Friday, June 29, 2012

The Liar's Mind

I'd like to invite you inside the mind of a liar.  My mind.
This is a true story - obviously the names have been changed.


Hey, where you at?
I look at the text message with a dual sense of foreboding and curious excitement.  Somewhere I knew that this wasn’t right.  In a different somewhere I hoped that it would be fun.

I remembered back to when I first met Krystal, during the early weeks of my freshman year here at college.  She was on the second floor, I on the first.  We were a clan, the The First Floor troupe.  We’d all been assigned nick names too: there was Poop, Slappy, Dub, Ry, Dougie, Dicky, Chuck, Pringle, Lev, Chad, Diesel, and host of others.  I was Phantom.  I was given this alias because the first several weekends I was here, I returned home to be with my girlfriend, whom I am still currently seeing.  I read the text message again: Hey, where you at?

One of Krystal’s roommates began dating one of my friend’s roommates and so they would show up during our floor drinking parties.  Beastmaster, they called her.  I didn’t think this was very classy of the First Floor, but I didn’t say anything one way or the other anyway.  Krystal was just about six feet tall, not a hair over six one though.  Her sandy colored hair fell past her shoulders both when curly and straight.  A nose piercing the size of large grain of sand sat itself on her round nose.  Green eyes that turned gray when they felt like it completed her round complexion.  Krystal wasn’t fat or overweight, she was just big.  I always thought I would look like that if I were a girl.

Alcohol, ye olde ice breaker, was the catalyst in my flirtatious yet joking-but-really-not behavior.  I would talk to anyone when I consumed that firewater – and truthfully, I didn’t mind it one bit.  I knew something was different with her, that I liked her I mean, one night when several of us, including Krystal, myself, Dickey, Dickey’s roommate Wash, and Wash’s girlfriend Rachel ended up talking late into the night in one of the main buildings on camps.  I was next to Krystal on some weird red almost plastic, but mostly leather type couch.  She put her leg up and over mine and left it there.  I didn’t move it, I just looked at it for what felt like an hour feeling a raging storm of mostly “oh dear god what do I do?!”.  Part of me wanted to move it, but another part was advocating for me to screw any rational thought and just go with it.  And so, pausing for only a briefer moment, I went with the latter.  I allowed her leg to rest on mine because, honestly, she was showing interest in me at that moment.  I know I lack self esteem, and this was indeed an esteem booster.  So I left her leg, continually growing in persuasive strength.

I told my mother about this shortly after it happened.  “Oh, she likes you!” she was almost gitty as she responded.  I remember thinking at the time that this was strange but didn’t mention anything.  It was strange because I was still dating my girlfriend at the time.  She was never brought up.

Hey, where you at?  I stare at the text message.  I look at the clock: 2:33am.  What am I doing up?  What am I doing reading this text?  Think, boy! something said inside of me.  Somehow, I was looking for this.  Somehow, I want my cake, and to eat it too.  Somehow, I want the best of both worlds.

Coming, I type.  The soft click, click, click of the keypad was simultaneously gong-like and the fluttering of butterfly wings.  I couldn’t decide which sounds they resembled more or why.  I hit Send.

I slip off the top bunk and onto the exceedingly hard floor.  I looked down at the blue Berber carpet which I thought makes the floor ever harder than it already is.  The carpet needs vacuuming too.  I’m struck by a passing thought: This is how I allow myself to not think about my actions: I am preoccupied with the mundane, anything that isn’t the emotional situation at hand.  This thought passes quicker than it came and I move on.  My roommate, Ry, is sleeping.  His bed is overflowing with pillows and a super-soft comforter.  He smells like sleep too.

The room is mostly dark, but some light from the sidewalk lamps peeks through the awful grey-green shades.  I can see enough to find my sandals and my lanyard with the room key and my college ID.  I chuckle as I grab the lanyard thinking about the picture on the card.  In typical me fashion, I purposely took a goofy picture: one side of my mouth is turned up in a smile, but I’m also flashing some teeth so it looks a little like I’m saying “yar matey” out the side of my mouth.  I have several hairs sticking up on the top of my head too.  Super classy. 

Mind off of the matter at hand.

The door to the room shuts quietly with a little help and I make my way down the dimly lit hallway.  There are a few lights on, just enough to see where you’re going but not enough to blind those folks who are mostly sleepwalking to the bathroom.  The stairwell is colder than the dorm hallway.  The latch catching on the strike plate on the door echoes for a short time through the almost dank cavity.

