Private Magazine

Tag: human sexuality

Murray’s Return

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I have a bad habit of “boyfriend recycling.”  As soon as one romance fades away, his predecessor twice-removed comes out of the woodwork. That’s exactly what happened with Murray. He slid into my emails, asked me to go to a “strip club in PA,” and of course, I couldn’t say no.

Murray’s living room

It’s sunny inside Murray’s living room, for once. Probably because it’s mid-July, the perfect moment of the year when one’s perpetual drunkenness is enough to make time stand still.  I study Murray’s coffee table like a map.  What cards does tonight hold?  There’s a bottle of Fisheye Pinot Grigio, a bottle of Evan Williams Green Label, copies of Playboy that I unearthed from Murray’s bathroom, and an ashtray of smouldering Senecas – some of them  lipstick-stained.

“We should probably head out soon,”  Murray says, squinting like an old man. He’s wearing those dangerously-skinny jeans again, but he’s not  exactly “thick.”  I guess skinny jeans for a skinny man are okay.

The Echo Club

In the backseat of a black Nissan – why are all rideshares so generic? – Murray and I gaze out the window. We’re buzzed. Smoke stacks reeking pollution pass us by, and that’s not even counting what lies beneath the surface of Niagara Falls.

The Nissan pulls to the curb of Burt’s house, which sits among shot-up bodegas.  At one, you can score stolen appliances, hookers, and some bomb-ass pizza.  But you didn’t hear it from me.

“So are ya ready for a funky-ass night?” says Burt, who’s wearing lobster-print shorts. He and Murray record music together. Last weekend, they wound up at the Echo.  Since Murray and I have been hanging out regularly again, he invited me there.  We all joined together on this shadowy, Saturday night.

“Do you really think it will be open?” Burt asks,  popping open a Michelob.

“It’s gotta be,” says Murray, sauntering around in his worn oxfords.

We pile into Burt’s van and search for the Echo along the pitch-black road.  I’ve got a blunt danglin’ from my mouth; Murray’s on his twelfth Seneca. Finally, I perceive a dim yellow light.

“There it is!” I squeal.  “The Echo.”

We walk onto the Echo Park Mansion’s giant wraparound porch. A cat scampers off.  It’s got a William Faulkner, “A Rose for Emily” vibe.  It’s a relic of a more prosperous time, when the grandeur of this stately mansion wasn’t overshadowed by run-down wreckage surrounding it.   Rumor has it the owner kept debtors in a basement jail cell.  We climb the steps, and peer through the bars of a steel storm door.  There’s a sign flickering inside – “Karaoke.”

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“Hello?” Murray walks in, and I follow, and so do Burt and his finacé, Noelle.

The wood floor is buffed and polished. At first there’s not a soul.  But then, a middle-aged brunette rises from behind the bar. She’s got a Scrunchie on her wrist and a gray tee shirt on.

“Hey,” Murray says, already taking a seat on the vinyl barstool.  “Dina, right?”

“We were here last week,” says Burt, standing behind him.

I sit next to Murray, who’s got his denim shirt half-unsnapped.

“She’s going to have a pinot grigio,” Murray says to Dina, ordering my drink of choice.

“I’ve got some right here,” Dina says, stooping down. “Wait – what happened to the pinot? It was right here.  The other girl must’ve put it somewhere.”  She leaves.

“Spooky,” Murray says.

“Look what I brought in,” I whisper in his ear, and look down so that he notices the clutch purse open on my lap.    “Kinky Liqueur.”  I pull out the tiny bottle of neon pink liquid, and take a sip while looking him dead in the eye.

“Hmmm….” says Murray. “Let’s go on a tour of the place.”

I agree, even though this punctuates the seductive moment.  The four of us walk through a dark, dusty banquet room with black-and-white portraits on the wall. Murray leads the way – since he’d been here with Burt – and takes us on a tour through the mansion’s three floors, via a peeling “Yellow Wallpaper” staircase, past end tables of porcelain dolls and hand-painted china, up to a diseased-looking bedroom with wedding dresses hanging all around.

“We could be up here later, Burt,” Murray says, pulling a curtain aside to gaze at the moon.  “To watch the sunrise.”

