Author, Musician, Engineer, Lover

How to Sacrifice Your Lover — A Tale of Gaslighting and the Cult of Borderline Personality – Chapters 0-3

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Sample Chapters, 0 thru 3 (of 50)

DEDICATION

Dedicated to all who just want to be who they are and feel loved, and to she who knows who she is, and dumps this dedication into a bottomless abyss

Foreword

You are one of the very first people to honor me by reading this book. This book is likely riddled with mistakes and typos but continuing to refine this book would be a mistake. Even if this book were never written, this story, on its own, took a lot away from my soul, sanity, prosperity, and wallet. Publishing it simply puts it to bed. It may be understood by very few.

I am not sure how this book will be received by many readers. You may think the main character, Yuki, is a villain.  You may think he is a hero or victim. All of those things are likely true.  This book may validly read, to some, like a pathetic 450-page love letter from a whiney nerd to a prom queen.  It might validly read, to others, like a 40-year-old virgin man trying to mansplain sex and relationships to adult women.  But really, to me, the author, this book is about psychology.  It is about what happens when people with opposing life experiences, become intertwined and their personality disorders and defects get the best of them, causing them to tangle in ways that are both beautiful and horribly abusive at the same time.  It doesn’t matter if you think of any character as a hero or a villain, what matters, is that these characters exist, as real people, and experience life in their unique ways.

It may not be an easy read. It may make you cringe. If any of those statements are true of your experience reading this, then this book is a success, in my opinion. Not everything about art and music and cinema and literature is created with the intention of invoking pleasant feelings in those who experience it. Some art is intended to invoke unpleasant feelings. I merely hope that, when reading this book, you’ll feel the feelings that I felt as I wrote it, and those feelings are often unpleasant, frantic, chaotic, loathing, lovesick, and even, frequently, pathetic. 

Chapter 0

“FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU!” Amber screams as I stand in the entryway of my house. I take one step back as paper plates of pizza fly at my feet with each “fuck you” she delivers with increasing fury.

“Why are you speaking to me like this in my house?” I ask politely. I am calm and collected, yet Amber is completely off-the-handle.

“ALL I WANT TO DO IS SMOKE THIS FUCKING BOWL AND GET DRUNK!! IT’S MY BIRTHDAY, AND I JUST WANTED TO GET THROUGH TONIGHT WITHOUT ANY FUCKING DRAMA, BUT I’M TOO SICK TO EVEN DRINK MYSELF TO DEATH!!!”

“Why are you speaking to me like this in my house?” I ask again, now beginning to boil.

“FUCK YOU! I hate you!”

My resolve to keep my cool begins to crumble. “Why are you speaking to me like this in my house!” I ask again – my voice building into a low growl. I grit my teeth. I clench my fists.

Amber leaves the kitchen area attached to the living room, walks past me, and storms up the stairs that wind from the entryway up to a loft that overlooks the entryway and living room. “FUCK YOU! I’LL MOVE OUT TOMORROW!” she snaps just before she slams the door to “her” room. She lets out a loud screech and I hear the dull thump of a heavy object being thrown. A thud reverberates through my house as loud as her screaming.

I finally raise my voice, “NO, YOU’RE MOVING OUT TONIGHT!”

“I’M NOT LEAVING WITHOUT MY STUFF!” she shouts back, her voice sounding muffled from the other side of the closed door. Amber always cared about her “stuff”.

“I’ll gladly put it out on the curb for you!” I return, now with a cocky swagger. I’m high on myself, a little shocked, but feeling righteous. I’m proud that I was finally able to stand up to her. I had bent over backwards too many times for her; I let her bully me around; but for once, I was flexing my muscles and letting her know that I demanded respect.

Her butch, rainbow-haired friend Beth sighs and follows her up the stairs, entering the bedroom. “I’ve never seen her like this,” she says as she passes by.

“Well, I have,” I reply. “This isn’t the first time.”

Amber almost sprays Beth with mace as she enters the bedroom. She must have thought Beth was me as she entered. I am a little angry about the events that just transpired but more depressed than angry. I generally don’t get angry about things. I just stand in the entryway, stunned, for what feels like a few minutes, but is probably just a few seconds. Upon reconnecting my brain to the motor functions throughout my body, I go through all my kitchen drawers, find all my knives, and take them into the basement where I hide them in an old blue suitcase. It wouldn’t be the first time a girl violently chased me through my own house with a knife. I decide it best to take precautions.

I go outside, peer into the darkness, and find my good friends and houseguests for the week, Techna and Daedalus, are cowering in near-pitch-blackness. They’re put off by all the screaming and shouting. They’re in town visiting from out of town and travel here to stay with me often. They don’t go by their real names. Few people I know use their real names in the Goth/Cyberpunk scene.

“I’m not impressed, Yuki,” says Techna. “You asked me to size-up this girl, and from what I’ve seen all night, I just gotta say that this snotty, spoiled party-girl attitude she has is super immature! She’s pushing 30 years old but should have outgrown this attitude when she was a teenager! You really should be with someone grown-up!”

“I know, I know. But I just really want to be a kid again myself. You know, I didn’t really party when I was younger, and I lived a life of isolation and boredom in my 20’s, so I suppose I love a hot mess! I just find this party-girl raver vibe super-attractive,” I reply.

“But she’s clearly just using you because you have money and a nice house! I care about you, but I don’t think you have any business being with her!”

“Well, as you get to know someone, you never really know how it’s going to unfold as you peel back all the layers. It was good in the beginning, a nice time, but over time she just got more and more demanding and mean. I didn’t want it to take these turns, I hoped she would prove to care, but now, clearly, this is scorched earth! I can’t fix this now no matter how much I want to,” I reply.

Techna and Daedalus are good friends, but I think my neighbor, “Neighbor Mike”, thinks that they’re hired prostitutes every time he sees them. Most people in Minnesota are plain and boring, and I have an incessant need to be in the company of freaks. Techna is wearing her favorite tight silver sequined dress, a pink wig, and her favorite “hooker shoes”. She loves her pink wig because when she goes to the gay clubs, the gay men all think she’s a man dressed in drag. Her shoes are knee-high platform heels with straps strewn with bullets twisting up her leg and with heels shaped like revolvers. They make her look like a sex worker, but Techna is none of that. Techna is just a beautiful, classy, fun girl who loves to shock people, and maybe do a little cam work on the side for fun.

Daedalus is her flamboyant bisexual boyfriend, a tall, hairy, effeminate, panty-wearing, Goth man with long black hair, black fingernails, white makeup, and painted eyebrows. Techna loves how bizarre Daedalus is. They both dress in ways that would make “normal” people uncomfortable. Shocking other people is regarded to be one of Techna’s great pleasures. Yet, even if she might think it is funny to tell dead-baby jokes at an infant’s funeral, Techna and Daedalus are two of the most morally centered people I know. They’re good friends, my best friends.

We’re all on the fringes of the “Goth” scene in Minneapolis. It is a scene characterized by men and women into vampires, black clothing, and industrial music. I say we’re on the “fringes”, but others might say that we’re at the nucleus of it all. You see, in Minneapolis, you don’t have to be obsessed with the dark side to be welcomed in the Goth scene. You don’t have to love Trent Reznor or be into bondage sex to be welcome here. You can be whoever you want to be. In fact, the one thing that sets us apart in our community is that anything goes here. You are respected, and as long as you’re open-minded and not a pedophile, rapist, or murderer, you can be whoever you want.

I was drawn to the scene because I’m a bit freaky myself. At 34, I am still learning to be “myself”. I am currently sporting long hair colored green and purple which changes on any given week. I never had the guts to dye my hair until this year. I worried about the public scrutiny I would face when I dyed it for the first time, particularly as a professional software engineer. I never had the guts to do many of the kinds of things that other kids did when they were in high school. I missed out on all the kissing games, wild parties, and binge drinking when I was younger. I didn’t start drinking until I was in my 20s. Some might have called me a good kid… but to my peers… well… maybe I was just a spineless prude. I am scared of many of the things that ordinary people endure regularly. I’m uncomfortable expressing my sexuality, or talking about sexual things in general, being in the presence of drugs, even pot. I want a wholesome environment to live in, but also one that fulfills my urges. I imagine others out there looking at me as emotionally and socially immature, and I might be the first to admit that I am. Maybe I’m just trying to fix that by gaining experience that I was missing earlier in life, trying to live the lost years of my life in my middle age. Really, I just want to be a kid again, but I see the clock of life ticking, and the burdens of old age on the horizon.

I expected negative reactions from people when I first started expressing myself outwardly but was surprised to learn that being unique on the outside starts many friendly conversations. I exercise what I call “fashion freedom” in the way I dress, taking fashion risks, bending gender norms regularly, but compared to most in the scene, I’m pretty “normal”. I’d always been an outcast, even in a scene full of outcasts, and sometimes I feel like I might not be bold enough to truly fit into this scene… even this… decidedly open-minded scene, which is full of bold people into leather, bondage, assless chaps, kilts, whips, chains, piercings, tattoos, transsexuals, and transvestites. I’m plenty crazy, mind you, but at this point in my life, I keep most of my craziness “in the closet”.

