Unableism: “If you can’t get a sympathy, then go for the guilt.”

14 Minute Or Less Read Time
Unableism: “If you can’t get a sympathy, then go for the guilt.”

The E-Lounge Memoirs: The Time Value of Sex

Circa 1989 

Brooke sat at the table in the E-lounge reading a book until noticing my arrival with coffee. Her eyes lit as she bookmarked the page, pushed the book aside, and quietly clapped in anticipation of our daily book discussion. “Thank you!” Soon, her coffee stirrer directed a captivating book critique of the The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker. “The book was much more thought-provoking than the movie Hellraiser, which just seemed like a run-of-the-mill horror film. Now don’t get me wrong, I liked the movie, but…”

Brooke’s hands floating in the emphasis of her words drew the eye like a snake charmer to her breasts beyond the motion. Three months earlier, she began enchanting the dull mornings at community college after introducing herself from across the lounge’s table by lifting her frustrated head from a finance book, uttering, “Blah!”

Having noticed her prior to this outburst but having no point of ingress, I pounced on the long-awaited interjection offering assistance and a kind ear. She smiled and complained of her finance class with all the magic her perfect smile and breasts could summon. Drawing deep from the cleverness arsenal, I converted the Time Value of Sex, a mnemonic device invented in a prior finance class, into a new whimsical aide-mémoire to assist learning and capture her attention. “Now see, the concept is easy to understand. The Time Value of Money is like love. Love gained sooner is worth more than love gained later because it compounds over time like interest. To be specific, love earned in January is worth more in June than love earned in March because it has more time to grow.”

She frowned playfully and cocked her left eye studying me. “Hmm, is that your geeky way of hitting on me?”

“It depends if it worked?”

Brooke’s laughter instigated weeks of daily time invested in a friendship burgeoning from the sharing of intimate details of her troubled relationship with the boyfriend and learning of my dissatisfaction with the girlfriend, which ironically didn’t start until meeting Brooke. Regardless, the Time Value Of Sex formula proved Brooke worth the investment:

FV = Future value of sex
PV = Present value of sex
S = rate of sex
N = number of times sex compounds in a year
T = number of weeks
The formula for the time value of sex is:
FV = PV * [ 1 + (S / N)] (N * T)

Interestingly, with a zero rate, zero compounding periods, and zero number of weeks, the future value of sex with Brooke equaled the present value of sex which was greater than zero sex with Brooke and more than enough for me to wait: perhaps explaining why I failed finance.

Her eyes widened. “…so, I just don’t think it’s possible to capture in a movie Frank’s feeling when he realizes at the last minute he’s been deceived and knows he’s about to be tormented forever-”

A sudden jerk of the table splashed some coffee and turned attention to a student who slammed into the table with his wheelchair when parking alongside Brooke. Backing up quickly, his face fell in dismay. “I’m sorry.”

Brooke waved her hand. “No big deal.”

“I’ll get some napkins.” I rose and went to the vending machine area.

Returning, I saw him shaking hands with Brooke. “Really nice to meet you, I’m Jeffie. I apologize for the coffee spill; sometimes I’m such a klutz.”

Brooke stood and gathered her books, needing to get to class. “No problem, we’re here every morning. I’m sure we’ll see each other again.”

Brooke waved goodbye, exiting the lounge to the classrooms beyond, and upon returning my stare to Jeffie, his facial expression and demeanor morphed from sheepishness to diabolical. “Did you see those titties and that ass?”

I nodded and seeing my expression of surprise, Jeffie asked, “You hittin’ that ace?”

“No, we’re friends.”

“Too bad. Jeffie’s gonna drink from the Brooke.” He stuck his tongue out and licked upwards. “Right between the mountains.” Then slurping downwards. “Right down the furry river.”

I laughed, “Dude, she’s got a boyfriend.”

Jeffie leaned back in a wheelie. “Who gives a shit. I got her figured out. I bet she’s a psych or some kind help-the-handicapper major.”

