Men are part of the problem. Let's change that.

A new article and video over at Mic highlights some of the core issues at the heart of Rape Culture. The video, a joint effort between Vine star Chaz Smith and the One Student project, discusses the disrespect for and the entitlement to women’s bodies felt by many men. By way of a sports analogy, the video makes the point that a patriarchal culture (such as ours) filled with toxic ideas about masculinity teaches men to be the aggressors and women to be on the defensive. On the defense from what you might ask? Think about the following:

When women are catcalled on the streets, who is doing the catcalling?

When women are sexually assaulted what group commits the vast majority of assaults?

The answer to both questions is M E N (I dearly hope there are no fools reading this who think I’ve just said “all men harass and sexually assault women”, bc that’s not what I’ve done. If you are one of those fools, learn to read for comprehension). As men are part of the problem, that also means that men are part of the solution. An essential part. How is catcalling going to end unless men stop engaging in such harassment? How are incidents of sexual assault against women going to diminish without men making the choice to stop sexually assaulting women? The video raises questions of this nature (and more). Listen for yourself:

While watching the video, I was reminded of an incident a few years ago. But first:

Disclaimer:

I am about to share a story with readers.

A story with an ending I played a role in.

Before I share this story though, I want to make one thing clear:

I am not asking for a cookie. My participation in the resolution of this situation was wholly an attempt on my part to do what I felt was the right thing.

Back in 2012, a friend and co-worker of mine-Rachel (not her real name)-confided in me that she was sexually assaulted by the General Manager of the restaurant we both worked at. Our restaurant occasionally made deliveries of food and on this occasion, Rachel and GM went together. On their return trip, Rachel said GM attempted to kiss her. While he failed at that attempt, he did succeed in groping her breast. When they returned to work, Rachel told me what happened.

I did not ask her if she led him on.

I did not question her attire.

I did not blame her.

I did tell her that I believed her and asked what she wanted to do about it. She said she was unsure and I suggested contacting the Regional Supervisor of the restaurant. Rachel was hesitant at first, so I told her if she wanted I could ask the RS how allegations of sexual assault are handled by the company. She agreed to that, and shortly thereafter, I spoke with RS (but did not reveal anything about Rachel’s situation). He said the company takes such allegations seriously and encourages employees to speak up if they’ve been assaulted. I told Rachel this, and she agreed to talk to RS. After she told him about being assaulted, RS asked her to meet with him and discuss what she wanted to do. Rachel agreed to this on the condition that I be there in the meeting (she later said she wanted me there for support). RS agreed to that, as did I. During the meeting, I sat silently in a chair close to the two of them and simply listened. I only spoke when either of them directed a question at me.

The meeting happened on a Friday. Over the weekend, Rachel expressed concerns about her job. If GM was not fired or sent to another restaurant, what would she do? She didn’t want to remain at a job where she would have to work with someone who sexually assaulted her and might do so again. Would she tough it out and remain working there and deal with/try to avoid asshole GM? Find another job? Thankfully she didn’t have to give thought to those questions for long. The following Monday, when I came to work, I learned that GM was fired for sexually harassing Rachel. I have to admit that I was somewhat surprised given that allegations of sexual harassment and assault are routinely dismissed. Nonetheless, I was pleased at the outcome. More importantly, Rachel was very glad to know that GM had been terminated.

As with many men, GM displayed a lack of respect for a woman’s body and a sense that he is entitled to a woman’s body. If he had respect for Rachel’s body, he would not have sexually assaulted her. Without his sense of entitlement to women’s bodies, I doubt he’d have tried to touch Rachel in a sexual manner without her consent. His beliefs are a product of a culture that devalues women-their bodies, their lives, their accomplishments. These toxic ideas of masculinity harm women and men. They need to be countered, especially by men. We’ve been part of the problem for too long now. It’s time to be part of the solution and here are a few things that can help:

  • supporting and believing victims of sexual assault and rape
  • refusing to engage in victim blaming and criticizing those who do
  • educating yourself and others on bodily autonomy and the importance of consent
  • not harassing women on the streets and criticizing those who do
  • re-examining your beliefs about entitlement to the bodies of others
  • ensuring that all sexual activities you take part in involve consenting adults
Men are part of the problem. Let's change that.
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Men are part of the problem. Let’s change that.

