The Beast

I simply have to get rid of my best friend. I hate who I am when I am around him, I hate the way he lives and his influence on me. I have attempted to breach with him that I want to change things about myself, lose weight, save money, go back to school and finish my degree, etc. Here is my imagined conversation with him, based on real responses he's given me in the past.

ME: "Well, I'm not going to get some ice cream, I'm going to bed, get up early, and go to the gym. I need to lose some weight."
THE BEAST: "I don't know why, I think you look good. You shouldn't have such low self-esteem. Why waste your time at the gym, when you could just learn to like yourself?"

ME: "I have to save money to go back to school. I only have a semester left."
THE BEAST: "School isn't going to be that much. You need to be saving for our trip to Vegas." After pestering me for months, I finally relented to going on a trip to Las Vegas with him and his family, even though he KNOWS that will take money away from where it needs to be.

ME: "I need to be working more hours."
THE BEAST: "You are just going to burn yourself out if you do that."

ME: "Myles is coming to Texas to see me next month."
THE BEAST: "I don't know why you don't get a real boyfriend in your own state. Long distance is dumb. You guys probably won't make it any way."

ME: "I need to be eating more meals at home, not restaurants."
THE BEAST: "I hate eating at home. If you don't have the money, I'll pay for you." Then he makes snide comments about paying for my meal.

I told him that I didn't want to hear anything about Myles, because that stuff was really pissing me off. The rest of the stuff I try to just shrug off, but it is just getting to be too much. I had to dip into my saving to pay rent this month, something I swore I wouldn't do, because I routinely spend 20$ a day on dinner, money I don't have. The other part of the equation is that he doesn't drive, and therefore depends on me for transport. He left his work ID in my van last night, seemingly on accident. But now I have to pick him up for work today. He does things like that all the time.

A Perfect Day for The Beast

  • Wake up around 2 in the afternoon.
  • Play video games until your retinas bleed.
  • Eat something expensive and unhealthy.
  • Go to the movies.
  • Eat more.
  • Play more video games.
  • Go to sleep, having successfully avoided any physical activity.

He also works with me, and is in management (not my direct supervisor, but on the same level as my supervisor). Rebuking him altogether is out of the question; he goes to bat too frequently for me at work. But I need to find a way to phase him out of my life. But to be fair, I wouldn't spend time with him if it wasn't fun to spend money and be lazy, with no thought of the future. But it isn't the way to get anywhere. He himself never finished his degree for A&M, and if that isn't a cautionary tale, I don't know what is.

I must slay the beast.

In a little hick town just between here and the city, whose name loosely translates to English as "Cowtown," there's a Denny's right off the freeway. Like a cancerous growth sprouting off th back, there's a small bulge that doesn't quite look like it belongs. You walk in to the restaurant and into the hall marked "Restrooms." There are three choices there. Men, women, and in a handwritten sign duct taped to the third door, the Hideaway Saloon.

My friends were first made aware of this place when their car broke down one night. The tow truck driver dropped them off there, giving the bar the highest recommendations. The same tow truck driver showed back up 4 hours later once they had produced a valid AAA card.

He asked, "Did you see the cute little blond thing in there?"

My friends tell him yes, and all the things they'd like to do to her.

He said, "Well, that's my sister. But I'd probably do her too if we wasn't related."

This is the Hideaway Saloon.

There are three pool tables inside, a few plastic tables surrounded by lawn chairs. Pints of domestic are $2.00 on Fridays. The game was on the single TV hanging above the bar. We suspect the place isn't licensed. There is no exterior door, no ingress or egress sans the Denny's restroom hallway. There is one of those claw machine games in there, the kind you use to try and pick out a stuffed bear for your sweetie at the movies and inevitably fail, giving up ten dollars later. This machine did not only contain bears, however. It contained bears, fuzzy handcuffs, and porn dvds.

And all of a sudden, it hit me.

My girlfriend has mentioned a few times that she was in a porn, once, and it's always kind of bothered me. I've never been fully comfortable with it, and she's never really seemed ashamed about it. She's mostly stopped mentioning it because she sees it bothers me.

And I thought, what if one of those DVDs is my girlfriend, fucking some trashy porn guy on tape. What if some redneck is standing at that machine, drunk on Friday night on two dollar pints of Miller, picking out DVDs? Picking out DVDs of my girlfriend, fucking.

What if he goes home to his double wide, with a DVD of her. I'm a photographer, and at times I've been tempted to take a picture of my girlfriend asleep, because she falls asleep so easily and peacefully, on park benches and in the passenger seat of my car. She looks like an angel, so innocent. But I don't, because I tell myself, "No, some things are for my eyes only. This is one of them."

