At the same time he was mentally soliciting warm embraces he always seemed to send me signals to warn me that he was way out of my league. It never occurred to me until sometime after we were already "dating" that it was even remotely possible for him to be attracted to me. Lying naked with him in the wee hours of the morning, I felt not like I was myself, but like I was a figment of his imagination. Like I was someone he created for his pleasure. When he was done with me he could easily destroy me, and I'd become myself again. My self. The one unworthy of him.
In my unworthy state, he'd still treat me as that near-perfect creation. Only, of course, it would just be me, wanting and undeserving.
Sometimes I would try to explain this to him. He couldn't understand how I could feel that way. He couldn't see me in any way except deserving of his love. He would get frustrated when I'd try to convince him what a worthless piece of shit I was (and still am). It was inconceivable to him. I would get angry because I couldn't love him as completely as he seemed to love me.
The first of these "arguments", as I called them--I don't know what silver-lined word Steven would use, occurred the summer after my sophomore year. Early in the summer, right after I had had enough of girlfriend number 1.5. I hadn't done very well in school that spring and Sara didn't take my dumping her very well. I had been pretty slimy to her, and I was feeling guilty. I became reckless and irresponsible. No budget this time around; I drank to my heart's content. I had a lot of sleazy dates--girls and guys.
One Sunday morning Steven woke me with the smell of banana pancakes and amaretto coffee. No doubt I was hungover, scrufly, sticky, and all sorts of bad stuff Nonetheless, there I was, shuffling to his side like a little boy to his mother. With a smile and a good-natured jest Steven sat me down with a steaming mug and plate. He sat down with me, and between my nibbling and his scarfing, we engaged in light, pleasant conversation. Slowly, he worked his way to his intended subject.
He said he was worried about me. My running around. My drunkenness. My slut behavior. He wanted me to tell him what was wrong. He didn't want to condemn me. He wanted to help me. If only I had my Suicidal Tendencies cassette. I would have played "Institutionalized" for him and stormed from the room.
I was hungover and couldn't make such sudden movements. So I sat. And I glared. I tried counting the fragments of banana in what was left of my pancake. There was nothing wrong as far as I was concerned. I was just being, and there's no reasoning involved in that for anyone. If he wanted to help someone, I told him, he should volunteer somewhere. Yeah, I put him in his place.
He just pressed on with this sort of objective cross-examination. I was silent and increasingly angry. What right did he have to care about me? No one gave him a badge and a lollipop and said, "Here, Steven, go make sure Luke feels okay." It was the worst time for someone to care about me. How was I supposed to pity myself? I couldn't say I had nothing because there was Steven telling me what a worthwhile guy I was. I blew up at him, yelling at him to let me wallow in my misery, to get a dog if he wanted to coddle someone.
I always had the good life growing up. I wasn't starved for attention. I didn't have to work for anything. I had friends and family constantly by my side. I didn't have to pay for anything. Not my mistakes, not anything. I decided I needed a little suffering. I needed to appreciate my good life. I didn't realize that I was being unappreciative of Steven at the same time. Live and learn.
Anyway, it was a bad scene. Furniture was pushed around, coffee was spilled. I raised my voice as loud as my aching head would allow me. Don't get me wrong, Steven expressed some anger as well. Carefully chosen, precisely cutting, and almost polite words oozed from his damn beautiful lips. It was heartbreaking, believe me. I kept telling him over and over how right he was about my sleaziness and degradation. And he told me over and over that he was pointing out these things because he loved me and didn't want to see my life continue to decay.
When I'm feeling low. I usually harbor this intense desire for emotionally and physically exhausting sexual encounters. After the Sunday morning battle I was experiencing a substandard sensation. Having pushed Sara out of my realm of social contact, and having no steady dates, Steven became the object of my desire. It was strange and unexpected. I tried to deny it. Best friends aren't supposed to fuck each other. It had to be some sort of incest. And so I sunk even lower.
Then Independence Day came around. I was a drunken fool, of course. Steven and I spent the day at the beach with lots of friends and frolicking. After sundown I lost all my scruples and began to hit on anyone and everyone. I came across Steven on a dune, gazing wistfully at the waves. I leered at him like one of my barstool conquests. I threw my best lines at him. He kept a poker face through it all. At the end he told me I was full of shit and then kissed me.
So I let him take advantage of me the rest of the summer. The tun ended with the beginning of his senior year. We remained friends and roommates, and I became even more confused.