Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Teenage Collateral Damage

Dear [name],
I am sorry. I fear you got the worst of it.

I worry I may have even told you I loved you. My displays of affection did go overboard, at times, and you hid me well in return. At such a young age, you must know now, gay or straight, it couldn’t have meant much in practicality. What did we know of love? But I don’t doubt it hurt you and you do deserve some revenge.

Each time we kissed, embraced, I was dishonest to you. I thought of someone else, I thought of how to get home, I thought of school, anything else, and I knew why. Each time I grabbed your hand in public I did so that I could hide between our palms, and it worked, but in a just world it wouldn’t have.

I want you to know, it had nothing to do with you; you are a beautiful, smart, and vibrant girl, a woman now. But you are a woman, and at my core I found our relationship, as difficult as it may be for you to understand, aberrant and wrong. It was the same with any girl; it was in me, and nothing in your control or about you personally.

I knew nothing about being gay, and was just hoping it would leave me, maybe that you’d help, and I used you for that end. Careless and foolish, yes, but I probably knew far less about the persistence of being gay than you did (I was sad, for what it’s worth, to find out that I wasn’t the only gay kid to do that to you).

I suppose now is as good of time as any to come clean, in total. My parents only technically gave me a 10 PM curfew; it was, in practice, midnight. I suppose I may be telling you this to defend my masculinity, as odd as that may sound, to explain why I’d “not stand up to [my] dad”. I should never have blamed him. I asked them for an earlier curfew, telling them I didn’t like to stay up late and it was better than telling you I wanted to leave. Don’t get me wrong--we had some wonderful times--but I wanted to leave before we’d end up where I’d no interest being.

Also, your prom, when your mom rented that room for us… I didn’t get the stomach flu. I faked that too. I near dare not write it, but I hope you can find that funny (Didn’t I even pretend to throw up in the bathroom?). I’m ashamed to say I’m smiling right now; my acting was particularly bad that night. Anyway, that was a boldfaced lie, but you have to admit, we were too young, gay or straight, and I’d have not done it either way (What was your mom thinking?!). Still, it was your prom, and I went home “sick”.

The night we broke up, you gave me that ultimatum: I either spend our “anniversary” with you, or it was over. But we were already over, [name]. I’d known for a while and it’d been building for months. Did you sense it? Is that why you put that foot down, on a mere, what, 14-month anniversary? A test for some horrible suspicion? The only thing I didn’t know was how it would finish. And there you were, innocently helpful to the end, constructing the perfect escape rout. I could get out and have no need to tell the truth, to say “I’m gay.” I admit the fates have often been far too kind to me.

I took that opportunity, eagerly. As soon as I sensed it, I egged you on. How cruel the look on my face must have seemed that night. If I let any hint of gratitude out and you misread it as something else, I hope you now understand why. I was cruel, but not for that reason, not with that intention.

I vividly remember how stunned you looked, straight from tears to that emotionless, out-of-body astonishment, and then back to tears. Were you thinking you were risking nothing on that ultimatum? I, instead, was waiting for it; I was glad for it. I went off with my buddies, had a great weekend, and felt the weight of one world leave my shoulders. And where did I leave you? Though I’m sure you’d agree it’s best for all how it turned out, I still hurt you knowingly and didn’t have the courage to tell you why.

If it makes you feel any better I didn’t enter our relationship exactly cognizant of being “gay”, and I never found love until I was 18, and have had a share of troubles. But no one ever did to me as I did to you. You were a gorgeous smart talented girl and I’m sure you’re a wonderful woman deserving of a man who can feel for you in the way I never could. I fervently hope you have that and more, and that I’m long forgotten, or at most a small anecdote.

I’m very sorry,

P.S. I should also apologize to your family. I fear I hurt your mom significantly too. I know what she had envisioned.

Dear [name],

I hope, in telling you I’m gay, much about our relationship is resolved.

All those many attempts to get me to another High School dance, and all those many excuses I gave to keep me from them, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry you wasted any time on me. You’re such a sweet girl, and I would have told you the truth, if I thought I could survive High School out of the closet. Instead I just let you ask and ask again.

You must have seen through it at some point, but I hope you never thought it was something wrong with you. Nothing was wrong with you. I would have proudly been your friend and gone out with you, if you’d have had gone with me knowing we would go nowhere, but I couldn’t risk that at the time. Besides, the mere atmosphere at a High School dance, of peers reveling in their sexual orientation, well, I was a secretly angry kid at the time and that would have been too much to take. “Lucky them, lucky bastards,” I’d be thinking the whole time, and I’d have been no fun for you.

Knowing you, you may get a kick out of the fact though that I, in the end, married the prom king of another school.

Anyway, I regret not coming out in High School for many reasons, and you are a significant reason to have been honest. You deserved the best in your teen years. Merely because I lost some of mine, I shouldn’t have let you waste a second.

I’m very sorry,

Gay men can leave a wake, and, in their agony of coming out, can be blind to the agony they’ve caused while “in” to so many luckless girls. I was no different. To all the others, those who I’ve not enough guilt to write another letter ;-), I am really sorry. I think about you and feel much regret. I meant you no harm, but I was careless, and, for the harm I did nonetheless, I hope you can forgive me and know what I did had nothing to do with your great worth or beauty.

Now, to where do I send such letters? Would they even care to know? Would hate mail come back?… I’m inclined to think it should.

I actually kind of hope I get mistaken for some other gay kid by some other girl treated so. I’m sure we all mean to say we’re sorry. I hope, if that happened to you as a young woman, you know that. You know he’s sorry for ever leading you on, for what small amount it may be worth, and it had nothing to do with you.


santorio said...

well, if i wasn't already depressed by some negative things going on at work, i really am now--i'm one of those cowards who hasn't even told his wife.

Scot said...

Now you got me worried.

I want to be clear. I wasn’t going to give these girls what people like you have, santorio. It’s different for the teen years as far as I can tell. I wouldn’t give them family; I wouldn’t give them even a passable marriage; I just took up their youth when I knew it would go nowhere.

If you can keep it up and there's no end in store, I'd certainly not call you a coward; it’s a tough call to say if the information is necessary or not in that case (though I’d imagine I’d have a preference).

Now, if you broke some other girl’s heart for similar reasons, knowing it would end or go nowhere and not telling her why, I’ll feel depressed about that right along with you. But you did give someone a family and a marriage, and one can never regret anything that leads to their children, let alone a good marriage, even those “mixed”; at least that’s how I imagine I’d feel.