Oscar Wilde ‘ Oh darling sugar honey, when it was nice and sunny, and when we had some money, we would go and see Echo and the Bunny…..men’
July 20, 2019
(Read at your own discretion. This is about sexual assault.)
When I was young, I connected to Sinead O’Connor easily because she was one who pushed boundaries and I liked to do that too. Remember when she ripped up the Pope’s picture on SNL decade’s before we all found out about the priests and even the nuns who were sexual abusing the children? I liked her bald head and her big eyes and given the peculiar way she looked, you weren’t quite sure if she were a boy or a girl.
She had the voice of an angel that could suddenly turn on you in a fit of anger. Sinead O’Connor was also a mouthpiece for me, just like for many girls my age in the 80’s who had been done wrong by someone once trusted. She seemed empowered, even after something bad had happened to her. At least that was the message she impressed upon me in the videos she made.
Me, on the other hand, could never do that; Speak my truth. Maybe I had the words, but I did not have the power to say something, even if I was brought back face-to-face with that person by some cruel coincidence. It was easier for me to deal with a wrongdoing if it came from a bank teller or a cashier then it did from a peer, especially if that someone happened to be male.
Then, one day I was offered a chance to do things in a different way.
I was forced to move to Houston after I graduated from high school, even though I was not ready. My mother actually told me she could not take care of me anymore. It’s not like she ever really did, but for me, the known, as horrible as it was, was not the unknown, and that caused an intense black hole fury in the pit of my stomach. I wanted her to be a mother like the one my friends had, but it rarely happened. Her alcoholism was at it’s high point by then.
It was hard to shake the resentment that I had to leave my home, especially when this was not the first time she sent me away. There was never a discussion about possible alternatives. That always pissed me off, because obviously, there were many.
As much as I would have liked to disagree with her then, I knew she was probably right, but I still felt she was abandoning me again when I still needed her. Looking back, I had a lot of resistance to certain milestones my peers had no problem fulfilling, like getting a drivers license. I didn’t get mine until that summer of graduation and I had turned 18 in January!
Both of my brothers, Nate and Evan lived in Houston. They extended an invitation for me to go down there and start a new life with them. I understood fully well, the three were conspiring against me. I left begrudgingly into the unknown. Nate and I would soon become roommates.
I plodded along, taking steps towards adulthood. I had a short stint working at a vanpool company for Chrysler. One of my friend’s father pulled the strings back in MI for me to get the job as a van pool coordinator. One morning, feeling groggy, I answered the phone and said, “Van Poo Services.” I knew I had royally fucked up once I had said it.
There was a long silence on the other end. Suddenly a serious, deep voice asked who I was. Then, “I could have your job!” the voice bellowed out. With my luck, I thought it was my friend’s dad, or worse, a head honcho at Chrysler. My heart sank to the floor.
I answered back in a tiny, weak voice. Tears began to well up. Then, I heard Nate burst out in laughter, “It’s me, Amelie. Van Poo Services. Can I help you?” he said in a winy voice. “You are so lucky that it was me.” I wanted to throttle him. Nate had a passion to tease me any chance he could get. I never heard the end of that one.
Not long after, I got a secretarial job at a fancy venture capital firm and was taking college courses at night. It wasn’t exactly my vision of going to college, but my parents didn’t save for my tuition, so my options were limited.
The people in Houston were friendly, but the flying cockroaches and the humidity cancelled out the friendly Texans. This was the first time in my life that I did not have any friends. I tried to make the best of it. What choice did I really have?
Nate and I listened to OMD, Erasure, Yaz while we drank, and got dressed to go out to the bars to have fun and dance. On Thursday nights, the under 21 crowd could get in to this one bar called Numbers, but I had an ID that I found back in Michigan. With my baby face, convincing the doorman I was 22, was a stretch, but I always got in, which meant I could take advantage of the drink specials. Compared to the protected town where I grew up, this particular bar was a rebels dream. My daytime secretarial job required that I wear the standard conservative uniform: skirts, dresses, or blouses with the silly ties around the neck. My brothers, both of them actually, must have felt similar as I did, since they were accountants at the big oil companies and had to wear a conservative uniform too.
I loved to prowl dark, moody clubs, dance, savor my drinks, as I took on my role as the silent observer. The weirder the music and the people, the better. This was the way I self-expressed; or I lived vicariously through the people I passed who wore leather jackets, sky high hair and makeup to boot. It did not mater if you were a girl, a Queen, or a man. Make up was theatrical, part of the costume. Male and female traits were blurred. It was easy to disappear into the crowd. My brother Nate and I would bump into each other periodically, check in and give a time when one of was ready to leave.
One night, I met this guy who said he knew of a party we could go to “after hours.” We had only been dancing a short while. Maybe he would be my connection to friends that I knew I sorely needed. I told Nate what I wanted to do once I found him sitting on the wooden bleachers in the back.
Last call was announced on the speakers and the lights turned on slightly. People downed their drinks. Some headed for the door. Others went to the bar to order their last drink. The lights turned low suddenly, then darker. The music and video shown on the huge screen of Siouxsie and the Banshees began to play. The remaining people who wanted to, moved towards the dance floor.