A new article and video over at Mic highlights some of the core issues at the heart of Rape Culture. The video, a joint effort between Vine star Chaz Smith and the One Student project, discusses the disrespect for and the entitlement to women’s bodies felt by many men. By way of a sports analogy, the video makes the point that a patriarchal culture (such as ours) filled with toxic ideas about masculinity teaches men to be the aggressors and women to be on the defensive. On the defense from what you might ask? Think about the following:

When women are catcalled on the streets, who is doing the catcalling?

When women are sexually assaulted what group commits the vast majority of assaults?

The answer to both questions is M E N (I dearly hope there are no fools reading this who think I’ve just said “all men harass and sexually assault women”, bc that’s not what I’ve done. If you are one of those fools, learn to read for comprehension). As men are part of the problem, that also means that men are part of the solution. An essential part. How is catcalling going to end unless men stop engaging in such harassment? How are incidents of sexual assault against women going to diminish without men making the choice to stop sexually assaulting women? The video raises questions of this nature (and more). Listen for yourself:

While watching the video, I was reminded of an incident a few years ago. But first:

Disclaimer:

I am about to share a story with readers.

A story with an ending I played a role in.

Before I share this story though, I want to make one thing clear:

I am not asking for a cookie. My participation in the resolution of this situation was wholly an attempt on my part to do what I felt was the right thing.

Back in 2012, a friend and co-worker of mine-Rachel (not her real name)-confided in me that she was sexually assaulted by the General Manager of the restaurant we both worked at. Our restaurant occasionally made deliveries of food and on this occasion, Rachel and GM went together. On their return trip, Rachel said GM attempted to kiss her. While he failed at that attempt, he did succeed in groping her breast. When they returned to work, Rachel told me what happened.

I did not ask her if she led him on.

I did not question her attire.

I did not blame her.

I did tell her that I believed her and asked what she wanted to do about it. She said she was unsure and I suggested contacting the Regional Supervisor of the restaurant. Rachel was hesitant at first, so I told her if she wanted I could ask the RS how allegations of sexual assault are handled by the company. She agreed to that, and shortly thereafter, I spoke with RS (but did not reveal anything about Rachel’s situation). He said the company takes such allegations seriously and encourages employees to speak up if they’ve been assaulted. I told Rachel this, and she agreed to talk to RS. After she told him about being assaulted, RS asked her to meet with him and discuss what she wanted to do. Rachel agreed to this on the condition that I be there in the meeting (she later said she wanted me there for support). RS agreed to that, as did I. During the meeting, I sat silently in a chair close to the two of them and simply listened. I only spoke when either of them directed a question at me.

The meeting happened on a Friday. Over the weekend, Rachel expressed concerns about her job. If GM was not fired or sent to another restaurant, what would she do? She didn’t want to remain at a job where she would have to work with someone who sexually assaulted her and might do so again. Would she tough it out and remain working there and deal with/try to avoid asshole GM? Find another job? Thankfully she didn’t have to give thought to those questions for long. The following Monday, when I came to work, I learned that GM was fired for sexually harassing Rachel. I have to admit that I was somewhat surprised given that allegations of sexual harassment and assault are routinely dismissed. Nonetheless, I was pleased at the outcome. More importantly, Rachel was very glad to know that GM had been terminated.

As with many men, GM displayed a lack of respect for a woman’s body and a sense that he is entitled to a woman’s body. If he had respect for Rachel’s body, he would not have sexually assaulted her. Without his sense of entitlement to women’s bodies, I doubt he’d have tried to touch Rachel in a sexual manner without her consent. His beliefs are a product of a culture that devalues women-their bodies, their lives, their accomplishments. These toxic ideas of masculinity harm women and men. They need to be countered, especially by men. We’ve been part of the problem for too long now. It’s time to be part of the solution and here are a few things that can help:

  • supporting and believing victims of sexual assault and rape
  • refusing to engage in victim blaming and criticizing those who do
  • educating yourself and others on bodily autonomy and the importance of consent
  • not harassing women on the streets and criticizing those who do
  • re-examining your beliefs about entitlement to the bodies of others
  • ensuring that all sexual activities you take part in involve consenting adults
Men are part of the problem. Let’s change that.

