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I am Not The Hero of this Story- from We Still Like You

I am not the hero of this story.

I want to start off by saying that.

I love and value my female friendships.  I want to say that.  I cherish and prioritize them.

Also, women can hurt each other more deeply than men.  Many of my women friends list their worst betrayal, their worst hurt, as being dealt to them by another woman friend.

Women will hurt each other over men, because they don’t value their friendships of many years over fucking some dude who’ll be gone in a fortnight.

I’m going to anonymize this woman by calling her Jen, although that is also her name.  We were both born in the 70’s so everyone is named Jen.

She was never my friend.

In high school, in Suburban Dallas, Texas, she was in love with the first boy I ever had sex with, who was a chubby goth with a speech impediment where “Cotton” and “Latin” sounded like “Coddon” and “Laddin” and it was adorable.  He tried hard to have a Dave Vanian (lead singer of the Damned) white streak in his black hair, but since he did it at home, and he was an idiot, it was usually a duck-yellow streak or a slightly green one.  He lives in San Marcos, Texas and has a wife and kids and we are facebook friends.  Don’t worry about him.

She hated me for being with him.  Women do that.  It had nothing to do with me.  After I broke it off with the Dallas suburban speech impediment Dave Vanian, she slept with him the same night, which annoyed me but was out of my purview.

He did not become her boyfriend after this, incidentally.  Nothing between them changed, except that they had slept together.  If he had wanted to be her boyfriend, it would have happened when they met, probably.  It had nothing to do with me.

She went to college in Austin and I went in Dallas.  I heard a story about her getting kicked off campus for beating the shit out of her dormmate.  I graduated and moved to Portland, Oregon.  Tom Waits went on tour and his Oregon show was in Eugene, a college town two hours south of Portland.  For the next ten years, everyone I was ever friends with or in bands with or dated had been to that show.  And also Jen.  Of all the people I didn’t want to see, she was it.

There is a theory of human communication called disruption.  If someone is mean or dismissive or cruel to you, and you are kind and patient back, it is difficult for them to continue to treat you badly.  We want to mirror behavior to each other- so if you’re shitty to me, I’ll be shitty back, and it can just escalate until we’re fighting or screaming or posting something on Facebook while our heart races one million beats a minute.  If you’re shitty to me and I am kind back, it’s hard to keep going in that direction.

She did not respond to my attempts at disruption.

“Hi!  Jen!  Man, I didn’t think I was gonna see anyone from high school today!  How you doin’?”

Jen: “When the fuck did you move here?  I guess this town really has gone to shit.”

A little after I moved to Portland, Oregon, I started dating a deathrocker who looked more than a little like Nick Cave, lead singer of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, so much so that my admiration of the actual Nick Cave has been tarnished by the experience.

He worked in a record store, because what else is he gonna do, and he mentioned his co-worker Jen.

My mouth fell open a little and I shared with him our history.

He paused for a minute, and he said, I should just tell you now, I have a past with Jen.  I don’t want you to find out later and be angry.  When I was married, we had an affair.  It’s long over and we’re just friends.  I’m also not going to cheat anymore- my marriage ended badly and I learned my lesson. (This was not true, but it is another story.)

We started seeing each other seriously, and one day, she looked over his shoulder at work as he was sending me a note on Myspace, because I am very old, older than any of you can possibly imagine, and she blanched and started screaming.

GINNY RYAN?  YOU’RE DATING GINNY FUCKING RYAN?

This is not my name now, but it was the name she knew me as.

For some reason, despite being opposed in all things, we had the exact same taste in men: Men who at least tried to look like the lead singers of seminal goth and punk bands.

She let him know that I was a bad person, a dishonest person, that I was a thief and untrustworthy, and unworthy of love.

He said ok, but that he would give it a shot anyway.

In the following weeks, she called him repeatedly, at different levels of drunk, trying to fuck him.  Sometimes I was with him, listening to her messages as she left them.  That’s right!  This is before cell phones!  You could write someone an email or you could call them, but you couldn’t booty text!  Imagine that, children!

Within a month, she had him fired from the record store, because she said he had stolen and lied and was untrustworthy, and my now-fiancee was unemployed for a year, because managing a record store is really the only job he was fit for in life.

A couple of weeks after that, I was drunk in a parking garage in downtown Portland and I saw her car and my heart stopped.

Portland is a small town now, and back then it was a tiny town.  She had left her car in a garage across had gone drinking in the bar across from the record store.

I had had a drink myself.  I had had several drinks.  I was drinking something called the dirty monkey, and I had leaned into the bartender and asked, now make me a FILTHY monkey.

The statute of limitations in Oregon for property damage is six years.  This story is from ten years ago.

She drove a very distinctive car.  I checked with my fiancee to see if it was her car.  He said he thought it was, because he had had sex in it before.  I checked the cement garage for cameras.  There were none.  I put down my handbag and turned my ring around, like I was getting ready for a high school fight.

I scratched down the side of her car first with a key, which is a rookie move, but which was a warm-up and a declaration of intent.

I kicked off her driver’s side rear view mirror with a boot.  There is no sales tax in Oregon, so lots of state funding is provided by traffic stops.  I knew she’d never limp home without getting pulled over.  I pounded her car in the weird, echo-less, sound-dampened garage.

I managed to break a taillight but not a window, and my dude said, that’s enough, let’s go.  You’re done.  You’ve beaten up her car.  I was flooded with endorphins and delighted and proud and ashamed, but I couldn’t tell anyone, not until you.

Her job at the record store was over within the year, after she punched a customer in the face.  The regional manager let her know that you can be snide to customers, you can ignore them, but you can’t actually assault them.  She sold her record collection to my husband and moved back to Texas, where she was lots easier to avoid.

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