1.3: The Awkward Midwestern Undergraduate Years/Student Film Will Turn You Slutty, Paul
What can I say about Paul? Imagine a nice Jewish boy. Now imagine the exact opposite.
Sophomore year rolled around. There were no summer romances to be had for me after freshman year as I most likely worked some fast food or grocery gig, or at least none that I remember. I had made the mistake of signing up for course overload, in which I took 19 instead of the usual 15 hours of classes. Yet for some reason I still had enough time to want to pick up a new hobby. This was where the campus student film club came in.
The first meeting of the year was a read through of the feature-length horror-comedy project the current film club president had written. I volunteered to read the part of the love interest, which eventually went to a blonde freshman with larger “talents” than me, as it were. The hero of the story sat across the room with one leg crossed “masculine” style and one arm dangling over the arm of the couch with his index and middle fingers closer together as if holding a cigarette. His hair was something straight out of Metrosexual Weekly with how much product he threw in there. I think he was even wearing the same suit I always ended up seeing him in (and more appropriately, out of). In other words, he was a filthy hipster before I knew what a hipster was.
Admittedly, my first reaction to him was one of mild revulsion yet fascination. In my survey of British literature post-Restoration class, we would discuss this as being a feeling of “the sublime” in Romanticism, although that had more to do with simultaneous feelings of terror and grandeur. The random thought of “Shit. I’m probably going to sleep with this asshole after some drunken night.” crossed my mind. I hate being right.
To this day, I have no idea how he got my chat screen name, perhaps from a mutual friend in the student film group. One night he attempted to ply me with a proposition that only seems to work for underage undergrads:
Paul [some time after midnight]: You’re at home, why? Me: Sorry, I was just getting ready for bed. I was just hanging out with some of my girls in the dorm. Paul: there’s a party going on, you can get drunk for pretty cheap Me: Sorry, not interested.
This wasn’t just self-righteous posturing on my part. I really wasn’t. The last time I had gone to a party was with a friend of mine freshman year who knew some guys in marching band living in “saxophone house.” Drinking jungle juice that smelled and probably tasted like hairspray while some jackass would paw at me while hurling banal attempts at conversation didn’t seem appealing. I would later learn to appreciate better drinks and good company a bit later.
Paul: do you want to see the movie I made last year?
This was where I hesitated. I was about to shut down my computer for the night, but I have to admit that my interest was piqued. I was curious to see what a finished product of the student film club looked like.
Paul: [address] I’ll be on the porch if you’re interested.
However, as naïve and eager as I was, I wasn’t a complete moron.
When I got to the address, I saw Paul leaning against the doorframe with a cigarette dangling from his lips as naturally as his arm hung from his shoulder. Like all the other times I remember seeing him off set, a dark suit covered his tall, lanky frame. The impression I had of him changed then. When I saw him in that suit again, barely lit by the flickering porch light, the first thing that crossed my mind was how much I wanted to tear it off of him.
Thus began my downward spiral.
I will say that he did show me the rough cut of his project and it was a watchable action romp, so at least that part wasn’t entirely pretense. Beneath the suit, I could practically count the ribs beneath his pale skin. I recall telling people that my physical “type” of guy was somewhere between vegan and heroin addict. Of course, skinny doesn’t always mean weak and Paul was always demanding and just the right amount of brutal in bed, fucking like he was starving for it. After he passed out from either exhaustion or the half handle of vodka he drank, I made my exit, especially considering he sprawled on the bed and snored. The next morning, I awoke to this chat:
Paul: you left Me: so? it’s not like you gave me any compelling reason to stay Paul: whatever, see you on set
Yet for as well put-together as he looked on set and elsewhere, his apartment was a complete hole, one of those weird houses with a shared bathroom and kitchen area, but with locks on each of the bedrooms. It was such a hole that at some point that year, he lost his key and decided to kick in his bedroom door. Not only was this never repaired, nobody ever bothered to finish the job and cart off any of his crap. Then again, all I ever saw in his room other than his computer were industrial-sized multi-packs of cup noodle, ramen and mac and cheese, packs of cigarettes and large handles of vodka. This would usually be supplemented by a bottle of Adderall when he needed to stay up 40 hours straight to complete the computer science class projects that he had all semester to work on. To be fair, at least he occasionally shared his vodka with the cast and production assistants when we were doing night shoots in the winter, but the script called for wardrobe to pretend like it was still summer. Instead of warming us up, this resulted in a drunk cast and crew needing to do even more takes outside. The worst part about visiting was that he was sometimes so lazy after sex that he just snapped off the condom and chucked it across the room.
He would randomly message me during the day seeking sex, but as I mentioned earlier, I was taking course overload. I had to at least maintain some facade of respectability, after all. Instead of playing hooky, I would meet with him after class especially considering his messages usually read with the following sweetness:
Paul: quit being such an apple polisher and just come the fuck over. I’ll be here until 4.
Like I said, he was demanding. I’ll never be able to explain exactly why I was so drawn to him. Maybe it was the way he looked at me. I couldn’t look anywhere except into those intense hazel eyes as he pounded me into the bed.
After awhile, I couldn’t even look at Paul when we were on set together. I had the naïve notion that I could turn invisible at will, that if I couldn’t see him, he couldn’t see me. I was also paranoid that someone else would notice the way he and I looked at each other and draw a fitting conclusion. The looks he gave me said so much despite the fact he never said more than two words to me on set. His eyes would scan, lingering on a couple of places as if his eyes rendered the layers of clothing nonexistent. When we made eye contact, it felt like he was asking me if I wanted to sneak off to another room to fool around while the others could set up lighting, the job I usually did.
This eventually led to a couple of interesting encounters later that year. The student film festival was held in the chemistry building. During an intermission, we snuck in an empty classroom and fucked on one of the tables. In hindsight, it would have been a better idea to brace the table against the wall, considering the scratches left on the tile floor and how we moved the table halfway across the classroom. At one of the cast parties, we pretended to leave separately and wandered to the construction site of what I later found out was an extended wing for a church. When we got back to the party, arriving through separate doors, one of our mutual friends drunkenly shouted “Hey! Why are you all dusty?” causing him to lead me by the arm outside and try to pat all of the dust off our clothes.
I’ve been given criticism that there isn’t really much of a point to my rambling narratives. If there was a point to this entry, it would be that there was absolutely no reason I should have ever felt the need to sneak around or feel particularly guilty about anything I did. [Although technically I sort of cheated on someone with him at one point, but that’s another story. In fact, it’s next week's story!] Paul and I were both consenting adults. This didn’t need to be a weird thing. No one on set would have given two flying fucks about it considering about everyone banged each other. So, the panic attacks I had about people finding out would have been more productive having panic attacks about midterms and finals. Of course, being the apple polisher I was, I pretty much aced all my papers and exams. Not to mention, there is something to be said about feeling like something you’re doing is wrong... and then doing it anyway. Some people eat ice cream before dinner. I had semi-public sex with a guy I didn’t particularly like.