Rachel’s Perilous Threesome

[This is a script as I’ve prepared it for a podcast monologue. It’s not the usual writing style you see on the site.]

            My friend Rachel is cool and I love her but she’s being an asshole about something that happened recently with a guy she really likes, and slept with, so I don’t really wanna give her a hard time about it but part of me feels like I should. Because I know, without any shades of gray, that Rachel is a good person. She’s curious, generous, good humored. Kind of a model citizen, too, well-read on current affairs and she can hold her own in a debate about virtually any hot-button topic of the moment. Settles down with her tablet to read long stretches of news every couple days like it’s her job.

            Rachel is good people, scathing and ugly as her language can sometimes get when she’s drinking.

            Rachel is also more of a romantic than she likes to admit. She’s the only person I know, of my age group, who financed her own nose job. She was 23 at the time. The nose was big, with a bump along the bridge, and her sincerely self-loathing soliloquys about it at the beginning of high school morphed slowly, beginning with our sophomore year, to a kind of self-deprecating humor. Somebody would ask her to hold the door and she’d offer to wedge her nose in it. If she accused somebody of lying, and they asked about her grounds for doing so, she’d just squint at them and give her nostril a sage-like tap. Stuff like that.

            Immediately before her surgery she got hooked into a Spartan workout regimen and cultivated a physique so harrowingly athletic that when she took to the Miami bar and clubs cenes across Wynwood and South beach, in one form-fitting dress or another, she caught the eye of everyone she passed, and her head would assume tis downward tilt of what looked almost like a samurai, vengeful, and she’d move through sidewalks and dancefloors and crowds with a predatory kind of conviction, cutting down men and women alike, claiming that she wasn’t bisexual, just…overdue.

            But that was just a fun little spell that lasted a couple years. She had ugly duckling syndrome and, romantic though she’s always been, I think she’s reluctant to pursue a relationship cuz she doesn’t think anybody’ll find her pretty enough for anything but sex. She only slowed down with the sleeping around when she had a pretty bad STI scare following an unprotected threesome with two friends (what she’d actually contracted was chlamydia, but she thought it was gonorrhea, and there was a story in the news at the time about some potentially-incurable strain making its way through Millennials, a strain that’d eat your brain or something, and she cried so hard on the phone with Planned Parenthood that they moved her appointment two days forward).

            But that was a while ago. Her life is less turbulent now. She’s a professional and she lives near Brickell and save for being single, and going for dates five or six times a month, she leads a pretty routinized life. I get a drink with her a couple times a month. We met recently at a bar that I frequent on Brickell (the one where I made things awkward by matching with a server on OkCupid, which you can hear about in a podcast episode called “Overeating”) where Rachel told me in gushing detail about a guy she’d just met through Bumble (a dating app) and gone out with just the night before and fucked and made blissful tipsy conversation with until dawn; she’s telling me that she’s weirded out to be thinking about him so much, missing him, looking forward to the next outing. I’ve heard her talk this way about two other dudes over the past ten years or so. She fights this kinda thing. I think she’s only being so candid cuzza the booze.           

            We talk about it a little longer. I get excited on her behalf.

            Before parting ways I wish her luck and ask her to keep me appraised.

She does.

After waiting a good 48 hours after the heart-stealing sex, Rachel reaches out to her guy, invites him to a pizza place where she always gets some amalgam of toppings that sounds repulsive but she insists that it’s delicious—apparently she’d been talking about it in bed after sex, and says now that she’s inviting him for that particular pizza as like a psychological strategy to get him thinking about that great post-coital melt they’d enjoyed a couple nights prior.

But…when the dude responds a couple hours later it’s with a direct, thorough, considerate block of text saying that he’s sorry but that he just isn’t feeling a connection. He tells her that she’s cool, and that he had a nice time, but suggests, gently, that they go their separate ways.

And Rachel’s upset, naturally, but she takes it well. She tells him (and me) that she appreciates the candor. Then she tells me, in private, that she’s bummed, sure, but prepared to move forward. She’s got no shortage of suitors across all these dating apps. Guys whose invitations range from let’s have sex to let’s go kayaking to let’s go to Paris to let’s grab a drink. Options galore.

We commiserate about the disappointment for a bit, and move on.

            Life itself, we agree, will move on.

And it does, for a while.

Walter John Rodriguez

[SEGMENT BREAK]

A few days later, Rachel and I meet for drinks and I ask about her situation with the dude, whether she ever heard from him again, and she rolls her eyes, lifts her drink, says, “He’s a fag.”

            Which is striking—she says it so quickly, so matter of fact, it’s hard to discern the tone. But it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve seen somebody get defensively salty about having fallen for a person of some other orientation, often to disastrously heartbreaking effect, so I figure she’s just learned that he’s gay or bi and she’s coping with the discovery and being kind of abrasive about it. So I probe the issue a little and find that, well, he’s not…actually gay. Or at least she’s got no reason to be saying so. She’s just saying it cuz it’s…what? An explanation for why he didn’t wanna go out with her?

