Red Headed Dangers

Posted: October 15, 2009 in True Story
Tags: , ,

This is a true story. It may not be 100% accurate but this is how I remember it.

Her name was Betsy but it wasn’t until months after meeting that I found that out.  I never paid her much attention other than to look across the lobby and think, “she’s kinda hot” between games of Magic and Lazer Tag. When we met I was an odd person, a creature of habit who had lived his life making others happy and in the process made myself miserable and, to me at least, somewhat unlikable. It was an odd period in an awkward phase and without her influence I would have been just fine, but I wouldn’t have this story to tell.

The summer after graduation (which seems to be where all my sordid tales are set) I was, as mentioned a million times before, working in a comic book shop. The store I worked in not only sold comics but also role playing games, the most famous of which is Dungeons and Dragons but we also catered to the miniatures geeks as well as Shadowrun and GURPS to name a few. The game we were playing the night I finally “met” Betsy (or Scarlet as she was known at Ultrazone) was Vampire the Masquerade. Its a gothic horror game set in the present which can be played with dice and paper like the standard D&D game or you can play it the way we did that weekend, live action. It’s kind of a mixture of acting and gaming because your performance can help you move the story along quite a bit and sometimes you have to do things in character that you wouldn’t normally do. In a D&D game you just kind of say it and think it, sometimes describing whatever action your character is performing. In a live action game you have to actually act these things out. Some of the people in our group used this as an opportunity to grope people they wouldn’t ordinarily come in such close contact. My ex girlfriend Liz used it as a chance to get us reacquainted.

Now, at this point of my life I was at my most fit, a slim and almost athletic 190lbs. I had managed to tone up a bit by playing Ultrazone on a pretty constant basis with people who were better than me. Keeping up was hard and eventually the student surpassed the master as I, at one time, could go in the arena against anyone and know I was better. It was a good feeling but at this point I wasn’t quite there yet. I was still “the comic shop guy” and “Dan’s and Larry’s friend”. Dan and Larry were two of the “names” at Ultrazone at the time, co captains of the league champions and all around cool guys. I was their friend, which gave me an instant in with the middle school like hierarchy that was established there. I was a “cool guy” by association and I enjoyed my status, as I was a SOOPER dork in high school.

I guess this is where I should establish the characters in the little drama that was my life at that time.

Liz- My ex/pseudo girlfriend with obsessive compulsive neurotic tendencies. Also she liked to break up with me weekly in high school, I never got over that.
Dan- Manager of Fantastix, the comic shop where I worked.
Larry- 6’3” Mohawked tattooed beast of a man and a damn good friend.
Betsy/Scarlet- Kinda hot redhead who I didn’t really know very well.
Tiffany- A very hot girl I knew from high school (who Amy refers to as “monkey lips” to this day) who I had a crush on for a while until I found out she was 2 years younger than she said she was (and about 5 years younger than she looked).
Greg- Sometimes boyfriend/fuck buddy of Betsy. A really funny guy who had a tendency to hurt people, physically, if he didn’t take his medication. Kept a crazed look in his eyes at all times.
Nicole (pronounced Nick O Lay)- The game master of our little live action experiment and full on FREAK. She had a list of rules in her house that began with “Nudity is accepted and generally preferred”.
Gryffin- Nicole’s husband, a short furry little man who looks like the epitome of a child molester.
Quinton- One of my closest friends during this period of my life. He was unbalanced, felt no pain and flat out scary looking. I never got fucked with no matter where we went, it was the greatest.
Andy/Chewie- Quinton’s best friend and usually the only one besides me who could calm him down once he was pissed. One hell of a Magic player.

There are dozens of other minor characters in there but I think this is the core of the group this story involves.

Nicole had set it up so that we could begin play at 9:00pm once Fantastix closed inside the store. Dan wasn’t going to play because he’d been banned from Ultrazone for hitting some guy upside the head with the butt end of his lazer in a game. The guy shouldn’t have been hitting him and the army shouldn’t teach people to hit people with the butt end of pistols. That’s the lesson there. So the doors were locked and we all sat down at the gaming tables in back of the store and Nicole and Gryffin weaved a web of vampiric intrigue to set the story. What the plot of the game entailed isn’t important here; it’s what happened later that night.

