Tales From the Vault: Men I have known
So it’s been brought to my attention that I left a few stories out in my attempt to disperse dating advice to the boys at Flashbacks. However, these stories are truly amazing stories – stories that cannot be summed up with one short, snarky comment amidst a sea of snarky comments in some random blog. No, these stories stand on their own – they must be treated with the respect they deserve. And so I have decided to pull these tales from the vault in all their glory.
Tale # 1: Butter Boy
Yes, you read that title right. It says Butter Boy. God help me, but that really is right.
Hmmm, now how should I begin this story? Firstly, I think I should probably protect Butter Boy’s privacy by not referring to him by his real name. Not that I think it will matter much, as anyone who knows anything about my or his high school dating experiences will know exactly who he is the moment they hear the context of the story – but still, I should try, right? From here on out we’ll call him Butter Bob. Why? Well, I like alliteration, for one. All those B’s put together get me feeling poetic, I must confess. And hey, why not? We’ve got to call him something, and Butter D – oops!, close call – is out of the question lest I run the risk of libel accusations.
Ok, here we go…
Once upon a time I was a senior in high school, and I had a boyfriend named Bob who I’d been dating for about a year and a half – a long, long time in the world of high school relationships. Now I was a very, very cool high school attendee because I had a pager. For you young-uns out there, a pager was a little device you would strap to your belt loop or pocket and people could call the pager and leave their number. Then the pager would beep and their number would appear. You would then know that the person at that particular phone number wanted to be called. This was pre-cell phone technology, and at the time it kicked ass. Not everyone had a pager, you know – mostly just drug dealers and rich kids. But I had a pager. I was officially cool.
So this one night I was hanging out with a friend at her house when my pager beeped at me. I looked at the number on the pager and it was Bob’s phone number followed by 911. You know how nowadays kids have all these fancy codes when they text message? Well back in the day 911 was a fancy pager code that meant, “Call me right now! I have an emergency!” Normally you’d receive a 911 page and return the call to find that the person paging you was out of peanut butter, and could you please pick some up, or maybe they were feeling paranoid about the fidelity of their significant other. Not exactly emergencies, in my opinion. So I called Bob back at his house feeling slightly annoyed and wondering what in the hell could possibly warrant a 911 page.
This time, however, Bob sounded like he had an emergency. He was sobbing into the phone and I pretty much figured someone had died. In between sobs he proceeded to tell me that he hated himself and he didn’t want to live anymore and that he was going to go ahead and kill himself now, if that was alright with me. Which, of course, wasn’t alright with me. So I hung up the phone and rushed to my car and drove to his house at approximately 25 miles over the speed limit and hoped I didn’t find major pools of blood when I arrived.
I walked into Bob’s house and there was nobody home. I have no idea where his parents were, but neither one of them was there. Bob had a brother, but he was living in Grand Rapids at the time and so he wasn’t home either. I wandered through the house until I found Bob in the bathtub, unharmed but naked. And greasy. Very, very greasy.
Keep in mind that all this happened when I was 17 years old. I was not skilled in the art of negotiating with suicidal people. I’m still not skilled in that art, and it’s been nine years. In fact, I don’t ever want to be skilled in that art. All I could think to do was to take away his razor and wash his hair. Lame, I know. Wash the suicidal guy’s hair! That’ll help! But it was so damn greasy, so I just started washing it. As I washed Bob’s hair I talked to him. I honestly can’t remember much of anything he said. I think I was in shock or something. But I remember not understanding the grease. God, it was everywhere. His hair was greasy, his body was greasy, the water looked greasy, there looked to be greasy streaks on the tub. Lord, thinking of it now, it’s no wonder he didn’t slit his wrists – I don’t know how he would’ve kept a hold of the razor with all that grease.
So finally I broke down and asked him about it. As I washed his hair I asked him what the hell was up with all the greasiness. And, Lord help me, this is what he said:
Bob: I *sob* needed to be *sniffle* cleansed and purified.
17-year-old-me: (not comprehending whatsoever) uhhh, ok..??
Bob: I needed to a- *sob* a-anoint myself with oil.
17-year-old-me: (still not getting the connection) ummmmm…ok….
Bob: But- b-b-but we didn’t have any *sniffle*
Bob: So I used butter.
I kid you not, folks, he slathered his entire body in butter in an attempt to cleanse and purify himself so he didn’t have to die. And he tried to tell me I was crazy.
Its okay, you can laugh. I’m laughing right now, actually. I have to, or I’d just lose my mind.
First of all, what religious text says that suicidal people should anoint themselves with oil so they don’t have to kill themselves? Because I’ve never read that text. And I’ve read a lot of whacked out religious texts. This particular boy prided himself as something of a Bible scholar and I’ve read that puppy from cover to cover not once but twice. If there is a magic formula that cures suicidal impulses with oil or butter in the middle of Galatians, I just plain skipped over that chapter. Can you imagine it – “And thou shalt anoint thyself with oil so thou doesn’t have to slit thine wrists – thus saith the Lord” Come on, Bob. If you’re going to be one of those scary, ritual obsessed Christians, at least get the rituals right.
Secondly, butter does not have oil in it. Last time I checked, butter is a dairy product. Oil is, well, an oil product. So, Bob, you anointed yourself with milk. Way to go. Next time at least consider going with margarine.
So you’re wondering how the story ends, right? Well, mom and dad came home from whatever function they were attending while I was washing the grease out of Bob’s hair in the tub. At 17 I was also not skilled at explaining to somebody’s parents why I was sitting in the bathroom with their naked, greasy son so I bolted for the upstairs and curled up in the fetal position in Bob’s room, crying, for the next hour. His mom came upstairs and tried to find out what had happened and to comfort me, but to no avail. There were simply no words. I mean, how do you tell somebody’s mom, “hey, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but your son slathered himself in butter so he wouldn’t kill himself and I was just trying to wash it out of his hair”? In fact, I never spoke a word of this to anyone until I was in my twenties – 24, I think. It took that long to accept that I really had seen Bob slathered in butter and to formulate the words to express it.
As for Bob’s dad… well, I didn’t see him at all that night, but it was reported to me that the only thing he had to say on the subject was ‘use a condom’. Classy.
So there you have it – the tale of Butter Bob.