I nodded curiously. “She’s going to be a counselor for deaf people.”

“See! She’s primed for the Jeffie.”

I shook my head. “Dude, she’s pretty smart.”

“I’m sure she is, but she’s also sympathetic and that is going get me laid.”

“I don’t know, man.”

Jeffie cackled, “Trust me. You’ll see. A few accidents with the chair and she feel so sorry for me she’ll be begging to take a ride in the chair of love.” He pointed both fingers to his crotch.

“Hey, I think you’re underestimating her. She’s sharp. She’s going to see through all that.”

Jeffie leaned back tilting on the rear wheels. “Hey man, this chair comes equipped with two benefits: sympathy and guilt. If you can’t get a sympathy fuck, then go for the guilt.” His face turned sheepish again. “Brooke, I’m sorry if I came on too strong. I’m just so lonely. It’s been so long since I touched a girl. Nobody wants me; I guess I’ll just go away.” His face returned to a grin. “See. Even if she can resist the sympathy, she’ll get snared in the guilt…”

Listening to Jeffie explain, in detail, the many planned sexual perpetrations of Brooke, I shook my head scoffing mentally. Leaving school for the day and going home to sit on the sofa and drink beer, my amused disbelieving continued. What an ass. Brooke will never fall for his nonsense. I went to bed confident of his foolhardiness.

The next day’s arrival at the E-Lounge revealed Jeffie sitting beside Brooke reading from a notebook. Seeing me, Jeffie leaned back in his chair away from her view and made a V with his index and middle finger then pumped his tongue between. Sitting across from them stirred frustration as Brooke looked up from a notebook. “Hey, check out Jeffie’s poetry. It’s wonderful. I really like this poem about…”

Anger grew listening to the conversation and watching Jeffie move in on Brooke — an act that now seemed to be working. Brooke packed up her belongings, preparing for class. “Those were great Jeffie. Will you be here on Monday morning?” She pointed to me and back to herself. “We’re here every day before classes, you should join us?”

I smiled and nodded as Jeffie tilted his head and looked up at Brooke with a sullen expression. “Thanks, it’s hard making friends.” He patted the armrest of his wheelchair. “You know.”

What is she thinking? She can’t possibly be falling for this guy’s bullshit.

Brooke’s eyes widened. “Well, we’re not like that.” She shuffled away from the table. “Gotta get to class, but I’ll see you both Monday morning.”

Jeffie watched Brooke pass through the door then whipped his head to me, pointing his finger in the direction she left. “Man, if hot has a smell, that is it!”

For the next twenty minutes before class, Jeffie imaginatively seduced Brooke with arms writhing in feigned embraces, squeezing parts, and tongue-flicking. “Yeah baby, work that ace. It’s not like you’re going to break my back!”

Leaving brought no peace as Jeffie’s fantasy monologue clamored in my head during class, the ride home, and all through dinner with my girlfriend Connie. Late in the evening watching TV, Connie noticed my perturbed state. “What’s the matter?”

“This guy at school is bothering me. Did you ever meet someone who is two-faced but in a really deceptive way? Like you can’t explain the bad side of his character to anyone because no one sees it.”

Connie curled on the sofa. “Yeah, you just got to let the person reveal themself.”

This seemed unacceptable as I moved to the sofa and massaged her back. “You’re right.”

She pushed my hand away. “You haven’t paid attention to me in weeks.”

“I’m sorry. I’m just having a difficult time with school right now.”

“Hmm.” She looked at me sideways.

With some play and plying, the sofa became a tangle of sex ending in the bedroom with Connie sleeping beside me as I stared into the dark space of the room. There must be a way to deal with that slimebag without looking like a jerk picking on the disabled guy or appearing jealous.

