Private Magazine

Category: Reviews

Couch Surfin’ All Over the World

Halloween’s ghosts have risen from the ashes to walk the streets again, visiting friends, relatives – maybe even you.

Their old haunts may look a little different now – what was once a brothel, say, is now Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen – but ghosts have a knowing sense of direction. They can find their way around.

 I’m in the very last seat in the very last row of United Airlines flight number 509 to New Orleans, which is, from what I understand, a very mystical, spiritual and haunted enclave.  We are 30,000 feet in the air, Hotel Transylvania is streaming free and blood red tomato juice is free too.   Jason and Eddie are both with me in spirit, since Halloween is Eddie’s birthday.  October 31 is nowhere near Jason’s birthday, but it was his raison d’etre. 

While they never met on a mortal plane, Jason and Eddie, maybe, just maybe, they have now met in the afterlife. 

My cabbie speaks in a Louisiana drawl as we pass by roofs patched with bright blue tarps. 

“FEMA came and patched mine up,” he tells me, “Shingles are backordered, there’s a shortage right now.” 

I’m going to New Orleans for spiritual awakening, no, a cleansing, no….a vacation?  It’s Halloween 2021, with time slated to grow increasingly decrepit and absurd. I have some money to spend, albeit not much, but cash is worthless now anyway.  So spend it all baby, in the name of love, pour one out for your grandma, and Philip Seymour Hoffmann too. 

 Harpsichord melodies drift down an alleyway.  The haunted streetcar clangs towards the Quarta’ packed with costumed revelers, though it’s barely past noon. The sidewalks are precarious, as the stones rise up and jut out of the ground.  A jazz band leads a funeral procession towards the cemetery, playing a slow dirge that will morph into a celebratory jam upon departure. 

In the cemetery, one bony skeleton hand rises from a burial mound, reaching up towards the blue sky with a finger pointing upward…

Hurricane Ida blew through a few months ago, but right now, all appears to be calm. 

On St. Charles Avenue, on the haunted streetcar route ironically positioned alongside Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen, is an old historic hotel-turned-hostel.    $35 a night has apparently afforded me some decent digs, in a room with two bunk beds, and roommates!  There is a 24-hour bar on the first floor and the location is pretty clutch.  I roll in my suitcase a little after 3:00 p.m. on a Friday, and ready to get this weekend off to a happening if not haunted start. 

“Check-in is not until four,” the emo-chic desk girl unenthusiastically informs me. She’s a petite gal rocking a bodycon turtleneck minidress that only someone emo-chic can pull off. 

“It’s alright, I’m very thirsty,” I say while dropping my bags and pointless coat on the floor and take a seat on a barstool.  “Water please!” Outside the sun is beginning to dim, but the temperature is warm and the air is still.   “And a wine too, I guess.” 

To my right sits a boy with a blond ponytail and one skinny blue stone dangling from his ear. He definitely resembles Ryan Dunn. 

“Another can of beer please Lydia,” he reaches across me to grab the brew, looking at me sideways to sum up the new arrival. We shoot the breeze and quench our thirsts until the clock strikes four and I wheel my stuff into a quaint rickety elevator. 

Until time travel is an option, at least we still can travel along the mortal coil, totally fleeting, c’est la vie.  Although, I am quite sure spirits from the other side walk among us. I have had signs from Jason, sure, but Eddie? 

Freshly showered and shaved, I head outside to potentially bum a cig. Also, I’m starving, and a French bistro by the name of Herbsaint is within walking distance.  Maybe I will try frog’s legs.  

“Do you have a cig?” I ask a girl smoking one who’s sitting on the curb.  She shakes her head – negative. 

“Do you know where I can nab some greenery? You know, like, pot?”

Again, she shakes her head no.  Damn. I always refrain from packing weed whenever I fly south. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time…

“Hey!” Shouts a boy with glasses in a trippy-looking psychedelic sweatshirt. Before I know it, Ryan Dunn from the bar (who told me his name is actually Colin) appears from out of nowhere. 

“My wife is asleep!”  the boy in the psychedelic sweatshirt rushes towards me. “I have an extra ticket to Widespread Panic!” He waves it in the air like an acid-tripper on Armistice Day, “Come with us!” 

A girl with really long, wavy hair and a pimply guy slowly chewing gum are waiting at the curb. They all await my response. 

“Um, I don’t know guys,  I was just heading out for something to eat. I just got here…”  I look around; the street right now is actually pretty deserted. What more could just randomly present itself?

“Drinks for dinner tonight, girl!” shouts psychedelic boy. “Come on – our Uber’s about to pull up!”

 I didn’t come to New Orleans to be a loner.  What’s the worst that could happen? I trust Ryan Dunn, even though we just met. I mean, he was drinking PBR. When the Uber arrives we all smush into the backseat, except for their gum-chewing friend, who has a scrappy goatee and looks like a billy goat. Apparently, the concert is in the levee district, near the breakwall, and in my head that song that song by Led Zepplin, “When the levee breaks…” starts to play while psychedelic boy rambles on about being from Alabama and how he has to visit the Navy Museum, because his grandfather was in the Navy and all, and…

“Do you want a hit?” Psychedelic Boy, whose name is Jerome, holds out a sheet of that familiar Fruit Stripe gum-wrapper-esque paper, divided into neat little squares.  

Outside, we pass tall concrete warehouses  covered in street art and get on the freeway, heading a bit outside of downtown, along Lake Pontchartrain; it’s cool and it’s dusk.

“Well sure,” I figure this will at least take my mind off my growling stomach for the time being.  A hit of acid for dinner seems reasonable, given the circumstances. Jerome hands me a ticket to the show.  I’m smushed up against Ryan Dunn, I mean, Colin, who has a hint of a Southern drawl. “I’m from Richmond,” he says, really close to my ear. “Virginia.” 

“That’s hot, that’s hot,” I say, and score a stick of gum and a cig from Billy Goat.  A tickle is in the back of my throat, and my palms feel a little itchy. We are being carried down to the breakwall but before the levee breaks.  There is a loosely assembled line of ragtag poncho and parachute pants-clad fans. The sky is bright magenta with big black clouds looming low. I hop in line behind some bros popping open cans of Busch Light and start to down a few with Colin. He’s definitely chill and mild-mannered – a polite Southern gentleman.  I’m wearing jeans painted with images of cigarettes from the goth store and a long sleeve leopard top; it’s kind of chilly along the breakwall.   But before long, the doors to the venue swing open into a big, hockey rink type of situation with various concession stands selling hot pretzels and cups of wine and beer. 

Colin buys us drinks and we settle into bleachers. I assume he came to New Orleans with the psychedelic posse.

“No, uh, I just met them at the hostel,” he says. “We were going to the same concert.” 

“No way,” I say.  This makes me like him more, for some reason. 

Jerome’s standing in the middle of the bleachers tossing back shots of whiskey from a flask stashed in his pants. The show hasn’t started yet but down on the floor (which really does seem to be a defrosted ice rink) hippies are already sitting crossed-legged on the ground and trancing out. I guess tonight is night one of a three-day long show.

“I’m surprised no one is blazing up a blunt,” I observe. “Maybe New Orleans just isn’t 420 friendly.” I look down at the ground, stunned, bemused. 

“No way girl, I can nab weed in two seconds,” Jerome says. “Easy. Come on!”

I tag along with psychedelic Jerome hightailing it outside to a designated smoking area overlooking the edge of the levee, where a distinctly cool wind swoops in.  The acid wasn’t enough to make me trip out fully, just feel silly, but the wine served in giant hurricane glasses makes my knees weak.  We wobble up to a serious-looking smoker, all alone, who has a distinctively Old World air, as if of Creole descent, in a jewel-tone velvet jacket and trilby hat with a feather on the side. 

“What’s your name?” He scopes me up and down. “I dig your style.” 

He has already pulled out a pipe of weed, and passes it to me. Before I know it Jerome fades into the background, and my legs grow weaker and weaker but still I manage to float through the concrete aisles with this smoky wanderer, until we wind up in a concrete doorway between the bathrooms and general concession area. 

“You know, I live right by the Quisby,” He looks super serious, staring into my eyes with determination. “Maybe I could show you around.”

“Yeah, maybe…”  From inside the atrium, jam band melodies play on and on, merging into an abstract jamboree, no beginning, no end. Just a melting blob. Speaking of melting blob, if I wasn’t leaning against the wall I would probably melt into the floor like radioactive ooze. 

“Do you do cocaine, Ann Marie?” He lights up a cigarette, right there inside the arena. 

Well, I would. Why the heck not? I need to perk up, we all know jam band shows last an eternity. 

“Yeah, I mean, sometimes.”  

The quirky stranger pats his lapel, at first casually, then frantically, looks in his cigarette case, in his leather Chelsea boot, then starts patting his lapels again.  Sheesh, I know what that means. I roll my eyes.

“Um…Actually wait a second… Where am I?” I just realized I lost Jereme, Colin, and the rest of my posse from the Quisby. It’s not like I don’t know how to take an Uber back to the Quiz but I’d rather hang out with them, if you know what I mean. I don’t want to get snatched by a shifty-eyed stranger, at least not on my first night and not at a jam band show. 

“Will you help me find everybody? I just rolled up with them from the Quiz, I mean I really don’t know them, I think they were someplace over here on the first level…” 

The befuddled hipster who has lost his cocaine walks with me and I point in the general direction of where I was sitting. As if pulled by a magnet, I do find them, Colin with his long blond wavy hair, and the tie-dye clad other kids. Whew. That was close. I snuggle up next to Colin and gradually the European hipster fades into the background. 

“So, like, what’s this song called?” 

I’m realizing Widespread Panic is pretty popular, at least with jam band people. To be honest, jam bands are the only type of bands I don’t listen to, but, we all know I heard my fair share of Phish emanating through my floorboards from my downstairs neighbors 10 years ago. 

“Isn’t this the same song as before?” I am seriously unsure. 

“Uh, yeah.”

I honestly have no idea how long I was gone.  10 minutes? An hour? Who knows. It felt like an eternity. 

“It’s probably been going on about 45 minutes,” Colin continues.

I choke on an ice cube.

“45 minutes?” All of a sudden that’s the funniest thing I’ve ever heard in my life, “The same song?”  I laugh so hard it’s like that time I smoked weed in college and saw a guy riding a bike and got the giggles so bad I almost peed my pants straight through.  “All the songs I listen to are, like, 30 seconds long.  You know, like, The Ramones…”

I get really close to his face when I say, “Monessssss.”

Colin looks down at his PBR can.  Up until now, we had been talking about our jobs and the struggle of survival. You know, being middle aged, thirtysomething. “We can go whenever,” he says. “Back to the Quisby.”

“Yeah for sure!” 

I’m not having a bad time, I’m down for whatever, there’s a party around every turn out here in New Orleans. Jerome, Billy Goat and Wavy Gurl disappeared long ago. Colin and I walk out of the arena and into a gust of wind. “Where are we?” I hold up my phone for a satellite signal, some kind of sign from the stars. “We’re lost! We’re stranded! We’re gonna die.”

