Danny & Me

 

 

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The problem was, I liked Danny, and actually felt pity for him when I

saw him staggering around after Sue, a long lost Great Dane seeking his

master, sniffing here and there on the campus, catching the vague sent

of Sue's passing without understanding the full implications of her

daily visits to Raubinger Hall or Hunzinger or even the English

Department offices in Matelson -- where rumor said she attempted to

seduce English professors, even making love on their paper-cluttered

desks. But for the most part, I though Danny owned some inner flaw that

allowed Sue and other women to use him. I didn't know at that time the

flaw was too much kindness.

 

I had a different flaw, one that led me constantly to the brink of

romance, then handed me rejection, and perhaps, the constant repetition

of rejections had led me to follow Sue, as well, seeking just one less

rejection in my life. I just wanted to make love to Sue without having

it matter, as meaningless an act as my rolling out of bed in the morning

or taking repetition of rejections had led me to follow Sue, as well,

see

 

This, of course, was a new role for both of us. Until that moment, I had

kept my distance, too tired, too busy, too out of touch with school

activities to mess with Sue or become a viable candidate for her bed.

Although we had sat in the lounge together, sat in the cafeteria, sat in

classrooms and offices and walked the paths of school from building to

building, we had always previously talked art, not sex.

 

Perhaps she sensed my vulnerability the way sharks sense blood, closing

in on me after my disaster with my previous girlfriend, thinking that I

was finally weak enough from that romance to close my eyes for her, to

bare my throat and dare her to take a mouthful of my flesh. The flesh I

wanted her to take in her mouth, stiffened between my legs as I sat, and

grew stiffer as her bare toes worked up the bottom of my pants, her

protests of innocence to Danny on the telephone fading into background

noise, as meaningless as the rumble of trucks and buses along Valley

Road outside.

 

I had brought this all on myself, aching for sex, mistaking Sue as a

convenient outlet, allowing our few encounters to slip over the edge

from casual to suggestive, forbidden territory rumors suggested unwise

for men far less desperate than myself, both of us emphasizing the "what

ifs" of our friendship, as she recalled sexual experiments she'd

uncovered in her frequent weekend trips of the East village or uptown to

Plato's Retreat, kidding me about what it might feel like if "we" were

to do it in that way.

 

Yet I could not avoid the meaning of Sue's statements long, even as she

smiled, I could see Danny's long face, and hear his hurt voice, and knew

I was adding to his misery. Why did I have to be the one to hurt him

instead of some truly malevolent son of a bitch, any one of the others

Sue held in abeyance? As one part of me longed to engage in the long

anticipated orgies I had planned with Sue, another part began to throb

with guilt, and imagined how I might meet his eye when coming upon him

later on campus. I bowed my head, pulled back my leg, only vaguely aware

of Sue's sudden frown.

 

And now, shame washed over me, shame for those occasional glimpses down

Sue's blouse when she so conveniently leaned forward, shame for my

fixation on her black leotards, and the curve of her breasts, and the

pointed tips that pressed out like a constant invitation, her anatomy as

vivid and exposed as a lay out for Playboy, shame for coming here with

the idea of laying her out and having my way while Danny protested, her

voice and words denying it all for him, while her eyes and toes did

exactly the opposite.

 

"Danny, please, can't you even trust me a little. Don't you know we're

soul mates? Do you think I would do anything to hurt you?"

 

"...Of course, I have a man here with me. It's Al Sullivan. You remember

Al Sullivan, don't you? Do you think he's out to get in my pants as

well? What an imagination you have! Why, of course, he's undressing me

this very minute. In fact, he has his hands all over me. Ooh! Ooh! That

does feel so good. Do it again, Al. Stick it right..."

 

And so on.

 

"Look, Danny!" she suddenly shouted, shifting from her teasing tone to

something much more terse. "I know you saw me kissing that other boy,

kissing that other boy, and I've tried to explain. But you don't want to

listen. You think I'm going to bed with everybody. And you don't believe

me when I tell you how many men want me and follow me. You think I've

done something to bring it all on myself. Is it any wonder I sought some

small comfort from that boy. A kiss, Danny! That's all. Of course, he

likes me. Sometimes I feel that attraction, too. He and I -- well, have

a kind of passion. You know. But we haven't done anything and it's

unfair for

 

All the time, Sue looked at me, as if she was telling me something, as

if I should have been reading something between the lines that included

me and her, part of that fevered pitch I'd felt on campus. I throbbed

from both desire and guilt, caught in a tug of war I wouldn't win

without tearing myself apart.

 

"Look, Danny!" Sue shouted.again "If you can't trust me, then we might

as well break up! What is the point of going on with things if you don't

believe what I say?"

 

She protested too much, and I was suddenly struck by the fact she was

using me as an instrument of torture. I was the thumb screws she used to

hurt Danny, telling him she was along with me here and that anything

couldn't happen. She could have kept silent about us, and eased Danny's

imagination for a while. But now, he would picture my face, and see me

here, in this room, on her bed, slowly undressing her, my fingers

pinching her nipples instead of his, my throbbing enormity plunging deep

between her legs where his, Doug's and several English professors' had

gone limp.

 

"Oh be that way, then!" she yelled and looked at me. "I have Al here

now, I'm sure he would never be so jealous of me if he and I were an

item. He would understand my need to talk to other men. I know I was

doing more than talking, but sometimes I have to do that, too. You just

don't get it, do you?"

 

She winked at me and I winced. Even I could picture the inevitable

scene, how we might later break from our studies with activities a

little more interesting, she suggesting I rub her back -- easing off her

blouse so she could feel my hands better, she turning over so that my

hands caressed her swelling breasts, her fingers working at my zipper to

expose me, rubbing at my flesh as I rubbed at hers, both of us creating

a friction only I would later regret.

 

Why had she made it so difficult for me to make love to her, when all I

wanted was to do it and get on with my life, without having the

anticipation of guilt, without having to think of Danny as I pressed

myself into her? Sue was not supposed to be someone important in my

life, just a substitute of passion I could indulge in and then move on

from, happily satisfied.

 

But listening to her pleading voice, I understood my mistake, feeling

the thread of Sue's web already working around my legs and arms, keeping

me from bolting out the door, keeping me from screaming my apologies to

Danny while he remained on the telephone. I could feel the first prickly

sting of her poison as she prepared me to be her next victim, torturing

me already, before I had a chance to enjoy her or the situation. Each of

Sue's denials seemed to be another coil around me, lies to Danny

intended to entice me, each a promise of delight if only I would indulge

her shedding of Danny's clinging. She seemed to swing from penis to

penis with mine as the next one in line, though just then -- as horny

and scared as I was, as lonely as the last few months had made me -- I

decided I didn't want to be just another rung on her climb from man to

man, that I wanted her friendship, and no more. I could foresee a time

when I would be Danny, and and arms, keeping me from bolting out the

door, keeping me from screaming my apologies to Danny while he remained

 

"I don't know what's gotten into that boy," she said and moved towards

me again, her fingers touching my fingers, but I made no move to

respond. She tilted her head and seemed to sense the change of mood.

 

"Is there something wrong? Has something happened?" she asked.

 

"No," I said, and stood. "It's just that I forgot I was supposed to go

fill in a shift at work.

 

But even before I reached the door and before she said a vague good bye,

I knew I was already miles behind in her mind, as she searched her

memory for some other man to serve as the next rung in her climb.

 

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An Older Man


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