But maybe it isn't. Maybe some patron of the Hideaway Saloon is dropping quarters in the claw machine right now, moving the hanging claw over the DVD. My girlfriend. Fucking.

I hope I'm not being too sensitive.

Well, the new tattoo was started today, the last of the three that will cover the outer side of my right arm.

The top one is Death. The card of radical transformation, of sad endings and new beginnings. It was completed before I left, before the long journey.

Underneath this lies The Lovers, Reversed. The card of failed romance, divorce, an inability to find love, a partner, an inability to join two disparate parts.

Some people say "hey, that's backwards" not realising it's upside down.

The final one, which started today, is the Hanged Man, whose Tarotic warning is, for all intents and purposes, "check yourself before you wreck yourself".

Naturally there are many more interpretations of these cards, and many more meanings, and all of them are valid.

I feel so extraordinary, something's got a hold on me,
I get this feeling I'm in motion, a certain sense of liberty...

The writeup under Shingles was the first thing I read on E2. I was intrigued. I kept reading. I read Notice Me. For days all I did was read. I read the invitation at the top of the screen. I could join. I could participate in the same shared electronic space these beautiful people did. I had no intention of posting anything. I know I have limitations and my family was brutally honest when I asked for their comments on things I had written.

Through the glass I saw a strange reflection, was that lonely woman really me?

I decided to join anyways. I read about the username and decided not to come up with one of my own. I borrowed someone else's idea and passed it off as my own. I wrote some ridiculous tripe and put it under my home node. I signed up for a mentor but I kept reading. I watched. I listened. I learned. I cried. I understood nothing.

Maybe I didn't treat you quite as good as I should
Maybe I didn't love you quite as often as I could
Maybe I didn't hold you all those lonely lonely times
And I guess I never told you I'm so happy that you're mine

I watched the catbox dynamic. Whenever someone said something I went to their homenode. I tried to learn as much about each individual person speaking as I could. I tried to go outside and say a few things. I was largely ignored and/or laughed at. Jokes and sarcasm sailed right over my head. I went to the Noders Nursery and sat in solitary abandonment. Left with nothing but time I kept reading the things that people had written. Some of it was so powerful I had to respond to it. I sent a few messages to people letting them know that their work was meaningful and appreciated. I got a message back from someone. I'm not as fragile as I think I am.

The things she said, the books she read, you think you know her...

So far I've counted six people who think that I've been a former user in the past. I believed what I read. Don't write about yourself. GTKY nodes are discouraged and I had read and seen enough to know that that was true. I had an opportunity to talk to someone. I found out there was gossip circulating but curiously no one had approached me with any of it. I was stunned.

Lost in dangling conversation. And the superficial lies.

I've thought several times about leaving but I came to the site to become a better writer and curiously enough the sarcastic softlinks at the bottom of my writeups have taught me more than the messages from Cool Man Eddie. Someone asked if I could ever consider the name Jasmine. Another user asked if I had pictures of myself. They found out I like to play Scrabble. Someone asked if I was a dentist.

If everyone's gonna fuck with me, I might as well be brave.

I see words that bleed across my screen. I hear people begging for attention. I read a home node that said: I want to die. I've seen new users being mocked. I see their writeups being nuked. I've been the brunt of jokes. One gentle user kindly informed me that Nova Scotia was a real place. Have you seen yourself in things that I've written?

Now there's nothing more important than the girl who broke my heart.

I think that new users should get an identifying symbol like the gods and editors have. I think new users should get a nominal number of votes and I think that their first couple of writeups should be posted to a safe haven node. I think that the focus should be on what they've written rather than the softlinks. New users should be assigned a mentor automatically and their writeups channeled through their mentor before going live. I'm sure all of these not so brilliant ideas have already occurred to many others and I've also read that the voting system is the topic of a user group. I can only hope that the change will be for the better.

Repulsive gargoyle who turns away but secretly, secretly yearns for heaven, secretly.

You don't know how upset you are until you start crying when someone hugs you in the catbox or drops you a private message. You put yourself on the line when you step into the catbox for the first time. I try and draw people out. I talk a lot but I try and direct comments towards specific users and the audience at large. I try to thank people for kindnesses. If I see unsavory behavior I try and admonish or redirect it. I'm not perfect either. I've said and done things that I shouldn't and I hope people can forgive me if I've offended them.

Feeling unknown and you're all alone

You're not alone. You're surrounded.

You're not alone. People are there for you.

Reach out and touch faith.



Lyrics provided by the following artists:

New Order, Mary Hopkins, The Pet Shop Boys, Cause and Effect, Simon & Garfunkel, Seafood, Chicago, I Love Math, The Phantom of the Opera and Depeche Mode.

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