I realize that I've left some gapping holes in my blogged stories about my single life. One of them is in regards to a group I refer to as the Poisonous Group. Centered around my former roommate, Karen, the Poisonous Group had all sorts of bad drama seeping into it and flowing through it. It was a tight little incestuous group of friends that had come together and bonded through random meetings. I'll go as far back as I can to explain how it came together, and how it fell apart.
I had one long-term boyfriend in college, and when that relationship ended, I was lost. I can't even recall how it came to be that I reconnected with Karen, and old co-worker from our college days, but that was the start of the the Poisonous Group. She was living with an apparent slob, but they through some wicked cool parties. I was invited to one such party, a Masquerade. One thing you need to know about Karen before our story begins, is that she was a computer science major, a programmer, and that her and I bonded over bad puns and nerdy humor. It was true in college, and continued to be true as the Poison blossomed in our lives. But the Poison also took our nerdy humor and twisted it to a very dark and un-PC place. You'll see what I mean.
There I was at the Masquerade party, definitely over my ex-, whom I had been planning to dump for months prior, and ready to start living again! That is when I met Hill Billy, as I will call him, a tall, lanky friend of Karen's who was all sorts of hick and hilariousness. Hill Billy and I hit it off pretty quickly, me being attracted to his 6'5" stature, and him being attracted to my fabulousness. There was a black guy at the party, too, I'll call him Bock, and I point out that he's black because that's a critical piece of the comedy that followed. You see, it was well-established, in all fun, that Bock was the "token black guy" of the group. I was comfortable with Bock, we had had some good conversations, and he showed some interest in me, although I didn't like the way he pursued me, so I blew him off a couple times in favor of Hill Billy. The only problem with Hill Billy was that he smoked - bleh! I would have to ask him to get a mint, and in my head I was plotting how I would wean him off cigarettes for good.
Anyways, I was having a good time, and had several drinks, when my blurry vision indicated to my head that Bock had just walked through the door again. For some reason, at that precise moment, I was wanting Bock's attention, so I cried his name out in excitement, "Bock! Bock! You're here! Hi Bock!" The guy looked at me like I was a lunatic for a moment, as I ran up to him for a hug. A few steps away, I realized he was definitely a black guy, but he was most definitely NOT Bock. I was horrified with embarrassment, but I couldn't stop my momentum, and I ended up crashing into him anyways. I did not know this guy, and now I just called him Bock, whom he would certainly find out was another black guy, and basically jumped on him. As if reading my thoughts, Hill Billy came out of nowhere and exclaimed mockingly, "Just because he's black, doesn't mean he's Bock! Not all black guys are named Bock, Laura!" When I pulled myself together, I explained to the newcomer that I really did think he was Bock, not just because he's black but because he had the same build and the same kind of dress, and that I was really drunk. I apologized profusely, and luckily, he had a good sense of humor about it. Hill Billy explained that Bock was our token black guy, and that was why it was confusing because we don't have any other black friends that come around normally. When we were all laughing about it, I told the newcomer that I would call him Bock II, and hugged him before parting ways. A few minutes later, the real Bock walked in and I checked myself to make sure I was seeing correctly, then ran up to him and told him about Bock II. We found Bock II and I introduced them, and then they both sandwiched me in a big squeezy hug. I was thrilled, for the obvious reason: I was part of a "Laureo". That's an Oreo with a Laura in the middle. Karen loved it, and I loved my Bocks.
The real Bock made another move on me, but Hill Billy came to my rescue, and after Bock witnessed Hill Billy sneaking a kiss, he backed off a bit. Hill Billy and I dated on and off; it was difficult because he lives so stinking far away, and he never had gas and he never had money to put gas in his car. Such a whiner! I would get so frustrated with him: the only reason I couldn't have his arms around me some nights was because he didn't have a stinking $20 to put stupid gas in his crappy car. I debated giving him an "emergency twenty" to only use when I wanted to see him and he needed gas; that would solve the problem, right? Except that giving him money so he could come over felt a little too much like paying for sex, and I just couldn't get over that.
