Nobody is all good or all bad. Vern (a pseudonym), the guy from my last post, is a great case in point. I mentioned that I worked with Vern when I was in college, a guy who might have very likely prevented me from being raped. I worked with Vern for about two years, from the time I was 19 until the day I turned 21. In fact, the last time I saw Vern was on my 21st birthday.
For most of the time I knew Vern he had a girlfriend, which was one of the reasons that we didn’t date. Vern was 24 and had a girlfriend who was 17, a high school student in the little town he was from. This should have been a big clue as to Vern’s maturity level, but I excuse myself with the thought that I was young. I met her once. She was a little on the plump side with long curly hair and mall bangs, the kind of bangs that required three cans of hairspray a day and made you feel like greeting her with, “Hang Ten, Mama.” She wore enough makeup for the entire cast of Dynasty.
They supposedly broke up and during that time Vern did take me out on a dinner date once. Dinner was a thank you because I typed a paper for him for a ridiculously low sum of money; it might have been $0. I don’t remember, but it is possible that I was either that kind or that pathetic. After the date he drove me home and kissed me on the cheek and mumbled something about me being like a sister to him and drove off.
Well, I knew I wasn’t like a sister to him. I have a brother, and he’s never once flirted with me or noticed my hair, my perfume or the way my ass looks in jeans. I promise you that never happened. So, that was a bold faced lie, and I didn’t know why he had lied, but I knew for certain that was the case.
Now to be clear about the nature of my relationship with Vern and all his guy friends, I was treated extra special carefully because everyone knew I was a virgin, a young Christian woman determined to save myself for marriage. As such, I was afforded an extra little layer of protection or reverence as a paragon of all that is good and holy. Vern made sure of that. They didn’t even cuss around me, unless you count the n-word, which was used liberally in my presence, in spite of my protests. The good old boy network had all grown up Southern Baptist, Bible thumping, NRA card-carrying clichés.
These guys weren’t particularly religious or God fearing. That was a cultural thing and not a spiritual thing. Vern himself admitted to me that he went to church camp every summer when he was in high school solely for the opportunity to have sex with girls in the woods.
You might wonder what we had in common to be friends. So, I’m thinking about that. Okay. I came up with something. We both thought Vern was ridiculously hot.
He was hands down the vainest man I’ve ever met. He could have been the subject of that Carly Simon song, except I think he was a little too young at the time it was written. He actually made peacocks look like they have self esteem issues. Yep. I hate to admit it. But that’s all that we had in common. We both thought Vern was hot.
This guy was not movie star handsome or anything; he was too short for that, for one thing. But he was rather good looking. We both were back then. We made for a cute uncouple. Everyone said so, and the chemistry was there. You either have the hots for someone or you don’t. Not much thought goes into it.
On my 21st birthday I had quit my job at the physical plant of State Mental Hospital University, where I worked with Vern, and interviewed for my first job in youth ministry. The interview itself was on my 21st birthday. It went well. I was supremely confident that I would get the position, and I did.
Vern was graduating the next day. I promised to drop by his place and let him know how the job interview went. He told me he had something for me.
Two really weird things happened the minute I came in the door. First, Vern had gone to the trouble of purchasing me a birthday card. This was suspect. He was not a Hallmark moment kind of guy. The second weird thing that happened is that every roommate cleared the apartment very quickly. Also highly suspect.
After providing me with the birthday card he quickly provided me with my birthday present. This was a kiss on the lips from Vern himself. The arrogance with which he declared his smooch to be a gift that was bestowed upon me actually made me laugh, but he was a little too stupid and full of himself to notice. If anything I’m sure he mistook my laughter for genuine happiness.
The kiss evolved into a neck rub and then he wanted me to give him a backrub in his bedroom. When I was in college everyone was always rubbing on everyone else; the hormone levels were so high that you took full advantage of any opportunity to touch someone of the opposite sex. The backrub thing was nothing new. We’d done it before, just not alone or on his bed.
But I’m not stupid. This was a poorly planned “seduction.” And I was supposed to be so grateful for his attention that I’d roll over and give it up. Like I said, I’m not stupid, but I did think he was hot and he was a pretty good kisser so I thought there really couldn’t be any harm in playing along for a little while, except that I insisted that as the birthday girl I was getting the backrub first.
Well, you know the backrub thing didn’t last long, but it didn’t progress far enough for any of my clothing to have been removed, when there’s a knock on the door. So, Vern gets up to answer it. No one is there.
“Goddamit!” he said, and then he used a term that I find so offensive that I won’t repeat it, but it rhymes with wiggerblocker.
I knew there was no point in correcting him so I didn’t bother. He came back to bed, and we picked up where we left off, which was really not any further than first base. All of maybe five minutes have gone by. Someone knocks on the door. He goes to the door. Again, no one is there.
I took this as my cue to leave, so I got up off the bed and grabbed my birthday card and my purse. I told him I was leaving, and he blocked my way by standing in front of the door. He asked me if I was really sure that I wanted to leave. The sudden interest in getting into my pants was rather like the scene of a wartime romance; I guess I was supposed to be impressed with the urgency to do it before he graduated and left. He kissed me again. I told him that I was sure I wanted to leave. I should have told him that I couldn’t have sex with someone who was like a brother to me.
The next day Vern went through with the graduation ceremony but actually lacked three credit hours from graduating. As far as I know he never made them up. I guess a degree wasn’t really necessary to become the assistant manager of a small town Wal-Mart.
The girlfriend that he was supposedly broken up with was actually his current girlfriend, was carrying his child and was expecting to get married any day. I think she was expecting to get married because they were actually engaged. They really had broken up for a bit; he just never bothered to tell me that they got back together.
I also found out that not only was Vern boinking his downstairs neighbor but he was also screwing an African American woman who worked in the school bursar’s office. That was really the icing on the cake for me, not that he had interracial relations; I didn’t give a shit about that. What was wrong with it was that I’d never knowingly met someone who was so prejudiced against black people in my life. I knew the special kind of contempt that he must have had for her, but he didn’t have any problem with using her for sex.
I never did find out who was knocking on the door. I suspected that it was one of the roommates I’d dated, but neither one of them would admit to it. It could have been one of the roommates or the woman from downstairs or one of her kids; Vern was fond of playing with them. Whoever it was probably knew that I was inside.
The last revelation I found out about Vern was that he’d had the nerve to bet money that I would give him my virginity. I think it was $50, if I remember correctly, which even if you adjust for inflation, seems like a pretty cheap price for premium cherry. If you think about it it would have made a pretty good return on his original investment of a Hallmark birthday card. It’s a real shame that didn’t work out for him.