Tag Archives: falling in love

Sex with Other People

Dear Readers,

This week has been difficult for me. Upon revisiting an old piece I submitted late last semester, I reviewed my mentor’s notes and they were brutal. Included were comments like: “Most people don’t care about your sex life outside of maybe your blog readers …” combined with overall mark-ups about formatting, incomplete thoughts and ineffective structure. I am getting over this godforsaken flu, though it has been well over 2 weeks, the fatigue is all-consuming. There are other things … I am broke and working all the time.

In the midst of getting the notes and feeling my mental state unravel, my boyfriend broke up with me because he decided he couldn’t make me happy. Jumping on Facebook, someone posted a picture of a dead puppy left in a cardboard box, covered in morning snow, laying next to an overturned water dish and it all came crumbling down. I realize the blog is two months behind so you don’t know the state of things, but let me illustrate the mood here in this messy bedroom on a Tuesday afternoon: I couldn’t read or write, I didn’t eat, I couldn’t get out of bed; I couldn’t shower.

Frank, my roommate, would circle outside my bedroom door and occasionally come in to sit next to me, as I lay curled up under a blanket on the bed with a bag of chips and a bottle of cheap wine. His hand would fall down to my leg and shake. “How are you doing?” he asked.

“I would kill myself but that would require getting out of bed and actually putting an effort into something,” I stated in my typical,  matter-of-fact way. He chuckled.

My boyfriend and I made amends. My new mentor sent brilliant notes for this semester. And just as I opened a clean white page in Google Docs to write this, my old mentor sent a very encouraging note my way: “… it often looks like I’m hardest on the students who I think have the most potential …“

I am waiting to feel better.

I don’t.

This depression is lethal. My fingers are numb. I have slept for four days. My hair is in a greasy ponytail and my lips are chapped. So here I am, about to write more in first-person, more autobiographical material, more about my sex/love life,  more about my story in the hopes that it does mean something. Otherwise, in my mind, I would mean absolutely nothing.

madonna not loved

***

It was November and Michael was spending the night every night now. We had been dating for a couple weeks, and things, as they tend to with me, escalated quickly. He was attentive, genuine, funny, affectionate and by my side every night. And with Michael’s more constant presence, my two roommates, Greg and Frank, both seemed to disappear more and more into their rooms.

In my bedroom, we had an air mattress and three dogs, music playing and weed smoking. We were happy, making out, making love every half hour or so. With my new job, my new place and my new boyfriend, things felt like they were falling into place. I needed that more than anything. Stability, if not the illusion of stability.

Me and Mike in Bed Me and Mike Kiss

‘Lady Marmalade’ from Moulin Rouge came on my Spotify playlist.

“Hold on! Is this what I think it is? …. now, I think it is has appeal, it is contextual, but I think it stands on the platform of the movie. I don’t think it stands on its own,” Michael said, sitting up from my naked torso in bed.

“The song? Are you f***ing kidding me? It’s excellent,” I said.

Standing next to each other in public, it was awkward. Waiters would flirt with me when we were out together at dinner. We simply did not look like a couple. He was small, with the face of a 12-year-old. And, as a tall woman approaching her mid-thirties (who am I kidding, I am in my mid-thirties), my face is thinner and has given me the definition I needed to finally blossom into a good-looking woman.

Me at 21

Me at 21

Side by side, we may pass as brother and sister, aunt and nephew, but never as boyfriend and girlfriend. When we kiss, the waiter’s face drops, the couple at the booth next to us whisper and we shrug. I know it bothers him, but I always tell him it doesn’t matter what they see … only what we see. It is so hard to make it work with someone, why kill a connection over something as silly as age and height?

Michael was looking in my closet door mirror one day. “I mean, look at this … I have a perfect build, good-looking face, and I am stuck in a little boy’s body. Is this some kind of joke? What is God trying to prove. Look at this … it is ridiculous,” he said.

Then there is the issue of age:

“How can you not love Pink Floyd?” I asked in the car.

“If I tell you something will you promise not to get mad? My mom loves Pink Floyd,” he responded.

“Here, let me put on some of y our young people music,” I said, switching the station over to hip hop.

“Oh, [StarFire], you fuddy duddy.”

The age and height seem like natural obstacles, but I ask you to imagine the genders reversed: the female narrator of this story as a 5’4 ft. tall 23-year-old, and the male love interest as a 5’9 ½ tall 34-year-old … would it be that odd now?

Me and Mike Starting Out
My mother once asked me why I don’t date men closer to my age. I have no fucking idea where they are. Sascha and I shared a pitcher of beer the other night and she said, “The guys our age are all married and miserable. That’s why.”

So in my unpacked bedroom, on a mattress thrown among white walls, we laughed, made love and fell in love. One particular night, I started my period and told him it was alright to ejaculate inside of me. In the dark, we made love six or seven times, and I felt the stickiness of blood on his fingers as he held my waist while I sat on top. I am the first to advocate for condoms, though I never use them. I have used them and they are a wonderful prevention tool most of the time, but I have had every brand of condom break on me. Now, I ask questions, hope for honest answers, and feel the push of their skin inside me. The ridge of circumcision slip through. I hear the moan of his voice change. For better or worse, I believe this forms stronger bonds of intimacy with my sexual partners. You rely more on trust. You both agree to danger. And you allow your body to be completely exposed to another human being. There is a primitive bond. Now, when he cums inside of you, everything is taken to the next level; the trust, the danger and the pleasure. I feel everything inside of me grow suddenly more sensitive and if he tells me he is about to cum, I can orgasm almost immediately.

“Have you had unprotected sex with someone else, I mean … since we have been seeing each other?” he asked.

I took a breath in. “Yeah, I have.”

“Was it with someone you knew and trusted?” he asked.

“No, I’m sorry, it wasn’t. I didn’t know him well at all,” I said.

I heard him exhale and I put my hand over my head as we both lay still, totally naked, covered in blood and semen. “I am sorry,” I said again.

“I just don’t know why you didn’t tell me before we had unprotected sex again,” he said.

“I know. That was irresponsible. I am really sorry, there is no excuse,” I said again, still covering my face though I couldn’t see him very well in the dark anyway.

“Well, I am glad you are telling me now, but what the fuck?”

“I know, I know. It was just awkward and I didn’t know how to bring it up or when. There is no excuse,” I repeated.

“Well, don’t feel bad. I just wish you would have told me,” he said.

“I know. I should have. Are you mad? I mean, do you still want to go out?” I asked, like a teenager.

“Yeah, of course,” he said. Then he put his arm around me and tugged me close. “Hey, don’t feel bad about this, ok?” It was odd. No one ever really comforted me before about my sexual exploits.

“I do take your health very seriously, I just was doing whatever I wanted. We weren’t really serious then, and suddenly we were …” I said.

“Hey, it’s ok,” he said again, tucking his cold nose into my neck.

stoperka69-erotisch--dark--4purrz--sexy--hot--sex--Cool-Pics--DJ-TEDI--MWOMAN--meins--solidão--GO-AND-SEE_large

We made love, and he fell asleep. I was unable to sleep, so I would leave the room while he napped and walk out to the living room to finish books for school. I came back in with a cup of tea and casually picked up his phone. I do not make a habit of this, and had he picked up my phone, God knows what he would have found. But at this late hour, this man who just comforted me about unprotected sex with another man was fast asleep and his phone was on my desk. I picked it up and found text messages to a girl (we will call) Donna.

“Are you still coming out to Milwaukee?” Donna wrote.

“Yeah, in a few days and just so you know, I am a sure thing in the sack,” Michael wrote.

“ … you should know I have a UTI. I just don’t want you to be disappointed,” she typed back.

“That’s ok, at least I can take you out to dinner,” he wrote back.

“SURE THING IN THE SACK!?” I bellowed over my cup of tea. Michael stirred over my stained sheets and pillows.

“What?” he said sleepily.

“I see. You were going to go fuck this girl in Milwaukee. Nice, Michael!” I said.

“I couldn’t. She had a UTI,” he said.

“But you are a sure thing in the sack!” I said, and threw the iphone at him. He turned a little so it pelted him in the back, right shoulder blade.

“Come on …” he said, calming, cool.

“FUCK YOU!” I shouted, then slammed the door.

I know it was irrational. I know it was childish. I didn’t care. It was the first ping of jealousy I felt since the summer and it burned. Perhaps even more so with Michael dripping out of me.

moonfountain
Around 3am, I was making soup, reading Nabokov and heard Frank walk in with a friend. “Someone is up …” I heard him say. I slowly climbed out of my wicker, circular chair padded in pillows we picked up from a yard sale. The $50 oval mattress that came with it was discarded after my cats pissed on it one too many times.

“Hey, you are up?” he said.

“Yeah,” I said quietly, looking to see who his escort was.

“This is Jim, I have been wanting you two to meet for some time. This is great,” Frank said. A tall, pale, middle-aged guy strolled in. He spoke in a funny kind of way, fast with a curly whine to the words he chose to emphasize. Sometimes it seemed like he was chewing on his sentences. Introductions were made and Jim settled in with my dogs on the couch. He was a doglover and I was immediately attracted to him. He was also a stand-up comic, in from New York; successful enough to support himself on bi-coastal gigs.

I led the conversation in our kitchen starting with how I agreed that Michael could ejaculate inside of me while on my menstrual flow. I read Jim’s face to see how he would take immediate, intimate conversation and he held it with grace, and a flickering smile. I revisited the story about my sexual partners and how I was honest though hadn’t volunteered the information.

“It was really uncomfortable,” I said.

“Any conversation about sex with other people is uncomfortable. I don’t care who you are,” he said.

“Meanwhile, I am getting these texts from Double T … this rapper I met at a friend’s house a few weeks ago. (please see Hope, Worries and the Cumming of New Times) Michael and I are having our first fight out of this taxi cab coming home from a party in North Hollywood. We made him leave his car but of course, he was the only one who could afford the taxi. As we are getting out, and Michael is struggling for a credit card that goes through, Double T calls me. Now, Double T heard my gripping lecture on how to properly give a blow job so of course, he is interested, but our introduction ended with him asking if I shaved my pussy and I said no. ‘I keep a little to remind myself I am a woman.’ He just walks away. Not even a goodbye.

So he calls me on this random night and I am dealing with grouchy, drunk Michael in this taxi cab, and say, ‘I can’t talk right now. I am with my boyfriend. And you weren’t interested anyway because I didn’t shave my pussy.’ Then I hung up on him.

He continues to text me. (I take out my cell phone) 2:38am: ‘I never said i wasn’t enterested baby i love the way u look and i would love to see u asap … i have all kinds of party favors.

3:21am: ‘You should come suck this big black dick of mine.’

4:56am: ‘What youdoing

7am: ‘Hello’

Isn’t it amazing how dignified a conversation can get over four hours of total silence?” I said.

Jim and Frank laughed.

I returned to the bedroom to make love to Michael. There was no tension, no arguments, barely any words. The room smelled of sweat, blood and semen. I cracked open the window and left him there to fall back asleep.

sexinthedark
“Are you upset about the Donna thing?” he asked.

“No, I just need to blow up about things for a second and then I am over it,” I said.  Walking out of my bedroom, my hair was wild and alive. Jim handed me a cigarette without a word, and we stepped outside.

“You understand while you are fucking this kid, you are handling fine china,” said Jim, holding his hands out like Michael’s glass snowglobe was put back together in our imagination. I nodded, heavily. Everyone wanted to remind me how fragile he was, and how reckless I am. Even this person I just met.

Jim, Frank and I chatted until dawn, about fucking, about comedy, about drugs and dogs. I liked him. It was complicated, you say you want a relationship, you want a guy to always be there, you want someone to love you and be your partner. And then you meet someone fantastic. Someone who effortlessly makes you laugh; whose storytelling holds your attention to the last syllable when you are shaking in the night air holding a dead cigarette. When his eyes fall on you, the vibration to perform shakes from your shoulders down. I liked him. Immediately, I liked him.

That was the first time I had to choose.  There are people out there you will be attracted to you want to make love to, maybe for a night, maybe for a weekend, maybe for a year. There are people out there you could fall in love with. Hell, there is a man or two out there I might still be in love with. In the end, you need to choose the man who will give you the best life. The man you can love, and make love to and share in some kind of life you want. A life that relies on hope and daydreams, laughter and discovery, trust and fidelity- not just with the body but with the mind and soul. You can’t share that kind of faith with more than one person, you have to choose. You must invest. Otherwise, it becomes just an affair. Another fragile, temporary, tragic affair. I choose Michael. At least for right now, my life is Michael.

I went back into the room and fell asleep with my boyfriend.

Michael and my dog Brad

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Beginnings.

It is hard to decide when someone you are calling on someone for sex or for company. Well, it is hard for me since I assume every man I am with prefers the former. After Abe, my boyfriend of two years, broke up with me a few days before his cousin’s wedding, and a few weeks after agreeing to move in with me, I had officially given up. Maybe it wasn’t official. There was still Huck, who I fell head over heels for at writing school for the week residency in June.

In between, I had several small love affairs with European men while in France. In Washington, I had a few one night stands, one that was a little more, mostly with younger men … less charming men. When you are a single woman and you really harness spontaneity, the short-lived spark of a moment and the sweet surrender of pleasure … you don’t go so hard for the hunt of a mate. I am sure when my body starts aging I will feel differently, but right now I feel as if I have unlocked the secret of being a man.

hollywood stones

The Hollywood Stones, the Rolling Stones cover band, I followed and adored through the outskirts of Los Angeles county, were playing in Orange County. Abe lived in Orange County and I thought it a good opportunity to see him again. We kissed goodbye in spring, before I left for France and spent the summer in Washington. Last thing I heard from him was a text: “I read your blog. I am so glad you had so much time to write all those things down!”

I wrote back, “Oh, you must have read about Huck.” He didn’t respond and I didn’t press. The man disappears when its convenient and only ever really reaches out on holidays or when he visits his grandfather’s grave.

My fear with reconnecting with him in person was that I would fall back in love with him and resume a love affair that would go absolutely nowhere. Old habits die hard.

Down to Orange County I went with my two roommates, Gary and Frank. We still were on a coke binge of some kind, there was plenty left or plenty more bought … I wasn’t sure. We did several lines and arrived to Harvey’s Steakhouse in Huntington Beach blitzed, riding in on the white pony. Frank wanted to order a steak and some nice liquor. That is part of who he is. Gary was just along for the ride, he couldn’t find a job, had no money and didn’t talk very much. There was a balance between Frank and Gary- they both enjoyed each other’s company while I was away at work but when it came to serious issues like finances and forgotten children, I was the one they spoke to.

At Harvey’s, it was my first time seeing the band since I was kicked out of an outdoor concert in Sherman Oaks for dancing too wildly and (supposedly) not wearing any underwear, which is total bullshit by the way. I made contact with the band via Facebook. They already recognized me from dancing on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, at the Brixton in Redondo Beach and definitely when I was asked to leave by police at the Earth Day concert in Sherman Oaks. The band promised me a t-shirt and gift bag the next time I saw them in concert, afterall,  they found my dancing to be “inspirational”. I should state here many people think I am on drugs when I dance, the truth is no one can really dance like I do drunk or on drugs. It would be physically impossible to dance that long and hard. From the first note to the last, I keep going.  When I dance, it is with every drop of heart and soul. Most people love it, some people hate it. That seems to be the case with most things though …

Halloween Hollywood Stones 2

I was nervous because I really wanted to this cover band to like me, we hadn’t ever spoken in person. Once, I spoke to the lead guitarist after their St. Patrick’s Day performance on the Queen Mary. “Are you in a relationship?” I asked.

“Of course. Aren’t you?”

“No, he couldn’t commit,” I said.

“Well, I have heard that one before,” he said.

“Midnight Rambler, please?” I always ask.

“We only had til midnight. Not this time,” he said.

bill wyman
Since that night in April, they have closed with Midnight Rambler to every show I have ever attended. Is it because of my request that night? I don’t really know. Once I hear the dripping, heavy harmonica, I scream. The women on the dance floor flop around as if Dick Swagger’s (that is the name of the lead singer) lips are blowing directly on the globular bud tucked away safe between their legs. Even the least attractive drunk finds the rhythm of sex during that song, and in the beat we share that rhythm together. Once in awhile I will look up and see all the women surrounding me in the dark, as the drum and guitar catch up to the clacking, bluesy voice steaming out of the harmonica. It is a beautiful sight.

Dick Swagger
This particular night, I did not invite Michael to join me. Michael was the boy I was sexually involved with. He was on my mind, but I didn’t want to be confused with him and Abe in the same place, at the same time. And I didn’t want to make it awkward for them. I will freely admit I keep the men I loved on a string partly because I don’t know how to give up on love and partly because it eases the ache of rejection. It always seems nicer to stay in touch- nicer and more confusing.

We arrived, our pupils large and black. I was in a red and black tutu Frank bought me with a Freddy Krueger hat Alia set on fire and stomped on to make more authentic. I also had the token Freddy glove. I was running out of money and had to stick with what I knew. Put on some glitter knee high socks, converse and a ripped ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ shirt and voila! StarFire failsafe. Girl Kreuger. (I love “Nightmare on Elm Street”)

Halloween Hollywood Stones 1

The band came on with the music before Abe arrived. Abe is always late. He is also always stoned. I dragged Frank to the floor and it only took a few seconds before other people stormed up to join us, like it was the beginning of a revolution. That is usually the case. It only takes one. The problem was the cocaine was making my heart palpitate. It was difficult dancing, because I when I go, I go hard. I thought if hard core bands like Led Zeppelin or the Stones can go on and perform shows high on coke, I should be able to dance for a couple hours.  After the first song, I could feel myself get dizzy and wondered if I would pass out. I kept going. No matter what my body is telling me, no matter how hard my feet and thighs are screaming “Stop!” or my lungs and heart burn, the music keeps me in motion.

Frank was mixing his cocaine with xanax, and after a few days that makes him funny. In this case, it started when I refused to dance with him to ‘Time is on My Side’. I shook him off. “I never dance with other people,” I said. He looked hurt, then offended, then indignant. The xanax was bringing out that aggression. He would dance close, or get close to the guitarist and nod his head heavily or block out some other schmuck trying to dance with me. The guitarist would look at him, then at me, trying to piece together what to do.

cocaine lover

“Ya’ll got … cocaine eyes …” I sang to him. I flicked my fingers over my eyes with the line. He doesn’t remember. That is the problem with doing too many drugs, they make you act like an asshole but rob you of the memory. You can’t learn, reflect or empathize. You let something else take over your body for a period of time. A monster maybe. A machine. Something that wasn’t Frank. He stopped every once in awhile on the dance floor to hold his head, shake and scream. Men pulled their girlfriends away. Xanax only ever makes me blackout, but that night it sucked my friend’s soul away.

coke clown
Abe arrived and once I saw him I felt my smile. I rushed over to him in between sets and greeted him.

“I know I am late,” he said.

“$8 cover charge,” the man at the front said.

“There is a cover?” he said, annoyed.

“Well, you should have come early and got in on our table. That is the price you pay for being tardy,” I said.

He stretched out his eyes just before stretching out his wallet and pulled out a $20 bill he never worked for. He got the change back and I asked him to dance with me. He wouldn’t. He still claims the band hates him … which makes no sense. “I haven’t been really doing anything, except discovering the secrets of the universe,” he said. Floating in a cloud of THC and family money can make you believe anything about yourself.

At Harvey’s, the band is afforded three sets and the third is always the best because they throw in all my favorites “Sympathy for the Devil”, “Miss You”, once “I’ve Got the Blues”, “19th Nervous Breakdown”, “Monkey Man”, “Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’”. It is the bluesier set. They also have a saxophonist. He is an older guy, we spoke outside during a break.

“We really appreciate seeing someone who shares the same level of enthusiasm in the music we have.”

I blushed. “To dance to a live saxophone on ‘Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’ is a dream come true. Thank you!”

A guy came out of the club and looked me up and down, “Whatever you do in life, dress like that every day.”

“Thanks,” I said flatly.

“You must have had a lot of drinks to dance like that,” he said.

“Not really. I am their groupie,” I said.

“Well, I am a groper,” he returned. I snarled my upper lip and turned away. Charmed.

The saxophonist smiled. He was cool, in his 50s, wearing down from the late nights and lungs full for brass. He leaned against a post outside the corner Orange County steakhouse and smiled away from me.

“Do you smoke?” I asked.

“Not cigarettes,” he said. I smiled and nodded. I was still shy with the band. It wasn’t because I wanted anything from them, certainly not sex. The majority of the band is over the age  of 45. I just wanted (and still want) them to like me.

Before the third set, one of the guitarists approached me with a gift bag. “We designed the shirt just for you,” he said. I blushed, though you couldn’t notice from how red my face was. The cocaine softened in my system, and I was drinking one goblet of water after another.

I pulled out a red tank top with a completely lace back. There was a card and a pin. I thanked him and loosely hugged him, worried my sweat might stick to his. “You should come and hang out with us in between sets,” he said.

“I don’t want to bother you. I know you are in the zone and everything.”

“Don’t feel that way, please. Feel free to stop by for a conversation and talk to us.”

Halloween Hollywood Stones
When the third set came around, Gary was hanging by the table or outside with Abe chatting. Abe would never come back on the dance floor. Frank did come back in, sipping something out of a small glass, “They are talking about probiotics and bananas out there,” he said. I laughed but kept far enough away to watch him, as he teetered against the wall in a black fog. He wouldn’t remember any of this in the morning.

I wouldn’t leave the music for Gary or Abe outside. I wouldn’t leave the music with the waves of nausea and exhaustion bursting from my overworked, pumping heart. The saxophonist was done for the night and blocked Frank from getting too close to me on the dance floor, first by the restrooms then closer to the bar with his single drink. I danced to the last note and the lead guitarist saw me after the show. “Get home safe tonight,” he said, glancing towards Frank. I nodded and smiled, brushing my hand against the vintage, velvet sleeve.

I said goodbye to Abe, who I barely saw that night and then tried to drive all three of us home. Frank passed out in the passenger side and I told Gary I was going to throw up. “Can you drive?” I asked.

“Sure, I just don’t know where I am going,” he said.

“Follow the navigation on my phone,” I said, cueing it up for him.

In the back seat, I fell down on a cloud of cocaine, and several glasses of water with no food in my stomach. I felt the car come to a start and heard Gary whine, “I don’t know where I am going.”

In my motherly voice, “Do you need me to take over?” I asked.

“Sorry, [StarFire]” he said.

I got in the driver’s seat and consulted the navigation to find out we were in Long Beach, that is the opposite direction of Glendale. Gary wasn’t too bright. “I am going to throw up so can you find a plastic bag back there?” I asked.

I heard him rustle and then give up after 20 seconds.

“No plastic bag?” I asked.

“No, sorry,” he said.

So I pulled over and vomited up about two liters of water. Frank woke up out of his deep snooze and rubbed my back, but I was in no mood. I shook him off and puked once inside the car just to make a statement. Yeah it was my car, so what kind of statement I don’t know. Then I drove us home. “Two grown men in the car and no one can help me get home …” I said. Gary apologized again, but Frank was back to snoring.

The next morning, I woke up Frank with two cups of tea and sat on the floor of his bedroom.

“Do you remember last night?” I asked.

“I um … remember some of it but most it is lost, I have to be honest,” he said.

“You have to stop taking the xanax,” I said. “It was bad last night. Really bad.”

“I could say some things about you but I am going to hold back,” he said. It hurt to have the talk so he threw that out once then twice. “There are some things I could say about you, but I am not going to right now.”

“Ok, this is about you and you were out of control last night. I was embarrassed. You need to stop,” I said, staring at him.

“I heard your peace,” he said, sipping his tea. “Should I expect tea every morning from you?” His smile crept up between blowing the steam off the top.

What resonated with Frank was my refusal to slow dance with him. “I have just never seen anyone go that ga–ga over a cover band. I mean, they aren’t the Stones, they are a cover band!”

My friend Jerry was over for this particular conversation and said, “When [StarFire] dances, she dances with the band.”

“You’re telling me,” Frank said, giggling over his disappointment. “You can go see them again, but I am done with that band. I don’t need to see that again.”

“Great,” I said, “No man ever wants to just dance with me to the Stones.”

“Honey, not like that,” he said, before taking a long, sip of coffee.

**

A few days later I recovered most of my things from a storage unit in Orange County. Abe helped me, and as he gathered my things out of his garage and packed up my car, I flirted with him. I stood close and tried to kiss him on the mouth. “What is wrong with you?” he asked.

“I am just so God damn attracted to you,” I said, grabbing his hips.

He was awkward about those kind of things. He laughed and pulled away, regrouped and verbally planned out how to pack up my car. I leaned against the hood of my car and propped my leg up. He laughed and walked away. He smelled of cigarettes and laundry detergent. He was exactly the same. Nothing had changed in him.

