“There — but for the clutch of luck — go I.” — Paul Durcan, Irish Poet.
I attended a small, private university on partial scholarship, it was on Long Island New York, not in the city but close enough, I had been obsessed with going to a school in New York through high school. During my Sophomore year 1989-1990, at this university, I lived in a dorm complex on campus which was called a suite. In our part of the complex, these suites consisted of: two bedrooms with two roommates in each and all four, we shared a bathroom and a small lounge, big enough for a TV, couch and perhaps a bean bag chair.
One night I was invited to an attend a party at the building across the way, my friend Melinda* (*all names have been changed) and her friend Lou* were having a party and people were going back and forth between both their suites, which were located right next door to each other. Most of the attendees were people I knew from the campus newspaper, humor magazine and the new graphics magazine. And yes, everyone was drinking, except me — or I was one of the very few not drinking.
The party was okay, I was talking to Lou and a few other people and this girl Kit* — well Kit was drinking a lot, she kept being loud, obnoxious, interrupting conversations, and often was dumping herself onto the laps of the guys, that I was having some sort of conversation with at the time.
The night wore on, the crowd thinned — I think I was fashionably late only because I had finished a paper first, etc. And Kit* was really rollicking and Lou* did not want her passed on in his suite — so somehow I got the job of coaxing her back Melinda’s suite next door so she could sleep it off on the couch of the girls’ suite. It wasn’t that far — it just felt that way — Kit kept babbling all kinds of things, mostly how she hated all the girls at our school. Somehow I got her onto Melinda’s couch and dragged over the trash bucket in case she needed to vomit, and I think she held onto me for ten minutes or so before I got her to let me go and go to sleep. I went back to report to Lou and Melinda that Kit was okay. Melinda who was a close friend and remained so for many years past college, gave me a brief thanks and duly left to take out her contacts and go to bed. Lou I’m not sure thanked me at all — as I recall he was busy talking to other people, probably another girl. Which left me prey for Josh.*
Josh was a senior, tall at least 6’2″ perhaps taller, and heavy, probably double my weight. He was a regular at the newspaper office and he was also someone who wore a mascot costume although he insisted on his identity being “secret.” He said it was because of tradition, but I think it was because it gave him liberty to freely grope girls, myself included while in costume. He had been drinking (I can still recall he favored stout or ale), and insisted on walking me “home.” I tried to gracefully stall and avoid it, hoping someone else at the party, Lou or another straggler would come out and wrangle him back in and away from me. Nope.
Josh took my arm and we started to walk down the stairs. Somehow I was able to get him to let go of my arm — I think in the logistics to open the outside door to my residence hall across the way. But I knew, if I opened the inside door to “our suite” it would be over. There would be no way to fight him off. And no one to help me.
My roommate Rachel* worked the suicide prevention hotline and would not be home until 2AM. My other two roommates Kelli* and Lori* were sorority sisters who often went out and partied a lot. Leaving early for work and class I stepped over both them and their Greek friends a lot on my way out the door.
We stood talking outside that door for a long time. I willed myself to stay alert, bright and cheery. I did not want him to think I was tired and he could try convince me to open the door, get my key from me or otherwise overtake me. A few people walked by but it was late and I didn’t know them — and my RA/Resident Adviser/Dorm Manager Teri* was a self-described “Greatful Deadhead” who often partied herself, and so odds were she would not be by.
Josh talked on and on — I tried to think of an exit strategy but there did not seem to be one. Until Lori flung open the door, grabbed me and pulled me in, putting herself between us — she started immediately to close the door on Josh before he could react: “We need our English major back. She has to help us with our papers. Good night.” Or something like that/or along those lines. After closing the door in Josh’s face she locked it.
I hugged and thanked her and she said: “What the hell? We knew you were in trouble!”
And I told her why/how I did not want to let him in and she said: “Thank god we were here.” Apparently, Kelli had got sick at something they went to that night, a Greek event either on or off campus and that is why they were home earlier than usual, awake and heard us outside.
Kit was a Freshman — often called “free meat” by upperclassmen because of their general ignorance and the ability to be taken advantage of sexually. Either Melinda or someone else later told me that Kit was told that as a Freshman in order to join the staff of one of the campus magazines, she needed to sleep with or give sexual favors to the male staff members. Kit was safe that night I assisted her, but it is uncertain if she was taken advantage other times — my guess on a scale of 1-10 would be about an 8. I have no idea if she stayed in school or what happened to her, I never saw her again.
The following year, my roommate at the time Rachel became an R.A. so I moved in with Melinda and the girls into their suite. Ironically, a few months later after this very party, Lou asked me out and we started to see each other and I fell in love with Lou.
While we were together, I asked Lou about it. I remember Lou said that wanted to talk more with me and “chat me up,” at the party but Kit and other party related drama kept taking him away from me. As for Josh, he once he boldly looked down my dress in an elevator with Lou present and I was like: “Did you see that?” Nope — Lou missed that one too.
Post college-university, when Josh had a steady girlfriend for a time, Melinda told me she thought he had reformed, but eventually she acknowledged Josh had serious issues and took this statement back. And over the years, I’ve gone to other friends with my concerns, once discussing Josh with another friend Ben,* but he too dismissed me: “Josh is harmless. Completely harmless.”
“Yeah,” I said. “But you’re not a girl.”
“True,” Ben admitted. Ben is a father, he has a teenage daughter.
Josh became a teacher and at one point he was either married or engaged to be married and I somehow ended up on the email distribution list about organizing his bachelor party with strippers, etc. So I emailed him/on the reply only with a polite/brief request to remove my name from this list and he sent back a short apology email/about the email glitch.
And you know if a female student or any female makes an allegation past, present, future against him: I would testify that I believe her.
“There — but for clutch of luck — go I.”