Coriolanus has grown from man to dragon…
…when he walks, he
moves like an engine, and the ground shrinks before
his treading: he is able to pierce a corslet with
his eye; talks like a knell, and his hum is a
Coriolanus, Act V, Scene 4
INCOMING, MOTHERFUCKER! Brace for impact!
–Miss Margo’s text message to a friend, before entering the Mathematician’s hotel room.
I agreed to meet the Mathematician in a hotel room for “closure.” I said okay to the hotel room because neither one of us wanted to have this personal conversation in a public space like a restaurant (and if I couldn’t hold it together, I didn’t want the added humiliation of sobbing at a table in front of other people). I told him that my home was not an option. I revoked my hospitality.
My girlfriends did not like the idea of meeting him in a hotel room. Because let’s be honest…we all know how that could work out. While I was crushed, and also furious with him, I still had loving feelings and memories, too. You can’t just get over loving someone overnight, I’ve learned…no matter how much you wish you could. Which meant that I was vulnerable, and in a position to be sucked back in.
My friend C., from the Studio, summed it up in her typically humorous way when she heard that I was in a hotel room with him: “This is C! You better not be doing what I think you’re doing! RESIST THE SELF HATRED!!!!”
But none of my friends knew what I had planned. None of them knew what I had in store for him.
I was extremely nervous before I left my apartment. More than nervous–frightened, actually. My hands were shaking as I got dressed. I can’t know exactly what he was thinking our meeting was going to be (kiss and make up? amicable negotiation?), but I knew that it was going to be something more like an attack. An assault. People respond in all sorts of ways when they’re attacked. I had no idea how the Mathematician would act. That was the scariest part. Worst-case scenario: he could kill me with his bare hands in about five minutes. You think that sounds histrionic? That a man might try to murder someone in order to preserve his career, family life, reputation, and financial standing? People have murdered over far less. Murders have happened over a spilled beer. Fact is, I don’t know the Mathematician. I only know what I think I know, which is what he chose to show me…and in the words of Lance Armstrong, America’s Hero, he was “controlling the narrative.”
I knew I couldn’t do what I planned to do if I went in there a nervous wreck. So I sat down on the edge of my bed and did a little mental exercise.
Hi there, Sweetpea! It’s been a while. You have a problem? Why don’t you come have a seat by me and tell me about it?
I got in touch with Franz Adler. I felt like a fish swimming into a turbulent, powerful current that I usually keep away from. I don’t enjoy being in that frame of mind, and I can’t stay there for very long. But it’s there, and I can go to it when I need to.
By the time I got to the hotel room, I wasn’t the least bit nervous. I wasn’t nervous at all. I was actually looking forward to it. I couldn’t get there fast enough.
The cab driver complimented me on my beautiful smile.
* * * *
Before I walked into the room, I did the same thing that I always before going into a client’s hotel room or apartment: I texted a friend in front of him with my exact location and said that if she didn’t hear from me within an hour and a half, she was sending the police.
He thanked me for coming and asked me if I’d gotten a haircut. He said that it looked good. I was a little dressed up and had pretty makeup on. I bet he thought that I’d dressed up for him and that he was going to get laid. Hahahahahhahaha WRONG
I ignored the compliment and sat down in the chair. He sat down straight across from me, on the edge of the bed.
“Produce your identification,” I said. I wanted to see if he’d do it.
He took out his wallet and handed his ID to me. I took my time looking it over. Then I gave it back.
I sat straight up in the chair. I didn’t shift or figit or move my hands. I sat there like a statue, and I stared right into his eyes. Aggressive, intense, unblinking eye contact. The psychopath stare. Like a hawk. Or an owl:
|“Produce your identification.”|
It completely threw him off guard. He couldn’t handle it for 30 seconds before he looked away–at the bed, at the wall, at the floor, wherever. I didn’t let up. It was owl stare, silent and unblinking, the entire time.
He started to babble. He said that he was sorry that he “omitted the crucial fact” but he didn’t know how to tell me and he didn’t want to do it before the holidays because that would be bad timing and he had no idea that things would develop between us as they did and blah blah blah blah.