Another guy I met at the Masquerade party was Flipflopper. I can't remember much about him from that night, all that remains is an image of him, so tough looking, such an asshole on the outside, while playing beer pong so expertly. I got to know him better a few weeks after that party. Karen and I, her roommate and her roommate's boyfriend, were all going rock climbing. As we pulled into the parking lot, Flipflopper came charging at us, and the car stopped, recognizing him as a friend. Flipflopper crowded in the back seat with me, and immediately started picking a fight. Little did I know, then, that that would be a theme in an ongoing relationship. Sheesh!
We did our rock climbing, and then we went to the pool hall in the same parking lot; that was what Flipflopper was doing anyways, he wasn't rock climbing. Flipflopper and I fought all night, a love/hate thing. Karen eventually had a more serious fight with someone, and we had to leave.
I had a small dinner party / game night at my house, inviting Karen and some other friends. Karen didn't tell me she had a dog, nor did she ask if she could bring her dog, but somehow it seemed perfectly natural for her to show up at my house with a blonde Chihuahua in her hand. The dog's name was Penny, and Penny was dressed up in a pink, black and white sweater for the occasion. I don't often dress my Chiweiner up, but Carly just so happened to be wearing a pink, black and white sweater that matched all too perfectly. It was freaky. Not only that, but the dogs instantly clicked, even though neither usually gets along with other dogs right away. The humans were playing cards when I looked over at my couch and spotted Carly and Penny curled up together like they had always been BFFs or sisters. Between their size, attitudes, and matching sweaters, their chemistry was surreal.
When Karen's lease was up, her and her roommate decided to split ways. I was alone in my house now, my ex- having moved out abruptly after hearing me on the phone with Hill Billy. So I invited Karen to come live with me. I sold some of my furniture in a garage sale in order to make room for her stuff, and Penny and Carly were united as partners in crime full time.
While Hill Billy and I were on the rocks, Karen introduced to me a free dating site online. We turned into something of a way to get out of taking care of ourselves; when we wanted to eat dinner but didn't feel like buying anything or cooking, we'd go on the site and work on convincing guys to pick us up, take us to dinner, only to be ditched once we were through. This exercise actually landed me an attractive guy, I'll call Slender. I didn't ditch him after dinner, because he had a lot going for him. He was a programmer, so good pay, smart, and good looking, not too tall, but slightly taller than me which is worlds better than not as tall as me, in my book. By this time, Karen and I told each other pretty much everything, and we even shared boy toys when necessary. So Slender took us both out for drinks one night. Then I had to go out of town for work, and while I was away, I got a message from Slender that he was more interested in Karen than he was me. When I asked her about it, she said he had messaged her on facebook but that she turned him down, and she had no interest in Slender.
Karen started dating a guy she met on the dating site. I never got to meet him though; the relationship went that fast. Between my travel schedule and Karen's late night dating habits, he had bit her in the butt, literally, before I got around to meeting him, and she decided that butt biting crossed a line. I remember the break-up well, we were in the parking lot at Salty Senoritas after having drinks, just the two of us, and I was urging her to move on from him and come out dancing with me at the club. She didn't want to cheat on him, so she was trying to figure out how to arrange to see him so she could break up with him. Noble, maybe, but he was still a butt biter, I reminded her. I finally convinced her to break up with on the phone, but when she called, she got his voice mail and hung up. I told her, fine, if he's going to ignore her calls, she could break up with him over voice mail. Karen pondered it, but with my encouragement, and her strong desire to go find a new man that night at the club, she broke up with him in the most hilarious way over voice mail, citing "ass hole biting" as the final straw.