Amber and Beth are also on the fringes of the scene, and, as a result, we share many common friends. The Goth scene is like its own little small-town inside a big city. Everyone knows everyone. There are only a few hundred of us and we frequent the same clubs every week.

But Amber and Beth don’t fit the Goth standard at all. They don’t champion the color black like most in the scene. They don’t listen to depressing, dark, music. They don’t collect novelties celebrating The Addams Family, The Cure, Hellraiser, or Dracula.

They’re just club girls… stoners. They don’t care who they hang out with, just as long as there is pot involved. It just so happened that in recent months, Amber had been living in my house at my expense and relying on my money for her weed habit. She had no job, and no real job leads; she didn’t pay any bills or buy herself food, but I didn’t mind. Amber was fun to be around… most of the time. We had fun, even if I was paying. Amber’s hair is long and dyed pink and black, which I had funded not even an hour earlier. She’s petite, not too shy to wear thigh-high stockings paired with extremely short skirts, and tops cut low enough to expose her breasts just beyond the areolas. Her eyebrows are painted because she recently shaved them for a fetish website when she needed extra cash.

Beth’s hair is always a rainbow of colors, which is the only feminine thing about her. She is a “tom-girl”, sporting tennis shoes, knee-length cargo shorts from the boy’s department at Walmart, and a cheap white T-shirt with some random dive bar’s logo on the front.

They love going to dance parties that play dubstep music and do party drugs like ecstasy and whatever new drug is hip. I first met them at a party hosted by my old friend Echo. I thought they were lesbian lovers, but they soon proved to be more bisexual than gay. Amber quickly took a liking to my hair which, at the time, was colored a deep purple. Purple is her favorite color, and my hair matched her purple stockings. I am a sucker for a girl in long stockings. I found it difficult to resist her. At first, it seemed like she couldn’t resist me either. She could be a fun girl. In many ways, she was a geeky guy’s dream. She played “Magic” and kicked just about anyone’s ass at Halo on Xbox. We had plenty of fun playing video games together or watching childish cartoons. Most of the time, I enjoyed her company.

I quickly found out that weed fuels Amber’s lifestyle and also fuels Amber and Beth’s friendship. They love weed like no two people on planet earth. Together, they probably smoke more pot than the entire Minneapolis Goth scene combined and are connected to the fringes of the scene because… well… Amber had many “roommates” in the past.

I, certainly, am not the first person she had been freeloading off. She seemed to bounce around, freeloading off one geeky guy in the scene until her terrible attitude got her kicked to the curb, at which point she would quickly just find another one. She admits, bluntly and openly, that things for her are just “too easy”.

On many levels, we got along very well. I cared about her deeply. But, unfortunately for me, Amber’s only care in life is pot. In 2011, pot is just starting to become politically accepted as harmless, and therefore there is talk of it becoming decriminalized in some states. The popular consensus is that it is far safer than alcohol, which is already legal everywhere. No one can deny that alcohol is far more destructive than marijuana, but when you smoke as much weed as Amber, even she fully admits that it causes some problems. Even the most obsessed stoners I know smoke only a tiny fraction of the weed that Amber does. She smokes and smokes all day and all night, every 15 minutes it seems, at a cost of several hundreds of dollars every month. She couldn’t quit if she tried, but she doesn’t want to quit anyway.

Today is her birthday, June 12th. She is mostly recovered from her most recent hospitalization. It has been 14 days since I took her to the ER. The doctor’s diagnosis was “acute THC intoxication”. They pumped her full of all the anti-nausea meds they could fit into her veins, but none of it could stop Amber from vomiting every 30 seconds (literally). The vomiting, they said, was psychosomatic. It was paired with constant panic attacks and an unceasing compulsion to take showers. The doctors had never had a patient with higher levels of THC in their bloodstream at any time in their careers. They were legitimately concerned that if she couldn’t keep food in her body, she would possibly die.

I stayed by her hospital bedside for the duration of 4 days until we managed to get her to stop vomiting just long enough to get her discharged. The nurses were refusing to let her shower on doctor’s orders after she took 24 showers in just one day in the hospital, a directive that she thought was cruel. I thought it was rather cruel myself. If she gets relief from the simple act of showering, why would the doctor’s order be to deny her that relief? How much are we paying for this hospital anyway?

We eventually figured out, out of desperation, that if I rubbed her back, she wouldn’t need to take showers as often. Armed with this knowledge, we managed to fool the doctors long enough to get her discharged. I rubbed her back when the nurses were gone, virtually all day and all night for days, and on the final day, just moments before the doctor came in for her obligatory $400, 4-minute morning visit. Once the doctor left, Amber immediately vomited, but eventually, the discharge came. I put her in a wheelchair, and we bolted out of there as if we were running for our lives.

We came back to my house and, immediately, she began vomiting again. This continued for another 10 days. Despite claiming that she’d stop smoking pot as soon as she got out of the hospital, she had smoked her first bowl as soon as I left the house to go pick up her prescriptions. I spent the next 10 days massaging her back, arms, feet, hands, and legs for 6 hours a day on average. If I wasn’t rubbing her back, she was showering or running the jacuzzi jets.

As I sat behind her, massaging her back, my hands turned to mush, but when my fingers grew weak, she’d shout at me in violent fits of rage things like, “What the fuck are you doing?!? You’re doing it all wrong!” She’d treat me like a slave when my technique was incorrect, or my focus was on the wrong part of her back. Yet, there was never a correct answer… the proper technique and location changed by the minute. There was no way for me to know what was or wasn’t correct… all I knew was that if it was wrong, I’d get her wrath.

My ability to tolerate Amber seemed to depend on what part of her brain the cannabis decided to affect at a given moment. Sometimes it would make her fun, sometimes nervous, sometimes angry. But most of the time it made her lethargic, slow, and dumb. She was unable to complete complex tasks or form complex thoughts, and her perception of time was way different than reality. She basically sat around the house all night watching Ren and Stimpy and slept all day until I’d get home from work at 5:30PM. She paid me very little respect. I didn’t ask her for rent money… mostly just respect.

Despite her obvious flaws, I wanted her to be my girlfriend. Anyone impartial to our relationship would certainly ask, “Why?” I guess the short answer is that I am a man who just wants to be a kid again. I want to kiss the hot girl under the bleachers like I never got to do when I was younger and bullied.

Amber knew how to give me just enough of a taste to keep me paying. Initially, she led me on to believe that she wanted me to be her boyfriend. We went clubbing together. She dressed all hot in her thigh-high fishnet stockings and knee-high boots, short skirt, and colorful hair. She stayed with me at the bar and let me put my arm around her. I paid not only for her drinks, but for the drinks of several of her friends every night, and to an uninformed observer, we were together.

We were intimate, but it was the worst sex I ever had in my life. The first time she critiqued my performance, “Have you ever gotten a chick off before?” she asked.

“Um, I’m pretty sure I have, actually,” I replied, stunned.

“Well, apparently those girls don’t know how to fuck!” she snapped back.

I rolled off her, offended, and gave up. I figured we could try again some other day and figure out the right rhythm.

I figured there would be plenty of opportunities to figure it out. She wanted to move in with me. I wanted a companion to come home to every day. But once she moved in, she changed. She was completely turned off like a light. She became increasingly rude. She immediately declared one room of the house to be hers and forbade me from entering it without her permission. She disrespected my dog. She started having video chat conversations with her ex-boyfriends, carrying my laptop around the house giving them a tour of her “awesome new pad” gloating to her friends about what she managed to acquire with $0 and her gamer-girl hotness.

Despite her sudden changes, I still paid her way; I bought her all her food; I bought her weed. If I protested spending incredible amounts of money on weed, she said she could get the money in “other ways”, but I didn’t like them. They included things such as selling nude photos of herself to nerdy guys or going on fetish websites to make videos. I felt pressured by my emotional desire to win her loyalty… and in the 2 months she lived with me I drained my bank accounts and ran up my credit cards trying to make her happy.

I cared about her. I cared about her for reasons that seem completely illogical as I now write this. She was a clever manipulator. She didn’t declare that she didn’t want me… she simply declared that she wanted more time. “Maybe in the future” she’d want me for her boyfriend. And I, well… I was just an insecure, gender-confused, nerd who for the first time in a long time got to sit close to a girl he really cared about.

But the time was here. It was now time where this relationship had to become “real”, or I had to go my separate ways with her.  I decided that I’d perform one more act for her; I’d throw her a party for her birthday. If she didn’t want me after that, it would be over. I had built a reputation for throwing some of the best parties in town. Amber had never even been to one of my parties, but she had definitely heard about them… oh yes… she had definitely heard of them. In 2011, everyone is talking about them.

But as of this moment, as she throws pizza at me in a tirade of profanities, there will clearly be no chance of Amber having a legendary birthday party in my house. Illegitimate relationships like this drive me crazy, and after slowly losing my cool for weeks, I lost my ability to be cool with her completely. So as Amber volleys her anger at me, is it really she who lost her cool? Or was it me? I really wish I had the self-control to just be “cool” about it. I wish I could say, “Hey, babe, it’s alright, let’s just be buddies, friends,” but I’m not some hardened emotionless brute like most men. I’m an emotional, gender-confused man. She cornered me against a wall, and I crawled up the wall to get away from the sound of my heart-shattering. The incidents of tonight cancel everything. She moves back in with her father and moves her party to her father’s garage.