When we got to my storage unit, we packed up both our cars to drive back to Glendale (which was over an hour in rush hour traffic).  I thought about whether or not I wanted to have sex with him. I thought about what it would mean. Would I go back to mooning over him? False hope about a relationship? False comfort? I really didn’t want to go back. The hardest part of seeing him again was resisting the urge to fall back in love, and it took me like a stranglehold. He was nice, he was attractive, awkward, calm, all the things I loved about him though I knew he had nothing more to give me.  To this day, sitting here in my bedroom with another man’s smell on my pillows and blanket, it still makes me sad.

I thought about Michael. I knew I made love to him twice and he was inexperienced enough to be vulnerable about my other partners. If I had sex with Abe would I have to tell him? Was I capable of leaving him for Abe? God, how could I live with myself?.

Those pristine blue eyes under the shadows of his severe eyebrows brought me in again. “We cast a spell on each other,” he said once.

We got back to the apartment in Glendale and unloaded most of my stuff from storage. Abe smoked out Gary and the two seemed to get along well. They were both in a nonsense world with minimal responsibility. That said, they both helped me when they could. Gary would walk the dogs and do the dishes. Abe unpacked my things and set up an air mattress my boss loaned me.

Abe and Gary
When the lights went out and the house outside my bedroom door settled, I wondered if I would have sex with Abe again. I wanted to, but it felt like the wrong thing to do. “If we had sex, I am afraid you would lose your mind again,” he said. I laughed. “Me too.”

It is hard loving someone partly with your soul, but completely with your body. I laid down and he played some music on my computer. I asked him to rub my back and I fell asleep with his warm hands on my back and legs. In the middle of the night, I woke up to him climbing out of bed with me, still fully clothed. “I have to go home now,” he whispered.

“Stay,” I groaned, grasping at the air.

“I can’t,” he said. And that was the last I saw of him.

***

It wasn’t long before I was back in Frank’s closet, snorting a few more lines. As long as it was there, the three of us, Gary, Frank and me, kept going, playing music, sweating, roaming, circling in and out like a merry-go-round.

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Somewhere earlier in the day, another ping rung out from my phone. It was from Huck again: “Miss you.. im comi gng to lax in december. I cant waieoq.” I screamed and dropped my phone again. I looked down at my black phone on the floor frozen. Then I screamed again.

“What …?” Frank asked. I read him the message. It was unlike Huck to misspell words, so I assumed he was drunk. Later I found out it was written by his girlfriend at the time. After reading the words aloud, Frank leaned back, “Tell him Super Shuttle is $13.”

I laughed and picked up my phone. “What … the .. fuck?”

“Seriously, if you bring him back here during residency, I will knock his block off. And I am serious,” he said.

“I would never … ever … TOUCH him again!” I said.

“Ok,” he said sing-song. “Just don’t bring him back here.”

*

I hadn’t heard much from Michael, he was still at a cool distance. I texted him: “What are you doing tonight?”

“Hanging out with my best friend [StarFire]” he wrote.

A few lines of fairy dust were swept into a small baggie with a make-shift straw I kept sticking out of the top. Instead of laying down lines on a mirror or surface, I would just snort directly out of the bag. There wasn’t much, not to justify what a junkie I can be. It is just a moment. A dance in time. It would be over soon enough and I would be back to work.

“Should I ask where you are going?” Frank asked.

“No,” I said finishing up the line he cut for me before rushing out the door. “Dogs are walked and fed. See you in the morning.”

*

I showed up to Michael’s house in Pasadena. He was the only tenant on the bottom floor. His room had a bed, a massage chair, a computer and a dresser, all in black or white decor. He greeted me as I walked in, “So I have champagne, chocolate soy ice cream, mango soy ice cream, wine and vegan almond squares.”

“Oh my, you have been reading my blog,” I said, delighted. I sat down eyeing the champagne first.

“But first I would like to take you out to dinner. Anywhere you would like to go,” he said, smiling.

“That’s ok, you don’t have to do that,” I said, popping open the champagne myself.

He slowly nodded, trying to understand what that meant. “I am not very hungry,” I continued, opening my little baggie and taking a whiff of dust. I felt his hands on my shoulder, he was short but I loved the way he touched me. The weight of his hands fell around my shoulders, and I felt his breath on the back of my neck as I snorted. Snorting cocaine excites men, which I never understood since it seems like such dirty business.

cocaine street art

When I was done, I felt the heat of his body pull away from behind. “You wanna go smoke a cigarette?” he asked. I smiled and nodded. Outside, there was a fire pit of sorts, surrounded by old, rotten couches and a stand alone fridge, stocked with beer. Plenty of young men occupied the house, but I rarely saw them. It was dark and cold, but the fire was going and the hot tobacco warmed me up.

“So I got a message from Huck, remember Huck from my blog? He wrote me ‘Miss you. I am coming to LAX in December. Can’t wait to see you.’ I mean, what the fuck? Who does this? Who breaks someone’s heart and then pulls strings afterward? I wouldn’t do that. If I hurt someone as much as he hurt me, I wouldn’t go near them again just for sex or whatever he wants. Its not fair.”

“You know what you sound like? Someone who had their heart broken,” Michael said.

I blew out some steam and then allowed him to light a second cigarette. “You know there aren’t other girls like you?” he said. “You know that, right?” I hung my head heavily to the side. It is a beautiful thing to say but I didn’t know how to respond without sounding arrogant or self-deprecating.

“You are a beautiful woman, you are a great writer, I love those blogs. I don’t read very much but it is easy for me to read your writing. That says a lot. It keeps me interested. You have a, you know, good head on your shoulders. And you are great in bed. What more do you need?” he said.

“I would like to be funny,” I said, smiling through the burn and the darkness. “You are,” he said.

I knew the kid was holding me up high. The blog is a monster because I refine my life and bring out my best and worst moments to be a character. There is a human under the witty banter, the drugs, the adventures and the sex. The human is always less appealing than the character. He would find out who I was, eventually, but for that moment in time I wanted to be his fantasy. Those are always the best parts of my relationships. The beginnings.

We spent the entire night making love. Sex would last a few minutes; the groaning, the sweat, the sloppy ecstasy before a quick end. Then it would start back up all over again. In between sessions, we would talk. I was out of coke but forgot about it. There was no come down, there was no aggravation, no rustle for the last few drops of white powder.  He made me laugh and my withdrawal vanished.

“Here, let me play some music for you,” he said, pulling up his Pandora.

“The Diva channel? Really, Michael. I don’t know what straight guy has Celine Dion and Cher as a channel,” I said.

“Why not?” he squeaked. We played some music and talked about more music. He knew more about 80s music and culture than I did, which still baffles me since he was born in 1989. He must have spent a lot of time alone as a child.

“You are cold as ice, willing to sacrifice our love …” he sang.

“You know who sings that?” I asked.

“Yeah, Foreigner.”

“No, really.”

“Look it up.”

I got on his computer at the desk parallel to his bed and pulled up ‘Cold as Ice’ by the Chipmunks. “See? It wasn’t Foreigner, it was the Chipmunks.” I pressed play and made him listen to Alvin, Simon and Theodore harmonize. He laughed with his whole body. I watched him lay in bed with a perfect upper torso, black hair trailing down his stomach to his plump cock, and the laughter tighten around the muscles in his abdomen. He had a high pitched laugh, but it wasn’t feminine. It sounded like the squealing of tires and made me feel brilliant every time I cracked a joke. It also created that bubbling sensation in my sternum, the possibility of love or what I know of love.

“Suggested videos from the Chipmunks is ‘West Side Story’” I said, clicking over to a medley of songs. “Maria”, “When You’re a Jet”, “America”, “Cool” all played, and I sang them almost word for word.

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“How do you know all the words?” he asked.

“I am a fan,” I said, shrugging my shoulders.

“You want to see my impression of ‘West Side Story’? Eh, my name is Tony and Chino killed me. Oh…” he said in fast, low thug voice. I cackled. He does quick and silly impressions of people and movies. It is one of my favorite things about him.

“Uh oh, looks like someone is drunk Facebooking,” I said, rolling over his computer. “‘I wish people wouldn’t tell me how to raise my kid, go to hell!’ is her status update. Let’s review the events of the night and see what brought her there. Two hours ago ‘What a beautiful night, I am blessed!’ Uh oh, only two hours ago? What happened? One hour ago “Why does my life have to be so difficult? Because of the men I choose to share it with. When will I learn?’ Ok, so in the last two hours she had a bad conversation with the father of her child, I guess, and chased it with a bottle of wine. I love it. I am a pro at drinking and Facebooking.”

“And we love you for it,” he said. His soft brown eyes always looked glazed over. All the years I had known Michael it never occurred to me we would have a chemistry. You would think there would be a tingle, a moment of recognition, a hint of some kind that this person could make you fly with a kiss.

“I will get a dog. A dog with three legs is like … cool. A dog with two legs is like, ooooh, I really love that dog. A dog with no legs and just wheels is heaven!” he said. “That’s my goal, to get a dog with no legs,” he said smiling. Sometimes he would sit up on his bed and face me, as I nursed the bottle of champagne and then the bottle of red from his desk. Other times he laid back. We had made love four times, but were both wide awake.

dog with legs 0.jpg

“Tell me your deepest, darkest secret,” he said.

“Why?”

“Just to do it, why not?” he asked.

“Because I am having a good time. I don’t want to change the tone. Do you have a secret you want to share?” I asked.

“Not really,” he said. I crawled on the bed to fit in the nook of his arm. When we laid side by side, I could feel encased by him. I could look up to him and feel smaller, pocketed, loved the way I was used to. Standing up, I felt like the Jolly Green Giant.

“Did I tell you about the time I tried to kill myself?” he asked.

“No,” I said, softly.

“I feel like I did. How they had to pump my stomach with charcoal,” he continued.

“I feel like I would have remembered that. What led up to that decision?”

“I was 15 and my Mom had this snowglobe. My grandmother gave it to her and she just died. I accidentally broke it. When she found out she screamed ‘I hate you!’”

WinterSnowGlobe
“That’s terrible … but is that all?” I said. “Not to take anything away from you but … was that all that happened?”

“Yeah. That was it,” he said. I realized then how fragile he was. “My childhood wasn’t great. Kids were mean to me. I let them be mean to me but it still sucked. One time I let them set me on fire.”

“Oh my God,” I said again. “Did you get badly burned?”

“Yeah, that was horrible. I had to pull my sweatshirt over my head,” he said. I realized why he was attracted to me, why he loved the blog so much. He thought we connected because we suffered in the same way, but we all suffer, and all in different ways.

“How were your parents?” I asked.

“Well, my father died. Did I tell you that? I thought I did,” he said.

“No, stop saying that you told me these things because it makes me feel like I am not paying attention. I would remember stuff like suicide and dead father.”

“Yeah, he died when I was 19,” he said.

“I am sorry.”

“No big deal, he was barely around at that point,” he said, lightly. The eyes made sense now; the loss, the burning desire to rescue paraplegic dogs and fuck me. I put my arm over his chest. “My grandfather died, his funeral is next weekend so I will be out of town.”

“Oh, I am sorry about that, too,” I said.

“We weren’t close. No big deal.”

“It might be good to go back and settle business before you move back to Milwaukee,” I said.

“Maybe I won’t move back,” he said.

“Oh,” I said. In fact, I can’t remember what I said but I felt my heart stop and a chill freeze my blood. He was going to stay because of me. “It sounds like you have a pretty solid plan though.”

“Not really. I just thought I could go back there for a change, but I can do all the things I was going to do over there here.”

“What about school? You were going to be a vet tech?”

“Field animal observation. I can do that anywhere. I was looking at Glendale Community College. I can get free tuition in California,” he said.

“Well, you know my feelings on Milwaukee so, I think that would be a better life for you to stay. Just make sure you are doing it for the right reasons,” I said.

“I will,” he sighed, holding me closer, blowing into my rustled head of hair.

It was around this time I crawled down and gave him a blow job- not because I was in love but because I knew it would impress him. I also knew it wouldn’t take too long. Afterward, with the moaning and praise, he said, “I never knew it could be this way. That was the best head I’ve ever had.”

“Well, you are only 23,” I said.

“No, sex with you is on some other level. I can’t explain it. I never have had sex like this before,” he said.

“Well, I am probably more experienced than the other girls you have been with. That’s all.”

“When you touch me, there is an electricity,” he said, covering his face with his forearm. His skin was so milky white in contrast to his black hair. He almost looked like a sculpture of a Roman soldier I admired in the courtyards of Paris- with the prominent nose, the robust physique, the marble-like complexion. I wiped my mouth and crawled back into the crevice of his arm singing ‘I Feel Pretty’. We agreed to turn on “West Side Story” and fell asleep to it. I woke up to Maria crying over Tony and muttered in a morning voice, “She was so good in this movie …”

“Yeah” he sighed, holding me up for a morning kiss. We made love a few more times before agreeing to go to breakfast.

The only place I could think to go was the vegan place in Los Feliz  Abe and I used to regularly go called Green Leaves. It is all vegan, vegan pancakes with vegan chicken and vegan eggs. We came in together and the usual waiter recognized me, looked at Michael and smiled. I shamelessly sat down with a head of hair that was tossed in a hundred different directions during a hundred different positions.

“I am not going to push you, but I want you to know at some point I am going to ask to be in a relationship with you. I want you to be my girlfriend. It doesn’t have to be now, but I want to talk to you about it later,” he said.

I nodded, “Ok.”

“I am not sure how you are feeling but I have feelings for you,” he said.

“I am having feelings too, but I am not looking for a relationship right now. Things have been going really well with this whole casual approach thing I am doing. It is hard to be in a relationship with someone like me,” I said. “Let’s just leave it at ‘We can do whatever we want.’”

“Well, I would like to try. Like I said, let that sit. We can talk about it later,” he said, casually picking up a menu. And just like that, my heart was dragged back under by a 23-year-old from Milwaukee. His mother was going to kill me.

Michael at green Leaves

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Once Upon a Time, a Marine Met an Orphan

In the month of July, my parents tried living with me in harmony. All three of us tried. I woke up and would have a cup of coffee waiting for me. My mother fed the dogs before sunrise. It was difficult spending time around them. There were no real conversations between us, just the company.

My Mother scratched and rubbed herself like a neurotic toy poodle licking patches of fur off from boredom, and my Father barely heard a word I said. If I ever brought up my writing, they would ask me, again, what the subject of my school writing was. It must have been about fifteen times I reminded them, “It is about falling in love in 7 days.” They waved it off. Its not that I cared what they thought about me- it was just the silence that had me losing my mind, sitting around in silence.

I told them I wanted to write about their love story. They asked me not to, but were more than happy to sit outside with me one afternoon and take me through the first year together. Usually, I respect the privacy of those who ask me not to write about them. However, the respect for my parents has plummeted and to get through the murk of my love life and my family- I feel it is my right to blog it so I can rid myself of it all. It is the only way I know how to cope:

My father was around the age of 20 when he met my mother. He worked for the Marines Corp in the barracks on the weekends, burying dead soldiers from Vietnam. I had never known he worked at the barracks before being deported to the war. He always was impatient with me when I didn’t know something, “Yeah! I would watch mothers weep over their dead sons and ask, ‘Why did he die? ‘Why wasn’t it you?’ The answer was the same, every time. I don’t know.” He shrugged, seeing their faces in his memory.


My mother was around 23 when she was working for the Navy, handling travel invoices and expenses. She would call over to the Marine barracks every so often asking for the travel diaries of soldiers and spoke to my Father.  She thought he was rude at first but worked with “a black man” who said my Dad was alright. He was an “aristocrat.”

The “black guy”, lets call him James, wanted to learn how to bowl, so he asked my Mom, a woman named Kathy and my Father out to bowling one afternoon. They spent the afternoon at Kathy’s, who my father described as having “big blue eyes, attractive and soft”. My Mother assumed that my Father was interested in Kathy as they were both attractive. My Father has blue-green eyes and looks like a blend of Alan Alda and Clint Eastwood; tall, squinty, dark. My Mother never considered herself attractive, though in older pictures she looks cute- a round face, short, wavy black hair and a signature mole on the side of her face. If you have ever seen Olympia Dukakis, you have a pretty clear picture of what my mother looks like. Now her nose is more prominent, her skin creased heavily and her hair thinning and fading into grey. She dyes it auburn, but it looks fake, like someone is dressing up a dying plant with plastic ornaments.

The city of Boston in the late 60s

My Mom and Dad got in a conversation at Kathy’s one afternoon about how they wanted to travel and see the world before settling down. She dismissed the day, thinking she would never really see him again. He called over from the barracks and was friendlier to her over the phone. They started chatting and she invited him over to her family’s house for dinner. They both claim this wasn’t romantic, but I just don’t know how it couldn’t have been. If a woman asks a man over for dinner, even now, it would be construed as romantic. They both insisted it was innocent, my Mother just didn’t want him to be lonely. My Father was anything but lonely, he was seeing a handful of women in the Boston area and had a few back home in Milwaukee as well.

My Father went over to my Mother’s house, where there were several Italian relatives, all eager to get in my Father’s face. My Mother likes to describe this part of her life like a Cinderella-fantasy; she was brought in from the orphanage at age 13, moving in with her Aunt after 7 years of growing up in a Catholic Home for Children. She was considered the ugly one, and was forced to clean up after her evil step-sisters. When my Father arrived to dinner in his Marine uniform, the girls fawned over him and my Great Aunt served him plate after plate of food, trying to sell her daughters on him. My Mother’s step-brother, Louis, kept drinking anisette and coffee, then pouring shot after shot in his coffee, telling my Father to show her “who is a man”.

 


Louis is my favorite relative on my Italian side. We call him “Big Lou”. He is sarcastic, loves watching Jag, chain smokes and has a very dry sense of humor. My mother claims he is the only one from that family who is kind to her. I like him because he is honest and funny, the two kind of go hand in hand.

My Father thought it would be rude to refuse all the food and drink, so he kept eating and drinking. They “overwhelmed” him, with conversation, affection and more food. When he talks about it, he smiles. He liked the attention, he liked being fawned over. He grew up in a house where he rotated fathers every few years- the first hung himself in a mental institution, the second was an alcoholic, the third a German nudist, the fourth . . . do I remember the fourth? Then there was the one I knew, Grandpa Harry. Grandpa Harry was the best relative, probably because there is no relation between us. He wasn’t infected with my bloodline. He was the kind one, the funny one, the one who gave me my first dog and didn’t use affection as a tool. Of course, he was the first to die, but isn’t that the way it goes?

It was earlier in that week, back home in July, when my Father said he lucked out by never knowing his biological father. When he was 5 years-old, his father, a cop, was in a motorcycle accident. He never really emotionally recovered from the head injuries, came home, then left again to admit himself in a mental health hospital. There is controversy here- some say he died from a broken neck during electroshock therapy, the underlying truth is he hung himself. At least he left his family’s home to do it . . .


I grew up thinking that Ray Sr., my biological grandfather, was a saint, pushed to the brink by a neurotic and over-demanding housewife (my grandmother). No one ever really said anything negative about him, not my Father or Mother, nor any of the relatives I casually mixed with in Milwaukee. As far as I knew he was a good guy and my Dad lost a great father who would have held the family together.

While washing dishes after breakfast one morning, my Father said he had it easier than his two older brothers- “My father was Old Germanic. He raised the others to chew their food 12 times before swallowing. He was strict. To the day he died, (Uncle) Ronny chewed his food 12 times before he swallowed. And your Grandmother just made people feel bad about themselves to control them, that’s all she ever did.”

“Really?” I said, staring hard at him. I wondered if he could tell from my tone that he has fallen into the same parental habits. My Father keeps my self-esteem low to control me, that is nothing new. He doesn’t want me to feel smart, or capable or attractive. He wants me to live in doubt so I keep close. The further I have grown from them, the stronger my self-confidence. Staring out the kitchen window, my father rinsed off his plate, “Yeah, you know,” he shrugged, “That’s who she was.” He didn’t connect that he was repeating the pattern. Can I blame him? Can I hold it against him? Maybe I shouldn’t, but I do. All the crazy from my Mother’s childhood in an orphanage and my Father’s childhood as the youngest son of a dead police officer was now on my plate, for me to sort through and repair. As my Dad rinsed off his plate, mine was still dirty from falling for the wrong men and never establishing the support I needed to be healthy and happy. Maybe they made it better before it got here, maybe they worked on more issues so I would never see the darkness, but it didn’t matter, because I inherited their poison.

***

During their courtship, my Father went over to my Mother’s house for supper twice then asked her out to the American Club, I think that is what he called it, they dined on pizza and beer and, he said, he really liked her. He thought she was the most thoughtful person in her family and was the most disregarded. “I could relate to that.”


“They treated her like a housekeeper,” my Father said, “And they would put her down while I was sitting right there at the table.”

“And he used to hold my hand under the table, I remember that,” my Mother said.

“Then she drove me to work almost every morning, I will never forget that. She was always there, waiting for me,” he said, smiling at her revealing a missing tooth near the back of his jaw. Its void bothers me.

In January of that year, my Father stopped seeing the girl in Boston, the girl in Milwaukee and a few exes back home. He was focused on her now, just before being drafted to the Vietnam War. Now, I was raised to believe he enlisted in the war, but that isn’t entirely true, he enlisted in the Marines, worked at the barracks part-time and was then forced to go overseas to fight. He was chosen to deport for three reasons, he explained:

1) My Father worked for someone in the Corps named Olivier, who was described as a womanizer, seedy, even slimy. Despite all these heavy adjectives thrown to me over my parent’s patio table, my Mother went on a date with Olivier once and, she claimed, he spiked her drink. My Mother managed to get home with her honor intact but when Olivier found out she was dating my Father, he started saying bad things about her. Dad walked into his office and said, “What are you saying about [her]?”

“I haven’t said anything,” he said.

“Tell me what you have been saying about her.”

Olivier was silent.

“If I hear you ever say anything about her again, I am going to fucking kill you.”

My Mother was delighted with this part of the story and started circling both her middle fingers on the underside of her chair’s armrest. Both middle fingers made delicate small circles in synchronicity. Something was oddly erotic about the fidget, not that she herself was erotic (trust me, far from it), it was the little quirk of it that seemed odd to me.

2) One afternoon, my Father got drunk at a bar with a group of the other soldiers. One of the soldiers, named Sully, said something off-the-cuff, something “cocky” my Father doesn’t remember. “It wasn’t his fault and wasn’t a big deal, but I beat the shit out of him. I took him in the stairwell and beat him pretty badly,” my Father said.

I was silent. My Mother smiled and circled her middle fingers in those small orbs, while thinking back on it.


“They had to pull me off. The next day, he even had black and blue marks on his neck from choking him,” my Father said.

“Why would you do that?” I finally asked. “Why would you choke someone on a stairwell until people had to pull you off?”

“Oh, you know, I was just angry in general. It had nothing to do with him,” my Father kind of chuckled, sipping his cheap, red wine.

People in the barracks got to talking and they thought my Father was crazy. That’s a fucking shocker.

“Later Sully came back for his final check, and your Mother was in charge of the accounts, so she made him wait for his check all day. He had to sit there for six hours. She was just being loyal to me,” he laughed.

“But didn’t you say you beat him up over nothing important. Why would she punish him?” I asked.

“Because she was just being loyal to me!” my father said, impatiently, as if I was too stupid to get it. My Mother smiled through her sunglasses and nodded.

“I am sorry, you beat the shit out of this guy, left marks on his neck from strangling him and Mom punished him by withholding his check all day. I don’t get it. You were in the wrong.”

“She was just loyal to me, it didn’t matter to her,” he said, waving his hand at me. She smiled, again, and nodded, quietly. Oh, how they shared the darkness.

3) The third reason my Father thinks he was shipped off to Vietnam was because the Colonel caught him nursing a cup of coffee in his pocket during a burial at the barracks. “He thought it was disrespectful,” my Father said, tossing his head and hand in the air as if to wave it off. Was he waving off the flies or me? It probably was disrespectful, but it is a young man’s mistake.

“So when they called down asking for two men to send off to Vietnam, my name was submitted,” he said. “It was around that time, I was driving the car and I turned to [Your Mother] and said, ‘I was up all night thinking, and I think we should get married. You can’t do better than me.” My Mother laughed and nodded, “That’s right, he did say that.”

It really all makes sense. My Father lost his father at the age of 5. My Mother lost her mother at the age of 5. My Dad learned to exercise power over those you love by putting them down, my Mother learned to belong by allowing herself to be put down. They were the perfect couple. Jesus, I wish they never had me.

They were married three months later, then my Father shipped off to Vietnam.

When coming home from school in June, high on Huck, confused as to whether what I felt was love or lust, or a deadly combination of the two, I asked them both separately if they fell in love before they married, in that small window of time:

“It was too soon to fall in love. No, it was about convenience at that time. No one can fall in love that soon. It had to grow. We still had to get to know each other,” my Mother said, absent-mindedly scratching the skin over her knuckles.

