Private Magazine

Tag: Relationships

Always a Side, Never a Bride

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Jeremy the wine clerk won me over for the simple fact that I can’t  “Just Say No” to a Gen X-er who looks like he fronted a 90’s band like Fuel or Bush.   In fact, Jeremy plays guitar.

I saw him working at the wine store last week and commented that I had never seen him before.  He has shaggy, surfer hair streaked with grey, like he just washed ashore from Oakland or Anaheim, along with a deep pack-a-day voice.

“Your sign says this is $4.99,” I blow dust from a mini-box of rosé and hand it to him. “But it’s labeled $3.99.”

“Well for you, young lady, it’s free.”

“Free?” Jeremy just looks at me with sensitive brown eyes that fall somewhere between “sad puppy dog” and “pit bull on cocaine.”

“Well don’t just give it to me. I don’t want to get you in trouble.”

“It’s totally fine,” he says.  “You should come back when you’re done at the library.”

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Yes, it’s true, I was on my way to the library that evening to complete my life coach assignment. But, like with the best experiences in life, I got sidetracked.  A romantic rendezvous with Jeremy had begun.  And it began rather strangely.

“I fucking love you!” Jeremy shouts in the middle of the store.  We’re alone; there’s no customers.

He grabs me and kisses me against a tall shelf stocked with gin.  Bottles clang together, almost crashing to the floor.  Suddenly, our moment is punctuated by a beep.  A customer enters.  We peer towards the door.

“We’re closed,” Jeremy says.

“Oh you are so silly,” says a sassy blonde lady.  “I just want my numbers.”

I turn towards a display.  “Miss?” Jeremy yells from the register.  I set down the bottle of Everclear I’d been inspecting. “You’re being disruptive.”

“Me?” I say.

“Oh, no she’s not, she’s fun,” says the sassy blonde lady, and she leaves the store.

Jeremy walks over to me.

“I love you,” he says.

The logical part of my brain knows this is all completely crazy, because I’ve known Jeremy approximately one week.  But I can’t help falling for him.  I seem to have this effect on men.

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Since he has blown my phone up with constant adoration,  I decide to meet up with Jeremy outside of the wine store, even though there’s one very obvious red flag.

“Are you married?” I asked right away.

“Oh, we all have our issues,” Jeremy had said, then began organizing mini bottles of Fireball while examining a New York Lottery scroll and tapping his foot.

“Yeah, I know,” I say. “Issues aren’t a problem. I  love issues.  But, you know, if you’re married…”

“Look,” Jeremy locks both my palms into his own. “I just want to keep talking to you.  If it means I have to give everything up, I will. There’s just so much wrong with me.  I need to talk to you more about everything.”

Jeremy, at that moment, looked positively pitiful, a twinge of Fireball on his breath.

“Ok, ok,” I backed out of the store.  “Jeez.”  I left that night unsure of my next move. But it only took a split second for me to realize – actually, I had already fallen for Jeremy, for reasons I’m not entirely sure of.

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My Pontiac rolls onto the curb, practically, as Jeremy runs towards my passenger door while yanking up his shirt to expose his “abs,” for some unknown reason.  He’s apparently been hanging out by the stop sign.  He tumbles into the passenger seat with a half-empty bottle of Mountain Dew and cigarette dangling from his mouth, and I start to drive even though his door is still wide open. But Jeremy’s lit cigarette falls on his chest and sits there until I toss it out the window,

“Yo! Can you not, like, start on fire?”

But Jeremy’s already talking a mile a minute, ranting and raving about cigarettes he needs to buy and how he had a miserable day confined to the dreary liquor store aisles.

“It’s ok,” I put my hand on his knee.  “Anyway, I’m excited for the fiesta.”

Today is, after all, Cinco de Mayo, and there happens to be a legit taqueria right down the block. Jeremy and I pull into the packed lot, up against a white fence with a subtle mural design.   The sun is strong, and the bassline of a song blaring leads our way to the back patio, where two dudes are serving cool icy margaritas.  I get mine on the rocks, and tons of people are around, with a bumpin’ sound system to boot.  The speakers throb with masculine energy as Daddy Yankee turns to Sean Paul.

