I thought it would be interesting to compare the blog entry (from November 2005) with what I wrote in my journal (from October 1986). I wrote the 11/05 blog entry without refering to the journal and I got some of the facts wrong. The text from the blog post (from 2005) is italicized.
Many of my college years were spent hanging out at the Last Exit. When I was 17, I lived just a few blocks away and I was there several times a week. I lived alone and didn't have a television set, which meant I got out of the house a lot.
A group of my friends were always there. They included Mike, Shawn, Tracey, Anne, Meg, Stephan and more tangentially Jerry, Pat and Leah. There were a few more whom I didn't know as well. Because we were always there, we were friends with some of the waiters and waitresses.
It was December and I'd spent several days at home nursing a very bad cold. I felt lonely and pathetic so I decided to walk down to the Exit and see if there were anyone there to talk to. In fact, everyone was there. I was congested and fuzzy and couldn't participate in the conversation, but I sat there and smiled, happy for human contact.
Correction: it was the end of October (not December). I have my age right and most of the people named were there that night, but not all.
Our waiter that night was Eric. He was older than us--it seemed like he was a lot older. He had that weathered, strung-out, ex-rock star look, complete with stringy, long blonde hair. He was probably in his early twenties. And he was married. He sometimes came to our parties and he was always friendly. I had had a few long chats with him where he talked about his unhappy marriage and I listened sympathetically. I guess I thought I understood because I spent my childhood observing an unhappy marriage. I never thought he liked me and I wasn't interested in him. I didn't find him attractive, but even if I had, it wouldn't have mattered. He was married.
Correction: Eric was not our waiter that night. From a journal entry dated October 27, 1986:
It was Music night,* and toward the end 11:15ish, Eric came in--he used to be a waiter there and was fired,** I was always very fond of him. He's sitting by me.I listed all the other people who were there and, then, I love this--I drew a diagram to show where I sitting relative to Eric and my other friends.
*The Exit had open mike night every Monday. **Emphasis added.
That night, I ordered a coke and Eric didn't charge me. He did that sometimes, but he'd never done it for me. I fussed about being sick and he leaned over to me and whispered, "You're so cute." I thought I'd misunderstood him. Maybe he wasn't talking to me. But then he did it again, "I want to take you home and help you get better." I gave him a big confused smile.
Correction: obviously, I didn't order a coke from Eric. Possibly he got the waiter who was serving us to give me a pass on the check. I remember discussing the receipt of a free coke with Tracey, but maybe I mixed it up with another night. When he leaned over to talk to me, this is what happened (from the 10/27/86 journal entry):
It is very much like me to make a joke in a situation where I am uncomfortable. I was exhausted even though I'd only been out of the house for a couple of hours and I said I was leaving. Eric asked me to wait since he was just about to get off work. I waited and he walked me the five blocks home. He told me I should drink some tea with honey. "I don't like honey. I don't have any honey."
"Would you like to come home with me and kiss me a lot?" (or something like that).
I said, out loud, "I'm not that kid of girl" trying to make a joke. I didn't know what to make of it.
Later he says--You said No right?
I say--No! I mean I said no. Big smile. He wants to whisper something in my ear again. I resist.
He says it's nothing bad. I lean over and he whispers, "It's just that I've had a crush on you for months--you're so cute."
Aww I said. I was touched.
One important point here: [He is married, though it might be on the rocks (?).] [Also I was never interested I just liked him.]
"Do you have tea?"
"I think so."
When we got to my apartment building, I tried to say goodnight.
"I have to go up now. I'm sick."
He wouldn't leave.
"Aren't you going to let me come up?"
"And make you that tea?"
"No, I'm sorry. I'm really tired."
"But you're so cute. I want to kiss you."
He backed me into the corner of the doorway and put his arms on either side of my shoulders and kissed me. I was so surprised that I didn't move. He pulled back. I ducked under his arm and put my key in the lock and said "I have to go up now." I pulled the door closed hard behind me to make sure it latched. I ran up the three flights to my apartment.
I was dizzy. I had a rush of feelings: disgust, anger, confusion. I was sick and this made me feel worse. I had just kissed a married man. It was so...tawdry. He stole that kiss, but I still felt guilty.
Correction: I mostly got it right, but not quite. There was a discussion of tea either while we were at the Exit or on the walk home, but I didn't write it down. The 1986 journal account of what happened:
And then closing time. He asks if he can walk me home. I say fine. We chat. I'm obviously avoiding any sensitive subject. Then we get here, I don't ask him up, we stand and chat. I say I have to go to sleep. He says--are you sure?The "I should know better by now" is clearly a reference to the first married man, John, from "Check for Rings." Also, even though I wrote that I was "not completely resistant," I remember feeling trapped and stiff as a board, which I did not write. I wonder why not.
J: Yea, I have to study (etc., etc.)
E: Aren't you going to make me some tea or something.
J: I don't have any (describe contents of kitchen--blah, blah).
E: Aww, come here--
He hugs me, fine, I did want to give him a hug then--pulling back--he kisses me--I'm not completely resistant, but I keep my mouth closed.
E: You're so cute.
A few more hugs, fewer kisses (?).
He says--I'll let you go.
I walk upstairs. Who what when? I don’t know what happened or why or what I think about it. God, I really only wanted to be friends--and he is married--I thought that makes it safe, but I should know better by now. Ah, well.
I never spoke to Eric again. If I saw him, I wouldn't make eye contact or say hello. I was very angry. He stopped working at the Exit soon after that. I don't know what happened to him. I was so embarrassed that I never told my friends what happened.
Correction: I did speak to him again, once. An entry three days later (November 1, 1986):
I saw Eric today--at a distance. I've been wondering what I would do if I had to talk to him and I didn't know. So I saw him and I wanted to run away, sink into the ground, etc. Luckily he didn't walk towards me. I was hoping I could brush it off and act like nothing had happened but I don't know if I can, if I can forget--at least not yet, maybe if I give it some time. Oh God, why did I let this happen? It was like I wasn't even there. Unreal.What I didn't write: when I saw him I felt angry. Very angry.
And another entry, almost two weeks later (November 11, 1986):
I got home and went down to the Exit. I saw Eric, he said he's going back to Texas on Wed--trying to patch things up w/his wife. I said--sounds good.And that's the last thing I wrote about him.
I did tell my mom and she couldn't understand why I felt so bad. He'd kissed me, against my will, and I had done nothing wrong. I didn't like being mixed up in it at all, though. And…I think I didn't realize that such things happened. That people would cross lines so blithely. Perhaps I was worried that I'd done something to encourage him--but I knew I hadn't. Ah, poor guy, he was very unhappy. I just wish he hadn't tried to make me part of the solution.
I'm pretty sure the above is accurate, but it is not covered in the journal.
Does it strike anyone else how similar the authorial voice in the journal is to my blog voice? I'm not sure if that means I was exceptionally mature back then or I'm exceptionally immature now. It's a little of both, I suppose.
Grateful for: fantastic source material.