Thursday, March 16, 2006

Strangers with condoms

From my "WTF???" files:

It was October 1996, and I had been living in Boston for about a year. I was still new to the city, and mostly hung out with my girl JoAnne, who was my closest friend there; she and I had known each other since high school. We share the same strong independent streak and twisted sense of humor, and have always been perfect activity buddies. We'd trek all over the city and its surrounds, checking out new places and trading stories about work, guys we'd been dating and how fucking cold it had gotten already.

As I've mentioned before, Boston is a very social place, with a young population and a lot of activity. I was always looking for something new to try, so when one of my coworkers gave me two tickets to a Halloween party that was sponsored by a local radio station, I was down. JoAnne didn't have anything to do, so she was game to come along. It wasn't a costume party, so we didn't bother with costumes, but made with the pretty going-out clothes. It was a frigid Saturday night, but we got ourselves onto the T and made our way downtown to check out the party.

Long story short, it was awful. Neither JoAnne nor I were familiar with the radio station throwing the party; it turned out to be some kind of insane death-metal indie station. Most of the attendees looked like extras from a Cure video, with white makeup, black kohl eyeliner and all black clothes. We tried to be open minded; we did a quick walk-through, but decided to bail almost immediately.

We were about twenty feet from the club's front door when I got stopped by a guy in the lobby. "Excuse me," he said, "I have something that I think you need." He grabbed my hand before I had time to react.

He put a condom in my hand. I've forgotten what kind it was, but it was in a black wrapper, and looked like it had been in the back pocket of his jeans for about 10 years. I looked up at him; I'd never seen this guy before. He looked like Benicio Del Toro's character in Sin City; lanky, greasy hair, beat-up leather jacket, dead eyes. Dear readers, did he think that this old rubber was a present? Was it a hint? Did he think I'd fall in love and go home with him because he was 'prepared' (with a decades-old, possibly petrified prophylactic)? Was he high? Had he meant to give me a stick of gum, and just made a mistake? What the hell???

He was sneering at me. In the corner behind us, one his cronies started snickering. I dropped the condom on the floor. "Thanks, but I'll pass." I turned to walk out. "You have a good night," I said, my back to him as I walked away.

As JoAnne and I pushed past the bouncers and smokers crowded around the front door, she turned to me and said, "What the fuck was that??" That's the $64 million dollar question, and I have the answer: Freak Magnet strikes again.

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