The Rating Game Disasterbyimhapless©
My name is Justin Holland. I've always thought of myself as an average guy -- at least for the first twenty six years of my life. As an adult I'm 5'11" tall, 180 pounds, brown hair, green eyes, average looks and sexual equipment (at least that's my impression from sports locker rooms, though I've never "studied" it, or felt the need to), and slightly above average muscle tone.
Like everyone else I have some strengths and some weaknesses. Perhaps my two best strengths are that I'm significantly smarter than average, and much nicer than average. I've always had lots of friends because I treat everyone with respect and don't say bad things about other people either to their face or behind their back. I am kind and helpful to others 99.9% of the time. I rarely lose my temper, and when I do it is only with extreme provocation.
Two weaknesses I've always known about are a lack of self-confidence, and my condition if I do lose my temper -- I go ballistic. Fortunately, losing my temper has only happened three times in my life, one time landing me in the hospital, and two other times landing others in the hospital..
I had another major weakness that I didn't know until my wife, Ginger Holland, played "The Rating Game."
Ginger is also basically average, although to me -- and I guess to most guys, although I don't go around asking them -- she is significantly better looking and sexier than average. Like me she is normally pleasant to everyone, although not to the same extent that I am.
I hadn't had a great deal of sexual experience when Ginger and I got married at age twenty one, although I certainly wasn't a virgin -- and neither was she. We had been married for five years when we were both twenty six. We were simpatico, and enjoyed each other's company, and I was sure that each of us was happy with the other. Then Ginger went to her friend Ashley's bachlorette party, hosted by another friend, Sybil.
Ashley was a little more adventurous than either Ginger or me; Sybil was more than adventurous -- she was audacious, headstrong, and sometimes foolhardy. She was the only one of our close acquaintances who, with her husband Trent, owned a house. Since no one attending the bachlorette party was wealthy it wasn't a high roll affair, like a weekend in Vegas; but was an all day event, starting at 10 a.m. on a Saturday at Sybil's house. Trent was banished during the party.
Trent, me, and two other husbands of the party attendees, played tennis and went bowling during the day, then saw a killer chick action movie in the early evening. Trent then went to one of the other husband's apartments, about 10:00 p.m. to wait for a call from Sybil saying that it was OK to return; I went home to our apartment.
I was almost asleep on the couch with the TV merely providing background noise when the phone rang at about 11:30. It was Sybil. In a slurred voice she said "Hey, Justin, dude, you're little lady has passed out. Come pick her up." Then she just hung up.
I quickly splashed some water on my face, grabbed the car keys and went and picked Ginger up. Ginger rarely gets wasted -- actually I had only seen her that way twice before that night. Indeed she was passed out so I carried her, and her party goody bag and purse, to the car, seat belted her in, and drove home. She rallied a little by the time that we got to our apartment so thankfully I didn't have to carry her up a steep flight of stairs to our 2nd floor garden apartment unit, although I did have to help her.
She was in a bubbly, giggly, mood, the same as the other two times that I saw her inebriated. I had to help her get undressed; I showered with her because she was raunchy and I was no petunia either, and then put her to bed.
As expected, the next morning Ginger was hung over. I talked with her some, while she was still in bed but got little out of her about the party aside from groans. About the only intelligent thing that she did vocalize was "Justin, honey, please get me the pills I have in my purse, and some water."
I looked for her purse but remembered that it was in the car, along with her party bag. I brought both into the apartment and went through her purse removing items, including her cell phone, until I found the pills bottle. I took two pills from the bottle, got a cold glass of water, and returned to the bedroom.
"Oh, thank you darling," she gushed as she reached for both the pills and the glass.
After she downed the pills I took the glass from her and asked, "Are those going to make you return to the land of the living?"
"I sure hope so," she gurgled, "they're supposed to alleviate hangovers more quickly than anything else. But I need some more sleep too."
"Anything else that I can do to help?" I asked.
"Oh, would you be a dear and gently rub my head for awhile while I lay here?" she inquired, reaching toward me and stroking my cheek.
"Your wish is my command," I chuckled. I tenderly rubbed her head for about ten minutes until I heard her snoring; then I got up and went into the kitchen.