She hates living at her dad’s place. It isn’t good for someone who smokes as much weed as she does. Sometimes, when you’re high and the cannabis lands on the wrong receptors, you need the ability to find silence, and her dad’s house is not such a place. If you’re nocturnal, it is not a good place when you’re trying to sleep in the daytime either. She didn’t want to be there. I thought I had leverage to get her to shape up her act, but two days later, she throws herself a quaint little party in her father’s garage and photos of her and Brad (the “douche bag ex”) appear on social media as she wears clothing I had bought her just days earlier, clearly as a direct insult to me. They get back together, officially, as a couple, immediately. She moves in with him just days later so she doesn’t have to stay at her dad’s place. I figure half the reason for it is so that she can say one last “fuck you” to me.

I did “love” her. I loved 95% of her… but the remaining 5% was straight out of the Jerry Springer show. She was white trash. She was a stoner. She was a bitch. She was a con artist, a survivalist, and a thief.

But as I’ve written in songs, “I can love a thief, as long as she loves me.”

I cope with my loss by focusing on the negative. I’m down in the dumps for a little while. Eventually, I decide that I’ll do what I always do when I’m depressed. I’ll throw a wild, destructive party and invite everyone I know to come over for a night of debauchery. Maybe at the end of the night, I’ll have gained a bit of social equity… and maybe I’ll even meet someone special. I decide that “Amber’s party” will happen, but just without Amber being invited. It will be spectacular. Maybe I’ll even send her some video of the party she never had. I schedule it for 3 weeks out. As the RSVPs roll in, it is immediately clear that it is going to be a big event.

Before I get in too deep, I must convey a message to my friends. This story, including this chapter and the chapters following, is a TRUE story. But please understand that it is a story about PERCEPTION and not necessarily a story about FACT. It is not important whether these PERCEPTIONS are accurate. But what IS important is the simple fact that they were PERCEIVED. But as you breathe a sigh of relief, having just been given an easy way to call me a confused liar, this book is also about how the perceptions of an intelligent mind can be rewritten, bent, and twisted through psychological and emotional manipulation. One thing is for certain, confusion is a powerful weapon. This 90-day period of my life was confusing. I was confused… emotionally confused… mentally confused, intellectually confused, and physically exhausted from lack of sleep and constant demands for favors, deeds, labor, and attention. I felt like a child in a cult. A confused mind can be warped into accepting, believing, and parroting the lies of a powerful person with a sinister agenda.

So, therefore, I might say, “This is a TRUE story… if you believe the gossip.” The fake names have been changed to other fake names, and the real names have been changed… to fake names. Let’s say that similarities to real people are “coincidental” and if you recognize some of yourself in this book, it might be actually a composite of multiple people you know. Consider this a work of fiction if it makes you feel better. Even my own name is not my own in this book, but I wrote this book with the best intentions of being accurate in my perceptions of actions, words, thoughts, and feelings

I reveal this to you as honestly as I possibly can. You’ll find this story to be abnormally honest as I recall not just my good deeds, but my bad deeds, thoughts, and feelings as well.  “Honesty” is a terrible card to play; I realize this. Therefore, understand that I reveal all this to you because I’m sick of relationships being a game of cards. By the end of reading this, you’ll know my hand, like playing poker with someone who refuses to hide his own cards… and that hand will be as valuable as folded. And once you’ve seen my cards, you’ll be able to make a clear choice to make a bet on me or take me for everything I have. You’ll know all my “tells” … my bluffs … how scheming and manipulative I can be. You’ll know how bitter and jealous I can be. You’ll know my motivations for the months of the past, and for the future.

But we’re all human. We’re often victims of our own impulses. I try to be understanding when others fall victim to their compulsions and impulses because I can fall victim to my own.

I will, years from now, reread this story whenever I’m feeling nostalgic as an old man. I perceived these episodes to be the most beautiful and romantic moments of my life so far… but again, what is “perception” when your lights have been dimmed and you are told that you are blind instead of in the dark?

Chapter 1 – Act I – The Love Bomb

I’ve always lived a decent life in many respects. I’ve taken care of myself… I was never handed anything of significance… I worked for it. But I’ve always had a great job that paid a decent salary. I’ve always been intelligent, talented, moderately creative, and a decent human being. I live a life that many envy, working as a software engineer for a video game and music company. This brings me to all the exclusive trade shows that the gamer fans wish they could attend, as well as the music trade shows where rock stars are so common that you basically just look right past them.

People want my job…. but I have it. I have a beautiful house, a nice car, all the guitars, synthesizers, drums, and recording gear I ever wanted as a musician, and, really, all the material crap I ever wanted to buy in my life. But none of it ever meant much to me because what I envy are things completely different from what I have. We all tend not to envy what comes easy and covet the difficult things.

I am successful because I had no strong human connections growing up outside my family and found myself isolated and playing with my father’s computer scraps as a kid. In isolation, I never really learned to bond with people very easily, but at the same time, I am a lover… an intense lover. All this made me into someone who would do just about anything to fill the hole in my heart reserved only for one special girl. I’ve dated some beautiful women in my life and had strong relationships with a couple of them. One girl, for impractical reasons, became my fiancée, and we bought this beautiful house together and a lovely puppy named Ada. Ada, bless her heart, had medical problems and when she died, I took her name to be my hacker alias and pseudonym. Some people know me as Ada, Ada Loveless, but in 2011, Ada is still alive, so for now we will just call me Yuki.

As for my fiancée, by the time we bought the house… things just weren’t “right” with the relationship. The passion had long since disappeared, along with most of her politeness. She wanted a dog, a house, and a “Smart Car”. Upon acquiring all 3 of these things, she left me, her partner for 8 years, just 4 months later. I bailed her out of her financial obligations to the house and took her dog to be my best and sometimes only (it seemed) friend.

I’d never been strong at forming relationships… and I realized that maybe I stuck with her for so long because I had “settled”. She demanded that I take on an appearance that wasn’t who I was, with short hair, boring sweaters, ugly shoes, and uncomfortable textures. I couldn’t be that person anymore. This time… I needed someone to love me, not this facade! But finding myself was tough, considering I struggled with where and how I fit into my gender roles in society, every day of my life.

Being a man, who rejects masculinity, seeking a woman, makes things complicated when you’re looking for love. When I look at adult male stereotypes, with their pickup trucks, tool belts, boring fashion, and misogyny, I see nothing of who I am on the inside. I see myself as a kind, loving, and emotional person who wants to treat people with kindness and admire flowy and fancy dresses. I looked in the mirror at my male body and wished it had a more feminine shape so that I could embrace that shape, and dress it in fanciness, but I am not a transgender person. I am just a man who wants to be beautiful, more than anything in the world.

So, this pursuit of a soulmate is a difficult one. I have been looking for a soulmate since I was a child. Finding someone to “settle” for is hard enough… let alone finding someone who actually appreciates all of me.

But even if I found someone perfect, I would have to be perfect for her as well, and how can I be that as a man who rejects masculinity? My chances of finding her would require finding her at exactly the right time in her life when she was single, available, and ready to meet me. I knew that when I found this girl, I had to leap headfirst at the chance to grab her while she was ready.

In the past, I did what my pathology compelled me to do as a misfit of society… I gave in to these imperfect relationships with excessive amounts of compromise… and just completely and fully and loved all my girlfriends to the best of my ability while not really giving myself what I wanted. Regardless of my compromises, these imperfect relationships eventually collapsed. At the age of 34, I was ready to go big or give up.

I began one last big push to find someone perfect for me. I called it a “kamikaze ride”. I was going to give everything I had… my entire life and wellbeing… my soul… everything… to find my dream girl. And in pursuit of her, I would crash and burn and destroy my life in the process if needed!

Money is material… money is worthless… I envy those of you with LOVE in your lives. With this new mission in full force, I give my money to “social investments”. I throw huge parties and build a reputation for myself in a humble campaign to win the hearts of my peers. I invite the entire city of Minneapolis to come and join me, and even start to become a bit of a local celebrity.

Now that Amber has moved out, it is time for another party. The RSVP list reaches into the triple digits, which is a lot for a house smaller than a mansion. These parties, for me, are about efficient people-meeting. I don’t really want to be friends with all these people, but they are a logical means towards a goal of finding a handful of good friends and one super special friend that I would hopefully marry. I always throw a party with a personal goal in mind.

My house has a small but tall dance floor connected to a long kitchen counter, great for stacking lots of alcohol, connected to a dining room which is barren of typical dining room furniture. There are few walls, giving it a nightclub-like feel. One of the two bathrooms sports a small Jacuzzi capable of entertaining 2-3 drunk and horny party goers at a time if they really wanted. Then there’s a loft that overlooks the dance floor with a couple of private bedrooms upstairs which I’ve converted into space where people can lounge in comfortable chairs. I’ve developed a key set of principles for throwing a great party, even if you’re an unpopular nerd.