How exactly does this work?

Shortly after my sixteenth birthday (in December 1991), I began working at a pizza buffet restaurant in Huntsville, Alabama. Beginning as a dishwasher, I made it up to the position of assistant manager (like He-Man, I had the power! Bwahahahaha!). I enjoyed working with most of my fellow employees while I worked there and developed friendly relationships with many of them. As a result, when I began struggling with my sexuality, and most especially when I came out of the closet, I shared my thoughts with several people I worked with. How could I not? I was friends with several of them and this was an important subject.  Wow. That sounds so run-of-the mill. It wasn’t just an important subject. It was something that shaped my life in ways that I didn’t understand back then. Hell, I didn’t even have the language to describe my thoughts and feelings–not in the way I do now, 23 years later. In any case, because of how I was struggling with my sexuality, and because of how you can’t just turn these thoughts off, I brought these emotional concerns to work.

Fast-forward to January of 2010 and one of the most horrible experiences of my life. I’d just lost my best friend, Micah Williamson. On January 7, 2010, I came home and discovered his lifeless body in his bedroom. It was literally the worst day of my life. Typing this out right now is making me well up in tears. We weren’t just best friends. If I were inclined to believe in silly woo or religious bullshit, I’d say that we were soul mates. But I’m not, so I’ll just say that we were as close as two people could be without being in an intimate relationship. His death devastated me and continues to affect me to this day. I took a week off from work (I was working at the Fish House in Pensacola, FL), bc really, I was a near-incoherent mess in the days following his death. I didn’t eat. I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t sleep. All I could do was cry. How do you turn that off? I knew popular wisdom said that I was supposed to turn off all that emotional turmoil when I went to work again. And yet, when I returned to work a week later, everything was still raw. I remember needing to find a private spot to cry a few times during my first shift back at work. I couldn’t turn off the emotions. I couldn’t leave them at the door, as I’d heard so many times that you’re supposed to do in the workplace.

I still don’t know how to do that.

How do you just turn off your emotions or block out the pain you’re going through? What if it’s the hospitalization of a loved one or an impending surgery that you’re dreading? What if it’s the thought that your car is going to be repossessed for failure to make your monthly payments or you’re coping with your house having burnt down?

All of this is fresh in my mind because of a recent conversation between a co-worker, D, and myself. D, along with her 3 children, was living with her sister and they found out that they had to move out by the end of February because her sister’s lease was up and she was planning on moving. Unfortunately, for reasons that I don’t completely recall, D said her sister got the date wrong. Instead of the end of February, the lease was up the second week of February, and D currently has no options. She has no place to move to. No place to live at. With three kids that she loves dearly.

Shortly before the conversation I had with D, I noticed that she and our General Manager were having a discussion. They were not in a private area talking; nonetheless, I didn’t attempt to listen in on what they were talking about. It didn’t seem like a casual conversation. In fact, it seemed like D was being chastised for something. That’s speculation on my part of course, as I don’t know what they were talking about. But when I thought about their talk in the context of what D told me about losing her home, I began to wonder: was our GM telling her she needed to leave her personal problems at home?

That’s the genesis of this post.

I’ve heard so many times that when you’re at work you are supposed to leave your personal problems at home. But no one ever tells you HOW that is supposed to work. No one says “these are the steps you take to ensure that when you are at work, your personal problems do not affect you”. I’m not entirely certain that following these “words of wisdom” is even doable.

How do you leave your problems at home when you’re about to be evicted and have no place to stay?

How do you leave your concerns at the door when you’ve lost your best friend?

“Leave your problems at the door”–how is this accomplished when you’re struggling to deal with your sexuality?

23 years after I entered the workforce, and I still don’t have an answer to this question. I’m beginning to suspect there isn’t one. If anyone out there can explain to me how this is supposed to work, I’m all ears.

How exactly does this work?

