In the early 90s, I was at a big party some of my college buddies were throwing, & I pulled a girlfriend out of a car. I hadn’t seen her since graduation, & after a brief reunion at the party, I’d seen her disappear with a guy I knew was bad news. Some stupid sixth sense told me to go rescue her, so I went outside & yanked her drunk ass out of his car & told him to get lost. I told her the party was over for her & I was going to drive her home.
That wasn’t the moment I saved her life though. Ron was a total choad (pretty, witty, & smart… & a big fat misogynist womanizer), but not dangerous.
At the prospect of being taken home, she broke into tears & the whole sordid tale of her life since I’d last seen her spilled out – abusive drug dealer boyfriend who forced a pipe into her face & raped her with beer bottles, desertion by her family, no job, no home. So I took her home with me, to the UH dorms. I was in the apartments, so we had a couch.
She was on a lot of drugs. The next day I called her mother, who reminded me that they had kicked her out of their house. I asked if she could go home just to sleep, & that I would pick her up in the morning & drop her off at night. I will never forget what her mother said: “We’ve washed our hands of ___. And if you’re smart, you will, too.” And so she stayed with me.
She didn’t sleep more than a few hours a night, even off drugs. When she woke up, there would be dried mucus all over her face. She was 5’3″ & 70 lbs & didn’t even know what was going on half the time. I almost failed all my courses that semester. We’d get up & watch the sun rise at the rocky seaside in Portlock, & all we talked about was what she envisioned for herself & her future, what she wanted from life. I wanted her to have dreams & I wanted her to see how beautiful the world right here, right in front of us, was, & to think about something other than drugs. She came to my part-time job with me, & she stayed in my dorm the few times I made it to class, & at night we went to warehouse dance clubs & I hoped she’d dance some of that frenetic energy off, but she never did.
She drove me nuts over the next few months, & it took all my meager earnings & all my time, but she got clean. We went to her widowed rich grandmother to beg for money for UH summer school tuition; her grandmother wrote the check out to me, not trusting her own granddaughter. She went back to school, got accepted back by her family, got into a sorority, & I faded out of her life because I could see I didn’t really fit there any more.
Years later, she needed me again. And then again. And each time, she used me, lied about things, & the final time, she tried to destroy everyone around her, including me. She had Borderline Personality Disorder – the kind that craves chaos, & isn’t happy unless she’s destroying someone, playing people like puppets. If everything was peaceful, she’d weave some kind of web of lies to get people feuding with each other. I could write a book of her exploits & perhaps that would be a great topic for another post, but let me just say… she turned out to be one of those people who the world is probably better without. Last I heard she was active in politics & the leader of a charity organization, which is probably the perfect position for her, but I will personally forever carry the burden of guilt that I nurtured someone -some thing– like her.
I should have left her to whatever was in store for her. So much less damage she could have done if she was some crackwhore on the street.
I knew this bass player back around the same time. Good-looking, funny. My age but younger. I had sex with him once, sort of just to see what he’d be like, but I was a female version of Ron back then. He got kicked out of his house because the fact that his father wasn’t actually his father came out. I remember the crazy look of tragedy on his face. We drank beers, he ranted. We were pretty good friends. He never had a shortage of girlfriends. We dropped out of touch at some point.
Years later we got back in touch; I misremember how. He had a kanemochi, a rich Japanese girlfriend who paid for everything. He worked in a bar. He’d call me at 3 in the morning to talk; sometimes I could tell he was high as a kite. Sometimes he would say horrible things to his girlfriend with me on the phone. Sometimes he would cry. Always, he’d bring up the good old days & what good friends we used to be. He’d tell me I was his only friend now.
He never told me, but someone who knew his family told me he’d been abused as a child. I guess his father had known what he didn’t. When he was as young as 4 or 5, his father & mother would tie him to the bed & beat him. They would sometimes leave him like that for hours. He grew up hated by his own parents in their shitty little apartment. I never knew; he’d never told me. I’d never known there was even any difficulty at home until the night he got kicked out.
I couldn’t take the drunken calls at 3am; I had a day job then. I didn’t know about his childhood. I stopped answering. The phone would ring & ring & ring. I didn’t answer. He stopped calling.
I heard he moved to the mainland. I heard he put his girlfriend in the hospital. I heard he jumped from a bridge.
I have his bass; I bought it from him back before I even knew how to play a guitar. It’s an Aria Pro II. It’s right there in my hallway. Maybe I should put new strings on it, but I can’t bring myself to open the case. I haven’t opened that case in over a decade. I haven’t thought about him in several years.
There’s no point being made here. Just 2 stories for you guys; someone I saved & someone I didn’t. Someone I was a good friend to, & someone I failed. I don’t know what made me think about them today.