We traipse across damp hills, into ditches, until we reach a low fence of some kind. Colin nonchalantly organizes a Lyft back to the hostel. Apparently, Colin is flying back to Richmond tomorrow at 6 AM, so what’s a girl to do? Lean in and give him a kiss! Our blonde manes blow dramatically in the wind, until “Bob,” our bro-y driver, pulls up. 

“Woo!” I flop onto the seat. “Boy is it windy out there.”

Bob, our bro-y driver, is undaunted. 

“Boy Harsher, yeah I love Boy Harsher,” Colin and I have been discussing music with a passion. 

“Me too,” Colin says.  He seems very eclectic in tastes. A trucker hat and dangly earring kind of guy. 

“I have a cord back there if you want,” Bob waves towards the back of the passenger seat.  I plug my phone in and stream Boy Harsher in the dark, through the starry streets, back to the Quiz. Bob drops us at the curb. There’s some guys sitting on the flowerbed and standing around idly smoking. The soft barroom lamp glows from inside, and as we pull our weary bodies through the door, Bob shouts at us, “You broke my cord!” And then he speeds away.  

Down in the cantina on the morning of my last day in New Orleans,  the coffee is hot and the bar has officially run out of just about everything.  The streetcar pauses  in front of the hostel, then starts its procession once again.  I’ve secured tickets to a cemetery crawl. Next to me sits a curly-headed dude with a nautical star neck tattoo. Wait, yes, we chatted here last night. Didn’t we? But about what? Hmmm. 

“Would you like some?” He opens a plastic bag; inside, loose blueberries.  

“Thanks,” I nibble a few in silence. What did I discuss with this man last night? I wonder. 

“So how long have you been here?” I say. 

“Since August,” he says. “I’m here working.” 

“What do you do again?”

“I’m an insurance adjustor,” he says. “Natural disasters.” 

Oh that’s right, the fly-on-the-wall insurance adjustor with the laptop handling hurricane-related property damage.   I’m sure he’s seen everything, this is such an interesting hostel. Just yesterday a sixty-something fresh off a train from Chicago was breathlessly telling me his story – I think he had COPD. I was having a Red Bull at the time with an artist guy named Pete who lives in a condo across the street. I met up with Pete at French Truck for coffee, and he gave me one of his dioramas, and then tried to make out with me, but I turned him down.  Also, there are not one, but two, men staying at the hostel with eye patch situations. Being Halloween weekend, I made a serious faux pas by mistaking one’s for a costume, and wound up crying and banging my fist on the bar and declaring that “I was an asshole” when he pulled up the eye patch to show me what was underneath. But the man totally forgave me and called me an empath. 

 “Want to come to a cemetery crawl?” 

The stranger looks pensive, then says,

 “Yes, actually, I would.”

He gives me his number.   I text him the “Haunted Tours” link to the tickets, so he can buy one. 

“I’m taking the bus to the cemetery,” I say. “I’m just trying to figure out the schedule.”

“Oh, I’ve got my truck,” says the mysterious adjustor. 

“Oh, ok. Cool.”  We nibble more blueberries in each other’s company. 

“I just have some work to finish up in my room, but let’s meet back down here – in 30 minutes and we’ll go?”

“Sure.”

And he moseys away in a very soft looking, very lived in navy polo and board shorts and is carried upstairs in the clanging elevator.  Hmmm. I don’t even know his name. I sip some juice, calmly admire the news on the TV, because I don’t have to deal with reality anymore, I’m free, on cloud nine actually, population: one.  

“This is Harold,” he answers the phone with a flat tone. 

“Oh, hey, it’s Ann Marie from downstairs,” I reply. We have an entire hour before the cemetery crawl and I am simply relieved at not having to stress about finding out his name anymore.

“I’m just finishing up some work up here, be down in a minute,” he says. 

“Oh, take your time.” I say. “I’m just having some coffee.”

I decide that I have time to take a fashion risk and head up to my room to get my vintage funeral veil with the spider web pin that I bought for this trip. I wore it out in the Quarter on Halloween night when I went out with my roommate, Clarissa from Alaska, flirted with a sousaphone player at an old mansion and did some dirty dancing at the club with a guy in a Saints jersey (I think I even kissed him). 

Down he clangs in the calamitous elevator. Harry’s a tall guy with large muscular calves and a lumberjack/surfer physique, plus curly/wavy hair that’s shaved underneath and long enough for a man bun. He’s a casual kind-of guy, a guy of few words.

Harry and I exit the Quisby and hit the block, strolling down a spray-painted back alley towards his towering silver truck. Walking next to Harry, I feel like a kitten slinking alongside a proud lion.  He has the kind of stature that makes a girl feel safe in alleys, or wherever. 

Cemetery Gates…” I sing Pantera, badly.  “Do you like Pantera?”

“Oh, yeah,” says Harry, and plugs in his phone and begins to stream “Cemetery Gates” and then “Tout la Monde” by Iron Maiden.  Phew, for a minute there I thought Harry might be a System of the Down kind of guy (which I WOULD be willing to overlook). 

“We can stop at that art store if you want,”  we have been driving around in circles and performing u-turns around various medians that seem to be a thing here in New Orleans and lend themselves to a certain traffic pattern. 

“Oh that’s back by the Quiz,” he is talking about the voodoo store on St. Charles I mentioned. I picked up a perfume called La Buena Suerte which contains pieces of a macaw’s nest and is supposed to be lucky. So far, it’s working. New Orleans is definitely a city for the horny and the lustful. 

“We can check out City Park, it’s supposed to be kind of cool,” he says. I’m looking out the window, chill as a clam and simply taking in the fresh sunny day with a fresh sunny guy. 

From the street, at first City Park looks ordinary. We park in a big empty lot and drift down a hill and over a curved bridge that connects a pond, no, a stream, no….it’s the bayou!  A legit bayou flows through City Park for miles, covered by picturesque slime.  Bubbles froth up, neon chartreuse, and huge willow trees drip feathery moss that ever-so-delicately touches the surface.  We are inside a painting, no mushrooms needed, and as I lean over the bridge rail to examine the slime, Harry and I both spot a cute little turtle baby paddling through!  Turtle baby swims towards a big turtle momma, and then a turtle poppa, and a ton of other little turtles show up, camouflaged at first by the bright green slime. 

“It’s a turtle party, ain’t nothin’ but a turtle party,” I dance downhill to get closer to the bog. No, the swamp.  The bayou! 

“Whoa,” I step into a hole hidden by grass and tumble downhill in my shiny black PVC goth pants and surely my g-string is exposed as well. “Whoops, I’m clumsy.”

Harry is unfazed by a clumsy girl in a black veil and PVC, and we continue our bayou exploration.  Frogs jump around, and the turtles swim, but other than them, nobody one else is around; we’re alone in swamp paradise. 

Sun beams off the tall swampgrass as we creep across rocks and closer to the edge of the bayou. My gossamer veil gets tangled up in branches. We balance on a log beneath the shade of a gigantic willow tree.  Harold leads the way across the log, then turns back and offers me his hand. I stop and look at it for a second, and then clasp it with my own. 

 “Oh my God,” Harold says. 

My eyes trail over to where Harold is looking.  There, basking in the sun on a log at the edge of the swamp, is a small alligator! A baby gator in repose, eyelids seemingly half-closed, a serene smile across its lips. 

“The City of New Orleans was founded in 1718 by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, and if that name wasn’t intense enough, the man was covered head to toe – with tattoos – of snakes.” 

Our goth posse oohs and ahhs.  “Now, you’re going to want to stick to the sides, “ Drew, our modelesque punk rock guide, leads the way down the rising sidewalk slabs and across a busy intersection into Metairie Cemetery.   In New Orleans, you need a key and tour guide license to get into cemeteries. 

“Now,” he turns as we cross, lowering his small round shades dramatically. “We will see skeletal remains.”  

I look over at Harold and he doesn’t seem fazed.

 “And please, don’t take any,” Drew says. “Someone in the last group thought she could take somebody’s bones home with her.” 

Suddenly, Harold turns and runs away, back towards his truck.

“Hey, where are you going?” I shout after him as he yanks up his shorts. 

“Work emergency!” 

And so I turn back to the tour and we drift into the stony crypt.  In New Orleans most are buried above ground in family tombs, and until now I’ve come to understand this is because the city is below sea level and coffins were prone to rising up out of the ground. 

But Drew begins, “Now, you really want to know why in New Orleans the dead aren’t buried underground? Follow me…”

 We creep past rock-filled, or bone- filled squares, some with elaborate tombs with padlocked doors, others just open to the elements like a garden..of bones.   Drew points out a human vertebrae. Someone snaps of photo. 

“New Orleans began as a French colony, and we are all about the fleur de lis – But it was lost to the Spanish Empire in 1763 following France’s defeat in the Seven Years’ War,” Drew says.  “And you think anyone here gave a hoot about listening to the Spanish king? But they brought with them nouveau European burial practices.  Now, the City of New Orleans is a proud city, and a stubborn city, and when these nouveau European burial practices became all the rage abroad, well, we were only too keen to want to join in. And we still carry on those burial practices today. ” 

We walk down a path that resembles a city street.  Tombs look like houses with little doors and little windows.  Ancient, rusty street signs mark our way. I get a text from Harold stating he is coming back so I give him our location. Soon enough, I see him trotting across the cemetery. 

“I forgot I had an appointment,” he says.

“When you die, you are placed into the tomb for a year and a day,” Drew says. “Due to the heat, basically you are cremated, but no one is exactly sure until you are removed. Then, your bones and whatever is left are smashed up by the local bonegrinder, and you are scattered on top of the bones of your family, meant to save space and also span generations.” 

“You’re going to have to fill me in,” Harold leans down and says in my ear in what I perceive to be a flirty tone.  Hmmm. 

After a little over an hour and with the sun beating down, Drew concludes that many tombs have fallen into disrepair, with some not having any living relatives to tend to them and others the victims of vandalism. “You can keep track of tombs that need repair though the local organization Save Our Cemeteries (www.saveourcemeteries.org).” 

With that, Harold and I embark on our own private excursion. 

We reach a giant obelisk-shaped monument, at least a few stories high. 

“Whoever is buried here must’ve been a big deal,” I say. “Or at least compensating for something.”

It turns out to be Jefferson Davis’ original resting place. He was exhumed and moved to Richmond, VA.

We roam up to a pyramid shaped tomb made of pristine marble.

 Harold pulls the steel trap-door aside.  “Eeek,” I say.  Inside the tomb are three rows of drawers and it looks like a dresser, just instead of underwear and socks, it contains …remains.  

Afterwards, we goto a Louisianian – Asian fusion place called Mofo that Drew recommended. We sit outside on a patio and it’s just the two of us here. 

“I”m from Alaska,” Harold tells me.  “But I have a place in Montana. Just a little cabin.”

“Really? That’s cool. Are there any bears?”

“My friend has a pet bear,” Harold says. “He raised him since he was a cub.”

“Cute!”

