I first met him in the winter of 2007. He was tall, dark and handsome. And George W., the guy I was dating at the time, was a dud. I mean, George spent a lot of money on me, so there was that. But he just wasn’t exciting.
That is, he wasn’t Barry. I met Barry by accident. I work at a newspaper, and my colleague called in sick one day. She was supposed to interview this guy, Barry, who ran a little group of socialist scholars in Chicago. Could I jump in and do the story instead? I wasn’t happy about it, but sure.
Looking back it sounds funny, but the first thing I noticed about Barry was the crease in his pants. He was wearing a a nice blue suit, and it just looked so crisp on him. He was long and lean, and as I watched him speak my gaze drifted below the waist. That’s when I notice the crease. It looked sharp, powerful. Even presidential.
The first interview went well. His main goal in life, he said, was just to make people happy. He was just a regular all-American kid from Chicago — a White Sox fan. He knew how to surf. He had a smile that was warmer than a box full of puppies. He liked community and had been a teacher. I liked his voice. Right from the beginning, it’s like it had some kind of irrational control over me.
I wanted to see him again. After the story came out I called Barry and told him I was doing a story about politics in America — could he grant me another interview? I could almost see the smile over the phone. Of course.
This time we would meet at his house in Hyde Park. It was a nice place, although even then Barry mentioned something about eventually moving to Washington.
It was at the end of the interview that it started. What would eventually become my nightmare.
I was about to leave, when Barry suddenly touched my arm and said, “Before you go, I want to show you something.” He led me into his bedroom, and pulled out a wooden chest that was under the bed. He opened it up and there were books and videotapes inside: Rules for Radicals, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and The 1960s: Years of Hope, Days of Rage; movies like “Manufacturing Consent,” “Roger & Me,” “All the President’s Men”; and and a bunch of stuff by a guy named Frank Marshall Davis. And buried deep, yes, the Communist Manifesto.
I felt damp below my waist for the first time in years. For the first time, really, since I dated Bill C. in the 1990s. Bill would try and warn me about Barry, calling Barry’s smooth facade “the biggest fairy tale I’ve ever seen.” But I wouldn’t listen until it was too late. Bill is from the South and a good guy. And unlike Barry and George, he’s pretty good with money. We were friends with benefits for a while, and he’s kind of a selfish lover. He has a weird fetish with cigars.
After the second interview I immediately requested another meeting with Barry, stammering something about a follow up. He agreed.
The next time we met, the books and videotapes were no longer hidden. They were neatly arranged on a table next to his bed. When I arrived Barry kissed me Then he led me into the bedroom. He slowly unbuttoned my shirt, and whispered for me to slip my heels off. He gently led me onto the bed and handed me a book: The Feminine Mystique, by Betty Friedan. “Start with this,” he said.
After that, things progressed. We met at my place or at hotels around the city for our sessions. I quickly moved from Friedan to Noam Chomsky, The Nation, Richard Dawkins and Robert Redford films. Soon even the New York Times wouldn’t turn me on — only MSNBC would do it. Soon Barry wasn’t just talking about satisfying me. He said he was into nothing less than “total transformation.” I would never be the same again. Eventually we would move into the hard stuff — dialectical materialism.
(Once, Barry had a friend, Bill A, watch us. Bill was a member of an ultra-kinky group called the Underground.)
On the night of November 4, 2008, Barry took me into his bedroom. He spoke to me all night, cooing that I was the change I had been waiting for.
The situation went on for several years. We would meet, have an intense discussion, maybe watch a Hollywood movie or read some quotes from Andrew Sullivan or Melissa Harris-Perry. I was his slave. It’s almost like I had some hidden guilt that I wanted to be punished for, and could forgive him for anything. Once this man, Mitt, took an interest in me. Mitt was responsible and a business genius. But by then it was too late. “You don’t want that vanilla stuff,” Barry told me.
But then cracks began to show. A friend of mine mentioned to me that Barry wasn’t his real name. Furthermore, no one at the university Barry said he attended could even remember him. There were rumors that he was married and that his wife was into even harder core stuff than him. “They’re just haters,” Barry said of his critics. I believed him. I actually tried to do research once to see if any of it was true, but no matter how relentlessly I scoured the media, even the paper I worked for, I could not find one negative thing about Barry. In fact they seemed more turned on by him than I was.
Then, reality struck. October 1, 2013. I came home to my apartment, and I knew something was wrong. Things were out of place in my office and my computer was on, even though I had shut it down before I had left. The screen was on the website of my health care provider, and the message said that I had been canceled. I was barely absorbing this shock when the phone rang. It was my bank. My account had been cleared out and I was suddenly in terrible debt. I had been wiped out. It was over.
I feel used, drained, and lied to. I really don’t want to have any contact with anyone for a while. My Aunt Hillary keeps calling to get me out of the house, but I’m just not in the mood.