Introducing The Villain

[In the spirit of A Billion Rising, I decided to repost of an old item from Hit Coffee.]

Delsie wasn’t my first girlfriend or my first… first, but she was my first many-other-things. She was something of a crystal-waver and incense queen and believed that she was reincarnated from some queen of Atlantis. She wasn’t stupid, but she was often quite silly. I really wanted to buy in to her little world, but I honestly couldn’t. But she was a sweet girl. Loyal to a fault, extremely resiliant, and a loving smile that could light up a room.

She was a sweet girl that got on my nerves endlessly. I could never place my finger on what it was about she and I that didn’t work, but it became pretty apparent pretty early on that only one of us had that assessment of our relationship or lack thereof. She was pretty fixated on the relationship as my eye was on the lack thereof.

I hesitate to say that Buck was a friend, though that’s a convenient stance to take. Buck was what we used to call a kikker. A kikker is someone that likes to dress up in a big hat and wear a big buckle and talk with an accent but wouldn’t know the first thing about milking a cow, much less riding a bull. He had a few stock phrases that became his mantra, but it was more reminiscent of that nerd we all know in some way or another that spends half his time making reference to some obscure anime. Except that Buck used country songs and had a much lighter selection. But Buck seemed to be a good guy as well. Obnoxious, but harmless.

Delsie and I had run our course after about three or four months. The annoyance factor was already outweighing the not-even-friends-but-still-with-benefits thing that we had and was about to outweigh my desire not to hurt anyone’s feelings. The notion that I was even capable of hurting anyone’s feelings was an alien concept to me at the time, and not a concept I was particularly enamored with. That’s about where I was when I got wind that Buck was kinda sorta interested in Delsie.

I don’t know if it was out of benevolence or simple exhaustion, but even though I could have dragged out the not-even-friends-but-still-with-benefits thing a little longer, I enthusiastically helped facilitate their coupling. I pinged her on her thoughts of him. I put the thought in her head that he was single and may make a good boyfriend. I reported back to him that she sounded somewhat interested and that he should ask her out.

She was annoying but good hearted. He was obnoxious but also good hearted. It sounded like a match made in friggin’ heaven. I was always a little amused how much they discounted my involvement in their coupling. She often approached their relationship as a repudiation of my coldheartedness. The implicit question was always “Aren’t you sorry now?” Even Buck got into it, explicitly talking about how I really screwed up my relationship with her. They weren’t ugly about it by any means, but their framing of the relationship contained a very different picture than the one I saw.

He moved in after a scant three months. A little under two years later, he moved out. Three months later, they broke up entirely. Considering how happy they had seemed, it was all rather mysterious. She announced that she never wanted to see him again and he said that even though he was heartbroken over it, he would honor her wishes.

It wasn’t until a year after that when I got the full scoop. Apparently, every night one of two things would happen. Either she would be “in the mood” and they would have sex, or she would not be in the mood and it would happen anyway, in a more forceful manner.

For the most part, Delsie was a free spirit, sexually. Very uninhibited. That she and I didn’t actually make it to home plate was purely through diligence on my part and a moral conscience that wasn’t completely out to lunch. She never struck me as the type to say “no” very much as long as she was comfortable. The more insistent he became, the less comfortable she was. She had lost all interest in him sexually after a year or so of living together.

That means for over six months, every night they spent together he arguably raped her. And to the extent that it wasn’t rape, it was more resignation than consent, which in some ways makes it worse. She had simply lost the will to fight back. She had lost enough autonomy sexually to become a sexual possession. The thought of all this still sends shivers down my spine.

As does my own culpability. I’m not sure how much my actions contributed to the self-esteem that gets one into a relationship like that, where it takes her a year to walk away from something so obviously wrong. I was always pretty upfront with her about where she and I stood (and more importantly where we didn’t), but I’m not sure my bluntness was anymore helpful than deception would have been.

