So there was this one time, in undergrad, when I was hanging out with this one guy. He was cute and tall and looked like Ben Affleck and played guitar.
One night, we were outside my dorm talking when one of his friends walked up. His friend was a water polo player with a deep tan, blonde hair and a really exaggerated swagger.
I wasn’t really paying attention at first, because I was just looking at Cute Boy and my head was all glitter confetti and heart-shaped emoji eyes and then —
and then this bleached ball of asshat-ery leaned in and loudly asked, “So, did you do her?”
All the while keeping his eyes locked on mine, looking me up and down like he thought what he’d just said was okay. Like I’d blush and be all like “SHUT UP LOL HAHAHA.”
And everything in my head screeched to a halt and the party banner in my mind that read:
“KATIE’S OUT WITH A CUTE BOY AND EVERYTHING IS PERRRRFECT”
collapsed behind me as I stood there, waiting for Cute Boy to respond. He laughed it off.
Then, Swaggering Asshat swaggered up to me. I forget what he said, because I was focused on how his eyes were roving up and down my body and how he was enjoying how uncomfortable it made me.
I stepped back, and he stepped forward.
He kept stepping forward. I told him to back up, but I didn’t listen.
And something inside me shifted. I felt like I’d just shifted out of neutral and in to four wheel drive.
He took another step toward me, and I reached up, wrapped my fingers around his esophagus –
and I choked the swagger right out of him.
His eyes bulged, his tongue stuck out, and when I shoved him backward, he coughed and sputtered and called me a “crazy bitch”.
The next day, Cute Boy tried to laugh it off some more by telling me how Swaggering Asshat had renamed me “Crazy Bitch” to the rest of their suite.
I wish I could say that’d I’d dismissed Mr. Cute Boy McStand-There-Say-Nothing like
but I didn’t. I hung around until a good friend had to tell me he was “talking” to two other girls at the same time and I cried and listened to Avril Lavigne and then took a different route to class for the rest of the semester.
Why tell you all this?
Because I’m realizing something.
When I relayed that story to my mother it was kind of like:
Mom: Hi how is college going
Katie: Awesome I love Malibu my suitemates are super fun and also I choked the shit out of this one guy
Mom: You do realize you’re eighteen now and I can’t protect you from actual jail
Mom: Also don’t swear
… and I realized I didn’t stop to think about that. I didn’t think about what anyone would think about me. In that moment, I was me.
I listened to my gut and acted without caring what anyone else would think. It never really occurred to me that choking out one dude in front of another dude might make the latter dude less likely to see me as datable, and I am SO GLAD that in that moment, I did not stop to worry about it. Or the fact that I could’ve potentially gotten in to big trouble. I did it, and I didn’t apologize.
(Full disclosure: my mom will probably think this story is funny now that I’m a rather well-adjusted, child-rearing wife and not Choking Justice – a mildly violent, college dropout vigilante committed to throat-pinching Malibu’s douchebag population).
But now, eight years later, it’s still a moment I look back on like
So flash forward to last Sunday. I’m at Church during the meet and greet part when I’m walking through a group of older women and a very nice lady calls out, like, loudly:
“Katie! Have you found a job, yet?”
And I wring my hands and tell her no and tuck my hair behind my ear and make a joke about being a freeloading deadbeat that doesn’t quite land where I want it to and they all smile awkwardly and I scurry away like CAN WE NOT TALK ABOUT THIS EVER
The thing is?? I noticed it this time. I noticed that I handled that poorly.
And that’s because I miss Throat Choke Me (still working on the name for that Alter-Ego). I miss the me that didn’t feel the need to apologize. I’ve been trying to get her back, because I realize that while I’m a confrontational person by nature, I’m not very good at standing up for myself, or
for my body, for my passion, for my decisions, for my mistakes, for my crazy risks.
I’ll choke another human being and endure him calling me “Crazy Bitch” for a year but let’s be honest, can I pull off cutoff shorts?
Can I even write, anymore? WHAT IS THIS HOT MESS ON THE SCREEN RIGHT NOW.
Ah, this latte tastes like ogre piss… but I’m sure it’ll be better tomorrow.
And recently I’ve been like NO. NO MORE.
WEAR ALL THE SHORTS, WRITE ALL THE WORDS, AND DEMAND NON-PISS LATTES.
My therapist, at the end of our last session, stopped and looked at me.
“What are you doing differently? You seem… happier. Glowing, almost.”
And I didn’t have an answer until I smiled and said, “I guess I’m being kinder to myself?”
She smiled back and told me it’s showing.
It’s easy to look at these days and see an endless parade of the same day, over and over.
Until I have moments like that in Church, where I walk away, embarrassed, only to look back at the end of the aisle and realize I should’ve just said – “Not yet,” and left it at that, because I don’t owe anyone an explanation, and, honestly, most of the time people don’t expect one.
Or when I wear shorts to the LA BookFest and don’t think twice about those stretch mark that my pregnancy cut deep into my thighs.
Or when I write a blog post that could maybe possibly be admissible in court one day when I smack the wrong person (JOKE. THIS IS A JOKE, MOTHER).
Learning to trust my gut, square my shoulders, and speak my mind.
And I’m not apologizing for any of it.