I used her. She didn’t even know it was coming. She didn’t even
tell me her real name, but she sat across from me and asked me
where it came from.
“Excuse me?”
“Where did it come from?”
Her response wasn’t typical. Usually when asked about my past,
I glaze it over with vague, minimal one-sentence answers because
one truthful answer opens up 10 more questions. And then the night
turns into “Chris’ spoken word night” – only there are no books for
“No, I wrote that to purposely be unattractive to a certain type of
“Right. And I asked where that comes from.”
I’m familiar with rooms of people scrutinizing me. My past. My
adventures. Some look to me for insight, some for entertainment,
and I look to them as an audience of people willing to help filter the
pain and regret. But this woman didn’t want the entertainment, she
wanted the real deal. So I gave it to her.
I sat in her drawing room and let go. One thing lead to the next
and to the next. Not like there were a table of books sold in the back
of the room, but like she was a dumping ground for all I never dared
to let anyone know or hear. A freedom we all wish for, a confessional
with an evaporating priest who offers no penance. I babbled and
didn’t think of enunciation or continuity or transitions or context. I
didn’t consider her an audience or a therapist or anyone who even
cared. She was the stuffed animal in a dark bedroom at 4 a.m. that
you cry into screaming, “Only you understand!” She was the cat you
whisper to. She was anonymous and secret and wouldn’t tell a soul
because no one would even care.
No six degrees of anything, she didn’t even know my last name
or what I did to put food on my table. But at this moment, I held back
the tears because I was never given such an open platform to let go
without fear of offending, hypocrisy or showing the dark cracks in
my soul. I told her things that were realizations only as they left my
mouth. I scared myself.
“You’re nervous right now.”
“No, I mean, it’s like I’m trying to take all of these feelings and
make them into coherent sentences, but everything is coming too
“You’re nervous.”
“I am nervous.”
But she listened. I shifted my weight and said, “Fuck, I have to
She grabbed my arm and said, “No, sit.”
“I have to go,” I said as I glanced at my phone.
But she waited and asked the right questions. It was obvious I felt
uncomfortable. And like Good Will Hunting, her eyes kept saying,
“It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault.”
I remember very little of that night. But I do remember feeling
shaken by a stranger in ways that no one else ever has or I have ever
allowed. Right place, right time, wrong dude.
And maybe I did use her, but maybe she was looking to be used.

From my book Maybe He’ll Grow Out Of It

About author

Christopher Gutierrez

Christopher Gutierrez is the author of several books on love, sex, and relationships. He also hosts a weekly podcast, The Deep End, in addition to running Deadxstop Publishing. Since 2006, he has given hundreds of speakings at colleges, coffee houses and universities all over the world.

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