  1. Never throw a party for yourself. Throw a party for someone else who is more popular than you. In fact, throw a party with multiple “guests of honor”. These people are responsible for making sure their friends show up.
  2. Free booze if you can afford it.
  3. Everyone is invited, but make sure they know a “password”
  4. Lock away anything valuable because someone you didn’t invite is inevitably planning to rob you.
  5. Volunteer security, or if you’re rich, hire security.
  6. Inspire people to dance, my secret sauce.

A day before the party, I finish a laser and light gig at First Avenue. The timing of this gig is unfortunate because the 25 or so lights that I just tore down from the club now have to come back to my house and be set up on my dancefloor.  I spend all day rigging and wiring trusses, lights, and video screens with the intention of proving to people that this will be the greatest house party they ever visited in their lives.

In the final moments, I fashion a makeshift DJ booth out of a TV box I had laying around, because… well I’m not very good at furniture, and I rig up a PA system optimized with professional audio mixers. The labor is intense… I look like hell… I’ve got bags under my eyes. I wonder whether anyone will actually show up at 9:30 when the party is scheduled to start. I need more time, but no one ever shows up to a house party on time, right? Maybe I’ll have time for a proper shower before the patrons arrive. Unfortunately, as 9:30 comes around, 15 people show up at my house almost as if they were waiting outside in line for the party to start. I panic to get the music going at the last minute. People start drinking and dancing almost instantly as the lights, lasers, and strobes shoot beams through my fogged home… sucking people into the dance floor. The mood is infectious, and I, at the center of it all, feel “popular” for only the second time in my life.

The party grows into an intense affair. The guests number in the hundreds and people who I barely know are in my house and strewn about my lawn. At the peak of the night, I step up to the DJ booth and put on a track that is arguably the anthem to the Goths of the world: “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails, a slow grooving, sleazy, industrial track which bears a chorus containing the words “I want to fuck you like an animal…” The dance floor lights up. The crowd sings along. The lasers, fog, lights, and music are all perfect.

As I stumble around, drunk. I take a video on my phone. “Was this your birthday party? Wait… no it wasn’t… oops!” I bend down as I shout into the phone to get maximum output from my lungs as if I am singing passionately in an arena-rock band, “Fuuckkk youuuuu!” shout as I conclude the video. Before I can think twice and stop myself, I email it to Amber then go about saying my standard 3 sentences to each guest. “Hi, welcome to my Party! Help yourself to anything on the counter. Coats can go upstairs in the guest bedroom.”

Things eventually get a bit out of hand. Techna informs me that an uninvited neighbor was bounced. Zak, a prominent member of the scene who could win a Professor Charles Xavier, lookalike contest, had taken him out in a headlock and, with much fanfare and showboating (as he is known to do), dragged him out my front door, across my lawn, and out of the picket fence gate at the end of my driveway.

I appreciate that Zak took the initiative to take care of someone who was clearly uninvited, but I’m not terribly fond of Zak as a person. He’s popular in the scene, but I don’t think too many people truly respect him. He’s dramatic, a showoff, selfish, and immoral, not to mention, one of the most sociopathic and narcissistic people I know.

I brush off the incident… It sounds like Zak had it under control. I go about my business and wander around, saying my hellos to everyone in attendance, but, as I venture out onto the front lawn, which is now strewn with 50 or so friends. The uninvited neighbor is still outside my gate, and now Luna, my long-ago ex-girlfriend, is caught up in the mix.

I approach to find her infuriated. She’s tiny, measuring just 5ft tall, but her personality is volatile and explosive. Her boyfriend is up in the uninvited guest’s face. As they invite each other to brawl, Luna shouts profanities.

The uninvited guest is a “bro” and clearly doesn’t belong with us Goth freaks, nor does his friend, a fat, bearded man in a white and green farmer hat. Richard quizzes them, “Do you even know whose house this is?” he asks.

“I don’t give a fuck whose house this is!” the fat one says.

I step in. I am indignant, not because there’s a fight about to happen, but I am insulted by the fact that the fat one would disregard my hunger for popularity, “Well, you better care whose house this is… because this is MY HOUSE! And you are clearly not invited and need to leave!” I steam.

I look to my left. Luna is still pissed off. Her boyfriend looks ready for a fight, his shirt removed and muscles showing, but Luna herself is far more agitated. Despite being held back by 4 mutual friends, she gets an arm free. She steals glass bottles from other partygoers and tosses them at the uninvited neighbor and his fat friend. The muscle-bound jock’s legs begin to bleed as they are cut deeply by the broken glass.

“You fucker!” she screams. She breaks free and leaps the fence. I barely have time to blink before, Luna, weighing in at a mere 100lbs, is up in the face and ready to fight this 6ft 2in, muscle-bound guy, who is drunk out of his mind, stumbling. I have my phone in hand. I press “911” in anticipation of hitting “send”. But I think for a moment. Cops tend to ruin parties. I stop myself at the last second. Things calm down, for now. I guess I’m not too drunk to not think twice about everything.

I ponder for a moment on Luna as the neighbors trudge away, egos shattered, throwing hand signals and insults. Luna… heh… that’s a long story. I guess I’ve dated my share of firecrackers. Being a shy person, it is difficult to meet women who are not aggressive.

Just as I turn away from my fence, which is now broken and in need of repairs, I see a man stumble out my front door and fall into my mailbox. It is ripped off its post and falls to the ground, spilling its contents all over my grass and shrubs. Then, the music stops. I go inside to find my DJ booth toppled over along with my PA speakers. The mixer is full of dents from hitting the floor and the speaker needs repairs. I am stumbling drunk but manage to get some duct tape and repair the speaker enough to get the music and lights going again as everyone cheers for the return of dancing. The makeshift booth would get knocked over 6 times tonight.

The night is dramatic, intense… but fun. At some point, I need to just take a break and sit down for a bit. By this time, all my friends are hooking up with each other… making out… or worse… it’s like a fucking high school kegger in here, but I’m not looking to “hook up” with anyone. I’m not interested in any fleeting one-night bullshit sex. I threw this party with a goal.

My simple goal was to take a step towards establishing myself as a “hub” of the scene. With myself as a “hub” of the scene, I now have the social equity to move forward in my social life with confidence. I have faith that this will ultimately lead me to meet someone I can spend the rest of my life with. I don’t expect my journey to end tonight. I expect that the journey is just now reaching full stride and that the coming months will be exciting and fresh now that I’m “somebody”.

Despite all the drama, I feel great. I pause and take a break. I find my dog, Ada. She is a very sweet, sociable, 100-pound Greater Swiss Mountain Dog who loves mingling at the party, but now appears to be partied out. She is looking for a bit of love, showing her belly, as I sit on my beer-soaked floor for a moment to pet her. Feeling like my day’s work is done, I have no desire to meet or hook up with anyone.

I rub Ada’s belly. I scratch her ears. I love that it is so easy to make her happy. Dogs, unlike humans, are so simple to please, and when they smile, it reflects onto you. They don’t judge you for your politics, sexuality, or religion. They don’t care if you’re ugly or smelly. They just want to be with you, and they’re happy to be by your side. I know just the spot to scratch to make Ada smile, and as someone who derives his self-worth from his ability to make another happy, Ada’s ability to be satisfied by the simplest of things is instant gratification for me.

“Did you have a good time, Ada?” I ask her. “I hope you had fun tonight, sweety. I love you so much. Someday, we’ll find you a new mommy.”

Out of nowhere, a girl who I’ve never spoken to sits down to pet Ada with me. Her beauty is shocking. She’s 27, stunning, with dyed red hair in streaks of varying red tones, black and white extensions, and perfect red lips to match. I quiver when I look at her with her black goth boots, red over-the-knee socks, short petticoat, and smooth leggings. She’s clean… slender… beautiful… refined down to every little detail. Her name is Inari. I’d seen her in photos before as she was a model in an old friend’s fashion show, but to see her now in person was a whole, new, unique experience.

I thought she had a boyfriend, and naturally, I figure, she’s way out of my league. But as she speaks to me at this moment, I feel like a peasant being spoken to by a goddess.

“I’m Inari,” she says. “I sent you a friend request earlier.”

 “Yes, I definitely remember you from photos. I saw that you modeled for my friend, Echo, but I’ve never actually met you.”

“I just wanted to meet you before I left. It would be a shame if I left without meeting the host,” she says.

“Well, it is very nice to meet you,” I reply.

“I love doggers,” she says. “I have a couple of my own. They’re the best.” She rubs Ada’s belly and Ada smiles happily.

“Sometimes I ponder how a dog’s love is so simple,” I say. “Offer them hugs, treats, and walks and they return you kisses, smiles, love, excitement, and complete devotion. Compare that to the love of humans who demand chiseled bodies, sex, money, fame, success, youth, beauty, sometimes drugs and booze and expensive dinners, rides in jet planes, exotic vacations, fancy cars and houses, and in return, they sometimes seem to offer just mind games, emotional trickery, lies, and deceit. Why can’t human love be as simple as a dog’s love?”

