One October, me being me costs me $125.
I’m sick. I leave work early, at six, am in the shower by 6:30, by 7 calling every locksmith in the phonebook. I don’t remember locking the bathroom door behind me when I entered the adjoining bedroom, then headed back to the bathroom, only to find the door locked. From the inside.
The last number I dial says he’ll be over in 15. 15 pass, then a few more, grace minutes, minutes that feel lighter than minutes, because the first few minutes you trust anyone are the easiest. When the locksmith arrives I think what a lovely tribe strangers can be. Once the door’s fixed I hand him the cash and wait for the question I know is coming, and it comes. What’re you locking the bathroom door for anyway? You live alone. What are you afraid of?
That’s the opening paragraph of the first piece I ever had published, a memoir. I’d always imagined my first work would be fiction, but sometimes writers don’t choose what to write. Some stories insist on being told. You can ignore them or play favorites with what you’d planned on writing, but some stories need to come out and won’t stop until you’ve given them voice. They’re like ghosts: they’ll speak to you in whispers, haunt you all day and all night until you face them. They’ll show up in your dreams. In random exchanges with unfamiliars, family, lovers. They’re not about what’s fair. They’re about needing to be heard.
When the Derrick Rose talk popped up last week, I’d imagined I’d write a different kind of piece. Already had the opening paragraph in mind: paralleling 2016 and 2021, how in each case a destitute Knick franchise hired a former Chicago head coach with ties to Madison Square Garden, how that person came in and oversaw immediate improvement, and how the era of good feelings was — for some — brought to a screeching halt after a Rose trade. But my ghosts keep poltergeisting in my headspace. Something else needs to be heard. Something bigger.
Disclaimers: I’m not here to talk about Rose as a basketball fit for the Knicks. Jonathan Schulman already did a great job of that, as he always does with everything he creates. Nor am I here to argue over the legal definition of what happened in Los Angeles in August of 2013. We know Rose and two of his friends had sex with an intoxicated woman. We know Rose said he didn’t know what “consent” means, and what “we men” does. We know Rose and his friends faced a civil trial for gang rape and were found “not liable” by a jury, some of who posed for photos with him after the trial. Those are all facts.
There’s been a lot of talk at P&T of late about the comment section growing more toxic. The Barguments of yesteryear (d)evolved into the Frank Ntilikina beefs, which mutated into today’s Elfrid Payton superstrain. I can tell you as a site moderator the Rose trade is a downer, given all the flagging and banning that will invariably follow his arrival. I’m already sick from what I read last weekend.
To re-state what should be obvious and humane to a room of presumed adults: when someone says they’ve been raped, don’t pretend that you know what “really” happened, or what their “real” motives are. Not only is it unfair to the specifics of this case, it makes so many people who’ve been the victims of sexual violence — people who almost never see justice brought to their violators — suffer all over again. Don’t do that damage. We know not every single charge people file is true. We know that’s the case with all crimes. Sometimes people lie about being dead. That doesn’t mean we march down to the cemetery and dig up graves.
The memoir I wrote was about my experience with sexual violence, something I’ve known as a child and an adult. That violence never goes away. The people who hurt me are gone. What they did never leaves me. The feeling of a body you didn’t seek out invading yours? The dwarf star density of that hated weight? Years of therapy and drugs and tears of sadness and rage can’t get rid of that feeling. The feeling of someone unwanted having control over your body? Of never being safe, even when you’re alone? That never goes away. To this day I can be alone in my office, feeling good, working on a piece, headphones on, and the music hits me just right, and I close my eyes to lose myself in it...and I can’t. I can’t keep my eyes closed for more than a few moments. My whole life I’m always afraid someone is behind me, about to attack. I spend my life terrified the ghosts aren’t ghosts — that the people who hurt me have been waiting for me to relax to do it again. That they’re always waiting, forever.
I’m not here to tell you to hate Derrick Rose, or turn off the game when he checks in, or boycott the Knicks. I’m not here to entertain any Damyean Dotson whataboutisms. I’m here to tell you Posting & Toasting is and has been a warm and meaningful community for thousands of people over the years. No one who writes for the site or comments can claim ownership of that. We did it together. Being together doesn’t mean we don’t have differences. I ask you to be aware that some of us see Rose, remember his trial and are instantly and involuntarily brought to a place of pain.
I’m here to remind everyone that this site and this world would be a blander, sadder, crueler place without our differences. If you can’t enjoy that, at minimum respect it. Cut the personal attacks. We don’t want to turn up the bannings, but we will. Someone likes Payton more than you? Someone misused VORP or dared to use PER? Someone just can’t support Rose? The world will keep spinning.
Talk amongst yourselves, always. Differ. Argue. But stop with the name-calling. Remember opinions are like farts: everybody’s stinks, even if you don’t smell your own. If Rose scores 30 next week and hits the game-winner, some people will be thrilled. They’re allowed to be. If Rose scores 30 and hits the game-winner, some people will feel hurt. They’re allowed to be.
I cannot imagine all the beauty and love that keep this world spinning. There may be just as much pain and ugliness. Please help keep P&T more like the former and less the latter.