Private Magazine

Tag: art

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.

Lifestyles of the Rich and the Homeless

homeless7

Oh, to be nice.  Isn’t it so rare? Nice, nice, nice.  Nice guys finish last.  Well, that’s a good thing.  Nice guys make sure their ladies come first. NICE!

What I really need is a nice man.  Someone who considers my feelings.

Pete seems like he can keep up.  Plus, he makes me laugh.  He reminds me of Philip Seymour Hoffman, he’s really nice, and he’s down to go out any and every night of the week!   I met Pete last year through my social butterfly bestie, Maurice.

Recently, I ran into Pete at Caffe Aroma (where the writers hang).  He asked me out for a drink.

A few days later, he picked me up in an environmentally-conscious car stickered with hippie quotations.  The passenger side said, “Kindness is an act of rebellion.”

“You know, when I met you three years ago – “ Pete’s driving us downtown, and hasn’t stopped chain-smoking.  “I got so nervous, I got so…” He sucks a hard drag. “I felt bad about myself for a week.”

“What? I met you one year ago. With Maurice.”

“You guys came into Aroma,” Pete continues, and inhales another drag. “And you looked at me and didn’t say anything, and I felt bad about myself for a week.”

“Pete!” I’m shocked, because I don’t even remember. “I’m sorry.”

homeless5

Before we hit the town, Pete needs to shower.  We pull up to the truck stop.  You can apparently shower for $8.00 here.  It’s a full moon.  Turns out, Pete is a legitimate homeless person, albeit one with rich parents on the West Side.

We walk into the smoggy diner. There’s a smoking section enclosed by glass.  The vibe here is of a hospital waiting room on an 80’s soap opera; Pete introduces me around to some people he knows, an old saggy couple in stretched-out sweats.

“Here ya go, honey,” the waitress’s voice crackles like a record.

I sip diet cola slowly and page through XXX Guide.  

“Thanks.”

All I hear is the ticking of a clock, and the gradual burning-down of a cig.

Suddenly Pete emerges, towelling his hair. “I feel so much better now,” he says.  “Ready?”

“Sure.”

We leave, and continue on our way downtown.

Homeless4

Pete squeezes his car into a spot across from Thin Man, still chain-smoking, still a nervous wreck.

“I only have twenty-eight dollars in my wallet and thirty-two in the bank,” Pete says.  His glasses fog up. In his car are empty cans, clothes, even a half-full mug of coffee is in the console, which he spills all over the place. “Oh my GOD,” Pete yanks the rearview mirror down towards his face. “I just have to do my hair quickly.”

Pete grabs a container of pomade from somewhere, rubs a giant globule between his palms, then pours bottled water over it and slicks down his coif with the mixture.  It becomes a methed-out Morrissey kind of look, and it works.

“The other day I almost smoked crack,” Pete declares. “This girl came out of the alleyway over there…”

The two of us cross the street. Apparently, a show is about to begin. Pete is a huge fan of the band playing tonight.  I didn’t even know this place was a venue?  I’m apparently not as hip as I once was. We sit in a booth at the far end, so we can order fries and absorb the mood.

“I need to smoke,” Pete says, standing up.  “I need a cigarette.”

A waitress approaches; she has a Tori Amos/Ani DiFranco kind-of vibe.

“Hey, guys,” she says.

“Oh, uh,” Pete fumbles with his pack of smokes. “Hi,” he says. “Let’s all have some shots. I’ll buy you a shot,” Pete says to the waitress as her patchouli wafts across the table.  “Look at all this money I found!” Pete opens his wallet and there’s a bunch of twenties inside.

“What about me?” I say.

“Of course,” Pete says.  I look at the table, embarrassed. The waitress is looking at me, and I mean really looking at me, almost through me for God’s sake.  I know my shirt is low cut, but…

“Can I please also order some fries, with a few avocado slices on the side?” I say. “Is that weird?”

“No,” the waitress says. “Not weird at all.”

The waitress disappears, but soon enough another girl is at our table.  She’s a plain jane of indeterminate age.  She stands at the side of our table and gives me the stink eye for thirty seconds, but it seems like forever.  My confusion and the awkwardness is too much to bear.  I turn to Pete and say,

“What IS going on?”