“Love? Yes, it was love. If you want to know about love, I can’t explain that. It is one of those things you just can’t explain,” my Father said.

My Father spent the first 13 months of marriage on another continent, fighting a war that never had a chance. He doesn’t talk about his time in Vietnam, I heard mentions as a child about a rat the size of a small dog climbing his chest when he slept, children refusing to cry though their skin was burned off with Napalm, prostitutes spitting on the street from tuberculous.  He doesn’t talk about it much, but he claims being away helped their relationship. Before he left, they picked out an apartment, my Mother moved in and they sent letters almost everyday. She sent food. He sent tapes, audio recordings singing old Beatles songs or just talking about his day. I remembered those analog tapes, I listened to them as a child wanting to know what his voice sounded like before Agent Orange crushed his windpipe and roughened his voice to the point where it was barely audible. Now, he takes Botox injections to clear it up- but between his failing hearing and the withering vocal chords, he is unable to have a real conversation with other people.


I wondered if being apart from Huck during this period would help our relationship, we could write and learn about each other before being thrown into our typical bad habits. I wondered about it, and hoped the whole story was a good omen.

My Father turned back to me, “When I got back, I was horny but happy”, he grabbed my mother’s hand and they smiled at each other. “We were poor, very poor. All we had was spaghetti and old Bob Dylan records. That’s it, but we got through it together. What else do you want to know?”

“I have to process all this,” I said, “I will ask more later.”

I never got the chance.

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Four Fried Chickens and a Coke

It is hard to say when one falls in love. Is there a moment that defines the meaning of love? Can you find that moment within 24 hours of making love to someone? I have read about Oxytocin, and the chemical cocktail that weld a woman to the man who can make her orgasm while he is inside of her. Still, I hear Beatles:

Would you believe in a love at first sight
Yes, I’m certain that it happens all the time
What do you see when you turn out the light
I can’t tell you, but I know it’s mine


Is it love to wake up next to someone and ache at the idea of leaving them there on the bed, warm, groaning from the crack of day after vodka, sex and poetry?

It was 8am, and I had to run to class. He offered a pair of shorts and t-shirt to lend me so I could attend class in a different outfit than the day before.  We made sure it was something no one would recognize as his. Oddly, the t-shirt and summer shorts looked like something I would probably wear on my own.

“You can leave your stuff here while you go to class,” he said, buried under wet sheets.

I thanked him, not knowing what to expect. In France, I had 5 nights that were each a little love story with a different person. There was the chemistry, the romance, the passion- and when the morning came, I started all over again with someone new. Each man had the makings of a possible soulmate, each in different ways.

So when I left Huck, tangled in our dirty sheets, I prepared myself for ending it. If it was like France, I could let go almost immediately, and start all over again, but I ached for his arms around me, to feel the weight of his body on the mattress, and the heat of his breathe through my hair.

For the first time, I showed up to class with my hair down. I wasn’t tired and in great spirits. There was that fuzziness to the world that warmly clouds over you the morning after falling in love. You feel like the sidewalk is made of sky.  When you relax, you still smile.


What separated Huck from all the other suitors in France was the levity to his company. I can’t recall a time I laughed so much in one night. Sure, the conversation, the exchange of our bodies and writing, all of that had us bound. There was no doubt something special happened. I didn’t believe enough on the “special” to make a bet on it, not yet.

After class, I was reluctant to go back and tinker with him, or tinker with us. He had offered to let me leave my clothes there, so the invite to return was open but I wanted to be sure we wouldn’t ruin it by going any further. There is a delicate exchange of power when you court a man, who initiates, who agrees. Who initiates.  Who agrees. I hate it.

Huck gave me fair warning, as did his peers, that he had the propensity of being an asshole- though I saw nothing like that myself.

And then there is me; if you were to independently interview some of the men I have been involved with, I am sure they would say I am an asshole, though most of them still communicate with me. I can get flirtatious and sometimes surly when I have had too much to drink. I think about the moment I had with an American Professor my first night in France, the kiss we shared, only for the next night, when the Professor wept over his beer in front of our peers, sharing a story about his ex-wife saving him from a house fire, I openly flirted and obtained a number from a French stranger in the middle of the story.

Sometimes I think about who I am, and it scares me.

After a lecture, and a quick conversation with my mother, I texted Huck asking if he wanted me to bring him something to eat. I waited . . .

Huck: “Sure. Anything is fine.”

I stopped for sandwiches, got fries and soda, and returned to his hotel room. I knew bringing him food after multiple orgasms was making a step, did I want him more? I did. I wanted a whole lot of him. He was making me happy. And I was in the poor habit of continuing to do anything that makes me happy without the care of foresight.

Walking down the hallways of Huck’s hotel and riding the elevator up with another hotel patron, a man, I waited as we both reached the 7th floor. The man, in his 50s and looking distinguished enough, walked down the hallway to where I remember coming from earlier that morning. He heard my footsteps behind him and looked back to smile at me.

“I am not following you, I swear. I am just headed down this way,” I explained without question.

“That’s fine. We are neighbors, huh?” he said, smiling.

I kept my face and smile down, calling Huck on my cell. In my mind, I repeated, “Don’t flirt. Don’t flirt.” It is something I have to stay on top of, and usually a cause of friction with my suitors. Usually, I am not really flirting, just engaging, laughing, smiling- to men it gives the wrong impression, so I force myself to be disinterested and brief. My friend George calls it the “Julia Roberts Effect”. If I were homely, overweight or much older, my signals wouldn’t be misinterpreted. I could laugh a little too loud, touch a shoulder, stare intently in someone’s eyes, and no one would bother to rethink it. Being who I am, I can be slinky, tomboyishly sexy, maybe my smile, on first impression, is often thought to be personalized just for them. It is just who I am, to everyone. In 15 years, that will all change and I will miss leading men on with a flash of my hazel eyes and Lolita-esque smile. (May face not look like 14, but my fucking teeth look like a 14-year-old’s)


That said, there is no denying I have a large libido for a woman, so maybe not all of it is misinterpreted. Abe always gave me the silent treatment on the rides home after a party. I didn’t want to fuck up with Huck. Did that mean I was falling in love? For the first time since Abe, I wanted to deliberately not fuck up, sometimes for me that is like trying to walk a straight line when you know you have had too much to drink, just to see if you can do it.

Waiting next to the man, I held my cell phone up to my face, keeping my eyes down. Huck picked up the call with a cold, “Hello.”

“I am at the end of the hall, which room are we in again?” I asked.

He repeated the number of the door I was outside of and I said, “Knock, knock.”

The stranger was still standing next to me, as if waiting to open his door, “Have a lovely afternoon.”

“You too,” I said, blushing.

Huck opened the door and I waltzed in with my bookbag and food.

“Meeting the neighbors?” he asked.

“Yeah, I had to follow him all the way down the hall, it was a bit awkward.”

He was writing, in his underwear and a blue and black flannel that wasn’t buttoned up, revealing the skin I spilled, kissed and sweated on the night before. His blonde hair was all brushed forward, over his face, and his glasses drooped slightly over the end of his nose.

We ate together, and I set up my mini-laptop to join him at the desk. Something terribly romantic happened here, there we sat, side-by-side, and we wrote together. We only spoke on occasion to share a large, blue-ish, Naked smoothie, or fries, while playing 50s music.

“Don’t spill anything on my shorts!” Huck said.

Smiling, “Well, I wouldn’t be concerned with that. I am not wearing any underwear,” I said.

Never in my life, have I been able to write with a lover. Usually, I am pestered; they constantly bother me, ask me to write when they are gone or get restless. Abe especially hated it and called it “wasting time”. Huck just sat next to me, typing away. It was an intimate space with no interruption.

Occasionally, I got up to stretch using some old hamstring stretches I used to do before soccer practice.

“What did we do last night? Why do my hamstrings ache?”

“That was some rigorous lovin’,” he answered, smiling, sipping.

I put my hands on the chair, as I pushed one leg forward at a time, “Jesus Christ.”

We shared music. He played something called “Paranoid in B Flat Major”. I played “I Fall to Pieces” by Patsy Cline.


We briefly invaded each other’s Facebooks; mine littered with rescue posts for homeless dogs and cats, his less frequent- pictures, posts, sometimes a girl cuddling up to him. I asked if he had animals, and he said he had a cat, then said, “But I think I carry a different view of dogs and cats than you do. I don’t think they should be domesticated.”

“But they are already domesticated. They are drawn to people. Its in their nature to pair with humans.”

“I don’t know, I mean, I have a cat. I just don’t think we should be keeping them as pets and trying to save all of them all the time. I know you think about it differently.”

I thought a lot about this one thing he said, because in a way it made sense. I think we overproduce everything- including people and animals. It’s stressful to realize how much is born and how much must suffer. When looking through my Facebook feed and seeing graphic pictures of dogs that were injured or put down, dead cats dumped outside a county shelter or animals skinned in China, my mind is blinded in anguish. Not just the animals, the stories of children being raped, women being beaten and killed, men dying in a war everyone has forgotten about, it creates this white, screeching blank screen in my mind and I can’t function. All the information out there, and our heads have to be held under it all day long, drowning, gasping for a moment of silence, for a moment of personal reflection.

If we didn’t, as a society, create more than we consume, we wouldn’t need to wade in so much misery, shop through so much crap and carelessly throw so much away. And we have come to treat life like a product, so in a way, I did agree with Huck. I long to simplify all the time, pair down, love only what is in front of me and do away with desire, want and longing. It all can snuff out a person’s spirit.

Huck’s mother called, and I put on my iPod to give him privacy, occasionally lowering my volume to eavesdrop. He crossed his legs while resting his feet on the edge of the seat. His legs looked like a woman and the thought occurred that he would probably walk better in high heel shoes than I do. Then I took a cigarette break outside on a tiny patio outside the only window; we had to climb over the wall and through the window sill using a footrest from the corner chair. I like to smoke and write, it gives me a chance to catch up on what comes out of my fingers.

In mid-cigarette, on the glass window, Huck jumped against the pane and sang whatever tune was playing on his computer. I watched his face bend down and coo, realizing he was indeed effeminate. I believe the bravado and low voice he uses on introduction throws you off of the real Huck. Sometimes, when he gets too comfortable, you might question if he was gay. My first thought was, “My mother won’t like that about him.” Who gives a fuck about what she thinks?

He came out to join me and saw my bare feet. The pedicure I paid for just before France was wearing off, the nail polish was chipped, the nails just a bit too long, and my pinkie toe was bashed up nicely from all the walking I did in Paris. It was the day after our anticipated night together, and he noticed my first flaw.

“What is going on with that pinkie toe?” he asked.

“I know, she is in bad shape.”

“You need to cut that thing.”

“Usually I get pedicures, but I didn’t have time between France and school so . . . there it is.”

The nail was a little too long, and a piece of skin that was once a blister was hanging off the side. I turned my foot over to reveal an even larger blister that faded into dead skin.

He jerked out, “Eugh.”

“I ran out of money for the metro so I had to walk everywhere in shitty shoes.”

He was mesmerized by how battered my feet were and I tried to overturn them so he wouldn’t stare at them anymore.

Every woman remembers the first time she is dethroned from a man’s imagination. We are often expected to whirl into a man’s room, smelling of perfume and feeling of satin. It’s hard to disguise how human you are once he’s orgasmed, and the daylight shines on your face. We try though, as exhausting as it is. So when the moment comes that the fantasy has faded from satin to polyester, I try to keep my head high.

I have a friend who was hotly pursued by someone on the heels of her last relationship. She resisted him initially, because she was still heartbroken and self-conscious. This played nicely into the game of chase- and he won her. The moment they were intimate, and he was holding her in bed, whispering how badly he wanted to enter her, she admitted to him she had genital herpes.


Despite how much character she exhibited with such an uncomfortable truth, she said that was the moment she fell from grace. He leaned back and decided he didn’t want to enter her so badly anymore. Eventually, they did have sex and the affair dried out shortly after, but she marks that moment as the first time she clumsily tripped out of his fantasy. I told her, “We all fall from being the fantasy girl. Its just a matter of time.”

My pinkie toe didn’t seem all that bad. However, the veil was lifting and it was soon to be decided if he really liked me or if we were only the affair we invented for each other on Facebook.

Back inside, “I told my Mom about you,” he said.

My eyes brightened, “You did!?”

“Psych.”

I smiled and threw a pillow at him.

The only place to sit together was the bed, and we spoke about his mother. Huck was worried about her because of how other people in the family were treating her.  And somewhere in the moment, as I rested my chin and pressed all my weight on his chest, I asked about his father. “He abused my mother the first couple years until he left. And then he remarried and he never . . . uh . . um, hurt her. Just my mother.” I wondered what it was like to know your father only beat the woman who created you, not the new one- the one who has nothing to do with you.

“Did he ever hit you?” I asked.

“No, just her. He did hit me before my grandmother’s funeral. I said something disrespectful to him, something about the way he was dressed . . . something terrible. I was sitting in the backseat and he turned around and punched me in the lip. Then he got out and tried to open up the back door. I hit the lock on the door and was laughing, with blood coming down my face and he kept tugging on the door, saying, ‘Open the damn door. God damn it.’”

Huck acted out his father with this very comical, old-school Midwest voice. “Then he got back in behind the wheel, and I started crying, ‘I am bleeding, you hit me in the lip . . .’” He overacted his own part, again, to the point where it was funny. I laughed along with the story. “He just kept his head turned, (mimicking his father again, this time over-emotional and on the verge of tears) ‘I can’t  . . . I can’t look at you.”

I laughed again, feeling my breasts patter against his ribcage. And he looked into my eyes, lazily, took a finger to stroke a piece of hair out of my face and said, “Yeah, that was it.” He mentioned earlier that he noticed green in the browns of my eyes, no one ever really has before, so I knew he was looking into me when we stared at each other.

We had already started on our first beers of the day, and planned on staying in for the rest of the day. It was towards the end of the week, and both of us had hit our fair number of lectures, seminars and workshops. One faculty member said, “If your creative soul wants to go down to the beach one afternoon, that is what you should do.” My creative soul wanted to bounce on the bed with Huck, drink beer, have sex and make him laugh for the rest of the day.

I think back on that day, and I remember never wanting to leave the room. We were hungry and kept bringing up what to eat, where to eat- but neither of us really wanted to leave our sanctuary. He motioned towards the room and would say, “I mean, look at this place . . .”

The trash was overflowing with a huge, empty vodka bottle teetering on top. Anytime we threw something away, it bounced back out onto the floor. There were beer cans everywhere, the bed sheets and blanket were kicked off and the bed looked well worked in, pieces of paper lay on piles by the floor or the nightstand, notebooks left open on the chairs, his suitcase open and neat in the corner by the door, my book bag and clothes scattered all over the other corner by the window . . . it looked like true love to me.

There was something about falling for each other in a neutral space, without his roommates and my dogs constantly interrupting us. Without jobs and everyday life knocking on the door or calling on the phone. We were in a bubble; a fresh, clean, pristine bubble where nothing could touch us. It also kept us from really knowing the other person, since there was no evidence of our real lives there.

I couldn’t flip through his book collection and see what pictures he kept, which poems lingered and about who. He couldn’t see how happy I am when I wake up and see my dogs first thing in the morning, he couldn’t taste how good my coffee is or what jazz sounds like after a morning orgasm.

The sun was setting, and I waited. I waited for him to give me the cue to leave. He really wanted me to have the impression that he was a womanizer, and here we were getting used to each other’s ticks. He knew I needed the commercials muted on the television. I knew that I needed to keep 20 feet away from the bathroom if he used it. When I lay on the bed, taking notes from my reading, he would tickle the bottom of my feet as he passed by.  “Look at us, we are so domesticated.” I giggled like I should have as a little girl.  “Look, um, you can’t spend the night tomorrow,” he said.

My first thought was I was invited for another night, the next thought was, “Why not tomorrow?”

“Because I need to get sleep.” He chuckled a little, as if this was obvious.

“I am going to have to go back to my friends’ for clothes and toiletries, at some point. I have had my contacts in for over a day. I have to take them out tonight.”

“I will go with you.” He flipped over the “Do Not Disturb” card and said, “Should I have them clean the room?”

It made me a little sad to surrender our pit of lechery, but I nodded and said, “If for nothing else than the clean sheets.”


We swung by an old diner nearby for a bland and overpriced meal. I could see his eyes swinging around, looking for anyone familiar from the program. My usual leads into odd, personal stories that capture any man’s interest didn’t seem to catch his, but it didn’t bother me. I found him more interesting than myself. He was eating a lot of fried chicken, I think he ordered a side order of fried chicken to go with his fried chicken.

“Do you know this quote, ‘Bring me four fried chickens and a Coke.’ ‘You want chicken wings or chicken legs?’ ‘Four fried chickens and a Coke.’ ‘And some dry white toast please,” I recited in various high and low voices. He shook his head at first and I giggled through the answer, “Blues Brothers.” He smiled, remembering the film. We would quote it for the rest of the week.

When we left, I felt I had to ask permission to hold his hand, and he grabbed on without reluctance. We walked from Culver City down to Playa del Rey, which ended up being about a 40 minute walk through an industrial area, underneath the freeway, swinging our hands. He gave me his sock hat to keep my head warm. It reminded me of Junior High courtships, when you had no privacy and no car, all you could do was roam the streets, keep warm and talk about the future.

The light died overhead, and we sang songs to kill the time on foot. Anytime we started a song, I rang out several lyrics until I lost my place or he switched songs. One tragic note about myself, I have a terrible singing voice and a superhuman ability for remembering and loving music.  My parents think I am tone deaf, but how could I truly be a lover of music if I don’t hear the tone?

We sang George Michael, Roy Orbison, Michael Jackson and the Beatles.

During a chorus break, I said, “You carry your body in a very graceful way.”

He laughed,“Thanks, most people would call it effeminate.”

I thought about whether or not it bothered me that he was so effeminate.  A woman always likes being with a masculine man, and I don’t mean the beefy kind of guy who lifts weights, trims his eyebrows and drowns himself in cologne. I mean the type of guy who walks on the traffic side of the sidewalk to protect you from cars. The type of guy who won’t let you carry a grocery bag even if its not that heavy.

Even as I look now at synonyms for effeminate: womanish, dainty, delicate, fragile, impotent, sissy, feeble . . . none of these properly describe him. Its even as if our own language refuses to acknowledge that femininity can be about strength and quality.

Huck was still harboring qualities of a boy before manhood, despite being 27-years old. He had a rhythm with his body movement, he was more elegant than I was. He had a confident stride, while I occasionally slipped off the edge of the sidewalk into a flower bed trying to get ahead of him to explain a story or idea. That grace and confident sophistication didn’t rob him of his virility or strength. He was still my lover.

Though he isn’t what my parents would picture for me, and there would be questions towards our compatibility and his sexuality, I didn’t care. There were some women, not a lot but a few, that I found more attractive than some men. I wouldn’t let anyone else’s box keep me from loving someone who was different from everyone else I loved.

***

Huck and I walked, hand-in-hand, up to Jeph’s condo, and I let us into the dark kitchen. The roommate was behind her bedroom door, with only a sliver of light through the door frame to alert us of her presence.

He was tired, and dragged his body onto the futon to settle in a spot for a moment and play with the cats. I gathered some things and sat with him in the dark. Our bus wouldn’t leave for another half hour.  He suggested we could stay there for the night, but I thought that was a bad idea, mostly because I was more comfortable in his hotel room. He already felt like more of a home than anywhere I had been the last few months, maybe even the last year.

We walked to the bus stop and saw the bus waiting there with its engine off and the driver in a seat, texting on her iPhone.  “It must be her break,” I said.

We were a little early and hung from the tree branches singing:

“Yeah, you got satin shoes
Yeah, you got plastic shoes”

“It’s plastic boots,” he gently corrected.

I started again, “Yeah, you got plastic boots . . .
Yall got cocaine eyes
Yeah, you got  . . . something.

Can’t you hear me knockin  . . . on your window”

“That’s such a good song,” he sighed, exhausted.

The bus driver opened the doors. We dropped from the branches and watched as she slowly walked away.

I asked, “Is the bus leaving . . . at some point?”

She turned her head, thrusting her obese hip away from us, “At some point.” She was a middle-aged black woman with thick, wavy hair. I could see that was the one part of her she took pride in. That and the elaborate acrylic designs on her fingernails.

We saw her disappear in the horizon. “Well, they can’t just leave the bus here,” I said.

Huck slumped and hung his head over like a rag doll, “I am so tired.”

I hugged him and lifted his body up, in baby talk, “We’ll be home soon. Don’t worry. Just a little longer.”

Ten minutes later, she came back, opened the bus door and climbed the steps to her sovereignty. Huck leaned in through the doors, still folded open, “The schedule says the bus was supposed to leave fifteen minutes ago. Is there another driver coming? Or maybe another bus?”

She silently withdrew her iPhone, and punched a few buttons. Huck continued, in a low, monotonous voice, poorly masking irritation, “Maybe you could tell us when the bus is leaving?”

“It leaves when I make it leave.”

Then she closed the door on him.  He kept his arms outstretched on either side and hung his head like Jesus dying on the cross. I thought this was hilarious, and broke out laughing.

Ten seconds later, before Huck could even move, the bus door opened, he lifted his head to the light and we ascended to our long awaited seats. Huck was rolling up into a ball, and fading before my eyes.  I kept laughing and retelling the story, “When she closed the doors on you . . . that was hilarious . . .“ Chuckling, struggling to finish the thought. He smiled, but I could tell the story wasn’t captivating him. I swallowed the laughter and smiled at him. His cheeks were cold from the night air.

“This is our story. We are making stories right now. This is one, right here, on this bus,” I said.

He smiled and looked down at his shoe, “Maybe.”

When we arrived to the clean hotel room, we slid into the fresh sheets with a couple of beers. He turned on the television and we watched “Total Recall”. We fondly chatted about the film as it played, both of us liking the old special effects and the poor performances. I felt myself falling asleep, and mumbling. Huck would ask a question, and then I felt him jerk my shoulder and shout, “WHAT?”


I hadn’t felt close to someone in a few months. I enjoyed my freedom, floating around the planet without commitment to a place or a person. I made lots of friends and lots of lovers, but no one I could just be myself, without monitoring what I said, what I did, without worrying what they thought. Even at Abe’s, I was always cold and a little uncomfortable with how clean it all was. Huck laughed at every joke I made, and that was the first anyone had picked up on my humor so quickly and with such affection.

Digging further under the covers, I kicked off the top sheet- something I do at home.

“Don’t like the top sheet, huh?”

“I just don’t see the point,” I mumbled.

“You know, there is a toe nail clipper in my bathroom.”

I ignored this at first, as well as his notice of the hair in my armpit growing just above the surface of my skin. I just wanted to sleep . . . then I remembered how much I liked him, enough to work a little harder on that fantasy.

So I forced myself back up and hid in the bathroom for a few minutes trying to saw off my pinkie toe nail, then realized the whole thing might come off if I kept going. Reaching inside his small, black travel bag, I pulled out his razor to quickly trim off any evidence of hair growth.

Quickly shuffling out of the bathroom, I crawled back under the covers and pressed against him. He smelled sweet, like faint cologne or deodorant with that musky scent you love immediately during sex or when you wake up with a man.

We made love again, despite being too exhausted to stand, his face hung over mine, and we both shared the same breath, like our spirits were firing into a ball of hot air, slowly exchanging from one mouth to the other.

Occasionally, he would put his hand around my throat and squeezed. I never fought it. I never was scared about being strangled, or losing consciousness. I knew it was part of his fetish, part of the need to be in control, and the instinct to be his father the “Dominator”, not his mother the “Victim”.

After sex, bathing in the blue hue of Arnold Schwarzenegger, he asked what I was thinking about. “I was thinking about how I am forced to trust you when you put your hand on my throat, or hit me during sex. I immediately have to trust that you won’t hurt me. And I never thought that you would hurt me. But I had to trust you immediately, and I don’t think most couples do, or aren’t forced to initially . . . the way I do with you.”

Huck took a moment then chuckled a little, “God, ask a guy what he thinks about after sex, and you will get a much simpler answer.”

“Look, I identify with you, so I get it. I identify with the darkness. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have been attracted to you.”

His arm around me, his low voice returned for pillow talk, rattling his ribcage,  “You are attracted to the darkness?”

“The darkness and the innocence.” I repeated it, over and over, turning my head from open palm to another, “the darkness” “the innocence”, “The darkness” “the innocence” . . .

“Awww, that’s kind of sweet.”

“I don’t know if you know this about me, but I rescue pit bulls,” I said.

“That explains everything!”

