FAITHLESS : 2003 : STEPHANIE.ZIOBRO
FAITHLESS
on fisting

Maybe I’m incredibly insightful, or maybe I think far too much and find connections and reasons to things that really aren’t connectable or reasonable. Whatever the case, my mind is jam-packed with This-Is-Why-I-Do-This’s and This-Is-Why-This-Happens-To-Me’s, and no matter how ridiculous the insight, having a Reason for something makes dealing with Life so much easier. For example, the statement "I’m so paranoid about girls not liking me because of my friendship with Karen and Jessamy," is a satisfying Reason for a possible, Non-Admittable Truth, that maybe I’m a psycho-bitch-slut who sees any girl as competition getting in my way of getting laid. I don’t like to think of it as an Excuse – because the word "excuse" has such a negative connotation to it – it makes me think of being lazy and expecting to have everything just handed to me. Plus, it can only be an Excuse if you know the Non-Admittable Truth that you’re using it for. I know I’m rationalizing, but this is my story and these are my opinions, and if you think I’m full of shit, then you can write your own story.

My relationship with Relationships has forever been a torrid one. And I could buy into the spiel a psychic told me about my past life – that in my most recent one, I was French, and I was engaged to a wonderful, beautiful man who happened to die right before we were to be wed. And after his death, I remained single and died alone years later. "This," Fatima told me, "is why you’re so insecure in you’re present-life relationships. You’ve carried that fear over from your past life." So see? It’s not my fault – it’s because my fiancé died in France.

And this is quite possible.

But I have my own Reasons, which aren’t so concrete and simple and, well, complete and utter bullshit…

Steve Martin wrote a play called "The Zig-Zag Woman," and there’s a line in that particular play that put all my years of abstract, can’t-quite-pinpoint-it reasoning into plain black and white:

"In the beginning of something, the end is foretold, and we met in an elevator going down…"

So let me tell you about the beginning: The Raw, Pulsing Summer of Flaming Passions Where a Young Girl Uncovers Her Sexual Urges and Finds Herself!

Yeah, this is about sex.

My first "boyfriend" was a big Italian guy named Bobby Roselli. We were sophomores, and we dated for about two weeks. I was a bit of a late-bloomer, so I wasn’t sure how the "going-out" thing worked, and I wasn’t about to ask anyone, especially not my little sister, who could go through her sixth-grade yearbook and say, "I went out with him, and I went out with him, and I went out with him, and I went out with him…" As far as I knew, "going-out" with Bobby meant we talked on the phone at night and sat together at lunch in school and held hands whenever we walked somewhere. I know you won’t believe what I’m going to say next, but the thought of kissing him NEVER occurred to me. Not until one day I walked him to his locker and he gave me a quick kiss good-bye, on the lips, before he went to class. I remember thinking how next I was supposed to be all giddy about it and go to my girlfriends and say, "Bobby kissed me!" and we were supposed to giggle about it and talk about how it was, which I did, but wasn’t sure why, because it wasn’t anything spectacular. I still had no idea what was in store for me.

One day, after a half-day at school, Bobby came over to my house. Mom made us lunch, and I was a nervous wreck at having him there and having to entertain him. So I figured the best thing to do was to get out of the house and go for a walk where I wouldn’t feel responsible for how much fun he had. If we were on neutral territory, and he had a horrible time, I couldn’t be blamed entirely because once outside the house it would be more half and half responsibility. We walked down to a neighborhood lake and sat down on one of the benches. He took my hand, and leaned in to kiss me, and that was the moment I met with the most disgusting thing I had ever felt up to that point in my life. His tongue started touching mine and licking my mouth and his lips sucked on my lips and I sat through it but I was so grossed out that when he left later that afternoon I went up to my bedroom and cried. When I went to school the next day, my girlfriends were all, "So how was it? Did you have fun? Did he kiss you?" And I responded, "Yeah, we had fun," and "No, he didn’t kiss me," because I didn’t want to talk about it, because if that’s how people "going out" were supposed to kiss, then I wanted nothing to do with it, so there MUST have been something wrong with me. But, I figured, maybe I’ll get used to it. But at lunch that day, when Bobby and I sat down to eat, I had no appetite, and I couldn’t even look at him. Needless to say, I broke up with him the next day. That was it – short and sweet. And to think that some women end up marrying their first boyfriend. So, when I think of Bobby and my first kiss, and how I wanted to cry and puke, it perfectly explains which way the elevator was headed when I got on and pushed the "Boys" button.