This captures my attention. How come Murray didn’t invite me to watch the sunrise? I look to Noelle, but she’s off in another room, apparently. We return to the bar and Murray continues to buy me drinks and bum me cigs and do all the things I like men to do for me (that pretty much covers it) and then a whole bunch of Murray and Burt’s pals start to show up.  So I call my girl, Trixey, who’s often driving around The Falls for no apparent reason.

“You guys seem really cute,” Trixey tells me at the bar while Murray does a rendition of Brian WIlson’s “Good Vibrations.”  We’re the only group in the place, besides Dina, the ghosts, and a karaoke facilitator/DJ. “I can tell he’s into you.”

“Really?” I say. “I’m really into him, too.  Although, if I continue hanging with him I’ll get cirrhosis of the liver.”

“Do you want a Valium?” asks Trixey.

“Yeah, sure” I say.  “I’m knock knock knockin’ on Heaven’s door and I really don’t give a fuck.”

After that, I decide to sing “My Own Prison” by Creed as my karaoke debut.  Court is in session, the verdict is in. Then we all go on the porch to smoke. Shoulda been dead on a Sunday morning banging my head. Murray and I are seated on the concrete ledge, overlooking the front lawn.

“I only take people I trust to the Echo,” he says, inhaling his final drag.

“You trust me, Murray?” I say, hoping this will become one of my more memorable functioning blackouts.

“Whoa…WHOA!” Murray falls sideways and takes me down with him; we fall completely off the porch and into a patch of bushes underneath.

“Are you guys okay?” Trixey calls down.  “I’ll drive you back to Burt’s.”

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On the way back to Burt’s, Murray’s not the only one who’s passed out in the car this time around.

“Hey, hey,” Trixey is shaking me awake.  “We’re at Burt’s.”

I head upstairs to brush my teeth, then crawl into Burt’s guest bed and wait for Murray.  I’m wearing a fishnet outfit  from the porn store.  I’m sure our makeout will happen any moment now…

…………..ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ……….

Before I know it, sun is streaming through the open window.  It’s morning.  I’m on top of the covers in the same position as when I got here. There’s no trace of Murray.  I get dressed and go downstairs.

Murray and Burt are slouched on the couch alongside an almost-gone bottle of whiskey.

“Oh, hey,” I say, nonchalant. “Good morning.”  I sit in a chair on the other side of the room.

So wait….we really didn’t make out? 

“You guys drank all that whiskey last night?” I say. “When?”

“We just went to bed two hours ago,” Murray says, scratching his chest.

“Oh.”

I look from Murray, to Burt, from Burt, back to Murray.  They are two peas in a pod. I guess this is how sexual frustration feels.

“You don’t remember?” Burt sits up.  “You came downstairs, took the whiskey bottle from Murray, went up and were cuddling with it.”

“What?” I say. “I was sleepwalking?!”

“You really don’t remember?” Murray says.  “You were cuddling with the whiskey bottle.”

Probably because that was the closest thing to a make out as I was gonna get….I drag my weary body out the back door and sit on Burt’s dock, overlooking the river.  After a few minutes, Murray comes out, still in his dirty, all-black clothes from yesterday, and lights a cigarette.  I look at him, but don’t say a word.

“I’m not boyfriend material,” says Murray, exhaling a smoke plume.  He’s pale, sweaty, and totally unhealthy in every way.  And we didn’t even make out.

“You know what, Murray,” I finally say, “You say that all the time, but I think it’s just an act.”

“No,” he says. “It’s the truth. I’m honest about that part.”

“Well then, let’s just get an Uber back to town,” I say. “I have some weed I need to be smoking.”

READER SURVEY: WHEN ARE MEN IN SKINNY JEANS OKAY? FACTORYGIRL1987@GMAIL.COM

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

Tragic Mike

Men

I’ve taken a new number at the meat market of life. The edges of my soul have hardened, like cheese left in the sun. With that salty taste always deep in my throat, I’m forever thirsting for more.

That’s what I should have expected, after going out with someone I met at The Bend.

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When I came back from Austin, I met some guy at the place formerly known as The Bend. It’s now called “The Exchange.” Honestly, we only went in there to see if it still carried the same seedy ambiance.  Sure enough, my friend Maurice and I found ourselves seated besides two guys in their early thirties. Something in the air between us whispered “I’ve got issues.”