It was well after midnight and we had all moved to the third part of the game, a coffee shop called Bidder’s Suite down near the VCU campus. We had all been there before and it was one of my favorite little spots to grab dinner (they had tortilla chips dyed blue, there was something about them that always seemed really cool to me) and chat with my friends. The story had progressed nicely at Ultrazone where many of us had found clues and met up with members of a werewolf tribe or three who were helping us in whatever quest there was for us. I was sitting outside when Betsy came over and sat down beside me, I assumed she was trying to find out what I knew about our little task so I began talking in character. She shot me one of those sexy Katie Holmes crooked smiles and asked me bluntly “are you and Liz together?” I sat there a bit stunned for a few minutes and a part of me was screaming, “tell her no you dumb ass!” but as the ever faithful nice guy of the world I answered “yeah, kinda”. It wasn’t a lie but it left a little room for future possibilities. She looked at me again with that same smile and what can only be described and a miscevious glint in her eye and said, “that’s too bad.”

Then she got up and walked away.

In her mini skirt.

And silk blouse that wasn’t buttoned all the way up.

It wasn’t long after that when I decided to break things off permanently with Liz. I was kind of harsh about it, something that up until that point I didn’t think I had in me. It’s also something I still feel kind of bad about but I needed it to be painful for her so that she would understand that this time, it was indeed over and no pushing on her part was going to change that. In the back room of the comic book shop there was a loft. I slept there more often than not and one night, not long after the live action vampire game I took Liz back there and we had sex. It wasn’t the first time but I was a less giving lover and after we were done I told her she needed to leave and that it was over. It took me over an hour and finally me physically pushing her out the door and locking it behind her before she finally left. She was in tears and I felt horrible but it needed to be done. She was bad for me. Liz made me feel like a bad person and I hated myself when I was around her and I blamed her for forcing me into such a drastic and unTommylike measure.

It was, of course, the obvious flirting of an attractive woman that gave me the courage to break things off once and for all. I like having someone in my life, no matter how dysfunctional they are and my self esteem issues made me think Liz was it for me for a lot of years. Luckily one instance of casual flirting (and a mini skirt) made me realize that what my great aunt Ruth used to tell me was true, I was attractive and I could get the girl. I felt bad about what I had done to Liz but I felt great about what I had done for me. I decided then that I didn’t have to be attached to anyone and I could ask out random girls and see what happened. Turns out I didn’t have to do much legwork.

A week or so later I was sitting at Ultrazone, playing Magic or just hanging out, it’s hard to remember that far back. I don’t remember what I was doing or where I was sitting but I do recall Betsy approaching me, sitting down next to me and asking me a question I was all too happy to hear.

“So did I hear right? Did you and Liz break up?”

It was one of those butterfly moments where your stomach decides that all your internal organs need to vibrate like someone stuck a jackhammer in there. I of course played it cool because all my friends were there and all my friends knew the stories. The Betsy stories.

About a year before this Greg had dated Betsy and according to a story told to the lot of us during one of our all night Magic-a-thons Betsy has one of those insatiable sexual appetites and when she wants it, she gets it. She was what we deemed a “zone slut”, one of the girls who hung out at Ultrazone a few times a week or more just to flirt with some of the guys and possibly hook up. On the flip side she’s also got a few rules about what is allowed to be done during certain times of the month. If I need to elaborate you need to go back to the family life class they forced you to take in middle school. Anyway, to make a long story short, one day during her period she had to have it and told Greg to duke her up the poopie shoot. Greg willingly obliged and after he finished his business she gave him a spit shine. According to him, he immediately broke up with her and from that point on made an effort to ask whether or not she liked jelly with her ass biscuits.