I climb the stairs, slowly now, listening for the back of the sandal flop against my heel then the step.  Vaguely hypnotic were I to get completely lost in those sounds.  No more a battle rages inside of me, than it is daytime outside.  I resolve to go to her, though I admit somewhat hesitantly.  I knew that this wasn’t entirely right but I wasn’t about to fight myself either, nor her.  Somewhere, I think that made me weak, but I brushed that unpleasant thought about myself aside and got lost in the step flop of my progress.  I would deal with whatever fallout that was sure to meet me in the morning, but for now, I knew what this girl wanted, and I decided to give it to her.  Simple as that, I think.

The door to the second floor opens with the same screaming latch as first floor’s door.  This hallway resembles the other hallways exactly, save for the room numbers: they all start with a “2” and not a “1”.  Krystal’s room is six doors down on the left.  218.  I walk, as silently as a late teen in flip flops on a hard linoleum floor can be.  Seriously, I think the floor is made from steel or tungsten or something else as obscenely hard.  This hallway smells better than my hallway.  My floor smells of boy musk, a hint of sweat, some beer, and powerful cologne to mask this pungent party.  This floor smells lighter if that’s possible.  It smells fruity and only slightly dainty.  It feels like I can move through this air easier.

218 arrives in front of me.  I face a very heavy, but probably fake wood door.  I have trouble bringing my finger up to the door, but I manage to do so.  My right hand rests on the chilly metal handle while my left index finger is tapping on the door.

Tap tap tap, my fingernail raps quietly on the door.
Hello, I’m here, it says, then adds, to do things that I only slightly don’t want to do.

Pushing the door open, I’m hit with a wave of warm air, not so much it knocks me back, but the difference in temperature from room to hallway is stark, indeed.  This room doesn’t smell nearly as sweet as the hallway air, but still better than the man-boy smell from the first floor.  Krystal’s area is on the left side of the room, her roommate’s is on the right.  Computers are set up underneath the bunk beds, and dressers are either on end or the other of the bed.  Clothes and a beanbag chair sit toward the back of the room, under the window.  The clothes should be put away, I think.  I thought girls were cleaner and more organized than we boys are.  I shrug it off.  Krystal is at her computer, chatting online with one of her friends down the hall.

“You made it,” she says.  She looks over her shoulder and smiles what could only be an I want you, so lets make this happen smile.
“Here I am,” I reply, and attempt to shoot her one back.  I guess it works.

I feel this strange awkward tension building around us.  We both know why I made the trip to visit her that night, but I’m nervous.  I’m hesitant but not so much that I didn’t make the trip at all.  Part of me wants this to happen now, another part wants it to happen at a later time.  The part that I don’t hear at all is the one that tells me I shouldn’t be here at all. 

I make some off-hand jokes about what happened that day or the state of her room.  We small talk, then she gets up on her bed.  I follow, assuming I should. 

I feel comfortably uncomfortable up here.  Or is it uncomfortably comfortable?  I have a strange sensation that I like being there on the bed, but at the same time, it feels foreign.  I think about her pillow and how I like mine to be fluffier and fuller.  Hers are too flat.  Her sheets are softer than mine.  Typical girl sheets, I guess.  She is laying on my left so that her left arm rests on my chest.  Her left leg is bent at the knee sitting atop my penis.  I feel her as she puts a slight pressure on me, saying I know what’s there, I want it.  I feel her through my basketball shorts and cotton boxer briefs.  She is in a t-shirt just a hair too big for her so it falls loosely, giving just a hint that she wasn’t wearing a bra.  Her shorts are too short and exposes most of her leg up to a very high point on her upper thigh.  I see her skin shine for a moment as some lamp light outside slips through the curtain and bounces off.  I lay with my left arm under her head.  I suppose that is where it ought to go.  My right arm is resting on my stomach just below my chest so I can feel my torso undulate almost forcefully slow.  I can hear my breathing in my ears; inhale, exhale, repeat.  I’m hyper-focused on my nerves and yet, very nearly desensitized.

I still don’t think about my girlfriend, not really.  My nerves are prickling, in a wrong sort of excitement.  I’m not ready yet, as if something is stopping this from happening.  I have a distant idea of what it is, but I don’t acknowledge it.  My shirt is off and Krystal is running her fingertips over my sparsely hairy chest.  Goosebumps show themselves for a moment, but my nerves kick in and they are promptly extinguished.

“I have to go,” I say, as I get up and climb down off the bed, no shirt and all.  She resists my leaving, almost pleading.  I see now, that I can’t, I shouldn’t be in this room.  I am doing something wrong.  That distant hesitation, that pulling at my gut, it’s clearer now.  I mustn’t continue with this.  My hand is back on the door handle when she props herself up on her elbows and directs her grey-green eyes nearly straight through me.
“You finish what you started.”

