I had just gotten home after a second date with a guy I had recently met. He and I were sitting on my bed and were engulfed in deep conversation—this “deep conversation” transforming into “deep making-out”—so while we were busy, my phone jingled its trademark tune notifying me that I had a new text message. Out of respect for my date, I didn’t answer my phone, even though a part of me was itching to check it. That part of me was probably just an automatic response, but I was too all aware of my date’s mouth on mine and the subtle hint of cigarette tobacco lingering on his breath, something I wasn’t entirely too fond of. However, it was all part of the moment—honestly I just hadn’t actively kissed in a while. And yet, with all this thinking of kissing, I still wanted to check my phone.
I had forgotten about it until the next morning when I did my daily check-my-phone routine. I then remembered the text immediately and saw that it was from Steve, my first not-exactly-a-relationship-but-something-like-it, which I like to call my “situation.” This “situation” occurred when I was twenty years old. At twenty, I was still as single as ever! Not just single, but had never been asked out. So you can imagine my surprise and unaccustomed reaction to when someone like Steve showed great interest in me. Steve was twenty-six, had been married and divorced twice—claiming both wives had cheated on him—and was a father of two, one of which I didn’t know about until a year later. Apparently, after his second wife’s divorce, he had a two week fling with a girl and had gotten her pregnant, producing nine months later a baby girl. He isn’t aloud to see his daughter. Steve has joint custody of his son and has a friendly relationship with his second wife. I still wonder if Steve’s little boy will ever know he has a little sister. This was just a part of the heavy baggage attached to Steve’s back.
The other part was that Steve had severe depression. He had told me it was because of his traumatic experiences in Iraq when he was with the Army. Steve once said that he and his team had gotten captured and were tortured. He also claimed to have gotten discharged because he had acquired some type of cancer. The problem was I couldn’t tell what was real and what wasn’t. You see, he claimed to have had the cancer for five years and still had it when he met me. Without chemo, I kept wondering why he hadn’t died yet. He looked healthy enough to me. But that was three years ago.
Three years ago, Steve was the situation I tried to escape from. Three years ago, at the naïve age of twenty and being very inexperienced with any sort of sexual male attention, I was thrown into the year of extreme confusion and drama. Though I liked Steve as a person and a friend, I did not like the sexual/romantic relationship that distracted me from everything else. Of course, that’s not very truthful either because I loved how he made me felt. So I guess I could say my logical side didn’t like it; however, my “not-logical” side craved it. Steve was attractive and charming. He definitely knew how to “work” the female body. I experienced my first orgasm with him and kept going back for more. I finally knew what it was like to be needed, wanted, sexy, and attractive. He helped give me the confidence I needed to be comfortable with myself and the opposite sex. He was like a drug, and I was addicted.
However, that was the year I failed two of my classes for the first time and had to withdraw several others. Seeing as I was used to being an A and B student, the F’s were a huge disappoint and I blamed my relationship with Steve. And I feel I have every right to blame it on the relationship. As far as I was concerned, Steve was not my boyfriend, rather he was something I was drawn to because he made me feel wanted. I’m sure I convinced myself at one point that I was in love with him, but I wasn’t really. There was also a point where I blamed Steve for my own failure. I am not a morning person and I had a horrible Music Theory class at 8am. Steve would sleep over a lot and when my alarm clock chimed, he constantly pulled me back into bed.
“Don’t go yet,” Steve would say. That’s when he’d start kissing my shoulder, or the back of my neck. I always melted when he kissed my neck. His lips were so enticingly soft—so stupidly, damn soft. I gave in so many times.
By mid-spring semester, I was able to work up enough anger to end the “situation.” It had all gone too far and my classes were suffering because of my neglect. After school ended, we tried to keep a casual friendship, but that never worked out. Anytime we hung out alone, he always found some way to get me back into his bed. So finally I told him that we couldn’t see each other anymore, at least not until we could control ourselves.