He’d stop talking and give me the opportunity to respond, but I didn’t. I just stared at him like an owl that didn’t speak English. When I didn’t respond, he’d start babbling some more.
I let him go on for at least ten minutes. Maybe fifteen.
Then I reached for the briefcase by my chair. I slowly opened it and removed a thick file folder. On the front of the folder was the Mathematician’s legal name, written in black marker.
I handed it to him without a word, put the briefcase back down, and resumed my owl stare.
The folder had to be opened from the back. On the back flap, I’d written the legal definition of a lie by omission: A lie of omission is an intentional failure to disclose the truth in a situation requiring disclosure. Also known as a Continuing Misrepresentation, a lie by omission occurs when an important fact is left out in order to foster a misconception.
He took out the contents.
On the top was the name of his current employer and his office address. Underneath that were wedding photos that he’d posted online on a social networking site. Underneath that were printouts of just about every photo he’d put online, along with comments from his friends and family.
When he saw the first sheet, I heard him exhale pretty hard. A bit of a cringe. The wedding photos got a wince.
He glanced up at me. I could tell that he didn’t want to keep going through it, but so what. I hadn’t enjoyed looking at them either. So no mercy. Look through it all, you liar. You can either look through that, or look at my hard eyes, boring into the back of your skull. Take your pick.
He picked the file. HAHAHAHAHAHA
The soft wincing noises he made from time to time were absolutely delicious. The man seemed to be shrinking in front of my very eyes. It was great.
At last, he said, “Yeah, that’s me.”
Very astute observation! I wanted to say, but I didn’t. No humor–even sarcasm. I needed to keep it scary.
“I have a copy of that folder–one that’s twice the size, actually–in a safety deposit box at the bank. It also contains a description of our affair. If anything happens to me–if I get hit by a car, if I fall down the stairs–other people will find it.”
He exhaled and slumped over like he’d been punched in the gut. It wasn’t quite a clubbed fish impression, but it was pretty good. I got him. Oh yes, I got him.
Suddenly it’s all real for you now, isn’t it? The way it was real for me all along, I thought.
“I would never try to hurt you. Please. I’m not that kind of person. You know who I am,” he said.
“Actually no, I don’t know, and I’m trying to decide how dangerous you are. Are you just a selfish, entitled liar, or are you something worse? In any event, you’re a high-IQ motherfucker, and I need to protect myself from you.”
He opened his mouth–probably to object to being called a motherfucker, but who knows–and shut it again.
“Listen to me. If any harm comes to me through you, there will be consequences. Now, or ten years from now. If you poison my career or my reputation in any area of my life, there will be consequences.”
“I would never do that to you. I wanted to help you, blah blah blah blah…..”.
I let him babble. I’d tell you what he said, but it really isn’t that interesting.
I’d made my point, but I wanted to play with him some more.
“How long have you been reading my blog?” I asked him.
“Blog? What blog?”
“I don’t know. Which blog? I saw a blog last summer. It was about your last university. Is that the blog?”
“Can you give me some more information? What is this blog about? Can we talk about it? Does it have sexual content in it?”
Owl stare. He sounded guilty to me. If he really had no idea what I was talking about, he wouldn’t be trying to get me to answer questions about it. But I wasn’t going to give him ANY information. It would have to be enough that he knew that I knew.
I changed the subject. I said, “Health insurance.”
Cause when he told me that he was married, he mentioned that he was married for health insurance. I mean, how fucking stupid does he think I am? So I threw that preposterous excuse back in his face to watch him squirm.
It was sort of funny to watch him explain that one. I kept my laughter on the inside. I could laugh later. Stay scary, don’t let up.
“The bird,” I said.
“What about the bird?”
“You brought your bird over. That was a manipulative thing to do.”
“I wanted you to like me!” Yeah, thanks a lot, asshole.
“Exactly. That was very manipulative. You knew I would like it.”
He admitted that it was manipulative. At least that was something. Then he said something very odd: “It was my bird! I didn’t borrow it or anything!”
I didn’t borrow it. A very ODD thing to say. Hmmmm.
“Do you want to tell me more about this blog you mentioned?”
