bet you a one hour blowjob that not one woman in this bar knows the Casey At Bat story of which you speak." He raised an eyebrow, realizing now that I’ve brought up blowjobs I must be drunk. "You know for a man who was just bet an hour blowjob, you’re not too quick on your feet there, pal."
He began to look around, surveying the bar for women to ask. "Everyone knows this story, Stephanie."
Everyone, I argue, who’s old. "Because when you’re as old as you are Phil, there were fewer ‘musts’ to cover in class, so they had time to devote to your clever baseball poems originating in the 1800’s." Except I don’t say "poems originating in the 1800’s" because I don’t know it’s a poem until I get home to google it. And I’m sure there are exceptions to the rule. I’m sure there are women out there who of course know it, and I’m even more sure that they’ll chime in, in the comments section, declaring they’d committed it to memory in second grade, patting themselves on the back. That’s not the point.
"Believe me, everyone knows this story, Stephanie."
"Well I don’t, and I’m a pretty educated woman. An English major, even. But still, take my target audience Phil, and most American females, as much as they ‘should,’ don’t know who your Casey is."
So he asks someone, and she doesn’t know. She also doesn’t know that softball pitches have to be thrown underhand. Even I know this. Surely every woman knows there are nine players out on the field at once. Actually, no, no we don’t. If we stop to count on our fingers, under pressure to give you an answer, maybe we’ll figure it out, but we don’t all know that shit off-hand. "My friends don’t. Maybe the one who works for MLB, or maybe some chick with a hoard of brothers, or some mom who attends her son’s games. Or some really desperate chick so eager for men to like her that she plays the, ‘I’m so so cool, just like one of the guys, so marry me already’ kind of girls. Oooh, or some chick on TBS who’s so into baseball analogies and having too many guy friends that she can’t also have a boyfriend. But most American women don’t know this." And I realize of course that some women do love sports just for sports, not for the men they hope to attract. They like them because they grew up with them, because it’s nostalgia, because it’s simple when everything else seems complicated, maybe. I wouldn’t know. And then he says the shit that makes me wish I weren’t drunk.
"Don’t play the dumb card Stephanie because it’s ugly on you." And I want to club him with a wooden bat. Old school. Heavy. Not some flighty aluminum deal. Something that can splinter. Something grown men keep beneath their side of the bed just in case. I’m not "playing," and certainly not playing cards of all things. And I hate that. I hate when he insults my intelligence, preys on my intellect like it’s arm cellulite. I hate it. And I wish I weren’t drunk because it’s too easy for him to blame it on that, my belligerence and my seeming lack of intelligence , to chalk it up to the neat little okay’s-it-all word, "drunk."
"I would absolutely not know who your Casey is even if I were sober." And right then I felt a need to prove myself, the way a lot of drunks do. When asked if they’re drunk, they deny it. Vehemently. I am NOT drunk. Usually it translates to: you so are; lady that doeth protest too much. And when she finally admits, "I feel a bit buzzed," she’s just shy of pulling her hair into a knot, anticipating the arrival of a bout of projectile vomiting. And I am drunk, but not drunk enough to make what he’s doing okay. And it’s hurtful when he goes there, knowingly, after I’ve shared with him how sensitive I am to it.
Because when you’re a fat kid like I was, you hold onto smart (or funny, or talented) as your saving grace. It is the piece of your identity that pulls you afloat and lets your esteem somehow disconnect from your form, and you’re literally able to rise above it. I might have been fat, but I was smart. I got good grades. Kids asked for my notes, wanted to study with me. And when he questions my intelligence, my Achilles heel, a part of me curls in and cowers like a kicked terrier. "Why do you have to go there? Why do you have to say the word, ‘dumb?’" I wonder if I’m so sensitive to it because of my mother.
She didn’t graduate college and always felt inferior to someone, namely my father, because of it. And I’m her in that moment, on that bar stool, despite graduating magna cume laude, or however it goes. Because what it says, that list of accomplishments, isn’t the dialog I have with myself. It’s not what I feel. It’s a list of facts, so far removed from who I am and what I feel, so incongruent with who I believe I am, at the heart of things. And along with wishing I knew these things about myself–no, felt, believed, lived! these things about myself, I wish I were with someone kinder, someone who grew up fat or chastised who’d be more sensitive and less…
And that’s where words fail me. Because I want to default to"cruel" as the word to cap off the sentence. But he’s not cruel. He’s just insensitive and easily frustrated. Angry. And when I say this, he tells me it’s my fault. I make him angry. I don’t do enough. He always shoulders burdens, picks up slack, and wants a partner, not another child. I’ve told him so many times not to do that, not to say, "I know you’re smart, so stop acting so stupid." Because I’m sensitive to it, maybe overly sensitive, but please don’t do that because when you do it makes me feel small. It makes me feel bruised and hurt, like I should just stop talking because anything I could add wouldn’t carry any value. I feel inconsequential, like I don’t matter. That I’m worthless. A cipher. All with the word, "stupid." Or "dumb." Or "retarded."
In his frustration he relies on little words, clings to them. I think it’s his brand of lazy. "Lazy Beer." It’s the #2 Beer of Jamaica. And when I bring it up to him, sighting that his words were hurtful, he doesn’t acknowledge it but instead turns it around, turns it into a game of, "Want to talk about inappropriate?" And then rattles off a list of my inappropriate. And I can be. And I freely admit it. "You’re right," I say, "I was inappropriate, but what can I do about it now? It’s done. There’s nothing more I can do but to move on." And he continues to hammer on, insisting I "play stupid as some form of manipulation," as my form of lazy. He analyzes my "I don’t understand"s as some strategic move, when simply, I’m a girl, talking to a boy, across a bar. I’m just being me. And he throws up his hands and changes the subject, focusing on the wrong in my actions, even in my admittance that I’m imperfect.
"Stephanie, saying ‘I was inappropriate, BUT’ isn’t what I’m looking to hear. The minute you bring ‘but’ into your sentence it negates everything that came before it." Yes, I know. I saw that episode of Dr. Phil, too. And he’ll spend the night refusing to discuss my issue with him and instead make the focus his issue with me. How inappropriate I was, to reiterate this story to others, to use the word "blowjob," in front of others. And it’s something I cannot explain via the blog, something you won’t get the whole story on. Because that’s not the way blogs other than those titled "he said; she said" work. It’s not about fair, of who’s right or wrong, and I’m never looking for that, "leave him" or "let him be" advice. I’m just looking to capture it, that moment, that feeling, when you’re drunk, clinging in that bar, to the grain of the wood, and in your alcohol, wondering how your life could be different, what brought you here and what you can learn while you’re here. And that you’re not so alone in it, any of it. Even the feelings of mistakes, of regrets, of "how could my life be different?"
Because when you’re a fat kid, you eventually grow up and realize maybe we’ve all of us always felt alone, or wronged, or misunderstood. And most certainly felt like we just wanted someone else to admit they were wrong. Wrong to hurt us, wrong to be insensitive, wrong to judge, and wrong to think they were something so different from who we were.
Because Phil and I want the same things, to be heard. To have the other person really understand how we feel. And my "There’s nothing more I can do about it, so let’s move on," isn’t good enough. It’s not the same as, "I’m sorry if my behavior hurt you. I don’t want to hurt you. I love you and think you’re the greatest. And sometimes I’m inappropriate, and that kinda sucks. But for you I will work on it." Or at least I’ll water down my adult beverages.