"What football team are you rooting for?"

To the best of my memory, I first heard that question as a bartender when I worked at Bob Baumhauer’s Wings Sports Grill (which was waaaaay back in the halcyon days of 1999). In the 7 years I worked there, I can’t tell you how many times I got this question. Mostly it was men asking me, but I had more than a few women pose the question too. It wasn’t an outrageous question to ask, given that I was working at a sports themed restaurant, but I found it mildly annoying that people would assume that I was interested in football. Over the years and across multiple jobs, I’ve had the question asked many more times. Hell, at my current job, I was asked just last week.

Here’s the thing: I don’t like USAmerican football. It just doesn’t appeal to me at all. And that’s not from lack of exposure. Growing up, two prominent pop culture touchstones were often found in our household. The first was sports; specifically basketball, baseball, and yes, football. My father was all about sports, and could really get into his games. Talking (sometimes loudly) to the television in response to a play, a referee’s decision, or a player’s conduct? Yeah, that was my pop. You know those things you did deliberately as a child to annoy your parents? Those things you knew would irritate them?  No, I never did anything like that. I was a model child. I have no idea what my father’s face looks like if I stand between him and a football game. For all that football was a regular presence in the house, I never took to it. I did take to the second pop culture touchstone; thanks to dad, I found myself fascinated and utterly enthralled with USAmerican comic books.

My father was the one who bought me my first comic book- Marvel Tales #155, a reprint of Amazing Spider-Man #17 (by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko). I think I still have it in my enormous comic book collection (its north of 10K) that I really need to pare down. Sorry. Digressed. My memory of my childhood is spotty, but I think the next comic book I owned was Superman Vol. 2 #3 (writing and art by John Byrne).  If memory serves, this comic was in my Christmas stocking in 1987. The next year, my father (who was in the military) was shipped off to north Alabama. That’s when I began collecting comic books. I remember there was a convenience store across the street-Circle K, I think-from the military installation we lived on. On a regular basis, I’d take my allowance and ride my bike to the store and buy a comic book. I also found myself buying comics from private collectors who would set up shop outside the Post Exchange (a shopping center on the base). My collection began to increase substantially when I turned 16 in December of 1991. With a vehicle (my parents bought me a 1984 Mazda B2000) I was able to visit actual comic book stores, and boy did I ever-it was during the 90s that I bought most of my 10K+ collection.

So if there’s a story featuring dueling superhero teams and you ask me which team I’m rooting for, chances are I’ll have an answer.  But if you ask me which football team I want to win, don’t be surprised when you hear “I don’t follow football. I’m not rooting for any team.”

That’s what you’d hear any other year.

This year is different though. This year, for the first time in my 39 years on this several billion year old planet, I’m rooting for a team to win the Super Bowl.

The good-natured Super Bowl rivalry between Captain America star Chris Evans and Guardians of the Galaxy star Chris Pratt has moved beyond a charity bet to inspire a charity T-shirt.

As CBR noted last week, Boston native Evans and Seattle resident Pratt dug in for their own Civil War:  If New England wins Super Bowl XLIX, Pratt will don a Patriots jersey and make an appearance at Christopher’s Haven in Boston, which provides a home away from home for young cancer patients and their families while they undergo cancer treatments at nearby hospitals. but if the Seahawks win, Evans will dress as Captain America and visit Seattle Children’s Hospital while carrying a 12th Man flag.

Now TeeFury is getting in on the action with a “Chris Vs. Chris” shirt, featuring the familiar helmets of “The Outlaw” and “The Patriot.” Proceeds from sales benefit Christopher’s haven and Seattle Children’s Hospital. The shirts are available for purchase through Feb. 10.

Who am I backing?

Well, Chris Evans is hotter than Chris Pratt, so I lean toward the Patriots, but really…I want Evans to visit Seattle’s Children’s Hospital and I want Pratt to visit Christopher’s Haven. Because I think that would be an awesome present to the children in both places. Can both teams win? No? Shows you how much I know about football. Maybe they’ll both take up their respective challenges no matter which team wins.

"What football team are you rooting for?"

“What football team are you rooting for?”

