OMGZ mark u were talking so fucked up the other day, her IM read.
I sighed. Some of my friends still didnâ€™t know that I had dissociative personality disorder, commonly known as multiple personality disorder. And whenever Jakob, my other personality, would send a contact an IM or call up people randomly on my phone, I would have to go through the whole spiel again.
i thought i told u that i have another personality. u were prbly talking 2 him, I told her.
i kno but u werenâ€™t just talking like u werenâ€™t u u were talking FUCKED UP yo, she replied.
come on, heâ€™s not that weird, I wrote back angrily.
u were like, yo, mark is killing me that shrink is making him better iâ€™m gonna die, she said.
Her words were like shovels digging into my heart. I wanted to be cured of my disorder â€“ it was pretty embarrassing â€“ but I had never thought of him as someone who didnâ€™t think of himself as a social faux pas. Until now, I had never thought about him as a real person. Until now, I had never thought that curing myself would involve someone else dying.
did he say anything else, I asked.
ya, she said, he wuz like, do u kno if greyhound goes 2 mexico.
So he was trying to run away to a place where I couldnâ€™t have my daily shrink sessions. Itâ€™s a good thing I donâ€™t own a car, or else I might have woken up in the Baja this morning. wut did u tell him, I asked.
i told him greyhound wuz 4 poor muthafuckaz and ainâ€™t no way iâ€™m gonna take a bus wit all them crack dealers on it and so i donâ€™t kno, she said.
lol, she said.
thnx, I told her, bye.
There was no way this was getting off the ground. I would not suffer being forcibly transported to God-knows-where. Time to stop this at the source.
I pulled out my digital camcorder, set it up, and started filming myself.
â€œKatie told me you told her you were planning on running away to Mexico so that the shrink wouldnâ€™t heal me and you wouldnâ€™t disappear.
â€œThatâ€™s messed up, man. Look, I know you want to have your life and all, but I was here first, and youâ€™re messing things up. Seriously messing them up. Iâ€™ve had no dates since you came along. No dates. All the guys used to be like, â€˜Ooh, look, itâ€™s Mark, heâ€™s such a beefcake, I seriously want to get him in a closet alone.â€™
â€œJake, I came out of the closet three years ago, and I like going back into closets with other people. A lot. So you can just get over yourself, and go back to where you came from and leave my body behind. Iâ€™m going to tell mom that if I ever leave school to put a freeze on your bank account and cancel all your credit cards.â€
I stopped recording, uploaded the video, and e-mailed it off to myself. Hopefully he would get the message.
The next day there was an e-mail from Jakob in my inbox with a video attachment. I opened it, pressed play.
â€œI donâ€™t want to die,â€ he said.
My jaw hit the floor with a loud clang. Jakob was hot.
I had always considered myself to be a looker. After all, everyone had always treated me like one. But I had never seriously looked in the mirror and really seen myself. Seen my face. Seen the square line of my jaw. Seen the gentle triangle of my distinctive yet unpronounced nose. Noticed the subtle elegance in the way my wavy brown hair floated over my eyes.
And the eyes. Those could not even be my eyes.
Jakobâ€™s eyes were a prison for my soul. They were tragically beautiful. They were beautifully tragic. There was sadness there, and a wise weariness of the world, and yet somehow a glint of hope. His eyes nearly broke my heart. A sapphire ocean, sweeping me away in a shimmering riptide of tears and fluttering lashes.
I had to replay the video. I had missed everything but his first sentence. I sat hunched over my laptop, gaze locked on the video window as I clicked the play button again.
â€œI donâ€™t want to die. I donâ€™t think you understand. You donâ€™t think of me as real. I know itâ€™s frustrating having to live with someone who takes over your body half the time. But itâ€™s not just you who have to deal with that. I have to deal with your existence too.
â€œSo Mark, I know itâ€™s hard. I know you want to move on with your life. But please, please, please, donâ€™t take mine away. Donâ€™t let Dr. Vonz cure you. Iâ€™m not a disease. Please, Mark.â€
He was just as beautiful the second time as he was the first. And his voice, like watermelon dipped in honey.
Oh Jake, I thought, there is absolutely no way I can kill you.