It wasn’t until the end of my senior year in high school that I met Todd. He and I had gone to school together for years, but twelfth grade found us in the same circle of friends, and when he finally kissed me – tongue and all – I didn’t gag or want to run away screaming. I liked it – it sent butterflies into my fingers and toes and made my heart tap dance like Savion Glover. My second kiss. Thank God it turned out better than the first one.

Someone held the elevator doors open on "Floor Todd" for almost a year – not too shabby for my first Real Relationship. And I really got into the whole kissing thing. But one thing I took for granted about him, which I didn’t realize until we broke up, was that he was a virgin. He didn’t want to have sex until he got married. This was a moral I shared. Due to this, sex was never an issue. Which was a good thing, because I just assumed I wouldn’t have to think about it for at least another ten years. We made out and did a lot of touching and groping and sucking and – well, that’s probably enough information right there – but neither one of us worried about having to say "no." It was understood, and it was easy. Despite the fact that I was seventeen, sex was unfamiliar territory. People today debate on whether kids should learn about sex in school or at home. Well, the only thing I remember about sex education in school was how to insert a tampon (and I remember being terrified that it was going to be a live demonstration.) And the only thing I remember about sex education at home is the most mortifying talk I ever had with my mother:

"Honey, I think we should talk about sex."

I was lying in bed with the lights out, trying to fall asleep. Did we really have to do this now, I thought. Then figured, I may as well get it over with.

"Um, okay…" I mumbled. I felt my mother sit down on my bed. And then she came right out with the words that I will never forget for the rest of my life.

"Okay. The first thing I want to tell you, is that --

FISTING ISN’T NORMAL."

I swear to the Heavenly Father and every other God and Saint that there is, those are the words that she said. And that was the first and ONLY time I ever let my mother speak to me about sex. To this day, the words "penis" or "vagina" have never been in any conversation we have ever had.

The exact second that the word "fisting" came out of my mother’s mouth, I pulled the pillow over my head.

"GOD, mom!" I yelled. "Good night!"

And that was it.

Try being ten years old and having someone throw the word "fisting" at you – I didn’t even know what it meant, but I could only imagine, and the fact that this was the first thing I was formally told about sex from my mother, I thought that "fisting" was something everybody did, and there was no fucking way in fucking hell I was ever going to let anyone stick their whole fucking fist up my –

Well. Enough said.

The elevator cable snapped, and I was plummeting at a Nascar speed to the basement level.

(FYI: I vote for sex education in schools. I doubt the word "fisting" is in any textbook.)

That September, Todd went away to college in Pennsylvania, but we still remained a couple. At least until February, when I met Noah. I had enrolled in a community college, and Noah was in my biology class. I didn’t have the conscious intention to meet anyone else while Todd was away, but when Noah and I started getting to know each other, it dawned on me that there was a whole world of different relationships out there, and as much as I cared about Todd, he was my first real boyfriend. I needed to learn more – experience more – and what better way to learn and experience than to date an older man…

Noah was twenty-one.

So I did my first real break-up the most horrible way possible – over the phone, and I started dating Noah. And everything was rainbows and butterflies, and about three weeks into the relationship, it dawned on me that I was going to have to think about sex.

So I thought about it.

I thought about how I’d planned to wait until I was married, and I thought about how anyone should be able to see what a respectable decision that was.

And I thought about how unrealistic that plan actually was.

So one night, while Noah and I were making out in his room, I vividly remember thinking:

"Well, it’s going to happen eventually – I may as well get it over with."

And talk about sin or blasphemy or whatever those of us with a reliBobby us upbringing want to call it, I unconsciously chose the "perfect" night to perform the biggest sin of my life thus far:

It was a Saturday night, the following day being Easter Sunday.