It was early evening – cocktail hour. We’d gone to some old crusty hippie gathering at Nietzsche’s, featuring a crock pot of slop. I met DBGB’s handsome new bartender. Ladies, he has a man bun. Maurice and I were topping off my homecoming with the rest of The Exchange’s wine when I began a questionable flirtation with one of the weirdos there. He had narrow droopy eyes and muscles, which I never really care for. Honestly, I prefer hairy torsos and bellies that double as a comfy pillow when I drink too much. His stance seemed apropos for hanging at Bottom’s Up. His friend’s glasses were clear plastic frames with tinted lenses, which might insinuate he sells coke. But despite all these oddities and incongruities, we exchanged phone numbers, because well, I haven’t written a blog in a while.

Sure enough, my date with Justin proved to be very bloggable indeed.

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Gin

Go figure, Justin’s house is near mine. We meet up at the neighborhood tavern. I’m not super aroused by the sight of Justin, and literally exhale a poignant sigh of despair while getting ready. I just need some writing material. A writer’s life is filled with sacrifice.

Justin’s puffing on a cigarette like it’s 2006 when I drag my lazy ass feet to the door. We sit at a lopsided table with a bucket of ale. Justin’s all about the baseball game on the TV – and is that a tribal tattoo peeking from under his tee shirt? I begin drinking. Justin’s got a serious look on his face. Sure enough, he begins an elaborate story.

“Century Grill never gives me many hours bartending,” he begins. “I used to work way more at Templeton Landing, but after the summer they always get rid of people. So I’m kind of strapped for cash.”

“You just need a side hustle,” I reply. “I’m going to make candles!”

“Well, I used to be a dancer,” Justin continues. “My friend Mike and I, we were strippers. His name’s Mike so we called it Magic Mike’s, showed the movie, and after did our dance performance. We sold tickets and had it at this hotel in Corfu, and later ended up doing a bunch of bachelorette parties.”

“Ok. How innovative.”

“My girlfriend at the time, she didn’t care for it. She was a lawyer and 10 years older than me. She bought me this Cadillac and I was making payments on it and everything, but when she broke up with me she took away the car and now I don’t have one. I had saved up $10,000 but I wasn’t working so that went pretty fast. So I have a rental car, which is expensive.”

“Why not just get a hoopdy for $700?”

“I have credit issues, financial issues. My dad, he’s paralyzed after an accident. I have to go up to the Adirondacks and see him. It’s stressful and hard, but I’m dealing with it.”

“I’m sorry.”

“And also, my other ex girlfriend, I asked her to move in with me, because after a month of seeing her I realized she was living in a grimy basement on the Lower West Side and I felt bad. So she moved in, and one day she got all dolled up for a ‘job interview’ at nighttime, and didn’t return for six hours. She was all glassy eyed when she came back, and turns out she sold her phone for heroin. I forgave her, and a few weeks later she disappeared again and I never saw her since.”

“Since when?”

“January.”

“Ok…”

I feel like Justin just dropped a whole JFK terminal of baggage on my shoulders. So me being a pretty empathetic person, I agree to accompany him to Hardware for his “friend’s birthday celebration.” It’s Monday after all –  it should be a chill, drama-free evening…

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I’m texting with my mom while Justin’s outside smoking. She’s asking me all about Justin’s last name, which I’m going to find out asap, since the last guy I met in Allentown turned out to have been in prison for holding his girlfriend hostage at gunpoint.

“Justin what? I’m sure he’s a nice man.”

“No he is BORING *yawn*.”

Justin suddenly shows up and starts reading over my shoulder.

“Justin…?” he says.

“Oh yeah, sorry, my mom, she just likes to find out who I go out with and stuff.”

“My name’s Jason.”

The shards of strength it’s taken to maintain my stoic expression disappear. My mouth slackens; my eyes become a blank stare.

“No, I know, I just told her the other day when I first met you, I must’ve said Justin.”

Jason rolls his eyes but buys me another drink so it seems he’s gotten over the error.

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Jason is driving me home in the  rental car. I rejoice in the night finally coming to its conclusion. He lives in the hood, not gonna lie, but I agree to check out Jason’s paintings. They’re landscapes and actually pretty good, if the photos of them on his iPhone are any indication. Besides, Jason’s friend, the one with the glasses, has given him some “epic pot” that he says I can try.