The quandary faded into the darkness of the room until distant voices echoed moans of ecstasy that grew louder with the appearance of Brooke’s head rolling in pleasure. Her nude form sitting on Jeffie in his wheelchair with his hands grasping perfect breasts as he gnawed at her neck filled my eyes in horror and forced consciousness. Opening eyes did not bring peace as an upright-sitting Connie glared down at me. “Who the fuck is Brooke?”

“Huh?” Play dumb. Deny everything.

She rose from the bed and pulled on her skirt. “I knew you were cheating. Fucking lying piece of shit.”

“I’m not cheating. Look, Freud, I don’t know what the fuck I say in my sleep.”

“Whatever.” She stormed into the living room with me following.

“Are you sure I said a name?” Good thinking; play on the word.

She snatched her purse from the sofa and stopped. “You’re kidding, right? ‘Oh, Brooke stop.’ What were you talking about a river? Asshole.” She stormed out the door.

I slumped on the sofa realizing things were out of control, and something needed to change because things just couldn’t go on this way. First and foremost, I needed a masterfully crafted lie to explain calling Brooke’s name during sleep, and second, Jeffie needed to go to ensure never again saying Brooke’s name during sleep.

Awakening, the midday light entered the bedroom window bringing with it the sudden inspiration to call Scooter Biggs. Best friend, confidant, adamant drinker, literature major, and connoisseur of women, Scooter held the answers needed. Once in high school, Scooter said another girl’s name in the throes of drunkenness immediately after having sex with his girlfriend and reasoned the slip of tongue in a dream narrative where another girl tried to steal him away from his beloved. Needing his sage advice and experience, I called the dorm at the out of state school he attended. By the luck of the gods, Scooter planned to leave in the next few minutes and would arrive at my apartment in a couple of hours.

That evening, beer flowed as Scooter listened to the tale of Jeffie’s hostile intrusion into the E-Lounge and how Brooke fell for his shenanigans, leading to the unfortunate slip of the sleep-talking tongue. Scooter leaned back on the sofa. “Alright, first you need some damage control. Tell Connie you’re reading Middlemarch for a class and you must’ve been referring to the character Dorothea Brooke. Now, you’ll have to get the book from the library and torment yourself reading some of it, but that should get you out of the danger.”

“Good thinking.” I nodded.

Scooter took a sip of beer. “This situation with Jeffie is a little tricky because of your prejudice.”

“Wait, what? I’m not prejudiced.”

“Sure you are. Look man, how do you think you got into this situation? You let this guy walk all over you because you didn’t take him seriously. You’re stereotyping him. You assumed he is supposed to be a certain type of person, like vulnerable or nice or passive because he’s in a wheelchair, and now, he’s about to scoop the girl you put months of effort into. Come on; what would you have done if this guy wasn’t in a wheelchair?”

I leaned back imagining conversations filled with snide comments and subtle mockery aimed at undermining Jeffie. “You’re right.”

Scooter leaned forward, pointing his beer at me. “Okay, so it’s tricky because you have to assume Brooke is prejudice also.”

“Whoa, wait. How is she prejudiced?”

“Well, you said she’s smart, right?”


“Then why is she falling for his act? Is he really deserving of an Academy Award?”

I sat thinking.

Scooter leaned back. “That’s why she’s falling into the trap. Think about it, man. You can be the most liberal, inclusive person walking around thinking you’re worldly by holding doors for people in wheelchairs but still be a prejudiced piece of shit if you’re not aware of your own stereotyping. As a result, your lack of introspection makes you the fool. This guy’s smart, he’s got you both trapped in your prejudice and neither of you knows it. You need to introduce a new element or third party into the mix to throw him off his game.”


Scooter rubbed his chin. “If Brooke is prejudice, she is going to feel sorry for him, and you’re going to look like an ass if you try to dissuade her. You need someone else to get rid of him or somehow to bring the news to Brooke that he’s a dick. It just can’t be you…”

The night passed in drinking and talking to awaken the next day and drive to the library after seeing Scooter off. Checking out Middlemarch led to several minutes of skimming the immense, boring book before calling Connie who agreed to come by the apartment to hear my apology. “…and see, that’s got to be the reason I said the name Brooke.” I handed her the book.