I just find so much wrong in that.

So I had sex. And I don’t remember anything spectacular about it, aside from the fact that I did it. And this continued for a few months, during which I certainly made up for lost time. Every time Noah and I saw each other, which was nearly every day, we had sex: my house, his house, a friend’s house, the car. It made me feel sexy and beautiful and wanted. But one day, it started to eat at me – it started as a tiny thought that would jump out of the depths of my brain every once in a while, make a quick appearance, and run away again. Then the thought started spending more and more time out of hibernation. Then once it moved out of the depths and set up camp right behind my eyes, I started to feed it servings of "This is wrong" with a side of "I shouldn’t be doing this" with "I’m going to Hell for this" for desert. And it started getting fatter and fatter until there wasn’t any more room in my brain for it, so it traveled down to the center of my chest and squeezed itself into my heart and in order to let out the seams so my heart could breathe again, I had to tell Noah that I didn’t want to have sex anymore.

So I did.

And he asked why.

And I told him exactly why – that I was feeling guilty because it was Wrong.

And he didn’t understand.

And I was persistent.

And he grew angry.

And he punched a hole in the wall.

And that scared me.

And I told him I didn’t want to see him anymore.

And I went home and cried and cried.

And dad came in to Pat me.

And the next day, I woke up and felt I’d made a huge mistake by breaking up with Noah, so I went to where he worked and told him I was sorry. He said he was sorry, too.

So that night we went to his house, and we started making out, and he started to undo his pants.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

He stopped mid-zip and looked at me.

"What do you mean?"

"I told you how I felt about this…" THAT part I hadn’t made a mistake about.

He didn’t say anything for a few moments, and then he zipped his pants back up and kissed me on the forehead.

"I’m sorry, honey," he said.

Needless to say, I broke up with him for real a short time later, and the elevator remained stuck between floors.

I give Noah a lot of credit – he tried to make it work, he tried to understand, but when you’re so used to listening to Techno music and one day you decide to drive cross-country with someone and they’re a huge Garth Brooks fan, it’s bound to be a rough trip. Especially when every time you try to change the station you get a lecture on respect. You try to accept it at first, "maybe I’ll grow to like country music," but eventually you just can’t take it and instead of driving yourself off the road just to make it stop, you kick out your passenger and put on your own radio station. I’ll admit, I was a "No Sex Nazi," and I felt really awful about doing that to him, but I had to stand up for what I believed in, and if someone couldn’t accept my beliefs, well then it was bound to end anyway. May as well end it now and get the heartache over with than just anticipate it for months. Plus, I didn’t want to have the stigma of "I Got Dumped Because I Wouldn’t Put Out" on my record, so I figured I’d break up with him first. Made it easier on me anyway. Selfish, I know. But aren’t we all sometimes?

Then I met Johnny.

Johnny was the "James Dean" of the men in my life – pensive, tough shell, "me against the world" kind of attitude. The complete opposite of me. Case in point: for our first "date," he took me to the shooting range. Johnny was different from anyone I had met, the poster-child of the Definitely Not the Boy Next Door. And I found this to be so incredibly cool. But what I also discovered was that trying to get him to pay attention to me was, at times, like passing a kidney stone. He’d say he’d call me, and he wouldn’t. When we made plans, he’d break them. When we did go out, we’d hang out with his friends and he’d appear to completely forget I was there. I wasn’t used to this at all – Todd and Noah had treated me like a princess. Despite all the shit I put them through. Unconsciously, my main goal was to make Johnny treat me like a princess. Which, if you’ve never tried it, is close to impossible. Our relationship eventually turned into an After-Hours ordeal, where I didn’t hear from him until long after the sun went down. At 9 or 10o’clock, the phone would ring, and it would be Johnny, inviting me over. And I would jump up and drive over to his house where, obviously, the only thing we could do was make out, seeing as how we’d missed the last movie showtime and the kitchen was closed at the restaurant around the corner. One night, while he was in the midst of removing my clothing, I gathered up my courage and asked what I’d wanted to ask him for months.

"Hey, Johnny?"