To the best of my memory, I first heard that question as a bartender when I worked at Bob Baumhauer’s Wings Sports Grill (which was waaaaay back in the halcyon days of 1999). In the 7 years I worked there, I can’t tell you how many times I got this question. Mostly it was men asking me, but I had more than a few women pose the question too. It wasn’t an outrageous question to ask, given that I was working at a sports themed restaurant, but I found it mildly annoying that people would assume that I was interested in football. Over the years and across multiple jobs, I’ve had the question asked many more times. Hell, at my current job, I was asked just last week.

Here’s the thing: I don’t like USAmerican football. It just doesn’t appeal to me at all. And that’s not from lack of exposure. Growing up, two prominent pop culture touchstones were often found in our household. The first was sports; specifically basketball, baseball, and yes, football. My father was all about sports, and could really get into his games. Talking (sometimes loudly) to the television in response to a play, a referee’s decision, or a player’s conduct? Yeah, that was my pop. You know those things you did deliberately as a child to annoy your parents? Those things you knew would irritate them?  No, I never did anything like that. I was a model child. I have no idea what my father’s face looks like if I stand between him and a football game. For all that football was a regular presence in the house, I never took to it. I did take to the second pop culture touchstone; thanks to dad, I found myself fascinated and utterly enthralled with USAmerican comic books.

My father was the one who bought me my first comic book- Marvel Tales #155, a reprint of Amazing Spider-Man #17 (by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko). I think I still have it in my enormous comic book collection (its north of 10K) that I really need to pare down. Sorry. Digressed. My memory of my childhood is spotty, but I think the next comic book I owned was Superman Vol. 2 #3 (writing and art by John Byrne).  If memory serves, this comic was in my Christmas stocking in 1987. The next year, my father (who was in the military) was shipped off to north Alabama. That’s when I began collecting comic books. I remember there was a convenience store across the street-Circle K, I think-from the military installation we lived on. On a regular basis, I’d take my allowance and ride my bike to the store and buy a comic book. I also found myself buying comics from private collectors who would set up shop outside the Post Exchange (a shopping center on the base). My collection began to increase substantially when I turned 16 in December of 1991. With a vehicle (my parents bought me a 1984 Mazda B2000) I was able to visit actual comic book stores, and boy did I ever-it was during the 90s that I bought most of my 10K+ collection.

So if there’s a story featuring dueling superhero teams and you ask me which team I’m rooting for, chances are I’ll have an answer.  But if you ask me which football team I want to win, don’t be surprised when you hear “I don’t follow football. I’m not rooting for any team.”

That’s what you’d hear any other year.

This year is different though. This year, for the first time in my 39 years on this several billion year old planet, I’m rooting for a team to win the Super Bowl.

The good-natured Super Bowl rivalry between Captain America star Chris Evans and Guardians of the Galaxy star Chris Pratt has moved beyond a charity bet to inspire a charity T-shirt.

As CBR noted last week, Boston native Evans and Seattle resident Pratt dug in for their own Civil War:  If New England wins Super Bowl XLIX, Pratt will don a Patriots jersey and make an appearance at Christopher’s Haven in Boston, which provides a home away from home for young cancer patients and their families while they undergo cancer treatments at nearby hospitals. but if the Seahawks win, Evans will dress as Captain America and visit Seattle Children’s Hospital while carrying a 12th Man flag.

Now TeeFury is getting in on the action with a “Chris Vs. Chris” shirt, featuring the familiar helmets of “The Outlaw” and “The Patriot.” Proceeds from sales benefit Christopher’s haven and Seattle Children’s Hospital. The shirts are available for purchase through Feb. 10.

Who am I backing?

Well, Chris Evans is hotter than Chris Pratt, so I lean toward the Patriots, but really…I want Evans to visit Seattle’s Children’s Hospital and I want Pratt to visit Christopher’s Haven. Because I think that would be an awesome present to the children in both places. Can both teams win? No? Shows you how much I know about football. Maybe they’ll both take up their respective challenges no matter which team wins.

“What football team are you rooting for?”