And, of course, I helped engineer their couplehood. I somehow completely missed the darkness in Buck’s soul. It’s blindingly obvious now, of course, but it almost never occurred to me that this yokel could be as twisted as he was goofy. Twisted and probably without repair.

The moral of the story, if there is one, is that sometimes you really don’t know someone as well as you think you do. And sometimes the things you do to someone can put them in a position to endure much worse than you could imagine ever doing to them.

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.


  1. How could you possibly have known?

    Buck may have seemed like a blowhard and maybe you could have predicted that he’d need to satisfy his ego. And Delsie was an eager-to-pleaser. So you might have predicted that some sort of dom-sub thing might happen, but that’s fun and games and not really your business to speculate about even as a setter-upper. It’s also a far cry from the decidedly darker sort of behavior that was reported to you.

    I can’t imagine that you’d have had any sort of advance inkling that this would happen.

    • It’s hard to say that I could have, which my mind knows. In hindsight, though, signs were there. Or maybe I am projecting them onto Buck. It’s hard to know where one begins and the other ends.

      I’d probably feel worse if I had been closer to what was going on as it was going on. Never having been his biggest fan or hers, once they got together I sort of had the feeling of her being “out of my hair” so to speak. Their treatment of me (which again, wasn’t mean but was… smug) assisted in that, though probably wasn’t necessary for me to take that outlook.

      • The trouble with hindsight is that it’s polluted by what you know now. It’s impossible at this point to figure out what you should have known back then.

        Anyway, all you did is point them at each other. You’re not responsible for the fact that they clicked at first, or for any of the bad stuff that followed. If they’d gotten married, raised a bunch of successful kids, and been happy together their whole lives, you wouldn’t get credit for that either.

  2. Many years ago I was working at Radio Shack part-time when I was stationed to shore-duty in the Navy. This was the mid-90’s when cell phones were the new, cool thing. We always had a deal going on even then that was basically sign up for the service and get a phone free or cheap. For the sales staff a “free” phone was still a $300 sale for commission purposes.

    I remember we had this one salesman, fun guy, sorta goofy, that was really good at this job. One day he saw this couple walk in the store and he said to me, “Watch this. I’m going to sell them a phone.” He had no idea what they had come in for originally but he decided it didn’t matter; they were leaving with a phone whether they liked it or not.

    Well, it took him the better part of an hour, but they left with a phone in hand. Basically, he just kept after it like a dog with a bone. Just wore them down to the point that they said yes just to get him to shut up and let them go home.

    I’ve only ever “been with” about six women in my entire life. I’m a decent-looking guy; no Brad Pitt, but not exactly the Hunchback of Notre Dame either. But I’m convinced that the reason my “count” is relatively low compared to many of my friends and compatriots is simply because I could never do that sort of thing with women, whereas they could, and would.

    I’m not sure what to call it. It’s not exactly rape and it’s not exactly seduction either. Either way, it didn’t really seem right.

    • I don’t think that a high “tag and release” count is something one ought to take pride in regardless of the method used to achieve it.

      Maybe it’s nothing to be ashamed of, either, but to get at that question probably does merit an inquiry into methodology.

    • I remember once going to a sex-ed lecture in college by a young, hip couple. They talked about a guy in their dorm at college. Everyone thought he was obnoxious and everyone wondered how he had sex all the time. It turned out he would just ask every woman until someone said yes.

      Likewise, I once lived with a really creepy guy who I rather strongly disliked. Yet I wondered why the women in the house would always let him do things like randomly slap their butts. Finally I asked one woman and her response was “He is so open with his creepiness, I find it hard to object” or something like that.

      I am like you. I just don’t have the energy to pursue that kind of seduction. Often I barely have the energy to be corresponding with more than one woman at a time on OKCupid or some other site.

  3. If Buck ‘n Delsie jointly and severally asked “Aren’t you sorry now?”, sounds to me like they deserved each other. While nobody deserves to be forced into sex against their will, look, you didn’t force yourself on Delsie. You just played the merry yentl. You didn’t put them in each other’s arms. They did that, themselves. What they did to each other is beyond your control.

