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Life in the first person

Amy Schumer's booty call epiphany

Amy Schumer: “I say if I’m beautiful. I say if I’m strong. You will not determine my story.’’

Amy Schumer: “I say if I’m beautiful. I say if I’m strong. You will not determine my story.’’

Editor's note: The following is excerpted from a speech that comedian Amy Schumer gave at last week's Gloria Awards and Gala In New York, hosted by the Ms. Foundation for Women.

Right before I left for college, I was running my high school. I knew where to park, I knew where to get the best chicken-cutlet sandwich, I knew which custodians had pot. People knew me. They liked me. I was an athlete and a good friend. I felt pretty, I felt funny, I felt sane.

Then I got to college in Maryland. My school was voted number one — for the hottest freshman girls in Playboy that year. And not because of me. All of a sudden, being witty and charismatic didn't mean s**t. Day after day, I could feel the confidence drain from my body. I was not what these guys wanted. They wanted thinner, blonder, dumber. My sassy one-liners were only working on the cafeteria employees, who I was visiting all too frequently, tacking on not the Freshman 15, but the 30, in record-breaking time, which led my mother to make comments over winter break like, "You look healthy!" I was getting no male attention, and I'm embarrassed to say, it was killing me.

But one guy paid me some attention — Matt. Matt was six feet tall, and he was five years older than me. What? An older boy, paying attention to me? I must be okay. He was a super senior, which is a sexy way of saying "should have graduated, but needed an extra year." He barely spoke, which was perfect for all the projecting I had planned for him.

When I would see him on campus, my heart would race, and I would smile as he passed. I'd look in the mirror and see all the blood rise to my face. I'd spend time analyzing the interaction, and planning my outfit for the next time I saw him. I wanted him to call. He never called. But then finally, he called.

It was 8 a.m., my dorm room phone rang. "Amy, wassup? It's Matt. Come over."

This is it, I thought. He woke up thinking about me! He realized we're meant to start a life together! Will he want to raise our kids Jewish? Who cares?

I shaved my legs in the sink, I splashed some water under my armpits. I ran right over to his place, ready for our day together. What would we do? It's still early enough, maybe we're going fishing? Or maybe his mom's in town, and he wanted me to join them for breakfast. Knock-knock. Is he going to carry me over the threshold? I bet he's fixing his hair and telling his mom, "Be cool, this may be the one!"

Finally, the door opens. It's Matt, but not really. His face is kind of distorted, and his eyes seem like he can't focus on me. "Hey!" he yells, too loud, and gives me a hug, too hard. He's wasted. I'm not the first person he thought of that morning. I wonder, how many girls didn't answer before he got to fat freshman me? But I was here, and I wanted to be held and touched and felt desired, despite everything.

He put on some music, and we got in bed. He smelled like skunk microwaved with cheeseburgers. We tried kissing. His 9 a.m. shadow was scratching my face — I knew it'd look like I had fruit-punch mouth for days after. I felt faceless, and nameless. His fingers poked inside me like they had lost their keys in there. And then came the sex, and I use that word very loosely. His penis was so soft, it felt like one of those de-stress things that slips from your hand.

I looked around the room to try and distract myself. What's on the wall? A Scarface poster, of course. Mandatory. Anything else? That's it? This Irish-Catholic son of bank teller who played JV soccer and did Mathletes feels the most connection with a Cuban refugee drug lord. I want to scream for myself, "Get out of here, Amy. You are beautiful, you are smart, and worth more than this. This is not where you stay."

He's now sleeping and snoring into me. I sigh, I hear my own heartbreak, I fight back my own tears, and then I notice a change in the music. Is this just a bagpipe solo? I shake him awake. "Matt, what is this? The Braveheart soundtrack? Can you put something else on, please?" He wakes up grumpily.

I could feel I was losing myself to this girl in this bed. He stood up and put a new CD on. "Darling, you send me, I know you send me, honest, you do ..." I'm thinking, "What is this?" He crawled back into bed, and tried to mash at this point his third ball into my vagina. He gave up and fell asleep on my breast. His head was heavy and his breath was so sour, I had to turn my head so my eyes didn't water. But they were watering anyway, because of this song. Who is this? The most beautiful love songs I've ever heard play out as this man-boy laid in my arms, after diminishing me to a last-minute booty call.

I listened to the songs and I cried. I was looking down at myself from the ceiling fan. What happened to this girl? How did she get here? I felt the fan on my skin and I went, "Oh, wait! I am this girl! We got to get me out of here!" I became my own fairy godmother. I waited until the last perfect note floated out, and escaped from under him and out the door.

I never heard from Matt again, but felt only grateful for being introduced to my new self, a girl who got her value from within her. I'm also grateful to Matt for introducing me to my love Sam Cooke, whom I'm still with today.

Now I feel strong and beautiful. The people I love, love me. I make the funniest people in the country laugh, and they are my friends. I am a great friend and an even better sister. I am a hot-blooded fighter and I am fearless.

But I did morning radio last week, and a DJ asked, "Have you gained weight? You seem chunkier to me. You should strike while the iron is hot, Amy." In an instant, it's all stripped away. I can be reduced to that lost college freshman so quickly sometimes, I want to quit. Not performing, but being a woman altogether. I want to throw my hands in the air, after reading a mean Twitter comment, and say, "All right! You got it. You figured me out. I'm not pretty. I'm not thin. I'll start wearing a burqa and start waiting tables at a pancake house. All my self-worth is based on what you can see."

But then I think, "F**k that.'' I am not laying in that freshman year bed anymore ever again. I say if I'm beautiful. I say if I'm strong. You will not determine my story — I will. I am not who I sleep with. I am not my weight. I am not my mother. I am myself. And I am all of you, and I thank you.

Amy Schumer's booty call epiphany 05/05/14 [Last modified: Monday, May 5, 2014 4:12pm]

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