My last post left me naked and abandoned in a hotel room. In addition to me, The Omen had also abandoned a case of beer, a brand new box of condoms, and a pair of his underwear. I’m not ashamed to admit that I took great pleasure in jamming his underwear into the trash can, pouring his beer down the sink, and keeping the condoms for eventual use on someone less terrible.
It was in this moment that I received a text asking me how the date was going.
Background: The night before, I had gone dancing with some girlfriends. I was the designated driver, which means that I only made clear-headed choices while there — no beer goggles, no, drunken make-out sessions on the dance floor. No. I managed to pick a winner entirely on my own, complete with dance floor make-out session, all without the assistance of alcohol. We exchanged numbers, and he’d reached out before my meeting with The Omen to see if I was free.
I texted back to say that it had gone poorly and that the guy had just bailed mid-date. The Rebound was predictably horrified and assured me that my date was a fool. Then he invited me over.
Now there is one half of me that knows I should not go to a stranger’s place at 9pm, regardless of our having briefly met and his seeming harmless. And then there is another half that is reeling from rejection, suffering from embarrassment and self-judgment, and feeling distinctly undesirable. I texted back, what’s your address?
A few snapshots of the evening: him explaining that he lives in a 1-bedroom apartment with a roommate, who’s already in bed for the evening because of his work schedule, so we’ll have to stay on the couch (read: mess around on the living room floor); him making me Moroccan tea, which is unappetizing but oddly comforting; him smoking his hookah incessantly as we watch music videos on YouTube; him not understanding any of my jokes because his English isn’t as good as I had thought; us having what can only be described as rebound sex that managed to make me feel both better and worse.
I’d like to say that this encounter was a one-off and I came to my senses upon leaving his place that night. I’d like to say it, but it’s simply not true. We “hung out” several times after that, even venturing out to a mall food court for lunch at one point. It was during this outing that I realized I didn’t like The Rebound at all. Perhaps it was his hideously tacky choice in clothing that made me feel sad for him and embarrassed for myself, maybe it was when he FaceTimed a friend in Morocco and carried his disembodied face along as we walked through the mall and ate lunch, or maybe it was when I bumped into a coworker and my first thought was “Oh, please don’t let her think I’m here with HIM.”
Perhaps the worst thing about my experience with The Rebound is that he was the first man whom I knew who violated the boundaries of my consent. I said no to something sexual he wanted to do, and he complained that he really wanted it, and I said no again, then he did it anyway. I wanted to chalk this up to the language barrier, but I knew it wasn’t that. I didn’t see him again, but when I did eventually text him to tell him why, he made excuses for why it had happened.
A few months after that, he texted me again, reaching out for casual no-strings sex. I politely declined. He asked again. I refused. He tried begging, and I pointed out that this is the exact reason why I’d cut off contact the first time: his inability to hear my no.
Things that The Rebound showed me:
- My voice has power, and I can’t be afraid to wield it.
- Clear-headed sobriety, much like unshaven legs, is insufficient protection against some pretty poor decisions.