My four legged furry companions

Edit: 3/18/15:

I’ve been informed by a reader of this blog that the images in this post are not viewable. If you’re interested in seeing the cats and dogs whom I share my home with, they’re available here.


I figured I’d show a few pics of my cats and dogs.

Krystal's her name. Rubbing her belly is what she loves more than anything.  She'll ignore food to get belly rubs.

This is my girl, Krystal.

Sham

This is Sham. He’s my roommates’ dog, but I take care of him like he’s my own.

Now for the true rulers of the house!

Kayta1

This is Kayta. I’ve had her since 2000. Following a trip to Atlanta for the New Years, I discovered her-just a kitten-outside my apartment, and obviously hungry. I’d already had one cat and so I had some food. I gave her a bowl and some milk (yeah, I know better now-no human milk for cats), which she scarfed down.  I didn’t really know what to do with her, so I turned to go back inside, and she followed me in!  As I checked her over, I saw a collar with a phone number, but when I called, the number was disconnected. I figured I couldn’t leave her out in the cold at this point (this was north Alabama in January. It was below freezing) so I kept her.  My first roommate named her Kayta after one of his comic book character creations.

She’s eating yogurt in the pic.

Cassie

Last but not least is Cassie. I got her back in 06 or 07, after I put down my previous cat, Kara (she had kidney failure). I wanted Kayta to have a playmate. This isn’t the best pic of Cassie, so I’ll try to upload another at some point.

My four legged furry companions

Quote of the Day: Gabriel Orozco

Gabriel Orozco (born April 27, 1962) is a Mexican artist, born in Jalapa, Veracruz, Mexico, and educated at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas between 1981 and 1984 and at the Circulo de Bellas Artes in Madrid between 1986 and 1987. Orozco gained his reputation in the early 1990s with his exploration of drawing, photography, sculpture and installation. In 1998 Francesco Bonami called him “one of the most influential artists of this decade, and probably the next one too. (text via Wiki; image via Frostys Web Gallery)

“The process of living and the process of thinking and perceiving the world happen in everyday life. I’ve found that sometimes the studio is an isolated place, an artificial place like a bubble – a bubble in which the artist is by himself, thinking about himself. It becomes too grand a space. What happens when you don’t have a studio is that you have to be confronted with reality all the time. “

(source)

This quote resonates with me even though I’m not an artist (in a traditional sense, I suppose).  To me, the bubble he speaks of can be a metaphorical  or literal place where we humans can escape to for release of some sort. Maybe to escape the problems in the world, or perhaps simply a place that we go to that brings us joy or serenity.  For me, such a place (at one time) was the dance floor. I used to go to gay bars multiple times a week, and I loved taking trips out of town and finding new clubs.  Anytime I heard a song that moved me, I could be on the dance floor in no time.  I take some measure of pride in the fact that I can dance. My dance style was influenced by the choreographers of various US pop artists over the last few decades. I’ve bought multiple music videos and sat for hours mimicking dance moves and incorporating them into my own style.  On a dance floor I tend to freestyle dance, so I prefer a little bit of space (the length of both arms outstretched). When I have the room, and the music is good, I can escape from the world, and just let the music flow through me and the rhythm move me (I’ll never forget my mother teaching me as a child how to find the rhythm in music-I’m grateful for that).  I remember times when I’d dance for 2 hours at a time (my favorite music to dance to is House), taking a break only to get water.  Many a time, I’ve been one of the only people on the dance floor and developed an audience.  Even though I don’t dance for others, it is a compliment to have people approach me to tell me they enjoyed watching me move. It has been some time since I’ve danced, as these last few years have been rough. I hope to re-enter my bubble again in the future and dance my cares away and push my worries off for another day.

Quote of the Day: Gabriel Orozco

When my job starts up, I've got to try this bartending trick

Despite the fact that I’ve been mixing drinks for 15 years, I’ve neither seen nor heard of the trick in this video.  I wonder what liquors she’s using.

(thanks rq!)

When my job starts up, I've got to try this bartending trick

When my job starts up, I’ve got to try this bartending trick

Despite the fact that I’ve been mixing drinks for 15 years, I’ve neither seen nor heard of the trick in this video.  I wonder what liquors she’s using.

