I found myself in a precarious spot, indeed. I was facing serious charges for one, and for two I was single. And I hated being single, Dionysus.
It wasn’t that I wasn’t accustomed to being alone, for I had been that way for most of my young life. I just had this silly notion in my head that only losers were single because if one is single, it is clearly because they can’t find anybody to date them. And I thirsted for validation, love: I equated being single with being a fat kid that no girls wanted to talk to (which, of course, I had been), and there was no way that my pride would allow for such a thing.
And there was all that other stuff like being in love with Isadora forever and being soul mates and such, I suppose.
I was going completely mad from all of the things that were happening to me. Yes, these things were happening to me; I certainly didn’t have any role in their occurrence. Absolutely none whatsoever. As far as I was concerned, I just suffered from chronic bad luck. Yes, I played the martyr well, Dionysus.
I suffered quietly, enduring secret punishments that nobody knew of and, even if they did, there was no way of them ever truly comprehending just what I was going through. I was a self-flagellating stranger, an achy ascetic, a lone wolf languishing in the deepest darkest recesses of human misery. Can you picture me playing Hamlet, Dionysus? Hammered Hamlet, naturally.
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind (Mind the drink, pal)
To suffer (Such suffering!)
The handcuffs and sex offender registries of outrageous Fortune (An outrage, I say!)
Or to take shots against a Sea of troubles (Make it a double!)
And by wallowing prolong them (I’m starting to enjoy this!)
To cry, to sleep forevermore
And by a sleep, we say to drag out the heartache, and the thousand unnatural shocks that flesh is heir to (Oh, being single is so unnatural!)
‘Tis an intoxication drunkenly to be dished.
Alas, poor Rateval: I knew him well, Dionysus.
What I’m trying to drive at here is this: I discovered that I relished suffering. I absolutely reveled in self-pity and obsessing over these cruel, tragic cosmic jokes that I had become the punch line of. It made me feel special and unique in a way that is difficult to articulate. I was the tragic picaresque protagonist, shuffled about by the mortal coils in such a way that, while it is true that I was constantly getting burned, I fucking dug those scars. Because those scars made me different and set me apart from all the commonplace people and uniform happenings that I had convinced myself that I despised. Yes, I suffered, but it was a noble and artistic suffering: the fates and the furies may have been jerking me around, but at least they were paying attention to me. Clearly, I was special, an important person amongst legions of inferior, boring beings.
So I took the shame and the guilt and the fear I was feeling, twisted it around a bit, added a pinch of delusion, and ended up with my own special brand of self-perpetuating shitshow kindling. And how I fueled that fire, Dionysus.
I wanted to suffer quietly, to keep it all to myself, but my nature precluded such things. Like many drinkers of my variety, I had a big fucking mouth when I was drunk (which was, let’s be honest, most of the time). Couple that with the naive delusion that the cosmos spun just for me (even if the axis was all crooked and shaky), and the result was that pretty soon, everybody knew about my run-in with Johnny Law and the consequences I was facing.
I’m not sure what I was expecting when I told my friends and acquaintances and the mailman and the grocery bag lady and anybody else who would listen about the trials and tribulations I was suffering. Perhaps I was looking for sympathy, which would have meant that what I was going through was gnarly (and therefore noble) simply by virtue of invoking such a response. Or maybe I wanted a pat on the back or a hug or a new girlfriend or anything that would have made me feel better because the truth was that I was scared as hell about the entire affair and had no idea what was to happen to me.
What I got was a great deal different, however. The responses ran the gamut from mild shock to derisive chiding. I was expecting something like this:
“Oh Rateval! You poor, poor, noble soul, you! Society has indeed wronged you in an unfair, nay unforgivable, fashion! Your suffering, while unwarranted, is a testament to your unbreakable human spirit and a true inspiration for us all! May all the police in the land die painful syphilitic deaths as retribution for their savage mistreatment of you!”
But what I got was more along the lines of this:
“Maybe you shouldn’t have been drinking and driving with a bar in your truck and sleeping with underaged girls, you fucking idiot.”
Not really the same thing, eh Dionysus?
But my friends were the most harsh. Not only did they find the entire ordeal funny as hell, but they also made a point of making as many statutory rape jokes as they could think of for years to come. In fact, they sometimes called me by a cute little nickname: Reggie. Short for Registered Sex Offender.
But I wasn’t a registered sex offender, Dionysus. At least not yet, for that was still a very real and very terrifying possibility, especially on account of what I am about to relate to you.
I received a phone call at work one day from the police department. They told me that I had to come down to the station right away and fill out some paperwork.
My nightmares were coming true, Dionysus! I was to become a registered sex offender, a perpetual pariah in the eyes of god and man and universities and employers. Oh, woe was me!
The paperwork, as it turns out, was for a mutual restraining order for myself and Isadora. Essentially, the state had decided that it was in our best interests not to see each other anymore. I remember signing that no contact order and having it really hit me that I probably wouldn’t see her again. Despite the fact that I had already ended things (coldly and rudely), I felt an immense, permeating sadness. I also felt a heightened sense of trepidation, as it seemed to me that the paper trail from restraining order to sex offender was just a hop, skip, and a jump away.
But that wasn’t to be, Dionysus. Reggie may have stuck as a nickname, but the charges didn’t stick in a court of law, apparently. That was the last time I ever heard about those charges, love.
But I suffered on regardless, even though I had just dodged a major bullet. I would dodge quite a few more in the years to come, but I’d take a lot of collateral damage in the process.
As will likely become very clear as we carry on with our correspondence, Dionysus.
</3 Sir Rateval Hurtlinge
P.S. I still have my copy of the restraining order in a shoebox along with a lot of other momentos of misconduct. Years later, I told Isadora that and she laughed.
P.P.S. The statute of limitations for prosecuting my particular crime was, I believe, one year. It never went to trial. I don’t know whether it was lack of evidence or judicial mercy at the prospects of ruining a dumb kid’s entire life, but it just sort of went away. Everyday for a year, though, I wondered if that would be the day I got sent away. If you’ve ever had time hanging over your head before, then you know precisely what I mean; if not, then you don’t want to know what I mean. Trust me.