Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The resounding 'It'

Nothing goes away. It gets ignored, made irrelevant, put aside, winced at in moments of reflection. It gets re-purposed. It crawls out at strange times.

I'm at a decent pub filled with nervous investment bankers who don't tip as much as they once did. I'm out with Lucy, who was my cousin's pretty friend in High School, who I flirted with during her restaurant shifts when I was in University and who I have seen exactly twice over the last twenty years. Twice in the last 8 months, to be precise. We re-connected via Facebook, which is a cliche by this time but a nice one. I always liked Lucy and always asked about her to my cousin.

She's married with kids and a big house out of Toronto, I'm married with a cute son in Toronto proper and we've both developed careers in communications. A glass of wine and snacks was in order to discuss business (could be worse), family (dear, but exhausting), and days gone by (not unpleasant, mostly). She's juggling cellphone calls from her son who wants to go skating and her daughter who wants to sleep over at a friend's house, and somewhere between the wine and the ringing phone I can't tell how the conversation moved to Dale Tavish. It probably came out of something vague and periphral - her son's skates came from a store in Nova Scotia and she says everyone moves out east eventually, and I say Dale's out east. I hadn't thought/heard/spoken of him for a very long time but had seen him on a Facebook listing somewhere a few days before.


She puts down the phone and starts flipping a beer mat. She folds it in half to break it and repeats the procedure on the two new pieces. "On Facebook?" she says, "that'll be a first for my ignore list." Another half, another snap as the pieces get smaller. She steals the mat from under my glass and chats about something far away from Dale for a few minutes.

Dale was 15 when I was 17. I remember him because he’d tried an interesting little number on a friend of mine at a party. Voula was all of 14 when it happened and deserved better than what Dale did to her. I wasn't at the party in question, but Voula filled in the blanks for me - Dale was working on a few too many lukewarm beers (secured through somebody’s brother’s ID) and must have been convinced that Voula had drunk enough to acquiesce to what he had in mind.

Voula had just enough of the aformentioned lukewarm beer to be at the dizzy and nauseous stage, and Dale’s plans (perhaps by design) could have worked just fine with somebody who was willing to lie there and not make a fuss. Voula was also drunk enough to not quite get what was happening until it was glaringly obvious. The entire incident probably took no more than two or three minutes. Clothes were in the process of being removed when she objected, whereupon he decided that if Plan A was too complex, she’d probably acquiesce to Plan B if he presented himself in the right way at the right angle. So he did.

Voula definitely wasn’t into Plan B despite his insistence that she should at least try it, she’d probably like it. He was wrong. Voula finally screamed rather loudly and the other guests discovered her hysterical and Dale sulky. He was encouraged to leave.

If there’s a thin line between ‘date rape’ and ‘really stupid idea while drunk with thoughtless disregard to the other party,’ I don’t need to hear about it. Voula was tiny. Dale was big enough to press his point without too much fear of being overwhelmed. It scared the hell out of her and he refused to talk about it. I liked Voula a lot. I didn’t like Dale, full stop.

Leap to 2009. Dale's forgotten about it or feels bad about it or thinks he can still make a case in his favour decades later. I don’t know and I’m not going to the effort of finding out. But there's no statute of limitations on impact, what's done is done. I'm thinking about this as I notice that Lucy, who dated him for awhile, is shredding a fifth beer mat quietly and with startling efficiency.

I ask “Do you know you’re doing that?”

She says “Yes. And this,” referring to the broken pieces, “is thanks to Dale Tavish.”

Point taken. Events under the ‘no longer relevant’ bin don’t automatically end up in the ‘gone and forgotten’ bundle. I already knew that. I hate being reminded.

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