(thanks rq!)

When my job starts up, I’ve got to try this bartending trick

I miss you Micah

 

 

 

I’d forgotten how much I enjoy this song by The Script.

Trigger Warning: Death or a loved one
Emotional TL; DR (Too Long; Don’t Read-if you don’t like reading long comments)

Speaking of music from The Script, “If you ever come back” is one of my favorite songs. Unfortunately it’s also a song that hits me in the gut. I don’t relate to the song as it is likely intended (its a song about missing your partner, longing for them back in your life, and having a glimmer of hope that while they’re gone at the moment, they’ll come back). For me, this was a song that I listened to a lot after Micah passed away and part of the chorus resonates with me:

 

 

 

If you’re standing with your suitcase

But you can’t step on the train
Everything’s the way that you left it
I still haven’t slept yet

And if you’re covering your face now
But you just can’t hide the pain
Still setting two plates on the counter but eating without you

If the truth is you’re a liar
Then just say that you’re okay
I’m sleeping on your side of the bed
Goin’ out of my head now

And if you’re out there trying to move on
But something pulls you back again
I’m sitting here trying to persuade you like you’re in the same room

And I wish you could give me the cold shoulder
And I wish you could still give me a hard time
And I wish I could still wish it was over
But even if wishing is a waste of time
Even if I never cross your mind

I’ll leave the door on the latch
If you ever come back, if you ever come back
There’ll be a light in the hall and the key under the mat
If you ever come back

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/script/ifyouevercomeback.html
(bolding mine)
Those lines really tear me apart. I’m crying as I type this. Micah and I were never in a relationship (we very briefly experimented and I realized I didn’t care for him in that way), but in everything else, he was what I would call a soul mate (if I were religious and/or spiritual). We were both atheists and we shared many of the same tastes in music. We both liked movies. In fact he was a manager at one of the local movie theaters. I remember that we first met at one of the gay bars here in town. It was October 2007. I remember the month in part because Steve Niles’ movie ’30 Days of Night’ came out around the time we met. We bonded quickly over comic books. I remember we sat outside the bar for a while (hour or two I think) discussing comic books. He invited me to see the aforementioned horror movie for free (perk of being a manager) which I did and I quite enjoyed it. From then on, we were nearly inseparable. People saw us at the bar together so much they just assumed we were a couple (which got on our nerves for a while, bc people assumed they knew what type of relationship we had). We got so close that we’d finish each others’ sentences from time to time. We’d routinely think of the same things and tell one another to “get outta my head”.

 

In the beginning of our friendship, Micah was debating leaving Pensacola because he didn’t like living here. He had recently been discharged from the military and didn’t know what to do with his life. Shortly after we met, he changed his mind. He had a crush on me which was probably made more intense by our crazy chemistry. He also had some issues from the military that really disturbed him. He never elaborated on what they were and I never pressed. I figured that if he wanted to discuss them, he would. He drank. A lot. When he would get drunk, he’d often hit on me. It culminated one night when I took him home and he hit on me again, after puking at the bar from getting so drunk. I didn’t want to leave him alone, so I called a close friend of ours-a police officer (M). She stayed with him to ensure he got inside safe and didn’t try driving.

 

The next day I told him that I like him and care about him, but I didn’t want to date him. Moreover, I said that I want to keep partying with him, but I don’t want to feel like I’m responsible for him every time we go out (that’s how much he drank). I told him that if we were going to keep clubbing together that I didn’t want to deal with him being sloppy drunk. I couldn’t stop him from drinking, but I told him I would stop going out with him. He cut back a little bit on drinking, but the real impetus to stop was a car accident he got into two days after Xmas 07. He totaled his car (somehow he walked away from the accident completely fine–thankfully).

 

He stopped drinking for a long time. He also started trying to eat healthier. I think he weighed 240 lbs when we first met and he expressed a desire to lose weight and become a little more physically fit. I was working out pretty heavily at the time and he started coming to the gym with me. In about 6 months, he went from 240 to 180, which made him happier.

