by Carly Fisher
Heaving my gargantuan breasts out of bed, I rushed to the bathroom to wash out last night’s mistakes when suddenly something caught my eye. Pushing my greasy hair out of my face, I found myself face-to-face with a mascara-smeared Venus. Who was this hungover 23-year-old angel of mercy? It was the new face of womanhood. My womanhood. Because this was the day I realized that I had the power to—unintentionally—shatter men.
Of course, such powers are not developed overnight. My story begins one week prior during a snowy night on the north side of Chicago. Like many nights before, I found myself on my best friend’s couch, watching episodes of Golden Girls and attempting to find clips from a well-known porn site that specialized in niche videos– such as one in which E.T. travels back in time to seduce Abraham Lincoln; I intended to embarrass my friend by playing the clips at the record store he worked at. I had just picked out a very special pterodactyl gang bang clip when my best friend shifted my attention to Craigslist.
Because it was 2008, Internet dating was still considered iffy as far as social acceptability. Therefore, the Craigslist dating pool was a ratio of about 60 to 40 of sad, lonely people to sociopaths and rapists. So the odds were good, I thought, when I came across an earnest request from a handsome stranger: “Please buy me a shot of whiskey,” the advertisement read. “I am so broke. Also, I used to do heroin, but not anymore.”
At the time, I had difficulty distinguishing between honesty and irony—a problem with which I continue to struggle today—so I thought he was kidding. And to be fair, he had a perfectly groomed five o’clock shadow and said he made experimental music. So he mostly just sounded like your run-of-the-mill douchebag.
He responded quickly and asked if I could meet up that evening. My new paramour, Johnny. Seeing as I didn’t have anything better to do, I decided to venture into the Midwestern tundra in the midst of a snowstorm for a potentially romantic adventure with a deadbeat recovering heroin addict. We agreed the pro-bono whiskey would happen at a non-descript dive bar in Ukrainian Village, a convenient stop-off on my way home.
Somewhere between the train and bus, I received a series of text messages asking when I’d arrive. Apparently, the bar had taken away his drink, which made sense considering he had brought a six pack. “Yeah, it’s not really a BYOB kind of place,” I wrote back sympathetically.
I arrived to find a tall, lanky, conventionally attractive man with wild eyes and the slow affect of someone who probably killed a large number of brain cells. And who was broke, as advertised. As promised, I bought him a shot of whiskey.
We talked for a while, and I learned that he had moved to Chicago by way of Seattle, by way of somewhere on the East Coast. He did, in fact, used to do heroin under a bridge. But now he was using money from his parents to take online courses through Phoenix University to become a certified teacher. In theory, this would make for a great turnaround story except his motivation wasn’t a love of teaching. His actual plan was to work for exactly one year, saving up enough money to purchase land in Arizona where he would make experimental music.
I guess I left a considerable impression, as about halfway through the date, he invited me on a second date. It was to a party he heard about from some guy he met on the El on the way to the bar, so in retrospect, it wasn’t that flattering. He spent the rest of the evening accusing me of not wanting to go to the party– not an entirely inaccurate assessment.
We went outside and shared a Newport cigarette. He kissed me and I wasn’t into it. Then, he tried to get me to take him home. I declined, despite his assurances that it wouldn’t be a big deal because he didn’t have AIDS.
The next morning, he left a voicemail message apologizing for being drunk the night before. And while he didn’t know where the party was, he did manage to find fourteen dollars and could do something else.
Now, this is point of the story in which you might wonder why I went out with him again.
It’s a totally valid question—one that I often ask myself. The answer is: I made the mistake of starting this adventure on my best friend’s couch. By proxy, she felt invested. She argued that I was being too judgmental and should give people more of a chance. There was also the possibility of hot sex with a crazy artist, she added.
Because it is important to me to be right, I agreed to go on a second date with the stipulation that it would be a double date with my friend and her boyfriend in the likely event that it went sour. We decided to meet him at another local dive bar to play Scrabble. He proudly announced that he now possessed a credit card with $50 to add to his fourteen in expendable funds.
On the night of our date, she called crying after a petty fight with her boyfriend. He’s not coming, and she doesn’t think she can muster up the energy to go.
“Listen,” I said. “Under any other circumstances, I would let this slide. But tonight, that is not going to happen. You don’t get to flake on this one. You need to suck it the fuck up and get out here.” I would also pay for her drinks, I added.
We ordered some beers and set up the Scrabble game. Johnny showed up to the bar, puffing, with a Ron Paul yard sign wedged beneath his arm. “Sorry I’m late,” he said. “I had to bum change to get here.”
Apparently, he got into a few scuffles after we left the bar on our first meetup, kicked out of four bars for trying to get people to buy him drinks. This made me the fifth chump he asked to buy a drink, after his credit card was denied at the bar. Johnny felt proud as he laid down the word “pear” on the Scrabble board. He smiled and laughed as though he had made some clever joke to himself that none of us got. It was worth six points.
Fed up with buying him drinks and the general lack of chemistry, my friend finally conceded that I guess I could have gone with my gut feeling. I decided to end our evening.
“Tell me honestly,” he says. “Will you ever see me again?”
“Not romantically. I mean, I wouldn’t mind being friends, you’re a great guy,” I said. Okay, that was a lie, but I was trying to be nice. “I think you’re attractive, I just don’t know if there’s a spark here.”
I felt really proud. Finally, there was the way to give an honest, but compassionate rejection! If only more people could be up front with each other! I just figured out the clean break! I am the patron saint of rejection!
Unfortunately, Johnny didn’t see it that way.
“What about me repulses you?” he asked.
“Nothing… I just don’t think we have a good rapport,” I said.
“You should give people more of a chance,” he said. As if buying him drinks and meeting up with him a second time wasn’t enough of a chance. But he doesn’t stop there. As I put my coat on, he asked for $2 for the El.
“Maybe you should have used the $3.75 for the El instead of the beer I bought you?” I said.
“Maybe you should be a decent fucking human being and give me the $2. I don’t want to walk five fucking miles to Logan Square.”
At this point, he becomes violently angry, a vein bulging in his neck, the physical sign of a fucking psychopath. Realizing that he didn’t seem to understand that he’s a bum and an opportunistic asshole, I threw the money at him and told him he could consider it payment for never talking to me again. We both ran for a cab, fearful he’d find out where I lived otherwise.
The next morning, he called me three times in a row at nine a.m., leaving two voicemails.
“Hi Carly. It’s Johnny. It’s about nine a.m. and I’m just sitting here drinking a beer. I just want you to know that after you left last night I ended up having the most philosophical conversation of my life at this bar. So there’s that.
“I mean, what was the point, of showing up and really hustling my ass out for a ‘second date,’—if you will—only to have you ignore me during the ‘squabble’ game and then tell me—what?—that we don’t have a ‘rapport’? That’s bullshit. That’s fucking bullshit. You’re a hypocrite. You fucking shatter people. You have the capacity to shatter men. Fuck.
“So I guess that’s it. I’ll never call you again. If you’d call me, I’d like it, but I’ll never call you again. Goodbye.”
So that was when I first learned that I can unintentionally shatter men. As for Johnny, he did end up calling me again, six months later. I sat gripped in fear as he cheerily told me that he was finally moving to Arizona and that he was so glad he met me during his time in Chicago. Peeking out the window to make sure he wasn’t waiting outside my apartment, I wished him well, with the comforting thought that while I may shatter men, they can always pick up the pieces and move to the desert.
Carly Fisher is an editor and writer in New York. She likes tacos and hates manchildren. She tweets extremely socially influential content at @carlyafisher.