Shake that thing, Miss hunabunna get busy, don’t stop just swivy yeah bust in the groove just get crunked and get jiggy, yo sexy lady come wine wit’ us yeah.”

Jeremy already made best friends with the two guys serving drinks. They both have cursive neck tattoos of people’s names.  Jeremy waves his debit card in the air, and puts down our names for a table.

“How romantic,” I hug Jeremy tight.  We wander to the very back of the enclosed patio space.  “Gasolina” blares and the sun beats down on us as powerfully as Rhonda Rowsey in a metallic bodysuit.  All is calm. Jeremy’s chain-smoking and chain-talking in my ear about how beautiful I am, and how he’s going to make me his wife.  There’s only one problem…

“Friends for right now,” I try to catch Jeremy’s eye contact, but his eyes ping around the room. That’s when I spot them – smack in the center of the patio lies the only table, and it’s occupied with a gaggle of my high school frenemies, and their significant others too!

“Oh wow, hey guys,” I tip-toe nervously up to their table. Nobody takes off their sunglasses, or smiles, or says anything at all.  “This is Jeremy. We’re on a date.” My face contorts into a mortified grin.

“Jeremy,” I take Jeremy’s hand in an effort to quell his manic energy. “These are some of my friends from high school.”

Jeremy runs up to Karey, who up until that moment remained totally stoic and unamused behind classic Oakley shades.

“So you can tell me all there is to know,” Jeremy rasps in her ear with a puff of rancid Marb smoke.  “Ha ha ha.”

“Ugh!” I turn my back on the mortifying display before me and wait for it to be over. At least I have an icy cool margarita on the rocks to calm my nerves.

“Come on, like, let’s go over here,” I yank Jeremy away from the hateful table of frenemies.  I pull him away, back under the awning next to the makeshift bar area. All is calm, all is still, as Jeremy replaces all my margaritas and chain-smokes in my ear and the sun refuses to stop shining…All is fine, until Jeremy gets agitated and spots a really cute Spanish one-year-old with a distinct resemblance to Sonny Bono.

“Hey, she said he’s fucked up,” Jeremy yells at the kid’s mom, who had been chilling and caught totally unawares. She stares at him in confusion and annoyance.

“What are you talking about,” I interject,  “I didn’t say that!  He’s making it up.”  I plead with the mom. But she already totally realized that Jeremy is an idiot.

“Yeah, she said why does he have to be so fucked up,”  Jeremy says, pointing at the kid, and I’m wondering,  Is Jeremy seriously trying to start a fight right now –  with a baby?

“Come on,” I pull Jeremy away from yet another person. “Calm down.”

Luckily the kid’s father –  also with an intimidating neck tattoo –  shows up.  Jeremy’s face suddenly shifts to Mr. Charming and he backs away with a wink and a smile.

“Were you seriously trying to start a fight – with a baby?”

But Jeremy doesn’t answer, just changes the subject to how amazing I am, how he wants to go to Costa Rica with me, but not yet, first he has to consider leaving his Old Lady.

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“Hey,” Jeremy’s raspy voice is on the other end of the line.  This is his third phone call to me today.  It’s after ten,  meaning the liquor store is closed. Tonight, I decided not to meet up with Jeremy, for once, to practice “self care” and all that.

“What’s up?” I say.  It sucks that Jeremy has me under his spell, and worse yet, I think he knows it.

“I just wanted to tell you  – ” Jeremy must be home by now, or close to it.

“I wanted to tell you I love – “ All of a sudden, Jeremy trails off and then his whisper turns into confident bravado. “ Dude, I wanted to tell you.  You got the job dude, at the liquor store!”

“What?”

“I have to go,” Jeremy whispers and hangs up the phone.  He must have been taking out the trash.

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I’m walking over to the corner beer emporium to visit Jeremy.  Come to find out – his full time gig is at the beer store where I worked over a decade ago.  And yes, caustic angry Seth, with the personality of a bottle of bleach, is still the manager.  Granted, it was my college summer job, not somewhere I would expect a mid-40’s, self-proclaimed Casanova to be working.  But we all have our issues.

