One day, about 15 years ago, I was planning a trip to Six Flags with my cousin and her boyfriend. Since they were worried about me not having someone to sit next to on the rides, they decided to set me up with a friend of theirs.
I met him the night before our big fun day – and even at first glance, I knew he wasn’t quite right in the head. He had a bit of the crazy eyes. But then, he was also pretty wasted.
I pulled my cousin into the next room and told her, “No. F-ing. Way. I am NOT going on a ‘date’ with that guy. He looks like a big stupid loser.” (This was because he was holding an empty vodka bottle and couldn’t stop smiling and staring at me.)
My cousin told me to just relax, since it was just going to be for one day, and just to have someone to sit next to on the roller coasters. How bad could it be, she said?
Well, the next morning, the three of us went to pick him up at his house, on the way to the amusement park. When he walked out the door, I thought it was a different person. My mouth fell open. Now that he was sober, and all fresh-faced for the morning, he was so cute, and so sexy, I was sure I was going to enjoy the day after all.
On the way there, while talking in the car, he confirmed over and over again that he was of very little intelligence. But he also made me laugh like nobody’s business, and he had a sweetness about him that was so simple and boyish in a big strong man’s body. The sexual attraction was through the roof.
By the end of the date, I couldn’t believe how much the sexual tension had built up – despite his low IQ. The heat between us was so animalistic, so primal, it couldn’t be ignored, and it got the better of me.
Nothing happened that night, but two days later, I saw him again, and just as the first time, there was a chemistry that was pulling me, and making me weak in the knees.
This one date turned into a nearly four-year long relationship.
I had never in my life, and think I never will again, feel that type of a physical connection with someone. We fit like hand in glove. He was the most amazing lover I had ever known. He treated me so well, with so much love, and respect, and kindness and sweetness… it would bring me to tears on several occasions.
To give you an idea on what level he suffered from lack of intelligence, I’ll give you a short list of examples:
- He thought the year 1900 was the beginning of time.
- When he saw that his birth certificate said 9.0 under weight, he believed that he was a 90lb newborn.
- When attempting to measure the width of a door one day, he insisted it was 8″ across. That’s because the tape measurer he was using had the inches restart after every foot – so instead of noticing that it was past the 3′ mark, he only paid attention to the 8″.
- He could not figure out the formula for marking boxes at work as “1 of 5, 2 of 5, 3 of 5,” etc.
- He had trouble reading and spelling, and sometimes recalling the right words. Such as “cherish” and “cherries.” So he would say something like, “I cherries you.”
- One day he repeatedly dialed a phone number to a man who kept trying to tell him that he had the wrong number. He kept trying it, anyway, because he was convinced that two people could both just coincidentally have the same phone number.
Oh, I could go on and on!
I knew from the beginning, in my mind, that I shouldn’t have allowed myself to get involved with someone who was so mentally challenged. And, at first, because I wanted him physically to such an extreme, I rationalized that he was the male equivalent to the female dumb blonde. Or, something like the John Travolta character from Welcome Back, Kotter.’
But then, after a while, and only a little while, something else began to happen. I started to have feelings for him. At first, they were feelings of empathy, and wanting to protect him from the world. Then, they were feelings of just missing him… missing the way he smiled, and would pick me up and spin me around and kiss me, and the feeling of snuggling up in those big strong arms.
And then… I started to love him. Oh, woe is me. I tried to push it away, and I couldn’t. It happened so fast, I didn’t know what hit me.
But even as I was sinking quickly into the quagmire of love with this man, I kept thinking… “I could never marry him. What if we had a baby, and I died or something, and he was responsible for taking care of it? The baby might need medicine one day, and it’s virtually guaranteed that he would fuck up the dosage, and possibly kill it. No, no. I can’t ever allow that to happen.”
Eventually, I started to rationalize things in a different way. I told myself, “Suppose that when you first met him, he was just as smart as could be. But then, after you married him, and had a baby, he got into a car accident that caused permanent damage to his brain. Would you divorce him over something that wasn’t his fault?”
On and on I made excuses. On and on I continued to feel happy and in love, but all the while I continued to think of how stupid he was, and how these two things can’t possibly be a good combination.
When I found out he was using cocaine, I thought it was a blessing in disguise. I thought, “Now is my chance! I can end this once and for all, and blame it on the drug use.” It was a very bittersweet discovery.
But then, he wanted to get help for it, and asked me to go with him to talk to a drug counselor. Sitting there, in that little office, next to him… I will never forget the question he was asked, how he answered it, and how it brought tears to my eyes, and pulled me right back into the black hole of loving someone who didn’t even know how many days there were in a year, or what day Christmas is on.
The counselor asked him, “How do you feel when you take cocaine?”
He said, “I feel smart. I feel like, for once, I know what’s going on.”
Ohhhhh my GOD. Hearing him say those words – realizing for the first time that he had a self-awareness about his low intelligence – and that he felt bad about it. Wow. It killed me. I wanted to hug him and protect him and take care of him like he was my own child.
And that’s what was the beginning of the end. I began to see him like a child, and my feelings toward him turned more motherly than anything else.
But to this day, I miss him, and wonder what ever became of him. I lay awake some nights, wondering where he is, and if he’s okay. I fantasize about winning the lottery, then tracking him down, and setting up a trust-fund for him, so he would always have a place to live, and food to eat. He wasn’t very good at keeping a job. Not because he wasn’t a hard worker, but because he just kept fucking up.
In all these years, I found what I suspected to be true. There was never again a lover in my life who made me feel what he made me feel. When I think back on it, now, despite the worries and frustrations and embarrassment of being with someone who understood things in such a retarded fashion… those years were the happiest of my life. I mean a pure, simple happiness. The kind of happiness you might have if you lived your life in a tribe, in the middle of the jungle, where there were no such things as books or tape measurers or calendars or IQ tests. I’m talking about a primal happiness – without logic or reason. Pure sensation.
And so, to answer the question… it’s both a yes and a no. Yes, I couldn’t help myself but to fall in love with a man of limited intelligence – and I was able to find happiness with him. But no, I could not accept it as something permanent in my life. It doomed us from the start, and there was no getting around it.
One last thing… don’t imagine this man as a squinty-eyed, slack-jawed dufus who wore a perpetual expression of DUH on his face. No no. He was a tall, muscular, good-looking man. He had a ‘cool’ look about him, with a black leather jacket, earring, dragon tattoo, and Harley Davidson boots. He could carry on a conversation just like anyone else – and have opinions just like anyone else… but his responses would be so utterly and fantastically ridiculous sounding, one would think it was all a big joke. He had countless friends who thought he was ‘so hilarious’ – and probably never realized just how damaged his brain really was.
And oh, by the way… I DID end up getting married, ten years later, and guess what? The man I married was incredibly smart. He was able to solve the Rubik’s Cube in under 3 minutes, each and every single time. His shelves were filled with books about physics and aero-engineering – which is what he had his degree in. He could do anything, fix anything, figure anything out – and was like a walking encyclopedia. BUT… I was nowhere as happy with him as I was with my low-IQ guy, who had a heart the size of Texas, and a brain the size of a pea.
The marriage with Einstein ended very badly. He was SO cerebral, there was no chance for that silly, goofy hugging and kissing sort of stuff. There was almost no affection, almost no sex at all, and life was very dull in the romance department.
What is the moral to this story?
That’s something I’ll think about until my last dying day.