Monday, April 04, 2016

Chapter 28: Dakota's Life Lessons

I remember watching my mother chat on the Internet. She kept a dozen men dangling after her, all of them hot for her and the promises she made. Some came to visit, most often others did not. Few stayed. She called it "auditioning." I called it "trolling." She would log on with some sexy little screen name and a profile guarenteed to bring the horny calling, then she'd chat with them... quizzing them on their interests and hobbies, sexual histories, and income.

"It makes dating so much easier, Merrie," she'd tell me on those rare occasions I merited notice. "I can weed out the losers much faster this way."

What I never understood was how cybersex helped her find men of virtue and large paychecks.
"If he's this needy now, imagine how easy it will be once I meet him." That was said one night as she prepared for her first date with a man I came to know as "Uncle" Walt, though by then I'd long-ago quit calling them "uncle."

"He's been on-line with me for the last three weeks, constantly talking about what we'll do when we finally meet. Dear Lord, Mer, if he's half as good in person as on-line, I might just marry him!"

She didn't. Not after she found out that he was exactly what he hadn't advertised in his profile. "I'll just have to be more careful," she said. "Perhaps hold out on the cyber-games until after I know they're really what they claim to be."

I pointed out that she was as dishonest as they were, which earned a crack across the face. I was only seventeen at the time, and slaps for "impertinence" weren't uncommon. It was the last time, however, that I bothered to point her duplicity out to her. What was the point? She'd been like this since she forced my father to leave.

"You can't trust men, Meredith. They do nothing but think with their cocks. All of them. Use them and leave. Don't get trapped like I did, married to that bastard you call a father. The son of a bitch doesn't even have the decency to send child support or try to see you." I'd heard that since I was eleven, since he walked out and -- for all intents and purposes -- vanished. She never knew, though, that I'd heard the argument that night, that I'd heard the obscene lies she concocted about him to make him leave so permanently.

She taught me a score of lessons, most of which I studiously ignored until now.

She knew how to tease and torment, how to keep them coming back for more. It's all I can do not to manipulate him with those same tricks. It would be easy, though... promise sexual acrobatics, tell him about what I want to do to him, talk about my fantasies at night when I'm alone in bed...

If I keep him panting for more, will I keep him? If I make promises, do I have to carry through right away?

The realization of my power, so much like my mother had, frightens me. Does this explain my life? My past decisions and relationships? Does this explain why men always seemed to be so determined to find their way into my bed? Am I really as much as she was in beauty or have I perfected illusion?

It's crossed my mind more then once, to send a racy e-mail or phone call, to drag him into the metaphorical water whether he wants to come or not. And, once he's in, can I pout and cry just so to make him believe that he jumped on his own will and not on my urging? Probably. He once said he's no desire to make me cry. Surely the right tears will work in my favor. Guilt and lust, tied together, are key... so claimed my mother.

Remember, Merrie, men want to believe that they're in charge. They want to believe that we're helpless little ornaments, depending on them for everything from a roof over our heads to the orgasms we have. If they think we need them, they can be made to believe they hurt us.

Don't ever need them. That way they can never hurt you. And, when you need to make them do what you want, use your body. If that fails, cry. God gave your those big green eyes, use them to your advantage. Quiver that lower lip and think about whatever you have to to bring tears to your eyes. Let them comfort you. It helps build the illusion that they're taking care of you.

Once upon a time, after that boy ruined the girl I was, I cried in his arms. In truth, I wanted to rail and scream, accuse and condemn, but at eighteen I was still too much my mother's daughter. If he comforted me, despite my being so unresponsive to his unwanted "affection," he wouldn't leave me. He didn't, you know. It took three months for the end to come; one brought about by me, not him.

That Christmas I went home alone, failing to bring him despite my mother's invitation. She was furious when she found out why I was alone. Girls like me did not break up with their boyfriends, particularly when the boyfriend was the best-looking man on campus. Girls like me were supposed to use boys like him to advantage, to attract older students -- or even professors. Girls like me, she screamed, worked their way up the social ladder... they didn't jump off into oblivion and let some other bitch have that rung, for God's sake.

Before school ended that May, I found a small apartment near the university and a job that paid most of the bills. I found that I could live without cable and that walking to work was healthy.

I never went home again.

Now, staring at my computer all of these nights, I often found myself thinking about what I could say to bring this good man to me, and how to make him think it his decision.

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