Perhaps the most important character in all of this is the man that was the second half of my first “real” dating experience. Let’s call him Christian.
If you’ve read my personal essay on here, “Invisible Scars,” you already know a bit about him. The one who frequently called me crazy and just generally treated me horribly? That’s him. But, while that essay focused more on the sad and serious parts of our extremely toxic relationship, here, I’m going to keep it a bit more lighthearted. My tendency to mask my pain with humor sometimes comes in handy, and this is definitely one of those situations.
We met when I was 22 and working as an intern on the Disney College Program in Florida. I was working in Attractions at “Journey Into Imagination with Figment,” “Captain EO,” and “Epcot’s Character Spot.” I was young and naive, and had extremely little experience with the opposite sex. He was my 33-year old coordinator. Apparently, he saw me walking into work one day in my super sexy mom khakis and a tank top and “had to know me,” and then spent weeks trying to figure out where I worked before I came in to work another day sans blue and purple bowling shirt and he realized we worked together. So, he came up to me one day while I was in position at Spark in the Dark (which was basically where you went and stood in a pitch black room keeping the trains going, trying to tune out the never-ending loop of the Imagination song, and scaring the shit out of people when the lights came on), told me how sexy he thought I was, and asked me out. That was the start of our 3 ½ years together of being on and off.
So, what are the craziest parts of the emotional turmoil I went through with him, that I can now look back at and laugh? Let’s see. Considering how many other girls he was dating/hooking up with in addition to me (including the ONE GIRL I asked him not to because I knew she didn’t like me and would rub it in, which she did), I could honestly write a novel (and just might someday), but thinking about my favorite moments…
There was the time when he was supposed to take me to a strip club with some of his coworkers from his other location at Epcot, but then he bailed on me at the last minute. So, I had to contact Rent-the-Runway and ask for a credit since I wasn’t going to wear the outfit I’d ordered for that night (because Lord knows I was NOT wearing my own clothes to a strip club) after my date bailed and the customer service agent that responded gave me a full refund and the polite version of, “Men ain’t shit” in his response email. The funniest part is that when I did my second College Program, some of my new friends were talking about that time they were supposed to go to the strip club and then realized that the crazy-hot girl Christian had talked about bringing was, in fact, me.
Or, there was the time when he gave me the silent treatment for more than two weeks because I made a joke that someone else was my favorite coordinator, not him. That was fun. I made a coordinator bracket, and a list of all the reasons he was really my favorite coordinator and gave it to him and he threw it in the trash right in front of me. (By the way, Alex, you really were my favorite). It ended when one of my best friends and I dressed in all-black and did a stakeout of his condo (where he lived with his mom… again, past Madeline – RED FLAG) and I decided that I didn’t want to egg his car, but I did want him to know that I could have egged it if I wanted to, so instead I just laid a dozen eggs on his windshield wiper. I also put the vibrator he’d bought for me on his door handle, and a pair of underwear on the doorknob of his place, before calling him multiple times to tell him to get his butt outside and talk to me. He finally did.
Some highlights of the stories that all fall under the, “I had no sex-ed and learned everything from Cosmo” category are the time I cried because I thought he might have gotten me pregnant when that was most definitely not possible based on the events that had occurred that night. Or when I asked him 3 months into our involvement if he was circumcised, because I genuinely didn’t know since I had nothing to compare it to. I’m sure there are more if I think about it, but my brother might end up reading this so let’s just leave it at that for now. However, I will say that I am still baffled at his ability to reverse psychology me when he told me he didn’t want to be my first and basically got me to beg him to take my virginity all while pretending like it was the last thing he wanted. Honestly, sometimes he was smarter than I gave him credit for.
So like I said earlier, there were other girls – for all his faults, at least he was (mostly) honest about this. And while one of these girls did once threaten to punch me in the throat for looking at her, another of these girls is now one of my best friends. She had worked at Figment/EO a bit before me, but was back home by the time I came around. The best part is that despite the fact that we didn’t know each other, we HATED each other. Christian 100% pitted us against each other and made us so jealous of each other that even hearing her name made me upset. She came to Epcot once on my second program and I hid all day because I was so afraid of her. Meanwhile, she couldn’t look at anything with unicorns on it (he called me his unicorn) because it made her think of me. It wasn’t until a few months after I left him that she reached out to me and now we’re pretty much BFFs. Suck on that, Christian.
Another of my favorite parts of this whole involvement was the age difference. Really, the fact that he could only relate to girls at least 10 years younger than him (he told me the week before my 24th birthday that I only had one more year before I aged out of his target demographic… I was mainly just surprised he knew that term to really care) should have been a warning sign. But, we did somehow have some things in common. He also had some things in common with my dad. When I asked him who his first celebrity crush was and he said Alyssa Milano, I told him that she was my dad’s, too. I think it was that same night that we realized he had been taking bras off of girls longer than I had been wearing them.
We mostly got burgers and pancakes and hung out at his place or mine, but occasionally, I convinced him to do real things with me. Like there was the time he got legitimately mad at me because I beat him in mini golf. There were the times on our way back from places when he made me so mad I would tell him to let me out of the car on the side of the road, not caring where I was (he never did). We fought a lot, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? He lied to me and he broke a lot of promises, one so big my roommate ended up having to take me to experience it for my birthday because she knew how badly I wanted to and how sad I was he never did (it was petting sloths at Wild Florida, if you were wondering). The last time I hung out with him was when he took me to the Strawberry Festival in Plant City for the day (after 3 years of promising me he would take me). I remember at one point, we walked past a bunch of RVs and I joked that we should buy one and drive around the country, but then I said I thought we’d probably end up killing each other. He said he thought I’d just be pregnant all the time. I think I was right.
By the way, if you’ve been wondering why I decided on calling him “Christian,” it’s because we used to joke that we were like “50 Shades of Grey” since I was so inexperienced and he did not have that problem, so to keep our relationship on the down low at work (which failed, by the way, everyone knew) we saved each other in our phones as Christian and Anastasia. Amazingly, when he and one of his three girlfriends had a baby early last year, I heard through the grapevine that they named their son Christian. Full-circle, y’all.
Was he an asshole? Yes, absolutely. Do I hate him? No. We did have some weirdly fun times on our burgers and pancakes dates, and despite his general narcissism and borderline sociopathic behavior, he did teach me a lot. He was the first person to tell me to stop thinking about what other people wanted me to do and to stop being who I was expected to be and just do what I want. Before him, being “the virgin” or “the innocent one” was my identifier. That was my thing. I wore a purity ring throughout college – that’s how dedicated I was to this identifier. When I realized that I was not quite the Catholic nun I had anticipated being until my wedding night, I felt like I lost a whole part of my identity. He was the one who helped me to see that I was still the same person, and that I had never really wanted to be those things. I just didn’t know how to not be what people expected from me.
So Christian, aka The Narcissist, was what got this all started. He helped me to realize that I had finally “peaked” physically (puberty was NOT my friend), and this revelation served as the introduction to what has become an insane roller coaster of dating stories and misadventures.