Stood Up

I write this, simply to say, it isn’t my fault. It isn’t something to be laughed off, or because someone was drunk.

I had been very casually seeing a guy when I was about 22 in Sydney. Around 2006. He introduced me to “The Devil Wears Prada”, had a thick English accent, a tattoo of a pair of woman’s lips above his belly button and I cannot remember his name. He proudly showed me his one hit wonder single, that made it in the UK in the early 90s. He looked like Peter Andre.

He called me one Saturday afternoon, asked me if I wanted to do something random. I said why yes, of course! Everyone who knows me, knows I cannot help dive into something spontaneous. He (let’s call this guy Mark) said he had a friend invite us to his country house, out west of Sydney for the night.

We got into his friends car, it was a fancy old convertible. Very squashy. I shook hands with Mark’s friend (lets call him Bert), he was an older, fairly obese man. Grey hair, flushed cheeks and he wore a chequered shirt, smart pants. Quite proper for a Saturday afternoon. The trip is a blur now, couldn’t even tell you where or how far it took to get there. He said his wife and kids were away for weekend and so he had the place to himself. It was very open planned, big sweeping property. Lawns, a lot of gums and modern glass square architecture. A lot of corrugated iron was used in a fancy way. I remember it was cold, and we went in and started cooking a roast. Wine all round. It felt very adult, but also just a tad weird. I knew Mark for a few weeks, didn’t know Bert. How did they know each other? Mark was chuckling a lot, they both acted like besties. There was books scattered on the coffee table, cow hide on the ground on top of the polished concrete.

Turns out Bert was a politician. He was a member of parliament. At 22 I had zero interest or care for politics and so don’t recall his views or whether he was left or right. I’d take a stab now that he was definitely right. I just smiled and nodded at politics, and inside chuckled at how Mark and I were with this random mid fifties politician, on his posh country property. And being young and full on spontaneity, I lived for this stuff. A story. Funnily enough, not one I have told until now, 14 years later.

I remember classical music playing through a stereo that was hidden in the walls. Eating dinner in a sterile and minimal space. Kept being given wine. I remember being quickly bored. Sitting after dinner on couches next to a fire, until I hinted at Mark that it was time for sleep. We thanked him for the dinner and he showed us to the seperate side cottage that was for guests.

Was a cute floral bedspread, old spring bread. Was cosy and had a bed and breakfast vibe. Mark commented on how it was such a lovely night. I asked him what the go with Bert was, Mark just chuckled and said he was a nice generous guy. Getting into my boxers, I slid into bed with Mark. Turned off the light. Closed my eyes, I was starting to look forward to getting back home in the morning.

A few minutes later, I heard creaking. The floor boards beside the door outside. I lifted my head, was that real? The door then was opening in the dark, my back was facing the door. Mark didn’t seem to budge, I was a little frozen. I felt Bert’s presence, and he slid back the covers on my side and got into the bed. I felt him reach his arm around me, chuckle quietly, like this was all planned. He didn’t say anything, my instinct was to act like I was asleep.

I did not know what to do. I was staring at the back of Mark’s head, and beyond that the curtain with a little light peeking in. I was so polite. He had given us dinner and offered us a place on his beautiful property. As his hand slid into my pants, my stomach slid to the floor. I was baffled, whether it was then or later, that Mark did nothing.

I felt his hand exploring, groping, feeling in my boxer shorts. I never invited this. Did I? But then I also wasn’t giving him a bad signal. I felt sick. My stomach was under the bed by now, I felt like a lost little kid. And also like an idiot, for not seeing this ahead of time.

And then, my sub conscious kicked in. I was outside of my body, looking in. I stood up. Literally just stood up in the middle of the bed and said “I don’t like this”. “I don’t like this, I don’t like this.” I kept repeating it, standing in the saggy old bed, two men either side of me. The darkness was thick.

Bert jumped out of the bed, gasped his surprise and left the room. As quickly as he came in, I had shone the headlights on what lurked. This wasn’t done, I got that sense.

Mark rolled over, sheepishly told me to calm down, it was just a bit of fun and he was an old drunk man. He was baffled at how I had “overreacted”. Not to worry. He turned back over, as I looked at the door. I heard only wind in the trees outside, and I heard that wind the rest of the night as I lay there until light. Scolding myself for being so… for being so nice.

We were meant to have breakfast in the morning, but Bert had to get back early and if we needed a lift we had to go now. He said he could drop us off at the nearby train station. He was hiding in the front seat as we got to the car with our overnight bag. I slid in the back, he said something along the lines of “sorry, I forgot what bed I was going into, I was so drunk” and chuckled. Then why were you driving Bert..? It was a silent ride, mixed with Mark’s attempts at making chatter. The train station arrived, we got out.

Then we spent the train ride home, with Mark telling me don’t worry, it was a lesson for me to accept some men just don’t know their boundaries. He didn’t mean any harm.

Then I blotted it out, every now and then I recall, then I blot out his face more. How sad he is, whoever that unknown man is. But also wonder how often he set that up, and how many other men, how many other men and women felt they invited it, they must have. No, you didn’t.

22 year old me.

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