Collusion: secret agreement or cooperation especially for an illegal or deceitful purpose
(Yes, this is a repost from October, but the subject matter has come up in recent conversations and it made me want to post this again because it reminds me to be always aware of what’s going on and it still makes me wonder about them)
For much of my life, I’ve had male friends. For some reason, I tend to gravitate towards guys; I connect with them and feel very comfortable just ‘hanging out’. I think I’ve mentioned in a previous post that most of my friends are guys but my closest friends (except for Scott) are women. For the most part, I’ve always felt safe with a group of guys – never threatened except for on one occasion.
I want to write about that experience, not because of any need for catharsis or to invite any kind of pity – but more because I’m curious about the sequence of events and what they meant and if they are even thought about by any of the people involved except myself.
During my senior year, I developed a crush on a guy that I’d met at a club – he went to another high school in my town as did several of his friends. I used to go to this guy’s house (I’ll call him “Jon”) and hang out – typically there were other people there; sometimes not. Jon’s parents both worked so there was never any adult supervision – but we were 17, and it wasn’t a big deal. Unfortunately, he was not interested in me in the same manner so we just remained friends (to my frustration).
One day I went over to Jon’s after school. Along with me, there were two other guys there – I knew them casually – we all hung out at the same club on the weekends but that’s about the extent of it. I didn’t know them well enough to initiate conversation if they weren’t hanging around the same people I was hanging around with, if you know what I mean. They seemed like they were OK, they were not the macho type at all. They listened to The Cure & The Smiths, for god’s sake – they seemed so harmless. It’s amazing how 30 seconds can change your whole life sometimes.
So for some reason or another, me and the other two guys (I’ll call them “Bill” – they both had the same first name) were sitting on the floor in Jon’s room and Jon was elsewhere in the house. There was nothing outstanding about the conversation, I wasn’t flirting with either of them, there was no sexual innuendo going on, I felt no sexual tension, no one was drinking – nothing like that. I went to get up to get some water and all of a sudden, the next thing I know is that the Bills have given each other a “look” and one Bill has pushed me to the floor with one hand and is starting to pull on his belt with his other hand. Simultaneously, the other Bill is closing and locking Jon’s bedroom door. It took me two seconds to realize what was happening before I started to scream. Jon came running to the room and started pound on the door. Door-closing-Bill opened it for Jon and the other Bill continued pulling at his belt and trying to keep me down and force my knees apart. Jon started yelling at him to get off me and I think it took a second for the Bills to realize that Jon was not going to allow this to happen. The Bill on me quickly lets me go and stands up and at that point I got myself up, ran out of the room, grabbed my bag and got out of that house. I never went back – Jon never said another word about it at the club when I saw him and I avoided the Bills.
Obviously, that experience shook me up- I completely lost control of the situation in mere seconds in a place where I thought I would have been safe. For a while afterwards, I felt shame and confusion. But what I find to be completely baffling are sequence of events. For years I thought it was just spontaneous, until I really thought about it. In retrospect, it seemed so ‘planned’. It happened so fast, and the look they exchanged so ‘knowing’, and it was so well-timed. So what did this mean? Is this something they thought up together in the past? Is it something they were thinking they could do to any girl in that kind of situation? Had they done it before? Is it something they were going to do specifically to me? But how could they know we’d be in a room together? Or was it just ‘well-timed’ group behavior? All those scenarios are disturbing on so many levels. The most disturbing scenario to me is the idea of a general kind of gang rape if the circumstances are right – happening to any unsuspecting girl.
So here’s the kicker. A couple years later I hear that belt-pulling-Bill has given away all his music and gotten religion. From what I heard, he started off as spiritual/new-age then a few years later he became ‘born again’. I can’t help but wonder if his foray into attempted rape had anything to do with that conversion.
During his spiritual/new age ‘awakening’ I was working as a baker in a trendy breakfast restaurant and one of the other bakers happened to know both Bills. She would talk about how great they both were – and especially how ‘spiritual’ belt-pulling-Bill was; it was obvious she admired him. I can’t even describe my utter contempt for both of those guys and to listen to her go on and on about how ‘in touch’ belt-pulling- Bill was more than I could stomach. Anyway, I eventually reached my tipping point with hearing about them and the whole story just spewed out of my mouth – in front of all the people working in bakery and prep area. That’s not so surprising – restaurant people tend to disclose a lot of personal information. But I was shocked at all the anger, hurt, and fear I had locked up inside that just literally flew out of my mouth. I think I rendered her dumbstruck.
So I wonder if the Bills ever think of that incident. Is it just a bleep in their memory banks? Did it affect their lives? How they saw themselves? What kind of people they were? I have to say it affected my life. Not as tragically as if the whole scene had played itself out – but enough to make me feel vulnerable and combined with some other scary experiences, I insulated myself with ‘fat’ for years and felt that any guy that liked me must have something wrong with them. I’m not that same person anymore. But I just want to know – do they realize that 25 years later it is still a memory I can’t quite shake?