“But I haven’t been back home in years,” he continues, “I’ve been working 18 months straight.  California wildfires, floods in Texas… haven’t even taken a personal day.” 

“Wow,” I raise my chopsticks for another hit of spicy shrimp n’ rice.   “Does it ever get lonely, being on the road?”

“Yes, sometimes.” 

The sun is still insanely bright as Harold and I drive away.  We walk side-by-side down shady streets, Harold casting a tall shadow over me as we meander weatherbeaten avenues.  A garbage can is tipped over next to railroad tracks that we walk down until I discover a bunch of dried-up oyster shells.  I pick some up and dust them off for a souvenir. 

There is a black BMW totally smashed up parked at the curb, broken glass all over the sidewalk that we step around. 

“How’s the crime up in New York?” asks Harold.

“Um, interesting question,” I say, “I guess there are a lot of shootings, it’s grown exponentially.  Not really sure why. I think they let a lot of people out of jail during the pandemic.”

“Hm,” says Harold.  

We go back to City Park and snag beignets from Cafe du Monde and find a homeless kids’ hideaway to possibly tuck into for the night:

Herons chill on grassy dirt clods along the swamp perimeter. After casually strolling for a little while, Harold and I climb in his truck and head back to the Quiz. 

We sit in a booth at the first-floor cantina, each with a mezcal-and-pineapple, as Harold adds to some insurance spreadsheets on his laptop. It is my last night in New Orleans. My flight back to Buffalo departs at 7:00 a.m., so I figure I’ll have to go to bed soon in order to maximize my beauty sleep. I’m not really planning to hang out with Harold late, and haven’t been trying to impress him at all. Before long, I throw on my Planet Hollywood sweatshirt I scored at a trailer park yard sale, and we stroll down to a po’  boy shop called something like Fat n’ Po’ on lower Magazine; I’m not that hungry but I nibble Harold’s fries with Middle Eastern hot sauce, anyway.  

“Are you Eskimo, then, being from Alaska and all?”

“No, Tlingit,” he says. “I’m from the south side.”

Back at the Quiz the elevator clangs to a start and rises to the third floor. Slowly, ever so slowly. 

“I will walk you to your room,” I say.


“Give me a hug,” suddenly Harold has me wrapped up in a grizzly bear hug, “A real hug.”  So I hug him back. And then, he kisses me.  We keep pressing the button to the second floor, no, the third floor, then back down to the second floor, and on and on a few times until we finally land on the third floor and slowly walk to Harold’s room.

“Ya, ya, ya,” Harold’s German roommate with the goatee is jabbering on the phone, until he sees me getting cozy in Harold’s lower bunk. There’s a long pause.  “I will go downstairs and have a drink,” he declares, and leaves the room. 

Harold doesn’t seem to have much by way of possessions, for someone who’s been basically living here for months.   I have way more clothes scattered on my bed and all over my room from just a few days (which reminds me, I still have to pack up a few things…)

“I thought you were going to get frisky at the cemetery,” he says, and then Harold and I start making out on his bed! 

“Pull these down,” he motions towards the waistband of my black PVCs. 

No way, I’m thinking, Is this really about to go down – in the final hours of my trip? 

“I can’t,” I move his hand away. “Truth is, I have my period.  Sorry.”

But one thing leads to another, as they seem to do in New Orleans. What ensues next is a fully in-depth, erotic and steamy shower scene.  I creep back down to the second floor with my hair wet and tangled for a few hour’s sleep before I fly back home to reality. 

Five a.m. and it’s still dark outside. I whisper “goodbye” to Clarissa and Tabitha, my other roommate, a librarian from Omaha.  As I roll my suitcase past the cantina, the waxed n’ tanned up-and-coming lawyer kid is perched at the bar

“Are you waking up or did you not go to sleep yet?” I ask him. 

“Haven’t gone to sleep yet!” he says, all perked up on Adderall, maybe, and it sucks to have to leave this life behind. New Orleans – instead of poker chips, it’s friendships. You win some, you lose some.  And what happens in New Orleans, stays in New Orleans.  Or does it? 

And with that, I say goodbye for now with a tip of the hat, a humble kiss on the hand, and Harold snoozing it up on the third floor.

TO BE CONTINUED

Please, Stand By

Christmas Eve 2020

It hasn’t been 24 hours yet so it’s still ok for me to be fuming because once midnight hits and the ghost of Jacob Marley arrives in my boudoir along with the ghosts of however many other ex fling-a-boo’s, I have to be ready.  Prepared.  Armed to the teeth. 

It’s been four months since Jason’s been, you know… In the ground.   I haven’t gone out on any dates.

(Going to the biker campground with Schmitty in his carbon-monoxide steeped pick-up does not count as a date, even though I drove that hunk of junk into the compound past county sheriffs desperately trying some artful and hilarious diversion tactics, because Schmitty was scared due to his expired registration, and the “HOGOROSA CANCELLED” sign flashing on the Thruway.  But then Schmitty abandoned me for biker crank, and I was left cold and alone in my freezing tent, which I dubbed “Camp X Ray,” and screamed into the soulless air: “I’m alone! I’m abandoned! I’m alone and abandoned!”  until an LL Bean-catalog older guy built me a campfire).

I’ve unplugged from Jason’s cronies.  I’ve found solace in solitude.  

That is, until Rusty, my ex-boyfriend from the grindcore band, reappeared back into my life. Again. 

It’s not what you think.  His bandmate diedOf Covid.  So of course I went to the memorial at Lombardo Funeral Home, stood around with Rusty and The Growler (swoon), and some other guy who happened to be there in a satanic/celestial printed mask and somewhat of a Tony Hawk: Pro Skater vibe about him that I couldn’t quite trace. 

The very next day, I already had a friend request from him, and why I actually clicked it and looked at his profile I really couldn’t tell you, other than I remembered him from the night before.  I never saw him with his mask off, reader.  But I was physically attracted… a modern phenomenon indeed. 

“Are you the same guy from [Redacted]’s Memorial last nite?” I send via Messenger. 

“Yes,” Dan says, a totally easy to remember name, thank God. “I was going to message you and say you looked familiar, like we had totally met before, maybe at the Mohawk…”

So of course I tell him about my DJ gig,  the “Mid-Life Crisis Happy Hour.” 

“I have, like, a page that you can, you know. Like.” 

“Oh that’s awesome, yeah, I would love to get together sometime,” Dan says. And he sends me his phone number.  Old Skool. 

And I go into detail about how I’m suffering corneal infiltration from the ill-fitting contact lens in my left eye, that I look like Quasimodo, but giddily declare that I just need a week with my Rx drops and then I’d love to. 

“Either on Friday, totally we can go to Canal Club 52,  I know the bartender, but might have something to attend to, but if not, on sunday we could do the ny beer project so I could get us a reservation on sunday,” Dan is texting me like a werewolf who hasn’t had sex in awhile. “After six.”

“Yes, dinner would be lovely,” I return the favor, electronically, vaguely, with a few romance-tinged emojis to punctuate the declaration, “I miss going out to dinner.” 

And then the sentence that was to be the nail in my coffin, dear reader. 

“Either night would be fine with me.”

So up until then, of course we do the usual texting all-the-time thing, and I engage in some harmless Facebook stalking.  Turns out, Dan’s street nickname is actually “Chopper” Dan since he builds custom motorcycles, and looks to have a pretty huge group of biker homies, and without his mask on he looks pretty good, although way older than me.  But I’m into his ‘look.’ I hate to admit this but he definitely looks like an older version of Billy. (Billy! Shout out to Billy, who’s probably reading this right now. How the hell are YOU holding up?)

So on that fateful Sunday night, a mild, star-filled night brewing with potential, I uncharacteristically allow Chopper Dan to pick me up.  But only because, in a strange twist, Dan lives in my neighborhood, across the street from Jason’s grave and on the next street over from Schmitty himself. And we are heading all the way out to Lockport.  

When Dan texts me that he’s “here,” I find him at my front door.  Yep, old skool. 

“Hey there,” I say.  His hair is slicked back and he’s definitely, sniff sniff, wearing cologne.  I climb into his giant truck clad in a leather minidress with vertical zipper, opaque stockings and my chunky platform boots with the grommets. 

“It’s so crazy how we were in the same movie,” I tell him.  Yes, not only did I get a hot date following the Metal Memorial of Rusty’s bandmate, I was cast in the role of “Lucifer’s Secretary” by the guy with the webzine!  Apparently I have the look they needed, not to mention a job at a law firm.  And last minute, Dan was asked to be an extra because his friend owns the bar where they filmed earlier that day! “A total coincidence to be sure.”

So we cruise up to Lockport, and I’m totally at ease. I mean, all of l these coincidences must mean Dan and I are meant to be. 

“So, what else did you do today?”  I remember Dan said he’d be free “after six,” so I figured he was with his son, who is a teen, and I figured they were out and about doing “manly things.”

“Oh, hm, nothing really.” 

We arrive at the restaurant, and finally Dan shuts off the Godsmack emanating from the speaker (wtf?) that I’ve chosen to ignore. And it turns out to be a pretty decent evening. Perhaps this was due to the 10 p.m. curfew for bars and restaurants, making dates conveniently short these days, and infusing them with an easy vibe of having zero expectations whatsoever.   So far…Over our shared appetizer of boom boom shrimp, Dan admitted something shocking.  Something I reached out to my gal pal Robin, who just moved back to LA, about.

“He told me…Well, he told me he’s never read a book.”

“WTF DUDE.”

“I mean, he said the last book he finished was Dr. Seuss in childhood…”

“RUN.”

“He’s got to be fucking with me,” I’m staring up at the cracks on the ceiling of my room. 

“Don’t sell yourself short!”

And I knew right then and there, Dan would become the subject of an eventual blog.  Since he would never read it and all.  But in less than a week’s time…well, even I was surprised by the quick expiration date. 

The next day as I’m exiting the good old Main Court Building and trudging towards my car, Dan and I have fallen into a little texting tete-a-tete about you know, this and that.  Being Monday and the fact I’m fatigued from being out the previous night, I figure tonight will be a night for chillin’ solo, putting my room back together, which is in shambles…All the usual post-weekend stuff. 

“Hey, want to watch the CKY livestream with me next week?” I ask him, more to gauge his interest, and see whether or not I scared him. 

“CKY, I’m not familiar with them, i guess it would depend on what I had going on that day,” he says. “I was thinking of driving around Hamburg and checking out the light display at the Fairgrounds today or tomorrow, would you be interested?”

Shambles be damned! I guess Dan is smitten. 

“I’d love to,” I reply, “But I really need to track down a picture frame for my boss’s gift.  We are exchanging Wednesday.”

“well, I have some things to pick up for myself.  I’ll go with you. We can go to Hobby Lobby. I have a coupon.” 

“Hobby Lobby? Don’t they, like, have something against birth control?”

“Oh, geez, I don’t know anything about that.”

“Yeah pretty sure it was a scandal, uh, I swear I’m not a radical…Um, sure, I guess we can go there.” 

