Why You Mad, Girl?

I first met Cathleen about two years ago, the summer after I came back from my study-abroad semester in Berlin. We were both volunteering for the Media Film Festival (MFF), a small affair organized by some amateur film enthusiasts and business owners who live in that region known as “the main line.” She was a student at Swarthmore College living in the area for the summer, and I was living with my parents in nearby Bryn Mawr until I could go back to Chicago to complete my final year there.

My duties included taking tickets and greeting filmmakers at the festival “headquarters,” which was a coffee and sandwich shop called “House of Joe.” Joe was on the board of directors for the festival and the principal source of capital, because apparently his place gets a lot of business from college students in the area. Joe really had no business being a film festival curator. Once when I was on duty he was looking at a submission for next year’s festival and he said dismissively, “this has some cool images but there’s no story.” I cringed a little at the thought of this plebeian making decisions that affect the careers of serious filmmakers. In truth, being a student of media, I felt like the whole thing was beneath me.

In the evenings after all the films were finished, I went out for drinks with other volunteers and the visiting filmmakers. Receiving free drinks was not beneath me, and I profited as much as I could. It was on one of these outings that I met Cathleen. She was talking with one of the visiting filmmakers who I had befriended, and I interrupted their conversation when I overheard her talking about studying abroad in Berlin. As it turns out, she studied there the semester before me and knew a lot of Americans whom I had met while I was there. My filmmaker friend gave me a look that seemed to say, ‘I was trying to bring it, but OK.’ He excused himself and went inside.

She persisted in speaking German with me, which was entertaining at first, but it began to grate at me because it doesn’t facilitate conversation to speak in a language that you’re not fluent in. “There are just some things that I can’t express in English, you know? But I find the words in German,” she said, in English.

“No, I don’t know, but whatever.”

She invited me to her place and I obliged. She lived with some white Buddhists – “the Zen house,” she called it, although she was not a Buddhist herself. She was one of those girls that likes yoga and has what I refer to as “the yoga poise” – you know the type: they’re cerebral, have good posture, are probably vegetarian or vegan, and are usually humorless. I had not yet formed an opinion of her. I thought she was cute and I did appreciate her forwardness, but there was something annoying about her, too.

We spoke about love and life and our time abroad. We were both in complicated long-distance relationships and we were feeling frustrated. I was flattered that she spoke so openly about her love life, and I wondered just what message she was trying to send me. Finally, I left, because I couldn’t see where it was going, and she was tired.

I went back to the bar because the party was still on, and my colleague asked what had happened. “She has a boyfriend,” I said. “Oh, damn, they all do,” she said. I appreciated her a lot when she said that, and we drank on into the night.

The following afternoon at the film festival headquarters I received a call from Cathleen. She invited me over again to watch a German film with her that night. Hm, I thought. This is encouraging. Again I obliged. The night played itself out not unlike the night before, except after a long, self-consciously deep conversation about love and life, we got on her bed to watch the movie on her laptop. Time passed, and I started snuggling with her. I paused the movie and planted one on her. I was feeling turmoil in my loins. We caressed each other. “I don’t feel comfortable with you kissing me,” she said. “I’m in a weird place,” she added, by way of excuse.

“OK,” I said.

We continued on as before minus the kissing. Then I planted another one on her and she was into it this time. After a while, she said “we have to stop now. I don’t think this is appropriate, considering our situations.”

“I agree,” I said.

“But I still want to hang out with you,” she implored. “We should keep watching German movies.”

“Yes,” I said. “But I will continue to make advances if I’m in this sort of situation.”

“That’s OK,” she said. “I know my limits and I like the way you snuggle.”


More From Thought Catalog

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

    …”zen house” roflmao'ed

  • http://twitter.com/MollyWest12th Molly Oswaks

    Why did this rented-out church have a bed, just, ready to go? And such a spacious bed, too.

    • NealMackey

      go back to that like. I inserted a more complete explanation.

      • NealMackey



    You better have the decency to write the follow-up to this since you do not have the decency to end her suffering.

    • NealMackey

      she is now harassing more of my friends on fbk. not sure what to do. she might even see this story posted on one of their feeds. maybe that will send a message.


        Give me her real name and I'll take care of this.

      • NealMackey

        who are you, perfect circles?

    • The Cave

      wonder woman/bob mavos/the Cave speaking here, oh and Catherine and Brando Benbow. because i like the concept of perfect circles so much, as in the Ecstacy and Jonne Donne's spherical conceit of cosmic beauty and intelligence, I'm going to ask you to drop me a line at jordynkpfalzgraf@gmail.com
      we'll go from there.

