Befriend your body. Rewrite the story of your life.

I Know that Man

by | Jan 8, 2021 | Journal | 0 comments

Preface: This was written in response to the January 6 coup/riot in the White House. As I watched the media coverage I was struck by the familiarity of the faces I saw. As if I had met each of them in the course of my life. Indeed I have.

I know that man.


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He was the father of my best friend, the one who still had a job even though the factories had kicked nearly everyone else out. He brought me to my first picket line. Taught me to look at the labels of clothing, to search for things made in America. I still think of him when I think of the children in the Philippines who made my shirt.


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I know that man.

He was a friend of a friend who bought us 40s of Mickey’s Ice when we were underage. He let us drink in his apartment. When I fell asleep I woke to his hand on my back, under my shirt, my bra unfastened. I was too scared to say anything, so I pretended to be asleep until someone stopped him. It was the first time something like that happened in his apartment. The last time will be forever etched into who I am.

I know that man.

The one who punched my friend in the pussy after she had accidentally kneed him in the balls. Just so she would know what it felt like, he told her. He didn’t know that we can never fully know another’s pain. I don’t think he ever learned that.

I know that man.

The one who courted me until he saw that I did not shave my legs. He could not get past it, he said. I didn’t even consider letting him.

I know that man.

The one who told me I was abusing my power as a woman. The one who crashed at my house for weeks, secretly counting all the ways I flaunted my sexual powers, denying him the final grand revelation. I don’t remember collecting rent from him.

I know that man.

The one who invited me to go for a backcountry horseback ride. The one who had been elected by the people, and forced himself on a few whose voices would not be heard by his constituents. I knew enough by then not to take him up on his offer.

I know that man.

He rode me on the back of his Harley through the streets of Washington, D.C., delivering me at the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial. We worked our way through crowds of men with scraggly beards, ripped denim jackets emblazoned with the kinds of patches one can only earn. They stood in front of the black reflective stone sobbing.

I know these men. The disenfranchised. The ones without a purpose. The ones who no longer receive the respect they once thought they did. The ones who once were told they had honor, but never had a chance to prove it. Their vitality seeped out like oily pus from a wound. I ran from them whenever I met them, but everywhere I ran, there they were.

It hurts me to love them so dearly.

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