Yep, the old two-days-in a row means pretty soon I’ll be walking down the aisle like Stephanie Seymour towards Axl in the “November Rain” video, I mean…is there a better confirmation that he’s, like, totally into you than the infamous Two Days in a Row?

As we are about to enter The Dockside, conveniently located on the Erie/Niagara County borderline, post-Hobby Lobby, I link my arm around Dan’s.  We walk several steps… Then I take it away.  Just checking to see if we have…chemistry. 

We decide to split the poutine, and Dan orders me a pinot, along with his drink of choice…sweet n’ spicy sangria.  What?  He is comfortable with his masculinity, okay. And he has a reliable vehicle, so I will never have to be “DD” again! 

“Did you once have red hair?”  Dan shows me a picture of my Albright Knox ID from 2012 from my Facebook page.  “Is that your natural color?”

“No, definitely not.” 

“Also, you had curly hair in a picture that I liked.”

“Curly? Where?”

He shows me a selfie, a recent profile picture.

“Oh that, those are beach waves.”

Dan might be insinuating how he wants me to wear my hair…

Nah.

I don’t know if it was the wine, or the simple luxury of going out to eat, inside, with a guy who owns a reliable vehicle – but either way I wasn’t phased by much. I was willing to overlook anything. Anything.

“Have you seen Monster Garage, with that guy Jesse James? I think he’s cool but he must be a total dick. I mean, divorced like, five times? Marrying Sandra Bullock? I mean, why? She’s really not sexy…He is clearly some kind of gold digger…” I continue to carry on about Jesse James for like, five minutes.

“Jesse James yeah, we hung out,”  Dan shows me a picture of them together with Jesse’s most recent ex-wife, the Paul Mitchell heiress. “They were down in Daytona for Bike Week.”

“No WAY!” Dan looks pleased with himself.  “Sorry, I mean I never met the guy. I’m sure he’s very nice in person.” 

“His porn star ex went totally psycho,” he says.  “Smashed everything.”

“Well – he probably drove her to it, let’s be honest.” 

As the night grows dangerously close to 10 p.m., closing time, Dan picks up the check.  I offered to pay last night, and he looked insulted and said, “You really think I’d invite you to dinner and want you to pay?”

“Um, no.” 

So this time I don’t offer.  We head to Dan’s truck.  

“Joint?” I hold it up under the passenger seat overhead light. Dan didn’t even see me roll it, as I should be in the Guinness Book of World Records for being able to roll joints in the blink of an eye.

“What? Oh, I’ve never smoked weed in my life.”

“What.”

“Plus it would stink up my whole truck.”

And so, I leaned in and gave him a little kiss instead.  No tongue. It was quite chaste. I have an oral fixation, what can I say.

And so – alas!  This blog won’t conclude with Happily Ever After.  I mean, does it ever?

On Christmas Eve Eve, I would not have been opposed to one of Dan’s random invitations, since finally I didn’t have to work the next day, or all weekend.  But reader,  that didn’t happen.  I got a super long text at 4 p.m., sure, but…

“Hey i have been super busy all day,  i tried to get us a reservation but couldn’t so i will have to get back to you after the holidays.”  And then a smile face.

At first I was like, “ok, cool, do you watch true blood?” 

“A little,” he says, before ghosting me the rest of the night. 

Wow, really.  I have been placed on standby.

So I said, “I really don’t know why you need to get back to me…For what?”  I mean, he didn’t even know what I had planned that night, or any other.  He will probably pop up and ask me to help organize his garage, or something.  So I said, “You can just leave me alone.”  Dramatic, yes. “Have fun at Hobby Lobby.” Ok, so a tad immature.  But I feel like he was taunting me with that Hobby Lobby business. If anyone has a Planned Parenthood connection, I know someone who needs as much educational literature mailed to his house as possible.

Yes, like Janis Joplin once said, “I am a wild airplane…And have been placed on standby.”  Actually she never said that.  But that’s me alright, a renegade airplane, crashing and burning, or at least lost somewhere near the Bermuda Triangle.  And that’s ok.  Because in the end I can’t date someone who’s never read a book, or Playboy or Hustler for the articles, and who isn’t 420 friendly, I mean…Seems like kind of a bland existence. 

READER SURVEY:  WHAT ARE UR DATING DEAL BREAKERS? Send your answers to: factorygirl1987@gmail.com

Hot Spring TV – Just 4 U

TV

I’m triggered every time I turn on my TV.

Triggered to do what, exactly?  Well, maybe TV is different for those without deadly vices.  Happy-go-lucky folks seem to dig cooking challenges and talent competitions.  They’re gratifying, satisfying, and wholesome fun for the whole entire family!

However, my go-to shows are “Intervention” and “Celebrity Fame and Scandal.”  And I watch them alone.

I’ve recently cut way back on “Intervention,” after  Episode #119 – “Joe” fucked me right up.  Ever since age 8, Joe was choking himself unconscious for kicks.   Then he mixed in heroin. Joe hung around with junkie girls in motel rooms, but none were into commitment.  Poor Joe. At the end he got sober (for a second), looked at his face in the mirror, and had no clue who the hell that person was staring back at him. Depersonalization Disorder.  So he relapsed on heroin, did some prison time, and as of 2016, he’s been sober.   Or so the story goes.

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I wanted to give Joe a big hug.  And I couldn’t.  I was far from gratified and satisfied once the end credits rolled.   So I changed the channel to “Fame and Scandal”; it was the  Mackenzie Phillips episode.

I first saw Mackenzie Phillips on every 90’s girl’s favorite after-school snack, Disney Channel’s  “So Weird.”  The show was kind of like The Gilmore Girls, but instead of being about the fostering of a healthy mother/daughter bond, or something, “So Weird” centered on a girl named Fiona, who travelled around on tour with her folk-rock musician mom.  And, what’s so weird and cool, is that Fiona encountered paranormal activity along the way.

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So Weird” is more culturally relevant than Gilmore Girls.   Instead of aliens, spirits, and the like, the only thing poor sweet Alexis Bledel encountered were basic Connecticut cookie-cutter boys with personalities that make bowls of clam chowder look stimulating.  Whether Fiona’s paranormal run-ins really happened or were delusions never became a topic of conversation.

IRL, right before “So Weird,”  Phillips was famously coming off a cocaine/heroin binge that had lasted for longer than I’d been alive. Her main fame had come from a 1970’s sitcom, One Day At A Time, that she was booted off of.  In addition, she was a rock star’s daughter – John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas – with whom she carried out a consensual sexual relationship in her twenties.

After “So Weird,”  I didn’t see Mackenzie Phillips again until Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.  She had a hand in potentially saving Mindy McCready’s life as she suffered an on-camera seizure.  Phillips can now be seen in my favorite Netflix show, Orange is the New Black, Season 6!

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So, I recently came back from whoring my [copyrighted] scripts in LA.  Below are the ones picked up for production.

Yes, that’s right, I’ve got Bam Margera, Seth Green, AND the Artist Formerly Known as Carrot Top signed on.  At least, that’s what their manager Spitty told me at that gas station in Ohio… So, without further ado, here’s a teaser for my TV Channel and the shows lined up for the Fall Season.

Dirtbag Bachelor

Do you yearn for validation from a man you’ve never met?   Scores of lonely hearts arrived by plane, train and automobile for 23 seasons for exactly that – this time, to vy for the approval of  one Colton Underwood – one of those totally basic, totally banal, totally inauthentic and unremarkable boys who should probably just model boxer briefs for a living…

Anyway, if that isn’t sadistic enough,  there is no way to know for sure, that if and when you get close with Colton, that you are ever sure to receive some dick.

That’s right – the dude’s a virgin for reasons completely unknown.  To everybody – even Colton himself, it seems.   Despite having played for the NFL and been in long term relationships with famous and attractive women, Colton just hasn’t had the opportunity.  Nope.   Not at all.  He never gave it much thought.

Please.  Colton, I totally know you are plotting to release a sex tape with Farrah Abraham.  I heard it from 1-800-HOT-GOSS.  So sorry to take the piss out of everything.  Either that, or you’ll “lose your virginity” on the show for the whole world to see, like some sort of sick, twisted geisha ritual.  I had to Google your virginity status to make sure it’s still in tact at press time.

Dirtbag Bachelor launches this Fall with a hirsute hottie fresh from jail  –  “Jonny McThunderstrucksdick.”

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He was facing 10 years for marijuana trafficking – but the DA just tossed out the charges.   So Jonny’s gone back to being a professional tattoo artist/model in his Brooklyn warehouse.   He’s looking for love, and his criminal record’s been expunged.   The Dirtgag  casting agents will be touring around Detroit, Akron, and Southern Ontario this summer looking for the right, open-minded woman to become Jonny’s muse…And he’s not a virgin.  In fact, word on the street is that he’s rocking a Prince Albert.

Crackass

A trio of gorgeous misfit girls led by a dumb blonde and backed up by a nerdy brunette and exotic-looking Caribbean chick take to the mean streets to extol revenge on guys who have it coming to them.  This goes for public figures (like Robert Kraft caught totally unawares at Panera Bread!) and also run-of-the-mill douchebags. The “Crack” in Crackass comes from the ladies’ visible thongs yanked up their asses to above pants level; the trio simply rides around town in a 1968 Chevelle with complete hell to pay, and yes, smoking plenty of crack rock along the way.

The unscripted storyline includes plenty of pants-ing of dudes and instigating fist fights.  Keep in mind that, disclaimer alert, Crackass has absolutely no affiliation whatsoever to Jackass, since their cast was 99.99% dudes with no femme fatales in sight.  Considering that was like, twenty years ago, I suppose it’s time for the boomerang to fly in the other direction.

Crackass will premiere this Fall!
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Some of my pitches wound up on the cutting room floor, namely, Smallwood starring Chad Michael Murray, about a guy with, you know, an ineffective body part.  Also, the Hollywood bigwigs weren’t really into The Real Housewives of Niagara Falls. Bummer.  Either way, I’m fairly certain my TV channel will feature  a late night psychic with a call-in hotline and definitely a compulsive shopping network with jewelry, lots and lots of jewelry.

So stay tuned all you guys and ghouls, because the Private Vblog is going to premiere in the Fall.  Ciao.

 

Abducted in Poughkeepsie

SLUT7

“Gibson Mcaskill and Crosby, LLP,” I recite the law firm name painted on a brick wall behind me, in the tone of voice an anchor girl would use before removing her top.

“You’re beautiful,” shouts a man from parts unknown.

“Cut,” says Pete.  He lowers the camcorder. “That was really good.”

“Now what?” Randy says.

Randy is slouched in the background, but I’ve failed to notice.   Other than being Pete’s drug connection (whom we called upon for a mid-date favor), his role in tonight’s activities is uncertain.  He’s got a “Less than Zero” persona but told me he’s a lawyer, and I have no reason not to believe him.   But then again, I have no reason to believe him either.

We just wrapped up at Tudor Lounge karaoke, where Pete sang Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger” and I did “Interstate Love Song” by Stone Temple Pilots, and Randy, well, I forgot he was even there.  And now it’s 3:30 a.m. and we’re at The Pink, the only place we can potentially blend in and belong.