We enter Jason’s clean, well-lit dwelling off Genesee. Sure enough, his landscapes glow from the walls in blue and green hues.

“Wow, neato! Loving the colors. They make me happy!”

Jason’s dug out the marijuana, a couple hundred dollars worth in a large Ziploc – quite a bit for someone who by their own admission “rarely smokes.” We sit on the couch. I’m moderately buzzed, not in a bad way, and when Jason begins making out with me I go with it for five minutes or so. A make out session never killed anybody.

I turn away and start puffing away on the weed. When I look back at Jason, he has removed all of his clothes. He stands up and moves toward  me in true male stripper fashion.

“No, wait -” I say. Overwhelmed, I burst into tears. “I don’t want to do anything,” I choke out between sobs.

Jason looks confused and sad, then his expression shifts to annoyance.

“Are you on something?”

“No!”

“Do you have issues, were you raped as a child?”

“What? No!”

“Are you worried I’ll never speak to you again?”

“Definitely not.”

I continue bawling and dry my face on a couch pillow.

“I don’t want to sleep with you. You look like my cousin.”

The cousin thing – which hit me about halfway through the night, a cousin I don’t really like on my mom’s side – pisses Jason right off. He starts pacing around, still naked.

“Your cousin? That’s the most goddamn stupid thing I’ve ever heard.”

“Just take me home!” I shriek, cry some more.

Jason drops me off down the street from my house. I run across the muddy lawn, breathing a sigh of sweet surrender at being home.

 

 

Update: One week later, I was in Rafferty’s (the local tavern that Jason and I went to) with Maurice. A random biker approached us and told me, “The guy you were here with last week is a convicted sex offender.” He found his profile  for me on the U.S. Dept. of Justice Sex Offender Web site. Sure enough, it was really Jason. He date-raped a 19 year old ten years back, when he was 22.

The Sex Drive

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“Never speak to me again,” I hiss through gritted teeth in the Crabapple’s parking lot. “Because you are immature and insincere.” I hang up my cell, hang up on Dan and his stupid voicemail message –  “I don’t know why you called this number, but you did.” I send a hectic text – “I never wanna see u again! :(”

I stand in the middle of the parking lot, alone and abandoned. Dan and I were supposed to go to my downstairs neighbor Michael’s show at Nietszche’s. But when I arrived at Crabapple’s (of all places) to pick him up on my way home, he was drunk and stoned and went to “close his tab.” He rushed off and left me with his friends. Twenty minutes passed. I checked my phone; I had a text from Dan which said “I had to go.” He ran off down the street.  But why?

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A month has passed. It has been a month without a peep from Dan, a month devoid of an apology or explanation. I lay alone in my bungalow, attempting an early night’s slumber.

My phone ring-a-dings, announcing the arrival of a late night text. Maybe it’s a sext. It’s from Dan.

“I am not a monster.”

Ignoring the text, I turn over and close my eyes. My phone dings again.

“I’m not a harmful person.”

I turn over on my other side, put a pillow over my face. My phone dings once more.

“Can I bring you food?”

I toss and turn and pull the sheets around my body. Another text arrives.

“I’m outside your apartment.”

Bolting upright in my loft bed, I nearly knock myself out on the slanted roof ceiling. Climbing down the ladder, I rush into my bathroom and peer out the window. Sure enough, I see some fool clamoring out of a Liberty Cab. It’s Dan, hair in a wild explosion around his head, shoes dragging across the pavement in drunken irreverence.

“I missed the way you smell.”

“Well, it’s been a month…What was that whole disappearance about, anyway?”

“I double booked,” Dan says, clomping down my basement steps. I situate myself upon a bar stool. Dan removes a marijuana stash from his pants. “Friends came from out of town, but we had plans too. I got overwhelmed.”

“Why didn’t you call me and apologize?”

“You said to never speak to you again.”

“When a girl says that, it means you should apologize.”

It all becomes water under the bridge. We make out upon the moldy washer-dryer unit while a silverfish watches.

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Another year or so has passed. Dan and I have grown into true friends. This sometimes veers into FWB territory. I now see Dan with a sense of maturity. There’s a gentlemanly aura in his eyes.

He has taken on the role of proprietor at a new Cheektowaga speakeasy, and has seen it grow into success.  Recently, Dan bought a school bus. It’s one of those half-sized white buses. He painted it with the logo of his bar and is the DD/chauffer to his friends.

