Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
“You’re next buddy!” my friend said with a wicked grin.
I didn’t want to be next. Not now; not ever. It was wrong and I knew it; not on a conscious, rational level, but at a deep-in-the-pit-of-your-stomach level. A nauseous, churning sensation told me to run as fast as I could. I would have, if I hadn’t been drinking.
I recalled the first time I saw her at the party that night. She was all over some guy, sitting on his lap with her arms around his neck while she ground her hips into his lap.
“Well they’re obviously an item,” I thought. Until I saw her ten minutes later, doing the same thing with another guy. Then another. When she caught my eye, I looked away, muttering something about grabbing a smoke. I seemed to be the only one that night.
“Dude, I can’t do it,” I said slowly, still working on the unutterable. “I just…”, I faltered, waiting for some rationale to come out. It was no use. “I can’t do it,” I repeated flatly. I closed my mouth.
“Why not?!” he exclaimed in exasperation. He knelt down, placing his arms on the back of the couch while looking me in the eyes.
“I thought we already settled this. You’re not doing anything wrong.” He ticked off the reasons on each finger once again. “She wants it, she’s not drunk, and she’s not passed out, so it’s not rape.” He grinned again. “And she’s not even charging for it! Bonus!” He laughed as I watched another apparently satisfied customer walk out of the room.
“Dude, you are way too uptight,” he punctuated. “You need to get laid!”
“Yea…” I trailed off as my anxiety increased. It wasn’t like he was saying anything untrue. There was no crime here. “I’m a man,” I thought. “I’m healthy and young. I’m not religious. I know where the condoms are kept. Why shouldn’t I?”
But I knew why, even though I couldn’t express it. Random images kept flashing through my mind, images such as explaining to a future horrified wife why I participated in a group orgy, or that sex truly meant more to me than a gratuitous act for my own self-pleasure.
And what about the girl? I couldn’t help but feel shame and pity for her. Why would she want to offer her body as a toy for the amusement and gratification of boys who didn’t care about her at all? How would she feel the next morning? Would she feel ashamed? Disgusted? Debased? Would she look in the mirror and see a whore? Would she rationalize what she did?
Was she really acting out of her own free will?
And then there were my friends. They weren’t bad guys, likely beating a rapist to a pulp if they encountered one. If it was their sister in that bedroom, they would have been outraged. So why was it okay with a girl they hardly knew? Wasn’t that girl somebody’s sister?
Why was everybody thinking only of themselves and their own base desires, without a single thought for tomorrow, or for the damage this was going to do to some poor girl’s psyche, even if she wasn’t smart enough to see that damage for herself?
“Look, bro,” I said as I stood up, “I just can’t. I can’t explain to you why, but I just can’t.” As I pulled out a smoke and headed towards the back porch, he followed me.
“What are you, a goody-goody?” he said. What he wanted to say was “prude”, but that word wasn’t in his vocabulary. I could tell he wanted to say many things to me. He wanted to chide me, even insult me. Instead, he grabbed me by the arm and began to pull me towards the bedroom.
“I’m doing this for your own good,” he said with determination.
I wondered at that moment if he realized the lie he just told. This wasn’t about me: this was about making sure I was complicit, a means towards erasing any self-doubt and guilt lurking somewhere inside of him. I realized that all the reasons he just ticked off on his fingers was nothing more than self-rationalization. He knew what he was doing at that moment was wrong, even if he couldn’t describe it any better than I.
I ripped my arm from his grasp. “I don’t care what you do,” I hissed, teeth and fists clenched. “I’m not going in there.”
The moment felt like an eternity. I stood in defiance, waiting to see what he would do. His gaze wavered and, for a brief moment, I saw the guilt I intuitively knew was there. He dropped his gaze.
“Whatever,” he said over his shoulder, as he threw up his arms and walked away. “Just trying to help you.”
I walked away from the party. I never saw the girl again. I kept waiting for a charge of rape, on one or all of us, but no charge ever came. A wall of silence enveloped us all, sweeping the entire incident under the rug.
Just another victimless crime.