“I know what you mean. Aww, she’s so cute! She clearly loves coming around and meeting everyone; we had lots of fun with her upstairs,” she says.

“Yes, Ada loves people and therefore loves parties. Half the reason I throw parties is just to make her happy, otherwise, it is just me and her here alone.”

“Wow, you live here alone then?” she asks.

“Yeah, well, I had a fiancée, and recently, well I guess I’ve been going through some shit. It’s tough to find love when you’re a nerdy guy like me.”  I suddenly feel glum and self-conscious. “I’m sorry I look like hell… I’ve been up for practically 2 days straight prepping for this party.”

“Aww no. I think you look fine. Is that a Jacuzzi in there? I totally wish we could jump in,” she says. She leans over into my ear, “I think lasers are sexy,” she whispers.

I feel a jolt of euphoria as if I’m the most important man in the world. “Aw… you flatter me,” I say.

She leans over again, “I think nerds are sexy too.”

I’m normally intimidated by women and would never sit next to a girl I just met normally and tell her she’s beautiful… but in this case, her eyes beg me. “Wow, you’re really beautiful,” I say. But to be polite, I say it in a way that is not sleazy but as-if simply stating a fact.

She smiles bright, pausing for a moment, “Thank you, I don’t get enough of that.”

“Really? No way. I don’t believe it,” I say. “Well, you are beautiful, you know…” I declare again, “…and I’m really glad I met you.”

She smiles bright and pauses. I see her chest rise as she breathes more heavily as if I’d just reached in and made her heart pump faster with my bare hands, and as I bask in the glow of her beauty,  she gazes at me like a girl who’s just met her true love. “I’m glad I met you too,” she says.

Her sweetness is so intense it makes me want to cry. But we both just sit, with Ada between us, and gaze. I think of nothing. I am simply enjoying the feeling of the moment like one enjoys the rays of the sun on a beautiful day. She’s an angel. What is such a sweet girl doing in a scene like this?

“I have to go now though, my ‘ride’ is leaving,” she says.

“It’s okay,” I say. “I’m glad to have met you, I’ll talk to you online, okay? Do you ever go to Hard Mondays?”

“I love Hard Mondays,” she says. “It is my favorite place to be.”

“Me too, I’m always there. I can’t believe we haven’t met before now.”

“Yeah, I don’t know why we haven’t.”

“I’m really, really glad I met you,” I repeat again.

“I’m really glad I met you, too,” she replies, again with the sweetness and passion of the kindest and most sincere girl, touched by angels.

Our conversation is tragically short, and as she walks away and I’m left sitting on the floor with Ada, alone again, my thoughts become more sober than my blood-alcohol level would indicate.  She is clearly taken, although she clearly referred to her boyfriend as her “ride” with emphasis as if she was mocking him with a demotion. But still… no way. I could never win the heart of this girl. My thoughts are now completely out of the realm of fantasy, yet I am enthralled to meet someone so beautiful, and especially enthralled that she’d reach out to me with what seemed like genuine admiration and affection. I am fulfilled… a bit turned on… but I know the odds… and the odds of us being a match are slim. There are so many tests to pass, so many gates to travel through before I feel like I mutually connect with anyone. I bask in her glow for a bit. It is about 3:30AM and the night for me is only half over.

By sunrise, there are still dozens of people in my house. My lawn is strewn with bottles, cans, cups, and cigarette butts. 5 people are passed out face-down on my driveway. The hardwood floors are covered in a layer of beer and soot that takes several scrubbings to remove. A few people, including Techna and Daedalus, stay back until the next evening to help me clean up and fix the fence after the fight with the neighborhood douchebag. I feel like it is my best party yet. My optimism is recharged, but in between these exciting times I often revert to loneliness, so I worry that the glow that I feel is temporary.

If I start to feel down, I remind myself, “I’ve done the work. I’ve made lots of new acquaintances and look forward to all my new potential friendships.” I now have new things to hope for. The party is a great success. Hope is the zest of life, not accomplishment. It is about the ride, not the reward.

Chapter 2 – The “Ride”

The party, a success, was not possible without the help of many close friends. I go online to reach out to all the people who made the night special. I tag Inari as well as a bunch of people.

Wow… just wow.

Thanks for the great weekend, everyone. It wasn’t enough to just throw a party… you guys all had to SHOW UP to make the weekend amazing.

Without the help of so many of you … this party wouldn’t have started.

There were some damages, but they’re all fixable…. a little superglue, a couple of nails, a good scrubbin’…

The party wouldn’t have been a party without everyone who showed up… we are good people… unfortunately, some blackout-drunk, uninvited neighbors showed up as well.

But, let me be clear… the guy who got bounced was NO FRIEND of ANYONE invited to the party. We may look like scary darksiders to boring, normal people, but we all know that the only problems that ever come to our clubs come from the tourists who come to gawk at us.

Be assured that the next party will have bona fide security, and this may require some volunteers and/or donations to pull off…. but you all know that these nights are worth it. We need to work together to keep them safe. How about Halloween!? That would be completely, completely, totally off-the-hook.

We went through at least 13 cases of beer plus gallons and gallons and gallons of hard liquor, vodka, gin, rum, wine, Triplesec, Jagermeister, whiskey… hell, I even bought some “Cupcake” lol. Thank you to those who contributed additional alcohol and/or funds to help cover costs at the end of the night.

Also, I’d like to give out a big thanks to everyone who stayed behind to help clean up. We didn’t finish cleaning up until 9PM the following night. I ended up mowing my next-door neighbor’s lawn just because she was so cool in putting up with our noise.

I didn’t throw this party to make superficial connections… I threw this party to make lasting connections with people. I considered it an investment in social equity. A worthwhile one indeed! Many of you know me well enough to understand that. Money never meant a whole lot to me, but the companionship of GREAT people has always meant EVERYTHING.

It was great to see everyone and great to meet all the new people I met. If you ever want to buy me a drink 😉 come find me out at the clubs on a Monday or Wednesday.

I’m going to tag an awful lot of people here for special thanks… whether you contributed hard labor, good deeds, crowd control, or just made an effort to get to know me as a friend… a big thanks for everything everyone… you guys all mean a TON to me! I apologize if I miss anyone… call me out if I forget you!

~Yuki

I tag a long list of people for thanks, and Inari is on the list… simply because… well… she made me feel amazing for a moment. I pause for a moment and ask myself why it is that I’m including her. These other people actually did things to help make the party happen. Am I insulting them by putting Inari on this list when in reality, she didn’t really do much of anything but say a few kind words to me? I almost feel sleazy about it, as if I’m just tagging a “hot girl” whose attention I want. I ponder for a moment how often and easily I put my back and shoulders into tasks for the mere exchange of words — not exactly a fair transaction in many cases, but the party I just threw for a bunch of strangers wasn’t exactly a fair transaction in and of itself.

Regardless of what my motivations are, it isn’t long before Inari and I find ourselves chatting online… and through the course of events she shows up for a Monday night at “The Saloon”, one of the most famous gay bars in all of Minneapolis. The Minneapolis Goth scene goes hand-in-hand with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transsexual scene (LGBT) scene. In later years they would welcome queers into their culture by adding a “Q” or a “+” to the end of LGBT, but this is 2011… we’re not there yet. As a clearly queer man, this is just another one of many ways I feel like an outsider, just like I feel like an outsider in the Goth community already.

Goth nights are typically hosted at gay bars in Minneapolis– Monday nights at The Saloon, Thursday nights at “The Bolt” for a night they call “Chamber”, and Fridays and Saturdays the scene has its own dedicated club, Ground Zero, one of the most famous and original Goth clubs in the United States, running for 20 years or more.

“Hard Mondays”, is arguably the best truly Goth night in the town, if only because it is “tourist-free”. To be called a “tourist” is a stiff insult in the Goth community. It refers to someone who comes to the Goth clubs just to stare and laugh at all the patrons as if they’re animals in a zoo. These people make the devoted regulars feel less welcomed and, whereas we all would certainly love it if a “dress code” were enforced, the club owners cannot agree to turn potential money away at the door. The Goth clubs are all struggling, and the once-mighty “Ground Zero” has been weathered and neglected in its 20 years of operation. The club that used to make me feel like I was in an exotic world where all my sinful thoughts were celebrated in all forms of art, dance, music, and other forms of expression, has now been reduced to a rotting shell.

The Saloon is considerably more upscale but caters to Goths only on Monday nights, which is enough for us to love them for it. The bar is known for making notoriously stiff drinks. One mixed drink, as we say, is like seven anywhere else. It is decidedly a “gay man’s” bar, and its décor is almost blatantly sexist. They might as well put up a sign that says, “lesbians stay out”, but instead they choose to express their bias in less-verbal ways. The women’s restrooms are so pathetic, small, and unclean that women habitually just use the immaculate men’s room which is clean and lit with romantic mood lights. The walls throughout the club are plastered with elegant portraits of muscular men in their underwear, and posters promoting their “shower contest night” sport muscular hunks lathered up with soap and water. The main dance area features a small stage with a glass shower cage where the audience can watch the shower contestants. On Monday nights, it typically features a dominatrix who, for a fee, will invite you up on stage to be whipped, spanked, and tortured. There’s also a “fire bar” featuring an elegant fireplace, a “video bar” which plays music videos all night, and, my favorite, the “movie bar” which plays “bad” movies all night.