“No loitering,” Seth growls, coming down the microbrew aisle. He’s the same as always, minus all the hair once growing on his head.  Stress.   I lean over Jeremy’s flimsy beer sampling booth and don’t pay attention to party pooper Seth trying to shit all over our parade.  We are in love.  I’ve got leather shorts on, it’s a hot Saturday afternoon, and I just stopped in for a 24 ounce can of Seagrams’ “Jamaican Me Crazy.”  But Jeremy is stuck inside this rat hole serving up samples of Genesee “Bock.”

“Can I taste your Bock?” I say to Jeremy.

Jeremy hands over a little foamy cup.

“I love the taste of your Bock.”  I slowly pull an ice cube from Jeremy’s bucket, and hold it out to his lips.

But before I can even trail it pornographically across his mouth, Jeremy suddenly chomps on it with his front teeth like a ferocious beaver .  He chews up the ice cube, crunching and cackling like a bipolar witch.  He smiles his wide grin and wrinkles crinkle at the corners of his eyes –  but are they from smiling all the time, or just from one too many Marb Reds?

Maybe both, I think.  He’s perfect. 

Plastered on all the walls and windows of the store are the names of customers who have donated their change to Parkinson’s Disease. Apparently many didn’t want to actually fill in their own names, so Jeremy took the liberty of scribbling “I love Annie” and “Jeremy Loves Annie” on these heart-shaped pieces of paper hanging all over the store.

“What’s up with that address you texted me?” I say.

When I was about to walk down here, Jeremy was texting me as usual and he randomly sent me the address of a house the next street over from his.  He wouldn’t explain why.

“This dude that’s in here all the time,” Jeremy says without a moment’s hesitation, “He’s having a house party and I thought it might be a good place for us to meet later.”

“Heck yeah! I am so in.”

“But nothing’s set in stone,” says Jeremy.  He is grinning from ear to ear.

“Okay.  Let me know.”

Seth glares while using his trademark Solo cup spittoon; spit-soaked tobacco drips from his slackened jaw.

“Ok Seth, I’ll take my Jamaican me Crazy and go make myself crazy somewhere else,” I say to him, and then to Jeremy,  “See ya later.”   I blow Jeremy a kiss, and I’m out of there.  I’m not even worried about Jeremy coming through with the party.  Of course we are going to meet up later.  We always do!

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But around 6:00 p.m., Jeremy totally goes silent.  I don’t blow up his phone or anything, at first, but at 10 I call him three times in a row.  Because honestly, Jeremy is always the one blowing up my phone, and now we supposedly have plans at a neighbor’s sketchy bungalow, and you ghost me?

Not to mention, I totally could have stayed at my homegirl’s Porch Fest birthday bash. I didn’t have to drive back to the ‘hood to meet Jeremy.  It makes no sense.

“You are clearly a LIAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”  is what I write.  “LIAR x100000000000000000000000000000000.”

And when Jeremy doesn’t answer that, I toss and turn all night, chugging leftover “Jamaican Me Crazy” to numb the pain. But the sugar only makes me more wired, so finally I just turn on all my lights and blare all my 80’s hair metal vinyl.

Then, my phone starts ringing  – at six in the morning. Is he for real.  At this point I’m  too bleary-eyed and stupefied to care.  I am obviously trying to get some beauty rest. I bury my head in pillows, blankets, everything, but my phone keeps ringing and ringing and doesn’t stop.  Jeremy calls me ten times in a row.

And by morning, with the sun coming up over both our houses, and me with completely disturbing blood shot eyes, my homegirl Stephanie and I had planned to do a gossip n’ brunch at Bread Hive. Thank God, because I need charcoal water and rosé, stat, and a distraction from all of this drama.

I have a text from Jeremy before I even pull up to Bread Hive.

“I need to see you. Now,” it reads.

Ha! Like really, I’m obviously not available. 

“I have plans with my  friend. I will be back in a few hours,” I reply.