She scanned the title and flipped a few pages. “Oh, that makes sense.”

“I’m sorry, I just wasn’t thinking so early in the morning. I should’ve said something about Middlemarch, but I was really tired.”

She motioned for me to sit beside her. “It’s cool. It was really early. I shouldn’t have gotten so upset. I’m sorry. I was tired too.”

Yes! The afternoon passed in bliss with dinner and sex that brought a restful night’s sleep from which I awakened motivated to deal with Jeffie. Showering and leaving in the early morning hours for school began pondering of what needed to be done. Mulling the situation on the drive and walk across campus to the E-Lounge made clear the need for actionable intelligence. There had to be someone who knew Jeffie as a villain and this person held the key to ridding myself of him. About to enter the E-Lounge, the door swung open as Martin, a football player I knew from classes, exited. “What up, Vinnie?”

As a popular guy, Martin knew everyone at school, so I invoked his social knowledge. “Hey Martin, what’re you up to?”

“Man, just had a biology lab. What’re you doing here this early?”

“I was looking for someone. Do you know that guy Jeffie?”

He started laughing, “Yeah, for a dude on wheels, he gets a lot of ass.”


“Vinnie, that motherfucker fucked a bunch of girls, and you didn’t hear it from me, but he might’ve gotten Mary Jane.”

“Nah.” I shook my head.

“I don’t know what happened, but she won’t talk about that motherfucker. I gotta go, but if you’re looking for Jeffie, he’s usually at the cafeteria around one.”

“Thanks, Martin.” Yes! Some useful intelligence. Mary Jane Ferrara, an Italian American whose dark, long hair and olive complexion made a classic beauty people gravitated about, yet she seemed unapproachable despite cordial smiles and waves in the halls. Not knowing Mary Jane beyond gawking, I thought Jeffie fucking her highly implausible since her hotness made her unattainable for anyone. Still, not wishing to fall prey to prejudice again, I suspended disbelief and sought Mary Jane’s counsel. Taking a seat on the stone wall in the courtyard where she resided most days, the stakeout began, and about an hour later, Mary Jane swaggered through the quadrangle in a miniskirt, tight blouse, and matching dark sunglasses. Sitting a few feet away from me on the wall she began digging through her purse as I stood and approached. “Excuse me, Mary Jane?”

She looked up smiling and pointing the thickest rolled cigarette ever seen. “Dude. How you been?

“I’m good. My name’s Vince-”

“Dude, I remember you.” She interrupted waving her cigarette.

“I don’t think we met before?”

“Come on now.” She laughed at me. “You’re still so funny. I missed that.”

Thinking it best to agree, I continued, “Okay, I don’t mean to bother you, but I was wondering-”

“Dude, before we get into anything heavy, you’re gonna have to smoke this spleef with me or wait till I get back.”

“It’s like nine a.m.”

“Hey, it’s medicinal for my Pronoun Disorder. You know.” She looked at me sadly.

“That’s cool by me.” I shrugged.

Leading to a small, secluded, wooded area right off the path between the quad and administration buildings, she fired up the joint and exhaled a mountain of smoke. “Dude, it’s been so long since I’ve seen you.”

“Yeah, it’s been a minute.” I hit the joint.

She took the joint from me. “I’m sorry shit went down the way it did.”

“It’s cool.” Had I met her? No, I would remember hanging out or hooking up with Mary Jane.

We smoked most of the joint until I could take no more, and she stubbed it. “Dude, let’s get some juice from the cafeteria.”

The deliciousness of juice overwhelmed with a magical feeling, and the walk to the cafeteria passed arduously until entering the challenge of endless tables stretching across a sea of people to the food line. I stopped walking. “Whoa.”