Of course we believed Greg completely and even though there is no way to ever verify the story we took it as 100% fact. There were also rumors of lesbian trysts and sessions with multiple partners but it had taken on an almost mythic quality to some of us. It was kind of like discovering that your favorite porn star has a crush on you, sure some part of you is screaming “come on man, like a million people have hit that!” But then again, in the back of your head there’s this overpowering voice telling you that with all that experience must come the ability to do things normal women can’t do. Plus there was always the prospect of witnessing a lesbian orgy (cut me some slack, I was 19).

My friends all went to do whatever else there was to do at the time and left the two of us alone. I told her that Liz and I had indeed broken up and that I was the one who did the breaking. She responded with a coy smile and then proceeded to ask me out. It was one of those surreal moments where, just for a moment, you live outside your body and witness from a distance the incredible events transpiring. I accepted immediately and the date was made for the next Friday. She would come by the comic shop at about 9:30 and we would go out.

For the week leading up to the date I heard countless jibes about ass biscuits but I didn’t care. An attractive woman had asked me out. ME! The fat kid with no self-esteem had been sitting around playing Magic and got asked out on a date. It didn’t matter to me that I was 190lbs and more fit than I’d ever been all I could see was the fat kid I had been… well, that’s all I could see until that night in front of Bidder’s Suite when the girl in the mini skirt had flirted with me.

The next couple of days were spent in the normal fashion, working and playing (of course, work WAS play at this point of my life) and everything was just ginchy. A problem reared its ugly head a few days before the date, I was playing Magic over at Dan’s house and someone there (I don’t recall who) told me that Larry had been dating Betsy. That was a bit unexpected because as far as I knew Larry couldn’t really stand Betsy. Plus he was married with kids. I was pissed. Pissed at Betsy for asking me out while dating a friend and pissed at Larry for not telling me himself. I decided I needed to do the grown up, manly thing and confronted Larry about it. The next day at work I asked him point blank, “are you dating Betsy?” He told me no he wasn’t matter of factly and I asked if there was any reason he could think of why I shouldn’t go out with her. Again, he said no. I felt better and kind of dumb, I figured my wacky pals had inhaled a little too much from Dan’s recently constructed mega bong and decided to fuck with me.

Oh how I wish.

The night of the date came and at around 9ish Betsy came by the comic shop to pick me up. I locked up and we went downtown to a 24 hour place called 3rd Street Diner to eat. I had been there a bunch of times and it was one of the places our little live action vampire game had taken us. We sat and talked for about two hours about nothing and everything. It was all the things a good first date should be and when the check came she snatched it up. I protested being the big macho guy that I was and she responded with “I asked you out, I get to pay.” A date AND free dinner? It was as if somewhere in the heavens a cosmic lottery had taken place and the patron saint of horny males had drawn my name.

We decided that the diner had outlived it’s usefulness and she asked if I’d ever been walking down by the floodwall (the James river runs through the middle of Richmond), I had to admit that I had not so as we walked across the street to her car we decided we’d drive down there and take a walk. She stopped to unlock my door but before I could open the door she turned to me and said, “there’s something I’ve wanted to do all night.” In my supreme ignorance and blissful happy state I replied, “what’s that?” and honestly had no clue. She said “this” and proceeded to kiss me. It was one of those long deep kisses you see on TV and hope to one day be a part of.

With my ego about to push us both out of the car we drove around for a while and then took a walk, hand in had through gardens and past homeless people. At some point in our wanderings Betsy asked me if I wanted to go back to the shop and talk some more. Once more my youthful naiveté took over and I said sure, thinking that talking was all I was in store for.

We got back to the shop and Betsy asked what kind of music we had. I directed her to the large CD case behind the counter that Larry had left and the smaller one that I owned. Most of Larry’s music was of the metal variety but we decided on a Led Zepplin album to listen to while we talked. We started to kiss a bit while we talked and the leather choker she wore soon found its way onto the counter. Dazed and Confused came on and the next thing I know Betsy is topless behind the counter of the comic book shop and I’m wondering if anyone is looking in through the front windows which were frighteningly close even if they were mostly obscured with posters and flyers. I suggested that we move to the back of the store where I could make us a bit more comfortable. After very little coaxing from me I had two tables flipped up to use as a wall towards the windows. I used the blankets from the loft and made us an impromptu bed there on the floor where we both laid down and continued where we had left off.

