?”
“That’s none of your fucking business!”
“Yes it… you’re right.  I apologize.”
“Well the answer is ‘no.’ Surprised?” she said.
“I’m not a slut!  In fact, we only kissed for the first time tonight.”
Yeah, right.  I sat looking at her. 

“I’m sorry I came here.  It’s not like you’re going to go out with me, so…” she said, turning away.
“I never said that!”
The snow started again, lightly.  Flurries.
“You keep saying that,” she said, turning back to face me.
“Because you keep trying to put words in my mouth!”
“What else am I supposed to think?”
 “I don’t know” I said as I stood up.  My ass was cold as the stone I was sitting on.

She was dead right.  I’d been chasing Judy, but fucking Virginia.  Now remember, I was still really inexperienced with the whole sexual relationship thing.  Nor did I have a lot of experience with adult level head games.  Virginia was playing me like a violin, and I had no clue.
“You know, Chuck is afraid of you.  He thinks that all you have to do is ask and I’ll come running to you” Virginia said.
“Is that what he thinks?”
“He thinks that I could never be with him because of you.”
“Why does he think that?”
“We talked about you.  Judy mentioned you to him as well” she said.
“How did I come up in the conversation?”
“After Judy mentioned you, he asked about you.  Then tonight he said he felt that there was something wrong because I was… hesitant.”

Christ, it’d been such a long day- waking up early, the student teaching, tramping through the snow- I was tired.  My brain was tired.  I saw the choice this way: Virginia was all but throwing herself at me.  She’d already said she loved me.  Judy was only a maybe.  I mean, I felt a hell of a lot more for her, but I was tired of being alone.  It boiled down to this: Virginia was a sure thing.  Judy wasn’t.

“So you still want to go out with me.  What about Chuck?”
“I’d rather be with you” she said, almost whispering.  Her eyes were so vulnerable, like she was about to cry.

“Ok.  I’ll go with you.  But there have to be conditions.”
“Like what?” she asked suspiciously.
“I don’t want anyone to know- not my house, not yours, not even Judy.  I don’t think your house would like it if a Skull’s dating one of their little sisters.  My house would give me endless shit too.”
“You’re probably right” she said.
“Also, I want time to spend with Judy.  She’s my friend and I want to see her.  Besides, if I don’t, she’ll get suspicious.” 
I also wanted to keep my options open- I still wanted Judy.
“Ok.  Anything else?”  Virginia said.
“If you’re ok with those conditions, then…”  I stepped toward her.
“Then what?”  She said quietly, looking up at me.
We kissed passionately, holding each other warm against the increasing storm. 
I looked at her.  “Well?”
“I’m ok with that” she said.
We kissed again.  The Lion sat watching quietly as we then walked away, hand and hand, into the snowy night.
The snow was coming down heavily again as we walked back to my apartment.  When we arrived, Mark was already asleep.  He had an early class.
We kissed hungrily, stripping off our many layers of clothing.  I fetched a towel from the bathroom and stretched it out on the living room floor.  (Didn’t want her to get rug burn!) 
I guided her to the floor, laying her on the towel and entered her.  She wrapped her legs around me as if she feared I’d leave.  As we fucked, she kept gasping “I can’t believe it” and “I’ve wanted this for so long!”
Too soon I finished.  The deal was sealed.  We looked at each other.  Her eyes danced.  Tears ran down her cheeks.  I kissed her lightly.
“Thank you” she said, quietly, and smiled.

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