Jeremy is SO controlling.

“Fine,” he says. “Meet at the park.”

Yet, I can’t help but want the 411 about last night. What WAS that about?

It’s not like I don’t comprehend that Jeremy is psychotic.

“He sounds…terrible,” Stephanie says while waiting in line. “I can’t really think of anything good about him.”

“I know!” I shriek. I always feel bad for anyone having brunch in my vicinity.  My conversations aren’t 100% family-friendly and veer into the absurd.  I have to give Stephanie credit; she definitely listens with an open mind.

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Poetry by Jeremy*

 I listen to a couple of “our” songs on my drive over to the park – “Your Love is My Drug” by Ke$ha; “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored,” by Ariana Grande. .Of course we are meeting at our spot, the swings, where our true love was revealed that second day we hung out.

For some reason Jeremy has  the audacity to ask me to pick him up a pack of smokes.  He’ll  “pay me back.”

“I’m at Draino’s,” Jeremy texts.

Ew, Draino’s? I hang in my fair share of rowdy saloons and dumpy taverns, but being spotted at Draino’s is the lowest of the low, not even Charlie Sheen on a week-long bender would be caught dead in there!

It used to be called something else, and I went there once when I was nineteen and got a Swedish Fish shot with no ID after my shift at the beer store with the twins who worked there and had crushes on me, and then the owner’s brother started showing me naked pictures on his flip phone – barf!

Draino’s is an alcoholic old guy scene which recently dealt with an outbreak of Hepatitis C and where a local politician got arrested after allegedly running his wife off the road –  not exactly the romance I had in mind for my Sunday in the sun.

But… I’m willing to lower my standards.

“And don’t worry about the cigs, a bunch of people gave me some,” Jeremy continues.

I wasn’t going to anyways. I toss my phone into the backseat, along with my dignity. Draino’s it is.

I walk into Draino’s, which is totally empty except for some lunatic squawking like a methed-up seagull and squished against some poor, sad looking old guy in a Hawaiian shirt.

“HAR HAR HAR,” Jeremy laughs at his own joke, which typically make no sense.

“Um, hi.” I say.  But at first, Jeremy doesn’t even notice me.

“Oh, HAAAAAAAIIIII,” Jeremy slurs out.  His complexion has the grey pallor of someone who stayed up all night performing sexual favors for crack cocaine; he’s sippin’ on what looks like a 50% vodka, 50% tomato combination, with his liter of Mountain Dew nearby.

“Is this your woman?” asks the sad looking guy in the Hawaiian shirt.

“No, I’m nobody’s woman!,” I declare.

Nothing for her,” Jeremy says.  “HAR HAR HAR.”

The bleach blonde bartender has sympathetic eyes and hands me a pinot grigio that I apparently ordered telepathically.  Jeremy’s tab here has been going since 1998.  We grab our drinks and shuffle onto the front patio. Or at least, Jeremy is shuffling in some oversized loafers halfway hanging off his feet.

“I ran out in my gardening shoes,” Jeremy flops onto the patio chair.  “I slept in the park.”

“Slept?” I say.  “In the park?”

Cars zoom by, and across the street, the town park stares back at us with a vast, empty, void-like stare.

“Why?”

“Look, honey, I said times were going to get rough,” Jeremy looks at me with pleading, puppy dog eyes. “I need you to hang in there with me.”

“Am I not hanging? Hello.”

Jeremy leans so far back on the flimsy furniture, he might just fall right off the chair. He’s puffing on a cig, happy as a clam.  We enjoy a short, comfortable silence, a moment of calm in a sea of chaos.

Then I ask –

“So, um, the park? Why’d you sleep there.”

Jeremy exhales a pre-emphysema-esque sigh of despair, and begins to unravel a barely-believable saga spurned on by the fact I called him at 10 p.m. Apparently, his old lady began “laying into him” and smacked him around, so he ran off and slept in the park since six in the morning.

“What about the party?” I ask.

Jeremy continues to chain smoke and shake his head.

“I didn’t even go.”

