My Date With a Louisville Slugger I've written about Gretchen before--the girl I spent a significant chunk of college in quasi-pursuit of, against my better judgment. By the end of my Senior year, there wasn't a day that I didn't spend with her or with the other "G-Spots," not a day that didn't involve drinking with them and flirting covertly with her and generally getting myself into a shape where I wouldn't have graduated at all if not for sympathetic professors who inexplicably liked me and had mercy on me when I didn't deserve it.
I was a fuck-up, pure and simple. It is a cliche about insanity that the insane person continues doing the same thing and expects different results, and by this standard, I was clearly insane. But it was fun while it happened, and despite the constant threat of a catastrophe, I continued at it for much longer than I really should have. It almost would have been better for catastrophe to strike, because I still to this day feel sort of invincible--that whatever god it is that looks after children and fools has my number, and is waiting for the proper sacrifices to be made in his honor. My continued atheism is making him angrier.
Eventually, I'll get mine...
This is the story of how that almost happened, how my just-don't-give-a-fuck attitude almost caught up with me.
This is the story of a Louisville Slugger.
Gretchen had a boyfriend, a frat boy by the name of Bill. When I call Bill a "frat boy," I mean it not only as a purely literal description of him as someone who was in Sig Tau, a fraternity, but also on a more fundamental level. Plato would have been happy with Bill: "Fuck this 'cave' metaphor," Plato would have said, "This is no second-rate copy. This is the personification of the concept 'frat boy,' all wrapped up in one greasy little punk." And then he would have gone back to teaching Aristotle, with a firm warning for Ari to avoid Bill for fear of getting a full toga wedgie or a swirlie in the Athenian sewer system.
Bill was an asshole. What Gretchen was doing with a guy like that still boggles my mind--chicks dig assholes, I hear, even if my own experience as an asshole hasn't entirely borne that out. But girls like assholes, especially assholes who want them and will do virtually anything to possess them. Still, it wasn't a healthy relationship. All the G-Spots knew it, and we were united--better any of us than Bill. We never fought, never disputed, never really competed with each other. We were as one: Gretchen should not be with that guy; whether she wound up with any of us was really quite secondary.
One Saturday, Kevin, Gretchen, and I were out at a party at the White House--one of those non-frat, non-dorm places that is passed down year after year to a rotation crew of perennial party-throwers. Bill wanted Gretchen home by midnight--we stayed until after 3am, with Kevin and I playing an amazing string of games of Beirut, including one we won with a shot of mine that still, five years later, reigns as one of the most triumphant moments of my life.
Ultimately, Kevin and I left the party feeling invincible, unstoppable, and incidentally, thoroughly sick of this punk-ass lightweight, Bill.
So when he called Gretchen, Kevin and I hung around, making snarky comments, supporting Gretchen, and doing our best to destroy any fragment of esteem Gretchen might have had for him.
The conversation lasted over an hour--Kevin and I enjoying every minute of it, Bill not a single moment. It was glorious, and at the end of it, amid Bill's shouts that Kevin and I would get what's coming to us, Gretchen finally and completely broke it off with that little fuckstain.
We celebrated with my traditional mason jar of bourbon.
Fifteen minutes later, a screech of tires, and some yelled profanity. Bill had arrived, and he'd brought a baseball bat.
I'm not a violent person, or a very threatening one, but throughout college I carried a butterfly knife--a four inch chunk of sharpened steel that I liked to play with. It was rural Indiana--not exactly the toughest neighborhood on earth, and so there was no rational reason I'd need this knife to defend myself, but I found it very therapeutic to whip it open and closed, over and over again as I worked on my papers or read my assignments. It was childish, but it turns that when you're confronted with a drunk frat boy believing he's being cuckolded by two honor student geeks, four inches of sharpened steel suddenly achieves a purpose beyond the aesthetic or therapeutic.
And I knew that, when it came down to it, I was willing to stab this asshole with an illegal knife when he came at me with a baseball bat. It might take a couple of swings with a bat, probably, to knock someone out or kill them. It takes really only one stab wound.
And Bill understood this. Or he understood something. Whether he realized the stupidity and danger of what he was getting into or not, he went back to his car, throwing the bat in the backseat, swearing all the way, and sped off into the night.
We all slept there that night. Of course we did. Why wouldn't we? There was a note waiting for us in the mailbox the next day, from Bill:
"Im glad you had your little Laugh party last night. Go ahead. Make Jokes! I only want whats best for G. Stu and Kevin youll get yours see if you don't! -B"
We went on to breakfast, nervous about what the future would bring for us with the Sig Tau boys, but sure that the right thing had happened. Gretchen was finally free of Bill.
She went back to him later that week, and it would be another month before she finally broke up with him for good.