Mary Jane grabbed my arm. “I know. It’s like this every day.”

Following Mary Jane through the maze of tables, a voice from a table to the right called, “Mary Jane, whassup girl?”

Nodding to the table pointing, Mary Jane smiled. “Dude!”

A table filled with girls rose hands waving like sunflowers blowing in the wind. “Mary Jane!”

Turning to the table, Mary Jane shot both forefingers. “Babes!”

Breaking free of the tables and entering the food line, I said, “Damn, you know a lot of people.”

Turning to me, her sunglasses tilted in a frown. “Who?”

I shook my head in confusion as we made our way through the line and bought two large orange juices. Exiting the food line, Mary Jane looked around the busy cafeteria. “Do you know any cool places to go? I can’t deal with people right now.”

Gulping juice, I pointed to the door. “Yeah, yeah, we’ll go hang in the E-Lounge.”

“What’s that?”

“The lounge in the E-building.” We exited the cafeteria, walking across the quad to the E-Building.

“Dude, I didn’t know they called the buildings by letters.” She shook her head as I opened the door next to the large sign that read, E-Building. Making our way through the halls, we arrived in the lightly populated lounge where Mary Jane stopped and put her hand on her hip. “Damn, I didn’t even know this was here.”

The room seemed enormous and more complicated than usual, making me laugh, “You do go to school here, right?”

She smirked and slumped into a chair, pulling her sunglasses off as I sat across from her. She rested her glasses on the table and sipped juice. “What have you been up to since the last time I saw you? It’s been so long.”

Just as I began to speak, the door to the lounge opened as Brooke and Jeffie entered. Holding the door for Jeffie, Brooke waved to me, and noticing the interaction, Mary Jane suddenly became enraged. The Italian beauty rose and stomped in her heels to stand before Jeffie whose face twisted in surprise. Mary Jane pointed to him. “I told you not to come near me ever again.”

Jeffie looked at her nervously. “I didn’t know you were in here.”

The lounge grew quiet watching the drama, and Mary Jane turned to Brooke. “You’re not going out with him are you?”

“We’re just friends,” answered Brooke, turning to me in surprise, to which I shrugged.

Mary Jane answered, “Well, you might want to rethink that. One night we were hanging out, and everything was cool until he asked me to-” Mary Jane motioned for Brooke to come closer then cupped her hand to Brooke’s ear, causing Brooke’s eyes to enlarge and mouth to drop. “Nooooo! He did not ask you to do that.”

Mary Jane folded her arms and nodded defiantly as Brooke shot a look of disgust at Jeffie then stormed out of the E-Lounge as Jeffie turned a three-sixty to leave. Mary Jane flapped her hand at him. “Go on; get the fuck out of here.”

The lounge returned to its normal hum as Mary Jane turned around. “Let’s roll; I’m too down to go to class.”

Feeling hungry and wanting to celebrate, I nudged Mary Jane’s arm. “Come on, let me buy you lunch.”

Her face brightened. “Dude! That’s so sweet.”

We exited the E-Lounge, and walked to the parking lot. “You know, prejudice sucks. You’re not prejudiced at all, Mary Jane.”

She smiled. “Thanks, man. I don’t like all that hate.”

I nodded. “You didn’t even care that Jeffie’s in a wheelchair. You saw right through him and just don’t like him because he’s an asshole.”

“She worked her sunglasses into her hair, crinkling her brow. “Is that his name?”

I nodded curiously, and we continued walking as she pulled her glasses over her eyes. “Whatever. Forget about him. This is a good day because we’re talking again, so let’s not throw a downer on it. Let’s just put all that negative shit behind us and be friends again.” She locked her arm in mine and leaned her head against my shoulder.

I said, “Sure. You know it’s good to be friends because friendship gained sooner is worth more than friendship gained later because it compounds over time…”

Just Weighing Separator

 Photo by Nathan McDine on Unsplash

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