Inari said she loves Monday nights at The Saloon. I can’t believe I’ve never met her up until this point. In fact, it is almost suspect. She tells me that she loves Monday nights here, but I am absolutely positive that I have been the most regular patron of Hard Mondays now for the last several years, and if a girl like that ever showed up anywhere in this club, I would have noticed her. I almost wonder if she’s trying to inflate her status by playing up how active she is in my favorite club.

She shows up with her “ride”. Now she cannot easily declare her “ride” is anything other than her boyfriend. He’s a sturdy gentleman, not exactly a hunk, but well dressed and polite. As I have now physical confirmation in the flesh that she is very much “taken”, I am polite and careful not to encroach on her relationship. I don’t believe it is right to come in-between healthy relationships and I talk to Inari with no intention of “hitting” on her.

The conversation turns to subjects that I normally wouldn’t talk about to someone I just met. Past relationships are discussed… it had only been a few weeks since Amber’s eviction, and it is still on my mind, and Laura, my ex-fiancée has also been dragging me down lately with her overbearing requests for money. I could use a good friend who would listen to my stories. Inari is a great listener.

“You know, people have so much fun at your parties that you don’t need to spend $500 on booze for everyone,” she says.

“I know. The next one will probably be too big for me to fund on my own, so I’ll have to get others to contribute to the alcohol supply. This time around, however, I just wanted there to be absolutely no excuse for someone to not show up. I wanted to meet as many people as possible in a short time.”

“But people like you the way you are, regardless of whether you’re spending all your money on them. You don’t need to flaunt your money to make friends.”

“Well… maybe people like me… I dunno. I’ve got a very deliberate plan with what I’m doing here, you know. I’m looking for a special someone… and this was just the first step. In all honesty when I find this person… I’m going to get the fuck out of this scene. I don’t need nor want to be popular nor rich. But what I do want out of life is for one person on this planet to love and understand me exactly the way I am, and for me to love her in return. I don’t have the capacity in my heart to love more than one person, I give myself completely to only one and one alone, all the polyamory and swingers clubs really turn me off. To not love your partner exclusively is greedy if you ask me.”

I am pleased that Inari has wholesome things to say. “Yeah, I don’t really like sleeping around,” she says. “So many of my friends have caught stuff, it’s not funny at all. It’s unclean. I won’t ever date anyone unless they get tested for STDs… herpes … I don’t want any of that crap.”

Since Jin seems rather quiet, merely nodding in attention, I make a point to ask Jin about his hobbies.  “I’ve been studying martial arts, Taekwondo,” he offers. 

“Oh yeah?  Are you like a blackbelt or something?”  I ask.

“No not yet, but I’ll get there.  I study every day,” he says.

“I really wish you would just spend more time with me, Jin. You don’t really need to study Taekwondo every day!” Inari lightheartedly complains.

“Yes… I do,” he says firmly.

As he says this I get a hint of an impression that he feels the need to study martial arts if only to get away from Inari’s smothering grip.  But at this point, I know nothing about either of them, and I cannot pass judgment and write it off as playful banter.

“So, I mean, can you kick some ass?” I joke.

Inari interjects, “Yeah, Jin, go ahead and tell the story about how you kicked 3 guys’ asses at one time.”

Jin almost seems to blush, but Jin seems too sturdy and polite to blush.  Instead, he merely pauses, calculating his thoughts like an old computer rendering its next brilliant chess move.  “Well, 3 guys surrounded me on the street and I took two of them down.  I knocked one out, subdued one, and the other ran off.  The cops told me that the way the law works is that they could technically take me in for assault with a deadly weapon, since I know martial arts, but they weren’t going to do that because they didn’t believe I was in the wrong.”

Inari smiles in a way that seems cartoonishly fantastical as if she thinks his story is a hilarious fantasy.  Jin merely keeps a steady, expressionless face and the conversation continues.   I don’t really care that much about what Jin has to say, because I rarely find interest in men as friends or interests in regular masculine things in general. Certainly, martial arts are not in my realm of interest. Karate seems like a waste of time to me.  I turn my attention to Inari instead for most of the night.  She is the charismatic one.

Jin mostly just nods his head in attention as Inari and I have enthusiastic, emphatic conversations about everything from the music we like to our favorite TV shows. Jin is polite, of few words, but attentive and agreeable. He seems self-assured, confident, and unthreatened by my presence, but either he is barely participating in the conversation, getting steamrolled by my fanatic connection with his girlfriend, or maybe I just simply don’t care about Jin enough to remember anything he said… any of those three scenarios could be true.

Maybe it was a mutual connection, or maybe it was entirely just her extreme charisma that carried our conversation. She had so much charisma which, combined with her beauty, made her a potent potion when you had her attention. After a while, even with Jin sitting next to her, I start feeling us getting physically closer, and I stop myself from getting too close… too friendly. To make it appear less like I am flirting, I start to talk about Amber. I don’t know if it is a mistake, but I thought it might be reassuring to him to hear me talk about drama with another girl.

Inari laughs with me, as she knew Amber from the “dodgeball” scene. People used to make fun of her because she was a generally awful person. They called her “herpe trap” because she would get nerdy guys to buy her things, and when they thought that they might eventually “get some action” she would tell them that she had herpes and refuse to sleep with them.

As Inari and I laugh and joke and poke fun, with Jin only occasionally chiming in and nodding by her side, I find myself bringing my body closer and closer. It starts to feel a bit too friendly, even to the degree that Jin seems a little startled and taken aback. I notice him slightly agitated with how animated we are with each other… like he’s feeling left out of the conversation. He puts his hand on her leg and strokes her thigh over her petticoat. It seems to be a signal for me to “back off”. I look down with my peripheral vision so as not to make it obvious that I am reactive to his move, and I almost feel like maybe he’s giving her a signal too.

I’m disappointed that I can’t get as close as I want to her, but it’s all good… I don’t intend to attempt to mess with what I perceive to be a good relationship. Good, happy relationships deserve to remain happy without interference from me. When two people are good together, I’ve always maintained that it is best to leave them be.

But I keep in mind that there have been many times in the past when I wish other men would have followed my own rules of engagement. I think to myself, “What kind of pussy am I? There isn’t another guy in this room who would back away from a girl so gorgeous and sweet just because she had a boyfriend, and if she were mine, I’d have to fight tooth and nail to keep her by my side from all the vultures who would seek to steal her upon any sign of weakness from me.

Regardless of whether it is fair or not, I consider that it is never a good moral choice to try and steal someone away. I try to live by the golden rule, even though I fail sometimes.

Even if her admiration of me is totally platonic… I feel admired by her, and I certainly admire her myself. I keep in the back of my mind how blunt she was with me at the party… she was, after all, quite forward with me. But maybe she was just being friendly and playful. I’ve been misled by a few “flirts” in my lifetime. I’ve been around the block. Nevertheless, I’m not giving up on this girl. If anything, she’s just too damn nice to ignore for any reason. I have no choice but to continue contact with her.

As the week continues, I invite her to go out to the haunts I love, but it is all in vain, and although I expect nothing more than friendship, I certainly hope she comes out one of these nights if I simply keep insisting. She is rare, very rare. It is already apparent

Chapter 3 – Save the Princess

Although my expectations are low, I can’t get Inari out of my head. I am hypercritical of the conversation choices I made when we were talking, and I worry a bit that I talked too much about the past and too negatively. Whereas the conversation of the other night was intense in a good way, it also dove quite a bit into the past, complaints, and condemnations… and that’s invariably a mistake when meeting new people. Maybe that’s why I didn’t see her the rest of the week. Maybe she saw the cracks in my smile, saw that I was dwelling on past issues, and figured I wasn’t into her. Regardless, the past is still resolving itself. The whole drama with Amber weeks ago resulted in conflicts with other friends.

Enter Echo. Echo and I have a long, long, history. I met her when she was just 15 years old. She was a cute blonde punk rocker back then. Back in those days, we hung out in “indie” coffee houses. Coffee houses were where people went to meet people before social media existed. Inspired by the Seattle grunge craze of the ’90s, “Cosmic Charlie’s” became my favorite haunt. I don’t even drink coffee, but it was just a place to go to meet people outside of the bar scene. I was in my early 20s and made friends of all ages, from age 15 – 70.  I met people very slowly most of the time and might not have met anyone at all if I hadn’t offered free rides to everyone. Eventually, people figured out they could trust and rely on me for transportation and my network of non-paying customers grew over time as Cosmic Charlies became a booming scene, swarmed with regular patrons every day. Sometimes, I’d drive a dozen people in and out of the coffee house every day, yet I was still lonely, girlfriendless.

Echo hung out with homeless punks. They wore matching leather jackets strewn with metal studs and crudely painted white lettering on their backs. She might have even been homeless herself for a bit, but I don’t really know. But I know she and her friends didn’t really get to eat good food too often. I would take her away from the coffee shop and offer to buy her lunch at a fancy Italian joint in the neighborhood on the occasion that I needed some company.  When we were done eating, we’d go back to the coffee house. I’d bring a little extra for her punk friends, and they would devour it within seconds as if they hadn’t eaten in a year.

