…some achieve deviancy…others have deviancy thrust upon them.
I have always felt myself to be a fairly “vanilla” sort of person.
Because most of my preferences lie only slightly sideways from what was
presented as “normal” on television when I was growing up.
And yet… I have a lot of experience with people believing the contrary about me. Because I’m obviously mostly normal, I wonder if we all have crap like this happen to us.
My freshman year of college, I lived in a large dorm room with two
other people. One of them, Jason (I am not using real names), was a
greater-Minnesota sort-of stoic baseball player. The other, Greg, was a
sporty party guy from the Chicagoland area. Greg would smoke weed in our
room and blow it (kind of) out the window through a two-liter with
dryer sheets in the bottom. Fairly often he would come back to the dorm
smelling like sweaty bread from some combination of drinking and
physical activity. Arguments he would have with his long-distance
girlfriend, “Annie”, would go like this:
Why are you being such a bitch?
On a few sweaty, bready nights I was startled awake when Greg shot up
in his bed, shout-mumbled something and then dropped cleanly back into
his inebriated slumber. The only exclamation I ever thought I understood
clearly through his clenched teeth, was:
Time passed. I faked comfort around them. Our room smelled awful. And
toward the end of our first Semester, a classmate of mine, asked me,
“Dude, do you know that your roommate, Greg, is telling everyone on
campus that you are a compulsive masturbater? He says you do it at
night, when they’re both in the room, and they can’t get you to stop.”
I’m sure we talked a bit more, but, in my memory, I shouted,
“WHAT?!”, and five seconds later I was standing in our room, ready
to have it out, staring at Greg’s bed, which had been stripped of
sheets. The rest of his stuff was gone, too.
From the other half of our room, unseen, I heard Jason reply, simply, “He dropped out.”
“Oh”, I said, suddenly diffused.
I’d had no warning. My classmate probably told me that night because
he knew Greg was leaving. Turning around, I saw Greg’s parting gift.
Standing prominently on my dresser was an enormous, new, green squeeze
bottle of Johnson & Johnson’s moisturizing lotion with Aloe Vera.
This was a surreal turn of events, but I could kind of picture why he
might have decided to spread a socially-debilitating rumor.
I am so dense sometimes. It hurts to remember these things… but it helps when I make it public, so…
Earlier that year, I got into a fight with my very own long-distance
girlfriend the day before Greg’s was going to visit, and I was scheduled
to hash it out over the phone with mine at a time when I
was absolutely not supposed to be in the dorm room. Greg had
said to Jason and I, with admirable directness, “Annie is coming to
visit. You need to be somewhere else from 5 to 7 p.m. next Wednesday.”
My life was clearly going to end, if my girlfriend and I didn’t solve
this thing that I can’t remember now… not even a little… and I forgot
Greg’s dictate. I walked into the dorm room
and interrupted them. But they were still in their clothes so,
in my tunnel vision on the way to the phone, I only thought. “Annie’s
here. They are napping.”
I waited in the room, out of sight, journaling about relationships, trying to let them sleep, and the call didn’t come.
After a while, Greg came around the divide in our room and growled at
me, “Don’t you have somewhere else to be?!” I finally realized what I
had just done to him, and all I pathetically squeaked out was “I’m
waiting for a phone call…”
“It’s a cordless phone. Go into the hallway.”
I took my cordless across the hall to the kitchen and waited. My
girlfriend didn’t call, and ten minutes later they told me to just come
back in. The damage was done.
That was the worst. I really did that. I tried to apologize but I
probably went and did some other stuff I didn’t know was weird or rude
on top of it. Thus, this masturbation rumor, though not a perfect fit,
was clearly Greg’s vengeance.
Fortunately (or not), this wasn’t the first time in my life that,
I’ve had someone tell an entire group of peers something awful and
untrue behind my back. These are some of the few times in my life where
being spacey and spastic has been a complete boon. You see, like I
said earlier, I am so normal, I keep forgetting to feel
like a pariah. And then I get excited about things and start talking…
Eventually people seem to forget or decide not to care.
I credit myself– I mean it is funny how I forget big awful things
like this mere days after they happen and wonder why people are looking
at me strange– but these situations probably would not have been
forgettable, if I wasn’t lucky enough to have had good friends who
treated me like I was fine and gave me no reason to remember otherwise.
“Oh.”, was the end of the discussion with Jason the day Greg left.
And also with the person who had told me about the gossip. I never
thought to bring it up to him again.
Then, two weeks later, as Jason and I sat quietly on opposite sides
of our room doing homework, Jason suddenly looked up and, with effort,
said to me “Dude, you’ve gotta stop masturbating.”
To which I exlaimed, “What is this?! Why do you think this?!”
Apparently, it wasn’t a complete fabrication. There were suspicious
sounds coming from the direction of my bed every single night.
I promised him emphatically that:
a. I don’t do it. (Which was a lie. I did. Who doesn’t? It’s great. But I was 18 and no one told me it was okay until I was 20.)
b. I would certainly do it more quietly, if I did.
c. If I couldn’t do it quietly, and I really had to, I would
absolutely find a private place, like the bathroom, to try and
accomplish my filthy deed.
Jason still didn’t seem convinced after I was like, ”Look. Me.
In. The. Eye. I am more respectful than that. I promise you. I would
tell you if I had a compulsive masturbation issue.” But there was
nothing more to say.
He told me he still heard sounds and got up once to inspect, but couldn’t hear anything once he approached my bed.
Was it a radiator? People from the floor below us? Our campus had
been written up in Haunted Heartland. It could have been ghosts. Jason,
in his masculinity, couldn’t really describe the sound to me. I
concluded that, if it was me, I was talking in my sleep a little.
And, second semester, Jason moved out. I and my girlfriend (who never
noticed any sounds when she visited) had a four person dorm room all to
ourselves. I was in heaven and told everyone about it.
Do you know why? BECAUSE I REALLY WAS MASTURBATING EVERY SINGLE
NIGHT!!! IT WAS AN IMMENSE PLAN TO GAIN A LARGE ROOM! AND IT
I assumed we were square and that Jason had out moved for the fun of
living with a friend. Years later, when I figured this whole thing
out and told Jason about it, I could tell that he had never really
believed me, so my happiness must have seemed weird to everyone else. I
wonder now if he ended up telling the person in charge of room
assignments exactly why he wanted to move. I wonder if he told the RA
and tried to get outside help, which is how he managed confront me
instead of also just disappearing.
I still haven’t processed this fully. I’m too spacey, too dense and too freaking normal.
Anyway. I recovered. It actually didn’t affect my social life in any
way that I noticed or cared about. I even made friends with some people
who, after a time, admitted they actively sought me out because they had
to know what an unstoppable masturbater was like.
Apparently everyone I knew in college was a heavy sleeper. After
three years of sleeping near friends, girlfriends and strangers, with no
further comment from anyone, I spent a few weeks sleeping two feet away
from a friend of mine and I eventually woke him up.
I was grinding my teeth.
I was also breathing sharply in with my jaw clenched.
It sounded a lot like maturbation.
Now I wear I mouth guard.