“I’m sorry,” Pete says. “This is my ex-girlfriend Mandy.”

The waitress is ten feet away, and definitely eyeing me up and down provocatively.

“I invited her,” Pete says.  “Mandy, I just wanted you to be able to meet new people.”

“Pete?” I say. “What IS the situation?”

“I’ll be right back,” he says, and the two of them go off and argue in a faraway corner.  I’m certain I’ll be left with the bill from the shots and alone to fend for myself.  I’ve never truly been this close to a lesbian encounter in my life.  I return the waitress’s gaze.

But soon, Pete comes back, apologetic, and we continue the evening at Rohall’s.

HOMELESS3

“I wrote a song about you,” Pete’s text says the next morning.  There’s a video attached and sure enough, it’s  of Pete singing into a mic in a living room somewhere.  He crashed at someone’s apartment last night.

“She takes away my misery….” he croons. “She took away my virginity…Metaphorically….”  

The phone video crackles and cuts out.  Hmm…

Homeless6

I’m never bored with Pete in my orbit.  He’s always down to hit the town even though we are in the friend zone, or maybe because we are in the friend zone?  His thoughts are always scattered and never able to be pinned down…

My mom and I are going to an event at the Hotel Lafayette.  There’s supposed to be vendors, and cocktails, and more.  I invited Pete via Facebook.  He told me he would be there.  It’s Sunday, and the sun is shining down upon the beautiful pigeons and street people of the Square.

As my mom and I walk up to the Hotel, I can already spot Pete dramatically inhaling a cigarette and pacing around the sidewalk.

“Good morning,” he says.  I wonder how long he’s been here? Maybe Pete is always here. He manages to be everywhere at the same time, omnipresent if you will.

“I can’t stay,” he says. “I’m double parked, and I lost my wallet last night. But I wanted to give you something. It’s my most cherished possession.”  I look at my mom. She’s unfazed by all this.

Pete presents me with a heavy cast-iron amulet on a leather cord,  an upside-down cross with a snake wrapped around it.  It’s mildly Satanic in nature and in line with my aesthetic.

“Wow!” I say. “Thanks Pete.”

HOMELESS2

There’s a show at the Mohawk tonight. Pete invited me. We are supposed to meet up on Washington and Ellicott to get some sushi, get some chow.  It’s Wednesday, and a balmy night at that.

Hump day.

Can Pete actually seduce me?  Ever since his ex showed up on our first date, he’s been stuck in the friend zone. But I can’t help but think Pete is so nice.

“Hey, how’s it going,” Pete walks towards me from the curb. His outfit throws me for a loop – white linen pants, loud aquamarine Hawaiian shirt, and a floppy bucket hat.  In my world, Wednesday is strictly an all-black affair.  I didn’t get the memo. Maybe tonight is a special Beach Boys/Gilligan’s Island tribute…

We go into Seabar for some chow.

Homeless

“I’m going to tell Mandy tomorrow I have strong feelings for you,” Pete says. “We are meeting at Spot.”

“I don’t know, are you sure?” I say. “ You don’t have  to do anything hasty…”

“It’s something I have to do,” he says. “She keeps wanting to get back together.”

“I admire that,” I say.  “I’m nervous about settling down with someone.”

“I do want to get married again..” Pete says, staring into the distance.

“I couldn’t marry somebody unless I’ve known them at least ten years,” I say. “Even for a few years, somebody can hide their true self, who they really are, and turn out to be some kind of psycho…”

“Are you a serial killer?” Pete says.

“No,” I say. “No one’s ever asked me that before.”

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The next day at work, I receive a text from Pete around noon.

“I’m back with Mandy,” it says. “We decided we both want the same thing. We are going to get married with the Justice of the Peace.  I can’t wait 10 years.”

The JUSTICE of the PEACE? I shouldn’t have fallen for Pete, not even a little bit, even though he did just give me a bouquet of black, faux roses two days ago.  His world is one of chaos. My therapist says that I connect with chaos.  I think Pete and I are better off as friends.

