(Please note this is creative non fiction. Some liberties have been taken with names and dialogue. Some events have been conflated, but basically most of this is true.)
Sean always called me trouble. He met me shortly before I started dating Eric, and he started dating Jenny. He was part of the whole afternoon hang out crowd: Patrick, Drew, Mark, Good Eammon, Bad Eammon, and Mike. I met Sean first of all them. He looked like he was about fourteen years old. One of those Irish American boys from Brooklyn who managed to somehow discover the key to youth. He had the typical Irish looks, pale skin, freckles, red hair and large brown eyes. He was short, no way around it, but it only enhanced his youthful appearance. I suspected him of suffering from what I called Mighty Mouse syndrome. Although short, I could tell when I hugged him, he spent more time in the gym in a week than I had collectively in my entire life. But he had the man's man act down. He would show up in a wife beater with a flannel thrown over it and jeans with boots and talk about sports or sometimes politics. He would tell dirty jokes and occasionally rough house. He would talk about the military, since he was in the reserves, with Drew, who had served.
But out of all the guys, he was the only one who treated me like "a gentleman" . Drew often tried to get me drunk and talk me into bed. ( He never succeeded in getting me even near his bed even when he did succeed in getting me drunk.) Patrick and Mark both put around rumors that I was "into them" or dating them, which was patently untrue. Patrick had just lost his wife, and I had broken up with a boyfriend and thought we might relieve the mutual boredom with the occasional movie. Mark was my karoake friend. Never even kissed either one of them. Bad Eammon, well, deserved his name and Good Eammon really had no personality to speak of and was generally just a foil for Bad Eammon. Mike the Cop was older, married, and somewhat distant although he often reminded me of cops from Roman Noirs.
Sean though always offered me a chair and bought me drinks and walked me to the door without anything racier than a completely chaste hug. He barely cursed in front of me, and if he did, immediately he apologized. But he did call me trouble. He would introduce me to new friends, "This is Drew, and this is Mike, and this is Trouble." At first, I thought it was because he didn't know who I was. After about a year, I thought perhaps he had heard rumors about me. I don't think he realized it hurt me when he called me this. Why was I trouble? What had I done to deserve being called trouble? I asked him a couple of times and his response was always "Look at you. You are trouble." After three years, one night he told me, when none of the "pack" was around, "You know it's because I've always been of the opinion that beautiful women are trouble."
It never occurred to me that he could have been attracted to me. He never gave the slightest hint. Until that night he indirectly called me beautiful, he never made a reference to how I looked one way or the other. When we first met, we were both unattached. If he made himself available then I missed it.
And then, of course, Eric left, and I became this weeping hole of ego stroking need.
It was election day. I was watching the returns at F's. By that point I needed liquor just to get through the average day, often mixing vodka into my orange juice in the mornings. But for the election, no matter who won, I knew I would need a variety of alcohol. I started with corona. About one a.m., I started doing shots of jamesons. I wasn't drinking that quickly, although by that point it didn't matter. Even completely drunk it was almost impossible for me to sleep. It was even difficult if I topped off the liquor with a sleeping pill. But I was pacing myself. The election, however, was also pacing itself.
Sean came in about two. By that time I was well lubricated and he apparently had been so before he came in. I hadn't seen him in six months or so. There were wrinkles around his mouth. At thirty three, he was finally beginning to show his age. He came in and sat next to me. "We are going to get drunk", he proclaimed. "We are?" "Yes, we are." And he ordered us two shots and two beers. I drank mine slowly so I could continue to follow election returns. Around three the bartender, Kevin, decided to close the bar and head over to Trinity where Mike, Drew, and some others were waiting. Sean offered to walk me home and join them. He picked up my bag of ungraded student papers without being asked.
I didn't even question inviting him in. He put down the bag and we sat on the couch. He tried to talk me into coming with him to Trinity. I got up to on lipstick and hauled me into the bathroom. "Look at yourself. You're beautiful.Look." He wouldn't let me go until I looked. I looked. I saw the same girl I always saw. The girl who got left. The girl who wasn't beautiful enough. Besides I had no make up, my hair was ruffled, my lips chapped. He pulled me onto the couch. He held my face in his hands, "Listen, you don't believe me? When I first saw you I thought you were the most amazing thing I had ever seen. There was one day I was walking down the street and I was with a friend and you smiled at me. He was so jealous. I told him you were the girl who was always talked about, the girl I thought was beyond hot." "But if that's true why didn't you do anything?" "Because you were with Patrick and he was a friend." "With Patrick? What do you mean? His wife just died. Who the hell told you that?" "He did."
I was beginning to truly discover the scope of male treachery. Left by "the love of my life", lied about by my friends. The jamesons, the uncertainty of the presidency, the proximity of Sean. The gravely low of his voice. His hands, not much larger than mine, on both sides of my face.
"I should go," he said.
He pressed his face against mine, "Tell me to stop. Tell me to go away. Tell me to leave." But I couldn't. I had wanted him for three years. I felt about as attractive as a rag mop and now the guy I had always wanted apparently wanted me. Tell him to stop? And even if I had found the words, they didn't have time to be uttered. He kissed me.
He kissed me and carried me to the bed. How clothes got removed, in what order, I can not tell. It was simply a flurry. I do know my panties were ripped off. White satin and lace, completely torn. And as for his body, my suspicion of Mighty Mouse-edness was confirmed. He had achieved near Spartan perfection. Both biceps were ringed with celtic tattoos, and his left shoulder sported a large dragon. ( kiss of the dragon anyone?) His skin had that smooth softness of muscle. He smelled lightly of oranges. After, when I lay naked next to him he held my face again. "You know you are mine now," he said, "You can love or date or fuck whoever you want, but you'll always be mine."
I smiled then. Even then I knew he was wrong. I belonged to only one man, the one who left. But later it would become clear that it was he who belonged to me. Certain animals, once they get a taste of human blood, can tolerate no other sustenance. Sean, for all of his good intentions, could not take the touch of his girlfriend without thinking of me, without wishing for me.
In the morning he was overwhelmed with guilt. He had ruined his relationship with Jenny, ruined our friendship, ruined his own character. "I always thought I was better than men who cheated. And now I've fucked up everything." "Sean, you don't have that much power. You had a moment of weakness. I was vulnerable. We were liquored up. The fate of the fucking nation is insecure. So you had a moment. Alright, so it was wrong. So we don't do it again.It's hardly war and fucking peace." I was hurt that he regretted taking his pleasure with me. He slowly got dressed. The dragon covered. In his hurry, he left a jagermeister t-shirt behind. "Are we ok?" "Sean, why wouldn't we?" He couldn't come up with a reason, but he couldn't let go of his fear either. Finally, he decided to go home. He wasn't going to tell Jenny, I was going to tell anyone and it would end here.
He left after kissing me on the forehead. I went back to the couch and curled up under his jagermeister t-shirt. It retained his scent: oranges, parliaments, and sweat.
Strangely, he never called me trouble again. I had simply become it.

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