    As for that Buck, all hat and no horse as they say in Texas, Lord knows what Delsie saw in him. Probably wasn’t looking very hard, if the truth were known. Some people wander through life, completely self-absorbed, Queens of Atlantis and Kings of the Rodeo. Good sex is always a bit selfish if we are honest about it. In a good relationship, we enjoy the hell out of our partner’s pleasure. It’s often a profound impetus to our pleasure, speak for yourselves, folks, ever and anon we’re thrilled to be desired.

    But just how sure can you be that ol’ Brad, King of the Rodeo, was indulging in completely non-consensual sex with Delsie? Was she telling you? With all such stories, there’s another side to these things. If either the Rodeo King or Queen of the Undying Lands were telling you these things, they were manipulating you.

    But the limits we impose on ourselves out of self-respect keep us — seemed to have kept you in any case — from Getting to Home Plate with the Queen Delsies of the Undying Lands Way Down Below the Oceans. That’s not where I wanna be.

    • But just how sure can you be that ol’ Brad, King of the Rodeo, was indulging in completely non-consensual sex with Delsie? Was she telling you? With all such stories, there’s another side to these things. If either the Rodeo King or Queen of the Undying Lands were telling you these things, they were manipulating you.

      This is a very discouraging perspective. For what Burt did here — introspection of another’s behavior — matters. We need more of it among men, not less.

      • Yeah. It is discouraging. It has been my misfortune to be the confidant of three separate pairs of people in destructive marriages. If someone told me they were a victim of a crime, and they did, I encouraged them to get law enforcement involved. None of them did, over my strenuous objections.

        I’m terribly callous about the death of bad relationships. It’s sad if there are kids involved, otherwise, and here I reveal my own biases — I have no patience for people who go back into these obviously destructive relationships. In psychologist parlance, such people who go to their friends and tell sad stories are Enlisting. They want the friends to take their side in the fight. Parents do it to kids during a divorce. Long before the assets have been divided, the friends have been parcelled out, his friends, her friends, and both the bickerers are terribly observant, making sure things stay that way.

        From what’s been said, both Brad and Delsie were trying to push Will’s buttons, knowing he was a Good Guy. And from what’s been said, Delsie went back into that situation after dumping a load of guilt on Good Guy Will.

        I’ll tell you plainly, this isn’t exclusively a man’s problem. If objectification is bad, and it is, so is Enlistment. Both reduce people to caricatures. If you’ve been the victim of physical violence, take it to law enforcement and get out of that situation. If you don’t, nobody can make you. And domestic violence isn’t limited to men striking women. Women strike their children, women strike other women, women strike men, ask any cop to sort out a DV incident and he’ll ask “Who hit whom first” and that’s the person he’ll arrest.

        Being a Fully Realised Person means being responsible for your actions and your choices. If men ought to quit being aggressors, women ought to quit re-entering abusive situations? Because I’ve seen that happen and more than once, against my advice. I’ve been right there in a house full of crying children while the police officer asked “Do you want to press charges?” and she says “No, I love him.” I simply threw my hands up in the air, at two in the morning, after being called into that situation, having called the police myself. A quiet bit of black humour with the two police officers, standing out there in the snow in front of their house, wondering when he would finally get around to murdering her: it certainly wasn’t the first time the police had been called.

    • The basic answer to how I know what happened, well I don’t completely insofar as I wasn’t there, but broadly it comes down to “She wouldn’t lie about that.” There are some people I’ve known where I might be at least a little skeptical, but not her. The “every night” might be an exaggeration, but I think that’s about as far as it goes. And it doesn’t need to be every night to be horrifying.

      • Will, this is a difficult thing for me to figure out how to say, so please bear with me. And if any of this sounds like I’m casting blame or accusation at you, right up front, that’s not my intent. Rather, I want to explore, and do so in the context of something I keep saying — men need to take a role in stopping the violence women experience.

