The gay guy is back.
Longtime readers may recall a certain gay man who screwed me over years ago, leading me to have a nervous breakdown and quickly fall into a drug-induced spectacularly pathetic fall from grace. The nutshell of the story, for those among you who don’t know, is that he embezzled the profits from a show we did together, then kicked me out of my own company for getting mad about it — or as he put it, because I “went crazy”. L-o-n-g story.
Well, THAT guy? Well… uh… yeah… He’s back.
Let’s name him Butthead.
Mr. Butthead called me about two months ago, out of the clear blue sky. Prior to that I’d only received a text message as part of a group invitation to his Christmas party. I did not go, of course. And before that? Well, we’d occasionally see each other out at different places and say our hellos. I’ve gotten over my desire to gut him like a fish so we can carry on conversation without my eyes shooting death rays at him — but nothing else. Hearing from him out of the blue like that, I knew he wanted something — badly.
Butthead confessed to me that he’d decided he wanted to run for mayor of our crummy burg and he called me in desperate hope I would agree to be his campaign manager.
Yes, really. He really had the gall to do that. Nothing nothing nothing, then POOF he needs me, right?
He lured me with flattery, as is his game, telling me I was such a genius at PR and he couldn’t possibly pull this off without me.
Since I hadn’t seen him in so long, I was admittedly curious what would compel him to make such a strange decision, so I agreed to talk to him about it, but nothing more.
I have to be honest with you, Butthead’s flattery was tempting. You know how long it’s been since someone remembered that I used to be really, really good at something? And trusted me to do it?
Initially, I was highly resistant. In fact, after our first meeting to discuss it, I felt kinda sick to my stomach. I had such a bad feeling about it, I said no. I walked away saying, that, if Butthead wanted to pass an idea or two by me, I could help, but otherwise, I liked where my life was going at the time and had no interest taking on such a large project (least of all with him).
Then shit started to unravel on me.
My life, which was going along pretty well, began to falter. I had told The Stalker (my Gentleman Caller) about what happened, and told him that I’d kicked Butthead to the curb for the last and final time. Then, Stalker stopped calling me. No explanation. No reasoning. Nothing. Just gone. I liked where things were going with Stalker so you can imagine how confused I was. What did I do? I did the right thing, didn’t I?
About a week after that happened, I was invited to sit in on a campaign meeting with Butthead. What the hell, I thought, it can’t hurt. And by that point, I had nothing better to do — and no longer had any reason not to. Never let it be said that I wasn’t at least a little masochistic. Self-punishment, perhaps, for being such a loser that I chased my Stalker friend away?
So I went to the meeting. I sat at the table with his team and managed, somehow, to be the only sober person in the room, and therefore, the one who made the most common sense out of things. By keeping the meeting in focus, I found myself in the heady position of being called brilliant by all in attendance, and it was re-emphasized how important my presence was there. And I friggin’ hate politics. But the social intrigue, the psychological aspect of it, it held a certain appeal.
I was indeed flattered. But still hesitant.
More people leave.
My work partner Kit resigned. Yep, Kit, the one work partner that I was finally able to bond with and become good friends with, who gave me hope, made me hate my job a little less, and unlike my previous partner, treated me like a team member and not her personal slave, decided to quit. Within two weeks, she was gone. Poof! Just… gone.
I found myself becoming more intertwined with Butthead’s campaign. One thing led to another thing. Soon, I wasn’t just advising and guiding, I was leading and working on logos and slogans. It was like stretching long-abandoned wings and flying through the sky; tentative, a little faltering, then soaring. For a few brief moments, I felt like ME again. I begin going to Butthead’s house a couple times a week serving as “PR Consultant”. To be honest, I was having fun. I was in the muck again, using my big brain to answer questions that hadn’t even been asked yet. Brilliant zingers, strategizing approaches, staying one step ahead of his competition.