With a half empty beer warming on the nightstand, I let my mind drift to unconsciousness, sadly knowing it would be time I spent away from him. Are you falling in love if sleep means you miss them? Are you falling in love when you know their happiness is contingent on yours? Their hunger, contingent on yours? Their orgasm, contingent on yours. They become a part of you, for a day, a week or a lifetime. There they are- in you.

I was in love.

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“I Will Hurt You”

The next day in class, I was torn between two lectures I could voluntarily attend and, on a whim, went to the one about the genre of horror.  Sitting down, I pulled out my notebook and pen, then looked up to see Huck walk in. I remember smiling so much, my cheek bones ached.

He looked up, smiled and sat right next to me in those Huckleberry Finn shorts. He wasn’t traditionally attractive. This particular morning, without his hoodie, I noticed he had prominent ears that bent out and away from his head so much you could see the pink flesh holding them on like a tin horn affixed on a sound box.

Just as Huck spoke without fear or reservation, I do too. Some people think that I ask such blunt questions because I can be obnoxious and am greedy as a writer, I would just like to think that I could care less for small talk. Of course I wanted to command his attention but also test his waters and read if he was someone I could trust. “You are controversial. Last night, at the bar, your friend said she had a love-hate relationship with you,” I said.

He looked up, hurt, “She did? Fucking bitch.”

His face felt large, maybe because he leaned in whenever he said something to me. When we exchanged something casual about the lecture or the night before, his skin burned red. I noticed a french horn tattooed on his left knee. Nothing was particularly artistic about the tattoo, it looked more like clip art.

After the lecture, as everyone was collecting their things and hurrying off to the next, I quickly put in a, “So tell me about the tattoo.”

He said, “Well, what is it?”

I misfired and said, “A bugle?”

He said, “What type of instrument is a bugle?”

“Horn?” I responded.

“Bring the two together . . .,” he said.

“Knee horn?”, I said.

“Reverse it.” He was smiling.

I said, “Horn knee.”

He nodded and slapped his notebook shut, “There ya go.”

I picked up my bag, “Always a pleasure.”

On the way back down the hallway, he said he had to go to the bathroom. “I do, too” I said, “We have so much in common.” Even on cruise control, I still flirt. It’s almost supernatural.

Later, I retold the “Tattoo” conversation to my new friends in the Student Lounge and my friend George said, “Oh my God, Horny? That is douchey. If he got that tattoo after the age of 21, he is a dick, I’m sorry.”

At this point, in my experience with Huck, I was not in love. He fascinated me. He was fascinating because he provoked such strong reactions. Also, only once before in my life have I ever felt drawn to someone by first sight. I am reluctant to use “love at first sight.” I didn’t love him, but I was captivated by him and wanted to understand, how with just a look in a busy bar one night, he stole a piece of me.

The first time I felt equally, if not more, enchanted at first sight was while I was married. I was 26 and working at a pet food store to help pay off credit cards. One day, I was introduced to our new manager, a tall man with a boy’s face, a little older than me named Eric. He had freckles, this genuine smile you don’t see often in Los Angeles and was the best looking man I had ever seen in my life. The introduction fueled a fascination which turned to an obsession and, later, turned into an affair that drove me to leave my husband in a matter of months.

We tried for a long time to have a relationship, but he was an alcoholic who struggled with delusions of divine grandeur and a cyclical cocaine addiction. It was a five year nightmare of violent tempers, apparitions, headaches, vomiting and bloody noses broken up a few weeks at a time with passionate sex, confessions and an underlying friendship that continued to grow in spite of a toxic love affair. Together, we found jobs and lost jobs, made friends and lost them and tried our best, between us, to have enough money for Taco Bell and a few beers.

Eric carried a toothbrush with him because he was so used to throwing up at work. When sober, he was the kindest person I ever met. When drunk, he was the most unpredictably violent. In between both those worlds, he was mine.

That last year we lived together I call “The Year of Cancer”. The relationship suffered a slow, painful death. He grew paranoid that I was cheating on him. I wasn’t. He locked himself in our bathroom for six hours to summon demons. He broke every dish in the kitchen. He hit me once, then twice- and made me so sick with anxiety, depression and tension, that eventually I dragged my feet away from our Hollywood apartment with a restraining order in hand.


When I wonder what about Huck attracted him to me so immediately, initially, I thought it was because I recognized Eric again in his eyes, though the two look nothing alike. Eric was dark haired, a mix of Irish and Native American blood with a fine scar along the left side of his nose.

Huck was fair, a mix of Scandinavian and German with only three freckles on the left side of his nose.

Both, however, were from the midwest, both had fathers that left them as children and both are alcoholics, though I didn’t know that at the moment of first sight. My father also grew up in the midwest, lost his father at a young age and, though wasn’t an alcoholic, struggled against his own demons- sometimes quietly, sometimes not so quietly.

That afternoon, I was so hungover, I waded through the last lecture of the day with a pounding headache and growing nausea. I kept writing notes to George to keep my head alert. Each note said, “Sex. Must think about sex.” George mentioned before that fantasy and sex are two key elements that still live in and ignite the imagination. It was true, to keep my writing world alive and fertile, I had to fall in love or take on a lover. Maybe I didn’t have to, but it was easier that way.


The girl from the Tattle Tale Room drove me home, and as she dropped me off, I said, “Thank you again, and I am so glad I didn’t throw up in your car.”

***

The next day, I woke up in Jeph’s condo. He had given me his entire bedroom while sleeping on a futon out on the living room floor. The other bedroom was occupied by his roommate, a bi-polar, unemployed barista.

It was a very posh community; the buildings were modern, built on glass and metal. Everyone walked their purebred dogs in designer yoga pants and Ray-Ban sunglasses every morning. One night, when my friend’s roommate bummed a cigarette off of me around midnight, I said, “This is a rich area. It almost makes me uncomfortable.”

She said, “It is uncomfortable.”

Jeph, who owns that condo unit works as a “retail associate” at a Vitamin store. He is an odd fellow, in his late-twenties. He sports a goatee, small spectacles and often a Hawaiian shirt. I usually describe him as an Atheist Ned Flanders. Most people don’t know what to make of him. He came into an inheritance from a great Aunt and was able to buy a condo kitty corner to the marina. It is bizarre that he rooted himself there, surrounded by people who appear to be his complete opposite.

He will say its because it made sense financially, as an investment, but how does he avoid feeling the tension between “us” and “them”?

When I woke up, he immediately got up too, despite the fact that I stumbled through late in the evenings drunk and woke up ridiculously early. He dutifully made me vegan pancakes and kindly asked I lower my Rolling Stones so early in the morning.

“I almost threw up in your toilet, Jeph.” I mumbled over rich pancakes and bitter coffee.

“You can throw up in my toilet, anytime,” he said. He has a child’s honesty.

After catching the bus and taking a 20 minute ride up a hill, I attended another lecture and thought for a moment where to sit, then decided next to Huck. It was early in the morning and I was still collecting my thoughts on him. David, from the Tattle Tale Room, sat across the room and eyeballed us.

I said, “I like your shorts.”

He said, “Thanks.”

I continued, “I noticed them yesterday.”

“Fuck you” he said, then recoiled, “I only brought two pairs of pants and these shorts.”

“This is the last pair of pants I haven’t worn to school. But I’ve been sleeping in them- so its a cheat,” I tried to save it.

Huck said, “Pants don’t need to be washed. That’s the secret.”

I giggled in that way girls do, then asked, “What do you do, outside of this?”

He said, “I manage a kitchen, at an Irish pub. I make $13 an hour. I know . . .”

I said, “That’s more than I have made in the last couple years.”

He smiled.

A school administrator interrupted the seminar to advise all the students sitting in back to move forward, as there was a problem with the back partisan. All of us scattered and reordered ourselves, and Huck moved his chair directly in front of mine, leaving me with a view of the back of his neck and ears.

I studied his baby soft skin, still untouched by sun, hard work and substance abuse. I wanted badly to touch the back of those ears. His shoulders were broad, which looked unusual for someone with the face of a bookworm.

Accidentally, I kicked his feet under his chair and apologized. He turned around and shouted under his breath, “WATCH IT!” For some reason, this struck me as hilarious, and I cackled as the classroom fell silent.  He was unpredictable, bold and sarcastic. In general, I found him compelling, but the humor is what kicks open the door and makes that final push so I fall in love.

During the bathroom break, he stood up to leave while still carrying his notebook, suddenly he doubled back and threw everything in his hands at his seat before turning back around and leaving the room. The woman sitting immediately next to him jumped up, startled. The dark-haired woman sitting on the other side of her turned and whispered, “Welcome to our core group. AND he’s a misogynist.” The controversy just continues.

He came back and I stared at his ears. I stared hard. Why couldn’t I stop looking at them?

Suddenly, he pulled out a sock hat and slid it over his head, tucking them away. I took a breath, finally I could concentrate.

The faculty heading the seminar asked us to draw up character notes, off the top of our head, based on a name he put on the board. He wrote “Thelma Dudley”.

When he asked for volunteers to read their character description out loud, Huck was the first. With precision and confidence, he relayed the following description:

“Thelma Dudley. Born in 1939, Dubuque, Iowa. Father in Army, died in France, World War II. Mother raised her alone for early life. Moved to Iowa City in 1947. Teased because of name.

Good Student, hard worker, helped her mother with chores.  Mother remarried in 1950.  Stepfather, Mark and mother Cherlyne had Erin.  Thelma helped raise Erin. Mark  & Cheryln made up for lost fun by going out often. Thelma lost virginity at age 14 to William Sellers after school on a Wednesday when Mark & Cheryln were at a church gathering.”

The faculty asked, “Where did she lose her virginity?”

Huck promptly responded, “In her parents’ bed.”

It isn’t the most creative character description, most students forced typical poor-white trash afflictions on Thelma, and plopped her in a trailer park in the South- that was cliche. However, there was great attention to the detail of her parents, for example, losing her father at a young age and then later abandoned by her mother when she finds a new husband. When he read those words, there was a mechanical detachment that made me want to reach out and touch him.

The black-haired girl who held him in such low opinion grumbled, “Sounds autobiographical.”

I reviewed my handwritten notes, too shy to speak up.

Southern, disheveled, in love, poor, works in retail, wears dirty keds, carries a big purse, wears a t-shirt dress with flowers on it, drinks soda, smokes Parliaments, her skin blotches, especially when she is embarrassed. She should wear glasses but doesn’t so she can feel sexy. Too close to her mother. Sleeps in her bra. Doesn’t drive but always wanted to. Wears hair clips. Eats off paper plates so she doesn’t have to do dishes.”

My description is no more ground-breaking, but Thelma became a person we shared, her left foot in his imagination and her right in mine. You could say every writer in the room shared Thelma, but Huck, the back of his seat almost tapping my knee caps, knowing my eyes were on him, knowing I was gauging his talent and imagination, became my lover. Though we had not physically made love, we were in each other’s minds, dancing and teasing in conversation, in imagination and, now, in class.

At lunch, I walked off campus with a couple of my peers, and was able to get a hold of a sample of Huck’s writing to see if he was talented. If he wasn’t, I might lose interest. Over an avocado tomato wrap, I slipped into the story, looking for pieces of him in the text. His words were rich, heavy in atmosphere but his characters were projections of his ideals and it clouded his narrative voice.

George was sitting next to me and said, “Do not get involved with him. He has issues.”

I put down the pages and said, “I should not sleep with him.” The darkness wasn’t just in his eyes, it was in his protagonist, who resembled Huck too much. In the minor similarities of his main character, mannerisms and habits, there would be major similarities like tension with his parents, heartbreak, self-destructive behavior and bravado.


George, “Don’t do it . . . (sigh) You are going to anyway.”

I wiped my hands off with a paper napkin and said, thoughtfully, “Huh.”

When we came back to class for the next seminar, I sat next to the guy I thought should be the one to fall for, Miguel. He was warm to everyone and especially attentive to a female friend, married and pregnant at the time. In my mind, I decided that he was the better choice for me.

Just as I settled in, pulled out my pen and notebook, laughed at a few small, flirtatious jokes, Huck walked in and immediately sat behind me. We had swapped positions in a matter of hours. He was complaining that he was grouchy and shouldn’t have gone back to his hotel room for a drink in the middle of the day.

I am familiar with the mood swings of a day-drinking alcoholic, and it is, of course worrisome. The last person you want to spend the rest of your life with is a moody drunk, but it’s familiar and it has a kind of honesty the sober students don’t bother with. Or maybe its just because I miss Eric. I remembered what his character from his story drank and said, “Was it Guinness or Miller Lite?” to test and see if he could pick up that I read his story. He didn’t.

Huck said, “Neither. Something terrible like Buck . . . something or other.”

I said, “From the great breweries of Indiana.”

He said, “Something like that” looking down and smiling. I could tell he was having a hard time staying pleasant. “I actually had a shot of vodka. That was a bad idea.”

As I turned back around, I said, “It’s the sugar in the alcohol affecting your mood.”

He muttered, “Probably something like that.”

The faculty heading the seminar was struggling to work an overhead projector, causing delay. Huck broke out of his seat, complaining as he escaped to the bathroom.

I said, flatly, as he cut the air on his exit, “Calm down. Have another drink.”

Later, while taking notes, he was behind me again and I felt his eyes glide over my neck and hair. Thoughts of making love to him clawed at my concentration. There was a specific recurring thought of him tugging on my pony tail in the throes (or throws- wink wink) of passion.

If someone spoke up in the seminar behind me, I would turn just enough so I could see him in my peripheral. I caught his eyes lingering on my hair just before he turned away. A friend from lunch was sitting behind him, staring right at us. I caught his eye and he smiled.

Huck left before the seminar ended and I was disappointed. It is hard watching someone with talent wrestle with his demons and allow them to push him out the classroom.  He was bothered and aggravated enough to abandon a great lecture, and that worried me. Also, on a more selfish note, I wouldn’t be able to talk to him after class.

At the end of the day, I was on Jeph’s futon playing on my laptop, as Jeph offered a platonic massage and I noticed Huck sent me a friend request on Facebook. Once I added him, we caught ourselves in a chat later that night.


In the chat box, I would start to type something, then backspace. He waited. In the chat window, it said, “[StarFire] is typing”.

Finally, I wrote, “[StarFire] is typing. [StarFire] is deleting.”

Huck
“[StarFire] is revealing.”

StarFire
“Yeah, I know. Its a personal problem. You are highly observant and I have to watch myself around you.”

Huck
“Yeah, you do.”

StarFire
“See? When you say it, it sounds more sexual.”

Huck
“On the first night we met you said that my drinking problem was making you fall in love with me.”

StarFire
“Oh. Yikes. Well I do remember thinking that. I am funny, huh? Ha ha.

Huck
“You can’t fall in love with me. It isn’t pertinent.”

StarFire
“I keep telling myself that. And you live somewhere I hate.”

Huck was from Milwaukee. Of all the cities in the entire country, he had to be from the one I have a personal problem with.


When I was four years old, my parents packed up and drove us out of the apple trees, rain clouds and snow capped mountains of Seattle to the dry, flat and dull city of Milwaukee. My father grew up there and said he wanted to give us a “tough” upbringing, since the Northwest would keep us “soft”.

My sister and I were promptly enrolled in Catholic school and soccer teams. There I spent the most miserable nine years of my life, left off birthday party invitations, ignored by teachers and teased relentlessly by other children.

Even after switching schools in the fifth grade, I couldn’t seem to hold on to a friend or fit in anywhere but on the soccer field. My mother was going to school and working full time. My father was unapproachable. My sister was five years older than me, just close enough in age to share a house for most of our childhood, but just old enough to have a life totally separate of mine. I felt like a freak, and didn’t know why. So, I grew up completely alone.

When I was thirteen years old, my mother and I pressured my father to move back to Washington state. I only went back to Milwaukee on occasion to visit my sister and grandmother. After my sister moved, and my grandmother died, I vowed never to go back.

Huck
“You can’t fall in love with me. It isn’t pertinent.”

StarFire
“I keep telling myself that. And you live somewhere I hate.”

Huck
“And you have only known me for 2 days.”

StarFire
“Oh  . . . right . . . that means its not really love.”

Huck
“Attraction, yes.”

StarFire
“Of course. I am attracted to you.”

Huck
“I am intrigued by you. You are feeding my ego. Which is dangerous.”

StarFire
“That’s what I am good at. Cue me getting into trouble. Its inevitable. But we still have a week.”

Huck
“You want to fuck me, yeah?”

StarFire
“I would word it differently.”

Huck
“You want me to fuck you.”

StarFire
“You could boil an element of that down to ‘fuck’ I suppose. I am listening. Go on.”

Huck
“Sorry for my vulgarity.”

StarFire
“I am not. I expected it from you, actually.”

Huck
“I am a sexpot of filthy thoughts.”

StarFire
“Can I say here, I am very disappointed in myself.”

Huck
“No.”

StarFire
“:) First emoticon. We really should avoid consummating anything until we are closer to the end of the residency. I think you might be one of those awkward morning-after types.”

Huck
“Nope, just will consummate you again in the morning.”

StarFire
“Unless you fall madly in love with me. I suppose I have to shave my legs, too.”

Huck
“I’d prefer it that way.”

StarFire
“I am joking.”

Huck
“Doubt it. You wore pajamas to school today.”

StarFire
“I think everyone should. I will make the necessary preparations.”

Huck
“I am a carrier of hpv.”

I leaned back and took a moment. No one was typing. Our chat box was still. I am phobic of sexually transmitted disease but the mention of HPV impressed me. I don’t know very many people who would admit to it. Even myself.

In fact, I was diagnosed with HPV in 2007, and was horrified. A year or two later, the doctors couldn’t detect it and I came up with a theory that it was a misdiagnosis of complications with my miscarriage earlier that year. Even so, I didn’t confess it to Huck.

StarFire
“Well, I am impressed you told me.”

Huck
“I don’t usually, but you’re innocent and I wouldn’t want to kill you.”

StarFire
“I am not innocent, but I fear STDs.”

Huck
“I am actually having a conversation about it with a friend of mine and am feeling quite guilty.”

StarFire
“Because you have unprotected sex with others?”

Huck
“On occasion.”

StarFire
“Me too. Occasionally. But I always have a conversation because I worry. So it would be with a condom.”

Huck
“I brought some.”

StarFire
“Which modifies the fantasy, but still works. Now, I find myself more attracted to you.”

Huck
“I feel like killing myself now.”

StarFire
“Now, I feel even more . . .”

Huck
“You’re crazy, huh?”

StarFire
“Just kidding. Yeah. I can sense something about you. The honesty really turns me on. The damage and the honesty. I mean damage affectionately, of course.”

Huck
“I will hurt you.”

StarFire
“I know. I am not stupid. Just crazy.”

Huck
“Maybe we shouldn’t fuck around.”

StarFire
“Maybe, but I would like to. I will be fine. You live on the other side of the fucking country. How badly could you hurt me?”

Huck
“Immediately.”

StarFire
“Wait, my feelings or something else?”

Huck
“Both.”

StarFire
“Can’t you work on it for a few days. Jesus, just restrain yourself and enjoy the ride.”

Huck
“I can do such a thing, but I can’t promise I won’t try and sleep with someone else.”

StarFire
“Well, even I wouldn’t make THAT promise. Ha . . . ha. Joking. Think about it. I would like to spend the night with you. If you can be discrete.”

Huck
“Probably more than you, smiley face.”

StarFire
“Probably. I will probably write about it. Maybe you will fall for me a little and not hurt my feelings.”

Huck
“Doubtful.”

StarFire
“We can always say we had Culver City.”

Huck
“I have women at home.”

StarFire
“I expected so. I really don’t think you are much more sexually driven than I am.”

Huck
“What’s in a name?”

My name, in 1978 when I was born, was very poetic; the first name means “life” in latin, coupled with the last name it becomes a secret for those smart enough pick up on it, “Lust for Life”. Now, Google has reduced it to a dirty keyword search.

Huck
“What’s in a name?”

StarFire
“Everything. Thelma Dudley.”

Huck
“You said you felt something when I sat next to you.”

StarFire
“I just remember you suddenly appearing in my life and your arm felt like it was almost around me. I came home saying ‘Maybe some other night.’ I am guessing that’s something you said to me.”

Huck
“I said it was nice meeting you . . . cliches. My arm was nearly around you.  I was very crabby this afternoon and then I had seven drinks.”

StarFire
“I know, you were still nice to me.”

Huck
“I was fascinated by the reversal roles of us staring at the back of each other’s neck.”

StarFire
“It was erotic in a weird way. I like the back of your ears.”

Huck
“They are so big!”

StarFire
“When you put a hat on I can think more clearly.”

Huck
“I was cold.”

StarFire
“And when you were behind me I had no control. I just felt the occasional frustrated huff on the back of my neck. I will text you tomorrow.”

Huck
“You smile when I am in the same room with you.”

StarFire
“You do. I smile all the same, but when I see you I smile more.”

Huck
“Or even 40 feet away.”

StarFire
“I don’t know why. I am guessing we had some amazing conversation I can’t remember.”

Huck
“Sensory details of the subconscious.”

StarFire
“I only remember your arm almost around me.”

Huck
“Almost”

He was posturing. A lot of girls may have been turned off by the ego and the profanity, but I understood it was a performance.  He wanted me to know he was tough, and I couldn’t hurt him. He wanted to lay out the boundaries of the relationship and be in control.

I gave him control. I believed that France and my return to Los Angeles gave me the confidence and power I needed to be with any man and come out unscathed.

I was wrong.

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New Graves, Old Love and 711

The few days after Danny’s death were fairly horrific. There was Dora’s receding mental state and having to still go to work and cover both our shifts. There was also the fact that my unemployment benefits had fallen even further behind becoming almost 2 months late on any compensation. In addition to that, I had not received paperwork to even claim my benefits anymore.

I changed my address with the post office and unemployment, but nothing had come in 3 weeks.

I knew that we couldn’t afford the rent on our own, and frankly my first thought was Dora would move in with her family and I was going to have move ASAP.

I called unemployment for the sixth or seventh time and spoke to a new person who identified a new reason for the problem, as was standard at this point. I told them I was on the verge of being homeless, that I couldn’t survive like this and they were killing me.

Unemployment, “Your address is updated. You are approved for another cycle. Everything is in order. Check with your post office master.”

Me, “I did. He said I should check with you.”

Unemployment, “Well, I don’t know what to say- everything seems to be in order here.”

Me, “I need that money. You don’t understand. I am desperate here.”

Unemployment, “Everything is going to be ok.”

Me, “NO IT’S NOT!! YOU KEEP SAYING THAT BUT NO IT IS NOT GOING TO BE OK! My roommate killed himself, ok? I don’t know how we are going to make rent. Now STOP SAYING everything is going to be ok, when its not.”

Yeah, I pulled that card.

Unemployment, “Calm down, please.”

Me, “How can I calm down when you people keep saying the same thing over and over again. I mean, this would make anyone insane!!”

Unemployment, “Ok, hold on please.”

2 minutes pass . . .

Unemployment, “Ok, I spoke to my manager and we are going to make an exception this one time due to your circumstances. We are going to fax the paperwork to the nearest unemployment office. Can you be there in 30 minutes?”

Me, “YES! Thank you.”

I went there and waited an hour to fill out the paperwork correctly. The nice people behind the desk made sure everything was correct and faxed it back for me.

The woman from unemployment called me back and said, “Ok, we are processing this right now, you should get the next form immediately. Just keep sending them in and we will get you caught up.”

Me, “I can’t thank you enough.”

Unemployment, “No problem. Just take care of yourself, ok? Things will get better. God bless you.”

I came home and Dora was frantic, “Is Brad ok?”

Brad is my little terrier mix.

I said, “Yeah, of course. Why?”

She said, “I heard him screaming last night. I thought the coyotes got him or something.”

I said, “No, he was asleep with me last night. Everything is ok.”

Dora, “Was I dreaming?”

She was getting better since she started sleeping.

I still called Frank on occasion, he was my confidant, even though I hadn’t seen him in a few days.

I would call, cry and vent. He would respond with, “Yeah, you are beyond encouragement.”

He was done with me, I was no greater than a used kleenex.

Abe said he was going to come up Saturday.

I gave him the address to Doggie Daycare and waited for him.

I got a clean uniform shirt to put on at the end of my shift so I wouldn’t smell like BO, dogs and trifectant.

My shift ended, I stepped outside and looked around. No one. I texted him . . . no response.

My eyes filled with warmth.

The overnight kennel attendant came in and asked if I was ok.

I said, “My ex-boyfriend was supposed to come and see me tonight and he totally ditched me. I am totally worthless, they just want to fuck me and disappear.”

She said, “You aren’t worthless! Don’t say that! Who said that?”

I stifled my crying, wiped my tears and shook my head as if to shake off my own words.

The male kennel attendant just hung his head and drifted away. That’s what men do; they think they are giving you privacy, but they just make everything seem further away.

I drove home and was hoping I would see him on the road outside my apartment. There was no car.