We went to the club, but other than a few kinda sorta whatevers, didn't really find what we were looking for. Karen was down, I mean really down, and regretting breaking up with the butt biter. Then, my friend Rick texted me, inviting me out to drinks with some friends. I whisked her away to join Rick. That was the night we met The Beast. The Beast was one of Rick's friends, although I had never met him before. He was hilarious, and cool, and a programmer, not unlike a lot of the company I was keeping. I really liked him, and I think he really liked me, at least an initial attraction. But Karen and I did the girl thing and went to the bathroom to chat, and she told me she liked him. I had a choice: I could play every woman for herself, or I could relent and let her get the rebound attention she craved. I am sometimes too good of a friend, I think. I told her that I had seen him checking her out, and that she should go for it. When we returned to the group, I backed off of The Beast, and Rick suddenly became a little possessive of me, putting his arm around me like I was his girlfriend. Maybe the guys had their own relationship talk while we were away. Whatever was happening, this was not going my way.
The night drew on, and it was about time for bars to close. Seeing Karen and The Beast not quite finished with one another, I proposed an afterparty at our house. The Beast, Rick, and two other guys ended up coming home with us. Karen and I were so proud of ourselves! We brought home TWO guys each. After peppermint shots in the kitchen (it was around Christmas time), some humiliating attempts at playing the didjeridoo, and Karen showing off some of her Kenpo moves, there was a lull in the action. Karen then blabbed about how HUGE my king sized bed was, and that we should all pile in there for a group spoon! This, of course, seemed like a fantastic idea, and the six of us climbed into the king bed, Karen and I in the middle, with two guys on either side of us, all facing in one direction. There was some groping and, "Who's touching me?" jokes, and we were laughing and teasing and acting all sorts of awkward and silly. Then Karen instructed us to flip around, so that the other side got groped - pay back time! The Beast eventually went to bed with Karen, two of the other guys went and slept on the couch and floor, and Rick stayed in bed with me. Karen came back into the room to tell Rick not to take advantage of me; only partially joking I think.
It was New Year's Eve, and Karen and I were going to a party hosted by some more of Rick's friends. The Beast and Rick were our dates, even though I had tried to make it clear to Rick that I was going with him as a friend, for Karen's sake. The guys dressed all dapper and we wore dresses and the four of us went to Elephant Bar before the party. We had a splendid time, although Rick was once again acting possessive of me. Meanwhile, I was still crushing on The Beast, and regretting that I had let Karen nab him away from me that first night. When we got to the party, I was texting another guy I was interested in, another friend of Karen's I had met at the Masquerade party, we'll call him Gatsby because he looks a little like Leonardo DiCaprio and acts the part of The Great Gatsby to a tee. Gatsby was, needless to say, very good looking, and had shown remote interest in me. I was very hopeful he would come to the party and kiss me at midnight, but when he got there, he was obviously troubled with some girl problems, and not very flirtacious at all. At least not with me. Gatsby soon found himself in a deep conversation with some chick, and I was a little bit bugged out for having invited him only to be ditched for that wench. Drama, right? Well, one of the hosts, oh what to call him, I guess Dapper, he was a friend of Rick's, and he was also very good looking. And very single. I had met him on a few occasions, but always when I was not so single, and he had always admired my breasts. If I could just get near him for midnight...
30 seconds before midnight, Dapper started the countdown, with a lady friend in his arm. I looked around desperately, first for Gatsby, and then for, well anybody. With 10 seconds left, I felt an arm around my waist, and looked over to see Rick closing in on me. That was it. I was done. I pushed him away and said just one word, "No." Dapper saw me at the last moment, frowned, and then was pulled into a kiss by his lady friend. Karen and The Beast were making out on the couch. It seemed like the whole world was kissing someone, except Rick and I, and there I was, arms folded, pouting like a little child. What had I done? Rick and I had been best friends for years, and I always sensed that he wanted to be more than friends. A few of my ex's had been his friends, and I knew he could easily feel that it was his turn, that he had done so much for me we might as well... I couldn't though. All I wanted was for the kissing around us to stop, to escape that horrifying moment.