And once again, I found I liked being in Butthead’s company. He can be a lot of fun. Butthead and I had always gotten along well, having very similar twisted senses of humor. It was nice to laugh so hard again. And without Stalker and Kit, who exactly was I laughing with anymore?
Butthead accompanied me to a Democratic fancy-dress-up fundraising dinner. I wore the black Marilyn-style date dress that I’d bought a couple of months ago originally intended for someone else. I showed serious cleavage. I teetered around in four-inch heels. I drank cranberry juice. It wasn’t fun, but I liked dressing up. I almost felt cared about. I walked away bored with the politics and thinking virtually everyone in the room were nothing but scheming, lying, selfish, self-serving assholes.
Meanwhile, Aunt and Uncle Crazypants continued their mental and physical decline. They have been falling almost every day. And the dementia has worsened (Uncle in particular has severe aphasia and has begun hallucinating). They refuse to let me help them, so in desperation, I called both the County Office of the Aging and even called in the “Big Guns” — Adult Protective Services — and all for naught. Auntie and Uncle’s children refuse to do anything about it, and apparently since Auntie and Uncle totally refuse help, neither COA nor APS can do a damned thing. So Auntie and Uncle refuse to bathe, wear the same clothes for weeks on end, never take their medication right, eat spoiled moldy food that’s been left out for days because they forgot to refrigerate it, and have a house that’s filthy and stinky (smells like rotting food, feces, and urine). I have given up. I can’t help them if they refuse it. At the advice of Therapist Barbie, I have reduced my visits there to no more than an hour or two at a time. I can’t take it anymore.
So in walks Butthead with his shiny new project. And I do love a challenge. How to get a gay Democratic underdog elected to the traditionally Conservative town’s highest position. And how to pull it off when I’m already handicapped by some other people’s bad ideas? He plied me with another fancy dinner at a four-star restaurant and a nightclub with a few of our friends. He’s very good at making me feel wanted.
The only problem was, I wasn’t getting paid.
Dinners are great, don’t get me wrong. But it doesn’t pay the electric bill. Money has become central to my every day worries. From bus money to food money to rent money — I never, ever have enough. So I started to wonder if there was some way to make this campaign gig into a money-making venture. As Heath Ledger’s Joker said in The Dark Knight, — “If you’re good at something, never do it for free.”
But how could I get paid if there’s no money in the grassroots coffers? I set my mind to work on an idea.
Two more favorite co-workers decide to leave.
One of the guys I work with, who is so much fun to be around, moved to the late-night shift, so I won’t see him at all anymore. After losing Kit, I was crushed by this one. And as if losing those two wasn’t enough, yet another girl (who’d been at the Thrift Store even longer than I) had decided to quit. She was a terrific ally and friend.
For a person like me with existing abandonment issues, none of this was going over well. My footing on this “happy” ground was becoming very, very unsteady.
I began questioning how I was going to get out of that job myself. How would I ever improve my life if I couldn’t find a way to earn more money? Then the light bulb went on.
I remembered, Butthead had one thing I want more than money. He has an extra vehicle he’s been itching to sell. What if I could offer to work in exchange for a car? I had to exploit his need for me to get what I wanted. I don’t normally play games, but this was important. With a car, there’s power. I can get a better job. I can go places. Do things. Get bargains. Move. Attend off-campus classes. I can have freedom — and a golden ticket out of the dump I’m in.
I want that car.
I carefully approached Butthead with the proposal, and somehow managed to make him think the whole thing was his idea. The real selling point was that I’d be willing to put full force into his campaign efforts. I was betting, based on how much I know him, that he wants that job badly enough to sacrifice something big to have my big brain on his side. The gamble paid off.
One major repair needs to be made to the car before it’s drive-able, then he’s basically going to let me have it — in the best way possible. He’ll hold the title and insurance, but I can drive as long as I put gas in it and do the regular oil changes. That’s it. It takes all the financial burden off of me and provides me with freedom wheels. And when I have a better job and more money, I can either opt to buy it, or hand the keys back over and buy something else. It’s perfect. As long as it works out, that is.