 

During this time, he often told me I could come up to the theater and see any movie I wanted any time. It took some time before I took him up on the offer. I felt like I’d be taking advantage of him, and free movies was not the reason I was his friend. We wound up establishing a fun Tuesday night routine called Supper Club. We invited a few friends to a restaurant on a Tuesday evening for a social gathering. At the end of the meal, someone would pick the restaurant for the next week, and we’d meet up there. Each week, someone new would pick the next weeks’ restaurant. This continued for months, with varying numbers of people. The first group was 6 or 7 of us. We got up to 16 one time. It was so much fun. Many times we’d go to the bar after dinner to play Tuesday night bingo, and follow that up with screening movies at his theater before they were released to the public. It was so awesome seeing movies in relative privacy. At most we’d have 15 people in the theater. Micah would have his employees save popcorn for us in a big trash bag, so we’d have something to much on.

 

Since we were close friends, and he was without a car, I wound up taking him to work or home frequently. He began staying the night at my house bc it was more convenient than driving halfway across town so often. A month or so after the accident, I started letting him borrow my car when I was at work. I’d often work 12 hour days at the bar, so obviously I wasn’t using the car during that time. I made him promise me not to drink if he was going to drive my car, which he agreed to. When he got done with work, he’d often come to the bar and hang out and wait for me to get off. He did that so frequently that the barstaff and many of the regulars got to know him (we had to deal with the whole “are you two together” all over again).

 

In time I offered to let him move in with me and my other roomie (whom I checked with first to get the ok from), so that’s what he did. That made transportation easier. He and I started taking trips out of town to Dallas, Atlanta, or New Orleans. We even traveled to Orlando where my parents live several times. During this time, my sister was living in South Korea and she was over there for years. Micah bought her car from my parents (it was really theirs, not hers). My parents liked him quite a bit. When my sister came back to the states briefly, I remember going out drinking with she and Micah in Jacksonville, FL. It’s still surreal to go to bars with my sister. She’s 8 years younger than I am (she turns 30 this August come to think of it).

 

Unfortunately, Micah died of a drug related heart attack on January 7, 2010. I came home from work and discovered his body (had to crawl through the window bc his door was locked-an apparent habit from the military). I’ve never experienced loss of that caliber before. That was the most painful experience of my life. Grabbing his leg and feeling the stiffness was…there are no words. For months after, I would feel like I could feel his presence still in the house. I think that’s similar to ghost limbs. When I would listen to the above song by The Script those bolded lyrics really hit me, bc the sensation I kept having made it seem like he was still alive, but just not home. The idea of leaving the light on, and leaving the door on the latch resonated with me bc I really wanted him to come home.

 

Micah was one of the most thoughtful people I knew. He bought a concert ticket for a coworker out of the blue and worked for the guy one Friday night–just because. When he borrowed my car, he’d often text me to see if I needed anything while he was out getting groceries. Our other roomie, E, has long had financial problems, and Micah-without ever being asked, would cover bills for him. He wouldn’t ask for anything or even request a thank you. He would help care for my cats and the dogs without being asked too.

Another song that really, really gets me is How to save a life by The Fray.

Where did I go wrong? I lost a friend
Somewhere along in the bitterness
And I would have stayed up with you all night
Had I known how to save a life

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/fray/howtosavealife.html

The night before Micah died, we resolved an argument that had kept us pretty much ignoring each other out of frustration for a few weeks. We talked it out and forgave each other. Even so, there’s this part of me that wishes I would have stayed up all night with him, bc maybe then he’d have survived. From checking his laptop after he passed away, I saw that he was still active around 7 am on Thursday, January 7, 2010. He passed away sometime after that. I don’t know how long rigor mortis takes to settle in, but when I got home and found him it was around 11:30 pm that night. I don’t blame myself for his death, but I wish I’d have stayed up with him. Maybe then my best friend would still be alive.

Sorry for the Teal Deer ya’ll. It’s been a while since I thought this much about him, and part of me feels bad for that. Like, he was the best friend I ever had, and I don’t think about him that much. I know that’s not rational, but fuck. By FSM, I miss the living fuck out my lil buddy.

Continue reading “I miss you Micah”

I miss you Micah