I blamed Taylor Swift for my first break-up. I still do, but I just want to state for the record that I had a problem with that cute little psycho long before her so-called serial dating streak made it cool. I didn't hate that bitch for fun like every other hipster, okay? This was personal.
Before I "fell in love" with my first boyfriend, Nick, I'd spent a year falling for Taylor, so she was like that full-of-shit fortuneteller you visit before you go on that first date with Romeo, and she tells you that he'll be the prince and you'll be the princess and it'll be you and him against the world and he'll disappear for a while but then he'll randomly show up outside your castle and run to you across the meadow and confess that you're his whole world, and that you can be happy together forever as long as you just say yes. The fortuneteller tells you this and you believe her. I believed her. I now call this effect "The Love Story Syndrome."
So, when Nick broke up with me via iChat, Tay-Tay and I officially became frienemies. My two best gal pals sat on either side of me on the floor of the senior lounge, their mouths agape at the events unfolding on my laptop screen as if they were watching an episode of The Hills. Mine was, too, of course, because I was insanely fucking dumb. Nick had been distant for weeks, saying things that I now know to be classic warning signs ("I've been having thoughts." "What kinds of thoughts?" "Thoughts you would not like"—seriously). And I didn't get any smarter for at least a few months, so the next night (it took me a week to write a song about this) I made my planned appearance at the local LGBT Community Center's Open Mic Night. But instead of playing the mushy song I'd written for Nick the day of our first kiss—Valentine's Day, in the park—I played "Forever & Always," a song that was now literally word-for-word relatable to my situation. It was the song Taylor had infamously written about the fact that Joe Jonas—as she revealed on Ellen—had broken up with her in all of 27 seconds over the phone. Over the phone? At least you got to hear his voice, you spoiled cunt.
Anyway, the performance was a disaster: Nick—who'd originally said he'd be there—didn't show, and some angry queen who went on just before me had thrown the microphone on the floor, causing it to crackle with static while I sang—the perfect sonic metaphor.
All of a sudden, swifter than Harry Styles realized he was going in the wrong direction, it was three years later—my junior year of college. Ever since Nick, I'd still been perched on the edge of my balcony, waiting for Prince Charming to come by again. And then, after a Birthright trip to Israel that should have opened my eyes to aspects of the world beyond boys, I returned to New York and fell under the spell of a dude straight off the douchebag assembly line—let's call him The Tool. He came complete with a total tool's Adam4Adam username and that smirk that says "Well, well, look what we have here/I'm gonna make you my slave."
About three things I was absolutely positive: 1.) The Tool was a professional culinarian. 2.) There was a part of him, and I'm not sure how potent this part was, that knew that the way to a man's heart was through his stomach. 3.) I unconditionally and irrevocably really like food. I'm sure I was still at this point a complete dumbass—as dumb as a girl who dates John Mayer and then is surprised when he treats her heart like monkey meat (but hey, at least she admits to her stupidity). But nevertheless, I know now that I was in love with the Tool, and I had not been in love with Nick. The Tool did things for me and said things to me no one had ever done or said. He told me harrowing childhood stories, and made me a big dorky Valentine's Day basket even after admitting that he hated Hallmark holidays. He'd even put the thing together on the very day that his childhood idol Whitney Houston passed away (honestly, she was his world, whether you think that's stupid or not). But to make a long story as short as a perfect pop song's narrative, he quickly disappeared after Whitney did. And when I subsequently became physically ill, cried myself to sleep and then could barely crawl out of bed morning after morning, that's how I knew the difference between Nick and the Tool. I knew I had fallen, cause I could feel the impact when I landed.