I stop short.  I hadn’t expected this type of response from her; indeed I never experienced this type of direct communication before, this sexual command before.  I am intimidated.  I look at her for a very long moment.  She smiles again.  A coy, almost devious smile, but one I couldn’t help but notice and fall for.  She knows she’s got me.  I know she’s got me.  I don’t fight it anymore.  Without a word, I dropped my shirt, flicked my sandals off and climbed back up.

Krystal removes her shirt off exposing her bare self.  I look for another long moment then move my face down toward hers.  I close my eyes as I do so.  If I couldn’t see her, then she wasn’t entirely real, I think.  This helps me continue.  I never kiss her lips.  I wouldn’t let myself – that would be too intimate and intimate, I knew, this is not. 

All of our clothes are off.  I am functioning well enough to actually have sex.  I think about nothing but the sex in front of me.  We move from the bed to the floor.  Too many clothes, I think to myself.  Why have all these clothes all over the place?  Those thoughts fade and give rise to something more pleasurable.  An emanating warmness from my genitals permeates me.  It is not emotional.  Purely physical.  Biochemistry.

“Rocket man!” she chuckles when we finish.
I chuckle too, but more of a glad that’s over, now I’ll act like I’m fine, chuckle.  I still feel good; the residual warmness is subsiding though and with it, the goodness.   I’m looking at myself, not at her.  When I do look at her, she smiles her entanglement smile.  I get up to retrieve my clothes.  She’s cleaning herself up.

“See you tomorrow,” she quips.  Umpteenth smile.
“Yeah,” I say, as I try to not let her hear the cracking in my nervous chuckle.  Tomorrow, I know, we will act like acquaintances again, with subtle and not not-so-subtle flirting.  Sideways glances between us, that we know something others don’t.  I walk out of the room and check the time on my phone.  4:42am.  Good.  No bodies will be walking the halls, just the sleepwalking zombies making their way to the bathroom.  And I’ll even have enough time to get a solid couple hours of sleep in.  I slink through the lighter-than-boy-musk air, down the hall to stairwell.  Dank again, echoing latches, flip flopping of my sandals.  First floor now, potent man-boy musk, heavier air, must keep slinking.  First floor will know.  They will know I’ve been with the Beastmaster, they will know this and I will be ostracized. 

Must keep slinking.

Finally, The 127.  Phantom, my namesake, hangs on the door, an intricate pattern drawn by hand on, what else, college ruled lined paper.  Here, my sanctuary.  I open the door.  Still, all is quiet.  Familiar scent of a warm room, Gatorade, popcorn, and two late teens, one from Connecticut and the other from suburban New Jersey.  I’m very careful not to shake the bed as I climb back in my own bed.  My sheets are a bit stiff but they do the job.  Pillows of adequate size and volume: check.  I lay there staring up at the popcorn ceiling. 
Mind off the situation at hand. 

That was not as much fun as I thought it would be.  I can’t decide if it was worth it or not.  I have a feeling that’s not a good sign, but I don’t dwell on that very long.

Before I know, I’m dozing off, thinking about how I’m not going to say anything to my girlfriend the next day.  I’d done what I thought about doing and didn’t really think a whole lot about that.  I do not feel sorry, rather, I’m working out what I’m going to tell…no, lie…to my girlfriend about the next morning.  That’s what it’s all about isn’t it: doing what you want and not getting caught?  No one told me otherwise.  Tomorrow is a new day.  And with that, I sleep.


  1. I'm not sure my mother ever had even the slightest twinge of self awareness any of the times she's lied.

    It seems to me that you knew and felt bad about what you were doing but did it anyway. Doesn't make you less of a liar, but I think it does make you a redeemable one.

    1. Redeemable...maybe. I haven't stopped lying since then, and that was 2004.

      I appreciate the support though. Need to learn to support myself.

    2. Learning to be a better you takes time. I've been working at it for 15 years, give or take. You'll learn if you stay willing. Setbacks are inevitable -- it's how fast you recover and learn from them that gets easier.

      I've got a great spouse too. It really helps to have someone in your corner, warts and all.

  2. College, man. Brings back memories! What a stupid time! I don't think you're a liar. It's college, you didn't know what you were doing and the dorms are filled with stupid people who think they're adults now because they can hit on you. It seems like you didn't get your way either way. You wanted to leave but she didn't let you and you didn't know you could say no. What a bitch! "Finish what you started?" What the hell is this? She started it. Plus, she's a bitch. You said no and she skipped right over it so you thought you didn't mean it, you thought she was right and you didn't deserve to say no. She didn't just skip right over it, she attacked you. You didn't push her away or shifted your weight even though you were uncomfortable because you thought it would be rude. You wanted to do what she wanted. And it's not like the girlfriend you had in high school was the greatest person of your life, it was just high school. You weren't getting what you want, either way.