I embrace this new level of absurdity.  I’m ride-or-die for guys who deal wine. Jeremy and I head into Dollar General for provisions to take to the park. We find some beach towels and I grab a Vitamin Water; Jeremy still is doing the Dew and going for broke.

“$7.42,” says the stoic girl.  Her pin says “manager on duty.”

“Why d’you have to be so mean?” Jeremy leans over the swipe card machine and leers in her ear.

“I can make you cry if you want,” she says, unimpressed.

Jeremy counts out a few tattered bills, and we leave the store. We cozy up under a tree. R&B music thumps from a shelter.

“Can I have a sip?”  I unscrew the Dew and gulp some down, and choke.

“Don’t drink that!” Jeremy takes the bottle away. “It’s vodka.”

“Whoa.”  I wash it down with Vitamin Water.

All is calm.  Stability is reached once again – for the present moment anyway.  Later, Jeremy will have to return to his wretched old lady.

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I’m speeding on my bike through the dimly-lit streets, with nothing except the cool breeze in my hair and lustful fantasies on my mind.  Jeremy is closing up the liquor store.  This is what my life has become – late night, 10 p.m. hangouts with my “man.”   This past month we’ve become something of an item:  there’s the signs commemorating our love at the beer store; Jeremy’s loud proclamations in Draino’s; we’re even familiar “Same Side Sitters” at the Walden Applebee’s.  And one night, he walked me and my bike home, under a theatrical spotlight cast by a full moon.

“I love you Annie,” Jeremy stood at the end of my driveway, and shouted at the top of his lungs. “I love you!”

We are often at the swings, or the slide, or engaged in some other whimsical activity.

“I’m willing to give everything up – my life is so messed up,” Jeremy said, swirling a small bottle of Fireball around in his hand. “You just have to show me that you’ll do anything for me – you have to move in.”

“But how can I move in, if you’re still married?”  I’m making a true attempt at getting Jeremy to understand logic. “The space is occupied.”

Apparently a year ago, according to Jeremy, he was separated from his wife.  Another girlfriend lived with him.  But allegedly, this girlfriend made out with another guy at her work Christmas party in front of Jeremy.  So he kicked her out. His Old Lady moved back in the same day, according to Jeremy .

“I’m not going to be like that,” I said. “You have to choose me and me alone.”

I can tell Jeremy is burying himself in lies.  Now, according to him, his Old Lady knows nothing about us, even though he first said they were on the outs and “roommates,” and each did their own thing.  But yet, she goes through his phone, and he gets “punished.”

“Why would she go through your phone if she doesn’t care and you’re not together?” I said.

“She loves me, she pays all the bills, she just doesn’t do stuff for me anymore and doesn’t do things that I want her to do,,” Jeremy said.  “I’m telling you I will give everything up.  You just have to trust me.”

Of course,  it’s impossible to trust a man like Jeremy.

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Then, Memorial Day weekend, Jeremy asks a kid at the beer store to cover his shift so we can be together and have a picnic on the beach.

“I was supposed to work from nine to six,” he says. “So just meet me at nine at the store.”

“We can’t go at like, ten or eleven?” I ask casually.

“YOU ARE SPOILED,”  all of a sudden, Jeremy snaps. He starts yelling at the top of his lungs, even though he’s on his continuous work smoke break.   “SPOILED LITTLE BITCH GIRL, WHINE AND BITCH, THAT’S ALL BOTH OF YOU DO, YOU AND HER, PLANS ARE OFF, GO FIND SOMEBODY ELSE – “ Jeremy starts coughing and hacking and I don’t even respond to any of this.

“Fine. Bye,” I say.

“BYE.”

And I hang up the phone, and immediately feel better for not having to deal with Jeremy anymore, his constant need for attention and having to go to the wine store at ten when I’d much rather do my skin care routine.

ONE WEEK LATER

I’m alone in my room and it’s the middle of the night, and I’m doing what I like to do at least one night a week, that is stay up and blare music and write my innermost thoughts. But then, when the moon is full, sometimes I feel lonely and wind up looking at all my ex’s and frenemey’s Instagrams and toss and turn and wonder what’s up with everybody.  That’s how I wound up texting Jeremy.  It only takes a second for the carefully constructed house of cards to fall…

“I just want to let you know, that I thought about things and I forgive you,” is what I send. It’s eleven, and Jeremy’s prone to passing out early, so I don’t expect him to reply, maybe ever.

