Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Thing That Hurt The Most



As an undergraduate in a modern dance class, I had to watch my rapist perform a solo dance number to the sound of dolphins crying. He himself was portraying a dying dolphin and the idea if you will was that the other dolphins were trying to save him but he could only save himself and he did not and instead screamed the last minute of the performance, a minute being a very long time under such circumstances. This is the kind of bizarre scenario that people mean when they say, You can't make this shit up or It's a small world after all. The other students gazed in a state of shock and/or awe and wondered if they were witnessing genius or lunacy. Most of the others in the class had chosen to work in groups for the final, dancing to painful medleys off of tapes like The Best of Kenny G! I had signed up for the modern dance class because it would fulfill my physical education requirement (we had four), and I thought it might be fun in that Martha Graham/Twyla Tharp sort of way. As they say, it's a free country and my rapist must have thought the same thing.

Said rapist was an ex-boyfriend of mine who had broken into my parents' house with my one pair of pantyhose over his head, fed our German Shephard a Gainsburger to ensure her silence, stole some electrical tape out of my dad's garage and attacked me as I stepped out of the bathroom after taking a shower. I did not know it was him until it was over, and he pulled the electrical tape off my mouth. That, oddly, was the thing that hurt the most. I could feel the tape for years. Nobody knew what happened, and we had many of the same friends, so I was, upon occassion, in his company by chance. The strange thing about the attack was that I didn't fear him but I began to fear everything else. When something traumatic happens to you, you may understand it, but your body never does. The chemicals change as a result of shock. So there I was in class, surrounded mostly by women and the one asswipe on the dance floor, twirling like a dervish to portray his death as a dolphin. You cannot make this shit up. I clapped at the end like everyone else, not because I had enjoyed it, but because it was over.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"It is when power is wedded to chronic fear that it becomes formidable." Eric Hoffer

Cocktail Hour

Drinking music suggestion: Turn Out the Stars Bill Evans

Benedictions and Maledictions

Happy Tuesday!

38 comments:

Gene, Gene, the Dancing Machine said...

I saw Rudolph Nureyev dance the lead in "The King and I" at the fabulous Fox Theater. My date, a professional dancer herself, pointed out that Rudy's arches had fallen and also, as I already knew, Rudy was dying of AIDS at the time.

Oscar winner said...

Dear Michelle, thank you for yesterday's suggestion of Woody Allen's "Deconstructing Harry." Many hilarious scenes and the F-word was used to great effect throughout the flic, even the MF-word was screamed to great hilarious effect. Thanks, Michelle, for helping me get caught up with a great comic genius--Woody Allen.

Mr. Alpo said...

German Shephards and Gainsburgers go paw in paw.

Ivan Tors said...

Flipper, faster than lightning.

Special said...

Eric Hoffer is right because people can get crushed with those pallets coming off those freighters, especially the big ones.

Martha Grahamcracker said...

Modern dance should be as liquid and effervescent as milk pouring from a pitcher.

Mr. Pantyhose said...

Holiday Greetings from the Michelle's Spell rapist!!!

Anonymous said...

In my mind, being in a situation that you described, is a continuation of the abuse.

I am curious if the case was resported and if he was ever prosecuted.

I am also wondering what prompted the writing of this event now. I would argue that the writing of this piece would prove the last line false. Emotional scars always seem to reverberate, coming back unexpectedly and unwantedly.

Dr. Ford Juford said...

Sometimes it's best just to lay back and enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

I am looking at the posts that have flown here, and I cannot understand why you don't stop them. I know what you said in pythia's posting on filters..but I think it would be worth it to keep away some of those who are overtly insensitive and offensive. Even if you just keeped anonymous posters off, it would make a big difference.

Anonymous said...

make that 'kept'

Anonymous said...

Start by keeping SS off then. how about that idea SS? Who died and made you blabbermouth?

Josef Goebbels said...

Himmler.

Mel Brooks said...

It's Springtime for Hitler!!!

Leni Riefenstahl said...

He's got da schmaltz!!!

Michelle's Spell said...

Dear Mr. Stewart Sternberg,

I'm not sure how to address your comments, but here it goes. I don't put any filters on comments because for me, it's like working without a net. The internet is democracy at work -- anyone can say anything -- brilliant, stupid, artistic, funny, and it's a voice as valid or invalid as anyone else has. I have been offended at your extremely patronizing tone at times (ie, the picture comment -- they are camp, fun, artistic, etc. and I have very definite reasons why I do things the way I do, well-thought out ones that I feel no compulsion to defend), but I do not yank your comments because I believe that you have a right to express your opinion as well as anyone else, even when the tone is annoying and judgmental. If I didn't want comments, I'd write messages in bottles! I don't judge people who filter comments, though. I believe each writer knows what is best for her and what her writing needs at each stage in development. As for endings, I am a writer first and foremost and the words direct me to the last line, not always the reality. Also, I'm no stranger to irony. As my friend Hank used to say, they bound like gazelles!

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to have offered offense. None was meant. I will make this my last posting. Peace to you and your's.

Adios amigo said...

Make that 'yours.'

Michelle's Spell said...

Dear Mr. Stewart Sternberg,

No offense taken! Thanks for the comments. Like I said, it's the Wallenda thing about the tightrope -- got to love anything that makes you think or feel! Mine is a tough comment board for that reason and because of the things I write about. But I did appreciate your question about why now in terms of writing about the rape incident. If I come up with a reason, I'll surely address that at some point. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Michelle. what a heartbreaking post. I had to read it twice to make sure that I got it right. I don't think I would have been stong enough to face him after that. I might have even called the cops. I hope that I am never put in a situation like that to find out.

Albuquerque said...

