What's even more outrageous is that this woman thought she 'knew' me! How little she did. Anyone who knew me would know that I follow the beat to a different drummer. The way I led my life, my career choices, the risks I took and continue to take is true to me. So, why in the world would she think I'd jump onto her bandwagon? WTF is wrong with people?
Which leads me to a story. Yes, sit back, grab a cup of java. If you're not comatose by the end of this post, then I didn't do my job!
I started college in the US as a foreign exchange transfer student who had a Regents scholarship. That's because I attended a university in France for a semester when I was 16. Anyhow, after two years, I returned to France and finished my education there. Or so I thought. After coming back to the US, it turns out I forgot to take a mandatory French Lit class. I wailed & ranted & raved, but the Dean's office remained steadfast in their decision. As a result, I took the 1 undergrad class and enrolled in the masters program, extending my stay two semesters in toto at my university.
During this time, I lived in the foreign students' dormitory because I was a foreign exchange student. Go figure. Back in '76, the foreign exchange students, focusing on science PhDs and medical degrees, came mostly from small villages in China, India, Lebanon, Africa, the best of the best in their countries. This was the first time any of them left their countries. It was also the only time any of them would be among Americans as they intended to return home upon receiving their degrees. For several, a lot was at stake and their education represented not only their future, but that of their families, villages and country. These were serious people who took full advantage of what we take for granted.
We had some cultural difficulties with many new students at the beginning of the semester. A lot of women didn't know how to use the toilets and squatted on top of the seats in their shoes, not flushing afterwards. Some didn't know how to use the kitchen ovens and cleanliness overall in the common areas was a big problem. The cockroaches were big enough to wear saddles. Sadly, the worst offender was a woman who I'll name Diane, a middle-class white girl from Huntington LI. My hall Resident Advisor, in charge of fellow students' needs in exchange of free board and cafeteria food, was some nameless, faceless entity who spent her time hiding at her boyfriend's off campus room. In essence, I became a de facto RA.
In our weekly dorm meetings, I'd bring up the toilet and kitchen issues without outting Diane. It was a sad state of affairs for even the foreign exchange students were sickened and puzzled why this remained such an issue. Hell, they were going for their PhDs so learning how to flush a toilet was a snap.
To top it off, after a few months, Diane decided she liked women. Liked them enough to go down on them in the public showers shared by the female residents of our hall. After several students approached me, having witnessed Sappho in action, and having been confronted as well early one morning, I decided to approach her privately and not humiliate her in the weekly dorm meetings.
"Please, Diane, stop the public demonstrations. It's not appropriate behavior, lesbian or straight. Besides, we're almost Ambassadors of the US to these women. They may never interact with Americans again and will form their opinions by the way we comport ourselves."
At first, indignant, she said, "What the hell do you know?"
"I lived in France for 2 1/2 years. Trust me, for a lot of the French people I met, I was the first American they ever truly got to know. As well as the first Jew. Some of these students will end up becoming country leaders. I don't want them to hate America because they didn't like that you go down on women in public."
She reconsidered and then said she'd stop. She didn't. Again, I approached her.
"Diane, what the hell's wrong with you? Why can't you have sex in your room behind closed doors like everyone else in the dorm? Should I bring this up in the weekly dorm meetings?"
She burst out in tears. "Please don't let anyone know I'm a lesbian," she begged.
I shook my head in disbelief. "Then, do me a favor and do this in the privacy of your own room because truthfully, you're upsetting everyone."
As unseemly as her behavior, I thought it would be beneath me to out her during the weekly dorm meetings with the entire building. Evidently, all the women on our hall felt the same way. Diane still didn't flush the toilets, she still gave head to women in public and she still left filthy pots and pans in the kitchen sink and whatever she cooked with still was thrown on the floor and not in the garbage.
The funny thing was her popularity. With anyone outside of our hall.
Despite her, I had fun at the dorm and met great people from all over the world. My best friends were two guys, one from Colombia, the other from Sudan. The three of us hung out in the dorm late at night. We had nothing in common except we liked to laugh. Strangely, we had the same sense of humor which shows the universality of fart jokes.
The last three months of my existence in roach motel, I was asked to partake of the RA selection board. I did not take this role lightly and believed that it was extremely important, esp. with what occurred to one of the students in my dorm. These students had special needs and required knowledge outside of our ken. We needed someone savvy enough to know who to contact within the university.