I’m sure he’ll change his mind. But I mean, a plain jane?  Then again, I’m just not “nice.”  Let’s face it – I’m too much of a diva to settle down and have kids while also being the breadwinner of the family and breastfeeding while wearing yoga pants and “practical” shoes.  Bah!   The next man I date will surely be wild, more wild and crazy than ever before. But at least now I know I can appreciate a man who is nice.

 

Filthy Confessions

“What’s your fanta-ta-ta-sy?” -Ludacris

The first adult film I ever watched was called “Naughty Fantasies,” or something like that, from Baby Doll Productions. I found it in a CD case for Now That’s What I Call Music: Volume 18 that my college roommate left lying around. She was out of town when I made the discovery, so I invited all of my little college dorm friends over for a viewing party. Since then, I’ve become well-versed in adult film genres: gonzo, amateur, POV, MILF, transsexual, fetish, and “special interest,” which is basically an all-encompassing term used to describe anything and everything outside the status quo. (Trust me, if you can dream it, it’s out there. It exists).

I recently had the question posed to me: Do you have any taboo fantasies? I don’t really consider anything that taboo anymore, so I had no clue how to respond. I mean, define taboo. Go ahead:

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I took the wind out of this guy’s sails when I didn’t answer his question.  I’m pretty sure he wanted to tie me up like a Christmas goose and spank me with a spatula. In fact, this blog, and therefore my LIFE, cannot be accessed at any Erie County public libraries anymore because it’s been deemed unacceptable for children under 18! It’s been banned. Found to be “suspicious.”

Now I have no choice but to put this up:

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Last night, I wanted to make sure I still had the ability to vocalize my fantasies. When I was driving with Mick in his car, I let everything out.

“The cop who just drove by, omigod, he looked pretty sexy,” I said while eyeing a police SUV cruising down Allen St.

“Like I care,” Mick said, totally pissed and smoking a cig. I’m pretty sure Mick considers the two of us in a relationship, but I fail to grasp this and continuously try to date other men. I’m not super satisfied with monogamy, what can I say?

“That’s definitely one of my fantasies,”  I said, oblivious and smoking weed in a nonchalant manner. “For a hot police officer to arrest me and beat me into submission.”

“Great…” Mick said.

“But not in the holding center,” I said. “I heard it’s pretty smelly in there.”

“Whatever,” Mick said. “We’re here.”

Mick brought me to a Christmas party in a dark Allentown mansion. I love going to mansion parties – they are excellent networking opportunities. In the middle of the party, when a bunch of people found themselves on pink striped chaise lounges listening to an elderly art dealer play the trumpet, I embarked on another taboo discussion with two people I thought were a couple.

“….Swingers parties,” I heard the guy next to me say. My ears perked up, full-on SONAR, and his female accomplice noticed.

“Sorry,” I said. “It’s just, I attempted to infiltrate the swingers scene here before. I’m a writer.”

“I’ve never gone to any swingers parties before,” the woman said. She was pretty and tan. “But he has.”

“It’s pretty wild out in Calabasas,” he said. “Have you seen Eyes Wide Shut?”

“Yes, and honestly, I don’t think it gets that steamy around here,” I said. “At least, everything I went to just had a bunch of people sitting around eating mozzarella sticks.”

“Really?” the woman said.

“Yeah, apparently there’s some Bad Kitty Club that meets down in Dunkirk,” I continued. “We should go! What are you two doing after this? We’re going to Mother’s. Want to come? Hey, Mick -”

Mick stormed off and left me sitting on the couch to talk about the swingers lifestyle on my own.

“Are you guys dating?” the woman asked me.

“Um, not really,” I said. “At least, I don’t think we are.”

“We’re not a couple either,” she laughed and swirled her chardonnay.

“I’ll go find Mick,” I said. “He probably had to go to the bathroom. One sec.”

I found Mick slouched in front of the kitchen sink.

“Um, what?” I said.

“Look, I don’t want to hear you talking about threesomes and inviting random strangers into our romantic night alone -”

“I didn’t know we were having a romantic night alone,” I said. “You have to be honest about your needs and wants. Now that I know, we can have one.”

“If you are into these things, threesomes, group sex, blah blah blah, ” Mick continued to rave like Steve Aoki in Vegas,  “Then we are just not compatible. I want a normal life, marriage…”

“That’s not what I’m into!” I clutched Mick by the shoulders. “That’s not my real life!”