I cried a little more, fed my dogs, loaded up my computer and then got a text that he was en route.

He was lost and needed directions, but refused to pull over, meet me or really listen to my directions.

As soon as I got in my car to go out there and find him on the canyon road, he pulled up. We hadn’t seen each other since before we broke up, so when we pulled up next to each other, both in our driver’s seats facing opposite directions, we smiled.

He said, “Hey, country woman!”

That voice . . . God, how I missed that voice. I was going to be mad at him but my face kept stretching into this dopey smile.

We got out of our respective cars and hugged each other. I remembered that sweatshirt. We had only been apart for 6 months, so everything was still deliciously familiar. The coarse material on the outside of his hoodie with the warm fleece on the inside. The smell of tobacco and Old Spice.

I said, “Hi. So, next time, could you call me and let me know where you are going and what time to expect you? Cause, I was waiting at Doggie Daycare, looked outside, saw you weren’t there and cried. Then I came home, looked to see if you were here, saw that you weren’t . . . and then cried again. “

He smiled and hung his head heavy over on one side, “Sorry. I know. I’m sorry. You know I am not very good with . . . communication.”

Me, “I know, but I want you to absorb the stress you put me through.”

He said, “Do you want to take the dogs for a walk?”

I agreed and off we went with my two pit bulls. My deaf one, Esther, was particularly excited to see him. In fact, I had never seen her so excited to see anyone. She was impossible to calm down.

Brad, was of course, weary and defensive but warmed up to him faster than most men. Maggie, my eldest, just doesn’t really give a fuck about anything anymore . .  . except food.

So we walked and talked. I hadn’t done blow in a week or so, but was talking a mile a minute. I told him everything about running out of money, moving in, Danny hanging himself, the coke, the dogs, the everything. It was hard to breathe and talk.

We walked deep into the canyon, stopped at a local dive bar and hung out in the parking lot smoking cigarettes.

I put my head on his shoulder and said, “Thank God you are here. Just thank God.”

He said softly, “Its good to see you. So . . . this guy you were seeing . . . who was he?”

I dismissively spit out, “Jaq’s ex. He was an asshole.”

He said, “Wait, which ex? The white trash guy?”

Me, “No . . . no, the one in Irvine.”

Him, “Wait, the assfucker?”

I said, “Yeah.”

Later I realized, he meant another assfucker. Jaq had an assortment.

He said, “Why would you date him?”

I said, “Because he told me everything I wanted to hear. And I believed him like an idiot.”

He said, “What does he do?”

I said, “He is in law school.”

Pause.

He said, “How old is he?”

I said, “30. Do you really want to know all of this?”

He said, “I don’t know. Yeah.”

I said, “Well, it doesn’t matter. He is a fuckhead.”

He said, “I wonder what my nickname was after we broke up.”

I said, “Probably something similar, if not also fuckhead.”

He laughed.

Then he said, “Hey . . . um, you are looking really skinny. It looks like you’ve lost a lot of weight.”

I manically said, “Well, yeah. I have been living off of El Pollo Loco bean and rice burritos and the peanut butter sandwiches at work.”

Abe said, “Wait . . . you have been eating bean and rice burritos . .. at El Pollo Loco . . . and peanut butter sandwiches . . . and . . . that’s it?”

I nodded.

He said, “Yeah, (softly) you look really skinny. Can I take you to 711 and get you something to eat?”

I agreed. We walked the dogs back, and Esther was still jumping all over the place after a 90 minute walk.

It was after midnight and we drove to the 711 for bananas, corn nuts and coffee. He bought two of everything. And we sat outside on the curb and talked some more.

I could feel myself leaning into him. I just wanted to touch him. Fall into someone’s arms. Go back in time to when I had my Pasadena place with all our extra time, early mornings, foggy windows, and Abe making tea in my kitchen .  . . before everything fell to shit.

Abe was trying very hard to make me comfortable. He set up the passenger side car seat for me so I could sit, eat and be warm as he sat on the curb outside.

I leaned in, hoping my arm would brush his knee.

He had his usual Abe-isms, “Sorry, I know you just said that, my short-term memory is really short.”

And . . . “What we need to invent is a levitating surface, just a floating plane.”

I said, “What for?”

He laughed, “For everything.”

I laughed. It was his turn to talk a mile a minute, about the guy who hired him to put together a website, stopped paying him and is now holding his computer hostage.

He complained about there being no respect for the value of his time or the hard work put into the project.

I said, “Welcome to the working world. That’s how the rest of us feel.”

He asked me to eat his banana and finish his coffee for him. I did.

It was hard concentrating on everything he was saying. He talks fast and about complicated things.

Many people will claim he is less intelligent than me, I assume because he makes random remarks and lives like a stoner. The truth is, he is highly intelligent but in a totally different way that anyone I have ever met.

He said, “You know I was thinking about the symbol for health  . . . the Caduceus. It’s that rod with wings on it and two serpents wrapped around it.”

I nodded my head.

He continued, “I was just thinking how similar that is to the cross, you know, Jesus’ cross. And before that, there was the Ankh. They are all the same basic symbol, one after another. I believe, they are all the same symbol.”

I smiled and nodded. He is right. And he will just say these things at random and throw my mind into a totally different universe of thought. That’s why I fell in love with him.

Albert Einstein said, ““Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

He had a lot to talk about; lots of thoughts he was carrying around with him that he had no one to share them with. My mind kept going back to Danny, to moving, to breaking up with Abe and now Alan. Everything happens so fast. I can barely keep my mind straight before the next thing happens.

We went back to my place and I invited him in.

I said, “You can give me a massage if you want.”

He smiled and climbed on the bed, “Alright.”

I just wanted to be touched, by someone nice.

He rubbed my back and I buried my head in my pillow.

He said, “Did Alan give you back rubs?”

I said, “Oh . . . my . . . God . . . do you really want to know the answers to all these questions?”

He offered a low chuckle and then said, “I guess not.”

I just kept saying, “Thank God you are here.”

His hands were warm and he smelled good. I could feel that tingle, like my body was coming back to life after all the circulation was cut off; the prickling tingle of blood returning to your limbs, breasts and body.

The sun was coming up now and he was laying down close to me. He kept kissing my hair and as he got closer to my mouth, I said, “Kissing me comes with the promise that you will return my text messages in a timely fashion.”

He laughed and said, “I know I am not the best with communication. I just don’t get the whole phone thing.”

I said, “I am not asking for an immediate response. Just something within a couple hours.”

He said, “I promise.”

His lips fell over my mouth, with the warmth, a curl and a tickle. My stomach felt that dull flicker along the inside of my skin. What is that?

I curled up into him. “Thank God you are here.”

Abe, “Awww. The sun is coming up. I have to go to my parents’ today.” Of course.

Me, “Ok.” I buried myself into his arm. I love that detergent he uses.

Abe, “Whose blanket is this?”

Me, “Its Alan’s.”

Abe, “Where is the one I gave you?”

I said, “In the dogs’ crate.”

Abe, “Great.”

Me, “Well, I hated you. I didn’t want to masturbate on YOUR blanket.”

Abe, “Well, Alan gave you a shitty blanket.”

We kind of dozed and floated for a while until he had to leave.

My mind was racing. I was just with Alan a couple weeks ago. I kept seeing him in my mind and feeling like nothing was synching up right. The smells and the thoughts were trying to fall in place, but I was moving to fast for them to land softly or in order.

***

A couple days later, we went to Danny’s funeral.

Dora was not invited since the family, in all their infinite wisdom, blamed her for his suicide and told her to stay away.

I woke up early and met Sasha and Taylor, both blonde, beautiful and tatted up managers at Doggie Daycare, and we took Dora to the funeral home.

When we tried to enter, we were blocked by a large man who was a friend of the family, and, apparently, an ex-cop.

I said, “This isn’t right. You are RUINING this poor girl.”

He said, “I know its not right, but its a private funeral and there is nothing we can do about it. Everyone is hurting right now.”

Dora was determined to see his body. She was weeping and whining, “Please!!! Please, I can’t go on with seeing him like he was. I need to see him in a different way so I can forget what it looked like.”

He said, “You don’t want to see him in that casket.”

She said, “Yesss!! Yes, I do.”

She is still very much a little girl. The way she talks and holds herself. Maybe that’s why we were so protective of her.

She said, “It wasn’t my fault. It was the drugs.”

The man said, “I know. Danny always had problems, since he was 14. Even then there were drugs and another girl.”

Sasha and I argued the case a little longer but there was no getting around this big mother fucker.

Friends of Dora and Danny passed through. Dora said, “That is Danny’s ex-girlfriend of 3 months who cheated on him. She gets to go in but I can’t?”

And, in passing to another girl, “Great, say goodbye to my boyfriend for me.”

Dora asked me to go inside and take a picture with her cell phone. I tried but was blocked at the entrance.

Now I was getting pissed.

The funeral hostess said, “None of you are allowed in. I am so sorry.”

I said, “I was his roommate.”

She said, “I am sorry.”

I was kind of relieved. I didn’t want to take a picture of a dead body with a cell phone. But WHO THE FUCK ARE THEY to think they can prevent me from MY closure. Jesus, how the fuck am I supposed to cope with leaving for a couple hours and finding out my roommate died while I was gone?  I just never heard of such a thing as blocking people from funerals.

I sincerely thought after everything was said and done, they would come to their senses.

They didn’t and we left.

Not before I spit on their Mercedes SUV.

Sasha doubled back to spit on their windshield, too.

Then we went home and went back to sleep. It rained.

***

The place had this web of despair over it. Neighbors didn’t come out. Otis, the little, old pug, kept escaping and running up the side of the hill.  He would sit down halfway up an old, wood staircase, shaking and waiting. I got so used to tracking him down, I would just head over to his spot and talk him down.

I said, “Hey Otis. Danny isn’t coming back.”

He has this Ewok underbite, and bulging eyes. With his skinny legs shaking, he just looked up at me as if to ask, “What the hell is going on?”

I shrugged my shoulders and picked him up. He surrendered all of his weight in my arms. I felt bad I had to take him back to our apartment, which was now cold and empty.

Dora would have a temper tantrum every once in a while, bouts of crying and then silence. Sometimes I heard furniture thrown around.

My poor fucking cat was stuck up there with her. All those animals.

Shit.

I got sick for a while, but kept working. And time went by.

Abe came to see us more often, showing up with bags of groceries; bread, dark chocolate, begging me to eat up.

My unemployment finally started showing up at the new address. I still can’t wrap my brain around why I got nothing for so long, and then after my intense sob story to unemployment, everything smoothed out . . . like my name is flagged for pity with this whole story in their database.

***

The next week, we went to visit Danny’s grave, just me and Dora.

There was no tombstone yet. Just a pile of flowers.

We had to scatter ourselves across a section of lawn until we found the plot number.

I asked if she wanted to be left alone. She said no.

So I laid down on my back, in my heart-shaped sunglasses, as another funeral started right next to us. That was awkward.

Dora played their song on her cell phone and knelt down next to the flowers.

She started talking to him.

“Hi Danny . . . I hope you found peace now and aren’t suffering anymore. We are doing ok.”

I rolled my eyes. I am pissed at that motherfucker for killing himself. AND for having such a shitty family. AND leaving me to clean up his mess when I barely knew him.

She kept going, “Otis misses you. He keeps running away and looking for you. I just don’t know how I am going to make it without you. Remember, we said we were going to do everything together. We were going to break out of this and have a life of our own. We were going to do everything. We were going to get married.”

She was crying. I didn’t touch her.

There were other things . . . I tried not to listen since it wasn’t my conversation.

She ended it with, “Me and (me, Starfire) need you to watch over us now, ok.”

I jumped in with a deep, “Yeah.”

She continued,  “So help us get through this.”

She whimpered a high pitched goodbye, grabbed a flower off his grave and we left to go to work.

That was the last of Danny I will ever see.

He was just one person, but he destroyed everything around him. The ricochet of misery he created just kept bleeding out. He is the one who got out easy.

I couldn’t help myself, I had to fall in love again.

I know this sounds pathetic, and its fairly obvious I have a problem with men. Rather, an addiction. But I needed something beautiful.

Now people can keep saying, work on yourself, work on yourself . . . but WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? HOW DO I DO THAT?

I got a therapist and I went back to work.

I took care of my dogs and I got sober.

There was something more I needed, just that little pink from a blossom to bring me hope that beauty could still be found somewhere around me.

I was living on a gravesite. God help me, I needed a man to warm my bed, to make me laugh, to make me feel like I had a chance.

I allowed Abe back in my life under the contingency that we do not have sex. He pushed it, but stopped when I broke down crying after an orgasm.

He asked why.

I said, “I am just feeling too vulnerable for this . . . I’m sorry. We have to stop.”

He did. He wiped the tears off my face and let me fall asleep in his arms.

Dora, alone, upstairs had to endure all of it. And for that, I am deeply sorry. Perhaps it was cruel of me, but as long as I was discreet I believed I could fill myself up with magic again and find the energy to keep taking care of her. Maybe that was naive.

When Abe and Dora were alone together, smoking outside, Dora said, “If you plan on disappearing again, let me know. She has been through a lot and doesn’t deserve to go through anything else.”

Abe quietly nodded and blew out smoke.

Later he told me about the exchange and admitted, “She is right.”

I nodded. If he disappeared on me again, I would cut him off without question, forever. But, for right now at least . . .

Abe was back.

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Let Vomiting Dogs Lie and Never . . . Ever Do Cocaine

Let’s go back to a week ago, when I was in Alan’s apartment on a misty Friday morning and I received a text message from Trent. He and Kent got into a fight, the cops were called, and Trent was hurt again. He asked if I was up, which I was because Alan had class at 7am. So Trent called and we spoke.

He was in a bad place. The two of them, locked up in a one room apartment with cocaine, adderall and alcohol finally exploded. I don’t care who you are, if you are in the same room for a long time with one person, even if you are in love, and you are putting that shit in your body endlessly- it will explode.

Trent has been living there for the last few months, and because his hand and wrist were so badly injured, he has been out of work. School was out of session and Trent got lost in Kent’s life. Its ridiculous that their names rhyme but I didn’t catch that til after I already established Kent as a character. Trent doesn’t have a car, didn’t have a job and lived inside of someone else. In the end, I think he felt like he lost control and lost himself. I can’t speak for Kent other than I know that I love him, Trent loves him. Whatever happened between them is their business and I don’t believe in judgment or sides or defriending or any of that bullshit. People are people, and we are all held hostage by emotion and circumstance. We all do our best to do the right thing, and if there was love, there is worth.

I knew the state of mind Trent was in. He had just broken up with his first real love. He had to move back in with his mother.  He thought he was lost, but I still had my hand on him in the dark. I tried to remind him of the light up ahead.

I was stuck in San Diego too far away to comfort my friend, who was crying on the phone. He was mumbling and slurring, so I couldn’t hear him very well. I kept saying, “I wish I was there.” And Alan would listen within earshot, as he packed his books and walked the dogs. It was just a sad morning.

All I could do was tell Trent things would get better once he slept. He hadn’t slept in days, I think.

That night, when Alan and I made love. There was blood. I’ve been spotting for 3 weeks, part of being on the pill. He saw it on his hand, looked up at me and said, “Yeah, I’m done.”

Well, I wasn’t. So I said, “Don’t talk to me.”

I showered and went to sleep. He claimed I horse kicked him a couple times in my sleep. I have no memory of that- but sometimes I do things in my sleep.

When we woke up, we kept a respected distance. He made a joke, he explained that he was squeamish, and I shut down. Any form of sexual rejection for a girl is kind of unacceptable. It is on such a rare occasion that when it does happen, you feel like your vagina (and soul) is covered in slime.

He took a volcano bag into the bathroom with him for a good hour while he showered and I thought as I bled. Everything was so intense. I was still processing losing Em’s friendship and now possibly Kent’s. You feel those walls build up around you and block your vision. So I took half a valium and smoked a bowl.

When Alan came out of the bathroom to study, I crawled in his lap and surrendered. No more wars over silly things, I must keep our flame cupped in fleshy sanctuary.

When I got back home, I spent two weeks working at Doggie Daycare and arranging a move. A girl at work was willing to sublet a room with a private entrance to me, I get to keep my dogs, I get to live in the mountains and it will only cost me a fraction of what my rent costs now. It will save me, even if my unemployment benefits are severed.

I waited until it was 100% before telling Brian, my roommate, who complained that he couldn’t stand the sound of my fingers tapping on the keyboard at night, who left bags of trash on the floor and squeezed between appliances along with a very distinct odor on my stovetop that reminded me very much of vomiting up cheese popcorn on the car ride back from Girl Scout Camp in the fourth grade. I had to clean it up with McDonald’s napkins while everyone stared at me.

Brian’s needling was wearing on my nerves.

The first “fight” we had involved me coming home just to check my email. I could always feel tension from coming home and taking my computer away from him even though he never threw any money towards the internet bill.

Esther threw up earlier in the evening, and Brian felt the need to repeat, “These dogs need to see a vet.”

I said, “I don’t go see a doctor when I throw up.”

Brian, “These dogs NEED to see a vet.”

I said, “Do you want to pay for it?”

Brian, “No, they aren’t my dogs.”

I said, “That’s right, they are my dogs and I am telling you they are fine.”

Esther had been licking a scab on Maggie’s head that appeared during the weekend I was gone. When I asked Brian what happened, he simply said, “Yo, I don’t know.”

He doesn’t know jack shit.

He would say, “Yo, that cat looks miserable.”

And I would say, “She just spent 10 days roaming the neighborhood rooftops with other cats and squirrels. Trust me, she is not miserable. She is sleeping.”

Now he was pressing about the dogs and I was sick of it.

I said, “I am so sick of boys with no responsibility criticizing other people with full responsibilities.”

Brian, “Are you saying I don’t have any responsibility. (raising his voice) Yo, YOU DON’T KNOW ME, I GOT RESPONSIBILITIES!!”

I said, “I would love to go live on someone’s couch and save up some money. I can’t do that, I have to take care of them.”

Brian, again, “Yo, you don’t know about my responsibilities! I got homies, I got bills, I got my own thing.”

I raised my voice, “THEN FOCUS ON YOURSELF!”

Brian, “I am just saying, maybe the dogs would be better off somewhere else.”

Me, “Like where? A shelter? Cause that’s where they would end up. And they would be put down.”

He shrugged his shoulders. Dip shit.

He said, “Let’s turn down the tension here, let’s work this out.”

I was done with this kid. I don’t need to work anything out- I just needed him to shut the fuck up and sit in the corner until I was finished with my email and dogs.

He said, “I didn’t mean to hit a nerve about the dogs, I just like them and worry about them.” He did mean to hit a nerve.

I said, “They are more important to me than anything, so yes, it hits a nerve. I bust my ass all day long trying to pay for this house and yard.”

He said, “I know they are important to you. Are they more important than acting?”

I said, “Yes.”

He said, “I thought so.” He said it with that weight like . . . then you aren’t a real actor. There is a mentality with actors and anyone in LA who hears you say, “I am trying to be an actor.” Everyone behaves like you have to make this one elected career field more important than any other aspect of your life.

Well guess what, LIFE is what feeds the ACTING and the WRITING. Without life, there is no art. You isolate from life, you are nothing but a want-to-be celebrity.

Ask Julianne Moore and Meryl Streep if they love their kids more than acting? Do you think it compromises their craft? Of course not, you moronic piece of trash!

But, what am I going to do? Argue with some degenerate from Baltimore whose loud voice and poor grammar were belting out my living room window in the middle of the night. He was making my small haven low class and embarrassing me in front of my neighbors.

I turned my back to him and furiously played Scrabble. But he had to keep going.

Brian, “You like dogs more than people, don’t you?”

I was in a bad mood but the half honest answer was, laugh, “Yeah.”

Brian, “Isn’t that like a mental disorder? Its not schizophrenia but . . . somethin’. Its got to be something.”

I turned around, “Are you trying to say I have a mental disease?”

Brian, “Nah. I am just saying that might be something you should look into.”

Asshole.

Me, “Um, I have loved animals since I was four years old. Its one of the first memories I have, its just who I am.”

Brian, “Yo, do your thing! That’s cool. Do your thing.”

I turned around again, “Oh thank you, can I? Thank you so much.”

He said, “We gotta break this tension.”

I said, “Look, I don’t go around telling people whats wrong with them or how to live their lives. I don’t know how people like you find the time.”

Brian said, “You are critical all the time of everyone.”

I never talk to him, he doesn’t know what the fuck he is talking about.

I said, “The only people I can think of whose lives are in need of serious readjustment are people who hurt other people or themselves. That’s it. I can’t think of anyone personally I know who needs to change their life. I just assume everyone is doing what they need to do.”

Brian, “That’s cool.”

Silence.

Brian, “I got to put on some music or something.”

Me, “My Pandora is now maxed out for the rest of the month, so I’m sorry. No music.” He played my profile until my hours expired without apology or afterthought. He even added a few channels tailored for his own musical taste. He must have been very comfortable here.

Brian, “I thought that shit was endless.”

Me, “It isn’t.”

Silence.

Before heading down to San Diego for Alan’s birthday, I wanted to pick up Murray Man’s ashes (my cat who died in late January). I had been stalling for six months and don’t want to expose Alan to my misery quite yet. I want to feed him my darkness in small doses, so he knows there is something worth while in me first, before checking the price tag.

Frank offered to take me down to the Pet Crematory if I needed a friend. Though things between us were left hostile and broken, I took up the offer. There is a levity to Frank and I also don’t have to see him afterward if I lose my shit.

I didn’t lose my shit, but I broke down crying in the parking lot. I don’t remember much, just holding Murray’s ashes in a red cigar box and weeping that it was all my fault. My dogs hurt him so badly it triggered liver failure, and I forced him to live in a home where there was ever present danger.

Frank took me back to his place to kind of cheer me up. I kept texting my drug connection for valium or xanax or something- but she wasn’t answering. I guess she was at a baby shower. Even drug dealers go to baby showers.

Frank made a call, the only connection he had was for coke and he bought me a bag. I agreed to it in the four minutes I was asked because this particular dealer has a cut off at 10pm. I thought this to be a poor business decision until I tasted the coke. $50 and exquisite quality. Of course, free to me, which is equally good and bad for a poor girl.

The pain stopped almost immediately and I was gone. I played music. I climbed on furniture. I sipped wine and told Frank things I really hope he doesn’t remember . . . random dark things about myself or my past or my sex life with Alan. Whatever. I was blitzed.

We hashed out the blogs that upset him. He felt I misrepresented him. I explained that any male aggression or anger is perceived as a possible threat to my safety. He said he understood, but he is still struggling to swallow that last blog I wrote about him.

One thing I will say about Frank that will always carry my respect, he never crossed a boundary with me. I told him I was in love and committed to Alan, despite slinking around his apartment in little clothes like a groupie at a back stage party. He was a gentleman the entire night I did blow, and I really can’t say that I know many men that would be. Its nice to know I can trust him, even when totally out of my mind.

I don’t remember a whole lot about the evening, other than I lost myself in that shit all over again and it was heavenly . . . until I realized it was 9am and I couldn’t get anyone to cover my afternoon shift at Doggie Daycare.

Cocaine is the only drug where just discussing it reignites its powers. Coming down is rough. Its a bumpy road, man.

There was still some coke left but I had to get my shit together to go back into work. So I weaned myself off for the remainder of the day. Took a couple shots of tequila, smoked cigarettes and kept calm.

I made it. Even now, a week later, I crave that feeling again- feeling sexy and smart and ok about all the nasty shit spinning around me. Its just a feeling, its fiction and its borderline evil. I looked at the white bag that morning and said, “You are a demon.”

It took a whole day and a half to feel my upper lip again. I was blowing crusted coke and blood out of my nose for four days. All those bad memories and sentiments flooded through my kinked sinuses twice as hard as it would have if I never touched the stuff.

I texted a friend who went through a coke & rock phase in the 80s. He talked me through feelings I had about Em and the friendship, and I felt grounded, sober and good again. The cat I can’t fucking deal with yet.

I packed the quarter bag in with my other weekend goodies I would be bringing down to San Diego. And the night before leaving, Brian stumbled into my living room. He went through a bottle of rum every few days.

Brian, “What up?”

I mumble something indifferent.

That morning, Maggie had diarrhea all over the living room floor. As soon as I heard, I came in to clean up. He complained like somehow I threw shit in his face instead of serving him a cup of coffee, which somehow I think he always expected.

As I scrubbed feces off his free weights, I said, “Hey, that’s life.”

He grumbled, “Yeah. That’s life.”

I said, “Go write a blues song about it.”

He angrily gathered his back pack and stormed out of the apartment.

Now we were back in my living room at 10pm, me at the computer, him on my couch stuffing his face with fried chicken, beer and rum.

Brian, “Yo, why did Maggie get sick like that?”