“I’m bringing you lunch tomorrow!” he says.

And thus began Part II of our torrid affair, when Jeremy became more passionate-slash-obsessive than ever.

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Jeremy started taking the Genesee bus downtown every day to bring me lunch. The first day, it was so romantic, Jeremy even sent me a selfie from the bus stop. We sat out in Lafayette Square, on the statue where I always sit, and Jeremy hovered over me with two pepperoni slices from Gino’s and a Lipton iced tea.

“Just hang in there with me,” Jeremy said, dabbing at my face with a napkin when it didn’t have to be dabbed. “Times are going to get tough.”

“What are you talking about,” I looked around at the manic seagulls surrounding me. “My life is fine.”

After a week straight of two pepperoni slices and an iced tea, and being dabbed when I didn’t need to be dabbed, Jeremy started wearing on my nerves.

On Friday, I come outside to find Jeremy standing in the middle of the sidewalk playing his acoustic guitar and yelping some kind of melody.

I want to know, Can we get clean againnnnnnnnnnn,” Jeremy wails. He fits in on Main and Court perfectly.

“Wow, Jeremy,” I head towards him. “This. Is. So….Nice!”

I have to pay my parking at the underground parking office, since I always wait until the day it’s due,  and the whole walk down Court Street and around the corner, Jeremy follows behind me with his guitar and makes loud comments about my ass.

I swear, I don’t even know this guy,” is the look I give to people passing by, in a helpless “damsel in distress” kind of way, even though I know how to handle this.  Jeremy keeps singing all the way up to the parking office door. I ring the bell, and the girl comes out to take my check with Jeremy still carrying on with his off-kilter melody.

Whoaoaoawhoaohwhoahohohawhoaa,”  his voice has had better days.

I lead him into the elevator and the whole way upstairs and on the walk through the Main Place Mall, onto the street corner and crossing over towards the CVS and through the revolving door into my building and up the stairs and almost into the elevator, Jeremy continues to wail.

“Look. You could ride up with me, but there’s an important meeting going on,” I say.  The unaffected, snowy-haired security guy with tatted-up arms keeps watch.  Jeremy takes a selfie with him, and gives me a smooch which tastes like cigarettes and vodka.  I hop in the elevator and get back to work.

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Later that day, we are in Draino’s again.  Jeremy dropped his happy-go-lucky songbird demeanor from earlier and replaced it with a much more sour disposition.

“He told me he loved me. Should I believe him?” I ask a sexy urban chick reminiscent of young Lil Kim next to me.

“Yeah!” she exclaims.

Jeremy’s forehead drips with sweat, and he barely touches his vodka-and-tomato.

“HAR….HAR….”

I walk away to the jukebox and accidentally cut in front of a dude with a shaved head who already put money in.

“Oops, sorry,” I say.  “But can you play Poison?”

“Yeah, sure honey,” he says. He’s about Jeremy’s age but I don’t think he’s trying to flirt. I sit next to Jeremy again, back at the bar,  and take my hoodie half-off so my shoulders are exposed in a silky camisole.

“ZIP YOUR HOODIE UP,” Jeremy snaps.   “ALL THE WAY UP!” He fiercely zips it up himself and pulls the hood over my head and tightens the strings until I resemble Kenny from South Park.

“It’s hot in here!” I say and try to break free.

The guy with the shaved head is next to me, staring Jeremy down, and I’m all but certain a fight will break out.

“RAAAAAWWWWRRR,” Jeremy erupts like a pissed off caveman, hops up off his barstool and rushes across the room. He throws his battered arms around a thick blonde lady who resembles Honey Boo Boo’s mom, with a crazy, cracked out smile of her own, and the two of them slow dance at warp speed like a record on fast-forward, immersed in some kind of psychobilly samba on speed.