Later on in the evening, after meeting tons of interesting people at the party, I went into one of the many bathrooms to think.

“STOP TELLING WELL-CONNECTED MIDDLE-AGED MEN THAT YOU WORK AT THE ADULT STORE,” I paced around the bathroom. “EVERYONE IS GOING TO THINK YOU ARE COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY INSANE.”

“But I’m a writer,” the other side of me said, and whether it was the angel or devil on my shoulder I’m still not sure. “Anything goes if you are a writer with talent.”

“EVERYONE AT THE PARTY THINKS YOU ARE A TOTAL NUT,” the voices in my head continued. “AND IT’S BECAUSE YOU ARE!”

“Ok, shut up and stay positive,” I said to myself. “You are indeed crazy and talking to yourself but it works for you.”

Mick and I left a little while later. We went off to continue our supposedly romantic evening, but in my estimation, it really wasn’t. He kept criticizing my life choices the entire time, mainly because Mick is from an older and more traditional generation.

“Your generation, all you want to do is cohabitate and share living expenses and fuck each other,” Mick said while driving me home, furiously puffing on cigarette after cigarette.

“So what?” I said. “My generation, we don’t need someone else to make us happy. We find strength within ourselves.”

“Whatever.”

I went to sleep knowing I’m insane. And when I woke up, I didn’t care.

stickers

Splitting the Bill in a Post-Feminist World

BDs

First dates are like fire drills – sometimes they are real, but most of the time they are false alarms, but we are still lucky to get out of them alive. I’m moving up from not introducing my boyfriends to my parents to completely not telling anyone I’m going on a date at all. I don’t even tell my mom when I’m going on a first date. If I did, she would likely ask, “How did it go?” And I don’t always want to recount whatever sick, twisted ordeal I’ve been through this time.

I’m not choosing men based on how “wild” or, God forbid, “crazy” they are. I did that when I was 19 years old. But just the other day, I had a date within the confines of my old, eerily-small college town. It was a revisitation to my 19-year-old stomping grounds, so perhaps the craziness which ensued should come as no surprise.

The “datee” in question was a man whose age I didn’t really know.  He used to teach entry-level photography at school and take pictures at shows. If I remember correctly, I think he had been “hanging out” with one of my suitemates. Who knows, who cares. I’m older now, wiser now, and something was telling me this chap and I might get along. I did what any Millennial, post-collegiate gal would do. We chatted on social media. That Saturday, I drove down to the infamous town. The plan was to go to the Salvation Army then eat at DeJohn’s – an Italian joint with $1.99 margaritas.

sandy

The first thing I notice about “Juan” is his spotlessly-clean apartment. It is very clean, and VERY quiet in there. (Eerily enough, one of my college frenemies lived in the exact same apartment).  Juan is an artist. He has paintings, photographs, and illustrated skateboard decks on the walls. All of his tee shirts are hanging in the closet, color organized, along with a shelf of thousands of CDs, alphabetized. I spot a lovingly-framed photo of Juan and his parents, just the three of them. There’s a desk with a landline phone. Juan picks up the receiver, dials a number, and says “Dad, my friend is here and we are going out, so I won’t be home the rest of the day.”

We set off for Salvation in Juan’s car.  He is a quiet man with the body of a telephone pole. The shy, hyper-organized nerd hasn’t yet, up until this point, been on my dating repertoire – but I love trying new things. Juan buys a green tee shirt that says “Camp MooShu” and a belt (he is really skinny, and practical too, I guess – you have to keep those pants from falling down somehow).  I buy some practically impractical clip-on earrings left over from a wedding in 1988.

bike

After the shopping trip, we stroll through town. I’m growing nostalgic with these familiar streets and the old “Party Houses”: 25 Central, 7 Forest, 140 Temple, etc. It’s bringing me back – way back.

“We have to go to BJ’s,” I say. “We just have to.”

BJ’s, where do I begin? BJ’s feels like being inside of a Dinosaur Jr. album on infinite replay. It’s a place where you can get blackout drunk with laundry quarters. It’s a music venue with plenty of shows, where my friends’ bands always played. It’s the top spot for every artsy person in town, at a college where “artsy” people are the A-list and the miniscule“bro” and/or “jock” population gets ostracized to shitty bars on Water St.

