Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Stay away from the energy vampires

Dear reader, I interrupt my story of the Russian charmer I met at the Masquerade Ball, because I realized that she is an intensely private person and would never want me talking about the intimate details of her life, no matter how good the story. We used to go to bars together, and she'd always make up fake names and biographies; she thinks that when people knew your real name, it gives them power over you. So - a sequel's coming, but I'm going to make it partly fictional. It may seem bizarre, but it will certainly be less interesting than the reality.

In the meantime, reader dear, since I am in a pensive mood:

I was walking across the intersection of U St and 16th St the other day when I saw a car screech to a halt in front of a man in a crosswalk. The man's face went crimson, and he leapt after the car, banging his fists on its hood. "You fucking idiot!" he yelled. "I have the right of way! I was in the crosswalk!" - and then words failed him, and he simply roared, tendons popping out on his neck. He turned his head from side to side, and his rage seemed to encompass me, and everyone else he saw, in fact, the whole of this universe that dared to include such an obnoxious car. His aura was about three yards wide, and bright red. It was profoundly disturbing; for a few moments, this man was insane, and I am glad he did not have a gun.

What are we, if not social animals, oh my reader? We take our cues from society around us, and our beliefs and actions are sometimes remarkably plastic. And so, confronted with this drastic violation of behavioral norms, my instinctive reaction was to look around for fellow witnesses. Luckily there was indeed another man nearby who was doing exactly the same thing I was. We made eye contact for a so-beautiful ten seconds, during which we exchanged eye-rolls, shook our heads, and chuckled. It was a shared chuckle, which started tentatively, but deepened, and became more certain with reinforcement, a chuckle which expressed, "Gosh, what an unreasonable old crackpot he is! Us normal pedestrians would certainly never be so silly, would we?"

And so I kept on walking with a smile and a whistle, and I must thank my unknown commisserator, who surely saved me. Because the fact is, sometimes people can hurt you. Sometimes - like my crosswalk man - those people aren't out to get you; they are just unhappy strangers whose energy somehow affects you, and you get a taste of the poison in their souls. Syreena calls these people "dark angels." Sometimes people want to hurt someone, anyone, or everyone, and you just happen to be handy. But sometimes, for whatever reason, people do want to get you. They want to hurt you. And because of some alchemical connection, as mysterious as the chemistry of love, there is a particular pleasure they think they can get from hurting particularly you.

I used to attract a lot of those people when I was growing up, and I'm not quite sure why. Perhaps it was a certain quality of arrogant, completely self-sufficient happiness that pissed them off. Anyway, I've since become more careful about being happy in public - or perhaps less arrogant - and I've managed to reduce the number of people who hate my guts, oh, probably tenfold. So I tend to forget just how awful it was, when people wanted to eat me.

I wrote a few months ago about meeting a musician called Jorge at Kramerbooks, who said he liked me because I was a hippie. I was taken aback, slightly, by the size and fragility of his ego, but decided in the end to sympathize with his dreams of artistic creation - and invited him to my next party at the Fondo Del Sol. During the evening Jorge pushed me into a corner. "Oh, you look so good tonight! Oh, you smell good, you're such a hippie," he said, grabbing my shoulders and leaning towards me. Trying to be polite about it, I put my hands on his chest and pushed away. "Can I have your number?" he asked. "Maybe I can call you later tonight and...you know."

"Nope, sorry, Jorge," I said. "I'm just not into it."

He stepped back with a little artificial laugh. "Okay, well, that's fine," he said, with another strange laugh. "You know what? You're really missing out." He leaned closer again. "Because I'm spectacular in bed...and what's more, I'm really huge."

I snapped, "More of a thing you don't want isn't good!" and walked away, but not before I saw his eyes: they were ice.

After the party was over I set up my guest, Ben, on the futon in the living room, and went to bed. I woke up with a start in the middle of the night to see the figure of a man in my doorway. "Get the fuck out of my room!" I yelled.

He came closer. It was Jorge.

"No, no, listen," he said. He told me that he was walking home and couldn't find a cab. He felt unsafe walking across Dupont Circle. "Listen, there have been three murders right around here in the past few weeks. And they've all happened around this time. I was just scared. I didn't know what to do. So I knocked on your door and Ben let me in." (Poor Ben. He'd seen Jorge at the party and just assumed he was a friend of mine.)

Yes, obviously it was bullshit. But what could I do? No matter what the circumstance, if a human being shows up at my door and claims to be afraid for their life, I've got to take them in. "Fine," I said. "You can crash on the couch. Go on into the living room."

He stepped closer yet again. "Listen," he whispered, "I know you weren't into the sex thing, but can I sleep here with you? There's just something I love about female energy..." and he reached out to stroke my hip underneath the blanket.

"Get the fuck out of here onto the couch, Jorge!" and I pushed him away.

