7:20 p.m. - May 31, 2003
On Monday Iím going to tell her about the imitation crab at Seacliff one day last spring. She is right, the more I talk about things and the less I hold in, the more insight and perspective I gain. What I think about most is the why portion of the equation; why did I let him do these things to me, why didnít I fight back harder, why didnít I get away from him sooner/quicker/assuredly. Why is it in me to be passive when Iím being hurt, why does it take me a while to realize this, whatever it is, is not all right? In fairness and honesty I should acknowledge how good it felt to be wanted and pursued. In like measure I should acknowledge that generally I am naÔve and often in my own little world of books and long walks in the rain; my closest friends have poked fun my entire life, drawing parallels between me and Rose Nylund on some old Golden Girls show from the 1980s(?). I was overwhelmed by and with Spec but that does little to help me understand why, returning to the original query. This is something I want to analyze and pursue, break down the event to pixels and percentages and layers of illustration paper composing an image, one layer at a time. Making sense only when looked at the complete image from afar, oblivious to the details running underneath like worms in a compost pile. A cross-section is what I desire.
He slept over Friday night and we made plans to go for a drive the next morning. I didnít want to get out of bed and we snuggled and I remember thinking how much I enjoyed being naked against him, feeling his arms around me. It wasnít safety but colossus, surety in his physical mass that I enjoyed. That morning he wrapped his hand around my cock and whispered Itís mine and in response I wriggled my ass against his dick, the one that was always ready and wanting. I teased him, whispered the words he liked me to say, the ones that inflated his ego and his sex drive and I rolled over to face him and we kissed and as always I nibbled on the little patch of hair under his lip, kissed with our eyes open and I couldnít get enough of his blues. Got up, showered, ate cereal, packed the car with the blanket, my book, his radio, sun screen: To the beach we went. We always went to the beach, more for him than me; the beach unsettles me when there are people around though when itís deserted thereís nothing I enjoy more. But always the beach first, then what I wanted; there was no discussion, no compromise. I could object all I wanted but weíd end up at the beach or his apartment, his whims prima facie. It irked me but I was complacent and there is something still attractive and reassuring to me about his dominance, something I want to understand.
So we went to Seacliff, parked on the bluff and hiked down to the beach. Walked along the waves all the way to the far end, picked our way among the rocks at the bottom of the bluffs, squeezed into crevices to kiss and heíd whisper Donít you want daddy? and Iíd laugh and say Of course and weíd point out things to each other, this is sandstone, this isnít, this is sea glass, this is sea junk. Set up the blanket and radio, lay there in the sun, me reading, he tanning. I felt good when he wanted to be close to me, always caught off guard, flattered, worried, uncertain. Never understanding the why. Loved it when Iíd look up from my book and heíd be watching me, that smile of his indulgent; he never understood why I take so much pleasure in reading. Later we ate the fruit we brought and by then I was brown, he glistened; a source of irritation for him the way I can tan quickly (once I burn, that is) and heíd have to tan for hours before gaining any color at all. Talked about going to town for dinner, our favorite Mexican place or maybe something new on Santa Cruz Avenue, get a hotel room and stay overnight, go to the Boardwalk the next morning, maybe drive back and have a fire at my house. He had an idea Ė BBQ on the beach using the grills by the sunken concrete ship Ė and soon he was off to drive into town to pick up a few things. My job was to take the blanket and radio to the picnic area and wait there. Something that I recall now but didnít overtly recognize then was the level of instruction heíd give me, as if I was some child who needed explicit directions. I wonder sometimes about his own needs and issues considering how intently he liked the Daddy thing, issues that emblazon my own complicity in seeking to please as well as enjoying, loving even, a recognized head; he was the top, I was the bottom; he was the Daddy, I was his boy; he was cool, I was not; he was worldly, I naÔve. That was the nature of our relationship.
He took a very long time to return and breezes had grown steadily stronger in his absence. I sat on the picnic bench, blanket wrapped around my legs, book in hand, watched other groups barbequing and laughing, became impatient. He came up behind me, surprised me, laughed that he caught me off guard again, kissed the back of my head. He had brought a long sleeve shirt for me, one for him, skewers, corn on the cob, butter, foil, and something called ďimitation crab.Ē Said Iíd love it even if Iím not a big fan of seafood; he wanted me to like what he liked. I remember vividly husking the corn, trying to remove every yellow tassel, Spec becoming impatient Ė we were both hungry, he less able to be patient than I Ė and he grabbed the corn out of my hands and said Knock it off. That was his favorite phrase, the one heíd use to dismiss me. And Iíd take it, you know? We sat there watching the sun begin to set, talked about nothing at all. Spec was impatient and irritated because he couldnít get the fire started earlier; between the wind and not enough of a flammable base, the fire quickly extinguished itself. This annoyed him, frustrated him and I wonder if his response to that originates in wanting to be the most competent, the know-it-all, or whether my suspicions about his own intrinsic self-doubt are valid. Either way, we got the fire going only after a struggle and watching others watching us trying to get the fire going. These things annoyed him and he was short with me especially after I stepped on a burr; he came up to me and in that awful tone said, Put the flip-flops on, grabbed my foot, and put the thong on. Like I was some sort of vegetative child.