        We’re talking about a situation of ongoing domestic violence, so there are two actors; the abuser and the abused. And in this story, there’s you, the outside observer and reporter of events as you know them.

        Your first sentence, The basic answer to how I know what happened, well I don’t completely insofar as I wasn’t there, but broadly it comes down to “She wouldn’t lie about that.” interests me here; what triggers such a thing? It roots in the whole ‘women lie about rape,’ excuse. That’s what it’s an answer too. Well, yes, some women do lie. But we know for fact that most rape and abuse goes unreported. The ‘women lie’ response always needs that context qualifying it. Because the flip side is that most women lie by being silent about their abuse.

        Going back to your original post, this is what caught my eye:
        As does my own culpability. I’m not sure how much my actions contributed to the self-esteem that gets one into a relationship like that, where it takes her a year to walk away from something so obviously wrong. I was always pretty upfront with her about where she and I stood (and more importantly where we didn’t), but I’m not sure my bluntness was anymore helpful than deception would have been.

        What can men do? Examine their own culpability. The role the play in recommending other men to women. The ways the look aside when they here other men talk about abuse. I’ve actually got a role model for this, my younger son. I’ve heard him talk down friends trash talking girls, seen him step to a girls defense in a crowd, and watched him let go of friendships because of the way the friend treated women, being really clear about the reasons for his actions.

        In these small ways, men hold other men to a standard. It gets the message out that women are fully realized people, not objects, and objectification isn’t acceptable. It creates an environment where we create fewer villans.

        • Zic, I will take it in the spirit in which I believe it was intended.

          Regarding the “she wouldn’t lie about that”, I say that for a couple of reasons. First, because I present her as something of a flighty individual in the post. Which she was, but she was not the sort of person who would ever lie about that.

          Second, you’re absolutely right that for every false accusation, there are several that go unreported. (Indeed, this one went “unreported” insofar as the authorities were involved.) But the latter doesn’t change the former, nor does it suggest that we take every allegation as ipso facto true (as with child molestation, which also usually goes unreported). So how do we deal with this? Legally, we deal with it as “innocent until proven guilty.” From the standpoint of what we personally believe, it gets murkier. The second “rape story” in my history was actually a false accusation.

          So, if she had been someone different, and he had been someone different, my view on what did or did not happen might be different. I do agree that any discussion of false accusation ought to mention the far greater number of cases where rape goes unreported.

          Baby is crying, will write more later.

          • I totally agree on the “treating women with respect,” though I think that’s a good idea apart from the issue of rape and domestic violence.

            With regard to the objectification of Delsie, that’s a bit of a tougher one for me. I am a bit conflicted. On the one hand, I was pretty honest about it. And she went along voluntarily. On the other hand, I knew what she wanted, that she wasn’t getting it, and that she wasn’t going to get it. So on the first hand, it’s a bit condescending to go against her wishes because I think it’s in her best interest. On the other hand, I could see things more clearly than she could, I think.

            (The reverse situation has, historically, been guys in the friend zone who say that they’re okay with being friends but clearly want more and are angling for more. And the women who overlook this even as they see what’s happening. As with the previous situation, there isn’t a good solution to the problem.)

          • Perhaps I’m incapable of making an articulate point today; for they seem lost on others, though clear to me. So excuse me, please.

            This is not necessarily about what/how what’s between you and Darcie. It’s about what’s between you and other men. It’s about your analysis of someone, learning to recognize the predators/abusers, and . . . then what?

            How do men first learn to recognize the monsters in their midst, and then how do they demonstrate the restraining social opprobrium? In a world where this isn’t just a matter of law, where the need for laws diminishes, those relationships/signals between men need some examination.

  4. zic,
    here’s the problem: most predators are to some extent or another known to folks around them.
    Oftentimes, they’re already excluded. (certainly very often excluded from “eligible men” according to the women around them).

    • Heh, on the sidebar the snippet from this comment read, “Introducing the villain zic, …”

      And I thought, “I knew it!

      No, no, I didn’t. Of course I didn’t. But I did laugh at the thought.

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