The next morning I gave him a cold stare, ignored his hints about wanting to use the shower, and ushered him out the door as fast as I could, locking it behind him.

Over the next few months, I occasionally ran into Jorge on Dupont Circle. He'd always make a particular point of greeting me. His words, if I were to transcribe them, would simply seem friendly and effusive, variations of "Hi, Zoe, so good to see you again, how are you doing?" But there was violence in his eyes, and a certain dark, shared game: "We both know what is going on, but I am being polite to you in public, and there's nothing you can do about it." Once I passed him sitting with a girl next to the fountain, and he murmured, "Zoe! Speak of the devil. I was just talking about you." My skin actually crawled. (Know how that feels?)

I went to Art-o-matic on Friday and Saturday nights (about which more later) and saw Jorge there both times. He came up to me on the opening night. "Zoe!" he exclaimed. "So good to see you."

"Hey," I said flatly.

"Give me a hug!" and he was already moving in for one. Oh, curse you, culture of mine! You make it so hard for us women not to be polite! I sort of grudgingly yielded to the hug, keeping both my arms up in front of me, and the peacock feather I was holding brushed against his face.

He sprang back, and clutched at his lip. "You cut me!" He pointed to the quill of the peacock feather. "You cut me with that! I'm bleeding!" He glared at me accusingly with those deep-down icy eyes. "You made me bleed!" Then he turned and stomped away before I could look more closely.

"That sure was weird," Natalie said. "What was that all about?"

It's strange how it works, isn't it, dear reader, with those people who get under your skin? Jorge hasn't really ever done anything to me except rudely proposition me and make up an excuse to sleep at my house. I haven't come to any physical harm because of him, and I'm reasonably sure I never will. Yet there's some kind of intense connection between us - and both of us know it - that allows him to creep the fuck out of me. I saw all kinds of interesting art at the Art-o-matic: the Earthenforms exhibit, some marvellously political Funky Furniture, the sly works in the Girls Club, and yet, as I was heading home with Roberto, the first thing I told him was the story of Jorge. And I've just spent entirely too long telling you all about it as well.

Folklore has some lessons about vampires for us, I believe; garlic is supposed to work, and crosses, and mirrors. But most of all, never invite them into your home.

5 Comments:

Blogger Sarah Smile said...

"I used to attract a lot of those people when I was growing up, and I'm not quite sure why. Perhaps it was a certain quality of arrogant, completely self-sufficient happiness that pissed them off. Anyway, I've since become more careful about being happy in public - or perhaps less arrogant - and I've managed to reduce the number of people who hate my guts, oh, probably tenfold. So I tend to forget just how awful it was, when people wanted to eat me."
I was that girl, too. All I know to do about it is to pad your life with good people, and it sure sounds like you have that covered.

8:27 AM  
Blogger La Whisky said...

Very very creepy. And rather stalkeresque. I'm beginning to think that DC needs a listserv where we can share the names of all the excessively creepy and abusive men out there.

8:48 AM  
Blogger zzzzzoe said...

I'm not trying to be too alarmist - it's not that Jorge is actually stalking me (and even if he'd like to, I've since moved, and he doesn't know where I live!) It's just that DC's a pretty small place, and when he does run into me, he enjoys squicking me. He hasn't impacted my life besides the odd mosquito bite - but realizing how gross our rare encounters are has given me an appreciation for how terrible it must be to have a real stalker (which I know some of my friends have had to deal with).

9:02 AM  
Blogger Fatima Jones said...

Oh man, I just had sex with one of these people and I clearly was slimed as instead of doing what I need to do tonight, I'm browsing on the internet for other people who might have had a similar experience with one. I can't tell if the clinical term for the guy I encountered is "Narcissist" or "Sociopath" but the icky eyes on Jorge sound like socio. Luckily, these types are so self-involved that they never expend the energy to stalk people, so you're lucky there. He just wants to be the winner of the little mind game he's playing with you. So creepy . . . I hope mine will go away easily.

5:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Help me Dude, I'm lost.

I was searching for Elvis and somehow ended up in your blog, but you know I'm sure I saw Elvis in the supermarket yesterday.

No honest really, he was right there in front of me, next to the steaks singing "Love me Tender".

He said to me (his lip was only slightly curled) "Boy, you need to get yourself a shiny, new plasmatv to go with that blue suede sofa of yours.

But Elvis said I, In the Ghetto nobody has a plasma tv .

Dude I'm All Shook Up said Elvis. I think I'll have me another cheeseburger then I'm gonna go home and ask Michael Jackson to come round and watch that waaaay cool surfing scene in Apocalypse Now on my new plasma tv .

And then he just walked out of the supermarket singing. . .

"You give me love and consolation,
You give me strength to carry on "

Strange day or what? :-)

4:17 PM  

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