Two Strikes, You’re Out
It had been a few weeks and things were going well with Cliff and I. It was a new beginning. He was everything I remembered; open-hearted, sweet, funny and he even embraced my love of Sex and the City.
Too good to be true, right?
One day while at work, I received a distraught call from him. It seemed his roommate/best friend/”fag hag” and he had a huge fight about me. She never did approve of me. Did I mention this is his “fag hag?” They never want their gay bestie to be with anyone else but them.
Apparently, though, she got physical with him. He was fearful and exhausted from fighting with her, so he asked if he could stay with me until things cooled off. Obviously, I wanted him out of that situation but this didn’t sound like a good idea for “us.” He sensed my hesitation and threw in, “I love you.” Bastard. That “L” word always has a way of disarming you.
“Alright,” I replied with a hitch in my voice.
“So, I’ll meet you at your place around 6-ish?”
I could already smell the impending doom. Later that night, when I arrived home, I saw him in a car with another friend. They stepped out and asked me if I was ready to move his stuff in. Stuff?!
“Excuse me?” I asked.
They began unloading boxes and bags. I don’t think this is going to be as temporary as I thought. Nevertheless, I loved the man and I was going to do whatever he needed. Why was I complaining? Most women and gay men would kill to get their boyfriend to take that next step into a serious relationship. So what if we skipped a few?
What was supposed to have been a “temporary layover” turned into a “stay,” as days turned into weeks. I didn’t want him to feel as if we had taken that next step in our relationship, so I didn’t change my routine. I often went out clubbing with my good friend, Matt, while he sat around the house and talked on the phone.
On the nights when Matt was too lit too drive, I never felt it a problem having him spend the night. Cliff didn’t seem to have any qualms. They got along well enough. A little too much, as I soon learned.
On that fateful night, Matt and I were at the last stop of our bar crawl. Needless to say, I was pretty tipsy.
“Do you have Cliff’s number?” Matt asked out of the blue.
“Sure,” I said, not thinking too much about it as I dug for my cell in my pocket. Then the oddity of the question hit me. “Why do you need his number?”
Apparently he wasn’t expecting a query. “Um, he told me to call him but I forgot to get his number.”
Not buying it, I gave him my ‘You’re full of shit’ look.
“Ok, Erik,” he opened, reaching for my hand. “You’re my best friend and I need you to know something…” This is NEVER a good preface. I braced myself. “The other day when you went to work after I spent the night, Cliff and I fucked.” Let me tell ya, that really sobers you up quick. No matter how much you try to brace yourself, you’re never prepared to hear your best friend say that. My eyes widened. “Erik, I’m sorry, but I did it for you.”
“I was sick of hearing you say how perfect he was and how much you loved each other, so I wanted to see what would happen if I made a move on him,” he weakly defended. I was silent.
“I’m sorry,” he whimpered.
It felt like my stomach dropped and my hands began to shake with rage.
“Walk away,” I warned. “Walk away now.”
Matt stood up and walked out to the front steps of the club. At the same moment, a hand reached for my shoulder.
“I don’t mean to intrude,” a tall, striking, Latin American man, with shaggy black hair said politely. “But I couldn’t help but overhear your argument with your friend.” I was distracted, watching Matt through the window out on the street, on his cell phone. “And if it’s any consolation, you deserve better than that. You’re a very attractive man and anyone who would cheat on you is an idiot.”
Exactly what I needed, compliments from a gorgeous man. Unfortunately, I couldn’t enjoy them fully. There was still the unfinished business at hand.
“Thank you,” I said graciously. “But if you’ll excuse me, I need to make a call.”
“Sure, Sure,” he responded. “Give me a call sometime.”
He handed me a business card. I smiled, nodded, and then turned to dial Cliff’s cell. Oddly, when it began to ring, I could hear that he was on the other line, by the extra beep. I pondered who he could be talking to at 3:30 in the morning. Then, it hit me. I ended my call and walked out of the bar and followed Matt’s voice. I crept up behind him.
“I told him,” Matt informed into his cell. “Don’t pick up the other line.”
He turned around to see me. I just shook my head in anger and disbelief and walked back into the bar. As I entered, I saw Matt run for his car, get in and take off, ditching me. Aw, hell no! I knew exactly where he was going. I ran back out, hailed a cab and was able to use one of those “movie-lines-you-wish-you-could-use-in-real-life-but-never-had-the-opportunity.”
“Follow that car,” I barked. After a short drive, I saw Matt park in front of my building. That’s it! “Stop the cab, please.” I paid and jumped out, running toward Matt who was walking nonchalantly through my courtyard.
“You are NOT here right now!” I yelled at the top my lungs, shocked at his audacity. “You are not here right now!”
Matt jumped, not expecting me and began to run to his car. I grabbed his bony arm, threw him against the brick wall of my building and lifted him up by his throat with one hand. I was dizzy and shaking with rage. When I realized what I was doing, I released him, breathed and looked away so I wouldn’t see his face. “Get out of here now,” I warned. He didn’t hesitate.
As Matt drove away, I ran into my building and up the stairs. I burst into my apartment, where Cliff was packing.
“Yeah, you better be packing your shit,” I shouted.
“Don’t worry. I’m out of here; after what Matt told me you’ve been doing,” he boasted, throwing clothes into a box.
“What Matt told you I did?”
“Yeah, you’ve got a good friend there. He told me you’ve been hooking up with guys every time you went out.”
“Oh, ok,” I patronized. “You and I both know that’s a lie. I think the only reason you’re packing is because you know you’re busted and you knew I was going to throw you out anyway.”
“Ok, Erik, think what you want,” he insisted, placing a box in the hallway of the building. He returned to grab some bags as he headed back towards the door.
“You can keep that stuff,” he said, pointing to a box of miscellaneous clothes and dishes. “They can be replaced.”
“I’m sure,” I said smugly. “As easily as you replaced me, huh?”
He walked back into the hallway with his things. Still flustered, still hurt and not knowing what to say, the only thing that verbalized was, “Piece of shit!” I slammed the door in his face.
It wasn’t insightful but I definitely had closure. I followed my head on two of my basic principles. One: I always give people two strikes. Who has time for three? He blew it. Besides, screw me once, shame on you. Screw me twice, shame on me. Two: If anyone ever cheats on me, I only have one thing to say…”Goodbye.” Why try to talk about it afterwards? They obviously didn’t respect me or the relationship enough to talk about it when they were thinking about doing it or having doubts about the relationship, so why bother now? I deserve better.
Erik Fact: “I fell and fell until I hit bottom, the hard and rocky bottom of the pit of rejection. There I languished for an appropriate period of time, then picked myself up, dusted myself off and rushed headlong to the flame again. I never stopped, virtually addicted the state of infatuation, that breathless tumble through nothing-else-exists euphoria. My capacity for pain was equaled only by my capacity for bliss.” – Marion Winik
- Screwing to the Beat of His Own Drum (firedownbelowonline.com)