Private Magazine

Tag: journalism

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.

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.”

Murrays

“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

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

Naughty Secretary Wishes and Caviar Dreams

Ladiesroom

The office wall clock strikes 8 a.m. I’m at my desk, polishing up an article about the Alden Senior Citizens Gospel Choir, with the working title “Never too old for Jesus, Christ.”  My editor just might like it. The draft left him speechless. Rubbing my bloodshot eyes, I consider making a fourth trip to the coffee pot.

Five days ago, I got dumped.  Upside-down Polaroids litter my desk. I lay my head in my nicotine-stained hands, letting myself sink onto the keyboard.  I”m an overdramatic age 23; post-work self-medicating with NyQuil and Mike-a-Rita’s seemed like a logical breakup strategy.

I feel like absolute shit.  There’s shouting in the hall.

“James, James! You said you were going to help decorate my Christmas tree with Grandpa – why can’t you now?”

“Because, Natalie, I have to go out of town.”

“You’re seeing that slut-bag in Lockport,” Natalie accuses, her voice echoing in the corridor.

Natalie, who covers the South Buffalo edition, has had web content editor James Pirazski ensnared in her high-maintenance lair for far too long. I feel bad for Pirazski. He’s not bad looking.  In fact, he looks a lot like Ethan Hawke circa ‘95, and he definitely doesn’t know it. Natalie makes him wear sweaters that she picks out. Between her unrelenting demands and un-sexy loafers,  I have no idea why Pirazski sticks around. She definitely doesn’t put out. It’s tragic.

I rummage through my paper clip drawer, looking for loose change. Opening the door of the Editorial Department., I head out for some Pop Tarts. Actually, the Pop Tarts are a cover; I want to engage in my routine flirtations with Pirazski.

“Hey, Pirazski,” I whisper in a low, phone sex operator tone. “Good morning.”

“Ugh! Don’t you dare pay attention to anything she has to say!” Natalie shrieks. A button pops off of her embroidered snowman cardigan, and flies across the room. I bend over and get my Pop Tarts out of the vending machine.

alize

————————————————

“Listen, you should really come to the party tonight. You owe it to yourself.”

I swivel around in my desk chair. Stella, the North Tonawanda reporter, has a sympathetic face behind her glasses.

“Yeah, I really haven’t done anything fun in two weeks. I’ve been depressed.”

“Well, it’s Jill’s husband’s birthday,” Stella says. Jill is the Lockport editor. “They want everyone in the department to come.”

Propping my high heels on my desk, I stroke my chin. “Hmm, you’ve got a point there. Yes, I think a party is just what this girl needs.”

“What do you think, plant? Should I go to the party?” The plant on my desk doesn’t say anything.

So after the workday is done, I start getting presentable for the Editorial Department Soiree. Getting Presentable means that I’m blazing in my garage, fantasizing about the fact that Pirazski will be there, along with Jill’s 35-year-old brother-in-law, who I’m pretty sure has the hots for me.

champagne

I park my dilapidated, rinky-dink Chrysler on top of a curb. Jill  lives on the East Side/Cheektowaga border with her husband, Mitchell. It’s his 32nd birthday. His brother, Harry, has been pursuing me heavily. We went out once; he’s a 35 year-old Chippewa DJ going through a midlife crisis. I don’t know why I’m so mean to him, though. That’s no way to treat someone who takes you to Mother’s.

I’ve been writing a blog for the newspaper’s website about my dating life, and wrote one about Harry.  It said, and I quote, “My date drove a really flashy sports car with techno music blaring out of it … He stood without a coat in the snow, hair gelled into an intergalactic nightmare. I could smell his vanilla incense-meets-motor oil cologne from 25 yards away.”

Harry called me and said he was flattered that I wrote about him.

When I walk into Jill and Mitchell’s kitchen with a Cookie Monster birthday balloon, Harry is hyperactively waiting for me.

“Let me make you a drink, huh?!” He starts shake shake shaking away with a cocktail shaker, in True Religion jeans.

I mutter an unenthusiastic “sure” and go into the living room in search of Pirazski. He’s lying on the couch, strumming a guitar, singing along to “Bullet with Butterfly Wings.”

“Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage…..Yow!”

I jump up on the couch, and join in, horribly off-key.

Now I’m naked, nothing but an animal, but can you fake it, for just one more show?  Woo! Don’t you just love Billy Corgan, Pirazski? I always had a crush on Billy Corgan.”

“Oh, yes, I could see that…” Pirazski drunkenly stares into my eyes, then off into the distance.

