Any time anyone invites me anywhere, my most penetrating instinct is to formulate immediately some reasonable-sounding instant excuse in order to graciously without delay refuse. Sometimes I’m shouting, “I have Spina Bifida” or, “My sister’s on life support tonight I decide upon the plug” or whatever serious-sounding thing before whoever is inviting me to wherever has even finished speaking.
Once at work the people there were organizing a field trip to an event outside of work so we could all do some external bonding, experience something special as an entity, get to know each other more or some nice group togetherness idea type thing. I was already brain racing to drum up a good “Jesus sorry love to can’t” excuse but then instead I actually heard myself saying, “Cool, great, sounds really awesome, when is this, color me excited, absolutely count me in.” Feet in my mouth from out of nowhere and completely needlessly. It was like I truly couldn’t get enough of these people. All present visibly were surprised. I acted all laidback and relaxed to prove I guess that I damned well meant literally every single word however manically uttered and disproportionately bracing.
Let me backtrack and give a setting.
This story takes place during those original days of working at my first dungeon, when I was unversed and diffident and just beginning. I spend all my life being unversed and diffident and just beginning but that’s something of a whole other thing…
Work involved dressing in highly improbable outfits, beating on strange men, teasing and insulting them, tying them up and generally offering a beguiling fetish buffet of heartless and sexy abuse for a small amount of time and a lot of money. My co-workers were a colourful cast of characters and our bosses too were themselves so colourful there probably isn’t any collection of adjectives that could sufficiently describe them. I’m not going to get super detailed about everybody, I’ll just say that some in the group were pretty fucked for sure but overall everyone was friendly and frolicsome and funny and fun, everyone’s hearts were I think for the most part good but right. Enough about the presumed goodness of everybody’s hearts. This actually is a story about giant monster trucks and a work field trip and most directly about my sudden relationship with a confrontational deranged exceptionally angry young man named Damien.
The field trip. The idea was to attend I swear to God a monster truck rally. Why did I pretend I was so desperately interested in joining this particular group for this specific trip? What in fucked up holy Satanic Jesus could monster trucks have anything at all to ever really do with my reality. Massive wtf with the thinking. Clearly “thinking” wasn’t something I had done.
Some part of me I guess felt badly for always excusing myself and not being social. Also maybe I wanted to show everyone that I don’t always immediately reject their ideas, that I wasn’t so misanthropic and antisocial after all, that I wasn’t so high on myself I wouldn’t just this once rub shoulders with “the masses,” do whatever fucked up shit they did and fucking really enjoy it. So yeah. Signed. Meanwhile I was privately bewildered and curious at myself for worrying about things that normally didn’t worry me. I also had some kind of sense that I was walking into something not merely irrelevant to myself and my life and but also that that something might be a bit fucked up. And strange. And crazy.
So monster truck field trip day arrives. The bosses bright and early pick me up from my house. I’m wearing of course something captivating and uncomfortable and inappropriate completely. I bid a rushed and abstracted adieu to the sweet person at home and climb into the car. The car is crammed with everyone else who pretended excitement for the trucks and the trip.
Back then too I had a much more spectacularly dramatic sense of style than even now. This style was as much appreciated as it was reviled, same as now. Then though I only wore things that were shiny, leather, challenging and black. My platform boots or stiletto dagger heels always were at least 5 inches high, a part of my head and both of my eyebrows were shaved, my hair was long, brightly dyed and wildly arranged. Also there was of course the blackly thrilling make up, the impossible lashes, the painted brows, an unignorable number of visible facial and body piercing so. Right. Picture it all. Keep all these ponderous details in mind.
As we approached the stadium where the monster truck event was to take place, I began to wonder if I shouldn’t fake a heart murmur or a botched abortion or some sudden enormously good excuse to flee. We arrived at the stadium very abruptly however, so I didn’t have the chance to make any kind of cowardly heroic final moment escape. I fixed my face thus into its usual unreadable mask like I could give a shit and along with everyone else exited the vehicle.
At the venue, we met up with more people as prearranged by some of the others. One of the men we met was I think a family friend or a cousin of someone present. He was narrow-eyed and covered in tattoos, his head was shaved and he was by his apparent nature probably dangerous and fundamentally filled with a totality of heedlessness and rage. His name I quickly learned was Damien. He zeroed in on me at once and seemed to without discussion or arrangement designate himself as my rabid one man protectorate. His presence and disposition was so seething and ferocious he almost left me breathless. I didn’t at all know what to make of him, I had no idea what was expected of me, what I was meant to do, act, feel or say. A part of me actually felt like smiling or even laughing but I didn’t smile and I didn’t laugh. I just remained outwardly neutral and calm, like I happened casually to unspecifically just be there.
Most of my life I have been and am used to everyone gaping openly at me. These stares from strangers are never subtle and the unspoken judgments, conclusions and opinions are not always kind. I’m so used to all those staring eyes that I always look at no one and just like I said remain distant and abstracted, make my way through all environments and act like nobody’s looking, matters or cares. I quickly recognized nonetheless that this Damien person saw himself as without question my very own personal savage slayer saviour. As we moved through the crowd of thousands, Damien scowled menacingly at anyone whose eyes strayed even minutely or accidentally my way. He walked clenching and unclenching his fists.