We’ve consumed enough drinks to mellow our dispositions, and I’ve forgotten where they are coming from. These drinks are being mysteriously procured and paid for by somebody unknown, not by me, even though both Pete and Randy are certified drifters on the fringe.

Something I’ve noticed about derelict guys: they love to party and aren’t afraid to beg.

It’s last call at The Pink, at the time and place reserved for zombies looking to score – sex, drugs, and who knows what else?   Lightning zaps the sky, straight to the celestial vein. We pile into Pete’s car. Inside, it smells strongly of cigs and b.o.  I’m riding shotgun with my head out the window, uncertain whether to even bother smoking weed.

I decide to just let the pinot grigio soak in.

SLUT4

We are a ghoulish, ghastly trio cutting sharp edges against the fog.  We sit beneath a tree in Day’s Park,  at the same spot where somebody I know may or may not have, as a cry for help, sliced into his wrists with a box cutter.

“This place has the most picturesque litter,” I say. “Where’s the category for that in Buffalo Spree?”

“Melvin Toadsdale, don’t you remember Melvin?” Pete says to either Randy, or to me, or to no one in particular. We’re gathered under the tree smoking herb in the dark.  Pete hasn’t stopped talking for even one minute, not to take a breath, not for anything.

“He died,” says Randy.  Tires screech from somewhere far away.

“Melvin’s dead,” he continues. “Drug overdose. Three years ago.”

Pete pauses for what feels like an eternity, lowers his head, then starts to cry.

“Fuck,” he says.

A group of bros drift by on the sidewalk.

“I remember he was such an awesome kid,” Pete’s words are muffled by his snotty sleeve.   “I wish there was something I could have done, something I could have done to help him before he got back on the drugs that poisoned his mind.” Pete’s glasses fog up, then we’re all silent for a while.

I put my shaking hand on his arm. And then without warning, a new day begins.

SLUT6

The sound of Pete’s screeching tires eventually fades away.  The unforgiving sun has emerged from behind gray clouds, which hang tackily over the North Buffalo Denny’s like a hooker’s panties on a clothesline.  There’s no place I loathe more than Denny’s.   My brain is a lava lamp.

“Randy, will you give me a ride?” I say.

We drive away in Randy’s car, its floor littered with cut straws and credit cards.  Randy himself is missing a side tooth, and in profile looks like a skeleton. Behind us, the sun rises over Hertel Avenue with considerably more hesitation than usual.

SLUT5

It’s Memorial Day weekend.  Time to take off.  Au revoir, fuckboys!

I’ve got an AirBnb booked down in Cold Spring, New York, near the Hudson Valley and an hour’s train ride from Manhattan.  It’s a “meditative retreat” according to the married lady hosts, who live in the woods near a pond!  My bedroom looks straight from the Free People catalog, and did I mention there’s an ELLE-approved spa in town?

*The one caveat to this hideaway is that there’s no non-vegan food, alcoholic bevs, or drugs allowed on the premises.  But I can abide by this.  I have respect, pshaw.

I’m not vegan mind you, never was.  To quote Anthony Bourdain’s 1999 article in the Times, “Even more despised than the Brunch People are the vegetarians.  Serious cooks regard these members of the dining public – and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans – as enemies of everything that’s good and decent in the human spirit.”

I steer my Pontiac coupe up the rocky driveway.  Soon enough a dreadlocked blonde in a dip-dyed ensemble emerges onto the porch.

“I’m Shelley,” she says with a mystical air.

She shows me around the house, through the kitchen where there’s “all the granola you can eat,” and a sink spewing unadulterated well water.  There’s a sun-drenched meditation nook with incense burning slowly, ever so slowly, and in the yoga studio Shelly describes the guru they stream.

“At 8 a.m, every morning, we will be in here should you decide to join us,” she says with unfailing eye contact, which makes me self-conscious, like, I probably should have removed my black boots with the spurs and leather jacket, I mean, it’s so colorful in here, so… open. So honest.

“Well, I’m going to go mosey into town,” I tell Shelley a half-hour later. She’s reading a book in the meditation nook.  “I’ll be back a little later.”

On my way out, I meet the other host, Shelley’s wife, who is really skinny and tattooed with piercing eyes like nails.

“I’m Talyia,” she says.

I don’t know what either Shelley or Talyia do for a living, but it must be something really dope, as their spacious enclave in a rather bourgois neck of the woods leads one to believe.  Rich hippies…I think as my car crushes whatever foliage and insects dare to obstruct its path. Could be kinda neat. I roll my window down and as soon as I roll into Cold Spring proper,  locate my weed stash.

SLUT1

Later that night in Beacon, a town 10-minutes away: I’m told by the garçon at the French bistro that this town is pretty hip. Turns out, Beacon has a distinct Brooklyn-meets-East Aurora flair. Pretty soon, I’m tucked inside an air-conditioned hotel bar amid a cougar crowd. I watch a Hall-and-Oates cover band, one half of whom is from Buffalo, according to his wife at the bar –

“Oh, really, Buffalo,” she turns towards me and leans closer, “We met there about thirty years ago…”

After striking out with the sweaty rockabilly bartender, I walk up and down the street, as the stars emerge, and chat with a cute young music producer from LA.  He’s in town for a wedding, and tells me the pitfalls of no one ever knowing your name.

But I pull an Irish goodbye after asking him to meet me outside for a cig.  He probably won’t even come, he probably thinks of me as a dirty, smelly smoker now, and it’s not like I’ll ever see him again…

I walk up and down the street some more while replying to certain texts I’ve ignored.

“I want to apologize in person,” Randy says via a long-winded text from two days ago. “For how rude and disgusting my behavior was, and I want an opportunity to make it up to you.”

I hung out with Randy a few times; but every time we got together, it was apparent that Randy is a legitimate cocaine addict and full-blown alcoholic barely gripping the edge of life. I ran away from him the last time I saw him, literally, ran away after saying I had to return some videotapes. Despite knowing him only a week, I agreed to celebrate his birthday with him.  But when I got to his house (aka, his mom’s unfinished upstairs rental), Randy was all alone and hungover, chain-smoking on a folding chair.

“Um, it’s okay,” I type out. “I’m out of town anyway. Near Poughkeepsie.”

“I could go to Poughkeepsie,” Randy replies, with a wink face emoji.

“Lol,” I send back. “Yeah right.”

“No, really, I could take the train. Pete can drive me to the station.”

“I am staying at a vegan and sober airBnb,” I say. “Okay…”

When I return to the commune, Shelley and Talyia are in their hippie love nest with the door half open.  I say “Um, goodnight” and tip-toe into my tie-dye bedroom.

SLUT2

The next morning, with caged hens clucking beneath my window, I shake myself awake and realize – Randy might actually be on his way. To Poughkeepsie Station. But really, would this dude actually hop a train in the middle of the night?

I slink into the kitchen, and it’s about 8:40.  Yoga is over.

“Good morning,” I say, pouring dark coffee into a mug. “Say, um, is it okay if this guy I know stops by later? I didn’t invite him, per se, he just decided to show up at Poughkeepsie Station…”

“Oh, but you know him?” Shelley looks concerned. “He’s not stalking you?”

“Well, I guess,” I hike up my sateen pajamas. “I don’t know him that well, and he may be a bit stalker-ish. It should be okay though.”

I drive to Poughkeepsie and spend the morning walking across the Henry Hudson Bridge, which is majestic and scary and proof that it’s actually really difficult to jump off a bridge, and definitely not for pussys. Finally, Randy calls and says he’s at the station, so I leave to meet him on the platform.

I love NY train conductor accents … Silver fox train conductors down here have them… I’m thinking as I wait in the hot sun.  Finally, Randy walks towards me, and as I get closer I inhale a strong smell – the B.O stench of a homeless cannibal mixed with regurgitated booze simmering on asphalt. He gets even closer to me and hugs me, and what I breathe in is the bubbling spoon of rancid filth spewing from his pores.  He’s wearing a filthy sport coat made of tweed, even though it’s over 90 degrees down here. His complexion in daylight is like that of a caved-in corpse – pale, gray, and rubbery at best, with teeth melting out of his skull.

“Bleh,” I recoil in disgust. “You totally reek.  I should have known better than to meet you here!”

“What?” Randy schleps towards me, dragging his feet. “I’m here!”

“You can’t stay at my Bnb.”

I’m power-walking way ahead of Randy now, heading towards my car but walking across the parking lot in a daze with Randy lumbering behind me like a sasquatch, half-drunk, and me totally not realizing that obviously this is exactly what would happen, and how did I ever think it wouldn’t?

“I thought it could be cool,”  I shout back at Randy. “But now I know this was a bad idea and my whole solo, mediative getaway has all gone to shit, you don’t have anywhere to stay and you are expecting to stay with me at the Bnb, and I’m telling you IT IS NOT going to happen. Okay?”

We’re alone at my car in a vacant lot; Poughkeepsie Station, and not a soul around. Somehow, I didn’t actually think Randy would come.  I really didn’t invite him and I never said anything to give him the impression he could crash at my Bnb.  Not to mention, Randy is, needless to say, persona non grata anywhere near the hippie commune.

“Just keep away from me.  I need to get sushi and figure shit out,” I say, breathing deep, and remembering that this is just another day-in-the-life.

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Randy and I are at the waterfall/swimming hole in Garrison, right near the Bnb and where I figure, no doubt, at least Randy can rinse off his stench. I just need to get him to another motel for the night, or to head back to Buffalo, anything but just stay the hell away from Shelley and Talyia, please don’t get me kicked out.  I’m a bad girl trying so hard to be good.

But, am I really trying?

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On the way to the waterfall, we stopped at a liquor store, which I already knew existed but hadn’t entered out of respect for Shelley and Talyia.

“I want you,” Randy says, slurping from a rum bottle. There’s a few younger couples around, plus a lot of moss. “You don’t understand.  I would do landscaping tomorrow if it meant I could come inside you again and again -”

“SHUT UP!” I stand up on a rock. “I am just not into you! Get it through your skull!”

(I had previously told Randy that if he would apply himself and his law degree, join a firm, get malpractice insurance, and pay your dues to the Bar Association, or at least get some kind of decent job like every other fortysomething dude, maybe I would consider dating him. It was obvious, however, that Randy’s ever-present, bloody coke straw is his one true passion and that he will only succeed in ruining my life).

Now it’s 6:00 p.m.  The sun is beginning to fade.  I check my phone and see a message from Talyia:

“We went out and will be back around 9:00,” it says.

“Great,” I exhale a sigh of relief. “We can go back to the Bnb and I can shower and we can figure our shit out.  You need to call a motel and then maybe I’ll go find the strip club in Newburgh…”

“We locked the door,” is Talyia’s eventual response, right as Randy and I arrive at my car; we are both dirty and sweaty, and hungry to boot. “We couldn’t leave it open, obviously.”

What the fuck!”  My voice echoes; somewhere far away, a bird flies out of a tree. “Noooooooo!”