Echo had a typical broken family life. Her mother and father were divorced, but from the little bit that I knew of them, they seemed to love their daughter very much. They maybe just kept her on a leash that was a bit too long. Her mother would lose track of where she was because Echo could just tell her that she was staying at her dad’s place or vice versa and her mother and father didn’t appear to want to communicate to each other about her whereabouts.

Echo and Luna, the 5 ft tall, fence-leaping, blonde ex-girlfriend, would become best friends by the time they were entering their 5th and 6th years of their 4-year high school education. During this time they were often spending their weekends in my St. Paul apartment.

I used to fix Echo’s mother’s computer all the time. Her mother used to complain about how Luna’s parents weren’t keeping track of their daughter as good parents should.

“They should be getting her to finish school and not letting her stay at your place on the weekends,” she’d complain. “Do they really have any idea what their daughter is getting into? Where’s the parenting!? I am glad she’s staying with you, though. If I didn’t trust you so much, I’d be inclined to chat with them.”

“Yeah, I try to motivate her to graduate, you know. It shouldn’t be all that hard to graduate. I don’t endorse her laziness. We fight about it from time to time and she just lashes out at me for being some kind of ‘know it all’.”

Echo’s mother, however, seemed not to acknowledge that her own daughter was in the same boat, unable to finish school, and seemed completely unaware that her own daughter usually stayed over with Luna and me every weekend. We even floated the idea of becoming a 3-some on a few occasions, but Luna and I both had feelings of jealousy and agreed to stay exclusive.

Luna had barely half the credits she needed to graduate by her 6th year of high school. Every semester she dug herself a deeper hole, constantly skipping school. The Goth scene was sucking them in. Despite enabling their bad behaviors, I was ultimately the only person keeping them somewhat honest… holding them back from diving into the deep end of the party scene, where orgies and hard drugs were commonplace. All this was happening less than one block away from my apartment, in another basement apartment on Cathedral Hill, heavily driven by Zak, one of my least-favorite people in the scene.

I enjoyed the company of Luna and Echo, but deep in my heart, I knew that they were eventually going to get sucked into the mindless self-indulgence taking place up the street. The parties promised free love and free sexual expression in all forms, and Luna’s mother was dying of lung cancer, causing her to have a need for distraction and instant gratification. Her need to escape was incessant while she dealt with the pain of her home life. As they got closer to all the temptation, it was inevitable that Luna would break my heart. I could no longer keep her away from Zak’s events. She wanted to be free while she was still young and beautiful. She said it “wasn’t fair” of me to take that away from her. I could write a whole book just on the events surrounding our dramatic and explosive breakup, but instead, I created a musical tribute, a sad, beautiful, concept album that I called “Luna and the Destroyer”.

We’ll revisit this story later, but for now, let me just say that when it was done, I could not be anywhere near her, or anyone associated with the scene. I would have nightmares at night wondering what she was getting into over there, but the worst nightmares were actually happy dreams. I would dream that she and I got back together, that she loved me, that we were enjoying good times like we always did. I dreamed of her looking up into my eyes, twinkling, with her rainbow hair, in a beautiful white dress, and telling me she loved me just before she kissed me. These dreams were the worst of all because when I would wake up from my sleep, I would realize that it was just a dream. Every time this happened, I would feel my heart shatter all over again, and I would start my days feeling like I was dumped by the love of my life, nearly every single morning.

I had to break free. I had to go… fast. All my friends were at these parties, however, and I couldn’t keep my composure with Luna around. Out of mad desperation, I used some vilification and manipulation to ensure that Luna was uninvited from the parties so that I could attend them without having to see her. I tried a number of things that seemed to have no effect. Zak didn’t really care that she slept around, that she was getting in too deep with drugs, being horrible to her mother, or being unfair and unfaithful to me, but Zak knew that I had money, and Luna had none… and that by inviting me, I would contribute booze to his parties, whereas Luna would just “mooch” and consume the contributions of others, being a jobless, high school dropout.


Finally, I mustered up the courage, went into the Portland Ave, basement apartment,  armed with a large contribution of booze, and was greeted immediately by some girls playing a kissing game where the objective is simply to pass an ice cube from one person to the next. I more or less latched onto the first girl that would pay attention to me at the party, a Goth girl named Laura. Beautiful she was, by any standard. By the end of the night, we were making out in a corner, despite the fact that I knew basically nothing about her. She was intensely shy, but not opposed to shoving her tongue down my throat all night. Eventually, she and I ran away from everyone, went one block over to my apartment where I took her virginity. Thereafter, she and I became reclusive. Laura’s shy personality was ideal as we spent 8 years happily isolated from everyone, essentially just watching Lord of the Rings on repeat, studying, and working on computer software. I had little desire to reconnect to the fringes of the sex-crazed club scene during this time.

While Laura and I tried our best to get along and build a life together, away from them, Echo and Luna continued their friendship over the years in my absence. I talked to Luna on average, once a year. When we talked, we never brought up our relationships. We barely got past small talk. We seemed to be completely, emotionally blocked off from each other.

As I write this, however, Laura and I have recently separated ways. It took me the last two years to break out of my social coma and meet people again. I began by shyly peering into the old haunts that I used to love, trying, carefully, to contain my emotions as I got closer and closer to the nucleus of the scene that betrayed me so severely a decade ago, still hoping to never have to see Luna again.

Echo, now an adult in her late 20’s is still a mere 4ft.-11in. tall. She abandoned her punk friends in her teens and now is one of the most classically Goth girls I know. She wears colorful hair extensions, corsets, and fancy dresses, and aspires to be a fashion designer, occasionally putting on runway shows.

There are several fashion designers in the Minneapolis Goth scene. They make the many exotic articles of clothing that the kids wear in the clubs and at parties. So much of the scene revolves around fashion. Techna and Echo are well-known fashion designers, and Amber, Luna, and Inari all model for their runway shows. Luna’s brother takes care of photography, Jin does business management, and other friends take care of lighting and sound. I’d been getting to know the fashion scene more and more and would often help out Techna with her shows locally.

After a decade-long silence with Echo, in the lonely days after Laura moved out, Echo and I reconnected. We got Italian food, like old times, flirted, but we never really made it past friendship… so having turned over that stone and finding nothing, I began turning over others. One night I found myself at her place for a party. That’s where I met stoner party-girl Amber, who latched onto me and moved into my house just 2 weeks later.

News of this shocked Echo, because Echo and I were sort of dating… well flirting at best. Echo was just hurt that Amber blocked her from getting to me, and, in truth, Echo had rejected me already. I would have given Echo more if she wanted it, but she didn’t. Regardless of whether there were any official contracts signed between us, feelings of jealousy arose anyway. Maybe it hurt her extra because Echo had been betrayed by Amber multiple times, and Amber had a routine of stealing Echo’s boyfriends… Echo’s specifically! I questioned why Amber would even be invited to a party at her place if she had done that even once. In a nutshell, Amber’s brief invasion of my life left wounds that needed to be mended with Echo, and tonight, at The Saloon, Echo and I agreed beforehand to chat frankly about mending things.

Amber’s leaving hurt me more than it hurt Amber, and naturally, I sought out emotional support from friends, including Echo. But for some reason, Echo liked to take both sides of any argument. In emails and texts, I called her out for being “two-faced” earlier in the week. I told her that if she took both sides of an argument, she was taking no sides at all! I thought it was slimy and dishonest to pretend to agree with one friend while simultaneously telling your friend’s enemy that you agree with them at the same time. Furthermore, the “enemy” in question was Amber, who betrayed not-only me but Echo as well.

“Why the fuck won’t you take a side, Echo?” I demanded to know of her. “Amber has routinely targeted your boyfriends and stolen them from you. It is like she is doing it out of spite for you. If there’s any time that you should be taking a side, it is now! If you’re not on my side, Echo, then you’re not my friend.”

“It is not my business to come in between friends,” she replies. “I just don’t do that. It is not how I operate.”

In the middle of our serious conversation, Inari and Jin arrive.

I am happy to see both of them, but it awkwardly cuts off the argument I am having with Echo. I can’t help but pause for a moment to take in Inari’s beauty… as she is more beautiful than anyone could ever dream. The four of us stand in a circle for a few minutes making small talk until Echo decides to go out on the patio to smoke.

“You’ll have to excuse me for a moment. I should go check up on Echo,” I say. “We were just resolving some personal issues.”

“You’re going on the smoking patio? But you don’t smoke, do you?” Inari asks.

“Oh, no… not at all! I was just going to check on her… we’re resolving personal issues,” I reply.

Inari leans forward into my ear and speaks in the most sultry, seductive voice she has used with me yet. “You have no idea how much more I love you now,” she says.

I’m shaking in my boots as I walk away. I retreat to the smoking patio, but there I do not continue my conversation with Echo. Echo has found other friends to chit-chat with. Instead, I just stand out there, alone, pondering what Inari’s words, spoken moments earlier, and their inflection, could mean.