Steve and I still kept in touch—a phone call every once and a while; after a sufficient amount of time had passed, a random dinner here or movie there. Now it’s been three years and the last time we talked was four months ago. Not surprisingly enough, Steve was engaged. I was happy to know that he had found someone else. I hoped she was the right one for him. I hoped she knew how to deal with someone who wouldn’t accept help in order to climb out of the dark hole he had created for himself. However, I was shocked to discover that she was barely twenty-one. By now, Steve was almost twenty-nine. I was just glad it wasn’t me that he was focusing all of his attention on.
So you can imagine my surprise when I opened my cell phone and the text box read, “Can I come over? I really need to be with someone.” He had sent that at eleven o’clock.
I rolled my eyes in irritation. Not again, I thought. I really wasn’t the type of person that enjoyed these kinds of dramatics and, in my mind, it was entirely inappropriate for an engaged man to come to my house in the middle of the night. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that he still didn’t get that, and that he also still kept me a part of his life. We weren’t that close of friends.
So I ignored the text and didn’t respond back. There was no point in adding to the drama. I went on with my day and had completely forgotten about it, of course that was after I had elaborated for a few minutes to my girlfriends about how illogical Steve was to even consider requesting to see me at eleven o’clock at night.
The next morning, I was woken up by my phone again, jingling and vibrating on my bed table—the jingle always reminded me of Super Mario Galaxy—and I snatched it, quickly muting the sound. I hated being woken up by my phone. I quickly flipped it open to see there was another text from Steve. It said: “Sorry about that. I was going to kill myself and Emily [his fiancée] called the police on me.”
I stared blankly at it for a moment, trying to decide whether or not he was being serious, or if this was another dramatic ploy. He had known that my aunt had killed herself when I was young, and I also knew that if a person really wanted to kill himself, then they would have done it by now instead of talking about it. At that point, I could feel myself getting angry. It infuriated me that he told me this, and that he actually considered killing himself in the first place. I didn’t understand what he was still depressed about. He has a son who loves him. He has huge family who loves him. He’s engaged. The last time I spoke with him, which was months ago, he sounded so happy.
A part of me wanted to ignore this message. I didn’t know why he felt the need to tell me this anyway. But then, I thought, what if he really did want to take his own life? What kind of person would that make me to ignore him like that?
Clearing my throat from its grogginess, I called Steve. He didn’t answer the first time and I forgot to leave a message. After thinking about what I could say for a couple of minutes, I called again, planning on leaving him a message. And then he answered.
“Hey,” I said automatically.
“Hi,” he said, his voice bleak and gruff. It sounded like he either just woke up too, or was drugged up to the point of being comatose. So I just got right to the point.
“What’s wrong,” I asked.
He answered that he didn’t know. I asked him how Emily was doing. He answered fine. I felt like I was getting nowhere. Of course, I really didn’t expect to be getting anywhere. I wasn’t a counselor. I didn’t know what was right or wrong to say. I knew that listening usually helps, but difficult when no one is talking. So I told him what I thought. I said that if he had killed himself, then he wouldn’t have appreciated all the work and effort his parents put into bringing him up, that he would have abandoned his son, and wouldn’t have valued all the love his family and friends have given him.
He was silent on the other end, but I could hear that he was moving about, probably getting his son ready for school. A moment passed and he said he had to go, but that he’d call me back.
I waited. An hour went by, then two. I assumed he forgot to call me back that day. In fact, he never did. He was probably mad at me for not being nearly as sympathetic towards his suicidal attempt as he would have wanted me to be. After we had hung up, I thought back on our conversation and thought that maybe I was a little harsh. But, then again, I was pissed, and he was a grown man that needed to grow out of his depression. Though he didn’t call me back, I somehow knew he was okay and that if Steve had done something drastic, I would have found out through our mutual friends.
Three months later, I had gotten another text from him inviting me to Poker night at his place. Sometimes I still wonder why he includes me as one of his friends. We were never that close. But I was glad to see that he seemed happier, as much as one can tell through a text message.
I didn’t respond this time. I didn’t want any part of Steve’s life. The depression, the ups and downs, the drama, the baggage—I couldn’t do it. Steve and I were no longer friends and we weren’t really in the first place. We were more like acquaintances and I didn’t care to keep in touch. We never could be just friends and I had no interest in trying at something that didn’t really exist. Steve was a closed book that concluded a long time ago.
I don’t answer anymore.