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Randy and I go to Beacon to kill some time.  Despite the extensive “nighttime” looks I packed, I’m stuck going out in Victoria’s Secret slides and a muddy skort, with Randy, this year’s worst accessory, to boot.

The Stockholm Syndrome sets in at the air-conditioned hotel bar.  I toss away my cares and worries simply because I have absolutely no control over the situation, never did. I succumb.  No matter how hard I try, Randy doesn’t listen to a word I say. I’m locked out with him stuck to my side.  We are both homeless derelicts, so what’s a girl to do? Enjoy a pinot grigio, even a cig, and Metallica’s “Sad but True” emanating from the jukebox.  I stop drinking to keep in driving shape, and when we stagger into the Bnb, it’s close to 10:00.

Inside, It’s deathly quiet. Shelley, Talyia, and a new kid with glasses are all sitting in the  mediation nook.

“Well, this is Randy,” I look at Talyia with pleading (but probably bloodshot) eyes.  Everyone is silent.

Randy and I creep closer to the crew, until Randy is right up next to Talyia and she looks up at him in horror.  I’ve probably grown used to his noxious stench, and can’t smell much of anything anymore.

“Ok I think I’m speaking for the group here when I say Randy needs to leave,” Talyia says.

“Thank you,” I quickly throw Randy under the bus. “I’ve been trying to dump him all day!”

Shelley and Talyia gather around us and the room starts to close in.  I worry that my tainted mental state is obvious.

“Have you guys been drinking?” Talyia says.

“No, no, not me,” I say.  “Randy, I’ll pay for your Lyft back to the station, and therefore pay you to stay out of my life forever!”

The new skinny kid with glasses comes outside with Randy and I, and he waits with him at the curb. I go back inside.

“Thank God he’s finally gone,” I look to Talyia and Shelley for sympathy, or something, but Talyia shrieks at me like a banshee.

“I think it’s best if you just went to bed!”

And that’s precisely what I do. But it’s only 10:30 p.m.  Damn.

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The next morning, over dark coffee, I am asked to leave.  It’s okay with me though; I do not fit in here.   I start to cry because of the lack of control I seem to have over my own life.

“I wish there was more we could have done to help you,” Shelley says.

Like not lock me out.

“I had no idea it would get so bad,” I say. “I thought I could handle it on my own.”

“We wish you peace,” Talyia says.

“Namaste,” says Shelley.

I pack up my room – contraband salami sandwich, leather clothes – and take off down the hill.  It reeks of Randy’s booze in my car, and sure enough, I find a cigarette butt in the console.   I clean and freshen the shit out of the interior then leave my car at the train station. It’s a fresh and foggy morning, and while waiting for the train into the City, I share my story with a South Carolinan family here for West Point graduation.  The train squeaks to a stop.  Soon, I’m smushed up against cute guys in Yankees gear heading to a game.

I walk from Grand Central to Soho in my boots with the spurs. “Coffee?” says a man with a shaved head near Washington Square Park.  “On my way back,” I say.  I’m comfortable in the NY crowd, where you’re totally alone and totally not at the same time. There’s peace when nobody knows your name, when you are just a face in the crowd with nothing but endless pavement, noises, doorways.

The Sunshine State Affair

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I’m down in the outskirts of Tampa, FL visiting Cousin Phil, and also his friend Blaine Templeton with whom I’ve corresponded a year. I was supposed to meet “Blaine” when I visited Phil last February.  But apparently, Blaine got caught up in some sort of bender three hours away, and wasn’t around.  I seized Cousin Phil’s phone during that trip and texted Blaine. We continued talking until now. I’m not sure how or why we kept in touch. Signs pointed to this Gemini party boy and I being soulmates.  I even sent him a few butt pics.

Blaine is a troubled chap adopted from the UK by his aunt. His voice is a cross between Mike Skinner from The Streets and the gecko from GEICO commercials.  Most interestingly, Blaine has been staying with Cousin Phil for the past two months! He told me he’s sleeping in the weight room and I’m in the guest room, and we’ll be sharing a bathroom. There’s no way we won’t cross paths. How is this really gonna go?

“You can meet me at the airport with a rose if you want,” I texted him.

“Woman,” Blaine said.   “I am sober and in therapy.  I will not be much fun whilst you’re here.”

Blaine had to go and dent up Phil’s stainless steel fridge while he was home for Easter, and he’s taken a vow of sobriety.  Why did he have to fuck everything up right before I got there? He previously told me he was getting the “troops together” – aka a bunch of guys – for a night on the town of Prince Harry proportions!

“Well, I’m just looking forward to sun and sand,”  I said. “I’ve been doing squats.”

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The words Gun Show Weekend loom on a giant billboard overhead. Semi-Automatic Showcase.  Mobile homes are sprawled around palm trees, their pastel hues bleached by the sun.

Phil and I are driving through the small town of Gibsonton, FL, where it is rumored circus and carnival workers crash during the off-season. Blaine is staying home, again. He hasn’t done anything social with me this entire time. My new term for Blaine is Spores Boy (like in The Secret Garden) a.k.a The Catfish/Hermit Crab.  Now that’s he’s sober all he does is sleep. He’s lying in bed just like Brian Wilson did, except for odd moments we smoke cigarettes in the yard and he tells me his woes.

“There’s a bar over there that was on one of those travel shows,” Phil says as we roll past in his overbearing Escalade. “Look.”

He hands me his phone. A YouTube video is playing with blurred-out faces lumbering around a dimly-lit room. “Freaks do come out at night,” the narrator says. “It’s a veritable hotbed of circus-folk.”

 “We obviously have to go,” I look out the window at this bar, a disintegrating plywood shack covered in paint flakes. “No question about it.”

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It’s three days into my five-night stay, and by the way, it’s confirmed – I’m delusional and histrionic. I brought a see-through nightie with me, thinking Blaine and I would probably have a late-night hookup in the bathroom. But he wasn’t exaggerating when he said he wouldn’t be fun whilst I’m here.

It’s  4/20. Cousin Phil and I cruise to “Showplace” in his innocuous work van.  Phil gelled his hair down into a devil’s lock and paired it with a teal Florida logo tee, in an attempt to “blend in.”

As we drive up, I notice the flashing lights of police cars.

“Oh damn, the cops are here,” I look out the window. “But it’s probably something minor. Let’s keep going.”

Conveniently, patrons enter this place from the side.  We go inside the dark shack.  I walk across the room, and look out the window to scope the drama. Two men are standing across from each other, bathed in blue/red light. Maybe it was a brawl?

Cousin Phil’s at the bar and it’s stocked up with guys drinking.  I turn my back to the illuminated shelf of vodka, and survey the room. It’s karaoke night.  A curly-haired DJ in a long hippie skirt is on the other side of the room.  There’s a skinny girl singing in a crop top and skull-patterned newsboy cap.

“I’ve got no roots cuz my home was never on the ground, I got no RoooOOOO O-OOTS, I got no roots..…” she croons, grinding her hips to the melody.  I rush towards the DJ, awoken by this cacophony.

“I’ll do…” I look around hyper-actively. “I’ll do ‘Gimme the Light’ by Sean Paul…But I’m not sure I’m good enough.”

“You ARE good enough,says the scrawny singer in the hat. She walks up to me; her teeth are sharpened to a point, and she’s still grooving her hips to the melody.

“Thanks.” I walk to the bar and sit next to Phil. There’s a tan dude on my right. He has an earring and a backwards camo-print cap.

“Hm, he could be cute, I can’t tell,” I say to Phil out the side of my mouth. I’m squinting through the smoke. Oh Florida, the shamelessly smoky heartland…  At that moment, the tan dude gets up and walks past my barstool, kind of knocking into it with his shoulder.

“Oops, sorry ma’am,” he says, backing away with hesitation.

“No, it’s okay,” I give him my most flirtatious gaze.

“Der – duh – doo,” the tan dude says, coming closer, and I see that he only has two front teeth, and no other teeth at all, not on the top row anyway.  I don’t compute.  “QQQ mmm?” he says. My mind goes blank.

The tan dude walks outside.  A few guys have pulled their motorcycles up by the front door, and have formed a little circle.  That’s hot… Several chubby dudes lean against their bikes, basking in the glow of a hillbilly moon.

“Ann Marie, come on up here Ann Marie,” says the curly-haired DJ, who reminds me of the clown girl from Big Comfy Couch.  She hands me the mic as the chords of Carrie Underwood fade away. The girl who was singing the tune looks like a cross between Taryn Manning on Orange is the New Black  and Avril Lavigne. Her hair is tangled as a tumbleweed, with a bow stuck to the side.  However, if I closed my eyes right now I’d swear it was actually Underwood, albeit an MTV Unplugged version. “She caught the eye of an oil man, dancing one summer night in a dime store dress…

I assume the mic, and as the words appear on the faraway television screen, a table full of faceless ladies starts to hoot and howl. The beat begins…a man’s voice from somewhere booms “Four twenty!” I pace around.

Jus’ gimme the light and pass the dro…” I crouch low to the ground. “And I gots to know…” But then the speedy chorus starts up and I botch the whole thing.  But thankfully I’ve got some real dro in a flattened Marlboro pack in the pocket of my tattered miniskirt, and I cannot wait to join the erotic-looking bikers out in the parking lot. “Can I be your protector, your boyfriend, wanna come wreck ya?” I slurp my Corona. “Got the dro in my cornrow. Yo yo yo yo.”

Once I’m done, a zombie juggalo in ankle-grazing, wide-leg denim approaches. He seizes the mic. Out pours a beautiful country hymn. That was certainly unexpected.  Despite his dead-squirrel hairdo, he’s got a voice like butterscotch candy – suckable, and dare I say, fuckable?

Nah.

The skinny girl with fangs grinds her pelvis to the melody.  Another young female with “Bossy Girl” on the back of her tee moves close to her, presses against her, and they fall in sync with the rhythm. They are moving their hips in unison back and forth, pressed together, until the song ends and they drift into a dark corner together.

Back at the bar, I knock back Coronas to the last bitter drop. It’s a damn good thing this place doesn’t sell wine. If I was on a pinot grigio high, let’s just say I’d be here until dawn and probably join the circus, too. Everybody here is outrageously talented. There’s not a bad singer in the bunch, except me.

“I’m moving to Gibsonton!” I proclaim. “I’ve found my people!”

I’m facing the entrance when in he walks: a Johnny Cash enigma on a Jack Sparrow streak, clad in head-to-toe black and spit-shined shoes, with a short black ponytail and get this, an eye patch. Ever so slightly my jaw drops, and my eyes widen. He walks past me, nonchalant.

“Do not look,” I murmur. “That’s the man of my dreams.”

He pulls a pack of Reds from his pants and I strike up a convo.  He lights my cig and his nails have chipped black polish.  Is this a real life pirate, a Goth, or does he just work at some Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney World? Maybe it’s all the above, and I don’t care.

“I’m Joe,” he says, exhaling smoke. “Actually I just moved here, from P.A. I just moved to Riverview.”

