“You’re pathetic, your blog is pathetic, your lifestyle is pathetic. You just fuck dudes for the free drinks.”
That’s not the first time I’ve heard someone I’ve fucked try to lambaste my sexually affluent lifestyle. Sitting in the banh mi shop on Webster street at 4pm on a Saturday. I look him in the eyes. The blistering white walls around us. The white paper that the sandwiches were wrapped in. The white plastic bags. The whites of his eyes.
“You think I gave you herpes?” I ask.
“You’re wrong.” He is wrong. I don’t have herpes. We always, always used condoms, even when he didn’t want to. It’s scientifically impossible for me to have given him herpes. I mean, let’s be honest, he probably got it from one of those tweakers I know he’s been fucking. He’s always badgering me to let him not use a condom, so, chances are one of those girls said yes, at some point in time.
“And what’s up with you texting me that you’re sorry. What was that about? You couldn’t say it to my face?”
Right now I’m really impressed with the amount of crying I’m not doing. No bawling, no sweet, small tears. Just a bit of welling up that I hope is imperceptible as I force the tears back down.
He’s right, and I’m having trouble looking him in the eyes again. Of course I’m sorry. Of course I don’t want him to have herpes, and of course I wish that it hadn’t happened to him, so that I wouldn’t have to be here, sitting, sad, and blubbering out, “I-I’m sorry. I-I just, like, didn’t think of it until after.” Until after I had biked away from his house, after he had told me what had happened. After he sat me down and looked me in the eyes and told me that he had herpes.
He’s so angry. He’s so fucking angry. “Do you think I’ve fucked anybody since this happened?”
“No..” I’m sheepish. I still don’t have herpes, so how can he really believe that this is my fault? I’m beginning to think that maybe this is about something else. He can’t seriously believe that this is all my fault – he’s trying to hurt me for some other reason.
Last week, when we were standing in his kitchen. “Were you fucking other people without a condom?” He asked me.
“Maaaaybe…” Well, actually, yes. Yes I was. “Were you?”
“No. I was only fucking you for the last month.”
Is that what this is about? Is that why he’s accusing me of giving him herpes? When clearly I didn’t. And now because he had been fucking only me for the last one month, he gets to sit on some holy high horse about how I’m promiscuous?
But maybe I was wrong. We leave the sandwich shop.
“What are you going to do? Make a joke? Say something funny.” He’s sneering at me.
“I’m not. I’m – I’m just sorry.”
Bike away, Pilar. Just bike away. Bike down San Pablo Avenue, get away, run away. My body is awash with depression, you know, that inimitable warm sensation, like every organ is just careening with sadness and slowly shutting down. Like every inch of my skin is pushing out sad tears, but eyes remain clear as I speed my away from that desperate scene.
How had I gotten there. Why was I eating sandwiches with him in Chinatown, anyways? Maybe it’s that pushover pity that’s constantly being pushed out of my perpetually guilty heart. I had set myself up for the attack, but I thought that I was there because I cared. Clearly, I cared enough to let him treat me like shit and walk away without a word in defense. I’m 20 minutes closer to Albany when my phone rings. Stop biking. Pick it up. It’s him. Of course it’s him.
“I’m sorry, Pilar.”
“It’s okay.” Is it okay? No, it’s not okay, but I stammer out, “I mean, sometimes I need to hear those things.”
“No, it was really mean.”
“But you were right. It is pathetic. But, um – I just want you to know. I wasn’t, uh, going around and fucking hella dudes without condoms. It wasn’t a thing. I was just dumb and drunk, and I’d just wake up in the morning. And it wasn’t the most consensual thing I’ve ever done in my life-“
“Are you trying to tell me something?”
“No, no, not that. It’s not like that. It’s my own fault for putting myself in those situations.”
This is my lynch pin of guilt infliction. I can tell it’s working.
“Pilar. I miss you, too.”
“Yeah, I miss you, too.”
“Pilar, do you wanna come over to my house right now? I’ve been so lonely without you.”
Because the thing about getting called “pathetic” by someone I really care about is … it makes me want to be around him even more. Even though he has herpes, because somehow that Catholic guilt has still not dissipated, not even after all these years, and the downside of fucking a lot of people is that sometimes you wind up hurting people.