“Ok,” Juan says. “They open at five.”

We go to DeJohn’s first. I’m hungry. We are the only ones in the restaurant. A mid-30s guy with glasses and a shaved head shows us to a booth. The booth is red vinyl and has string lights around it, plus there’s “Gilligan’s Island” playing from a television right on the table. He hands us menus and a remote.

“Can I get you some drinks?” the waiter says.

“Yes, I’ll have a margarita on the rocks with salt,” I say.

“I’ll just have a Blue,” Juan says.

Our waiter leaves so Juan and I peruse the menu. Juan decides on lasagna and I order the chicken parm. We begin a pleasant conversation about this and that. Juan is very hard to read.

“Do you have anything else to, like, do today?” I say.

“No, this is it,” he says.

“What else do you do around here?” I say. “It seems like it could get lonely.”

“When I’m not working, I’ll read the paper,” he says.

“Do you have Netflix?”

“No,” he says. “ I don’t have Internet in my apartment.”

“Oh, wow,”  I say. “What’s your astrological sign?”

“I’m a Taurus,” Juan says.

“I’m a Virgo,” I say. “I think we’re supposed to get along…”

We finish eating and our waiter drops off the check.  It sits there, upside down, collecting dust almost, so I poke at it. Juan hasn’t noticed. I pick up the damn check and it’s $37.00. Juan doesn’t say anything.

“Um, ok…mine was, what…like, $17?” I say.

Juan pulls a few 20’s out of his pocket and puts one of them with the check.

“Um, uh, ok… here’s 20?” I hand him a $20 bill.

“I’ll give this to him and you can keep the change,” he says, leaving.

“Gee, thanks,” I say.

After a minute, Juan comes back. He hands me $3. I look at him somewhat oddly, but not obnoxiously so. “Gilligan’s Island” was the only “old school” thing about this meal, I guess. Juan leaves the tip, we exit DeJohn’s, and go across the street to BJ’s.

blackOut

The two of us are alone in the bar, save for a long-haired bearded dude sipping a pint. Our bartender comes – a college girl in a knit hat. Juan orders another fucking “Blue”. I go with vodka, pay for my own shit, again, and give the bartender a look that says “keep them coming.” The sky has darkened significantly.

“Can I sleep on your couch?” I ask. “It’s sort of, like, a far drive.”

“Yeah, sure,” he says.

Just then, tons of young, really hot and athletically-built guys start filtering into BJ’s. They are accompanied by older men – their dads presumably – who all fall into the Silver Fox and D.I.L.F. category.

“The hockey team is here,” the bartender says. “There was a tournament today.”

In no time at all, BJ’s is packed full of the hockey team, their dads, and a few moms, too.

“We need to go to the strip club after this,” I say to Juan. “I’m going to invite the hockey team, and the dads too!”

Juan doesn’t flinch at this, but says, “I don’t know….”

“I just thought, when in Rome,” I say. “Are you uncomfortable with nudity?”

“No, I, uh…” he says.

“Can we play it by ear?” I say.

“Yeah, sure, play it by ear,” Juan says, with some trepidation.

Maybe I was misguided into thinking this was, indeed, a date. It could’ve been a date, but it ain’t. Not anymore. At least the hockey team is here. I turn to the hot dad next to me wearing a cashmere sweater.

“We’re going to the strip club after this,” I say. “If you all want to come.”

“There’s one of those around here?” he says, drinking a tumbler of vodka. “I had no idea. Ha ha.”

I look around BJs, at the black wall festooned with lewd scribbles, and the collection of rock band paraphernalia behind the bar. It is the same as it was so many years ago. My ”date” with Juan turned out to be a marvelous flop. Sure, I’m a spoiled bitch when it comes to going out to dinner. It’s too late to change that. Who would I be if I make out with a guy who won’t pay for dinner? Not myself, that’s who.

This story ends with me kissing a stripper at the nudie bar instead of Juan. Will Juan ever find love? Who knows. Who cares. But it’s not going to be with me.