Thoughts by Richard Bleil
My demons have been loud in my head of late. My (now former) therapist would admonish me for calling them demons, preferring the term “teachers”, but I don’t know that they’re still teaching me anything. Her advice to me would be to figure out what they are trying to tell me, take the message and simply “release them”.
Mostly the demons are of old lost loves, although family voices have been loud as well. I keep thinking about Suzi. She was so adorable, very sexy, and very sweet from my days in college. She worked at a fast-food joint across the street from my dorm, and I was an “escort”. Now, not that kind of escort. Women (although technically anybody) who had to walk across campus at night who felt uncomfortable could call the dorm escort service, and someone like me (usually just me since the other volunteers actually had lives) would go to find the caller and walk her safely to her destination. At least, hopefully safely.
I had a few “regulars”. The women would call the service, and they would give a phone number to her, but there was no way to tell the desk if you were “on duty” or out. If there was no answer, or if the escort wasn’t there or willing to take the job, the women would call back to the front desk for another number. Usually, I was the third number they would give, since they knew I was always there and started feeling bad for these women on the third call. On Friday and Saturday nights, I was very busy indeed. Eventually, some of these women would simply stop calling the front desk, and call me directly instead. Suzi was one of them.
She worked on Thursdays, and it became a weekly routine for us. I was a year or two ahead of her, and she was a freshman. She was always dressed in the uniform of the burger joint, smelled of fries and needed a walk back to her dorm, but she was always very attractive even at the end of a very long shift. I kind of started looking forward to our walks.
One Thursday I was studying for a rather difficult organic chemistry exam the next day. I wasn’t doing well in the course, so it was an exam I was rather worried about when the anticipated call came. Usually, the conversation was brief. I would say hello, she would say hi, I would ask “are you ready” and she would say yes. This day the call was no different, but the escort was.
Putting on my shoes, heading downstairs, crossing the street I went into the restaurant, but instead of the usual drab outfit, she was dressed to kill. Her hair was done, she had a very cute outfit on, her makeup was on (she really didn’t need it); she went all out. I was surprised and asked if she was ready to go to her dorm, when she said “no”.
What she wanted was a date. It didn’t take me long to ascertain that much, but what, exactly, she wanted to do I couldn’t figure out. Now, it’s really not fair to ambush a guy like that. I had no car, so we were stuck on campus or within walking distance, and there really isn’t much you can do. There were bars, but I didn’t (and still don’t) drink, and she was underage. I asked if she wanted to get a bite to eat (although I was very poor), but she said she had already eaten. There were no movie theaters, and there really wasn’t much else. Unfortunately, that night, I also had the impending exam on my mind which didn’t help matters. I ended up taking her back to her dorm and leaving her there (it was a women’s dorm, so I wasn’t allowed in anyway). I could tell she was disappointed, as I am to this very day, but I honestly didn’t know what else we could do. She never called me again, and although I wanted to call her, I didn’t.
She really caught me off guard. I wasn’t dating at the time, and I really did want to go out with her, but I had no time to really plan anything. But more than the surprise date, I think I was surprised that she would be interested in me in the first place. I had spent my entire childhood being told no woman would ever really be interested in me, and a high school career being largely ignored and having that lesson from home reinforced. Because of the “jokes” at home, my confidence was nonexistent, and I never had the confidence to really talk with women, let alone ask them out. Suddenly, here’s the simply stunning young woman trying so hard to get me to notice her (which, believe me, I had already noticed), and I was so awkward that I couldn’t figure out what to do with it.
It’s not the only time. I think back on the opportunities I had and lost because of my fractured self-esteem, women I wish I had had the nerve to talk with and ask out, women who did show interest in me, but I pushed away because I couldn’t believe they were actually interested in me. We really have to be careful with children. They are like sponges, absorbing lessons that they will carry with them for their entire life. Today, of course, I have the added problem that I missed that age where hormone-ridden young people are running around looking for that someone to be with, as Suzi looked for me, but I’m still that same fractured uncertain kid with a cat as my only companion. I’m guessing I’ll never get past this trauma, and if I do it’s too late anyway. Be careful with your kids. “Jokes” can hurt.