I went through a short (five year) spell where I compulsively answered and posted personal ads for the sheer thrill of probable disaster. In the winter of 1999, a delightful man named Pete responded to one of my ads. After exchanging several cordial emails, I decided there was a fair chance he wasn’t keen on brandishing machetes, so I offered up my phone number.
He called me one night when my boyfriend Jeff was over. Jeff — yes, my boyfriend — was no stranger to my need to spread my wings of infidelity, so he busied himself with an episode of "Felicity" (the one where Brian Crackhouse raped the pink Power Ranger) while I carried on a merry conversation with Pete about all the various cereals we liked and how it was so hard to choose just one variety each morning.
Pete and I made plans to meet up one fine evening, and to be safe, I invited Janna over too. Because if he were to arrive wielding a chainsaw, at least I’d have a decoy. Minutes before Pete’s arrival, Janna called. "My mom won’t let me have the car because of the snow. I’m so sorry!" she whined, probably inwardly relieved that now she could stay home and watch PBS.
I tried to call Pete to cancel, but he had already left. I wondered about the possibility of him leaving the piano wire at home, on the kitchen counter, miles away from my vulnerable neck.
But he likes cereal so much, I pep-talked myself. It’s hard to imagine a serial killer enjoying a bowl of Apple Jacks, I assured myself, because that’s clearly grade A logic to apply.
When I opened the door for Pete, I was taken aback by his unexpected redneck visage. But once we got the handshaking out of the way, he settled down in a chair and conversation flowed freely. I was slightly irritated by his constant abbreviation for cigarette. "Let me light another ciggie," he’d announce, feeling the need to include me in his smoking schedule.
Then he pulled out a joint. I knew not to smoke it with him, because even when I’m with someone I’m supremely close to, my paranoia gets way out of control and of course every person in the tri-state area is vying to rape me. I want to sear my skin with a hot iron, leap from speeding vehicles, watch Olsen Twins videos.
So I did the rational thing in Erin’s World and joined him.
On TV, the news reports gave constant updates on the severe weather condition unraveling outside. I kept urging him to leave, and he would respond with obvious insinuations that he wanted to spend the night, which my marijuana-clouded mind translated as, "Imma treat ya like a pig, stuff an apple in yer mouth, and fuck ya silly from the bee-hind, you slutty broad. Who’s the cereal king now, ho?"
Oblivious to the pandemonium tap-dancing through my nervous system, he’d jiggle a cigarette between his fingers and say, "Just one more ciggie!" I sat on the couch, hunkered down among the pillows, arms protectively covering my boobs, legs bouncing with the verve and RPM of a bridge-dwelling paranoiac. I had cotton mouth and I wanted to go to bed. Maybe eat a PB&J.
He finally left after I completely closed off and started answering his questions with irate outbursts. I never heard from him again, which is a shame because we could have maybe made beautiful cereal together.