It’s been twenty-five years since I thought about you, you asshole, my brother, my classmate, my colleague, my dear old friend. It’s been twenty-five years since that night you walked me home from the bar, to keep me safe, and you pushed me down on my back on the hard dark black night grass, cold frozen mud under the oak trees along College Walk. It’s been twenty-five years since I looked up at those magnificent branches against the moonlit night, at your reddened face reaching in to kiss me, and thought, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
I pushed your chest up and away and your face was arm’s length from mine, glasses steamy and mouth awkwardly puckered. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” I said, laughing, bending my knees, rolling to my side, trying to get up. But you kept me down, grabbed my arms and pinned me, like some kind of romance novel hero gone wrong. You said nothing, as I turned my head away, dodging your kiss, still giving you the benefit of the doubt.
“Seriously, Jim, what are you doing? Stop!” I said, as jovially as possible, since you were such a good friend and I didn’t want to hurt your feelings, after all. “Poor Jim,” I thought, “is it possible he’s so clueless he thought I was interested in him?” And I watched you hold me down with your hands and your body while I quizzed myself about what I had done that evening, or ever, to make you think there was any chance that I wanted this. I held my legs tightly closed as I thought about what I had worn, what songs we’d sung from the jukebox together, whether I’d talked to you about my boyfriend, your brother, in a way that suggested I wanted you instead. I was pretty sure not, and yet here we were, struggling on the ground. Struggling. With you, dear Jim.
And then I got scared. “Cut it out, man, don’t be nuts,” I cajoled as you landed some kisses on my neck and my chest, while I shook my head back and forth and kicked my legs, trying to get up while my arms were still pinned. “Get off me, don’t be this guy,” I said, and a burst of force came through me and I kneed up at you, you rolled off to the side, and I broke free. You sat up, wiped off your glasses, put them back on, and looked at me with pure hatred. “Are you kidding me?” you said, “That’s how you’re going to play this?” Like I was the evil seductress who'd duped you instead of your sister. I didn’t feel anything. I felt sad. I wanted you to like me. I didn’t want to hurt you. I just wanted to get home safe. “I’m sorry,” I said, up and dusting myself off. “I guess we had a misunderstanding.” I walked myself the rest of the way home and told you not to worry about it.
And since then when I hear those women talk about being sexually assaulted I feel bad for them and pity them and blame them and am relieved for myself. Because something like that would never happen to a girl, a woman, like me, just one of the boys, a team player, a friendly. And a nice guy like you would never want to hurt anyone, I don't think. But you did. You hurt me.