I realize everyone and their mother are talking about Letterman and Polanski right now.  I just have a couple of things to say, nothing too in depth, as I’m sure others have better articulated and researched articles on both elsewhere.  But all this upheaval about sex and sex crimes got me thinking about something that happened to me many years ago.

I will state that I love David Letterman unabashedly.  LOVE him.  He has taken self-effacement to new levels.  I think what he did was so fucking smart:  instead of giving in to some pathetic extortion threat, he broke the news himself on his own talk show and told the world what was up.  Regardless of anyone’s views on morality, David did nothing illegal; he committed no crime.  The extortionist is the one at fault here.  Having the balls to confront the situation the way he did makes Letterman a stand-up guy, in my opinion.

Now, with Polanski:  different story.  I don’t get why everyone is so outraged that he has finally been ‘caught’ after all these years.  If he had raped a girl yesterday, would all these celebs still come to his rescue?  If he were not famous and a [purportedly] talented filmmaker, would the story still be the same?  I will say right now I’ve no opinion of him as far as his films go:  I’ve never seen a Polanski film.  But being a creative or talented human does not mutually exclude being a rapist.  I feel there is some romantic idea tied to artists/writers/film makers etc. that makes people more forgiving of their actions or eccentricities.  We’ve seen this over and over again.  Even with Michael Jackson:  we can all agree that he changed the music industry, that he was super-talented.  But does that mean he wasn’t capable of the crimes of which he was accused?  Of course not.  The cult of celebrity we have in this country is astounding.  But I guess it’s hard to idolize a person and villainize them simultaneously.

We seem to judge sex crimes differently than other crimes.  Kind of shocking, considering that as a society, we tend to crucify anyone who does not follow certain morals.  I would like to know what the celebrities who are supporting Polanski think about Letterman’s indiscretions; I wonder how they will judge him?

So.  This brings me to the ‘guy I ‘knew’ in college.  This is a personal, true story from my early college days.  I’ve never known quite where to place this story; I knew it should be told, at some point, in some form, but never knew how/when/where.  so here it is.

In 1989, I lived in a dorm at a university for one semester.  My roommate and I hit it off immediately:  we liked the same style, music, values.  Our weekend and Wednesday night ritual was to drive to Murfreesboro to stay with her boyfriend, who shared an apartment with two other couples (they were all in a band together).  I slept on the couch.

On one of these Wednesday nights, we went out for drinks, then came back to the apartment early; the roommate and I had to get up early Thursday to make it back to campus for class.  One of the other couples that lived in this apartment had the master suite, and the female of that couple (after all these years, can’t remember names) happened to be out of town.  So her partner (not yet married but would be a short time later) decided to take this opportunity to go to a party and get really, really fucked up.  And when I say fucked up, I mean a lethal combo of alcohol and drugs that cause a person to do things they will really regret.

I fell asleep on the couch that night around midnight or one am.  My usual time.  The couch was positioned next to the apartment’s front door; I heard nothing when this guy came home.  My roommate and her boyfriend were asleep in his room.  It was around 3am.

I awoke to the feeling of something stuck in my mouth; I opened my eyes to find this guy, this roommate, sitting on the floor next to the couch, right next to me.  In my haze of sleep I asked, What the fuck are you doing?  He said he wanted to see what I was doing.

We exchanged a few more words, as I tried to put together just what was happening, what had happened as I slept.  He was fully dressed; I surmised from this that he had kissed me, that the object inside my mouth was his tongue.  The look on his face is what terrified me:  he had a dead face, expressionless, his eyes the same.  Like a zombie but without the camp.  This was the face of a person in absentia.  Whatever he had sucked, smoked, snorted or injected into his body that night had turned him into something else.  This does not, in my eyes, excuse anything he did.  Not for one second.

He finally made his way down the hallway to his room.  I lay back down on the couch, but turned on the telly, and stared at it, wide awake.  Not much time passed before I could feel his eyes on me again.  I looked up and he was standing in the doorway, staring at me.  I don’t know how long he stood there.

The next morning:  shame.  I felt shame.  Why?  Did I do something to induce this behavior?  No, of course not.  I’d barely spoken five words to this guy the entire time I’d known him.  Did I do anything to bring this on myself?  No.  There was no consent.  This was ALL HIM.  All of it.  Yet, I was the one to feel ashamed.  I just knew if I told my roommate or her boyfriend that they would not believe me, they would take his side.  They didn’t even like this guy– and I knew that.  And yet…

Breakfast the next morning was awkward:  I with my secret, and the guy acting as if nothing had happened.  I couldn’t wait to get the fuck out of there.  We stopped for gas, and while her boyfriend was fueling the car, I told my roommate what had happened.  She was shocked, outraged.

My roommate’s boyfriend talked to the guy, told him what had happened.  The guy claimed no memory of the event (natch) but said he would apologize to me.  He never did.  Fucking asshole.

This story is further complicated by the fact that this jerk was actually engaged to his girlfriend, and they married the next year.  I saw her in a bar in downtown Nashville  the next year; I so wanted to tell her not to marry this guy, that he was a slime-ball.  But I didn’t.  I ‘d never been friends with this girl; I’ve no idea how she felt about me.  Would she have believed me anyway?  Doubtful.  Why?  For the same reason any one doesn’t want to believe bad things about people they love.  If the person you love is capable of bad things, it smashes the idyllic view you have of that person.  On some level, it could mean that your judgment isn’t as good as you think.  You could be wrong.

For all I know, this girl could have been well informed of her boyfriend’s predilection for molesting girls as they slumbered.  Maybe she thought it wasn’t a big deal.  Maybe she equated it to some kind of Sleeping Beauty fantasy type thing.  After all, isn’t that how Sleeping Beauty was awakened– with a kiss?

Hmmm.  That last bit about Sleeping Beauty just opened up a whole new range of possibilities, didn’t it?

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