In which I tried to be a shining beacon of virtue and failed spectacularly.
“If only,” I keep hearing, whenever the subject of male entitlement or gun violence comes up. “If only some kind woman had given that poor boy a chance. If only she’d given me a chance to get into her panties. Then I wouldn’t have been so sad and lonely. Then he wouldn’t have shot six people. I feel for him. Poor guy.”
This is the story of the time I gave a sad, lonely boy a chance.
When I was young, I made a promise to myself. “If a boy ever asks me out,” I said to myself, “I will say yes, even if I don’t like-like him, because it takes courage to even ask.”
I was maybe eight. The indoctrination starts early.
I didn’t get a chance to put this promise to the test until senior year in high school. There was this boy in my art class who liked watching anime on Toonami just like I did, so we had a few friendly conversations. And after a few such conversations he told me he wanted me. I don’t remember what his name was, but I remember that was how he put it. He didn’t like-like me. He wasn’t “asking me out.” He wanted me.
I want to be clear, I wasn’t scared or unnerved by this guy. Mostly, I felt sorry for him. He was an ugly, nerdy guy with poor social skills; I was an ugly, nerdy girl with poor social skills. If I got attention from guys, it was vicious mockery; I’m sure he had experienced similar from a girl at least once in his life. The only difference between him and me was that I had never been taught that I deserved better - a romantic partner to polish me up and make me shine. Behind every nerd who makes good is the love of a good woman. That, I honestly believed, was my role.
(In the interests of full disclosure I will say that the people I hung out with - I hesitate to call them ‘friends’ looking back now, but back then being allowed to hang out with them was enough for me - viewed this guy with unvarnished disgust. It was all high school politics, I don’t think they knew the first thing about him, but there it was. At the time I think the fact that my friends hated him served to push me towards him. That was part of the story, right - the love interest’s stuck-up friends providing yet another obstacle for the hero to overcome. Surely the attitude of my friends made it even more important that I give him a chance! I didn’t want to be the mean girl Avril sang about in “Sk8r Boi,” right? But maybe I was being affected by their attitude more than I realized. No way of knowing now.)
But God help me, I was physically revolted.
And so I did something cruel. I hedged. I said, wait. I said, let me think. I think I blamed hormones - my own, as well as his, when the reality was that my hormones were malfunctioning only in the sense that they weren’t kicking in when I thought they were supposed to. I gave him hope, in short, and he latched onto that hope for the better part of a week until finally the day came when he got me to come to the library alone with him.
(I will pause now and assure you all that nothing terrible is about to happen.)
My memory of how we got there is unclear. I remember being at the table, and the boy retreated behind the shelves out of sight of the librarian. “Hey, come here,” he hissed at me urgently, as though he had something important to tell me, and I obligingly came over. He then delivered a line he must have rehearsed beforehand.
“There’s nothing good in this library,” he scoffed dramatically. “Except for one thing - except for you.” And then he kissed me. Firmly and with his tongue against my teeth.
I’d had a boyfriend sophomore year, so it was not my first time being kissed by a boy. My old boyfriend, for all his flaws, had been a decent kisser. This boy… was not. My stomach actually knotted. It was then that I decided that I had given him enough of a chance.
After that, my memory cuts out again, but I must have communicated my disinterest sufficiently, because he never spoke to me again after that day. Maybe I joined his list of stuck-up bitches who didn’t give him the time of day. Maybe he grew up a bit and I became a mere footnote in his history. I think I’d rather not know. In the scheme of things, he was harmless - all I suffered was embarrassment and guilt. But it could have been so much worse, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is why every muscle in my body cringes when it is implied or stated that a sufficiently willing female is all that is necessary to ‘save’ a sad or nerdy or homicidally lonely man. Try to imagine what my life would have been like if I’d continued to play along, guys. Would you have stayed around out of pity? Duty? Fear?
This was just one of many episodes in my life where I acted in accordance with what I thought I was supposed to want, rather than what I really wanted. It’s been a long and painful journey, but I’m at a place now where I’m much more comfortable with being honest with myself. And, of course, I’ve embraced my asexuality along with my ace-homoromantic partner, so there’s that.