            I ask why she’s calling him, not just gay, but a fag, and she steers the conversation someplace else, getting embarrassed and realizing she’s gone a bit far. But she can’t leave it alone for long. Especially as she’s drinking

            When she circles back to talking about this dude who dumped her it’s to tell me what a presumptuous piece of shit this dude was to’ve written her that cushiony text in such a consoling tone. She’s telling me now that he wrote it from the perspective of, like, oh Rachel’s so invested in me. Says he wrote it as though she’d given him some reason to suggest she even wanted to fuck him again—which, according to Rachel, no, she gave no such sign. She says to me, “All I did was invite him out for a fucking pizza? And what, he thinks I’m tryna start a relationship? Fuck him. That’s fucking presumptuous.”

            Now, Rachel is a STEM wiz, and prides herself on her reasoning skills, and she gets super bombastic and volatile if you call her out for looking at things from a naïve or slanted perspective—so maybe it makes me a bad friend for not throwing down a hammer of truth but, having passed up the opportunity back then, lemme lay it down now, the thing I should have said to her, which is this: obviously, if you’ve been on two giddy dates with somebody, and the second one involved what you’re describing as acrobatic sex that ended in like a worshipfully emphatic blowjob, and now you’re inviting him out for a third date—or “excursion” or “get together” or whatever the fuck—you’re inviting him out again that same week: yeah, that person is going to very reasonable presume that you kinda like them.

            I’ve never known a man to walk away from a blowjob saying, “Gee, I wonder if she likes me.” Especially when the blowjob is bookended by invitations for dinner.

            But if this is her self-protective delusion, I’m fine leaving her to it for now.

            Leave her to her scoffing, her indignation, her eye rolling.

            Her drinking.

            How did I get over my last painful breakup? I got drunk every night and aired all my dirty laundry on a public blog. Was that healthy? I don’t know. And I don’t care, because it got me through the days.

            Rachel gets drunker than I’ve seen her in a while and I walk her back to her building, a tall ornate structure right there on the river, and she staggers across the marble lobby to the elevator with lots of self-asserting murmurs to herself.

            For the next couple days, I don’t hear from her.

[SEGMENT BREAK]

But it’s not so long after this that she meets me again at the aforementioned watering hole for a drink. It’s almost 10 pm, and for the first time in all of our dozen-odd rendezvous, across all hours of the night, Rachel shows up drunk. I’m a little tipsy myself, so we manage to converse for a while on the same wavelength, and when I ask if she’s seeing anybody she tells me something about migrating from one dating app to another, says with a dismissive wave that it’s all exhausting and stupid and that the men are flakes and creeps and “cucks”—“cuck” being shorthand for “cuckold,” a man who’s presumably weak and whose wife is cheating on him—it’s her occasional tipsy term for guys she thinks show no backbone.

            Rachel, I’ll mention again, is a progressive person who can—and does—riff with insight and elegance and clarity on topics like toxic masculinity and a host of other things that might be collected under the umbrella of feminist thought. Occasionally when she’s drunk she clearly just relishes saying inflammatory shit.

            And I think she’s got a complex about this.

Because despite her decidedly feminist stance on just about everything she’s also super attracted to reedy, stoic, abusive types. The kinda guy who cuts his hair real short and doesn’t smile for pictures. Who goes to the gym a lot but never seems to grow. Men who borrow money from her and criticize her haircut and call her a bitch for being sad. She insists these relationships are mostly just sexual but I think there’s something more to it. But even if there isn’t: these dudes genuinely make her feel bad. It’s like the only kinda guy who can make her cum is the kind who makes her cry first.

            Anyway. Rachel’s in a frenzy now and saying of this dude from last week that he’s a cuck and a loser and self-absorbed and presumptuous. The dude she was so smitten with. The dude she would still be openly smitten with, if only he’d reciprocate the interest.

            She goes on about how he’s a bitch, how he’s weak, hitting and quitting cuz he can see that she’s serious and “on toppa her shit” whereas he still lives at home with mom and dad and works at an office in Hialeah doing mindless shit, no career goals.

            I listen for a while with half an ear and then eventually just start looking around, and checking my phone, not bothering to hide the fact that I don’t wanna hear this rant of hers. But she goes on. It’s fine. Because ultimately it doesn’t matter if I’m listening, or if the bar tender hears it, or even if the heartbreaker himself were to pop in and lend an ear.

            Because ultimately, Rachel’s just telling this to herself.

            And as a friend I have a hard time knowing when the thing I’m supposed to do is shut her down, and set her straight, and when I’m just supposed to listen, and be there while she works her way through it.

            What would you have done?

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