The lure of a nightclub bouncer. The danger of a drug dealer. The beautiful face and broad shoulders. It was all too much for a 20-year-old girl to resist. I didn't so much throw myself at him, but show up at the club where he worked with such regularity that he was eventually obligated to ask my name out of politeness. After that it was, "Evening, Wendina." He never once carded me, which I took as a sign of mutual interest.
"Who's with?" I'd gesture at my group of friends, hoping he didn't find one of them attractive and learn their name.
After I celebrated my 21st birthday at the club, and was legit at last, he asked me out. In the first minute of the first date it became clear why he was single. He was beautiful, strange and dark, but he was probably the most boring human being I'd ever met. The strong, silent type is great when you see one in a movie and there are more animated people on screen to provide entertainment, but in person it's damned dull.
On what passed for dates he would entertain me by working his side job of repairing clock radios, and never spoke more than two words at a time. Half way through date one he hit me with a question to indicate he remembered I was there.
"What's this?" he asked, holding up a small glass tube with metal ends.
"That looks like a diode or something," I replied.
"Yes, I'm the son my father always wanted."
He rose an approving eyebrow, then went back to work. All I wanted to do was have sex, but there I was, hanging out in a repair shop. If I wanted that sort of evening I'd have dated my father.
Despite his numbing reticence, I fell madly in love with him. A challenge is a challenge, and instinctively I knew that if I went for someone accessible I'd either be locked into a relationship out of guilt or left by someone I actually respected. That he had no personality was assurance that he -probably- wasn't being pursued by too many other women, but it left me with very few clues about who he really was or what he was up to when I wasn't loitering in his shop.
A fierce cocaine addiction left him with a ruptured sinus and erectile dysfunction. In my youth and innocence I didn't know he used until he pulled a plate thick with powder out of a drawer and snorted it through his mouth.
"Nose," he said. "Can't."
When I was 14 I knew a girl a who'd had her nose rebuilt because of an addiction to nose spray. She eventually admitted she did nose spray to clear the way for cocaine. Seven years down the road I was still innocent of the powers of addiction. I could take or leave cocaine, even though he'd blow his leftover freebase smoke into my mouth in an effort to get me hooked. Possible loss of a body part? Unfathomable.
As for the erectile dysfunction, that was the other reason why I assumed women weren't knocking down his door. He spoke of it in a very matter-of-fact way, and said his pot habit was also to blame. He claimed he smoked pot to keep his sperm count down, as even a vasectomy couldn't even keep his swimmers corralled.
Thus, I became the sole subject of a little bit of VCR history. We did what couples began to do in the early '80s, and made a mid-'80s sex tape. It was of only me, doing "stuff", and he was never in the frame. Thankfully neither was my face, but it didn't go far in concealing my identity. As the stars always say, it wasn't supposed to go beyond our eyes. Such sentiments don't apply when one of the parties involved is on a drug that takes away common decency. He showed it to several of his friends one night when I wasn't there, and my first clue? His friends called, and all they said was, "I'd like to be next."
I didn't have the full scenario until I went to his house a few days later and there was a skinny, wired woman sitting on his couch. She introduced herself and told me she liked the video. When I stood there silent she realized I didn't know specifics about the movie night she'd attended. She said, "I'm so sorry. You didn't give him permission, did you? He also gave out your phone number."
She then took me on a tour of his home, showing me what was packed in all the boxes in his bedroom I never bothered to look in. They were filled with porn, a collection of bras, electronic parts and countless photos of what appeared to be women in various states of undress, completely unaware they were being photographed. His name was Thomas, so it stood to reason.
When the tour was complete, I drove right home and called a guy I'd met at work. He'd been asking me out for months. I accepted a date for that very night, and he and I were somewhat together for the next few months.
Thomas wasn't completely out of my life, but after that day I didn't look at him as a human, let alone a boyfriend. I used him for what sex he could deliver. He had no idea why I'd lost my reverence, and would do whatever he was capable of to keep me around.
I eventually found out he'd been dating dozens of other women while with me, most of them drug clients hoping for a freebee. One day he showed me the million dollar marijuana grow-op in a dugout under his basement. I realized right then that I'd been sitting on a powder keg, literally about to explode. He'd been siphoning electricity from various neighbors to grow his weed, trying his hand at making meth, selling blow to anyone who'd ask and putting everyone who set foot on his property at risk of felony arrest. He'd also knowingly risked giving me AIDS.
After about a year of ignoring his phone calls, he gave up and I barely gave him a second thought. Some months after his last call I ran into him on the street, and he grinningly asked me if I'd like to have children with him.
"I'm off the coke and my vasectomy is officially reversing itself, and the woman I'm with isn't healthy enough to have kids. You're the healthiest woman I've ever dated, so, um..."
He'd developed a pot belly when his appetite returned, and he looked jaundiced as though alcohol had become his new drug of choice. Much of his hair had fallen out, and he smelled like oily skin. It was odd to see him smile.
I said, "No, thanks, but thanks. Take care," and took the long way around the block back to my new apartment so his peeping eyes didn't know where to find me.