Monday, January 31, 2005

Another Perspective

I'd hate to be so crass as to categorize the sharing of stories as a meme. But what better time to point out the gradations and shades of grey in this sort of experience?

It was about 10 years ago. I was living in Hanover, NH sitting in on courses on representation theory (m121) and multivariable analysis (m73) hanging around with my housemates, with no idea what I was doing. Well, re-enrolling at Dartmouth was definitely not what I was doing. But aside from that? Who knew. I was managing the property where I lived, giving me full control of 18 parking spaces near campus. This was my major claim to popularity at the time. Not only did I have 18 parking spaces to distribute as I saw fit, but I could also give you permission to park on the lawn. Can you imagine the power?

So we had this party at the house. And this guy drove up from Boston. He was also a Dartmouth student also not enrolled in classes. And I let him park in my parking lot. There was a snowstorm, so he couldn't drive back to Boston. We hit it off, he stayed with me until the snow cleared. No problem. (Yet.)

Fast-forward to spring term. He's back enrolled. I'm still un-enrolled, sitting in on a ring theory course (m111), learning about modules, the tensor product, all that spending all my time playing computer games, travelling, whatever. Making plans to GET THE HELL OUT OF DODGE. So I hook back up with the guy because, well, why not. (And by "hook up" I mean "sleep with on a semi-regular basis." This was not a boyfriend.)

Oh, let me tell you why not. No, that would take too long. Let me give you a sample of why not:
  1. He pretty much moved into my place without asking. He broke the futon. He hooked all his music stuff up to my computer (without asking).
  2. He'd left his car in Boston, so I got to drive him (and his friends) places.
  3. He said he hated my wardrobe, so he had me drive us to Boston so that I could buy all new clothes to his liking.
  4. Once I told him to leave. He said that if he walked out that door that he wasn't coming back. And that it was pretty clear to him that no one else would be walking in, so if I wanted to spend the next few months entirely alone, that was fine with him. (I let him stay.)
  5. One night in response to my "no" he mocked in a sing-song voice "no means no" and kept going. While I might not have tried to fight him off, I definitely didn't consent. This may have happened more than once.
I've been taught that I'm supposed to be more angry about this than I am. I'm supposed to view this as some big bad thing. I'm supposed to remember it clearly. But it was just another rude and obnoxious thing that he did. On par with borrowing my car without asking or any of the dozens of other rude and obnoxious things that he did. (When a friend of mine saw the dynamic between us, he offered to beat the guy up on my behalf. I declined the offer. I still think of my friend fondly as being the only guy who has offered to beat someone up for me.) It wasn't a big deal at the time, and I still don't think it's big deal. But I feel some sort of societal pressure to think of it that way. And I can't, I just can't. (And so maybe it isn't?)