While I was reading the morning paper at the kitchen table, Ginger's cell phone buzzed. The sounds her phone made were different than mine so I didn't know if it was a text or a phone call. I picked her cell up and when I did must have inadvertently actuated a screen because a text came up -- from Sybil. Although Sybil used strange text lingo and abbreviations I was quite certain that the text said: "Important; don't forget that your Game Sheet is in your goody bag."
I put the phone down and continued reading the paper. Then I got to wondering why Sybil felt obligated to send that text. My curiosity got the best of me so I picked up the goody bag and looked through it. There were the common types of gross items I would expect from a bachlorette party, and at the bottom, folded up, two sheets of paper with printing and handwriting on both sides of each sheet. I felt like I was invading Ginger's privacy by removing it, but I though "What could it hurt?" If I hadn't removed those sheets I might have remained "fat, dumb, and happy."
The first side of the first sheet was entitled "The Rating Game." All sheets seemed to have printed questions, and a few statements, with Ginger's distinctive handwriting beneath each question. There were what appeared to be scores next to almost all of the answers, in someone else's handwriting, and several letter scores, "A/C/A-; B+", at the top of the first page. Ginger's name was not on it, but there was no doubt that she was the one who filled it out.
Despite my misgivings about violating Ginger's privacy, my inquisitiveness was in overdrive and I couldn't put it down. A large number of the first questions I read were about characteristics of, and happiness with, me ("your husband" in the questions). Now my curiosity was beyond overdrive. I was reading along with a smile on my face for most questions, such as "Is he affectionate," "Does he always remember significant dates," "What are his best personality traits," "Do you love him as much as when you first married" (her answer to that one was "MORE" with the "O" a happy face), and the like, and Ginger's answers. Most of her answers were flattering to me, interspersed with her good sense of humor and some inside jokes that we shared. I wish that I had stopped before I got to the top of the second sheet (the third page), because the questions and answers there -- now seared into my brain -- were different.
"Q. What is your husband's best intimate talent?
A. Snuggling like a big teddy bear!
Q. What are his biggest intimate drawbacks?
A. Unfortunately, everything else; LOL!"
Q. How do you rate your husband in bed, before you got married, on a scale of 1-10?
A. Ouch! Two, possibly three! That's not why I married him.
Q. How do you rate his bedroom skills after marriage?
A. Unfortunately, the same; 2+ I guess.
Q. Have you ever faked an orgasm with your husband?
A. When have I not -- LOL!
Q. What is your best sexual experience since you've been married?
A. A one night stand while on business in Chicago!"
The last answer was followed by a happy face.
I've never been to Chicago.
What happened next is still a blur to me. I think that I collapsed onto a chair, shed some tears, and then walked outside. I'm not really sure about that sequence, but I do remember almost falling down the stairs and bruising my knee on the railing when I stumbled.
I also think that I meandered around on foot for several hours -- at least I was smart enough not to drive because I never would have made it without getting into an accident. My mind was in turmoil. Up until I read the Q & A at the top of the third page of "The Rating Game" I thought that I satisfied Ginger sexually, and that we were sexually simpatico, and certainly exclusive. Not having an overabundance of self-confidence to begin with my self-image was quickly circling the drain -- actually it was in worse condition than a turd being flushed down the toilet!
I finally meandered back to my apartment about 4 p. m. I didn't know what I was going to say to Ginger. I didn't know what I was going to do. I felt more lost than at any other time in my life.
When I went into the apartment Ginger was in the kitchen. Sybil was with her. I saw that Ginger had been crying and both of them had scared looks on their faces.
"Oh darling, where have you been, I've been so worried," Ginger squealed as she ran over to me and threw her arms around my neck. I had no reaction at all. I was like a statue, my arms at my side, a constant blank look on my face. I did notice that there was no sign of "The Rating Game" on the kitchen table.
"Uh, I'll be going now," Sybil mumbled and then rocketed out of there with a relieved expression on her face.
Ginger finally disengaged from me with tears in her eyes. Basically, I was still in a trance. I do remember wondering if she would bring up the 800 pound gorilla-like subject, or let me.