I said, “She has a very sensitive stomach. It must have been something she ate. I moved your trash off the floor into the kitchen.”

Brian, “There was no food in there, though.”

Now Brian lies. I don’t know why because it makes no sense. He lied about breaking my drinking glasses after I discovered hidden trash bags of them around my kitchen.

Brian, “Yo, I think someone is breaking into your apartment and breaking your glasses.”

He lied about having weed while trying to bum some off of me. Esther, my deaf dog, pulled his stash out of his backpack. (Good girl)

Then he lied about having a bottle of rum behind the couch.

As I stare at it, “Oh, you have rum.”

Brian, “Nah.”

Me, “No, its ok. You have a bottle of rum.”

Brian, “Nope, only the beer that’s in the fridge.”

Me, “I am looking at it, you have a bottle of rum.”

Brian, “Oh yeah. I forgot about that.”

Brian lies. It doesn’t matter because I think he is a parasitic bum anyway.

Back to the living room, the computer, the confrontation.

Brian, “Yo, there was no food in that trash, though.”

Me, “Yes there was. Twice they pulled something out of there to chew on it.”

Brian, “That was the shit you gave them, not my shit. That was your shit.”

Me, “Whatever.”

I went to bed, and in the middle of the night I heard Brian shout, “Maggie THREW UP!”

Waking up, I stumbled into the living room and saw Maggie was sitting in front of the door, coughing up a puddle of kibble.

I cleaned it up and rubbed her tummy.

Brian, “I didn’t sign up for this! You should be paying ME to maintain these dogs!”

I laughed in his face.

Me, “Pay you? HA!”

Brian, “I did NOT sign up for this.”

I said, “You knew exactly what you were signing up for.”

Brian said, “Yo, can she sleep outside tonight? I can’t have her throwing up while I sleep.”

I growled, “You are not putting my sick dog outside.”

Brian, “What the fuck! I am not going to sleep next to her.”

I said, “She is sick, she is staying.”

The blankets for the crate were drying outside after being hosed down from the morning diarrhea, and all I had were a couple towels and my bathrobe laid down for my two pittie princesses.

I went back to bed and I heard him say, “If it happens one more time I am throwing Maggie out.”

Through the wall, I yelled, “What did you say!?”

Silence, then the sound of fiddling with the crate. I said, “You are NOT putting Maggie in a crate!!”

I came out and he had Maggie in the crate, sitting on the bars with only my bathrobe to sleep on. Maggie, making the most of it, was trying to kick a bed out of the 3 feet of cloth.

I said, “NO! NO!! NO!!”

We started shouting.

Brian, “I AM NOT SLEEPING IN HERE WITH A SICK DOG!”

I said, “WELL STOP LEAVING SHIT AROUND FOR THEM TO EAT!”

Brian, “Hey, I didn’t leave shit.”

I said, “I have been cleaning up after you and four animals since you moved in here.”

Brian, “Cleaning up after me!?”

Me, “HA! YEAH!”

Brian, “Yo, I am way cleaner than this place.”

Me, “Please.”

He was shouting, and I said, “LOWER YOUR VOICE, ASSHOLE! I HAVE NEIGHBORS.”

I didn’t consciously mean to call him an asshole to his face, but it slipped out so effortlessly.

He got in my face, “Who you calling an asshole!?”

Me, “If you don’t lower your voice, I am calling the cops.”

Brian, “You are gonna call the cops on a black man?”

I held up the phone.

Brian, “This is fucked up shit.”

I said, “You keep your voice down, or I am kicking your ass out tomorrow. You don’t threaten my dog.”

Brian, “I didn’t threaten her. I said if she throws up one more time, I am throwing it on your bed.”

Me, “You are ignorant.”

Brian, “You are calling me stupid, why, cause I’m black?”

Me, “No, because you are stupid.”

Brian, “What? I am not as cultured as you?”

Me, “You just have no common sense.”

More bickering and then:

Brian, “I am not goin’ nowhere. Check the law, lady.”

Me, “You have only been staying here for a month. You have no legal rights until after two months of residence.”

Silence.

Brian, “I am calling my homies now. They know what’s up. You can’t kick me out.”

I walked out of the door to smoke a cigarette. I was shaking. Its that feeling where someone yells at you and you are boiling with rage and shock and general FUCK YOUs, that you need to collect yourself.

I texted Frank and Jerry, asking for someone to come and take care of Maggie & Esther while I was out of town.

Jerry was asleep. Frank was playing poker at a casino and was wide awake at 2am.

I asked him to come over. He said, “You are doing me a favor. I am down by $50, I will be there in an hour.”

I walked back in and saw Brian on the couch, furiously texting away.

Me, “I will do you the courtesy of letting you stay the night, but you are going to clear out of here by tomorrow morning. I have a male friend coming over to spend the night.”

Silence.

Brian, “Ok.”

I went back to my bedroom and waited, staring at my phone until Frank showed up. He did. Neither of us knew how to handle it, like should he come in punching his hand or reasoning with the guy . . . Brian made it easy, he shut out the light and went to sleep.

Frank laid in bed with me and made me giggle- he said, “You on coke, wow, you um . . . put on a show.”

I said, “I warned you, I get a little out of control on that stuff.”

He said, “Well I had no idea, you crawling around on my living room floor was .  . um . . . you are a lovely girl.”

We woke up at 10am, I got up and asked Brian to clear out.

He rubbed his eyes and said, “Why do I have to leave again?”

I said, “You threatened the safety of my dogs and my property. You must leave. Its my residence.”

He said, “And what about the money I gave you?”

I shrugged my shoulders, “I don’t know what to say.”

I actually did, ASSHOLE TAX!

He cleared out all of his things, held my key ransom until I gave him back the few hundred he gave me, then he sent me threatening texts for the rest of the day claiming he would report me for animal negligence (which he misspelled).

I would love to see the caseworker assigned to visit my slightly overweight dogs as they freely romped in their yard, porch and living room. My place is so dog friendly, its almost illegal.

Frank agreed to stay for the weekend and dogsit while I visited Alan for his birthday. It was weird; the coke, the cat’s ashes, the roommate crisis all had me bonding with Frank instead of my boyfriend. It bothered me a little. This was the type of stuff that binds a couple and creates a history, weaving trust in with all the other sticky wonders of falling in love.

Its just not possible with Alan studying in San Diego.

Still shaken up by the Brian fiasco- I drove down to Alan.

Frank was revising his screenplay in my treehouse. He texted, “This place is really conducive to writing.”

I wrote, “Yup. Warmed it up for you.”

I showed up, smoked a bag of ganj and slipped into bed with him. When we made love, I could see his eyes crumpling a lot in thought. There was a distance. My mind was in my apartment that I loved, that I will be giving up, and the dogs and cat I furiously try to support.

The storm was clearing, there was a new place for me to run to that no one knows about, Trent and Kent are on the mend, everyone on Facebook is either moving or getting married. The transitional phase rattled my cage, but the dust is settling now.

The next day, I relaxed. I drank coffee. I caught up on all my television shows while Alan paced with his case studies.  All the adrenaline and anxiety was finally draining out of me. And though I was scared Alan would be grouchy on adderall and stress from finals, he was gentle and sweet with me.

When his birthday morning came around, I planned on cooking red velvet pancakes (he had a picture pulled up of some gourmet red velvet pancakes on his computer the last weekend I was there.)

On the third try, the pancakes were edible and actually pretty good. He came in and cradled me, as I spread Red 40 all over his kitchen and we laughed.

I tried

We drank mimosas and watched The Soup. Then I baked him a Smores’ cake, also on the aforementioned website.

Here things got fuzzy. The champagne was kicking in.

He blew out the candles, ate a piece of cake and then we started making out hot and heavy. I told him I couldn’t stop thinking about sex with him on cocaine. Honestly, going through that bag earlier in the week and not having intercourse felt like a waste.

He said, “I think we should have one more nap first.”

We skipped the nap. He poured us shots of rum and set up the remaining lines for me and I had possibly the most amazing sex of my life. I only remember a portion of it. I remember us both declaring the other as the best lover of our lives. I remember he said he was in love with me.

There wasn’t a lot of coke left, and I grabbed two halves of a Valium in his drawer. Then he gave me a xanax.

Its almost a shame because after asking him to talk dirty to me (which I’ve NEVER done and am honestly rather embarrassed by) I have no memory.

Apparently I had sex with him and got up to answer a text message, than came back, remounted and resumed.

Then he complained that in the middle of his birthday blowjob, I passed out on his hip bone. (I guess the 4am birthday blow job didn’t count . . .?)

I woke up in the morning, stood up, put both hands on the door frame, my hair was eating my face and I stared at him as he studied. My head was pounding.

He smiled at me, calm and clean, “How are you feeling?”

Me, “Shitty.”

He filled a bag for me to inhale and I went to the kitchen for something . . . anything.

He came up behind me and said, “You were saying some pretty dark things during sex last night. I liked it. Normally, I don’t like talking dirty.”

I looked away, “Me either.”

He hugged me from behind and I felt and still feel like somehow Alan is discovering a version of myself I never really acknowledged before. Look, couples talk dirty, no big deal. But I was unveiling a part of myself that even I am not able to fully process. And I am playing catch up with my whole identity when he is around.

Then we had more sex. I felt better.

He said, “I figured all you needed was some pot and an orgasm. Fix you right up.”

Me, “Did I clean up after baking that cake? I can’t remember.”

Alan (laughing), “No . . . I did. My anal side came out.”

Me, “God, are you going to be able to live with me?”

Alan, “Yeah. I will just need my own room, with my own stuff away from the dogs and cat.”

Me, “Did I end your birthday too soon? I mean, was the sun out by the time I passed out?”

Alan, “I have no idea.”

We decided to stop off at a sex store, it was on the way to Taco Bell. It was kind of a comfort, the suggestion to look around at sex toys and clothes meant that he still embraced me as a sexual partner. That whole day I worried I scared him off.

We got food, went home and watched South Park. The xanax made coming off coke easy, and I slipped in and out of consciousness to whatever that smell is .  . . laundry detergent, male deodorant and Alan.  I am so so in love.

I went back to work on Monday morning, but working at a Doggie Daycare is pretty much the best job to come back to after a sex/drug/love fest of a weekend. All my favorite dogs were there, Atticus the one-eyed doberman was coming back now and I was happy to have my home back.

The girl at work asked if I was still moving in, and I said I was.

We talked about the new overnight girl- who reminds me very much of little girls I played with in elementary school who I got to do scandalous things like sneak into rated-R movies or kiss a boy, and later ratted me out to her parents without provocation. She looks like she has never partied, wears spandex and flip flops to work and sometimes a little too much make-up.

I said, “Something about her is a little off.”

Dora (the girl I will be subletting from at work), “That’s cause she did too much LSD in high school.”

I said, “What!? HER!? I don’t believe it.”

Dora, “Yeah, that’s what she told me.”

Me, “I have a hard time even believing she smokes cigarettes, I can’t believe she did mass doses of hallucinogenics.”

Dora, “Yeah, that’s why she twitches and stuff.”

Later, we were chatting with Baye, a Korean dude at work, and we were talking about whether or not Jim Morrisson knew he was snorting heroin when he died, or if his lover lied and told him it was cocaine to avoid a spat about having heroin in the house.

Baye said, “I left behind those days of doing coke, long ago.”

I said, “You’ve done coke?”

Baye, “Oh yeah, I did a lot of it. I don’t really remember my graduation. I just remember going back and forth to my dorm, snorting a line, having a drink and going back. Apparently, I grabbed the microphone away from the Dean and said some nonsense. Then I walked around for the rest of the day in a cowboy hat while chewing on a ratted out cigar. Yeah . . . my mother was . . . disappointed.”

Me, “Does everyone who works here have a drug problem?”

***

Frank has been hanging around since I’ve been back. Its nice to have a buddy, after all the emotional chutes and ladders.

We go grab coffee or hummus at a local Armenian cafe and occasionally I will say, “Coke.”

Its still in me. Nothing good can come of it, but that shit really grabs me.

Frank occasionally will feed me stories about his coke days in New York.

Frank, “I was at this party, and I didn’t really know anyone. I went into the kitchen and this smokin’ hot red head just said, ‘Slap me in the ass as hard as you can.’ And without flinching, I slapped that ass. She turned around and slapped me in the face. Just before she walked away, she said, ‘You are kind of cute though.’

That weekend, we had this insane sex, I mean, awesome sex. And at the time I was just thinking about impressing her so when she said, ‘Is that guitar expensive?’ I said, ‘No, but that one is.’

She disappeared for a couple days and then asked me to meet her in an alley. I was blitzed out of my mind, so I was just following her, and I saw this car at the end of the alley with its lights on. I said, ‘I don’t know whats going on here, but good luck.’ And I swear she gave a signal to the car, he cut his headlights and she backed towards the car saying, ‘You’re missing out.’ Later they robbed the comedy club of like $16,000.”

I laugh. Shake my head. Walk the dogs. Then when I pull into a parking spot, I will deeply inhale and say, “I smell cocaine.”

Then Frank will launch into another story, “I was friends with this kid in grade school, you know, I kind of felt sorry for him. He was this really awkward red head kid, a little slow. And we would play this game called Girl Power. We would pretend we were being chased by girls and if they touched us, we turned into girls. It was his game, you know, I just went along with it. So we are running along and he would throw up his hands and say, ‘Uh oh, a girl got me.’ Then he would get down on the ground and hump the ground, like he was trying to rub off his penis. Later, I discovered there is a whole mental condition for that.

Anyway, once in a while this guy finds me and calls me on my birthday. He will come by with some ugly woman . . . hideously ugly women, with a bottle and hang out for a day. One day he comes by alone, with a bottle, a bag of coke and small black bag. I didn’t think about what was in the bag.

We snorted lines and talked for a while. Then he slips into the bathroom and comes out wearing a small black dress. This tall, weird looking man in a small, black dress with tufts of red hair . . . it was just (shakes head) weird. I mean, picture it, I am snorting lines off the coffee table, then looking up and suddenly seeing a man in a black dress descend out of my bathroom.

And he opened up to about how he believes he is a woman trapped in a man’s body, how he is saving up for an operation, you know, all of that.”

I said, “And then what happened?”

Frank, “Well, I finished his coke and then politely asked him to leave. He was cool about it.”

Me, “Does this coffee taste like coke? Taste it.”

Frank sips it.

Ponders.

Shakes head.

Frank, “No.”

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No One Says “I want to do a nude love scene in a student film for no money when I grow up . . .”

Late last week, I rescued two terriers from Downey animal shelter. In case you did not know, Canada is short on small dogs. So a few rescues found me through Facebook and compensate me to rescue, transport and sometimes foster small dogs until they are transported to Canada.

This time, I picked up a very small 11 lbs cairn terrier you would see in any movie with a 25 lb mix terrier who looks like a cartoon character. The boy was small and pretty, so I named him Brad. The girl was large and dominating, so I named her Angelina; Angie for short.

While waiting in line, the rescue was deciding which dogs to put down and which dogs to bury at the bottom of the pile to buy time. They brought out a small dog,  gray mucus caked to her nose and mouth.

The rescue worker looked her over and said, “Yeah, I think we should just let her go.”

One tear, then three came down my right cheek. I turned to wipe them away before the rescue could see. I am an amateur at this kind of work. When the rescue worker turned to ask me a question, she saw I was misty and told me to wait outside. Then she said, “Stay away from the door. All the owner surrenders will break your heart.”

So I tried to stay away from the door and waited for Angie and Brad. When Brad was handed to me in a blue towel, just out of neutering- the poison slipped away and my churning stomach was flooded with warmth.

When you liberate a dog from a shelter, even if you just pull them, they are stuck to you like water on dirt.  Utterly devoted. They sleep by you. They smile at you. They cry when you leave the room or car.

 

Friday night, Alan showed up around 5am after his new car had trouble on the way.  This time when he walked in, we embraced, fast and hard.

As he lay down, exhausted, Angie (who is in a crate in the living room) started crying. Alan’s eyes opened wide. He was exhausted and grouchy.

Alan, “I have never hated a dog I never met before.”

The next morning we took all of them; my two, Angie, Brad and Mr. Wilson on a walk. I led the way. Alan was falling back and not talking. I walk fast and long, most people aren’t used to it.

Me, “Do you still like me?”

Alan, “I told you that that pulled muscle in my chest would hurt for 2 more weeks and I couldn’t go very far.”

I got quiet. I know. With me comes lots of baggage; a big suitcase full of animals.

When we got back to the apartment, I heard him say, “Isn’t there a clean spot in this apartment? I just leaned up against the wall and now there is brown goo on my shirt.”

I quietly fed everyone. Gave Brad his meds to rid him of weezing and coughing.

When we drove to set, he said, “I just wrote this down, ‘Bad mornings give insight. Some people care more about others than themselves. They will give to complete strangers until they have little to nothing left. Its endearing until you enter into a relationship with one like this… once you are in a relationship you become one person essentially and then they stop knowing how to care about you.’ It does not refer to you specifically but its just me thinking about things in general. Especially the last part.”

I said, “That’s very true. Maybe that’s why none of my relationships work out.”

I also thought of Jaq and a book called “Why Men Love Bitches.” Maybe the idea is that men want a woman who wants the best for herself, so when they are one unit, he will also deserve the best.  She is worth it, and therefore he is worth it.

With me, you get no furniture, food or free time.

Saturday was the first shoot date for the short film about the Gonzo writer experimenting on hallucinogens.

Alan would be there, which was a relief since during the wardrobe fitting, half of which was lingerie, the director kept hugging me and saying asinine things like, “Those are . . . great panties.”

I was really nervous. The strap for my black bra was missing, so Alan and I went to Target for a robe, a black bra and some black heels. The bottom of my stomach dropped out.

Me, “I feel fat. What if I don’t look skinny? What am I doing?”

Alan, “Why don’t we get you something to eat?”

Me, “No, I am never eating again.”

Alan, “Its funny that you care more about how you will look than your acting.”

Me, “Well, I know I can act. I don’t know I can look skinny.”

We got to set and Alan hugged me.

Alan, “Aww, you’re shaking.”

Me, “I am scared.”

I haven’t ever done anything like this before. Lingerie. A real love scene. I don’t know . . .

 

The lead of the film was a Greek TV actor who was blocky, plucked, shaved in the wrong spots and totally arrogant not to mention named something stupid, so his alias will be equally lame, “Ballad.” Yeah, it really is that stupid.

After rehearsal, Ballad was complaining that he tore a ligament in his arm from a fight over a basketball game the week before. In a thick accent he said, “I said, ‘You don’t want to fuck with me. Then I punched him in the face, ripped his shirt, took off his pants . . . everything.”

I said, “Took off his pants? Sounds complicated. Was that one leg at a time or . . .” No answer.

So when Saturday came, I didn’t ask anyone if it was ok that Alan come. Since everyone was going to be douchey on a set where I had to wear lingerie and perform a sex scene, I thought it my right to bring an ally.

We showed up and I introduced him to the director, whose face was frozen in a smile. Ballad made small talk, “I hurt my arm in a fight, and I play everything man, golf, basketball, football . .  . my arm really hurts though so I won’t be able to bench press your girlfriend today.”

Silence.

Me, “Bummer.”

 

At the head of our first scene, I was forced to wait outside on a fucking hot day. My entrance was through the front door. Alan was waiting outside with me, but out of sight to everyone on set since he was in the shade, a couple steps down from where I was standing.

Ballad made small talk while the lighting and camera got ready.

Ballad, “Is your boyfriend strong?”

Me, “Yes, he can restrain me in bed.”

Ballad, “Really? That’s amazing.”

Me, “Yeah, it is amazing.”

Look, Alan is skinny and looks like a computer geek (a cute one at that). This meathead couldn’t wrap his mind around the idea that a woman would champion any other quality in a man other than his razor burned, short, tan physique.

When Ballad was “playing” a rolling drug user, he was actually kind of interesting. He had a weird Johnny Depp thing going on. Of course, his lack of intellect, insight or height made him totally undesirable in every way.

Make-Up was set up in the one bedroom of this three-room apartment where we were shooting all scenes. There was one chair in the entire room. After make-up was done, it was just Alan, the make-up girl, who was, of course, magnificent and my confidant on set, and me.

Me, “I am a socialist. You stand. I stand.” I pushed the chair out and stood with them.

Makeup, “You are such a fascist.”

Me, “If I was a fascist, I would sit back down in the one chair. Socialism or Communism we would all get a chair or all sit on the ground.”

Alan, “If this was communism, some one would be assigned a chair.”

Me, “If this was capitalism you would be sitting down in the chair.” He is a white male.

Makeup, “No I would be sitting down.” She was the only one paid to be there.

Alan, “No, if this was capitalism, I would sell you a chair.”

We all sat on the floor.

 

After my first scene was done, I was prepped for a fantasy sequence wearing a corset, ruffled white panties and big angel wings with real feathers.

Alan leaned up against the bedroom door and said, “Wow.”

I blushed.

The scene was just me in front of a screen, with my wings pinned up against both white screens and a fan in my face. I was supposed to move seductively. Footnote* I walk into my bedroom doorknob everyday.

A moron in Victoria’s Secret PJ Jersey said, “Are those your wings?”

I stopped and looked at her.

Me, “No.”

Pink Jersey, “Oh, well . . . I don’t know.”

Me, “Actually, I just hide them underneath my t-shirt everyday.”

The crew chuckled.

She played a song for me and I tried to put my hips in the music while staring at the DP’s hand held up for my eye line, Make-Up crouching behind my ass holding up my wings and Alan to my right holding a small, dirty fan a foot from my face.

I dragged my hands up my upper torso, cupped my breasts, threw my hair, heavy eyes, lazy smile, whatever.

Two takes.

Thank God, that was awkward.

I dropped the top of my head into Alan’s stomach and said, “How was it?”

He said, “Unbelievable.” I made my dorky nasal snore.

Next, the director asked to talk to Ballad and me in the bedroom alone.

Director, “Ok, next is the love scene.”

Ballad picked up some loose weights in the room and started working out right there in front of the mirrored closet. (I do not exaggerate these people. I swear to God. This asshole was watching himself pump iron while discussing our love scene.)

Now, the script only has one small line of action for the love scene. My character, Renee, mounts the lead actor topless wearing angel wings. In my mind, this sounded artistic.

Director, “So the love scene will be shot in 4 set-ups, I mean 5. First one, you mount Ballad and rip his top off. Then he takes off your dress.”

Me, “This is a bra top dress, so I am not wearing a bra underneath this. It will just be my breasts.”

Director, “Alright.”

Uhhhh . . .

Director, “Shot two will be your ankles wrapped around the back of his neck, with him on top of you like this . . . may I demonstrate.”

He did. My legs were straight up, I mean, straight up.

Me, “Really? Are you serious?”

Director nods abruptly and says, “Yes. The camera will be over his shoulder right on you.”

Pause.

Me, “Um. Alright.” Did I just say that?

Director, “Shot three will be you laying on your back topless, faking orgasm. Just like in that video you sent me.”

I did a short film, a comedy, where I orgasm in a slip while on the phone with my intern. It was silly.

Me, “You want me to orgasm!? Topless?!”

Director, abrupt nod and, “Yes!”

Me, “Are you SERIOUS?”

Director nodded again, while looking straight down to the floor.

Me, “Alright, then what?” Now, I was just curious.

Director, “Shot four is his head going down your chest to your crotch.”

Ballad was very confused about this shot . . . hmmmmm, I wonder why.

Director, “There will be one of him thrusting from behind, like um .  . . doggie style?” He tried to play this off like he didn’t know English very well.

Me, “Um, really?”

Director, “The last shot is you in angel wings, sitting on his lap kissing him.”

Oh yeah, the only SHOT IN THE FUCKING SCRIPT! And that’s SIX set-ups!

I said, “Ok.”

I was already shaking my head. Still, when I think about this shoot, my head just starts shaking. I mean . . . what the fuck? This was being sprung on me just before we shoot. It was such an obvious bullshit move. And I was falling for it, totally aware of the manipulation . . . and STILL agreeing to it.

Un-fucking-believable

Now, I had already told Alan I would be uncomfortable kissing another man in front of him. He said, “Whatever you want. Whatever makes you comfortable.”

The Director pulled me aside and said, “Can your boyfriend wait off set? Just to make everyone more comfortable, especially Ballad.”

I said, “Yes, we already spoke about it. He will be off set.”

The Director put his Indian hands together and nodded, “Thank you.”

Me, “This better be shot tastefully. I am trusting you with everything here.”

Director, “I know.”

Me, “And if it isn’t shot tastefully, I will kill you.”

He laughed.

Me, “I am serious. I will KILL you.”

He bowed his head and said, “Thank you for trusting me.”

I really liked his last short film. It is probably one of the best I have seen, professionally or otherwise. I liked the script and concept. That is the only reason I went forward. That and the whole thing scared me. Feeling scared makes me feel powerless, so I would rather just confront it.