When it was over, I left the room and went outside. There was a guy out there who was arguing with his boyfriend, and when his boyfriend left, even though I had no idea who he was, I started to console him, because it made me feel better. "Men, am I right?" He laughed, and we struck up a relaxing conversation, and I gave him all the relationship advice I could. He was comforted, and I felt good about comforting him. Dapper found me and asked me why I had pushed Rick away. I didn't want to tell him it was because he was the one I wanted, or Gatsby, or The Beast, or anyone in that room except Rick. I felt terrible, but I just told him I was uncomfortable and that I didn't want Rick like that. He said he understood, and that I should probably talk to Rick about it. I didn't have much of a choice, Rick came out to the patio then, and Dapper and the gay guy left us alone.
Rick and I got passed it, and stayed friends. Meanwhile, The Beast and Karen had really hit it off. The Beast took both Karen and I out for dates, he rubbed my back after rubbing hers, and he poured wine for Karen and I while we sat around and drank together. We joked that because Karen and I were so close, dating one of us was dating both of us, and The Beast made that come to fruition; The Beast and I even kissed a few times, with Karen's encouragement. But at the end of the day, The Beast went into Karen's room, and I went to bed alone (most of the time). We had our group spoons from time to time, especially when Hill Billy came around. I had tried to call up Dapper and Gatsby, but they showed no interest anymore. I even hit up Slender again, just to see, but he was burnt out on us. I was lonely, even with Karen and The Beast in my house, or maybe because they were there.
It turned out, Karen and The Beast both worked at the same company - both were programmers - but they worked in different divisions. Still, they were able to go out to lunch a lot together, with several of Karen's teammates, including her boss. She knew I was lonely, and that Rick would not do, and so she started having me join them for lunch and setting me up with guys from her work. First, there was Out There. I call him as such, because he had some real odd philosophies on life. He is, for example, terrified of the cracks in dry dirt and mud. He wasn't ugly, he was a little taller than me, fit, and he was a programmer. I wasn't madly in love with him, but I gave it a shot with him. The four of us, The Beast, Out There, Karen and I, decided one weekend to go to The Renaissance Festival.
Now, when I go to Ren Fest, I pretty much plan on staying all day. It's expensive, but the admission ticket is pricey so you kinda want to get your money's worth. Plus, there's so much to do and see, and the best part is the joust at the end, so how could you not stay all day? Well, The Beast and Karen were both in agreement, but Out There for some reason thought that we'd leave around noon. Umm, no, that is the wrong way to do Ren Fest. Love always, me. So against his will, we stayed all day, through the joust. He was grumpy and standoffish at times, but there were moments when he took my hand, or put his arm around me, knowing that we were being set up. There was a weird moment, though, when The Beast had left to get us drinks, and Out There not only ignored me, but cozied up next to Karen like they were the ones being set up. When The Beast came back, Out There made no effort to move away, so The Beast had no choice but to sit next to me. We were watching the belly dancers, and they were terrific, but the tension in the air was think. After a few moments, The Beast asked me if I knew what was going on with them, and I shook my head, as bewildered as he was that this guy would openly flirt with Karen in front of her boyfriend, and that she would let him. After the show, we got a chance to meet the belly dancers and they gave us all a little lesson in belly dancing. We stood around in a big circle with them and tried it, and that seemed to dissolve the tension; The Beast reclaimed Karen, but Out There never once got close to me again.
When we got back to our house, however, things got worse. Out There continued hitting on Karen in front of The Beast, and Karen did nothing to stop it. The Beast got angry, threatening, yelling, and eventually stormed out before there was a physical confrontation. The Beast totally could have taken Out There, but why should he when Karen was basking in the flirtations? I think that's what made The Beast really mad; Karen kept blowing it off like it was nothing, even though it was clearly making her boyfriend angry. After The Beast left, I tried to make Out There leave, but he said he was too tired and he would just crash here with Karen. Trying to watch out for Karen, I guess, or for The Beast, I insisted that the two of them sleep with me in my big king bed. They declined, however, and I'm pretty sure they banged that night. So not cool.