"What would you like me to make for dinner," Ginger asked, trying to sound upbeat and perky. "Anything you want, if we don't have it I'll go get it."
In a moment of clarity, but I'm sure still with a blank look on my face, I mumbled "Italian sausage with peppers and onions," then slumped into a chair.
The fact that I had actually responded to a question seemed to perk her up. "Oh, great, honey. I'll go get them right now, and I'll get a six pack of your favorite imported beer too," she gushed. She wiped off her face, grabbed the car keys, kissed me on the cheek as I sat in the kitchen and scurried out the door. "I'll be right back," she said in a sing-song voice.
I had asked for Italian sausage because I knew that we didn't have any in the house, and that it was a credible choice. As soon as the door closed I started packing; I had made a decision. I simply could not live a lie. I needed enough clothing for a few nights until I could find someplace else to live. I could sleep on the couch in my office at work one night, and then find a single friend that I could stay with for a while.
I expected to be gone by the time that Ginger got back. She was faster than I thought. When she saw me closing up one suitcase, and another one already closed and near the door, she cried out "What are you doing, Justin? Why are you packing?"
"I think that you can figure it out," I responded in an automaton voice.
Hearing that her jaw dropped, and I guess that she felt that she had to bring up the 800 pound gorilla issue.
"It was just a stupid game, darling...I was drunk...you saw how shit-faced I was...I didn't really mean my responses," she cried out.
Still without emotion I looked her in the eye and replied "Oh, you didn't mean the one about loving me? You certainly couldn't be referring to the responses that you have to fake all your orgasms, that I'm a two out of ten in bed, and that you had a one night stand that really floated your boat, because no sane person would lie about things like that!"
"It was just a fucking game," she screamed. "I don't give a shit about that stuff, I love you, I want you to be the father of my kids..." she ranted as I picked up my suitcases and headed toward the door. "You can't leave because of some fucking bachlorette party game," she wailed as she grabbed onto me and literally fell to the floor. Her screaming as she lay prone at the doorway had the other tenants on our floor with their doors open and their eyes wide.
After I took two steps down the stairs I turned around and robotically uttered "You deserve to have a husband who satisfies you. You don't need me." Out of the corner of my eye I saw one of our female neighbors rush over to the horizontal figure at the doorstep to my former apartment, her wailing providing background sounds as I mechanically got in my car and drove away.
I stayed in my office that Sunday night, and showered at the workout room area in the basement of the office building I worked in, and then changed my clothes. During the day I let all of my incoming phone calls go to voicemail. I called a few single friends of mine and found one willing to let me stay in his spare bedroom until I found another place.
That afternoon I received a visit from Trent, Sybil's husband. "Can we talk in private, Justin?" he asked with a sheepish look on his face.
"Oh shit," I said to myself. "Now all the husbands of the women at the bachlorette party know that I'm sexually inadequate too; I'm gonna have to leave town." Despite the pit in my stomach I didn't see a way to avoid it, and I thought maybe by talking to Trent I could avoid future visits by others, so I said "OK."
We went into my office and Trent closed the door.
"Listen, Justin -- well, I, uh... well I really don't know any details but Sybil is beside herself because she had the women at the party play some stupid fucking game that she made up. She says that all the women were drunk when they played it, and that no one knew whose game sheet that they were reviewing and scoring; and, well... that everyone was just being silly. Sybil's devastated that you've walked out on Ginger and that apparently you're not answering your phone..."
I knew how painful this was for Trent, and that he was here only out of love for Sybil, so I didn't say anything or even look him in the eye.
Trent took a deep breath and then continued. "Sybil is over at your apartment now and says that Ginger is a basket case and couldn't go into work today, so Sybil took off too to be with her. Man, can you get past this? I know whatever Ginger said it was just the booze talking."
After gathering my composure and doing the best that I could not to cry I finally looked at Trent. He was squirming in his chair and it appeared that he would rather be anyplace else on earth. "Sorry, dude," I said softly. "My insides have been ripped out. She might as well have castrated me. I don't see any way to overcome this; a eunuch should not be married."
