birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Thought, Word, and Deed

It’s interesting that Confession is the topic when Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day fall on the same day. I wonder how many valentines have sinned against each other in thought, word and deed, by what they have done, and by what they have left undone?

When I was in college, and young and incredibly stupid, I was dating S___. She wasn’t the first girl I went out with, but she was the first girl I slept with. I confess (see what I did there?) that when we did the deed the first time, I worried (at 18 years old!) that I wouldn’t be able to perform. She was a girl, after all, and even though I was successfully in the closet, I was nevertheless gayer than a Broadway chorus line.

I worried needlessly. Thinking of my best friend, coupled with the fact that sex feels AWESOME, got me through my deflowering that first night . . . and seven more trips to the garden before sunrise. She thought I was a sex machine. Sadly, she expected the same enthusiasm all the time.

I lived six hours away from campus. When S____’s demands grew too wearisome I made an excuse—Mom’s birthday? Parent’s anniversary? I can’t remember. It was a lie, whatever it was, and I drove home for the weekend.

I don’t know how S____ knew when I got back Sunday night, but I’d just put my back on my bunk in the dorm when she came charging into the room.

My roommate sighed, grabbed his textbook and left the room, telling me to take the sock off the doorknob when it was safe for him to return.

But there was to be no reunion sex. S____ was upset. I knew she was mad that I’d left her for the weekend. (this girl was NUTS. Psycho, clingy, manipulative, NUTS.) But she wasn’t upset with me. Her conscience was bothering her.

“I have to confess something.”

I waited, expecting to hear about the neighborhood pets she murdered as a child or the sibling buried in the backyard.

“I cheated on you this weekend. I slept with Buzz.” She broke up with Buzz before she and I started dating. By “broke up” I mean “keyed his car and poured sugar in his gas tank but never told him it was her.”

She’d given me a gift. The perfect excuse to break up with her. I was 100% innocent.

But innocence matters not when your girlfriend is a psycho, clingy, manipulative nutcase. Innocence takes a back seat when you don’t want sugar in your gas tank, or “faggot cocksucker” keyed on the trunk of your car.

So I didn’t break up with her. No, not me.

I married the whackjob.

I’m much better now, but I confess that when I was eighteen years old I was an idiot.

The Confessional

Born in the Year of the Tiger