I yearn to take a joyride on Dan’s bus. Dreaming of the bus, I fantasize about the bus at night. I’m staring out my window and remembering that night that Dan showed up in a Liberty Cab. I wish he would show up in his bus.

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I’m walking down Elmwood when I learn that Dan is headed my way. It is a warm Sunday morning, with the sun sending down the perfect brunch-friendly rays. We decide to fetch bloody marys.

I wait for Dan outside. He rolls up in a giant black truck. Not his own white Toyota, or the beloved bus.

“My car battery died last night,” Dan calls down from the towering truck. “I borrowed John’s truck.”

I climb up the passenger side and give Dan a smile.

“So where should we go to brunch? Bloody marys…”

“Well, it would be cool to go someplace around here, but John needs his truck by 6, so I was thinking we could go someplace in Cheektowaga, get my car jump-started first, or else we’ll have to leave here at a certain time.”

“Oh, yeah, let’s get out of here for a while. I’m so sick of the same-old same-old.”

We go a reasonable 55 miles per hour down the 33. I blast Metallica.

“Why the heck are you going so slow?”

“I’m never in a rush to get anywhere.”

We pull up the gravel driveway of the speakeasy and spot Dan’s petite white Toyota, depressingly dead by the dumpster. Dan whips out the jumper cables.

“Will you show me how to jump start a car?” I ask.  Dan adheres the clamps to some parts under the hood.

“Now, when these are attached,” he says. “It means they’re live. They will spark.”

“Oooohh, sparks.”

The cars create a medley of vroooooms and sputterings and smolderings. Dan’s car comes alive, and we climb inside. We travel a meandering route of side streets I’ve managed to never go down, even though I’m from this town and lived in it for 20 years.

“What the fuck is this street, Floral Ave.? Isn’t it a dead end?”

“No, far from it,” Dan says. Sure enough, it turns out to be a shortcut to the gas station. While driving down Floral Ave., Dan extends a fancy pipe full of weed my way. I take a hit.

“Well, you could at least wait for that  guy to cross the street.”

“Oops, my bad!”

Dan takes a hit himself.

“Well, you could at least wait to be out of eyesight from that woman gardening,” I say.

After getting some gas, we head to Otto’s.

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Otto’s has been located on  the same Cheektowaga corner my entire life, a stone’s throw from the house I grew up in. Up until today, I’ve only crossed the threshold of Otto’s once, five years ago. It turned out to be an Italian restaurant, with a bar in the back. Dan tells me that they have the best bloody marys in town. Their flickering marquee declares the Patio to be Open.

We head through the bar, get two bloodys, and go out to the patio. We wait for Dan’s friend Ben to arrive.

Ben shows up in a red muscle shirt with an older guy in tow. The older guy is scrawny and weathered-looking. He says his name is Bob. He sits at the end of our table. I’m baked, and keep my sunglasses on even though we managed to find the least-sunny patio in this hemisphere.

“Who’s working at the speakeasy tonight?” Ben asks.

“I think Kimberly Wieners is bartending,” Dan answers.

Wieners?” I exclaim.

“You’d like Kimberly Wieners,” Dan says.

“She doesn’t look like a wiener,” Bob speaks for the first time.

“Well, I’ve never seen one, so whatever.” I roll my eyes.

“I could put mine on the table if you want – ”

“No, thanks. It was a joke, obviously.”

I move my plastic lawn chair close to Dan.

“Oh, I need to drive John to his truck at the speakeasy,” Dan says suddenly.

“I’ll come with you -” I say, getting up.

“No, stay here,” Dan says. “John is operating on two hours sleep. We don’t need to shock him awake with more people than necessary.”

I’m left alone with Ben and Bob. It’s cooled down and I’m chilly. We head inside; there might be some rap music emanating from the bar. I just finished the bloody mary. It was good.

“Car bombs!” Ben yells. A round of car bombs manifests.

“I haven’t had a car bomb since college, wow, I feel old.” I take a sip, but put it back down.

“Shots!” Bob yells. The young bartender pours shots of Jaeger. I decline. It’s all going on Bob’s tab.

“Do you think I can just have some wine? It’s really all I drink.”

“Ooooh, fancy-prancy!” Bob turns to me, points a finger in my face. “I’ll buy you shots, but I ain’t buyin’ you no wine.”

