“As you know, California is an all-party consent state,” I say, putting the iPhone on the table. The banter around me dies down immediately. “I’m going to take the lack of screaming as consent. If you speak from this point on, you’re consenting to being recorded. All right, let’s hear that story.”
“What story?” Daniel* asks innocently. He takes a sip of his drink and begins: “We met on a cruise. It’s what I call a vacationship. The vacationship that went way too far. We went on a cruise to Bermuda in June, spent seven days together and stayed in touch over the summer. I spent the summer on the East Coast, so I’d drive to see her and we’d be involved. Sexually — if I need to announce that for the microphone.”
“Oh, yes. And later you can give me all the details,” I respond.
“It’s part of the deal if you’re friends with her,” Jordan chimes in, amused at the reaction. He’s hosting this evening, it’s a small gathering of writers and thinkers: Melanie, Daniel, Ethan, Rodrigo, Jordan and me.
“OK, by the point I left, she’d gotten very possessive, she kept telling me, ‘don’t misbehave yourself’ — shit like that.”
“Did she specify on this ‘misbehavior’?” I ask.
“Yeah, she said she didn’t want to come to L.A. and find I’d been bad with some middle-aged Israeli housewife.”
“Only Israeli ones?” A deep chuckle sounds on my right.
“I was like, ‘sorry, I wasn’t aware you’d purchased me.'”
“Where was she on the hot-crazy scale?” Melanie asks.
“Interesting, we were just talking about hot versus crazy versus smart,” Daniel says, looking at Rodrigo.
“Wait, did we miss something?” I ask.
“When did this conversation happen?” Ethan follows.
“It takes less than five minutes to cover all this information,” Rodrigo says, characteristically deadpan.
“She’s quite intelligent, she’d doing really well at university,” Daniel says, getting back to the conversation.
“Wait, OK, but how hot?” Ethan really wants to know. He has no interest in it whatsoever, but he likes to uncover the things people seem to be hiding, so he pushes.
“Eight?” says Daniel.
“I’d say seven,” Jordan rebuttals.
“So she’s insane,” says Rodrigo.
“She sent something in the mail,” Jordan says, leaning forward.
“Yeah, she sent me a big care package in the mail,” Daniel repeats.
“No, but it included several interesting things, one of which was a bottle of aloe moisturizer.”
“Oh, nooooo,” Melanie whines. “What’s that for?”
“On the cruise, I got sunburned. We had an inside joke for whenever we were around her family. If I said I was going to ‘put on aloe’ it meant that we were going to meet in her room and she was going to give me head, basically.”
“How old is she?” I exclaim. “I’m sorry to interrupt.”
“OK,” I sit back. “You can’t fault a fetus for being juvenile.”
“It gets better,” says Jordan.
“Each one of the elements may be simply juvenile on their own,” Daniel tells me. “But it’s the collective that makes her batshit crazy.”
“Oh, I see! Well, go on.”
“The bottle of aloe had a tag on it ‘only to be applied by Brittany.'”
“How did she spell it?” Ethan interrupts suddenly.
“Jesus,” Rodrigo says, rolling his eyes.
“There we go again with the names,” Daniel sighs.
“E?” Ethan gasps.
“Wait, what?” Melanie leans in.
“T-T-N-E-Y.” Jordan repeats.
“Britt-ney.” Daniel sounds it out. “As if this is in any way relevant.”
“Wait, what sign was she?” Jordan asks.
“Enough out of you, antagonist!” Daniel yells, theatrically. Neither one of them believe in astrology.
“Included with the bottle and the tag was an exotically-colored thong –”
“‘Exotically colored’?” I ask.
“Meaning it had all kinds of prints on it and leopard colors and seahorse scales.”
The horrified silence is punctured by a single question: “had she worn it?”
“No, it came in an envelope that said ‘get excited for my visit.’ As if I were in some way to worship this thong in her absence. Burn it with incense!”
More laughter as dessert is served. Chocolate fondue, with an assortment of fruits to dip. I place a piece of chocolate-dipped banana on my tongue like communion.
“Also included were seven or eight pictures, each individually wrapped in their own envelope and with a very specific message on the front. Each one unique. Each picture was a little bit different. As an example, one of them had a picture of her licking her lips in what I imagine she thought was a sexy way. The title of this picture was ‘Yummy.'”
As the laughter roared around me, I pull the iPhone close to me and made a mental note: “write an article on preparing a proper care package for a boyfriend.”
“In addition to that were three CDs. Instead of having the titles of the songs, each CD had titles of her making, which in some way related to our relationship. Which wasn’t a relationship, as it happened over the course of a week.”
“Wait, three full CDs?” Melanie asks. “Good lord.”
“Seven days or five?” Rodrigo pipes up. “Was this a true week or a business week?”
“Seven whole days,” Rodrigo says with mock wistfulness.
“Those extra two days make all the difference.”
“What genre were the songs?” I ask.
“I have no idea,” Daniel responds. “I never listened to them. They’re still somewhere in my desk.”
“Are they! Can I have them?”
“You love your emo longing,” Rodrigo says to me.
“I would give you the pictures too,” Daniel goes on. “But we used them for kindling for the fireplace.”
Jordan laughs, “yes, we did.”
“It’s actually quite fascinating to watch a picture burn. The picture — the film — shrivels up and the paper remains, and then the paper bursts into flames.”
“Did you find that very cathartic to burn those pictures?” Ethan asks.
“No, they just happened to be available. I needed to get a fire started,” Daniel pauses. “Do you want to see her picture?”
The world of Facebook.
“I apologize,” Daniel says, looking at his phone. “Her name is Brittany. B-R-I-T-T-A-N-Y.”
“You can’t even spell her name?” I ask, taking his iPhone. She’s tall, thin — statuesque even.
“I’m sorry. It shows how much she means to me.”
“But she’s the Batshit Crazy Girl.”
“Well, I guess she is… memorable.”
Moral of this story? Don’t be the batshit ex or you, too, will derail great discussions and turn them into a dinner-time carnival of lulz.
* Names have been changed.