Then I lay my head on the desk and despite my resolve not to I started bawling like a baby.
I felt Trent touch my head and heard him say "Sorry, man," and then heard the door to my office open and close.
I was on autopilot for the next week. I went to a family law attorney, Jessica Sterns, recommended by the corporate attorney for the company that I worked for. I told her I wanted out as quickly as possible and that I'd likely give in on everything financial. "What are your earnings compared to hers," Jessica asked.
"Roughly equal," I replied, "I probably make a couple thousand more a year, but I'll be changing jobs as soon as the divorce is final -- I need to get away."
Jessica looked sympathetic. "There should be no reason for alimony. How about counseling, are you open to that?"
"No; I simply couldn't take it," I mumbled in reply.
"One of the judges, Judge Costner, in family law court almost always orders it. If we get him we may not have a choice," she said.
"Do whatever you can," I replied. I wrote the check for her retainer and shuffled out the door.
My single friend talked me into staying with him -- he needed a roommate to help with the rent otherwise he might have to move. He had a job where he traveled a lot, and was pretty easy to get along with, so I agreed.
I had to start answering my phone at work because clients didn't like their calls always going to voicemail during normal business hours. Ginger called often, especially once she got served with the divorce papers. It was difficult talking to her. Normally after a couple minute of her crying and apologizing I'd tell her that I was hurt too badly, and that she was better off without me, and then hang up.
Murphy's Law said that we would get Judge Costner, and of course Murphy's Law always prevails. Ginger was eager for him to order counseling, and there was nothing that Jessica could do to stop it.
The first session in counseling was one of the most painful experiences of my life. Ginger went through an entire range of emotions, sometimes begging forgiveness, crying, screaming, chastising me for being unable to man-up, repeating over and over that she loved me, that if I had looked at the entire game sheet that I would have seen that I was a B+ husband. Of course she had destroyed the game sheet the day that I saw it so the counselor could not look at it.
Ginger also swore that her one night stand in Chicago was the only time that she had sex with another man during our marriage, that she was drunk then too, and that she felt horrible about and it would never be repeated. Those comments anesthetized me.
I participated the minimum amount possible in the session. Fortunately I was numb during most of it because if I hadn't been I surely would have cried. I could see sympathetic looks by the counselor.
The counselor terminated the session ten minutes early and asked me to stay and talk to her by myself. As soon as Ginger left the room she got right to the point.
"Justin, it appears to me that you are clinically depressed. I sense that you weren't swimming in self-confidence before and that this episode has destroyed you. I don't see marriage counseling being of any benefit to you, but I do want you to see a psychiatrist."
"Will you tell the judge that?" I meekly asked.
"It will be in my report to him. Here is a list of psychiatrists that I recommend," she continued, as she opened up her desk drawer, pulled out a printed sheet and handed it to me. "Please go see someone -- you need help. You can't get through this alone."
The next week Judge Costner revoked the order for counseling despite Ginger's protests. He did tell her that she should go in to see the counselor one more time, alone, however. I'm sure that she did because a week later she dropped all resistance to the divorce.
Obviously, I didn't attend Ashley's wedding, and I think that Ginger backed out of being a bridesmaid/bridesmatron.
Ginger couldn't believe that I wanted nothing from our apartment or savings except for a few more articles of clothing and sports gear. She offered photographs, artwork, all sorts of things, and even money from our checking account or the few bonds that we co-owned; but either Jessica or I politely declined everything. I know that it really bothered her that I didn't want one of our wedding albums. Ginger never asked for alimony.
Even before my divorce was final I quit my job and left town. I got another job in a high pressure environment (a Hedge Fund) that required eighty hour work weeks but that paid very well. Since I had no life at that point -- all that I did was work, eat, sleep, and exercise -- I made scads of money over the next two years. I never had a date, and never even masturbated, during those two years.
I don't know how long I would have gone on like that but one holiday, when working would do me no good and I had already exercised for three hours, I decided to clean up my apartment. I dropped a folder and out floated the list of shrinks that the marriage counselor had given me. I had never followed up on that. I held the paper in my hands, sat down at the kitchen table, and cried. In a moment of courage I decided right then to do something about my life.