Private Magazine

Month: November, 2016

Doomed Chemistry

Ever have a crush on someone from afar? Someone you only know a little bit, but they seem like your “type”? Well, I did.

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It’s 10 pm and I’m driving to Murray’s house. Porch lights flick on as I drive down his street. I pull to the curb. It’s still open-window weather, and I overhear men talking in the driveway next to me.

“Donde estan las setas?”

“En mi patio…”

I’ve been here before, once, a while back.  But where the heck is Murray’s house?

“Hey,” I say into my phone. “I’m, like, here I think.” I take a new coconut-scented tree out of my glove compartment and hang it on the mirror.

“Be right out,” Murray says. I hang up the phone.

Fuck! How did I end up on an actual date with Murray? I think, and smile. Soundgarden is on the radio. And this is, like, the perfect song!

Murray is suddenly at my passenger door. I press the unlock button. He climbs in, leans over towards me, and with booze-soaked breath, says, “Hi.”

“Hey, Murray,” I say. “What’s up?”

“Sorry it took me forever,” he says. “Had to shave, you know how that goes.”

“For sure,” I say, eyeing Murray’s pomaded coif. “I mean, kind of.”

“I hope this club is fiery,” he says.

“I’m sure it will be,” I say, cruising down Fillmore towards Kaisertown/Lovejoy. “Of course it will be! Trust me on this one.”

We get to The Body Shop just in time to catch the action: a scrawny mid-age parking attendant in a yellow vest, idly smoking with a girl wearing fishnet thigh-highs and a North Face. I pull into a spot alongside them.

“This isn’t a spot,” the parking attendant says, coming closer. “This is NOT a spot.”

“Um, ok,” I say, putting my key back into the ignition. “I just figured it was, you know, in the middle of the parking lot…”

“You have to move your car.”

“Fine, fine.” I do a U-turn into an empty space in front of an abandoned freight train.

We walk into the club through a carpeted hallway. Murray is G-ed up for the evening: pomaded coif; sawed-off black tee;  jean jacket I would probably rip if I put it on and did a “Size Six in a Little Coat” routine based on Chris Farley;  pins and buttons adorn his lapel;  black jeans that bring to mind the Ginuwine song “In Those Jeans”; and some slick, gentlemanly monk straps. As for me,  I just wore my Playboy tee shirt.

“Next coming to the stage is Cinnamon,” emanates through the illuminated hallway as we enter the club. The interior has a disco vibe. There’s white shag on the floor. Strobe lights flicker around the room. Murray orders some drinks, and we sit on a saggy leather couch. We’re against the back wall, away from everybody else.

“Murray!” I slurp pinot grigio. “Last time I was here, they only played 60’s rock, I swear.” That was Murray’s main reason for coming. As you probably already know, coming here was my idea.

“Yeah, the music selection doesn’t match their brand image,” he says. Murray may have been on the club’s website all afternoon.

“This is Cinnamon’s last song, everybody, so put a dollar in her thong,” says the DJ, who’s standing behind a laptop on the other side of the room. Kid Rock starts blaring through the club, “Bong with the bong and bang ba bang ditty and the shooby and the doody and the nudie and the roodie-

“This is the worst song EVER,” I say, clutching my head. “The DJ last time was better.”  I bust out laughing, scream with delirium, actually, and watch a girl in a Rancid hoodie and G-string walk in and out of the VIP room.

“Are you going to get a lap dance, Murray?” I say. “Wait – where’d all the dancers go?”

Kid Rock’s song ends. I flop backwards on the couch. A waitress arrives; we get another round. A girl with short blonde hair walks onstage. As soon as the Red Hot Chili Peppers start, she removes her mermaid-inspired outfit and starts shimmying around.

“Let’s go smoke,” Murray says. We down what’s left in our glasses and head outside. Murray lights up in front of the handicap-accessible entrance to the right. A bunch of other smokers, including customers, the parking attendant and several dancers, surround us.

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“You can’t smoke over there,” the parking attendant says from the other side of the railing.

“Why not?” Murray says.

“That is the employee-only smoking section.”

“Oh, all right, let’s just go smoke by my car,” I say.

Murray and I walk off towards the abandoned freight train.

“I’m having a really good time,” Murray says. “Are you hungry? Maybe we should go.”

“Yeah, I’m starved,” I say. We zoom off into the night, as it is still young, and decide to go back to Murray’s house.

“I’ll make you a sandwich,” Murray says. I turn down the radio. He’s murmuring out the window. “Sausages…Italian sausage…Peppers…I do this thing with mayonnaise…Sausages from the deli…” Next time I look over, Murray is slumped over, bent-in half pretty much, passed out.