This is your bravest, most extraordinary post to date. Scary, funny, painful. I'm in awe.

Roll up the sidewalks said...

Was there any Bartles and Jaymes in the house?

Inspector Clueso said...

Why did not Peepee the dog alert zee family, eh? And why, why I ask, did not Mimi hit zees intruder wis her walkhair? That I ask. I ask all of you!

M. Wallenda-Ferlinghetti said...

Spreadeagled in the empty air of existence.

paul said...

Cajun Queen
you break my heart with this one Im sorry youhadto gothruthis terrible thing O Mighty Isis saytheword
Peaceout
R2 C2!

Anonymous said...

Michelle, not even having met you in person yet, everytime I read a post, I develop a deeper affinity for you. I'm with Paul and Sheila when they say their hearts break. Mine too, sweet dear, mine too.

JR's Thumbprints said...

Well Michelle,
You succinctly describe most of the asswipes I deal with on a daily basis. Men who have the utmost confidence in everything they do. As an added shocker, most of them think it's okay to mess with children. I don't know what it is, but to be honest with you, your post scares the hell out of me--in fact, I'm thinking of discontinuing my blog and writing the old fashion way--on yellow notepads in my basement.

Tim said...

Michelle,
What a terrible thing to go through, I'm so sorry. People that do those things should be tortured physically so they will always have scars to remind them what they've done. I've heard too many stories of rapists who think they've done nothing wrong, and sometimes even brag about the event. An everyday reminder might curb that kind of thinking. Sorry, just my way of thinking.
Take care!

Anonymous said...

This was an amazing post, Michelle. I'm happy to see the clarity with which you present the situation. I understand what you have to say about trauma. After my father's suicide attempt, I found myself looking at the world in a completely different way.

By the way, I also enjoyed the back and forth comments between you and Stewart. I agree with him in that many of the comments can be truly offensive, but I also appreciate that you have chosen not to filter them.

John Ricci said...

Dear Michelle, such a sad post today but still lovely as you always are. The view is interesting and I am so sorry about what happened. I wish you the best always which you richly deserve always. A sad bravo today.

cheri said...

Michelle,
I read a book once called, "Lucky," by Alice Sebold, who wrote the best seller "The Lovely Bones." She wrote about being raped in college and the effect that it had on her in her life, from simple everyday things to relationships, etc. What a horrifying experience for you to have... and what a psycho that this said rapist is. Please tell me that he paid for his crime? So awful. I'd love to run him over with my car.

Laura said...

This post is so sad. I'm sorry you had to experience such an ordeal. It's scary that someone like that is walking around free. He should be locked up for life.

Anonymous said...

Michelle,
I agree w/albuquerque...this is your bravest post to date! Cheers to not only surviving, but thriving!
Love you,
R

The Walking Man said...

In the end the dolphin died, appropriate end for a dance of a rapist but not for the rapist himself.

Michelle power comes from knowing you have it, power to stop the rain, order the universe in the way you want it to be, curse the madness in the actions of others coupled with great fear, may give it strength but it adds a layer before you get to the power.

Rape is a power trip not a sexual fulfillment for the rapist which means that even as a teen you were powerful, less powerfull than you are now maybe; but power he was afraid of and he used his brute strength to try to overcome the power you have which is in your spirit. [one of the most beautiful and poweful this spiritual man has ever come across by the by]

In '81 between the birth of my two children I was working on what was evetually going to become my muscle car and I had no shroud over the engine fan, a screwdriver rolled off the radiator and hit me handle first square in the left eye. I can not still feel the hit but I can still hear the noise of the hit and i wasn't afraid of screw drivers after that but for years would not work on running engines for fear of losing my right eye.

While not as traumatic as your rape, you are correct the chemistry changes in the brain, after waiting three days in Harper Hospital for the premier eye surgeon to return from a conferance he walked in looked for thirty seconds and said "the only thing we can do is have a platic surgeon reattach yur eyelid, you are going to be blind in that eye."
Yeah no shit, my eye looked like a hard boiled egg that someone crushed in thier hand.

The point being running engines had power over me for years until I had no choice and was forced to work on one, your rapist lost his power over you the first time you saw him afterwards. i hope you kicked him in the balls and told him and your mutual friends why.

But were you clapping at the end of his dance of death because there was no salvation for him at that point in his life or because in his performance he died, I clap right now for the latter.

Much peace to you tomorrow (actually today because it is 0315 wed.)

The Walking Man

and to you motherfuckers with the insensitive comments I too believe you should not be filtered out but I believe a good ten inches (real or plastic) unwillingly forced up your ass would make you understand what trauma, rape can be.

Anonymous said...

Michelle, I feel so bad for what happened to you. Whew! You are a brave gal to write about it here. I've said it before, I'll say it again. You are one amazing writer.

Anonymous said...

Michelle, How true that one may understand trauma as an event, something that "happened" to us but our bodies remember in a way that can't make sense of it. Perhaps that is because we fool ourselves into thinking that there is some sort of sense to be made. Thank you for not censoring the comments. The post is honest, why dishonor it by making the responses to it seem more sensitive than they are.

Anonymous said...

Since it sounds like you may not have done anything to him directly, I hope that his karma caught up to him, and he faced some consequence for his actions. Who knows, maybe he does get to see JR on a regular basis now.

Therese said...

Hi Michelle,
It's Therese, from your class.
You did it girlfriend, and I am proud of you. Rape is a difficult thing to announce to the world, and I say this from experience. It is not a secret in my life, close friends and family know, but to bring it into the open where EVERYone can see it is an even more courageous act.
I hope you are doing well, out of town for the holidays. Hold your love close and thank God for the blessings in your life, one of which is your gift of writing.
God bless you!
Therese