Karen didn't break up with The Beast right away, but she did go on dates with Out There. Then Out There went a little crazy, pushed everyone in his life out, and changed his name. He got fired a week or so later. I'm not sure if that was just going to happen because he was, after all, Out There, or if Karen did that to him. Or something worse. Either way, I saw him as scum and wouldn't miss him.
Karen by now had dragged me into kenpo with her; her boss had given us a couple private lessons, since he was now a brown belt. Igor was also in kenpo with us, and The Beast joined soon after I did. Around this time, The Midget Saga happened, and you can read all about that in my posts about it.
The next guy Karen set me up with was Unsocial. Unsocial literally had a social disorder of some kind, but I didn't find that out until we were more seriously entwined. I should also mention that there was a friend in this group named Igor. I had known Igor briefly in college, Igor had also been at the Masquerade party (who hadn't been?), and Igor worked with Karen and Unsocial. Unsocial, I learned, had just split from his fiancee. Like, a week ago. Six year relationship down the drain, within days of me meeting him. I was certain he was in no shape to be looking for any kind of relationship other than a rebound, but he insisted he was okay. I'm getting ahead of myself though. When Karen first showed me a picture of Unsocial, and described him, well, his picture was terrible, he was unattractive, and I pictured him as a super nerdy 40-year-old virgin guy. I literally thought he was a virgin. I expected him to be all nerd. I was not all that excited about meeting him. In fact, Karen had to lure me to the bar that night by letting me know another guy I had taken interest in would be there. The guy I was interested in actually was a virgin, or "still carried a V card" as he put it. But Karen sat Unsocial right next to me, and we actually hit it off, even with V-card guy on the other side of me. Igor was there, and had set me up for perhaps the greatest one liner in my life. He said was talking about drink choices, and casually said, "Well, you are what you drink!" Without missing a beat, I grabbed my glass of Cabernet sauvignon, and turned to Unsocial, "Then I must be a cab, so I can take you home!" Unsocial and undoubtedly the whole table caught on fire with laughter, and I was really very proud of myself. I had no idea where that had come from, but it was right on point. And take him home, I did.
Karen and I took The Beast and Unsocial home, and we had another one of our now-famous group spoons in my bed. When The Beast and Karen passed out, Unsocial and I were just getting started making out. He took off his shirt, and before we got any further, I got up, pulled him by the hand and led him into the guest bedroom. We spent a glorious night there, and I determined that no, he was definitely not a virgin. When we went into my room in the morning to pick up our clothes that had been left behind, Karen stirred and woke to see us, partially dressed. She asked enthusiastically, "Huh, did you guys... spend the night together." Unsocial and I looked at each, smiled, and said yes.
Unsocial himself had some interesting philosophies on life. Intangible assets, he believed, should not be sold for money; things that could be digitally reproduced like music, movies and software. I found this interesting, especially since he was a programmer. I would think he would want to be paid for his work. He also despised musicals, because he believed they had some kind of an identity crisis: they are neither a play depicting a realistic scenario, because its impossible for a random group of strangers to break out into a coordinated song and dance, nor are they a concert which is all about the music. This was a bit of a problem for me, because, I love musicals, and I thoroughly wanted in a boyfriend someone to go with me to see them all, if possible. But he was much more attractive then the initial picture I had seen of him, he had a very nice body, was surprisingly stylish, and so smart. Within a week, we had spent several nights together in my bed, and he had talked to me at length about the various books on my bookshelf, most of them he had read and then some. I fell for him hard, and within another week, we made it official. I had a boyfriend!