I lay awake in bed that night, staring out my window. I wanted to send Jakob a message back. But I didnâ€™t know what to say. I didnâ€™t want him to think I was creepy. I didnâ€™t want him to think I was too forward. I didnâ€™t want him to not respond to me. I didnâ€™t even know if he was gay or not.
I grabbed my cellphone off the nightstand and dialed Tony.
â€œHey, Tony,â€ I said.
â€œHey, Mark,â€ he said.
â€œHey listen, Tony, did I ever hit on you when I was Jakob?â€
â€œNah, man. Why are you asking?â€
â€œUm, no reason, really. Just was getting worried Jakob was embarrassing me. Sorry, see you tomorrow.â€
â€œAlright, see ya.â€
Crap. That was stupid. It didnâ€™t mean anything, anyway. Tony was straight.
Mega-sigh. I didnâ€™t want to call any of the guys I had dated before. Itâ€™s rather awkward talking with someone after youâ€™ve quit going out. But I had to do it. Had to. Those sapphire eyes.
â€œHey, Andy â€“â€
â€œAw, come on, man, you broke up with me, Iâ€™m not taking you back.â€
â€œNo, no, itâ€™s not like that, Andy. Listen, I just want to know if Jakob ever hit on you.â€
â€œNo, Mark, stop being ridiculous.â€
And then he hung up. I tried calling other guys, five or six of them, but it was no good. If Jakob was gay, he was also chaste.
Unless, of course, he had run into the same problem I had of having another personality. Maybe he had thought it wasnâ€™t even worth it to try.
I had to risk it. After all, I had nothing to lose. If he didnâ€™t like me, he didnâ€™t like me. It would just hurt a lot. Like getting kicked in the balls. Like getting run over by a semi. A sapphire-blue semi. Like it had been for Andy, and all the other guys I had dropped.
But God, if I couldnâ€™t resist him, there was no way he could resist me. We were the same person. We had the same face. He couldnâ€™t not like me. Even if he were straight, he couldnâ€™t reject me any more than I could reject him. There was no way.
But what could I say?
â€œJake, youâ€™re so hot â€“â€, no, â€œJake, I canâ€™t stop thinking â€“â€, no, â€œYou must have fallen out of heaven because â€“â€, no, â€œHey, Iâ€, no, â€œListen, I â€“â€, no, â€œYou made me â€“â€, no, â€œDude, I know you have a huge cock â€“â€, Heck no.
Damn it, it didnâ€™t matter. Just say anything. If he likes me back, heâ€™ll like me back.
I pulled out the camcorder.
â€œListen, Iâ€™m really sorry about what I said. I didnâ€™t mean it. Really, I didnâ€™t. What you were saying, you were completely right. Iâ€™m going to stop going to the shrink. Iâ€™m never going back.
â€œAnd um, hey, this is going to be a little strange, I donâ€™t know how you feel about me asking about this, but are you gay? Because youâ€™re really cute. Iâ€™m not just saying that because we have the same face. I can see you in your eyes when you talk, and itâ€™s not me in our face. I mean, we canâ€™t go out or anything, but, just, I want you to know I really like you.â€
Turn the camcorder off. Not perfect. Definitely not perfect. Not anywhere near as confident as I am with people who donâ€™t look like me. But there was no way I was going to do that again. Too embarrassing the first time.
I uploaded the video and sent it out to my e-mail. There was nothing to do but wait, but I couldnâ€™t go to sleep.
He had woken up before me. I know because I came to and I was sitting in a chair in the apartmentâ€™s lobby. I rushed back to my room and turned on my laptop and pulled up my e-mail. He had sent me a message. The moment of truth was here.
My fingers trembled as I clicked on the attachment. The video window came up. I pressed play.
â€œYou know, I thought the same thing when I saw you.â€
He grinned a half-grin.
And then the video ended.
Coy bastard! He couldnâ€™t do that to me! I had just poured out my heart to him and all he did was send me a four-second message! Did he still like me? Was he playing around? Was he even gay? I needed answers!
I buried my face in my hands and let out a muffled groaning cry. I sat with my face in my hands, eyes bugging out a little for several minutes.
And after a bit I decided there was nothing to do but send a coy recording back.
He did like me. And it was more than just physical. He had read some of my journal entries on my computer, and knew quite a bit about me.