  • http://twitter.com/Erikhaspresence Erik Stinson

    let the bodies hit the floor let the bodies hit the floor let the bodies hit the floor

  • http://www.facebook.com/Khaligula Khalil Pineda

    wow this is better douglas coupland than douglas coupland

  • tragic_magic

    hate sex IS actually pretty good.

  • http://www.twitter.com parker lee

    lol. yes. i'd like a follow up, por pavor

  • http://twitter.com/raystraight Ray Straight

    I'm intrigued by this “love and life” and why the two of you felt impelled to talk about it so frequently.

  • sry

    wait is this a real thing? there are so many typos and grammatical errors that i could barely make out the extremely pointless and dull plot

  • http://twitter.com/godworm Nicholas Cox

    This is good stuff! It's such bullshit that Tucker Max is famous and you aren't.

    • Vvvvqzzzzzzz3zzz2z3

      in a perfect world i would never have to read garbage by either…

  • http://disrespectfultone.blogspot.com/ Daniel Schealler


    I really hope this is fiction.

    If not, you could have a great deal of trouble heading your way.


    In hindsight, this sounded like a threat – to be clear, it sounds like you're setting yourself up to receive a lot of trouble from Cathleen. I've had a few friends who got themselves into similar situations, and they all regretted it in the long term.

    But at the same time, they'd probably have done it all over again. Because, y'know, sex and stuff.

    So yeah. You've seen the signs. If you wind up as a leather body-suit that Cathleen keeps under her floorboards so she can wear it around her house when she's alone at night, you'll only have yourself to blame.

    I hope this is fiction. But if it isn't, then at the very least I hope the sex is good.


    • Wonder Woman

      like first kiss good or atomic fireball good?

      • http://disrespectfultone.blogspot.com/ Daniel Schealler

        I'm going to go with 'atomic fireball' good – although more descriptive terminology does spring to mind.

        However, that may just be a reflection on how awkward my first kiss actually was. Our teeth hit and everything – it was a train wreck.

        But perhaps your first kiss was the kind that all the fuss is about. Feel free to apply your own heuristic. ^_^

      • Kay Burma

        it's like the song with a little help from my friends by the beatles, what is love by the shangri-las or wild horses by the stones. or, do you believe in love at first sight yes i'm certain that it happens all the time

        different strokes for different folks (this a poem about another dude i never not even kissed)


  • Emily

    I <3 “cathleen”
    just so you know
    btw i am one of the nameless girls left at the going away party, I believe.
    twas my birthday, if you recall.
    I don't really remember much of what happened that night though.
    were you the one who ate cake with us the next day?

  • Fluff

    You both seem like insufferable hipster douches. Please, please don't ever use the expression “turmoil in my loins” again.

    As to why she's pissed at you, probably because she wants to sleep with you and you left in the middle of her giving you a blow job, and then again after spooning one of her friends. You're both single and she probably sees that as an opportunity to be with you, especially since you two have so many heart felt talks. If you want to fix this, stop “snuggling” with her (if you find this hard to do, just remember that she's the type of person who uses “snuggling” as foreplay/ a euphemism for sex :/).

    Also, you feel emotionally compromised when you're doing sexual things with girls who like you, presumably because you were depressed/still in love with your ex/afraid that your chastity was in danger, but you get turned on by the thought of fucking someone who hates you? Weird.

    • Bob Mavos

      It's like the bible. You talk about sex with your feet. Upright means >>Oui Oui Oui Plus Fort, ah plus fort<< and down means sorry've got a headache, or I'm not in the mood for sniffing glue to-night.

      • The Cave
  • Jane of the Jungle

    You play me like sodoku

  • Vvvvqzzzzzzz3zzz2z3

    i have never met someone who uses the phrase “turmoil in my loins” that i didn't want to kick in the balls with spike-toed boots

  • Whyyyyyyyy

    Please stop talking. Stop contributing to this site. Please. Are you trolling?

    • Cade

      This is a true story.
      Or at least, parts of it are for sure.
      The kid who wrote it is just some whiny hipster douche who gets off on telling the internet about his personal problems in poorly written prose.
      It reads like a transcription of one of my less literate friends trying to sound smart.
      Also, “turmoil in my loins”? really?

  • Neatospeedo

    you and that dan hoffman mutherfucker are the same stupid asshole. there is no way that convergent personality evolution can account for the presence of two IDENTICALLY INSUFFERABLE narcissistic shitloaves on the same webshite. turmoil in your fucking loins… good god.


      you guessed it! you're so smart

  • livinlovinmadeinmanhattan

    i miss your firm, boyish ass, big boi!
    come on down to my place sometime, i'll make you a man!

    awkward; nerdy

  • http://www.facebook.com/Khaligula Khalil Pineda

    you're stupid

  • captaintypomydick

    thanks for that

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