I ignored him. No, no I don’t.
“So, when you’re sitting next to me on the couch, in my home, and complimenting me and telling me that you’ve been looking for someone like me, how exactly am I supposed to interpret that, other than ‘I am very attracted to you and would like to have a relationship?'” I asked.
|“How, exactly, am I supposed to interpret that?”|
He winced. At least he had the decency to look ashamed of himself. He looked at me and nodded.
“You knew it was wrong and did it anyway. You knew I was developing feelings for you and did nothing to stop it, because you were having fun with your exciting little fantasy of having a hot younger girlfriend in NYC who liked having sex with you. You just justified it in your mind by telling yourself that after all the hard work you do and the sacrifices you make for your family, THIS is something FOR YOU. Your gift to yourself, right? You deserve a little fembot girlfriend. That’s all I was to you, right? A vehicle for you to address your stupid mid-life crisis.”
He looked extremely uncomfortable. Maybe he has a conscience after all.
“Well, you hit the nail on the head, but I never thought of you as a fembot and I meant all the nice things I said about you and justification justification rationalization rationalization blah blah…”.
Let me tell you: my mascot is Beaker the muppet, but at this point in the narrative, the Mathematician was the one doing the Beaker impression: me-me-me-me-me
He sounded very selfish and self-centered. It was pretty gross, actually.
“Hey asshole,” I interrupted. “Exactly what did you think I was supposed to get out of all this? I was supposed to be happy being your girlfriend on the side, and waste more of my rapidly dwindling youth on a man who not only can’t give me what I need in a relationship, but isn’t even willing to?”
Time to move on. Fuck with his mind a little bit.
“Is there anything else you want to tell me?” I leaned forward a few inches in my chair.
He leaned away from me. Oh, this was fun.
“Like what…? Babble babble babble.”
“You don’t know what I know,” I said. Confess! Spare yourself! Hahahahahahaha
|“You don’t know what I know.”|
He coughed up a few interesting things that I hadn’t heard before.
“More information is coming in about you all the time. I hope for your sake that you are not lying to me now, Mathematician.”
He looked very scared and miserable and about ten years older from when I walked in the door an hour ago. I was loving every second of it.
Time to wrap it up.
I gave him my most intense stare. He flinched. He couldn’t look at me. Ha! Ha! This big, strong older man! He was afraid of me! Ha! HAHA!
“Look at me,” I said.
He still wouldn’t do it! Ha!
I leaned forward again. “LOOK AT ME.”
Finally he did. I could see himself forcing himself to do it, inside.
I held it for about ten seconds. Then I repeated: “If you try to harm me in any way, there will be consequences. I WILL FUCK YOU UP.”
Haaahahahahahaha I bet nobody’s ever told that to him before! Matter of fact, I’ve never said that to anyone before!
It felt great! And you better believe that I meant it…and he knew that I meant it.
I stood up to go. As I picked up my bag, I said, “You’re lucky I’m an ethical person, Mathematician. You’re lucky that I’m not shaking you down for cash. Many people would have.”
I just wanted to put that out there. I think that I deserve credit for it. I knew that he was going to be hurt (and probably a little angry) at the harsh treatment I’d given him later, after the shock wore off, and I wanted to remind him that I could have done much, much worse.
That he got off very lightly.
When I walked to the door, he stood up and approached me.
“Do NOT touch me,” I said.
He actually backed up. Hilarious! “Sorry, sorry,” he said.
I walked out the door and got the elevator.
By the time I got to the street, I was walking on air. I stopped channeling my father, and became me again.
I think that I knocked it out of the park. The only thing that could have made it better is if I made him pay for the safety deposit box. That is kind of expensive. A small price to pay for peace of mind, however.
Oh boy. I wish I could have seen what he did in that room after I left. Because when I walked out, I felt his relief.
I hope that he lay down on the bed and stared at the ceiling. Like a clubbed fish. Visions of safety deposit boxes running through his head.
It was a small revenge for what he did to me. A small revenge.
But very sweet.
P.S. I see you watching. Well, hope you like the blog, because it’s as close to me as you’re ever going to get.