We sent videos to each other for a few weeks, talking about everything from the way we looked in the last video to football to God to Mexican wrestling to just what kind of food we liked. And then one day, I received a different kind of video from him.
He was kind of flushed, and he had a hard time looking directly at the camera for more than a half a second. He was breathing really deeply.
â€œHey, I was just wondering, I mean, itâ€™s no big deal if you donâ€™t, I know itâ€™d be kind of weird, but, umâ€¦â€
He was so cute when he was awkward.
â€œI was just wondering if, wondering if you wanted to be exclusive. Like not be with anyone else. I â€“ I â€“ I donâ€™t know. I like you. A lot. It would mean a lot to me.â€
The video ended. I stood up and started pacing around in shock. It had just been flirting until this point. Heavy-duty flirting, no doubt, and flirting with someone who I had fallen for at first sight. But just flirting, nonetheless.
This was crazy. I couldnâ€™t be exclusive with myself. I couldnâ€™t be with myself. There was no way.
Well, no traditional way.
Of course, there was nothing to lose. It wasnâ€™t like I was giving up going out with other guys to go steady. No one was paying attention to crazy me, especially since I had given up going to my shrink. And we could do other things that other lovers would have trust issues with. Like suicide pacts. And I knew he didnâ€™t have any STDs. There couldnâ€™t be anything physical really, butâ€¦
â€¦I figured that if I shook hands with the President myself it was basically the same thing as him doing it, right?
Ah. Tug-job-Tuesdays. The joys of having a lover. I sent back a yes.
Halloween came and passed. Thanksgiving came and passed. Christmas came, and we gave each other gifts. He bought me an Xbox and I bought him a flatscreen t.v. And then Christmas passed, and I donâ€™t remember New Yearâ€™s coming or passing because Katieâ€™s party had the best Long Island ice teas that have ever passed my lips and absolutely killer rum and cokes. I wonâ€™t say what happened on Valentineâ€™s Day (or Presidentâ€™s Day). And then Mardi Gras came and passed and so Lent came and we gave up trips to the Yukon because we happened to like our vices. While we were still reeling from the agony of no more frozen boogers, St. Patrickâ€™s Day came and passed.
The day after, I woke up naked with my balls painted green and an army of little men standing on my skull hammering needles into my brain whenever my blood pulsed. Damn Jakobâ€™s love for Guinness. I hadnâ€™t even been there to enjoy the fun part drinking it either.
I moaned and rolled over to go back to sleep. My hand hit warm skin.
Someone elseâ€™s skin.
A womanâ€™s skin.
I screamed bloody murder.
She started awake and turned to me, flinching. I jumped out of bed, green balls flying, and I flung off the sheets. I raised an accusing finger.
â€œWhat the hell are you doing here?â€ I raged.
â€œStop shouting! What the hell! What do you mean, what am I doing here?â€ she
screamed back at me. â€œYou went home with Jakob, didnâ€™t you! Oh my bloody fucking God!â€ I shouted.
â€œWhat do you mean?â€ she screamed back at me, raising her hands to her ears.
â€œYou went home with Jakob, didnâ€™t you? Didnâ€™t you?â€ My lungs almost gave
â€œYes, I went home with you, I mean, you said you liked meâ€¦â€ she said.
â€œWhat the hell? Jakobâ€™s gay!â€ I roared, closing my eyes.
â€œWhat do you mean? Youâ€™re not gay!â€ she shot back.
â€œUsing me, using me, using me!â€ I screamed to no one in particular, lashing out at
the wall with a clenched fist. I wasnâ€™t sure because I didnâ€™t notice, but I think she started crying and rushed out of the room clutching the bedsheet to her breast.
I went back to the shrink with a vengeance. No one was going to fake loving me just keep me from killing them. No one was going to get away with playing me like that. I scheduled sessions every day, twice a day. I told the shrink about everything: coming out, my mother, my father, my childhood, my early teenage angst, even my hate for misused apostrophes and made-up stuff about my uncle sexually abusing me and beating me with a chainsaw. By God, in six weeks we fixed all my problems. The pleading videos stopped. And soon afterwards, I didnâ€™t hesitate a moment to say yes when Andy asked me out.