Sexual Paranoia Strikes Deep in the Heartland
Updated: Sep 2, 2022
But I’ve always kinda been partial to calling myself up on the phone and asking myself out, you know?
Oh yeah, you call yourself up too, huh? Yeah, well one thing about it: you’re always around.
Yeah I know. Yeah, you ask yourself out, you know, some class joint somewhere.
The Burrito King or something, you know. Well, I ain’t cheap, you know.
Take yourself out for a couple of drinks, maybe.
Then there’d be some provocative conversation on the way home.
Park in front of the house, you know.
Oh yeah, you smoothly put a little nice music on.
Maybe you put on like uh, you know, like shopping music,
something that’s not too interruptive, you know.
And then, uh, slide over real nice and say:
“Oh, I think you have something in your eye.”
Well, maybe it’s not that romantic with you.
But Christ, I don’t know; you know, I get into it, you know.
Take myself up to the porch, take myself inside or maybe, uh,
or may get a little something, a brandy snifter or something.
“Would you like to listen to some of my back records?
I got something here.”
Uh, well usually about 2:30 in the morning, you’ve ended up taking advantage of yourself.
There ain’t no way around that, you know.
Yeah, making a scene with a magazine, there ain’t no way around.
I’ll confess, you know, I’m no different, you know.
I’m not weird about it or anything; I don’t tie myself up first.
I just kinda spend a little time with myself.
— Tom Waits
I don’t really know how it started.
I mean, one minute I was decked out in my neocon bowtie and Eddie Bauer chinos, watching Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson eviscerate seat belt laws, the Thirteenth Amendment and the dirty, semi-literate, toilet-paper-eschewing monkeys whose votes must be suppressed to thwart the Great Replacement of hard-working Americans who happen to be white.
The next, I was Skyping myself in my underwear and complaining that my wife doesn’t understand me. The Zoom calls … you don’t want to know.
At first, I didn’t want to rebuke or rebuff myself too harshly because, after all, I was worried about whether I was maybe sending the wrong signals or undressed too provocatively. Was it me or was it me?
I’m ashamed to admit that I also felt a frisson of excitement that someone was finally taking an interest in me after all this time, even if it was little old moi.
Down with the goddamn patriarchy, I say. (Pretty sure it wasn’t Tucker.)
Anyway, as God is my witness, there was some part of me secretly proud of my carnal appeal — even as I took to social media to shame myself, now a survivor because, as we all know, the words “accuser” and “survivor” are synonymous.
And I believe survivors. The woman whose bum a cardinal touched. The lucky few retrieved starving, broken and barely alive from Auschwitz. Moral equivalence. One word fits all.
Attempting a reconciliation after this unfortunate bit of risky business, feeling perhaps it had all been in my head, I reluctantly agreed to take myself upstairs to see my etchings. The evening ended badly, however, when I bought some alcohol I forced myself to drink. I might even have slipped in some kind of powder when I wasn’t looking. I mean, who knows what evil lurks in the heart of me?
The Shadow knows.
After passing in and out of consciousness (when Shadow only knows what took place), I demanded to be taken home though, technically, I was already there. Instead, I insisted on driving myself to my house, where I already was, and woke up in my bed with my arms wrapped around me. I was on top of the covers, true, but what with the memory blackouts and the strewn boxes of Triscuits, the situation seemed awfully dodgy.
My underwear was on backwards, but that was inconclusive since it’s not wholly unknown for this to happen. Especially since I discovered Skype.
I said I groped me, then denied that I had ever made advances, and finally deflected the whole thing with a brisk hair-of-the-dog for breakfast.
I sent myself friendly texts back and forth for a few days, met myself over another round of drinks to discuss whether I should feel cocky or taken advantage of, and am now suffering regular bouts of PTSD. Especially when I pass a mirror or tell myself insensitive jokes.
(The one about the Dief and Gerda Munsinger is actually quite funny. Punchline: That’s not a sliver in your ass, the doctor finally tells her. It’s the whole damn cabinet!)
Naturally, given my enhanced sense of vulnerability to myself, who’s always there, I’m on extended medical leave. Sadly, there has been no resolution to the flurry of back-and-forth lawsuits that ensued.
After trying and failing to get a financial settlement from myself, I filed a Title IX suit against the university I attended 40 years ago. I’m demanding reimbursement of my tuition, bar bills and library fines, compensation for emotional distress, and damages for the soiling of one pair of Eddie Bauer chinos. (Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look another dry cleaner in the fly.)
I’m also suing myself, and the university, for gender discrimination (on the ground that I wasn’t allowed to present evidence disproving my allegations) and defamation (you’d best exercise caution in responding to this in the comment section; my list of defendants is evolving).
If I can interest some media outlets in my case, I intend to sue them for libel given that the sexual assault to which they will refer was in fact only fondling, which I will insist happened only in the plaintiff’s mind in the first place. Hah! That’s what I say.
Just checked my social-media Instagram/Twitter/Facebook/Plenty of Tsk campaign. So far, 187 sympathetic survivor believers (a.k.a. the usual suspectors) have already taped their mouths shut and are planning a sit-in outside my computer room to demand that I be terminated forthwith and that all applicable Skype policies be amended to ensure I never wear Stanfields again. At least not tighty whities (a.k.a. Tucker Carlson aficionados).
I apologize for any typos, spelling mistakes or solecisms (hmmm, kinda like the smouldering eroticism bound up, as it were, in that last word) in this cautionary tale (ed. you mean tail, shurely), but I dare not read this over for fear of triggering a flickering Klieg light flashback in the delicate hothouse flower of my psyche.
I am a child without agency, volition or independent desires, hence summarily entitled by all that is holy and just and good to protection from moustache-twirling Snidely Whiplashes like me.
I just wish the infantilized me could figure out in advance whether any sexual advances the Hannibal Lecter me might make toward myself in the future will be inappropriate or unwelcome. Or is it the other way around?
And how will I know until I try?