He ends up buying me a pinot grigio anyway.

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“Hey, wear your hair down,” Bob says to the bartender.

“Um, wow, just because you gave her a dollar tip, you think you can dictate how she wears her hair? You’re a prick.”

“You’re crazy, you’re fucked up,” Bob responds, pack of Senecas rising out his breast pocket. I take a large swallow of wine.

“So you’re a wine drinker?” Ben asks calmly.

“Yeah, it agrees with me, and it’s good for you in small doses I guess.”

“Nah, dude, a glass of wine a day is like one cigarette a day,” Bob ignorantly declares.

“What? No, wine contains antioxidants and resveratrol.”

An argument ensues and only rises in intensity between Bob and I, despite the fact he continues buying me drinks and bumming me cigs. He refuses to acknowledge the medical journal article that I pull up on my phone. I’m about to pull my hair out. Dan returns and sits down next to me.

“Thank God,” I throw my arms around him.

“She’s crazy, dude.'”

“He’s a dick.” I say.

“You better be careful,” Dan says, “She might write about you on her blog.”

Bob looks truly scared for a second, then brushes it off.

“Go ahead – write it! Just make sure you spell my name right. Bob Zielinski. Z-I-E-L…”

After a while of getting nowhere, we leave Buzzkill Bob getting Skittles from the quarter machine.

candy

Ben, Dan, and I embark on a short, tipsy stroll to the speakeasy. We are on busy Union Road in broad daylight.

“Please, guys, can we walk down a side street?” I’m power walking ahead. “I do not need my parents to drive by and text me asking why I’m walking down Union Road in the middle of the day with two guys. My mother will question what I’m doing with my life. I do not need it right now!”

We get to the speakeasy. The bartender, Wieners, keeps the wine coming. I load the jukebox with Britney Spears and Trina. I’m smearing on  a lipstick overdose and dancing around the bar. Dan appears to be having an awkward convo with the other bartender; it seems like they used to date or something.

Stumbling up to Dan, I’m ready to get my bus ride on.

“Let’s role play Forrest Gump and Jenny on the bus,” I say in an intoxicated whisper. “I’m fatigued, let’s go!”

Dan is still mid-conversation. He hands me the keys to the bus. I wander out of the bar, locate the bus, stumble aboard, and lay down sideways on a seat.

After a little bit, Dan gets on the bus. I left the keys in the door. We sit down side by side.

“You don’t hate me?” Dan asks.

“Hate you? Why would I hate you?”

“I always mess up.”

“Nonsense. You are great. The bus is great. Everything’s fine.”

condoms

Dan starts the ignition and we pull out of the parking lot. We cruise back to the city.

 

(Dan and Michael were introduced in my first story “Names Have Been Changed to Protect the Innocent,” so read that first if you haven’t!)

 

Movie Date at the Video Liquidators Theatre

Vid

My estranged friend and former colleague, Rory from Manitoba, has come for a visit.   We’re trying to decide what to do with our Saturday night. He has crossed the border with grace and elegance, so the least I can do is show him a proper Buffalo Night Out.

“Listen, I had an idea yesterday, for my new blog. It’s kind of sick. Twisted, even.”

“Oh?” Rory replies, with a raised eyebrow.

“There’s a porn store down the street called Video Liquidators. It has a 24-hour porn screening room. What kind of people go there? I need to know.”

Froth from Rory’s Southern Tier has foamed around his beard.

“But! We need to blend in and not draw attention,” I say authoritatively. “We need to be one of them. This is a journalistic expedition.”

“I’ll be discreet!” Rory declares, lacing up his steel-toe boot.

We drive the miniscule distance to Video Liquidators’ Elmwood Ave. location. It can’t really be detected from the street, save for a bland black and white sign. Once you turn into the parking lot, “Video Liquidators” glows lasciviously  in red letters. The building itself is yellow brick. Red and yellow supposedly increase one’s appetite; that’s why McDonald’s employs these colors. It must make those with perv-y predilections salivate for miles around.

“It’s packed in here tonight!” I shriek, eyeing the half dozen cars in the lot.

It’s dark, cold, and silent in the city tonight. My watch reads 9:30 pm. The fluorescent bulbs inside the store snap me awake. I’m half baked. Some guys scurry around the store’s periphery like bugs; they hide in the corners once we strut in.

