My friend Hal always called it “Saving The Princess.”
I was fresh out of college and I would spend a fair amount of time playing role-playing games on my computer. The premise of these games was often complex and epic, but there was also usually some aspect of a damsel in distress. Hence Hal’s snark.
I understood his intent, though. He was helping me realize that as I wandered around these fantasy worlds discovering magic weapons in caves filled with monsters, I was missing out on some actual real life experiences.
Keep in mind, we had just moved to New York City from Florida. There was no reason a 23-year-old should be cooped up in a loft in Brooklyn playing a hyped up version of Dungeons and Dragons by himself.
I could have been working on my music. Or I could have been out exploring the New York Experience with him.
One night he brought some of that New York Experience home with him and I listened to them bounce and wail through the thin drywall. Prior to meeting him I had seen it as a nuisance to have to overhear friends and roommates having sex. He advised me one day that it always made him excited for whoever he was listening to. He said he would quietly root for whichever friend was making the score, so I learned to do the same.
“Goooooo Hal!” I whispered. Then I put my pillow over my head and went to sleep.
The next morning I realized he had been banging Lara, an old friend from Florida who was visiting for a week. She had long blond hair an big eyes and was a yoga instructor. She was exactly his type. I mean she was anybody’s type.
Lara smiled at me and said, “Morning, Joe,” and I did not need any coffee that day at the office. My heart was still thumping that evening when I got home and Lara was on her way out—alone.
“Why don’t you come with?” She said.
I tore off my tie and I went with.
Now, it should be said for the uninitiated, there exists a code among males who are friends that dictates that we do not boff each other’s lady friends. It’s about as big a no-no as exists.
Hal and I were friends, too, but I was at a point where I was starting to not like him so much. He was a little too casual with his flirtations and affairs and the way he spoke about the girls he slept with left a sour tinge in the air. He came off as fairly entitled, and portrayed most women as objects which he would use until he grew bored.
Lara was very attractive and was maybe feeling some of the sparks that I was, so “the code” went out the window. I wasn’t setting out to steal the girl from him, but I wasn’t going to fight nature at this point either.
So I ditched my tie and jacket and threw on some sneakers and followed her out into Brooklyn.
She took me to a small party in a strange squat. There was a lot of raw plywood and the furniture had most likely been acquired from the curb. It wasn’t entirely dissimilar from my own Brooklyn loft.
We drank beers and passed a joint. We also passed a guitar and traded songs. We got high as the lights of Manhattan out somewhere in the distance, our heads just as clouded.
Her friend Danny who lived there sang a few songs. He had a great voice and I watched Lara watch him sing and I took bigger swigs of my beer to try to drown my jealousy.
But it was cool because soon enough her hand was on my thigh and then so was his and then he was leading us back to a cubbyhole situation where he had a few pillows stacked into a lumpy bed. Lara took my hand and we followed him and climbed onto his pillows and it must have been a closet for real because I’m pretty sure he slid the door closed and we were swallowed by a deep blackness.
And then I was kissing Lara and clothes were coming off and hands were everywhere, hands and hot breath everywhere, and I was hard and wondering how I ended up in this sensory deprivation closet with Lara and Danny and how exactly it was all going to go down because I had never had a threesome before. I had also not intended for my first threesome to include another man, but I suppose that’s pretty chauvinistic. But he also kept trying to get me to touch his dick so I decided it was time to split.
I slid open the door and rolled out of the closet and stumbled back toward the living room in a spinning world.
When I got outside I trudged through a cold breeze toward the subway feeling drunk and high and hoping my hardon would deflate before I offended anyone.
And Lara came up behind me.
“Hey! You okay?”
“Oh! Hey, yeah, that just wasn’t really my thing.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t really know it was going to go that far.”
“It’s cool. I had fun. Danny’s nice.”
“Not that nice,” she said.
She took my hand again and we rode the subway back to my Brooklyn loft and then I’m pretty sure Hal had to listen to us banging the night away from his side of the thin drywall.
I wondered if he was rooting for us or if he recognized Lara’s moans.
He certainly wasn’t rooting for us the next morning when we walked past him on our way out to brunch. His eyes were little icy balls of hate from what I remember.
Lara and I had a great day. We wandered the West Village, in and out of record shops and Tibetan stores. We went to Central Park and ran through the ramble. And when the sun set we headed uptown to a bar where some friends were meeting. Hal just happened to be there too.
“What the fuck bro! That’s my girl” he said as he advanced on me and pushed me.
“Yo chill man,” I said, forever the eloquent diplomat.
“Fuck you man! I can’t believe you! You knew she was mine!”
He pushed me again and I let myself be pushed. From a caveman’s perspective I had indeed fucked his girl. But in real life she wasn’t his belonging and we both knew that. She had fucked me fair and square and she would probably do it again even if I didn’t punch Hal in the face for being a ninny. She was her own woman and us fighting would have little to no effect over which of us she preferred to spend time with.
This time it was Hal who was divorced from reality. There was no screen or keyboard, but he was still not really enagaged with anyone around him. He couldn’t see past his own privilege and expectations. He was too preoccupied with saving the princess.