Joe…from Riverview…I’m reduced to the drool-face emoji. Joe and I have a personal, but not too personal, chat. The air between us is hazy… and then I say goodbye…I think it’s best to end this night on a high, without even getting Joe’s number.  Because what’s the point? I’d rather keep him as a fantasy. I hop up to the passenger side of Phil’s van, still inside a full-blown swoon….

COYOTEUGLY

“WILL YOU MAKE ME A SANDWICH BLAINE?” Unfortunately, I think I’ve gone deaf.  Blaine’s frying up paninis in a pan, and Phil’s gone to bed. “CAN YOU OPEN THIS BOTTLE OF WINE?” Oh, and I’m drunk. “ALEXA, OPEN THIS WINE.”

“Woman, god damn it,” Blaine is pissed, and puts his two lovely paninis on a plate. “Make your own sandwich.”  He doesn’t even look at me.

“PHIL, BLAINE IS BEING ABUSIVE,” I yell, to no one. It echoes. Blaine ignores me. “BLAHHHH!” I pick up two pieces of bread along with a floppy piece of deli ham and fling them towards Blaine. He is hunched over the sink and cowers with his arms raised above his head.

“Woman!” he says, “Damn it!” He takes the sandwiches into the dark weight room with video games still playing and I’ve just about had it. We correspond for a year, then when I’m here you act like I’m chopped liver? Nothing to get out of bed for?

“SPORES BOY,”  I stand outside the room with Blaine slumped on the bed.

“I don’t like that watermelon perfume,” he says.

“NOMMMMMMM.” I snatch a sandwich off his plate and take a giant bite, chew dramatically, and then strut off towards the guest room. “IT’S VICTORIA’S SECRET BITCH.”

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We kind of made amends before I left. Kind of, not really.  I apologized and got him a little dominatrix action figure from the flea market. That’s something we talked about, anyway, dommes and dominas. Blaine did not initially accept my apology.
But then one day, just today in fact, I got a text from Blaine. Thank you for the dominatrix-looking action figure, he wrote. Well, then. Maybe hate sex is in our future after all.

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Movie Santas I’d Like To F**k

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The stockings are hung, and my presents are wrapped.  Because when a random dude in red infiltrates your chimney, one has to be ready.  I’ve tied myself up and am awaiting the arrival of this man, the Man in Red.  But who is he? A total enigma, duh, according to limited folklore.. So here I lay, submissive and content, reflecting upon Santas from contemporary cinematography that I’d like to fuck. (Aka, SILFs).

Ironically, my favorite Christmas film doesn’t contain a single Santa. It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) is my favorite Christmas film, probably because it was first a short story and contains philosophical themes as well as social commentary. These themes include: Post War financial depression, suicidal thoughts, pharmaceutical culpability, existential crisis, marital abuse, and dare I say, feminism. Even though I loved It’s A Wonderful Life from a young age, I didn’t fully appreciate certain aspects until now.  Upon reflection, I know it’s because of what happens once George Bailey is “dead.”  When “Violet Buck” (Gloria Grahame) comes back into George Bailey’s life post mortem, she showcases an early example of the hooker-with the-heart-of-gold archetype, plus a case of shoulda coulda woulda as far as girls that got away in George’s life are concerned.

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Forties-era rhinestone-ed necklines aside, scenes in Christmas films captivate for subjective reasons. Holiday films appeal to our most childlike instincts and associations.  In a Christmas-themed Golden Girls episode, the ladies wait in a psychologist’s office for Rose, who is a receptionist there at the time. A “Santa” enters the waiting room, and Blanche’s horniness suddenly goes into overdrive.  Apparently, she has a Santa fetish.

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While I do not have a Santa fetish, given all of the representations of this enigmatic character in film, turns out there are a few who could potentially be a turn-on.

Billy Bob Thornton in Bad Santa and Bad Santa 2

Thornton portrays a complete nymphomaniac, alcoholic, nihilistic man named “Willie” who plots to rob businesses while employed as their in-house Santa.

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I figured Thornton wrote these scripts, but turns out they were penned by a bunch of random people.   Thornton taps into his “outsider” and “low life” persona well, fleshing out this character of “Willie” so well that I assumed he was a product of Thornton’s own imagination. Willie is a drunken pervert without a conscience, except for moments when, it turns out, he does seem to have a conscience. Is this guy boyfriend material? In my world yes, because I refuse to accept reality and always pine after those who consistently show me they are bad news.

Dan Aykroyd in Trading Places

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Being unable to appreciate what you are given in life is a common holiday conundrum.  The movie “Trading Places” showcases such a tribulation in a way only an 80’s movie can, without regard for being politically correct and employing the comedy skills of early-era SNL greats (namely, Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy). I’m slightly embarrassed to mention (but not too embarrassed not to publish for the whole world to see) that I’m infatuated with the young Dan Aykroyd,  because he probably did lots of blow with John Belushi and never got in trouble for it.

In “Trading Places,” Aykroyd plays Louis Winthorpe, an upper-class commodities broker at Duke & Duke.  The two crotchety partners, Randolph and Mortimer, are at odds with each other – one thinks people are either born criminal low-lifes or not, and the other thinks even an upstanding financier such as Winthorpe would resort to a life of crime if he lost it all tomorrow. They wage a bet. They toss Winthorpe out on the street after framing him for petty theft, and a gregarious street hustler played by Eddie Murphy moves into Winthorpe’s penthouse and takes over his life.

Winthorpe winds up gaining the friendship of a prostitute (Jamie Lee Curtis), but does break into the Duke & Duke Christmas party totally drunk off his ass and weilding a gun. He sneaks in wearing a dirty Santa outfit and stuffs an entire salmon under his lapel, later devouring it on the subway to the horror of a female onlooker.

Minor-Role Santa in Home Alone  

In the first Home Alone, Kevin McAllister (Macaulay Culkin) walks over to Santa’s cottage on his suburban Chicago-area block to ask for his family back. Santa’s cottage is closed, but Kevin spots Santa trying to start up his broken down car while smoking a cig.

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Santa doesn’t have any candy for Kevin because “his elf took all the candy canes home to her boyfriend,” but he does give Kevin a few orange Tic Tacs. Santa unfortunately discovers a parking ticket on his station wagon – “What’s next, rabie shots for the Easter bunny?” – and then Kevin heads home. The actor who played  Santa in this scene was Ken Hudson Campbell, who, according to his IMDB page, just starred as an Uber driver in a 2017 Christmas movie called The Trouble With Mistletoe.

I do have a thing for sad, chubby guys with glasses, so I think that back in 1990, this down-on-his-luck Chris Cringle and I might have made a nice pair.

Conclusion

This blog stands as a warning to those unafflicted by holiday woes – do not drink too much, or eat too much, or smoke too many cigars like a chimney this holiday season, because your mind will turn into a blizzard of weird thoughts that you won’t be able to see through, until the only topic you can think up for your Holiday Blog is about “Movie Santas you’d like to F**K.”

So… did I leave any of your favorite Santas off the list?

Reader Survey: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF MEN WHO CONSIDER “DIE HARD” A CHRISTMAS MOVIE? FACTORYGIRL1987@GMAIL.COM

 

Romantic Retardation*

*In the clinical sense of the word

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Another Memorial Day, another drama. That’s my life. For the past two months, I was seeing this guy “Billy,” an electrician with peroxided hair. I thought that I knew the real him.

Our passionate connection made me feel like we were sheltered under the sunny boardwalks of Venice Beach in 1994 with nothing to kill our buzz.  I was wrapped up in his bubble. Billy skateboards all the time, and lives out in the country actually. He was kind of like an obscure record I discovered in a beat-up barn out in Cambria.

We met in a strange twist of fate and turns out, we both read Hustler for the articles. Our romance was meant to be. Billy took me out to eat and to the park all the time, brought pinot grigio and PBR for us, held my hand and gazed into my eyes… He was just so romantic.

But then the record totally scratched. Billy flipped the script. Everything changed.

Masks

The masks we wear

One week ago, Billy told me that he was too broke to take me out to eat anymore.

“I’ve been saving for a house,” Billy texted me. “I can’t spend any money.”

“But it’s impossible not to spend money when there’s a woman in your life,” I said.

Honestly, I was hurt. Why would Billy take me out on dates for two months straight and then suddenly say he can’t anymore?  I figured it meant he wanted to do his own thing, and that I should break up with him as soon as possible, before I’m the one left in the dust.

“Look, Billy…” I said. “If you’re trying to be rude and passive aggressive, than just leave me alone.”

“What are you talking about?” He texted me about five hours later. “I’m not mad about anything.”

So I’m a crazy bitch then, apparently. It was all in my head. Ugh!!

 

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But the situation didn’t go away. For the entirety of this past week, Billy turned into a withdrawn and depressed goon who didn’t want to do anything, despite the fact I told him I would be an emotional support and wear a schoolgirl outfit to his house.

“I don’t want to bring you down when I’m in a depressed mood,” Billy said.

“It’s okay to be in a depressed mood,” I said. “Everyone gets in depressed moods, you don’t have to totally ignore me because you’re in a depressed mood.”

But that’s basically what Billy did. His personality changed. Emotionally, he disappeared. He hid away in an emotionless purgatory, and he didn’t care how I felt about it. I suppose you could say he left me high and dry, feeling abandoned, vulnerable enough to join the Church of Scientology…I mean, right when I thought that I met someone honest, it turned out to be an act.

“I actually don’t even like going out to dinner,” Billy said. “I hate going out to eat. I hate going out downtown.”

“What?” I said. “You could have fooled me.”

“I don’t know how to show my emotions,” Billy continued.

“You are a sociopath, I think,” I told him. “American Psycho!”  I hung up the phone, and then I went out for the night.

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Saturday night, Allentown was pop, lock, and droppin’ from Wadsworth to Main. I decided to forego stilettos and wear pointy ankle boots which said “Girl’s Night – Not Trying to Talk to or Be With Any Men.”  Except that is, the men who were in Q. and supplying me with dollars to pick out songs by Nicki Minaj and Demi Lovato, (what can I say, I’m a great DJ at Q. late at night, when the THC and pinot grigio and Adderall are coursing through my veins and I think that 1:30 a.m. is still early and that I should call a bunch of people right away).

“Eddie!” Eddie is my somewhat nocturnal ex-bf/BFF who is definitely an emotional support.  I thought maybe, just maybe, he might be awake. “I’m tipsy and I can’t get home!” But did I really have any intentions of going home?

“I’ll be right there, where you at?”

By the time Eddie’s olive-green Honda pulled to the curb, I had already twisted my ankle while crossing the street. Damn ankle boots…I muttered, flicking the ash of a cigarette whose origins were unknown. Stupid little Billy boy…I paced the corner of Allen and Delaware amidst taxi beeps. If only he could see me now! 

“Eddie!” I hopped in the passenger side of his olive-green Honda. “Hi!’’

“So, you, like, needed a ride home?”

“Meh, I guess. But I don’t really feel like going home yet!”

Eddie drove around to a quieter street, and we sat in the car and talked awhile. I hadn’t seen Eddie for several months; but it doesn’t really matter, because we’ve known each other a super long time and there just aren’t certain pretenses between us. Except now, Eddie has a girlfriend who would chase me away with a broom if I were to ever show up at his place.