Quickly, the food was ready and he brought it over to the picnic table, began to dig in to his baked (?) imitation crab. I poked at mine, hesitant; it smelled unappetizing. He glanced up, smiled, said it tasted better than it looked. He was shoveling the meat into his mouth and I hadnít touched it; I turned to the corn on the cob and began eating that (delicious, I remember, how more delicious can fresh corn, freshly grilled on the beach, be?), ravenous. He said just try it, so I picked up one of the smaller crab chunks and put it in my mouth Ė revulsion. Revulsion, thatís what my reaction was. The texture, smell, consistency, all of it Ė this is not food for me. Spec watched my face and grinned, said Eat it, donít be a pussy and I did, I chewed slowly and swallowed. Drank water. Groaned. Imitation crab baked in tin foil over coals isnít for me, I announced, and he laughed, I laughed.
And then he changed, instantaneously. Having finished his own serving, he sat closer to me and began helping himself to mine, picking up large chunks of the nasty fish, eating quickly. I was still working on the corn on the cob. He turned to me and said I worked hard to make you something good and youíre being a pussy and then grabbed my chin in one hand, crab in another, and said Open and I resisted, caught off guard. Who thinks the guy heís eating with will go psycho like that? I think the first second or two it happened I was certain he was teasing, but he wasnít. He gripped me hard and repeated himself, raising his voice each time. I opened my mouth and the instructed me, Chew, chew, swallow; followed that by saying I was being stupid since I swallowed his cum without question, I could eat fish without question. He wanted me to finish all the rest of the crab and I sat there not knowing what to do, not wanting people to see Ė and people were all over, but watching us? I said no, I didnít like it and he said Fine, grabbed me by the back of the neck and said heíd take off and leave me there or I could finish the crab. I must have responded too slowly because the next thing he did was grab more crab and force it into my mouth, yelling I told you to eat it fucking eat it all and I know people heard and were watching. He was angry, angrier than I had seen him before. I felt like Iíd throw up but I kept eating the imitation crab and thankfully there wasnít much remaining. I finished it and Spec clapped me on the back of my head, muttered Be a man and a minute later, was smiling again.
I donít know if my cheeks burned because I was ashamed or because I was sunburned. Either way, it doesnít matter now. I sat there on the picnic bench with imitation crab on the ground and watched ants marching across the table, watched the rest of the sun dip down, listened to the birds and the wind. I donít remember what I thought about but Iím certain it wasnít resolving to break up with him, to leave, declaring a final straw. I cleaned up the crab Ė littering is bad Ė and shortly after, we left the beach, drove home. Spec was affectionate, happy, his usual self and kept telling me to Knock it off, snap out of it, held my hand while driving. I wonder now if the gravity of the situation registered to him, whether he acknowledge s/d a wrong committed. We never talked about it afterwards and I didnít write about it in my journal for reasons far more wrenching than shame and embarrassment. Spec could treat me the way he did because I didnít stop it, because I was / am not enough of a man to resist being picked on, which is what he did. It is not what he did that bothers me the most now, it is my inaction, my unresponse. Was I afraid or cowed? Did I think his behavior and actions were excusable, or worse, warranted? I think the most salient fear was that of losing him, despite everything.
That is the true headfuck of abusive relationships.
Dr. Indy urges me to talk about these experiences, redistribute power structures, examine them closely. I donít know if psychology references theoretical models of interpretation, but Dr. Indy reminds me of a post-colonial deconstructionist, inverting hegemonies, demythologizing the Unspoken. But essentially thatís what Iím learning to do, to tell my story and find that place where I can view events in perspective and hopefully, realize that while some things may be in my control, other people and their actions are not. And that may be the most difficult lesson for me to learn, but one that is intractable and essential: If I accept that I cannot determine othersí actions, only my own, then I can stop feeling guilty. About Spec, about everything.
The funny thing is, I can feel change, I can see it. And I can talk about it and leave it be.