We arrived at our seats while Damien with his tense strong angry body and flashing hate-coloured eyes glared a big fuck you to all society. His behaviour was overwhelming and problematic but was also in its way kind of almost nice as well as unintentionally amusing. I wanted again to laugh but I didn’t. I just acted neutral, like I was the same as anyone, a human-shaped slowly moving machine. Finally we were all arranged, I smiled vaguely at nothing specific while Damien seethed and glared and challenged everybody.
The monster truck show began and it was as strange and excessive and irrelevant as it actually was kind of impressive and fun. All those huge trucks rolling with effortless heaviness over lines upon lines and piles upon piles of cars and whatever else could with great gratuitousness be crushed colossally. Huge big trucks, huge big tricks, peels of bad loud rock music, fanatical crowd response, all the at such an event absurd ridiculous expected things. The dirt bike performances and associated tricks were especially good, I liked that part a lot. The whole thing was pretty huge and big and loud and preposterous but I enjoyed myself generally. My bosses and co-workers too were having a very nice fun time.
The show went on and at times I peripherally could tell people were looking and staring. I could also tell they looked more quickly away than they did any actual looking. I sense things like this in a sidelong manner since like I said I never look or stare at people directly because I know they are doing enough looking and staring for them and me both. Damien and I were nonetheless proving to be quite the pair. I felt a bit like a culture shocked mail order Bonnie to his murderous ticking time bomb Clyde. I tried a couple times to demonstrate light-heartedness and to be cute but my attempts fell a bit flat. Damien just couldn’t stop glaring at the world like he would annihilate anyone for the smallest reason whatever, all they had to do was look at me for less than a quarter of a half of a second. It was kind of amazing. I’ve never played it cool so hard and with such dedication so much in my life.
At intermission we headed to one of the bars. “WHY DON’T YOU JUST TALK TO HER?” Damien roared at some men nearby that Damien singled out as an apparent challenge worthy of thunderous threats and impending death. “We just want to get some drinks,” one of the men replied in a calm low voice. Damien seethed at him eyeball to eyeball and the look in his eyes was a nightmare. I gazed absently elsewhere like I wasn’t aware of much. I gave somewhere in there too a fleetingly compassionate and sympathetic glance to the diminished men while Damien regarded me with flashing and furious eyes that seemed to say this whole goddamned world was filled with bullshit raving idiot males who all were retards, snivelers and weaklings deserving of the severest beatings and I should do nothing but be fragile and look beautiful, be protected by him and agree. I tried my best with my own flashing and furious far less convincing eyes to convey such agreement. I wanted again to laugh and again I didn’t, I had to do it all with deliberate inwardness and demurely.
What in God’s holy Satanic Jesus’ name was I doing at a monster truck rally with this particular collection of people being jealously guarded and protected by this loose cannon of a gangster type vehement violent virile man? It was in its way great that Damien was “on my team” but he was obviously borderline psychotic and fairly clearly actually insane. The man was practically spoiling to beat the shit out of somebody, everyone maybe. He was like a pitbull who all his life has been trained just to fight and kill and win and like it. I wasn’t sure I understood or approved. I sensed though I should make like I did, at least till the whole episode came to a safe conclusion.
Finally the oversized trucks finished with their monstery business. As we all slowly exited with the hordes of stranger thousands, I made small talk with the others and was the whole way out still being ferociously protected and guarded by Damien. He actually shoved people aside to clear my way. A father and his tiny son were inching along beside our group and the boy gaped with wide anxious eyes first at me and then he was wholly taken up with Damien. Rolling with Damien at least for once gave me the novel experience of having someone else get all the gapes and stares and quickly averted eyes. Damien smirked ghoulishly at the child and shouted, “CUTE KID.” The father murmured a thanks and discreetly maneuvered his son to a closer position of greater security. I hid a grin.
Once outside we milled about and waited for one of our bosses to go bring the car around. I fumbled around inside my handbag for something and then gazed up to check on the general progress of things. Everything was bright and nice and normal and then there was Damien. He was standing in the middle of the busy street shoulders squared, arms outstretched, hands in fists, sauntering with measured steps forward, like a seething pedestrian infuriated Jesus daring all of traffic to have a piece of him. I was as taken aback and filled with wonder as I was both impressed and transfixed. How does a man get to be someone like Damien? I wondered what the holy fuck it would actually be like to be him for a day.
I forget if anything further happened, if we all together did anything else, I don’t really remember even getting home. I was probably some version of fucked up or drunk or neurologically lost in my usual eventual way. Back at home however, I do remember rushing in, kissing quickly the cheek of the sweet person there, my happy thank every God I’m safely finally back home again relief rushing down upon me. When sweet home person at length eventually asked, “So. How was it.” I exclaimed, “Oh. Well. Jesus. Shit. Where to begin.”
* * * * *
The next time I ran into Damien was a month or so later. He was unexpectedly cowering peculiarly in some high rise elevator, eyes averted and looking hunted. I was utterly surprised and had no idea what to think or do or say. Despite faint interest in whatever the fuck was the story or reason, I knew it’d be wiser not to push or pry. Taking great care to be brief and casual, I looked at him askance by way of hello. As I pushed the up button, “HI,” at last was all he said.
Much later I learned Damien was taken away by the feds or a SWAT team or some dramatic thing. I don’t really know details and it’s probably for the best. The image of Damien though taking on a whole street of men and cars after spending the day protecting me from monster truck enthusiasts, imagined predators and enemies, that experience while strained and deranged remains with a kind of stark fondness in my mind and memory.
Damiens of the world, I thank you. You’re fucked and you’re crazy and it’s kind of great. Strange chivalry, but I’ll take it.