Around Christmastime, Chef and I went to Buffalo and rented a car to get ourselves around, to and from the airport, to his family’s houses, the scurvy-ish hotel, the bowling ally, Anchor Bar for Buffalo Wings, a drive to his childhood home, and a big black tie dinner/dance with his mum and family.
After the fancy evening at “the club” with his siblings and respective spouses, companions, children, (which I believe added up to about 40 folks at the big long table), we made our way back to the little plastic rented car (you know the kind, the kind that costs $14 a day that you just need to get you from point A to point B and hope you can fit all your luggage in). These rented cars crack me up because Chef, at about 6’3, barely fits. His head skims the top. He pulls the seat back so far that the possibility of a backseat passenger is, well, not possible.
So, we get to the car and he unlocks my side of the car and I get in. I realize the doors are manual so I lean over like I am on a twelfth grade date to the movies and quickly unlock his door before he gets to it.
I had a sudden flashback of a college date. I’d been dating this guy, David (who is now dead) and we were coming home from a dinner at a horrible Mexican restaurant that he insisted on going to (Mexican food in the Midwest, well, pretty much entails dishes made with Velveeta cheese and alot of salt).
We got in the car and he had unlocked my side of the car and I got in. I don’t know what I was doing, probably fooling with my seatbelt or looking for a Chapstick in my handbag, but he suddenly got in on his side, FUMING. This was a common event. I usually figured it out later on, because he would SHOW me what I did wrong, to make him so mad. So we sat in silence from then on.
When we arrived about a mile or so from the college campus, he pulled over the car on a dark road (near the Mississippi River, which has always FREAKED me out, the whole catfish and strangers living in a shack on the side of the bluffs) and turned to stare at me.
“You didn’t unlock my door,” he said quietly.
I knew where this was going suddenly. I knew what I had done “wrong”.
He reached across my lap and opened my car door. As it swung open, I remember thinking “getting out may save me from getting hit.”
But it didn’t.
It saved me from getting hit MORE THAN ONCE.
He slapped my face and shoved me out the door. The door swung shut as I sat in the mud on the side of the road and he drove off. He had my handbag still in the car with him. These were the days when nobody had cell phones, at least not the kind the size of a brick that were hardwired to a Cadillac.
I started hiking the last mile or so to the campus. Going a back road so no other cars would drive up and see me. I remember going across a big grass area to avoid the gatehouse and car lights.
All because I didn’t reach over and unlock the manual locks.
I want to reiterate that yes, I know I didn’t “bring this on” myself. That I didn’t do anything wrong. But at the time, in relationships such as these, I would file away little bits like this to protect myself from being hurt. And in the end, you realize, there really isn’t anything you can do to get away from it. There is nothing you can do to protect yourself with someone who would slap you and leave you at the side of the road in the dark night, except to leave him.
It took me another month or so to do that. It was nearing Spring break and we were supposed to go home to his place for the few weeks. Two days before we were to leave, I told him I wouldn’t see him anymore (which was about the 100th time) and I called my dad in Los Angeles and didn’t tell him anything but asked to come home.
Without questions, he bought me a ticket and I flew home a few days later.
There I stayed on the beach with my dad and never talked about it.
This David guy called a few times. His mother even called. I wouldn’t talk to them.
I arrived back at school for the next quarter and he showed up in my room that first day and threatened to leave school permanently if I was really breaking up with him.
“I’m really breaking up with you”, I squeaked out.
He disappeared and I never heard from him or saw him again. But I saw him again in other guys I dated. And that was worse, I think.
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