So on set was Make-Up, The Director of Photography, The Director and the moron in the pink jersey (just because they thought having ALL the women on set would make me more comfortable).

Ballad, the Director and I stepped out once more so I could show them how complicated it was pulling a sundress with a control bra top off. The band gets caught and it looks funny when part of a dress is tugged upward, while the other half remains.
When we went through a working trial, Pink Jersey said, “Are you guys finally ready, after your millionth rehearsal?”

She is a kid with cheap make-up. Its fine. I might have said the same thing sitting fully clothed on a couch, waiting to start an education just out of high school.

I was once friends with a director who did amazing movies in the 80s and 90s, and he said, during one particular movie half of you have seen, his A-list actors asked to review the story boards just before their love scene. He said, “It was ridiculous. I said, fine, you wait here on set in Serbia while we send off to Los Angeles for the exact story boards.”

I went into the kitchen and took two shots of whiskey. I get why they asked for the story boards now.

The apartment was fucking hot. We had to shut the air conditioning off so it wouldn’t muffle audio. I don’t know if you have ever been in a sealed off apartment with a bunch of sweaty boys, half of which are Indian, but it smells like the back lot of Hurry Curry (a cheap, weird restaurant in Venice).

The girl who lived in the apartment kept walking through the set, spraying a can of Febreze in the air saying, “Every room smells like him.” The Director was sweating buckets of Indian curry.

Hiding in my room with the Make-Up Girl and Alan, I said, “I am sweating like a . . . like an . . . Indonesian Barbie shop.”

Make up,  “Like a fisherman on the back porch of his swamp house in Pensicola?”

Alan, “Like a Tijuana hooker on payday?”

We both laughed.

Me, “I keep putting on deodorant but I can’t tell if its my BO I am smelling or not.”

Alan, “You need something like what I have.”

Me, “I don’t want to use deodorant with aluminum in it. It causes breast cancer.”

Alan, “You have to choose cancer or smell bad. I choose to cancer.”

I ascended from the back room and sat down on the set bed. I don’t know if anyone can really identify with a moment where you are on a bed in front of an audience, holding a thin robe over your breasts trying to get in the mood to make love to someone you despise . . . but it makes you very grouchy.

Before getting down there with Euro trash, I sniffed both my pits.

Me, “Yeah, I’m good.”

Ballad, “I’ve never seen a woman do that in my entire life.”

Me, “Welcome to America.”

Everyone was trying to lighten the mood by selecting music to play during the shoot. The DP said, “I have the perfect thing.” He held up his phone when the cover art of a Michael Bolton album popped up.

Me, “Michael Bolton. No fucking way. NEXT!”

DP, “Ok .  . ok . . . “

Then Bon Jovi came on.

I put my hand on his shoulder and I said, “Listen to me, what I am going to say is going to help you for the rest of your life: Never play Michael Bolton or Bon Jovi for a girl. You will never get laid.”

Pink Jersey pulled up some stupid pop bullshit. Ballad said, “NOOOOO!”

Pink Jersey said, “Wait, what about this?”

On came “She Loves Everybody” by Chester French.        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLIWLEJzqYc

The slow electric guitar accompanied sluggish drums. It was a sexy song.

Me, “Perfect.”

Pink Jersey, “It’s the song Alan suggested.”

She Loves Everybody. Great. What’s THAT supposed to mean?

We did the rip off the clothes scene. We kissed and fell to the bed.

Ballad, “Can you keep to my right so you don’t block my profile?”

Me, “Of course.”

Take the profile, asshole.

He kissed too rough. Heavy and deliberate. He was performing. I was trying to be tender, I don’t know how else to make love. His beard was growing in and scratched my face. His arms were bulky and unwelcoming. And he tasted like a Slim Jim.

We cut the ankles around his neck scene, since the camera couldn’t find the angle. And the doggie style, thank God! THANK GOD!

The next scene was me orgasming, topless on a bed as the dolly moves up my torso, over my face and on to candles. Ugh.

Did it in one take.

Pink Jersey said, “Wow, that sounded really believable.”

I said, flatly, “I know. Lots of practice.”

The crew laughed.

Then the comments:

The Director, “I am putting this on my reel.”

The DP, “I am putting this on MY reel.”

Me, naked, “That’s right, everyone put it all over the internet. That’s just great.”

The DP, “We could send this to Vivid.”

Me, “Not funny.” In fact, I was getting angry.

The dolly is a platform on wheels, dragged with a camera on it to create fluid movement. Someone needs to push the dolly, so the DP said, “I am gonna need my whole crew in here to watch this.” He laughed.

I looked him square in the eyes, with a frown.

He said, “Just kidding.”

In between takes, they kicked on the A/C. I had no idea where Ballad went, but he disappeared, probably because he was not the star of these particular scenes. Sadly, I was.

The next scene was Ballad going down on me. Unfortunately, I was wearing my nice lace panties that can easily fall over one vaginal lip or the other if I angle my body. The fact that Ballad was face to face with my cooch makes me want to douche with a can of diesel.

I could feel his breath on my stomach and pelvis. I grabbed the back of his greasy hair to make it more erotic. All I thought about was Alan on the other side of that door.

The final shot was me mounting him topless in angel wings. I was waiting until camera was ready with a flannel robe around my chest.

Pink Jersey, “Should we find another song to keep things going?”

A few failed attempts on Alan’s phone pumped a nasty, “No, leave it!” from Ballad. I guess he was feeling vulnerable and grouchy too, even towards the one girl who seemed welcoming of his sexual advances.

The camera was ready. I disrobed. Then there was more negotiation over the shot. I said, “CAN WE PLEASE SHOOT THIS? I AM NAKED HERE!!”

The Director, “Ok, ok here we go.”

We shot it. Ballad kissed me hard, but there was a tender moment where he laid his head on my breasts, with feathered wings on either side of me. I hope they choose that one. It was the only genuine moment I remember.

After three takes, we wrapped those scenes.

We opened the door so we could breath through the Indian perspiration.  Before running to Alan and oxygen, I had to shower off Ballad’s sweat. It soaked through my panties and was all over every part of my body.

When I emerged, Alan was right there. I just walked up to him and hugged him. He held me. Everyone flooded out on the small porch to feel fresh air.

Ballad came out, facing us, “Aww, that right there is real love.”

I turned around and laughed, “We just started dating.” I didn’t want to challenge what it is, but the truth was we were just beginning. Is love even possible?

The DP said, “When we picked a song, she immediately liked the one you picked. That means you share the same soul.”

I looked up at the DP, he was in his 30s, also foreign but from Eastern Europe somewhere. I smiled. That was a nice thing to say.

Then he said, “So are you telling me I have trouble getting laid because of Michael Bolton?”

Me, “Yes. Yes. That is exactly what I am telling you. It’s the 21st century, dude. Embrace it.”

 

Alan and I slipped off to hide in a staircase attached to a building adjacent of the set. I sat there, with my chin resting on my knees and said, “I feel like they just stole a piece of me. I don’t know, I feel really vulnerable and used. I hate men.”

Alan said, “Men deserve to be hated sometimes.”

Me, “Men act like you should be flattered everyone wants to see you topless, moaning while they stand around with hard-ons. Like it makes you feel sexy. It’s not just the scene, its men in general. Always after you. It’s exhausting. I don’t feel sexy. I feel like prey.”

Alan, “Well, sometimes I am going to let you make mistakes. It’s hard to watch, but I know you wanted to experience this, so you could write about it.”

Me, “Yeah. I did.”

I wrapped my arms around his knees and he collapsed over me, hugging my back.

Me, “Thank you for being here.”

I could feel some hot tears stain his jeans.

Alan rubbed my back, “Aww.”

Me, “Its fine. Its just a weird feeling, that’s all.”

Alan, “Well, now you know what it feels like. And next time you will say no.”

I nodded.

I don’t want to take back the experience. I want to understand it more. The greatest part about it all is that Alan understood why I did do it, without judgement and then he articulated it for me.

We returned to set, and everyone was studying my face. They were curious, too.

The Director said, “Very well done. Do you want to see it? Its very tasteful.”

Me, “I saw myself orgasm on screen once with a sex tape I made when I was 16. I never want to see that again.”

The Director, “It was a great performance. Perfect.”

Me, “Yeah, well if I gave you a real version, it would sound something like this: (Cue me doing a foghorn impression) And then you would ask for something different, so I just jumped ahead and gave you what I thought you wanted.”

He clasped his hands together in Buddhist prayer and said, “Thank you.”

 

I changed in the room with Alan. The next scene involved wearing black lingerie; waking up next to Ballad and dumping out the experimental hallucinogen he was tripping on. I stood there in black panties and a black bra. Gawd. What was I doing on this project?

Alan, “You look amazing.” Oh yeah, that’s what I was doing on this project. Seeing if I could pull off sexy.

Ballad’s action was to throw me back on the bed and stab me to death, thinking I am a demon.

I was actually looking forward to this scene the most, as I have always wanted to die on screen. Sadly, my direction was to just fall limp and stay still while being stabbed to death. Snore.

There was about 2 liters of fake blood poured all over my stomach, a gash was glued to my side and a fake knife was given to Ballad who really got into the role and stabbed the life out of the pillow less than an inch from me.

My eyes were closed, but I could feel spit and fake blood splatter all over me as he screamed, “Die! DIE! Die you fucking demon!!!”

The first few times, my arms came up just in a defensive reflex. Then I heard a voice in my mind say, “This can’t hurt you. This can’t hurt you at all.”

And I let go. It made me feel safe to let go.

Until I heard things like, “The fake knife is broken. Can we use a real one?”

I opened my eyes, “No fucking way. No!”

And .  . . Ballad, “How about I stab her once and then punch her in the face a few times?”

Director, “No, lets just stick with the stabbing.”

At this point, the whiskey numbed out whatever was left of my sensibilities. Alan was in the corner watching me. The make-up girl was over me with blood looking annoyed. And the boom operator lowered the mic to my mouth and said, “Do you want to say anything for the record?”

I said, “I would like to know if my vagina is hanging out?”

The Boom Operator moved the mic to the sound guy then back to me. No reactions.

Me, “Nothing? Ok. Whatever.”

He laughed.

Take me. Take all of me.

After that scene, they couldn’t tell us if we were wrapping or not, so Alan and I pretty much just left. It was 12 hours. I was worried about the dogs. I hadn’t really eaten and I needed to process whatever the fuck I just went through.

On the drive home, I just kept shaking my head.

Me, “Every time I think about this project, I just shake my head.”

Alan, “No one is going to see this movie. It’s going to be a piece of shit.”

Me, “If those bits of me topless orgasming leak out on to the internet, my career is screwed.”

Alan, “No its not. You just have to learn to say no, that’s all. Cameron Diaz has a very bad movie from her early career called BONDAGE, where she didn’t know not to say no.”

Me, “Was she topless in it?”

Alan, “Oh yeah. She has spent millions trying to destroy that movie, but with the internet its impossible. Terrible movie. She still had a career.”

Me, “That makes me feel better. I am just feeling so angry.”

Alan, “I understand. If you want to take it out on me, that’s perfectly ok. Let it all out.”

Me, “I don’t want to take it out on you. I want to kick the shit out of that director. Now I know why actors are so bitchy.”

Alan, “Yeah. You’ve got to be.”

We came home and walked the dogs. Then we got beer. Then we made love.

I got my soul back.

When we were done, I said, “I am gonna fix my life for you.”

Alan, “I want to fix your life for you.”

Me, “No, I just need to organize. I feel really close to something great.”

I bent down to kiss him.

Alan, “I know you are.”

 

I was texted my 8:30am call time at 5:30am. That made the morning rough. I didn’t want to go back to set.

Alan said, “You should just blow it off. Show them how much power you do have and ruin the movie.”

Me, “No, I made a commitment. The good thing about all my problems is some couples have to pay for retreats and trust exercises. We just have my life. And it’s free.”

We discussed what to do with the dogs, and decided he would stay, feed and walk everyone while I went ahead to set. He would meet me there.

When I left, I chased after him with his sunglasses and said, “Love you.” I kissed him and then saw the biggest smile I have ever seen on Alan. Better than Jackass 3.

Now, I know the pheromones in my brain are clouding judgment and we are just getting to know each other, but if you feel it . . . does that make it real?

90 minutes later, he showed up to set.

I greeted him at his car, still in my street clothes.

Me, “This is what you missed, nothing has been shot yet, the AD slept in and the director left to go find him . . . the neighbors called the cops, I was forced to review my professional resume with Ballad since he was so God damn condescending, and you know he insisted on lifting weights again while we talked and tore the tendon in his arm even more and . . . yeah, that’s about it. Thank God you got me stoned before I came to set.”

Alan smiled.

A man in his early 60s called to me from his balcony, parallel to the street where we parked.

Man, “Hey, sweetheart, what’s your name?”

I told him.

Man, “I have a housewarming present for you.”

I climbed the stairs to his balcony and he dropped a broccoli sized marijuana bud in my hand.

I said, “Thank you. God, I love California.”

 

Alan took his volcano with him to set, plugged it in and proceeded to get stoned throughout the day. It doesn’t noticeably alter his behavior. I wonder how dangerously sharp he would be if he didn’t smoke.

My first scene took off at 12:30pm. The AD was on set, I pulled him aside and said, “I want you to know that I couldn’t make love to my boyfriend this morning because of you. And I only get to see him once every few weeks.”

He said, “Seriously?”

I kind of laughed a “yeah.” Yeah.

The scene involved my character blowing passed Ballad’s publishing agent and confronting him about his drug use.

So I was forced to wait outside the front door, in dry heat, with some other punk actor.

There was a hole in the side of the apartment building wall.

He said, “I dare you to stick your finger in that hole.”

I said, “You stick your finger in that hole, then stick it up your nose.”

Him, “Do you dare me?”

Me, “Yeah.”

He did.

Him, “Gross, GROSS. There is like cigarette butts in there. I don’t want to go out with a girl like you. I don’t want to go have drinks with you, at all.”

Me, “Did you read about this kind of tactic for picking up women from a book or something?”

Him, “I don’t read.”

Me, “Audio tape?”

A voice from inside, “Action!”

We did the scene, blah fucking blah.

Next scene was Ballad hearing pounding on the wall, and then walking out to see a hallucination of himself making out with me against the wall.

Alan was taking production stills with his phone. When we got the blocking down (where we physically stand in the scene from beginning to end), I saw Alan slip off set.

Later, I found out Ballad asked Alan if he wanted to watch him kiss his girlfriend. Alan then left.

After that, I had a scene where I was put in demonic make-up for the hallucination, right before Ballad stabs me. That took a good 30-40 minutes.

While we waited, I said to Alan, “If I ever die, you have permission to date the Make-Up girl. I really like her.”

Alan, “You think we are breaking up after you die? No way.”

Me, “You will finally have a chance to enjoy anal sex with me.”

He shuddered.

Me, “Yeah, we need someone else to stop us before going down conversations like this.”

 

After laying in corn syrup in my underwear, I asked them to hold shooting in the bathroom so I could clean off the half gallon of blood in my hair and skin.

The AD’s first words were, “Clean up?”

I showered in my lingerie and Alan said, “Wow, showering with lingerie on is really hot.”

Even with demonic make-up on?

Before we left set, we said our goodbyes.

The director hugged me and I said, “Thanks for dealing with my feelings, of which I had many.”

Alan saluted Ballad and said, “Bye, I will probably never see you in anything ever again.”

 

We went home after that- with the intention of showering and going over to Em’s for Fourth of July veggie burgers and beer.

Instead, we made love. Somehow time just got away from us.

In the middle, I heard Angie growling at one of my pit bulls in the next room.

With my legs in the air, I said loudly, “NUH UH!!!”

The growling stopped. Silence.

Me, “Ok. Sorry.”

Alan laughed and collapsed on me.

My mind was in a fog from the sex scene, being stabbed, falling in love, having no time between rescuing these dogs and jumping on set, throw in an audition for a California Milk commercial (which is great for being a vegan) . . . I was just in a permanent state of confusion, but bi-polar confusion.

 

We showed up to Em’s about an hour late. I could tell that annoyed them a bit.

Then I asked Em’s Hubby why he said he wanted to make me cry at the after-party from last week.

I don’t even really remember the conversation, but it went badly. I can’t recount it very well since I had a couple glasses of champagne with minimal food. I felt myself just dim shut.

I was despondent, not just to Em and her company but to Alan too.

Alan was working to keep me talking, to keep my mind moving in different directions.

He said, “You haven’t had time to process the filming, the rescue, all these things that happened and you have this guy staying at your house keeping you from reflecting on it all.”

I said, “I am glad you are with me, I would have gotten lost otherwise.”

I chain-smoked. Then on the drive back, we ran over an opossum.

We left shortly after, came home and walked the dogs again.

Wilson was the happiest I have ever seen him, I think he loves being around the other dogs.

Alan, “Wilson is really happy here. I don’t think he is a city dog. I would leave him here if I knew for sure I could be back next weekend. I just don’t want to leave him for more than a week.”

I said, “I understand. The invitation is always open if you want to leave him here.”

Alan, “Yeah, I need him. (pause) We have a nice little pack here.”

Me, “I know.”

Brad, Angie, Maggie, Esther and Wilson were all walking in harmony with each other. It’s quite the sight to see a small purse sized dog lead two pit bulls and a weird terrier mix with a perma-smile on her face trail behind.

Alan said, “The kissing scene really bothered me more than I thought it would. I was surprised. The sex scene I didn’t care about, but the kissing really got to me.”

Me, “I’m sorry.”

Alan, “No its ok. Its something that will have to come up again in your career.”

I grabbed his arm and kissed his neck.

Alan, “There are all these things that make you perfect, but I don’t want to tell you what they are because it will change.”

I said, “I like that. Don’t tell me.”

The next day, my mind still wasn’t functioning. I went to Doggie Daycare to pick up my paycheck and Ocean said, “Hi!! HI! Are you ignoring me? Are you not interested  unless it’s a lesbian with black glasses and a hat.”

I said, “No, no .  .. my head is just way above me. I think I am in love. I haven’t had a chance to catch up to this weekend.”

I called in sick to work. We went to pawn shops, a cannabis club, a petco . . . drove around Pasadena. We were talking about nothing in particular when he said, “We both made a choice not to be normal.”

Me, “Did I make a choice? Actually, yes, I remember making the decision in 1st grade.”

Alan, “I remember making the choice, too.”

Me, “I don’t know if it’s really a choice. I couldn’t be what they were.”

Alan, “Me either, but its something we own now.”

We got Chinese food.

My fortune cookie read: “Rough Times are Behind You.

We both laughed at that one.

His read: “A man’s greatness is measured only by his dreams.

He had to leave around 3am at the latest to make his 7:30am class in San Diego, leaving us only a few hours together.

We walked the dogs and then went to bed.

I spoke briefly about what happened with Em and her husband. I felt like I was just saying what I thought, and I didn’t mean to evoke conflict or emotions . . . that seems recklessly naïve now, looking back.

He said, “Sometimes, people don’t know how to understand someone, so you put on a costume to make it easier for them.”

I said, “A costume? Shouldn’t we force them to accept us for who we are?”

Alan, “No, it’s just a costume. You wear it when you go out with other people. Make it easy for them and yourself. Then when you come home, you take it off.”

I thought about that. I always feel like people should accept things for what they are, but I have been living life the hard way for a long time.

In his arms, I heard him say, “How could I know someone so perfect all these years?”

I said, “I was thinking the same thing.”

We fell asleep; I woke up at 2am to the sound of packing. He leaned over me in bed and said, “I have to remind myself that I am going to see you in 3 days. “

I put my head in his lap.

One last walk and I let him go.

I fell asleep and had a dream I ran into the Prophet on the street. He was a little heavier now and wearing headphones. He took them off an smiled at me.

Then I dreamt about Alan, a social reject constantly underestimated by strangers. Devilishly brilliant.

He might not be the one I end up with (though my heart and vagina think so), but he is something.

I wish I could tie this together with a big lesson learned, but I am still standing a little outside of myself, looking both directions, trying to figure it all out.

No moral.

Yet.

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Modeling, Narcotics and Gay Porn

Two weeks ago, I had a model audition. I hate those auditions. Models are like actresses but cattier and not interesting. My model booking service always sends me to the same studio for auditions, I don’t think it’s the only company they work with, but it’s the only company that calls me in. The studio is very clean, a large big screen plasma TV, a white shag rug and lots of glass. Glass walls, glass doors, glass tables.

Last time I was there for an audition, I saw two people walk into the waiting room and scope out the girls, pinch their faces in disappointment and shake their heads. Shortly thereafter, I was told by a red haired woman with a pointy face that she couldn’t work with my hair type and excused me in a room full of bitches. Other girls were excused before me, but something about the moment turned me off to those casting calls. I am not a model, I can’t walk, and the only knowledge I have of modeling is from watching every episode of America’s Next Top Model at least once. (Yes, I have.)

So that particular morning, I thought about skipping the audition. The studio is all the way out in bumfuck Woodland Hills, it takes gas to go out and be rejected in person. Its part of the business, I get it, but it reminds me a little bit too much of picking teams in gym class. Though I was the most athletic girl, I was the least popular. They never let me forget it. Here I am again, updating my Facebook status, leaning up against the back wall trying to stay upright on heels.

We were called back and the clacking of high heels on linoleum filled the building. Then, we were pulled into a presentation room and a very sweet Latina gestured towards me first. Me? First!

She asked me to step aside with one other girl, and then we were asked if we would agree to a specific haircut and color. She showed me a spread called Glamazon featuring an Asian woman with long flowing hair and bleach ends. I said, “Yeah, I am fine with that.”

Immediately, the two of us were ushered into a salon parlor where I had to sit on my bony ass for 4 hours as my hair was cut and dyed while being forced to listen to bad pop music. The other model was friendly enough; she had very short hair that was being chopped even shorter. She said, “I book these jobs often enough to make good money, but I am a commercial actress and they always give me hair cuts that aren’t very marketable.” They cut one side of her hair at a strict angle over her ear, left the other side long and dyed portions of her bangs green, purple and frosty blonde. The rest of her hair was a deep black. I loved her look.

She was reading a book and didn’t talk much.

The beautiful Latina working on my hair was conducting a live webinar on the 2 styles- both looks for the fall.

She cut my hair and asked, “When was the last time your hair was worked on?”

I said, “Here on another job in January. I can’t afford haircuts. Well, I can at Supercuts but I don’t know what’s so God damn abstract about asking to look like Lindsay Lohan. Billowing layers. They always only give me two, long bangs and a trim.”

She said, “Well this is better, getting paid to get your hair cut.”

I said, “Yes, its ideal.”

She said, “I chose you in the waiting room. I wanted you as soon as I saw you. If you were here for another casting call, I was going to wait around and try to nab you.”

I blushed.

We discussed dating.

She said, “Anywhere else in the country and I would have a boyfriend. But dating in LA sucks.”

This hair stylist was gorgeous, I mean, she looked like a softer Jennifer Lopez.

She continued, “Now I am finally at that age where I can date someone in their mid-40s and not feel weird about it.”

I said, “Where are all the guys our age?”

She said, “I don’t know where they are.”

I booked this job for $400. That’s the most I have ever made on one job before. Of course, I don’t get paid for 60 days.

When my hair was blown dry, I looked in the mirror and looked different, almost elegant. I have never been that pretty before.

I updated my Facebook status, “Don’t believe what the media tells you about age. I just looked in the mirror and am prettier now at 33 than ever before.”

We were fitted for wardrobe, and the other model came out in a jet-black bob and a black vintage dress, I said, “Wow, you look amazing.”

She was suddenly cold with me, barely looked over and said curtly “Thank you.” Swiftly, she turned around and walked out. Jesus, don’t hate me for being beautiful.

When I drove home, I was high on the whole thing. I knew that eventually I would start getting jobs. There have been some great, well paying prospects calling, auditioning.  . . But no bookings. Sooner or later, I had to book something.

I called my parents. My mother didn’t pick up. She’s mad at me.

Two week before, she was pushing me into moving back to Washington again. What would I do there? My life is HERE.

She said, “But you are miserable there.”

I said, “I am not miserable, I am heartbroken. I was heartbroken up there too. I was miserable when I was stuck in a lease with a boyfriend who was beating me up and my bosses were torturing me. I asked to move back then. You said, ‘Tough Love.’ TOUGH LOVE. I started over on my own and I am not going to give that up.”

She said, “Oh, I see. You are going to bring this up. We gave you that car years ago and I send a couple hundred a year when I can. I . . . I have a headache. I have to lie down.”

I was tipsy but WTF . . . if Jennifer Lopez can move into her father-in-law’s ranch in some Robert Redford movie, I SHOULD BE ABLE TO GO SOMEWHERE TOO. She wasn’t there for me. That is when I stopped calling my mother once a day, and stopped caring what she thought.