What is with this sideways declaration of love? Is it sarcasm?… no way. A joke?… no way! Am I just overreacting to this word, “love”? She didn’t say it like brotherly-sisterly love, friendly love, motherly love… it was straight up, seductive, like “my god I’m so ‘in love’ with you ‘love’”. Am I just being too sensitive? But really, even though it is just a sideways statement, nobody has ever said anything to me like that in that voice, using such a strong word, “love”, with such an inflection… and yet in reference to something seemingly mundane, like smoking. But maybe it isn’t about something so simple. Maybe she is referencing something way bigger. Maybe she is trying to tell me that she’s been dreaming of me while we were apart and wants to make it obviously clear to me that she loves me. I ponder, wildly confused. As you will learn throughout this entire book, Inari had a spooky way of getting me to second guess the meanings behind her blunt statements and accept her own realities regarding minor or even major events… but I don’t want to give away the story. But let me just say, be on the lookout. It is easy to deny the meaning of a sentence if you have the power of her radiance, shine, and interpersonal charisma, especially if you leave a dash of plausible deniability in every grandiose thing you say. This scene is full of incestuous people who cheapen the word “love” and casually fornicate with each other, but I do not believe Inari to be a casual fornicator.

Since she had shown herself to be a woman of choice, abnormally strong words, who shows me unusually strong affections, as I ponder on the patio, I think to myself that maybe her use of the word “love” in the fleeting sense is a signal to me. Whatever she is doing, whatever her intentions, I’m going to find out!

This is a motivational turning point for me. She is, after all, the most beautiful and kind girl I’ve ever met. For the rest of the night, I begin to see how far I can push our conversational boundaries. I had been politely restraining myself during our earlier encounters. But now I need to see how far down this rabbit hole I can go.

When a girl this amazing shows affection to a geeky guy like me, I simply have no choice but to see where it leads. If you frown upon my actions from here on out, just bear in mind… I, in no way, had a choice in any of this. I had to see where I could take my relationship with this girl. If I didn’t walk this path, I would have regretted it for the rest of my life. And if I did, I might also regret it. But, either way… it would be exciting!

Something in my brain snaps and I just let loose. I say to myself, “Fuck it… I’m all in,” and… the rest of the night is … absolutely amazing. The electricity between us lights up in a way that I’ve never experienced in my life. I emotionally charge at her with my eyes, locking eyes, squaring shoulders, and she charges right back, placing her face inches away from mine as I praise her beauty and sweetness interweaved with small talk and sweet nothings. She just soaks up everything I say and returns compliments, whereas any other girl I interacted with this way would have certainly been uncomfortable to have a guy like me so blatantly and bluntly “hitting” on her. The ease at which she allows me to get close to her makes me feel at peace. I find the confidence to gaze into her eyes, and she gazes back into mine and smiles deeply. I begin to think that this girl might even “love” me. I find confidence in myself that I’ve never felt at any other time in my life.

But Jin is there. Jin is talking to other friends just 5 feet away from us in this noisy club, possibly able to see our body language, but not able to hear us. It is not my intention to hurt Jin or come in between a good relationship. Yet as I boldly stand across from her, literally holding both her hands and gazing into her eyes, I wonder…

“I’m sorry, I’m getting too close,” I declare.

“I don’t have a personal space bubble, really. You can’t get too close to me,” she says.

I cock one eyebrow and think to myself that no girl wants some guy she just met in her face so much that if he moved his nose 2 inches closer, he’d be making out with her in front of her boyfriend. I owe it to her to back off.

“I shouldn’t be getting too friendly with you,” I repeat.

“Trust me… you cannot go too far,” she reaffirms.

“But you know… this…” I gesture to Jin, “this is a good thing… right? I don’t want to feel like I’m encroaching on something good.”

This is a signal for her to tell me what is not good about her relationship with Jin. She seems to understand this because she follows suit.

“It’s not all that good at all,” she says. “He’s dumped me twice already and didn’t even give me a reason! The last time was just before Con which really hurt because that’s where we met.” She sighs and looks away, “He loves me about as much as a robot can love someone.”

And there it is. Her relationship with Jin is clearly on the out-and-out. If he dumped her twice, certainly a 3rd dumping was only just around the corner. Their relationship clearly isn’t going to last. I am straight with her, even as Jin is no more than 5 feet away from us. “You deserve better,” I say. “How on earth is it remotely possible for anyone to not be madly in love with you? You are the kindest, most beautiful, and sweet girl I have ever met in my entire life. If he doesn’t love you, there’s something really wrong with him!” I hold both her hands again. I gaze into her eyes again. “I’m really glad I met you,” I say.

She pauses, blushes, and smiles as-if soaking in the warmth radiating from my heart. “I’m really glad I met you too,” she says.

In my own mind, I now commit myself to her emotionally. There is no girl on planet earth I want more. I see no reason to devote myself to any other pursuits. I faithfully commit myself to getting to know her better. Operation “Save the Princess” has begun.

I honestly believe that our feelings for each other are mutually intense. My blood is replaced with heroine…. we talk and talk and talk until the bar closes about all the things people talk about. She is kind and sympathetic when I tell her of my dog’s health struggles, struggles with people, growing up, and how I became the person I am. It is incredibly rare that anyone ever shows this level of interest in anything I had to say. Knowing that she will allow it, I become more and more comfortable touching her hands. I caress them again and again. Our eyes lock and stay locked for what seems to be an eternity, and this feeling alone is better than all the sex I’ve ever had in my life. I am instantly addicted to her eyes and would do anything to look into them again, and I feel compelled to foreshadow that, 10 years later, I still regard these very moments to be among the happiest memories of my life.

At the end of the night, I am glowing. The bar kicks all the patrons out onto the sidewalk, and everyone loiters for a while to say their goodbyes. Inari reconnects with Jin after hours of intense conversation exclusively with me. I look over at her. I can’t hear what they are saying, but their body language gives off vibes like she’s trying to find a reason to stay out longer and ditch him for the night.

“Could this really be happening?” I think to myself. I cannot hear what they’re saying but they’re visibly arguing. She has a sad expression on her face as he tries to talk to her. She seems almost angry; she doesn’t want to go home with him. He pressures her. She wipes tears from her eyes, and as she does this, I catch her glancing over at me.

I find my friend Maddox, a long-haired, kilt-wearing, bearded, lanky man who, being a complete sociopath, often offers me unsolicited sage-like advice. We both lean up against the building and simply absorb the scene unfolding in front of us.

“I think… I think that girl is in-love with me,” I say, in an uncharacteristic cocky tone. “What do you think?”

“Well… well… well, I must say she is looking over at you awfully strangely,” he says with his characteristic stutter.

“It almost appears to me like she is trying to stay out with me and ditch her boyfriend.”

“It… it would appear that your assessment is possible from what I can see from this angle,” he stutters. “But… but be careful. If she’s willing to do that to him, what might she do to you if you were together?”

“But I don’t think it’s like that. Sounds like they’re on the out-and-out and a girl like her is going to be single for like… 12 hours… we see this kind of thing happen all the time.”

“True, maybe. All I can say is, good luck!” he concludes.

Maddox and I pause our talking and sit on a public bench. People bounce between groups to say their final goodbyes… yet no matter in which circle she stands, I find her glancing over at me again and again and again.

I believe in my heart that she is torn between staying with her boyfriend or staying out with me, and God, I don’t want this night with her to be over. As Maddox and I continue to monitor her body language as we sit, I decide to perform a cocky experiment.

“Watch this,” I say.

I give her a special glance, not a beckoning glance like to might give to a friend you want to come over, but a deep, longing, loving stare. I let her know with my eyes, and my eyes alone, that I want her. We lock eyes… and all it takes is this single look and she instantly comes over and kneels next to me on the concrete at my feet. She grasps my leg as I put one arm around her. Her touch fills my body with warmth and electricity.

“You should come over and hang out with us!” she declares, “I want to stay out later, but Jin says it would be rude because we have Hugo over as a house guest. Still, you should come over and hang out with us. Please?”

“I dunno if I’d totally feel welcome, is Jin okay with that?”  I ask.

“It’s okay, you should come, you need to come! Please, Yuki!”

“Okay, but I don’t know where I’m going. Do you have an address?” I ask.

At this moment, Jin approaches to steal her away from me and her voice becomes more urgent, “Well, just find Hugo and follow him!” she says. Jin pulls her away. He practically drags her by the arm, and, as she scurries away with him, she looks back over her shoulder, and repeats, “Find Hugo!” she says.

I look around me. Hugo is nowhere to be found, and I realize that all of the people loitering have now suddenly gone as if they vanished, and since I can’t find Hugo… I don’t know where to go.

I resign for the night, sending her a text, apologizing, and asking for the address again… but she never responds to any of my texts. It is confusing because I would figure that if she really wanted to see me, but found me absent, she might check her phone to see if I tried to contact her. Unfortunately, this night… is done. I want to be with her more… but it is just not possible in this physical universe. I have absolutely no idea where she went. Instead, I go home alone with this feeling of love sickness weighing on my heart, but with hope for the future.

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