After two-to-three weeks of indulging in my sadness (my bed felt like a concrete slab I'd been left on for long enough that time became blurry), I found myself on Manhunt one evening. But this was not my usual before-bed cruising I do as my eyes are drooping to trigger a liquid dream. I was in withdrawal, and while I've never done actual drugs, I imagine there's nothing quite as potent for a guy—especially one who likes guys, cause there are a lot of them in Manhattan—as hunger for dick. It sends fog into your field of vision. And this night, I shot up in my seat when I recognized a famous face from my very own spank bank. Yes. I found a porn star's real live profile on Manhunt. Let's call him the Hershey Bar. Following an online game of stalking-a-star-around-a-grocery-store-and-finally-finding-out-if-it's-really-him, Hershey tossed me a hotel's name and I could practically hear his deep drawl as I read the words, "Room #3". Pretty much from the moment I asked the Hershey Bar for his hotel address, every move I made was as if I were underwater. I was Dory from Finding Nemo and my imminent porn star-power orgasm was the light from the esca (the long growth with a light bulb-like orb at the end of it) of that anglerfish that nearly ate them (Remember? She was all, "I want to TOUCH it"). Like Dory, I guess I didn't think ahead to being eaten, so to speak.
I imagined glamor and gold (again, I was still dumb as a twelve-inch post). No. It was every "sexily" skanky scene I'd jerked off to come to life. Through the double doors of the hotel were a couple of long cigarette-yellow hallways past a 'concierge' of sorts. I tiptoed down the hall to room #3, knocked on the door and Hershey answered, naked milky limbs and all.
"Hayyy," he said, "gettin' mah dick sucked ovah heah."
A blonde, puppy-looking kid around my age was posing doggy-style on the tiny bed, his mouth hanging open. Hershey returned to standing in between the blonde's head and the bunny-eared TV, on which a fuzzy hetero porn film played. Somehow I didn't imagine that when this happened to me there'd be a woman moaning in the background. I undressed transfixed. I hopped on the bed.
What I did next was what I'd been taught. His breath smelled of all-day booze and smoke, and I inhaled it as if part of me was convinced it was Romeo's cologne. Every brush of my hand and swirl of my tongue was in pursuit of that bright esca. It swerved. I followed. It hid itself in the crook of Hershey's neck (or the boy's), up the length of his famous chocolate bar, and yes, even in his armpits. And that was the moment—as I licked the fluffy stubble and looked up into his tar-black eyes—that I officially fell off my castle's balcony.
There was something about seeing Ted's "I'm gonna rock your world" face in person that had a similar effect on me to seeing Taylor's "OMG you like me you really like me?" face live at her Madison Square Garden show, a few months after Nick had dumped me: For the first time, I didn't buy it.
If I was infected with the Love Story Syndrome on that Valentine's Day in the park when Nick first kissed me, I was given the Antidote in that motel room via Hershey's Marlboro breath.
I suddenly knew I was not going to be able to forget about the Tool by burying my head in the ash of Hershey's armpit. By the time I realized that, though, he'd tossed me backwards on the bed like I was a stuffed animal, and grabbed a condom from a drawer, tearing it open with his teeth (they looked like something out of a prison riot). I coughed out tiny protests, sitting up.
"Um, I don't think I w-anna d-do that…"
"Yeah, yeah," he chuckled, shoving me back down on the bed and pinning me to it, his calloused hands digging into my porcelain shoulders.
He looked down at me with the gaze of a hypnotist, nodding with a perverted version of that aforementioned bullshit psychic Taylor Swift's expression in her fairy-tale music videos that said this is how it's supposed to go. I saw my entire sexual history flash before my eyes and realized that he could kill me (if not with his cock, with his bare hands). His mouth moved but I had no idea what he was saying. My legs—jelly at this point—locked around his waist as I felt something that HAD to be his elbow slowly push inside me like a rock of dough into a cookie cutter. Remember how I said I was underwater? This was the moment when I started to see stars (you know which kind).
"I can't. I can't, I'm sorry. I have to go," I said, jumping off the bed and grabbing my clothes, emerging from the saltwater.
I dressed faster than I'd had even when rushing to make a morning class, and Hershey shoved me out the door like I was his younger brother who'd been spying on him and his girlfriend. I raced back down the hallway and out the doors into the chill I'd never been happier to breathe in. And I ran to the subway, deleting his number from my phone on the way.
I couldn't just say yes. Not to the Hershey Bar. I still believed in love stories. I just know that MY Prince Charming probably doesn't start online conversations with "drain u". I also know most real ones don't have a perfectly happy ending. I'm just waiting for mine to start.