I lead the way through aisles of sex toys and suggestive polyester “lingerie” vacuum-sealed in plastic. Navigating around racks of nudie mags, we make our way to the theatre door at the very back. There’s not a big to-do with this theatre; the door could be a closet. A neon sign flickers above. I look around helplessly.

“Hey! You need to pay to go in there!” exclaims a blonde, tie-dye clad woman behind the cash register.

“Oh, how much is it?” I say, walking over to her.

“Well, since you’re a couple, you’re free,” she says to me. “For him, it’s $10 to choose either the Couples Theatre or the Singles Theatre. It’s $15 if you want to switch between both.”

“$15 for both of us, for both rooms?” I’m already taking a twenty from my wallet.

“BUT!” The cashier leans into me, eyes wide. “If he leaves the room, you HAVE to go with him. You CANNOT be left alone, under ANY condition.”

“We’ll stick together.”

Rory and I creep down a concrete hallway. We pass a few empty rooms, each with a TV proclaiming “No Signal,” a bench and a mop bucket. This is it? Then, we see the door marked Theatre #2. We go inside.

It’s pitch black. I tip-toe, inch by terrified inch, leading the way. It’s impossible to know what is inside this room. I could be walking into a closet full of violent offenders, with venomous snakes slithering across the floor. Grabbing Rory’s sweaty palm, finally, a dim glow from the movie screen vaguely lights our way.

The theatre is vacant except for a faceless couple in the last row. I can’t tell anything about them, just that they aren’t naked and aren’t engaged in any, um, activities. I’m relieved. We sit down and start to watch the film. It looks like it’s from the 90’s; a blonde is walking around a house in a modest French maid outfit. In the background she speaks a monologue – “He always was an ass man…So I’d be sure to bend over in my maid outfit…” We watch a fuzzy montage of her walking through a house. The man behind us coughs and groans and sucks down an iced fountain beverage.

“This is a boring movie, let’s hit the singles theatre. There might be more action there.”

We go to Theatre #1. Upon entering, it’s easier to see, there’s graphic sexual acts on the screen, and a room of ten guys. The movie screen is much smaller than your standard theatre variety, but it does the job. Two guys in front of us are having a conversation like this is Kelly’s Korner or something.

“Yeah man, the scene down in Cleveland is really something. There was this Canadian couple that would always be there…”

They must be a part of the Public Porn Scene. I realize that now I can finally cross Watching Porn With a Room Full of Strangers off of my bucket list.

The next movie starts. The actress is very beautiful. Both films fit the theme of POV, or Point of View, porn. The point is to be a professionally-directed porn, made to look like a really well-shot amateur movie. The director is also an actor, a participant. I find it to be artsy and Post Modern.

My eyeballs are starting to water profusely. I realize it’s because I haven’t blinked in about five minutes. This is really riveting stuff. I feel something poke me in the arm. It must be Rory’s hand. But was it? I’ll never be sure.

To my far right, in the aisle across from me, a pudgy guy in a dress shirt and tie is casually whacking it. That’s somebody’s dad, I think to myself. Shit.

After the second film comes to a close, I turn  to Rory and we decide to leave. I need a whiskey, neat, and some ice cream. We go back to my car, and check the time. 11 o’clock. Damn, time really does fly. We decide that it was pretty fun.

When we get back to my apartment, I Google “Video Liquidators cinema.” I want to see if anyone has already written about it. Nothing really comes up. The only item of interest is a message board/forum called CityXGuide, which apparently never got off the ground, but should have. On the site, there’s a public forum called Streetwalker Reports, where Buffalo’s gentleman can tip each other off as to where to find a hooker.

“Oh. My. God. This shit is great,” I say. My face is practically pressed to my laptop screen and my contacts are super dry.

I spot a post from three years ago by “Dariusz” that reads “Best BBBJ I ever had was in Bflo. In the Video Liquidators on Elmwood. They have couples nights on Saturdays and one time this hot 40s girl was there with her
husband. Give me a great BJ.”

BTW, the site is a great place to pick up obscure acronyms. Type in “BBBJCIMNQNS.” It’s a real thing.

There’s no excuse to be bored. Who needs cable at home with the Video Liquidator’s theatre a stone’s throw away?