|Up: Stupid, and Toothpaste||[Related] «^» «T»|
Wednesday, October 2, 2002
By Paul Ford
“Oh man is she pissed,” he said.
I met my friend's husband for the second time - the first was at their wedding - at a bar, and he gave his wife a kiss, and then I asked, where's mine, and he gave me one with tongue, like this. To which I had to cock my head. It'd been a month since anyone had kissed me like that. And then I shrugged. Whatever, we're drunk.
Then we went back to their place and ordered Chinese. I was bragging about my life, which looked good to me, right then. He asked if I wanted to go to a big concert, and I said, “yeah, well,” and he said, “come on,” and I said, “the thing is,” and I said, “yeah, see,” and he said “what's your excuse?” and I said, “see, I have backstage passes to that, I know the guy who-” and he leapt on me and began to beat my head with his fists. We were all laughing.
Then he showed me his computer, a laptop running Linux, and we talked about window managers. His wife was ready to strangle us. “Where's the porn collection?” I asked.
“Oh,” he said. “Go into the tee-ee-em-pee slash goodstuff directory in my tilde and fire up crossover. I have a cron job at work that downloads the new stuff.”
“Wow,” I said, a little surprised. I had been joking. I followed his directions. “This is really something.” I fired up the video player. I said, “There's a lot of files here.” The sound of fake orgasm came through the tiny speakers in the laptop. A massive cock was being thrusted into the pink anus of a young woman, the video 200x200 pixels. Looking at the penis, I asked, “Does that thing have a spine?”
I looked over to his wife, whose eyes were shooting billion-watt ruby laser beams at her husband. She got up and went into the bathroom, slamming the door.
“Oh, God, shut that down. I fucked up,” he said.
“She didn't know about this?” I asked.
“No, she's-” The bathroom door opened and she came out, her cheeks puffed in anger. She stood a few inches from him. He looked up at her. She sprayed a huge mouthful of white toothpaste all over his face, shirt, and pants. He just nodded.
She turned from him and gave me a hug. “It was great you came out. Stay over,” she said. “It's late. We'll go get breakfast.” Then she went into the bedroom, another door closing hard.
I looked at him. There was white fluid on his hair and cheeks, on his chest and collar. “You never told her you had a porn collection?”
“No, she really thinks porn is, you know. Demeaning to women. I mean, it is. She's right.”
“Yeah, it is,” I said. I'd been thinking a lot about that lately. “So why did you just show me in front of her?”
“Because I'm really stupid.” He said it with a voice full of melancholy.
“No, but you were -”
“No, see, I'm just really stupid.”
“Yeah, but you -”
“I'm really stupid.”
I looked at him. He got up and went into the bathroom, staggering a little bit. We'd probably had 15 or 20 beers, bottles and pints, between us. He came out a few minutes later in a new shirt, the toothpaste mostly gone from his face, except for a dab on his cheek.
“She is an amazing woman. Oh man is she pissed.”
“She's great. I really like knowing her.”
“She's beautiful and brilliant and I love her.”
“You've got a lot of movies on that machine.”
It was quiet and late. We were both slouched in our chairs. “Erase them, right?” he said.
“You're sure? are-em minus are-eff?”
“Yeah. All of it.”
“Okay,” I said, and very carefully - carefully, because the rm -rf command should not be used when drunk; it's as dangerous as driving, and can destroy everything you love about your computer - I issued the statement. The hard drive made a noise, then was silent. “It's gone,” I said.
“You should stay over.” It was 3.
“No,” I said. “I want to go home.”
I thought about it, but my own bed seemed right after all this. He and I shook hands and I walked home, about 10 blocks.
I called the next day, and everything was calm. The real problem had been the secrecy of the collection; even though she didn't like pornography, the fact that he would suddenly spring a fairly sizeable porn-movie-clip in conversation infuriated her more than the collection of jack-off movies itself. “Oh, we're fine,” she said, and they were. “You should have stayed over.”
“It was pretty amazing, the big comeshot moment with the toothpaste. Sort of anti-porn cleanliness shot all over his face.”
“That connection didn't even occur to me, you know. I just was angry.”
This all happened months ago, and the toothpaste-spraying made it a funny story that I told to a few people, but what kept with me was the statement, “I'm just really stupid.” I couldn't get it out of my head. He didn't have a rationale. He didn't excuse his behavior. He wasn't looking to get out of the consequences. He just took it, right on the chin, and knew he'd have to put it right - not weasel out or explain it silver-tongued, but earn back some respect. I had to admire it, the willingness to face himself down, to admit what a piece of shit he could be, which is, I think, the sign of a worthwhile person.