Meanwhile, I awaited for my brother’s response. Nate looked at me with furled brow and then at the tall skinny guy with the black spiky hair, white skin and puffy red lips standing next to me. I knew Nate wasn’t buying any of of it. My brother pulled me to the side and asked me sternly, “Amelie, do you know this guy? Are you sure you’re going to be okay?”
I was so desperate for a connection to peers, that I assured Nate he was harmless and that I knew him from school.
I left the club with the stranger, Hagen (He looked like the singer from Echo and the Bunnymen) and we walked down the dark street toward the back parking lot. We waited next to the black SAAB one of his friends owned. Once they arrived, Hagen and I squeezed into the backseat. The friend who sat in the passenger seat up front, also dictated the directions to the “party,” which was really at his grandmother’s home, who just happened to be out of town.
When we got there, there was no real gathering. It was just these boys and me. We drank beer in the kitchen and talked, I believe. I got the impression that there would be no real new people coming to meet soon either.
Hagen soon gave me a certain look, like he was bored or something. He took my hand. I held it. I noticed it was big. My hand disappeared in his. He had long skinny piano fingers. I could not figure out if I liked him, or not. I was not sure what he thought of me. I was not very good at reading guys.
I was led away from his friends in the kitchen and out to the hallway. They did not bat an eye and kept on talking. Hagen and I stood at the foot of the stairs and he said, “Wanna go up?” I was feeling tired; suddenly groggy. We walked up the stairs. My legs lost energy and my balance was off. I leaned onto the handrail and began to laugh. I felt out of it; suddenly drunk. He pulled me to a standing position. I held the handrail with one hand and he walked me up the rest of the way. There was a bedroom near the right of the staircase.
I just wanted to sleep.
We walked into the bedroom and he tossed my purse on the ground. His friendly demeanor had changed. Hagen pushed me on the bed and he fell on top of me heavily, like logs. I thought he was kidding; horsing around. But, he wasn’t. I noticed his face was flushed; pensive and his lips pursed together, flattening his top lip like a line on paper.
I felt his hard dick poke at my stomach and then further down his great poker went. His breathing became heavy, labored, while his fingers begin fiddling quickly with my pant buttons and zipper. The next thing I knew, my pants and underwear were off and so were his.
He began jamming his dick all around, because he could not find his way in.
Suddenly, he’s inside of me. I winced in pain and let out a cry. He doesn’t care. Hagen doesn’t stop. His body is smacking against mine. I shut my eyes. I don’t want go be doing this. I want to fucking die. My body is no longer resisting. I just let him do what ever he wants to me. I just lied there; I couldn’t move. No words came out either.
I moved through experiences of nodding off to a wakeful state.
My eyes widen suddenly, when I hear his friends say something near the bedroom doorway. I turned, look toward them. The door’s partly open and I can see the the two friends laughing their asses off. I feel vulnerable as hell and am embarrassed to be seen in this way. I can hear a smack of hands coming together. I realize they had just given each other a high-five.
Then it’s their turn. That’s were my mind weaves in and out of consciousness. If only it were a dream.
I was only nineteen.
Hagen drove me home. I did not have the words to describe what had happened earlier that morning. I think I was stunned. And, plenty confused. The rapist made small talk with me instead. I stared straight ahead and would not look at him.
His questions were relentless. “Where did I live? Did I like it in Texas? Was I going to school? Where?” We were shooting bullshit like this back and forth with each other, but really it was him sending those questions to me.
When we arrived in the parking lot at my apartment that I lived with my brother, Nate, Hagen had the audacity to ask for my phone number. I had the audacity to give it to him. He promised he would call me. He never did.
I never told Nate what really happened that night. I wish I had been truthful and listened instead. I did not want him to be angry with me, treat me differently, or to appear weak. My brother and I returned to that bar again and again. Who would have thought I would want to?
I was sad and angry about what happened that night. I believe I was given a roofy in my drink. This experience sent me a thousand steps backwards. I was forever changed. The gang rape was a huge deception. It really fucked up my head. I listed to The Smiths a lot after work in my bedroom. He had a way with his words that seemed softer, more feminine, empathetic for a man. That was partly my therapy. I never made a report, or told anybody. I just wanted it out it out of my mind. But, there is the mind/body connection. Isn’t there? That can not possibly happen.
“What She Said” was my song.
One night I saw Hagen dancing in that bar from afar. I just ignored him. I’m not sure if he saw me.
The secret about what happened to me that night and not talking about it manifested into hair pulling, or Trichotillomania. I pulled out my eyebrows and eyelashes, which in my mind, was a way I could destroy my beauty. I subconsciously never wanted to ever be attractive to another man again.
“When did the light die?” Well, it was partly that night.
I can’t really imagine who I would be now, had I stayed in Michigan and had never left home. Would I be into healthy eating? Run marathons? Try to be the best damn mom ever? It’s weird how one set of decisions, even if they are not entirely yours, or a decision that you believe is the best, are not really the best one’s, Ultimately, the resisted path, at least in my case, was the path that made me stronger in the end, even if some of those experiences almost killed me.
Here is a blog post about hair pulling.
(To be continued)