"Yeah…"

"Would you still feel the same way about me if I had all my clothes on?"

He stopped, stunned.

"Of course I would."

"How do you know?"

"Because I love you."

Lesson Number One: The first time a guy tells you he loves you, make note of the following:

Are you naked?

Have you seen him in broad daylight in the recent past?

Does he have Smith and Wesson Gun Posters all over his bedroom walls?

Were you contemplating having sex with him simply because you wanted him to remember you were alive?

When Johnny said he loved me, I knew he was full of shit. But the part of me that wanted him to remember to call me the next day and the part of me that wanted him to take me out places and the part of me that wanted him to hold my hand when he took me out places only heard "I love you." I knew he didn’t, but that had been my goal all along. And I decided that to seal the deal, I’d jump off the Moral Train and dive back into Debauchery. So I did. I had sex with him. And once again, it wasn’t anything spectacular, aside from the "rebellious" nature of the act. And as I left that night, he said, "I’ll call you."

And he never did.

Ever.

I’d been used.

This completely and utterly shocked me, and I had no idea how to deal with it. This type of situation has a huge effect on girls with emotional issues, such as myself. Johnny was a subject of motivation and monologues in my acting classes for years, until one morning, four years later, which still leaves me incredulous, I was able to attain a sort of closure. (Translated: I got the fuck over it):

I awoke to my mother shaking me.

"What?" I moaned as I pulled the pillow over my head.

"You have a phone call."

I took the pillow off my head and stared at her. I looked over at my clock. It said 4:20am.

"What?"

"The phone is for you."

I reached over to my nightstand and picked up the receiver (I always slept through the phone, the same way I could sleep through my alarm clock, a thunderstorm, an earthquake, a chorus line of twenty-seven tap dancers doing the can-can right in my bedroom – my friend Jim once told me, "you sleep like the dead,") thinking who the hell is calling me at 4:20 in the morning – and at my parents house, no less?

"Hello?"

"Hey… It’s Johnny…"

I hadn’t heard from Johnny since I walked out of his house the night we got naked and he said, "I’ll call you tomorrow." Boy, did he have a fucked-up concept of time. I sat up.

"Hi."

"Did I wake you?"

No, I wanted to say, I always sound like I’ve been sucking on a cat.

"Yeah, but that’s alright."

"How have you been?"

"Um, fine… How are you?"

"Look," he sighed. "I had to call you. I had to talk to you."

"Where are you?"

"South Korea."

South Korea. He decides after four years to call me at 4:20 in the morning from South Korea. This was either going to be really bad or really good.

"I wanted to tell you I’m sorry."

At least it wasn’t really bad…

After that phone call, Johnny started making random cameo appearances in my life. And it never ceased to baffle me how suddenly he would come and go. The day I lost my hold on Reality, I was talking to Johnny. This was while I was living in Boston, about four years after the call from South Korea. I don’t remember what I said to him, but when I’d called my mother from the psychiatric hospital that night, she wasn’t surprised.

"I know," she said. "Johnny called me."

"Johnny?" Self-absorbed, fuck’em all Johnny?

"Yes."

"What did he say?" It seemed so funny that, here I was, in a mental institution – they had to strap me to a stretcher to bring me there, watch me pee, take away my hair clips and lighters – and I was talking like I was in junior high – "What did he say? Did he ask about me? Does he like me?" Like I said earlier – I’d lost my hold on Reality.

"He said he thought you were in trouble."

Really…

"And he wanted me to know… To give me the heads up."

I couldn’t think of a thing to say. Johnny, who would disappear without a trace and then call up out of the blue and act like nothing had happened, who would always end up saying something that would make me slam the phone down and start crying, called my mother – who, incidentally, he hadn’t seen or spoken to since we were dating years and years ago – because he was worried about me. I couldn’t think of another person who would have done that…

How did he know I had been in trouble? What had I said that tipped him off? I vaguely remembered being angry and bitter, but he brought that out in me all the time. How did he know that this time was different?

My mother continued.

"When I thanked him for telling me, he said, ‘well, I love her.’"

And then neither my mother nor I heard from him for another five years.