“Murray?” I say. “Um…where do you live?”

I’m driving down Murray’s narrow one-way street again but never figured out where he lives.

“Oh. My. God,” I say. “What am I going to do with Murray, literally?”

I drive around the block a couple times. Murray is still slumped over.

“Um…Murray?”

I turn up the radio a little bit – it’s “Come to My Window” by Melissa Etheridge – and suddenly Murray snaps awake.

“Hot sauce,” he says. “Do you like hot sauce?”

“Oh, wow,” I say. “Do you live at 199?”

“No, 109,” he says. “This is my house right here.”

“I thought you were dead.”

“Sorry, I’m just a little tired,” Murray says. “I’m good now. Come in.”

“Ok.”

Murray exits my car without any difficulty. Once inside his place, Murray puts the aforementioned sausages in a pan, pours two stiff drinks, and lights a cig. We sit at the bar in the middle of his living room, surrounded by ashtrays and vinyl records. Murray swirls his tumbler, takes a hearty sip, swallows, coughs.

“I’m not boyfriend material,” he says.

“Why d’you say that?”

“I’m not over my ex,” he says. “I will never be over her.”

Murray and his ex broke up two years ago.

“Well there’s more than one person for everybody. You’re really gonna throw in the proverbial towel?”

“I won’t ever be through. It fucked me up inside.”

Murray walks across the room and plucks a record from a crate, removes it from the sleeve, and sets it on the record player. Totally obscure sixties rock drifts around the room like a ghost.

“We bought the record together, and I said I hated her for finding this and not me.” Murray sits on the floor and stares at the wall. His dog comes out of nowhere and licks his face. He gulps his drink, inhales his cigarette.

“Gee, um…” I say. The bear trap around my heart tightens; I look left, and then right.

“That girl was my only chance for love,” Murray says. “Now I’m doomed.” He repositions the needle on the record and the song starts over. I sit in silence for a few seconds, then take one last bite of my sandwich.

“That was a really great sandwich,” I say. “But I really should be going.”

The sixties song, the ghost of the girlfriend from the past, still drifts around the room as I pick up my purse and walk towards the door. Murray walks with me outside to my car. At this point, his pomaded coif is totally fucked up.  Another cig dangles from his mouth.

“I had a nice time tonight,” he says.

“Me too, Murray.”

During the drive home, I realize Murray’s behavior, which many might consider unbecoming, proved one thing. He’s definitely my type.

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The Pain. The Torture. The Foreplay.

A Halloween Retrospective

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Halloween’s ghosts are gone. The vamps went back to their coffins.  Headless Horsemen rode off into the woods, since they weren’t getting any. Zombies looking for tacos had to settle for poutine, or perhaps they fed on their own puke. Who knows? Who’s to say? Spirits of Allentown shut their doors a while back, but their sign still looms ominously in the sky.

Eddie and I wander out of Nietzsche’s and into Holly Farms. We’re ghouls on the prowl. It’s Halloween and a little past five p.m. Not only is it the magic hour when everything looks pretty and not as fucked up, but it’s also Eddie’s birthday.

“I’m treating myself to a pack of good cigs,” he says to the clerk. “Camel Lights.”

“Here, I got you,” I press $25 into Eddie’s grip and start to walk outside.

“Do you really think this hat looks hot?” I say, turning back.  I’m wearing a navy cap reminiscent of a cop. Vintage. The antique dude across the street offered a fair price.

“Of course. Definitely.”

In the threshold of Holly Farms there’s a bunch of quarter machines filled with jewelry. One contains plastic grenades and dollar signs, which are definitely not Eddie’s style, so I put some change into the one with happier-looking charms. A necklace, featuring a lime green ice cream cone on a string, comes out.

Eddie’s already outside smoking a Camel. I hand him the plastic ball from the quarter machine.

“Wow, thanks,” Eddie says, putting the necklace on.

“I want to hear some music,” I say, taking a drag from Eddie’s cig. “And I’m feeling like a watered-down tequila sunrise wouldn’t totally suck.”

Several men are coughing on the bench outside The Old Pink, looking like run-down versions of The Village People, or maybe it’s the cast of Oklahoma. Who knows? Who’s to say? Maybe these guys aren’t even in costume. Eddie and I climb the steps and push the door open.

Everyday is like Sunday…Morrissey croons. Everyday is silent and gray…

Darkness folds around us. The ceiling drips. We sit at the very, very end of the bar, alone.