I have found myself in the unique position of not needing someone as much as they need me. And it’s a good feeling. Powerful. Strong. Confident.
Then the very worst news of all came to light.
Yesterday, I had a phone call. The Square-Jawed NP is gone.
Poof! Gone! No explanation, no warning. His appointments have been cancelled and they aren’t making new ones. Moreover, they’re saying nothing except they don’t know when or if he’ll be back. Something catastrophic happened — either professionally or personally — and nobody will tell me (or any other patients) anything. And while I know he’s been busy opening up his own private practice, NP had reassured me he would be staying where he was for at least a couple more months. Did he lie? Or did something else happen? I have no idea except it looks really bad. Professional misconduct? Personal illness? I will likely never know the real answer to that.
I am utterly shattered. I worry that something happened to him, but mostly, I admit, I worry for myself. The last of my strength against my abandonment issues crumbled. I suddenly didn’t care about anything or anyone. School? Why bother? Cutting? Sure, why not? Drugs? Well… okay, no not really; that I’ll stay away from. But hey! Give me a cigarette and I’ll smoke that sucker to a nub! If it’s legal and it’s self-destructive, let me at it! Where’s that cheesecake? Fuck my diet. Why should I care when obviously no one else does either?
About two months ago, NP presented me with a beautiful leather-bound journal and a lovely personal note inside. I was so flattered — it was such a sweet gesture. He said he was so pleased with my efforts and wanted me to have a journal to write about my progress. But I look back now and wonder if he gave me this as a goodbye gift? Did he know he was leaving but lied to me when he said he wasn’t? And if that was the case, how much of what he said at any time were lies?? Were the words in that kind note fiction too?
So, feeling frustrated, sad, and lonely last night, I went over to Butthead’s house and got my drink on. Yes, me. Little Miss “Yes, I’m a Drug Addict But no, I’m not an Alcoholic Even Though I’m in AA, and Besides, I Don’t Drink Because it Gives My Delicate Head A Migraine.” Yes, that me. Fuck that shit, I wanted to get good and toasted. So I took a couple of pre-emptive aspirins, then Butthead made REAL Strawberry Margaritas, and I drank a very large one. Never in my life have I enjoyed an alcoholic beverage more. Apparently, I was quite amusing.
The old me is coming back. Well, sort of. An older, wiser, less trusting, slightly more bitter and definitely crankier version of me.
Without NP, there’s nobody left who will see or care either way. No witnesses to my rise from the ashes. Just me.
And I had so wanted to walk into the NP’s office with my new keys in hand, announcing my simultaneous success of obtaining a vehicle and vanquishing my old enemy.
But that’s all gone now.
The last of the worthy people who knew the real me and still liked me are gone. Or at least that’s how it feels. I am unceremoniously tossed back into the world alone once again. This is a repeating pattern in my life that is inescapably notable now that I’m sober. The bad ones stay, the good ones always leave. Is it me? Do I have some kind of cosmic kryptonite surrounding me that causes all my super heroes to discard me so easily? Parents, siblings, boyfriends, friends, coworkers, and now my trusted medication management ersatz therapist friend. I am not enough for them to stay. It seems I have nothing they want.
But Butthead wants the one thing I do have to offer: my brain. It’s sad, but my only remaining valuable asset is now up for grabs in trade for a box on wheels. To the rest of the world, I’m worth nothing — absolutely not worth a damned penny — not even worthy enough for common conversation — but Butthead remembers what I could really do. And that makes me feel like all is not lost.
And that’s why Butthead is back in my life.
“You have so many gifts, intellect and artistic qualities. You deserve all of the wonderful things that life has to offer, and I hope that you find them.” — Part of a note to me from The Square Jawed NP
My answer to him:
You sit on a throne of LIES!!