Danny & Me
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,
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
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
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
"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.
An Older Man