Being the upstanding young man that I was I asked Betsy, before things got too out of hand if she had a condom because I was ill prepared to be having sex on our first date (though after some of the stories I should have known better right). She said that she did not and I suggested that we stop what we were doing and go get some. Betsy looked at the clock and realized that it was well after 3:00am and said that she needed to get home anyway. I was a little dejected but after the incredible night I’d had there was no way I was going to be upset that I didn’t get laid on our first date. She gave me another kiss, said she’d call me in a few days and left. I happily drifted off to sleep on the floor in the makeshift bed I had made for the two of us to make out on.

The next day I told my friends about my date, not all the details mind you just that we had a great time. Several days passed and I didn’t get the call I was promised so I started to feel a bit rejected. And a little pissed. This is when the alpha male in me reared its ugly head and I started to tell my closest friends that the only reason we didn’t sleep together was for lack of a condom. A childish move I agree but one I felt completely justified with at the time.

It was during this testosterone driven brag fest that I got yet another slap in the face. One of my acquaintances from Nicole’s house (his name escapes me now, let’s call him Bob) told me that the morning after my date Larry had come to the shop early to pick something up and found me asleep. He also found Betsy’s choker on the counter and his Led Zepplin CD in the player. He also had been seeing Betsy for about a month but didn’t want to tell me. He also stood over my happily sleeping body with the baseball bat we kept in the back room for about a half hour before deciding that Betsy wasn’t worth our friendship (or the jail time he’d get from bashing my head in). I was crushed. More than that I was fucking PISSED! My friend, one of my best friends had flat out lied to me to my face and then had the nerve to be pissed off at ME about it.

Confrontation time, part two.

I went to the shop and told Larry we needed to talk so we headed into the back room. I shut the door behind me and grabbed the baseball bat from its usual spot and handed it to Larry. The conversation went something like this.

“You want to bash my head in?”

“I did but I got over it.”

“Well just fucking do it if that’s what you want.”

“I told you I don’t want to now, I’m over it.”

“Why the fuck did you lie to me?”

“I didn’t want to get in your way.”

“So.. uhhh… we’re cool then?”

“We’re cool.”

Yeah, not exactly an epic confrontation but keep in mind I’m 5’10” 190lbs and Larry was 6’3” 250lbs and you see why it was a big deal to me.

About a week later we were all sitting around Ultrazone as usual and in walks Betsy. She was looking as hot as ever and even though there was a part of me yelling “TALK TO HER STUPID” I had spent three years doing everything in my power to make one girl happy while making myself miserable and I was not going to let that happen again. She saw me from across the room and smiled and started to walk over, I took the opportunity to scowl at her and go outside to surround myself with people so that I wouldn’t have to talk to her.

And that was the end of that. A couple of times over that summer I saw her, either at Bidder’s Suite or 3rd Street Diner with her friends and I always wondered what would have happened had I gone over and talked to her. Luckily I figured it out not long after and I knew that any girl who would deceive me like that didn’t deserve me. Plain and simple, I’m better than that. A few years later I ran into Betsy while I was working at Champs Sports in the mall. She was still pretty but had gained a few pounds (as had I) and we chatted like two old friends who hadn’t seen each other in a while. It was surreal and it wasn’t until that chance meeting in the mall that I remembered something about our night together and the make out session I had assumed was ruined by the lack of a condom.

During the course of our “activities” I had gone for the button on her jeans and she had gently pushed my hand away. It hit me then, like someone slapping me across the face with an iced mackerel, we didn’t have sex that night because that was never her intention. It wasn’t until I opened my large gaping maw that the evening ended. It was a revelation that to this day makes me feel bad about the all to many bragging I did to my friends at the time. It doesn’t excuse the lies but it did teach me a lesson about perception and reality.

Ah, the moral of the story. About damn time right?

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