the man-boy

March, 2014.



ssht. A man — accurately, a Boy: still self obsessed, cocky, insecure — had gotten into my head. On our first date, he told me: how he had fowled up all of his relationships, how estranged he was from his family, how all of his friends are recovering-somethings. How he was recovering. It was overwhelming, having someone’s life laid out for you like that, up front, for me to take or leave.
“I just didn’t know people were actually up front like that,” I said, “I’ve never had someone just tell me all of their secrets.”
“I don’t know why you are surprised,” The Friend said, “you interview people.”
The Boy who had gotten inside my head and into my bed was strange, at least to me. He was young and hip but worked a blue collar job that required physical labor. He had done all the things I made a point to avoid: he had struggled with addiction, he had slept around, he had gotten in fights. This Boy was immediately interesting, if only for his novelty. I want(ed) to break him like someone does a wild horse.
I wondered what warped this person next to me talking in his sleep. I traced the tips of my fingers over the tattoo the boy had given himself, imagining the home made tattoo gun. Did his hands shake as he tattooed his own chest? Then they wandered down his spine, lingering on the bump between two vertebrae where his back had been broken.

I wondered which came first: being broken physically or mentally. He was a wild thing, something I didn’t understand and tried to personify. But I wanted to tame him. I wanted to have him curl up in my lap and eat sugar cubes from the palm of my hand. He was a raccoon digging through my garbage for treasure. I wanted him to love me.

After watching the way the boy half smiled and ruffled my hair, saying: “Well aren’t you cute,” I knew he wasn’t just wild, but a predator. I am out of my depth. I wasn’t sure how this one ended— hopefully, not like Timothy Treadwell. (Shit.) My bet is that he will get bored and find something else to chase, but I will have mixed feelings. I will be relieved, for sure, but I wasn’t his wild thing either. It won’t be the first time I felt discarded this way, nor the last. My friends say I was spared, but I feel forsaken by the shark that didn’t bite me, but the surfer further down the beach.

Should a predator be frowned upon for doing what it evolved to do? Should I assume that every stray dog will bite? Everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt, some sort of consideration for their feelings. But this seems like more credit than the man-boy earned. There’s a fine line between optimism and foolishness, and it is one I have too much pride to cross.

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