The liquor cabinet is cracked open. There’s Bacardi Melon and Bacardi Raz and some Svetka. We pour shots into glow in the dark glasses and bitch about our boss. We toss streamers and balloons around the room, munching on Cheeto’s. Between the booze, I smoke Harry’s Marb 72’s. Suddenly, Natalie calls out an insidious idea.

“Should we play Truth or Dare?!”

“What is this, fifth grade?” I declare. “Oh wait…actually, that’s a great idea.”

All of us drunken professional colleagues are in agreement- Truth or Dare it is. Harry adjusts himself in his True Religion jeans. Stella is doe-eyed and innocent, sipping the same cocktail as earlier. Natalie has had three drinks, and is therefore drunk.

“Now Pirazski, truth,” I slur. “When was the last time you and Natalie got it in?”

“I’ll take a Dare,” Pirazski says, looking down at the floor.

“Well I dare you to…I dare you to, um…”

“If you can’t think of anything, you have to take the Dare!” shouts Mitchell from a bean bag chair. His pants are on his head. “Three….Two…One…”

“I dare you to – kiss Natalie!” It is Pirazski who makes this proclamation.

Without a moment to waste, I have already taken hold of Natalie’s chubby face and am kissing her with a generous amount of effort. Flash bulbs from at least three different phone cameras go off. I’m not sure how long the moment lasts, but I’m fairly certain that Natalie is kissing me back.

fuck

———————————————–

The following Monday in the Editorial Department, Natalie and I are trying not to look at one another. This is hard, since our desks face each other. Suddenly, our boss, our editor, emerges from his office.

“Ok, team, what was going on with last week’s edition?” My editor clutches his bald, perspiring skull. “There were misspellings in the Sound The Horn section, and a photo of a flower garden next to an article about a Tonawanda house fire. They are going to ask me about this at today’s Quality Control meeting and I’m not going to know what the heck to say.”

Jill’s collection of porcelain clowns stare at me from her desk. Natalie has set her knitting project aside. We all sit in silence.

“What do you have to say for yourself, plant?” The plant on my desk doesn’t say anything.

“Ok team, I”ll be back after Quality Control,” my editor declares, shutting his office door behind him. Then, sticking his bald head out again, he adds, “Nice piece on the Alden Senior Citizens Gospel Choir.”

——————————-

Six months have passed, and both Natalie and Pirazski no longer work at the newspaper. Natalie got fired, and Pirazski left to start his own web design company. I hear through Jill that they’ve broken up.

Pirazski sends me a LinkedIn message one day out of the blue. It says, “You should really have your own website or blog. I can help you if you’d like.” We make plans to meet up at Cole’s to discuss business.

I find long-lost Pirazski sitting alone in the corner of Cole’s, looking  mellowed-out in a thermal. We have a few pints of Guinness; a friend of his materializes and buys us a round of Jack Daniels shots. I’m feeling buzzed as Pirazski carries on about domain names and ad space. Is this a date? Could be; Pirazski picks up the tab. We head towards the door, and Pirazski walks me home. The names of our exes are never uttered, and we don’t talk about the newspaper. It has turned out to be a pleasant evening.

I go to sleep, wake up, check my phone. A monsoon of texts, one carrying Media Content, awakens me.

The first thing I see when I open the first message is a dick pic. Then, I scroll through texts from Pirazski. “Whenever you were at the coffee machine, I’d check out your ass from my office.” His office was a stone’s throw from the coffee. “I thought about you many times while I played with myself. Do you like fishnet stockings? Your ass always looked so good in those tight pants. Do you think I’m fuckable? Do you like to role-play? You can be the naughty secretary.”

This is me we’re talking about. Dick pics and sexts are not a turn-off. What immediately offended me was Pirazski’s assumptions, and completely premature behavior. Why didn’t he just tell me these things at Cole’s? Oh wait, he was trying to be “professional.” But obviously, he has zero intention of helping me build a website. That was his ‘in,” his card to play, to see if I’d give him a blow job before things even got started.

—————————————————–

If I had a dollar for every time a man in the Buffalo newspaper business came after my ass instead of my talent, I’d be a goddamn millionaire.

I stare hard at my face in the bathroom mirror. Don’t hate the player, hate the game. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. I should write for porno mags like Playboy and Hustler.

Things never did get off the ground with Pirazski, after I ignored his unsolicited dick pic. I wonder where he is now….Probably married to that slut-bag from Lockport.

Beware