She pushed me into grad school. She pushed me into getting married. She pushed me into office jobs. She pushes . . . with no foresight. When I reach for her, she lets go entirely.  I can’t take that anymore.

So here I was, with great news and she was going to turn her back on me again. She and Abe have a lot in common.

I called Alan and left a voicemail. He was in the process of buying a car and finding a new apartment. It seems like everyone is in a major transitional shift. I left a message on my sister’s voicemail and then I rushed over to Trent’s to take him to the doctor.

Two weeks before, Trent got in a fight with a taxi driver. The driver wouldn’t accept credit card for payment, so they were driving around for an ATM but Trent didn’t want to dish out extra cash for gas while they were looking, so tempers simmered. They found one; Trent was tossed on whiskey, wine and tequila. He ate a sandwich, got in a fight with the driver and smeared the sandwich all over the back seat of the car. Pushes came to shoves and they got in a fistfight.

Trent’s lip was split and his hand was swollen to three times its original size.

One week later, he was sitting on his boyfriend’s lap in the back of a car sharing the seatbelt. The car of intoxicated twenty-something’s erupted in an argument of sorts and the car smashed into a barrier off the freeway.

Trent’s wrist popped on his swollen hand.

He is beating himself up.

I told him I would drive him to the “free clinic” which is actually $40. I was late, trying to fit in a free lunch with fridge food back at my place in the middle. I fucked up.

As I was driving him, I said, “I am worried about the people you are hanging out with. I heard you were dragged by a car once a couple months ago . . .”

He said, “Oh. Yeah. Persian guy.”

Trent likes to seduce men who are on the fence with homosexuality. When he gets them to turn, he loses interest. I guess you could look at that as evil, but I think he is doing a public service. I mean, at least now they know they are gay.

We were 2 minutes late and they said the doctor left for the day.

I called around other clinics, but no one could give me a straight answer on whether or not Trent would have to pay, they all just referred us to Urgent Care which is at least $100.

We sat in my car and Trent told me not to worry about it. It was hard making an appointment, he hated the clinic and its the bureaucracy and would rather just drink a bottle or two of wine with me.

So that’s what we did. We grabbed a couple bottles of white at a liquor store and went back to his boyfriend’s place. Kent, the BF, is a high school teacher and wasn’t home from school yet.

Trent said, “At work we see how these boys hurt your feelings when they don’t call back or whatever. It hurts us. You are smart, gorgeous, and really funny. You can’t let them hurt you.”

I hung my head and gave a slight nod.

Trent said, “I really like the blog and I am a total snob. I think you are going to end up being one of those artists that isn’t appreciated until after you die, like Emily Dickinson.”

I said, “Yeah, I don’t really mind. I think it’s my calling to document a life of struggle right now, at this moment in time. And I have to live it to capture it.”

We exchanged some secrets, which easily rolled out of my mouth onto the bed where we sat. Trent smiled and nodded. I did the same. No tears or bursts of confession, we were just kicking in the drywall. We knew each other already, the details don’t matter. Its ok.

Kent came in, cute, early 30s, a little shorter with a full beard and glasses. I hadn’t met him yet, so when he walked in we were pleasant but studying each other from a cool distance.

Trent said, “She is like my soul mate.”

Kent said something to the effect of, “SHE’S your soul mate. Oh, then shall I leave you two alone . . .” or something. It was playful but not.

They invited me to a drug dealer’s house to pick up narcotics for the Gay Pride Parade in West Hollywood the next night. It’s a pretty big deal down here.

While Kent got ready and the boys kissed, I emailed Alan. Buzzing from cheap wine I wrote . . .

Me: June 10 at 8:08pm

“I just looked up how long it takes for all the body’s cells to regenerate because I don’t want Jaq’s vagina on my vagina. It’s 7 yrs. :-/ ” (Jaq is his ex-girlfriend and my ex-friend).

Alan: June 10 at 8:09pm

“Of all the arrangements of words I had not wanted to see tonight, I think that one might be at the top of the list.”

I wrote: June 10 at 8:32pm

“Let me redeem myself: I think about you all the time. Half the time I think about having lots of sex with you and even going down on you (which I never fantasize about) and the other half I am thinking about how to make you happy. Maybe I will learn how to cook.”

Alan: June 10 at 8:53pm

“Nicely done. And I saw your kitchen! You know how to cook! You just have to know how to cook for me. (hint: it involves a drive-thru) “

Me: June 10 at 9:17pm

“Going to a hippie drug house soon. I want to slow dance with you. And eat Thai food. And be your girlfriend.

Does that scare you?”

Alan: June 10 at 9:22pm

“Well hippie drug houses scare me. Baths really don’t offend Mother Earth. Other than that, no.”

I followed them to this house, and a middle-aged woman in a short black bob, purple (almost stylish) short moo moo and knee high pink socks in pink converse greeted us at the door. The wall to my immediate right was full of vintage Barbie dolls, from floor to ceiling. A room straight ahead appeared to have a red couch in the middle of green walls.  She guided us to the kitchen, which was wall to wall of sci-fi toys still in their original packaging. All the toys were grouped by brand, “AstroBoy” “Jetsons” . . . stuff I never heard of. The toys were the wallpaper.

The ceiling had stars and planets painted as a backdrop with the occasional space ship toy hanging suspended in the air, facing off with another similar model craft. A few of those laser toy guns, like Flash Gordon, lined the wall over the doorway. It was extravagant.

The cabinets had no doors, so you could see vintage glasses and bowls from the 60s in perfect order. A Vintage B-Movie poster covered the entire fridge door.

The woman, Marcia, was nervous. She didn’t make eye contact but was very direct. “What do you want?”

They said xanax, cocaine, adderall and Mollys (pure MDMA). Trent offered to buy me something. I said I never tried adderall. He got me a pill.

We left and walked back to Kent’s apartment.

Once the second bottle of wine was opened, the mood changed. It became an emotional free for all.

I told them about a lover I had in college, and how once I asked him to wear his boy scout uniform and gave him one of the first blow jobs I had ever performed. Kent had a boyscout uniform, put it on and I took pictures of him making out with Trent. It all felt very natural in the moment.

 10pm

Trent, “Yeah I was in a porn. I was young, really young. I didn’t know what I was doing. You can see me though.”

I said, “Did you get paid well?”

Trent, “No, I accidentally left the check for $600 in the car when I argued with this guy on the film. I asked for the check back but he said that was it. So I didn’t get the money and now my ass is out there. Whatever.”

10:20pm

Kent, “My brother’s friends used to bully me all the time. I was forced to drink my brother’s urine.”

 10:33pm

Me, “I had sex when I was 14 with someone older, in his mid-twenties. It was horrible. It was a terrible experience. I was uncomfortable, there was this black light, it hurt and I didn’t know him very well. I ran into him when I was an adult and he asked me if I regretted it. I said I did. He said he didn’t because it was a beautiful thing. I shook my head. I wanted him to know that I hated what he did to me. 14 is young, you forget how young until you actually meet a 14 yr-old.”

I still tell people I lost my virginity at 16.

I never really tell that story because I am ashamed of it. Somehow with them, in this tiny little apartment, I felt like I could say anything and there would be no judgment. It would never be held over my head later. They just knew what I was talking about, in a way most women I know don’t.

We took half a pill of adderall and then I saw the beautiful white lines of coke lined up on the glass table. Kent offered me a line.

I looked down at it and said, “Hello, old friend.”

The snort of white powder tastes like aspirin. As it crawls through your nasal cavity into the back of your throat, your heart starts racing. The real high is about to hit as it slowly drops down the back of your throat into your heart.

I sat down in Kent’s massage chair, the only chair in this studio, which violently rolled into my back. It was painful but I thought it would help work out the kinks in my back. Unfortunately, thanks to the drugs, I sat there for 5 whole hours while my flesh was beaten into rubber cement. My mouth hung open in excruciating pain thinking and emailing. Oh God, the emails . . . WHY!?!? While the chemicals were still merging into my blood stream, I started emailing Alan.

Me: June 10 at 11:50pm

I want u

Me: June 10 at 11:52pm

I want to give u the best sex of Ur life. If I concentrate I think I can.

Alan: June 10 at 11:52pm

Me: June 11 at 12:06am

I am trying to learn about blow jobs for you.

Me: June 11 at 12:44am

You are beautiful. I want to make you a vegan milkshake, give you a Bj and then kiss you.

Alan: June 11 at 12:46am Report

My umm… tastes change with my mood. all of those tastes include you though. now I’m off to dream about you.

Me: June 11 at 12:47am

We are talking about genocide. I wish u were here. Or just awake. Law is more important than drug escapades with me. But u Are amazing enough to make this even more interesting.
Alan: June 11 at 1:18am

Woke up long enough to tell u I miss u already.. bed seems empty.. talk to you tomorrow.. take care of your gays :D

Me: June 11 at 1:50am

I miss you. Stuck with the massage chair while they discuss higher intelligence and Mayan culture. Always thinking . . . about you.

GAWD, did I send that? For SHAME.

Sometime after, Kent was on his phone, scrolling through a community website trying to recruit a boy for a threesome with Trent. They had tried a threesome earlier in the week, but Trent lost his erection when he realized that he was jealous and asked the boy to leave. The boy picked up his clothes and ran out. Kent thought it rude but this may be Trent’s first love. He must experiment to know what makes this affair different than the others. Experiments must come with failures.

Trent knew what Kent was doing on the phone while I typed away.

They got in an argument and I mediated.

I said, “Trent, what Kent is trying to say is that because the Prozac makes it difficult to keep an erection he wants to bring someone else in the mix so you are sexually satisfied.”

Trent said, “Really?”

Kent said, “Yeah.”

Trent, “I am sexually satisfied.”

I said, “Kent, Trent gets jealous in threesomes.”

Kent said, “Really!? I didn’t know that.”

I said, “Yes, Trent is in love with you.”

Kent said, “I know . . . “

Trent said, “I love you.”

They kissed. I resumed emailing, but branched out to men I had unfinished mental business with.

To Cabby (my first love from 10th grade). June 11 at 3:21am: “Why did you really break up with me?”

To Atticus (one great date and no call back) June 11 at 3:22am: “Did you read the blog?”

To Kashul (two nice dates and no call back) June 11 at 3:23am: “Did you read the blog?”

To The Prophet. (the most intense love affair of my life) Sat, Jun 11, 2011 at 3:26 AM: “Do you read the blog?”

I didn’t email Abe, nor had any desire to. That’s when I knew I was really over him.

Kashul emailed me back right away, June 11 at 4:09am

“Send me the link… “

I wrote, “June 11 at 4:35am

“Nah. Just checking. :)

He wrote, June 11 at 4:35am

“Checking what…?”

Cabby wrote back, June 12 at 3:57am

“Social pressure amidst my delayed maturity the result of my first TBI.” (Traumatic Brain Injury) Cabby was hit by a car in the 7th grade and in a coma for two weeks. They actually had to staple the top of his head back on. When he woke up from the coma, he cruised through college, got his Bachelor’s Degree and resumed high school so he could be a normal kid and got caught up with me. He will never be normal.

Now he is a Registered Sexual Offender for initiating a sexual relationship with a high school student. I always joke he never got over me.

***

While Kent and Trent continued debating experiences with botched threesomes and their night in a sex club, stating who was jealous of who, and who wanted Kent and not Trent or Trent and not Kent- I would step out for a smoke.

One would follow me out and we would continue talking. Trent and I got on the subject of attempted suicides, we both had done it and were both institutionalized for it. We really do have a lot in common.

I said, “And what really sucked, is in the mental institution they wouldn’t give me vegan food.”

Trent, “That’s why in jail I exchanged apples for burritos.”

We went back inside, and we finished the coke. I thought about the Prophet, it is my only association with cocaine and part of why we bonded so intensely . . . just like Kent and Trent were bonding now, and I with them. Drugs can corrupt the mind, but they also bind souls.

Kent said, “You are so pretty.  So is Trent.  So pretty.  There is so much pretty in the room I can’t take it.”

I straddled Kent, squeezed his cheeks and said in a baby voice, “You are a cutie pie. Whose a cutie pie? You are. Yes you are.”

Kent asked to put on a video one of his students gave him, it was Pink Floyd Live. Trent didn’t want to watch a video of Pink Floyd, and I even think there was mention of who was jealous of which Pink Floyd band member. Trent wanted to put on gay porn and was describing a scene to me. I asked to watch it and crawled in bed with both of them, sitting at the end of the bed between their feet.

In went the DVD and I watched two scenes of men dominating and degrading each other. It was interesting; I hadn’t ever really seen men do it to each other.

Now watching porn isn’t exactly erotic for me. It’s more like watching Discovery channel but porn moves a little slower and offers less information. The men were angular and blocky with one incredibly feminine man; they call a Twink, always in the mix. Trent is a self-described “Twink.”

Via Wikipedia: “Twink or twinkie is a gay slang term describing a young or young-looking gay man (in his late teens or early twenties) with a slender, ectomorph build, little or no body hair, and no facial hair.  In some societies, the term chick or chicken is preferred. The related term twinkle-toes, which implies that a man is effeminate, tends to be used in a derogatory manner. The terms can be complimentary or pejorative.”

After two scenes, I waited it out until all three men orgasmed on the one guy and then said, “Ok, its 6am. I’ve got to go home.”

In unison they said, “Noooooo! Stay!”

Kent said, “You have a very calming energy.”

I wanted to go home and give myself a few orgasms before the coke wore off, and I would assume they would want to do that to each other. Not to mention, I had an audition in four hours.

Trent walked me to my car and said, “Now you are a really Hollywood starlet.”

I sniffed up one nostril and said, “I’m ready for my close-up.”

We laughed and I went home. I gave myself about 12 monster orgasms. And I don’t use that term lightly. Between masturbating, I played some Pink Floyd and flirted with Alan on-line some more. I don’t know when that kid sleeps.

I wrote: “Sorry about the emails. I didn’t promise you I would learn to cook, did I?

Then I wrote, “I’ve decided after this evening with my gays, that a couple just starting out in love should not go to sex clubs or have threesomes.”

The adderall remained after the cocaine was soaked up by the morning light. I felt worried about nothing in particular and I was shaking a little.

Alan wrote, “Yeah, you are going to want to do a lot of things, but your body will be useless for the rest of the day.”

He was right. I missed my audition, and from that point further, I promised myself never to let the drugs interfere with my career again.

It took me about two days to recover. I couldn’t sleep at all that night and I worked the day after, and then I had my modeling gig. I am getting to that age where looking tired could ruin my career. So I slept a lot, and drank lots of grapefruit juice.

Monday morning, I went in for my first modeling job. I couldn’t afford a latte and the coffee maker I bought for $2 at a second hand shop was broken already, so showing up at 6:30am uncaffeinated was brutal.

Then, to have to sit in a chair and stare at yourself for hours on end while two people whip your hair about … is maddening. I thought about sex to keep me alert.

The woman who rejected me at the last casting call because she couldn’t work with my “hair type” came in to help. She said she entered into a beauty contest to help give her a title, so it would be easier to book hair seminars. She kept saying, “I was way out of my league. One girl gave me something to keep my bathing suit from going up my butt and it was super glue. Another girl said, ‘Congrats on making the top ten. Oh yeah, you didn’t.’ And walked away. They were so mean. So I never did it again.”

That’s why she was so cold to us at that last audition. The thing is, we are all exposed to pretty bitches. It made her want to be one. It makes me not want to be one.

When I left to change into wardrobe, with my hair and make-up done, I looked in the mirror and said, “Never in a million years did I think you could look like this.”

We did the first webinar, which was sickeningly boring. I sat there and let someone display my hair with a very medium smile on my face. They asked for a soft, no teeth smile, keep our face relaxed and not look into the camera during the webinar because it makes viewers “uncomfortable.”

We didn’t rehearse, so during the live taping I was brought in with the other model to show off the final hair style. In heels, I am well over 6 feet and I couldn’t fit on the screen standing up.  So they gestured for me to crouch and hover over the other model.

We had two webinars with a three-hour break in between. We decided that I should not only do the next show barefoot, but also sit in the chair with the other model standing behind me.

During the break, I started talking about my sex life to keep my mind going and engage the others. The other model chugged a 5-hr energy shot and started turning red on any part of her body that was touching the seat or a surface. She had alabaster skin, so the red really freaked her out. I told her to drink some water and flush it out.

The Make-Up Guy became a confidant with the other model. I told them about the director who kissed me during the audition.

Other Model, “Ew, gross. I would never take that role. Ever. “

I said, “I am taking it, I don’t know, as long as he isn’t the lead actor. I like the script and haven’t done a short in a while.”

Other Model, “Eugh, I don’t think it’s worth it.”

Then I told her about Joel and the $100 check. The Make-Up Guy, a big, black and very feminine man gave the old gay, closed mouth, “Nuh uhhhhhhh.”

Other Model, “What does he do?”

I said, “He is an actor but he also bartends.”

They both laughed and she said, “What is he going to pick up another Saturday night shift so you’ll be his girlfriend. That’s pathetic. Tell him, ‘Hey Asshole, I make more than that just so people can do my hair.”

I get that I was supposed to feel shame and outrage. Everything is complicated though. Joel liked me in a way that made him feel desperate enough for a grand gesture that had nothing to do with his heart and soul. And I felt badly about that.

Other Model, “Thank God I am not hot. I don’t have to deal with directors trying to kiss me or men paying me for sex.”

She thought I was hot? Please.

I said, “You are married. You are in a different category.”

She said, “I don’t bring my wedding band to auditions, but I guess that’s true.”

I said, “I think men can smell that I am vulnerable.”

The Make-Up Artist shook his head and said, “Its hard dating out here. Its because no one is called out on their behavior. You can be whoever you want to be.”

After the second show, I sadly took off the dress and left to deal with more audio grief on my project. It always seems like a waste of pretty to go home alone after a shoot.

The emails came back to haunt me. (Preface: Atticus sent me a puppy rescue story about a dog who shared my first name a week or two ago.)

Atticus emailed back: June 14 at 3:11pm

This may be a stupid question but what blog? Also I should probably mention I have a girlfriend at the moment, so after you tell me about this blog we should maybe go back to our no-talking-during-relationships situation. I know I know, I initiated this one, but that puppy story was just too cute.

***

I wrote: June 14 at 3:31pm

Oh if you don’t know it’s irrelevant. I was not of sound mind or body when I emailed you and a few others that night.

I figured you had a girlfriend. I am also dating someone but in my relationships emails aren’t a threat. Being adults and all.

Why don’t we do one better and defriend? That way you can feel much more secure in your relationship.

Atticus wrote: June 14 at 3:57pm

Dude, I’m an adult, come on now. I know emails aren’t a threat but I can imagine a saucy email exchange somehow biting me in the ass months later, so I dunno…just being courteous.

If you would like to defriend, no judgments. I have no desire to defriend you.

***

I wrote: June 14 at 11:09pm

I wanted to go home and smoke a bowl before responding to you.

A) I would not have a saucy email exchange with you because I am seeing someone I think is special, and out of respect for him and disinterest from me, there is no need.

B) Courtesy, Atticus . . . courtesy would NOT be taking a girl fresh off a break-up out on a date and then asking her to come home with you while having no intention whatsoever to call her. You were not forthright with me, and though it worked out for the best, I am seeing now that you didn’t respect me as a friend, as an individual or as a woman. For all I know, you had a girlfriend at the time.

I called you after my break-up to meet because the relationship made me feel cynical and lonely. I thought spending time with someone I connected with and was attracted to would remedy the emptiness. Your behavior only amplified it. And then to find out you miraculously recovered from heartbreak to form a relationship with someone else, when the truth is, you just wanted me for that night.

I am a girl with a heart and mind. And the “diss” I guess is the right word for it was burn on top of fucking gushing blood from Abe.

I spent a few days wondering what I did wrong and concluded you read my blog and didn’t contact me because of it. Which I would actually kind of understand.

As far as I am concerned, I dodged a bullet with you. I am glad I didn’t sleep with you and even happier I didn’t get to know you.

You are a douche bag, Atticus. The new guy is making up for it though, you are lucky. Otherwise, I would be really pissed off right now.

***

He wrote: June 15 at 1:01pm

Your contempt for me lies in the assumption that bringing a person home for some physical fun is somehow immoral, that good people, male and female, don’t do this all the time without assuming it’s somehow a precursor to a relationship. I resent the notion that this makes me a bad person. If I had somehow lied to you, that would be a different story. You told me you don’t have sex outside of committed relationships, and I respected your boundaries. (Not true, I was on my period, which is why we didn’t have sex)

You were respected. You know what a rebound is, and you know that everything about that night has the obvious markings of one. To quote you:

“I called you after my break-up to meet because the relationship made me

feel cynical and lonely. I thought spending time with someone I connected

with and was attracted to would remedy the emptiness.”

If you didn’t want it to be a rebound then don’t talk about your recent breakup, and don’t go home with your date. I owe you nothing but the respect a good person deserves, a respect you seem to think that I do not.

Very sorry to message you. I’m glad to hear you’re seeing someone who makes you happy.

***

I wrote: June 15 at 1:13pm

I have had a lover since and was open about what I wanted from that relationship before we got physical. That is the difference between you and me. Not the act, the means to achieve the act.

I liked you. You knew that. You blew me off.

Goodbye.

***

My email exchange with Cabby pretty much ended with his offer to buy me a plane ticket to Hawaii and give him a chance to sexually satisfy me. Something he failed at when he came to visit LA in 2006.

***

And then Joel, after not hearing from me in a week and change, he read my blog and wrote me a painful email. Per his request, I cannot include it in the blog. I felt badly though, and I think I owe him a conversation.

The blog continues to stack cross winds into a tornado of dry, hot emotion. My personal life was bloody last week, but at least my career was doing well.

***

My sister took leave from her 9th grade English class and came out for a Joyce conference in Pasadena to stay with me for two nights. I asked her about the man she was seeing, who she was so excited about during her last visit.

She said, “Something’s off. We have gone on 8 dates and not gotten passed first base. He always walks me to my car, is always the perfect gentleman . . . but I think he is either living with his ex or still married. Unless he is still too hurt about his last relationship to get physical.”

I said, “Men don’t work that way. Women do, but not men. Sex is their motivator for almost everything.”

This made me profoundly sad. My sister has not been in love for years and hasn’t had sex in four. Love is magic, when you don’t see it or feel it, you stop believing it exists.

I told her that I partied with a high school teacher who does cocaine. She said, “I don’t blame him. I drink every day, I have to or else I couldn’t bare my job. I gained back all the weight from the surgery.” (She went through two liposuction treatments, which were frankly grotesque. I nursed her back to health after the first one and I never want to see blood and fat ooze out of tiny holes in my sister again.) She said, “I gained back all of it. But I am going to keep drinking.”

That morning, she woke up suddenly and said, “I don’t know why I always have angry, violent dreams.”

She isn’t happy. God damn it.

Before work, she asked me to pick up some marijuana lollipops from the clinic. To my knowledge, my sister doesn’t smoke at all. I think it will do right by her, so I did.

She hated the conference and felt like it was a waste of time, so when I came home after work with the lollipops, there were 6 empty bottles of beer and Mick Jagger singing on my computer screen. I looked at her and she said, “I didn’t know what else to do. I couldn’t find the remote.”

The next morning, I woke up from a dream where a strange man was pressing into my back hard like the massage chair. I said, ‘That hurts, stop!’ And then I was restrained while he pressed harder. The pain was unbearable. The thought I had in my dream was ‘Let go of your body and leave. Die.’ I woke up with a breathless gasp. My sister touched my arm and said, “It’s ok.”

She picked up her phone and scrolled through the news. Information before breakfast.

My Sister, “Looks like Weiner is stepping down.”

Me, “Its about time. Jesus.” He shouldn’t have lied, looking back; maybe he shouldn’t have resigned either.

My Sister, “And his wife should leave him, but she’s pregnant.”

Me, “So?”

Sister, “She should give it up for adoption. I wouldn’t want any connection with that piece of shit.”

Me, “A baby is more than a connection to the father, it’s a life growing inside of you.”

My Sister, “Blah-blah-blah, blah-blah-blah-bah. I need a wash cloth so I can take a French whore’s bath.”

We got up and went for coffee at a local Starbuck’s, which is our ritual now when she comes to visit.

Walking back to her car, she spilled coffee on her sleeve while rustling through her purse.

Sister, “Damn it.”

Me, “Help is available to you. I have this whole other hand. You don’t have to do everything by yourself.”

Sister, “Apparently, I do. Apparently I will be dying alone while on your deathbed, you will still be getting angry emails from men.”

We said goodbye. I hugged her hard while she lightly patted my back. We are totally different people. She hasn’t discovered the secret. I can tell you, but you have to give yourself up to it 100% . . . “Fuck it all.  Live for your soul.”

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