It was during our relationship that I had learned he was on the autism spectrum. We'd be out with our friends and he would just completely shut down emotionally, detaching himself from the group, ignoring us, refusing to talk. Being a very social person myself, an extreme extrovert, I tried to wrap my head around this. We talked at length about it, but I never could figure it out. He pressed me to simply just accept that it will happen, and that when that happens, it is time for him and I to go. I knew it wouldn't be easy, but I felt like he was worth it.
We didn't date long, though. I had to go to the dentist for a root canal and crown. Unsocial had promised to come over after work and take care of me. I learned a very important life lesson about communicating that day, but because I had failed to communicate why it was so necessary that he come to take care for me, and because he was being anti-social that day, he didn't come. The problem was that Karen was out that evening, and I was so drugged up I couldn't be trusted behind the wheel, and I didn't really have anything in the house that I could eat. I was counting on having someone be able to take me somewhere to eat. I was so pissed at him, that I kicked off a text fight, which I normally don't do. The next day he texted me something about how we had to talk, and I texted back that if he was going to break up with me, might as well do it over text. So he did. It was a deeply passionate relationship, and it crashed and burned just as hard and fast as it had started.
Unsocial and I talked in person within a week, and he explained in the vaguest of terms how he needed to be free to do things that were not good, and he didn't want to hurt me. I figured this just meant that I had been right about him needing a rebound, but no matter what I said, he would not admit that was the case. This went on for weeks, and I clung to the idea that once he got it out of his system, we could get back together.
Meanwhile, Karen tried to cheer me up by setting me up with another co-worker of hers. Monkey was a muscular and slightly older man, with a charmingly oversized nose and chin, and a very odd sense of humor. I knew Karen had something up her sleeve without her even telling me, and when I saw Monkey in the dojo, something about the way he looked at me, I knew I was to be set up with him. Even without knowing he was a friend or co-worker of Karen's, I could feel him evaluating me in his mind, undressing me with his eyes as he pretended to concentrate on his private kenpo lesson. After his lesson, sure enough, Karen introduced me to Monkey.
I resisted Monkey at first; he was handsome but his humor took some getting used to, and he wasn't Unsocial. I met Karen and her co-workers for lunch one day, sitting at a table with both Unsocial and Monkey, and the conversation consisted primarily of Monkey comparing himself to Unsocial, and trying to convince me that he was the perfect replacement for Unsocial. In any other context, this would be embarrassing, absurd, and crazy, but this was kind of how the Poisonous Group was; we had no filter, no social etiquette, and no shame. Unsocial wanted me to be over him, for my own sake supposedly, so he encouraged me to consider Monkey, and agreed with Monkey's points about how he would adequately fill the void left by Unsocial. It should have been totally awkward, but instead, I saw it as sweet, and I allowed myself to be wooed by Monkey's words. Our relationship moved slowly, I was still getting over Unsocial, afterall, but Monkey took full responsibility for my happiness for a while, and it was nice to feel taken care of.
Well, Monkey's sense of humor has a way of going too far. We had some disagreements, and I eventually threw him out of my house and ended it. I think it was around this time that Karen confided in me: she had slept with her boss. Multiple times. And he was married. And her boss. And now a black belt in our dojo. And she got an STD from him. Awesome. I asked her if she was going to end it, and she negated the idea. He was a twin, and she was talking to his brother in hopes of having a threesome. Some revelations came with this news: this may be why we got free private lessons from him, and much more sinister, this may be why Out There lost his job.
Through all these twists and turns, break-ups, odd things happening, kenpo was perhaps one of the only consistent things in our lives at this point. For better or for worse, we'd all meet in the dojo for our kenpo classes. This meant that I had to see two of my now ex's on a regular basis, and knew that Karen was actively sleeping with two others. We made jokes about how many guys we could sleep with in kenpo. That was the kind of sick humor we had. I don't think everyone in the group was bad, but Karen certainly was, and her poison infected everyone around her.