A sociable fellow from Lebanon was worried about the fate of his family. He didn't hear from them since August and returned to Beirut during Thanksgiving break. At that time, Lebanon was gripped in the midst of civil war. He didn't return until March, a walking skeleton, face bashed in, body disfigured from scars, some still healing from torture. He escaped from a prison after watching his family slaughtered. What this poor young man underwent, for me, signified the importance of being a RA in a foreign students' dormitory. Someone had to help him. But no one did as it turns out.
There were five of us and each had a set of 10 questions to grill each candidate. When it came to Diane's interview, the vet asked her silly questions. And then it was my turn.
"What would you do, Diane, if you had a student who refuses to flush the toilet and clean up after herself in the kitchen?"
She smiled. "I'd bring it up in general in the weekly dorm meetings."
The vet smiled back.
"If that doesn't work?" I asked.
"Well, then I'd take the student aside and talk to them."
"And if that doesn't work?"
"I think that'll be all that's needed."
"So, why, Diane, don't you flush the toilet, for God's sake? Why won't you clean up in the kitchen?"
She turned beet red. The vet turned to me and yelled, "What the hell's going on here?" The three other board members sat horrified.
She sniffled and said, "I grew up in a poor family. We didn't flush our toilets."
The vet and I exchanged glances. He stared daggers at me. "This is enough."
"Oh no it isn't," I demanded. "You had your questions, I have mine." He recoiled as did the other members. Even at 20, I was a force. "Diane, knowing that the foreign exchange students have special needs, knowing we're the few Americans that they'll ever interact with on a daily basis, how do you justify going down on a woman in a public shower as an Ambassador of the US?"
"Hey, wait a minute-" he snarled.
I put up a hand. "If she can't flush a fucking toilet and doesn't know how to behave in public, then how the hell can she handle situations like that Lebanese guy whose family was murdered in front of him and afterwards tortured?"
He looked at her. "Diane, please excuse us," and she left the room. He turned at me. "You bitch. How dare you treat her like that! I fought in the Viet Nam War. I saw the world. I'm 30 and you're what, 20? What the fuck do you know?"
"You're upset because you have a crush on her, something she'll never reciprocate," I said haughtily. "But I believe I'm right. And no fucking way, no how will I back down."
He threatened me, screaming at me, cursing at me, the other three joining forces. For hours. I refused to back down. My mission was accomplished: she didn't get the RA job. It went to a foreign exchange student who was best qualified.
As a result, I was ostracized. Ex-communicated. Even the women on my hall turned their backs on me otherwise they'd face the same situation. This was the vet's rallying call. He initiated a smear campaign that defied the imagination. He published articles in all the university newspapers condemning me, making me a homophobic racist. I was spat upon and people threw things at me. I was dropped out of several unions, notably the Black Student Union. My two friends were outraged.
"People will believe what they want," I told them. "It doesn't matter. I'm no one's victim and I refuse to change my mind to appease these morons. I'm graduating with my degrees and moving on."
As a social pariah, I wasn't invited to any gatherings after I graduated. And to date, have no friends from college, having lost touch with my two friends who returned to their respective countries.
Five years later, I was on the LIRR returning to the City after visiting my parents. A man stopped in front of me and asked to sit beside me. I nodded in acquiescence.
"You don't recognize me," he said, "but we lived in the same foreign students' dormitory."
"Sorry, I don't remember you," I said.
He stared at me. "I'm the Viet Nam War vet. Now a doctor." He waited for my reaction. None was forthcoming because that whole sordid business was parked in the reptilian portion of my brain. "And I constantly think back to that time when I destroyed your reputation and your good name."
I then recalled what he did. Strangely, it didn't affect me. In five years' time, I forgot how hurt I felt and humiliated I was. I did move on.
He continued, "You were right. You behaved properly that entire time and never embarrassed or humiliated the woman in public for her poor behavior. I was an arrogant ass, thinking I knew the world. But you understood the way of the world, way ahead of the rest of us."
I thanked him for the compliment. It didn't change a thing in my life. But it was nice knowing that at least I positively impacted someone.
The moral of the story is this: At 20, I faced the disdain of my peers and never backed down. So why the fuck should I back down at 57? What's that 'friend' gonna do against me, huh?
The operative question is: what has she done for me? NADA.
This so-called 'friend' is a phony bleeding heart Liberal who writes on FB how she believes in helping the poor. I'm poor. I'm a fucking artist and the cheap, elite, entitled bitch never bought any of my books. All that support translated to empty words.
As empty as her support for blanket medical care to show the world how much she cares about people. As long as she don't pay. She considers herself a liberal. She can AFFORD to be one! HA HA HA But don't you dare disagree with her! She'll attack you with the ferocity of a fringe lunatic.
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This is a work of fiction. Names, character, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.