Author Archives

Eva Tenuto

Pills and Thrills and Daffodils

AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth

Eva Tenuto | Longreads | April 2017 | 9 minutes (2,181 words)

 

It was the summer of 1997. For my 24th birthday, Rachel, one of my best friends, bought me the best present I could imagine receiving: a ticket to see Prince at Jones Beach Theater—on my birthday, July 23rd, no less. A full-on Prince fanatic, I was out-of-my-mind thrilled.

The plan was for me to drive down from Rosendale, where I was managing a bed and breakfast that had just opened, and meet Rachel and her boyfriend Andre there.

Rachel and I had become best friends in high school drama club, then both moved to New York City to study acting, eventually sharing an apartment on Avenue A between 9th and 10th Streets, across from Tompkins Square Park.

But after a few years, I decided to move back upstate, where I’m from, and take the job at the new bed and breakfast. I had been partying too much in the city. In fact, because of our out-of-control debauchery, once I decided to leave, Rachel wasn’t able to renew our lease.

Prince’s latest album, Emancipation, played a role: after nights of heavy drinking, Rachel and I would stumble up the four flights and blast our favorite song on the three-disc compilation set, an eight-minute track called Sleep Around. We would crank it at top volume and have a two-person dance-off right there in our living room. What we loved about the song was the build and the crescendo. Around minute five there’s a fierce drum solo that never failed to throw us over the edge, inspiring Rachel to bust out her bongo drums. Obviously, this was not something our neighbors appreciated at 4 a.m.

I thought relocation to the country would help calm me down. Maybe there, living in the middle of the forest, it would be easy for me to switch to from shots of tequila and cheap beer to fresh green juices and herbal tea.

But the bed and breakfast didn’t draw much business. With no guests, and many bottles of wine in the cellar, I was left to my own devices, and I partied, well, like it was 1999. Read more…

Feeling Unsafe at Every Size

Illustration by Kjell Reigstad

Eva Tenuto | Longreads | January 2017 | 22 minutes (5,426 words)

 

I entered the sandwich shop and saw him at the counter, my old high school freshman homeroom teacher, placing his lunch order. I hadn’t seen him since I’d graduated 17 years earlier.

He and I were the only customers. If I got in line, it was clear, there’d be no avoiding him. I’d heard through the small-town-grapevine that he’d been forced to retire early just a year after I graduated, after one brave young woman turned him in for touching her inappropriately. I remember thinking he got what he deserved. But it never occurred to me that I was traumatized by what happened with him until seeing him in person that day made me seize up in a full body rage.

“Well, hello Ms. Tenuto,” he said when he spotted me. That was how he always addressed me, even as a high school freshman. It was only in that moment that I realized the subtlety of the language that had taken my childhood away, that made his power and authority seem to disappear, that created the illusion we were equal, as if we were both adults. “You don’t remember who I am, do you?” he asked. How could he have the nerve to think I might have possibly forgotten? Like nothing had happened between us that would stand to be memorable. But nothing did happen. That’s what I had been telling myself all these years.

“Oh, I remember you,” I said, looking him straight in the eyes. My body started to feel charged, as if my insides were effervescent. I knew this was an important moment and if I didn’t claim it, it would quickly pass me by. Read more…