Monday, May 24, 2010

I know I have problems, but my ex-boyfriend has bigger ones.

I'm a complete head case, I know. My friends call me a paradox wrapped in a mystery topped with an enigma. I don't even understand myself sometimes, but I know that I'm not a cruel, sick, psycho freak. I may like to have my towels folded a certain way, and I may freak out when Boyfriend loads the dishwasher wrong or puts the dishes up in the wrong cabinets, but I've never hurt another living creature. I mean, I've hit my sisters plenty of times, but I've never really, truly hurt them.

But I know people who do enjoy torturing other living creatures. The kind that are completely defenseless and harmless.

So when I was a senior in high school I had this boyfriend (Matt) who had this best friend (Josh) who dated my best friend (Jenn), and these two boys were two of the biggest assholes sometimes. I don't mean they said really mean things just to hurt people's feelings. I mean they did mean, cruel, malicious things just for the hell of it. Like burning the stuffed Eeyore that Matt's ex-girlfriend had given him. What the fuck was that about? They'd been broken up for months by that point. Or the time they burned the Spongebob just to watch its face melt. It was just sitting there. They would sign onto AIM under anonymous names and make fun of people who pissed them off or annoyed them.

They insulted the three gay boys we went to school with, refused to speak to them even when they were at our group outings, and made such vicious jokes about them while pretending they weren't there that they actually made one boy suicidal. We had this one boy in our group who nobody really liked, but he didn't have any friends so we invited him to hang out with us. Josh and Matt never gave him a chance, told him to shut up, that he didn't matter. They made fun of him when they found out that he had tried to hang himself. I can't see how I didn't try harder to make them stop.

But I think the worst thing I ever saw them do was kill the fish. I'm not talking about going fishing and cooking fish. I can understand that, while I don't condone it.

I'm talking about cruel, torturous, cold-blooded murder of innocent creatures just for sheer amusement. Just because they were bigger and the fish were weak and couldn't fight.

It started out like any day. We got out of school and went to hang out at Matt's house. His parents lived upstairs, and Matt had the entire lower level to himself. He practically lived alone, and his parents were really cool and didn't bother us. So we always went there. We were sitting in the computer room when Matt's dad came downstairs. (I don't really recall what we were doing. Probably watching stupid online videos. We seemed to do that a lot back then.) He said, "Matt, I'm cleaning out the fish tank. We have too many fish. Can you take the extras and flush them?"

Now, that request in and of itself upset me. Why did the fish need to be flushed? They were alive, and they lived by a lake, for crying out loud. Why not just drive the freshwater fish to the lake and set them free? They had a chance of surviving that way. Flushing them alive seemed cruel. It's certain death in a stinky sewer.

Completely not bothered by this request, Josh and Matt agreed to help. They collected the extra fix in a bucket of water, and took it downstairs. His younger brothers, Tyler and Colin, followed. They passed the bathroom , though, and I thought, "Wow, they're actually going to free them in the lake. That's so sweet!" What followed next was horrifying.

Matt opened the door and stepped out onto the downstairs patio, setting the bucket on the concrete. He reached his hand in, picked up a fish, and threw it full force against the brick wall of the house. There was a sickening thud, and and then a wet smack as the fish fell off of the wall and splatted wetly onto the concrete floor. Scales and blood stayed behind on the wall. And the fish was still breathing.

Josh picked it up and punted it like a kickball into the yard. It flopped feebly for a few seconds before it finally stopped moving. I was freaking out, shocked by the turn of events. I thought they were going to free the fish, and here they were murdering them.

By this time, I was screaming hysterically, and so was Matt's chronically ill younger brother, Tyler. We watched in horror as Josh and Matt each reached in to take another fish. Josh got more creative with his method of killing. He even crushed one under his foot after he smashed it against the wall.

And Tyler and I acted. Horrified, disgusted, and traumatized, we lurched forward and took the bucket which still held three or four fish and together we hauled it back inside the house. (At this point, I only weighed about a hundred and five pounds, and I had no strength to speak of, so it was an effort for the two of us to get it inside.) We barricaded ourselves inside of the bathroom, locking the door to save the lives of the fish. Matt and Josh yelled at us to stop being babies and bring the fish back out. We wouldn't. We were determined to give them a humane death since we couldn't save their lives.

But then we realized we faced another problem. We couldn't stand the idea of flushing the fish down the toilet alive. That seemed like a hardly better fate. But we couldn't take them back out there to suffer the death by brick wall and punting method. So we waited. The fish were in a bucket, and without filtered water they just slowly fell asleep. There was theoretically no pain involved as they slowly drowned. (It's weird to think of a fish drowning, but when a fish "breathes" water, it's actually filtering out minute particles of oxygen which are too small for human beings to breath, so when there is no filter in the water constantly introducing new oxygen, fish only filter water and drown.) Drowning is supposed to be the least painful way of dying. As long as you don't fight it, which the fish didn't. After they ceased moving, we flushed them all one by one and came out of the bathroom.

Their torture didn't end there. Matt recently told me that his friend "Joey put a live tarantula in a microwave and turned it on to see what would happen to it. It freaked out for a few seconds before exploding, and it was so fucking awesome." I'd like to stick him in a microwave and turn it on. He has a cruel streak, and I'm wondering now why I never saw that same cruel streak turned on me. He never hurt me, never insinuated that he wanted to hurt me, at least not physically. Sometimes he said some really mean things.

I think maybe Josh outgrew that phase. Except that he likes to pour salt on slugs to watch them slowly melt. I can't stand that, either. It totally grosses me out, and I feel sorry for the slug. It must hurt to be slowly melted into sludge.

To this day, I cannot understand why the hell they felt the need to torture the fucking fish like that, or the tarantula, or the slugs. It was sick, twisted, and wrong on so many levels. And you can tell me that boys will be boys and all of that bullshit, but when I tell this story to other guys they don't find it funny at all. In fact, they think Matt and Josh are seriously fucked in the head and should seek psychiatric help. I'm inclined to agree with them.

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