“It’s just all gone to shit,” a tear rolled down my cheek under the glow of a crescent moon. “This dork Billy, I never should have given my heart away. He’s too busy saving for a house, apparently…”

“He’s an electrician, he should already have a house,” Eddie lit another cig. “They make good money.”

“Yeah, you’re right.”

“What an asshole,” Eddie said, and I realized he was wearing finely-striped silky pajama pants the whole time.

“I like your pants,” I said.

“Thanks,” Eddie said, and I leaned over to give him a kiss.

 

 

How to Have Sex in a Church (and Get Away With It)

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“Got no religion / Don’t need no friends / Got all I want / And I don’t need to pretend” – Black Sabbath

Are you turned on by dripping hot candle wax? What about sipping wine in a robe, or whipping yourself in a cold, dark room? It’s easy to become aroused in church. Inhale the incense and look around. There’s the illusion of mystery, the whole ‘getting down on your knees and begging forgiveness’ thing, and many potentially erotic uses for the confessional.

When Lucifer calls, you’ll pick up the phone, because he will manifest as a Johnny Depp-lookalike dripping sweat and tasting like Moet, not a hooved creature with stank breath. That’s why it’s called “temptation,” duh – sin is everywhere and it’s hard to say no. (Side note: I once met an exotic dancer named Sin, how’s she doing?). If I learned anything in Catholic school, it’s that it’s okay to give into sin, just as long as you confess and say you’re sorry afterward.

Churches have a lot in common with dungeons – kinky sex dungeons, that is. Last week, I got a call from “S,” a guy who’s titillated by subterranean exploits as much as I am. He suggested we try to have sex in a church. Even though I rebuffed his advances in the past, his church idea was too good to ignore. We didn’t really think it would be possible, anyway, but was worth a good, old-fashioned Ozzy Osbourne “Shot in the Dark.” So I doused myself in a vial of True Religion cologne, listened to my “Crucifix Playlist” on Spotify (Madonna, Justice, Tori Amos), and met “S” in front of our chosen house of worship.

The sun was shining. The birds were singing. And all of the doors were locked. Damn! But guess what? We totally pulled it off in under thirty minutes. Yes, S and I had sex inside a church and didn’t get arrested. So here it is, my sexy readers, theprivatemag’s Valentine’s Day gift to you – a definitive how-to guide on how to have sex in a church and get away with it. *For entertainment purposes only. Church sex is illegal.

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Check out Churches with Cool Architecture and Art

It’s easy to gain admittance from a clergy member midday, on a weekday, under the guise of wanting to sneak a peek. Real Tiffany windows, Gothic Revival architecture, actual gold, and Renaissance-era art are NO JOKE, and worth checking out. Trinity Episcopal (371 Delaware Ave.) features stained glass windows by Louis Comfort Tiffany and John LaFarge; the Lombard-Romanesque interior of Blessed Trinity RC (317 Leroy Ave.) features a major collection of Christian symbolic art – 2,000 pieces deep- along with Byzantine details; Our Lady of Victory Basilica (767 Ridge Rd., Lackawanna) is mammoth, marble, and has a Father Baker museum in the basement; St. Stanislaus (123 Townsend Street) is a Romanesque fixture of Ol’ Polonia built in 1882; and when St. Louis Cathedral (35 Edward St. ) was built in 1855, it was meant to be an homage/knock-off of Cologne Cathedral from 16th century Germany.

Wander Off to Explore

While on a self-guided tour with your companion, look for annexes, nooks, and dark corners until you are alone and everyone thinks you left the building.  S. and I explored the main church by ourselves, then ended up finding a room with music stands and a piano. From there we wound up in an alcove between two doorways – one led back out into the church proper, and the other into a courtyard.

Make Sure you are Concealed and Undetectable

First thing’s first, make sure you won’t get locked in. (Asphyxiating in an old church dungeon is no laughing matter). Have an escape route. The door out to the courtyard was ours. An area with no windows is ideal. There was only a tiny window toward the bottom of one of the doors inside our alcove, and S. kept pressing his face up against it, but that’s a good way to scare the beJesus out of a nun.  I suggest a stealthier approach: get down on your hands and knees and peer every so often.

Turn Your Phone Off.

I figured this out the hard way. You will have adrenaline flowing and won’t remember to do so. In a quiet church, even vibrate mode could blow your cover. Turn that shit off completely.

Foreplay is Crucial for Testing the Limits

You might think a quickie in a church calls for ramming it in and running away, but foreplay is crucial. Not only will it increase your enjoyment overall, in this case it’s best to dip your toes in and see what you can get away with, slowly at first. If someone is going to catch you, it’s probably better to be moderately clothed and between first and third base. After five minutes, if you’re undetected, heat things up more. And then even more!

Don’t Leave Evidence

If you are prone to leaving things behind, now is not the time.  FYI, if you leave a condom wrapper, you’ll go to Hell forever. I heard it from the Archangel Michael himself.  The less personal belongings you bring with you, the better. It makes for a faster departure.

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I wish I could say I’m sorry that I had sex in a church, but I’m not. Why should I be? Jesus Himself probably had sex in a church at one point or another. The Romans weren’t exactly nice to the guy. So this St. Valentine’s Day, let’s all just try to have sex in as many places as possible.

READER SURVEY: WHAT’S THE BEST PLACE YOU’VE HAD SEX? FACTORYGIRL1987@GMAIL.COM

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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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It Started With A Syringe

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I was at work the other day and ended up having a conversation about losing your virginity. Believe it or not, I wasn’t the one who brought it up.

“I was thirteen,” my co-worker, Ginnifer with the Blue Mani, said.

“I was fifteen,” said Shelby with the Mauve Lip Liner.  “And I’ve been on birth control ever since.”

“I was…seventeen, um, eighteen,” I said. “But honestly it took me that long to hit puberty.”  

We ended up trading stories about the loss of our virginities, about how, like Madonna and Britney Spears and Cyndi Lauper, we all became “touched for the very first time” and “hit one more time” and “time after time” after that.  

It all started in college. When I got to my room in Alumni dorm, I unpacked my Smiths CDs, issues of Nylon and Woody Allen movies to go out and party right away. It wasn’t long before I had a crush on a hipster I saw buying photo paper and film at the bookstore.

“He had glasses and a plaid button-up shirt – unbuttoned halfway,” I gushed to my BFF/roommate Tara as we ate mysterious dining hall casseroles. “I want to know his name.”

The very next day in the dorm,  I was listening to Belle & Sebastian and writing in my diary when our landline phone rang.

“He’s in my logic class,” Tara said. “My philosophy class. The guy with the glasses.”

“No effin way.”

I shadowed Tara’s next logic class for the purpose of learning this guy’s name. He turned out to be a senior named Tommy who said many intellectual things. I was swooning.

A couple days later, I was in our dorm searching for my clove cigarettes. The phone rang at 3:00,  about the time logic got out.

“Tommy wants to know if we can find him a syringe,” Tara said.

“My brother’s diabetic, so probably. For what?”

“His ‘Drug Life’ photo project.”

“I’ll go to LoGrasso. Have him come to our room.”

I walked to the health center, and believe it or not, there must not have been an opiate epidemic in 2005 or something, because I was given a syringe right away, no questions asked. Sweet!  I ran back to the room, and pretended to be working on something at my computer. The door swung open. Tara entered; Tommy was behind her.

“David LaChapelle, David LaChapelle,” Tommy was saying, wearing jeans completely frayed at the bottom with a giant hole exposing one thigh, Doc Marten boots, long wool overcoat and those glasses I had a thing for.

“I really appreciate you doing this for me,” he said while snooping through my bookshelf. He picked up my Annie Hall DVD. “When are we going to get married?” Turns out, Tommy was a huge Woody Allen fan.

“I have to find a few more things for the shoot,” he said. “Want to come along? I’ll grab you guys some wine afterwards.”

Oh yeah, Tommy was 21. It was all music to my ears.

“I saw The Dandy Warhols in London,” he said. We were squished in the backseat of our other friend Valerie’s broken-down Cutlass. She was the only one with a car.

We drove to Wal Mart, the only store in town, to find a “drug dealer-esqe” gold chain, Shower-to-Shower bath powder (“the only kind that really looks like coke,” according to Tommy), and a fake nail (“even though we could probably score one from a theater major,” he said). After Tommy purchased all this stuff, and a box of Franzia, we dropped him off at his place.

“Call me later and we’ll drink wine,” he said.

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Tommy and I started hanging out after that – walking around campus, smoking cigarettes, that kind of thing. One night he invited me to his house – off-campus.

“Sorry, we don’t have heat,” he said, opening the door and wearing a coat.

“Oh, okay, that’s cool,” I said.

We went up to the drafty second floor. Someone with a tie-dye tapestry over their door was blaring Grateful Dead. Tommy took me into his room and closed the door. There were stacks of books everywhere, photos tacked to the walls, an electric keyboard, bong, pack of Ecstasy herbal cigs, Velvet Underground & Nico poster, and a carpet that seemed to double as an ashtray.

“Wow. Your room is so cool,” I said.

We sat on the floor. Tommy rolled a joint, took out his iPod, and put the Brian Jonestown Massacre on. We smoked, and I got super high and paranoid because I was innocent and had no tolerance for weed back then. Tommy’s face kept getting closer to mine, somehow. He was about to kiss me when suddenly a dreadlocked girl barged into the room.

“Do either of you have a cigarette?” she yelled.

I looked at Tommy. He looked at me and said, “She’s trying to quit.”

“Um..uh, here,” I extended a Marb Light her way, my hand shaking. She retreated into the hall, shutting the door.

“Damn,” Tommy said. “Sorry about that.”

“It’s okay,”  I said. “So, where were we?”

This blog never gives an explicit play-by-play because it’s better to leave things to the imagination, in my opinion. It’s classier. But when I left Tommy’s house that night I wasn’t as innocent as when I entered.

“Tara,” I said, turning the light on and waking her up. “It happened.”

“Oh. My. God!” She sat up in bed and hugged me. “I’m so proud of you!”

The next morning, we were celebrating over DIY omelettes in the dining hall when I felt nauseous.

“BLEEEEGHHHHHH,” I puked for a good five minutes in the bathroom then came out, pale and sweating. “Tara…I’m so sick.”

I was in bed for the next 36 hours, perspiring, worried I was pregnant, watching The Virgin Suicides.

“Baby girl…You can’t be pregnant,” Tara said. “It’s got to be the flu.”

Sure enough, it was the flu. The only “clean” glass I could find at Tommy’s was totally cloudy and under the bathroom sink, but I was desperate.

The following semester, Tommy left to study abroad in the UK. I thought I’d never see him again. But junior year, Tara and I took the school van down to Pittsburgh, where Tommy was in law school…

READER SURVEY: WHAT SONG WAS PLAYING WHILE YOU LOST YOUR VIRGINITY? FACTORYGIRL1987@GMAIL.COM