“Are you sure you don’t have to get back home?” I say, slurping my sunrise. “What if she’s planning a surprise party?”

“She’s not.”

“Are you sure she’s not waiting for you nude and covered in sushi?”

“She definitely isn’t doing that.”

“I just want you to have a good birthday,”  I say, and take Eddie’s hand. “I don’t want to ruin it.”

“Hillary. Rodham. Clinton,” shouts a man at the opposite end of the bar while slapping his palm on the pine. “HILLARY. RODHAM. CLINTON.”

“Ruin my birthday?” Eddie scoffs. “You’re totally making my birthday.”

Eddie has been sipping Guinness and scotch. We order one more round. The aroma of pot starts to permeate The Pink.  Eddie’s staring at me and I can’t remember the last time he blinked.

“Rejection is one thing,” Morrissey croons. “But rejection from a fool… is cruel.”

“We haven’t had drinks together in years,” I say. “Why?”

“I don’t trust myself to behave around you,” Eddie says. “I don’t want to lose control.”

“Control is overrated.”

“If we ever got back together, you would just break up with me after six months again.”

“Timing wasn’t right with us, Eddie,” I say.  “Sometimes I wish it had been.”

“I rushed things,” he says. “I should’ve put things in perspective.”

Three 8-year-olds in Halloween costumes arrive and sit next to us. They place their bags of candy on the bar, which I notice is completely slanted to one side.

“They must have had a long day,” I say. Eddie still hasn’t blinked. “Eddie?” He puts both of his hands on top of my thighs, zooms his face up close to mine, and emits a werewolf growl.

“I want to kiss you,” he says. “On the cheek.”

“Fine,” I say.

Eddie kisses my cheek, lingering for a few seconds before snapping back to reality.

“My girlfriend asked me if I would be open to sleeping with other people,” Eddie sips his pint. “I said, ‘Yeah.’ She just said, ‘Ok,’ and never brought it up again.”

“That sucks,” I say. “If you bring a gun into Act One, it better go off in Act Three.”

“Chekov said that, pretty sure.”

“Well, I think you should revisit the topic. Polyamory is trending nowadays – everybody’s doing it.

“Trying to find everything you need and want in one person is the source of our universal frustration,” Eddie says.

“That’s why I think I’m better off alone,” I say.

We finish what remains of our second round.

“We should go,” I say.

“I know. We should. I’ve been gone all day.”

“Yeah, it’s getting late. You probably have lots of messages to listen to, calls to return…”

Eddie zooms in close to my face again and emits the werewolf growl. He puts his hand behind my head, and we make out for the first time in years.

“Break up the family,”  Morrissey croons. “And let’s begin to live our lives…”

Eddie snaps back.

“We should go,” he says. “That’s just the right amount of infidelity for this evening.” He wanders outside.

“Yes, we need to go,” I rummage in my pockets, give $20 to the bartender and go outside too. Eddie’s smoking a cigarette under a gnarled tree.

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“Allentown is haunted,” he says. “They dug up a cemetery.”

“I know.”

It’s dark now, but unseasonably warm.  Eddie and I make out again under the tree, for a while it seems, until he suddenly snaps back again.

“I want you,” he says.

“I want you too,” I say. “But I’m through being the other woman.” I kick the tree trunk. “Done with being a side chick.”

“I understand.” Eddie’s staring into my eyes and apparently still hasn’t blinked.

“We’re better than that, Eddie.”

“I know.”

“So now what are you gonna do?” We walk past Spirits of Allentown and around the corner, back to where I parked so I can drive Eddie home.

“I’m supposed to make tacos,” he says.

“Make tacos? On your birthday?”

“I’m going to walk in the house with a boner and it’s all your fault.”

“Just say it’s that time of the month,” I say. “When you have more erections than usual.”  Eddie gets in my passenger seat. I start the engine and cruise out of Allentown.

“Can I smoke in your car?” he says.

“Smoke away, smoke away,” I say. “It’s your day.”

I drive up to Eddie’s house and put on my turn signal, but decide to pull into the 7-11 next door instead. I put the car in park, and turn to Eddie.

“So, um, let me know how everything goes,” I say. “Let me know if there was a surprise party.”

“Doubt it,” he says. “And you know how it’s gonna go.”

“What?”

“I’m going to make tacos, then have sex with my girlfriend while thinking about you,” Eddie shuts the passenger side door. “I’ll see you later.”

“You just haven’t earned it yet, baby…” Morrissey croons from my stereo as I drive away. My night is young, and off to a good start.

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