I turn to Lil Kim and, with tears in my eyes, sadly state, “He’s being an asshole.”

“Jeremy!”  She yells to him, over “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” now blaring, “Come here and talk to your woman!”

Jeremy feebly reappears.

“NO,” he says, then stomps outside clutching a cigarette.

I rush after him, into the cool still night, and stare at him in utter confusion.

“Why are you doing this to me?”

All Jeremy does is stare back with a blank, empty stare, puffing away on yet another Marb.  I grab my 12-speed Huffy that had been chilling against the beat up side of the bar, push off from the curb and take off, quickly and powerfully, the cool night air whipping around me as I descend the bridge and swerve through the silent streets.  Behind me, I hear Jeremy emit his trademark  “MMMMEEEEHHHHHHHHHHHHH”, which sounds like a herd of dying sheep bleating at the moon, fading away into the darkness behind me.

Hot Spring TV – Just 4 U

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dirtbag Bachelor

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

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

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

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

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

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

Crackass

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

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

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

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

 

Comfortably Dumb

DUMB8

They bulldozed the whole block to the ground and now there’s nothing but a big black hole. It’s as vast as the universe.  It stretches deep into the core of the Earth. But just like the universe, it’s not empty.  Who knows what goes on underground?  In Vegas, there’s thousands of people living in  underground  tunnels.  Talk about Heroin-Chic.

DUMB3

Friday was a night just like any other, except for the fact that I was now “Facebook official.”

I had even gone to my actual boyfriend’s actual band practice that very afternoon.

“Thanks for inviting me to your band practice,” I say to Rusty. “I won’t say anything about the unreleased material.”

“I am so HONORED that you came,” he says.

Now Rusty is driving us to the bar where a punk show is set to begin.  It’s been months since I was at this particular establishment, and yet it feels like it was years ago, even though it was only this past May.  It was one of the demented stops Randy and I made the night we decided to stay up until sunrise to watch the Royal Wedding . It was just as deranged as it sounds.  I wound up singing “Interstate Love Song” upstairs at karaoke.

But I’ve moved on from Randy, Billy, Mick and Pete (In fact, Pete up and vanished. What ever became of him?)

Rusty and I met when right off the bat, he offered me some smoke.

That’s right.  A totally millennial moment took place at the Mohawk one chilly September day.  To quote Brittany Murphy in Clueless –  “Right off the bat, he offered me some smoke.”  It was Metal Fest at the ‘Mo, and I took the Metro down because it started at noon.   I decided to roll up on the #24 around 4.  I just got a blow dry from a new girl, and my head was caked with beach spray. I wasn’t feeling like David Lee Roth though, more like Tammy Faye Bakker.  And of course, I was a little bit baked. When I knocked my purse to the ground, the guy next to me dropped his sunglasses and so I picked those up, too.

Next thing you know, Rusty and I found ourselves in Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson territory.   He rolled up to my house one day, Sweetest Day, it turns out, with a bouquet!

“Wow, cattails, very autumnal! Thanks, Rusty.”

I was honestly so shocked, I mean, a bouquet from a metalhead dude? Who knew! I suppose I was accustomed to way worse.  I.e, the time when Billy acted crazy on Valentine’s Day, of all days….

DUMB2

“Can we go see 50 Shades Freed?”  I texted.

“Yeah, sure,” Billy replied.

No way, I thought.  Billy just told me, in between drags of his Marb, that he doesn’t “do” Valentine’s Day.  I was merely being a smart ass by asking. Ha! Surely, Billy MUST be coming to his senses. Finally!

Of course, Billy never set an official date for 50 Shades Freed.  In fact, he acted like a total dick  at the Marilyn Manson show, for no apparent reason!  Despite the fact Billy picked me up and we drove there together in a snowstorm, at the concert he refused to touch me or hold my hand, in fact he stood a foot away from me and stared me down like a shark!  Not to mention, at the casino, he randomly insinuated he had a one night stand there in the not-so-distant past!  So the next day, I was confused. I called him to see what all that was about.

“What? Oh nothing, nothing’s wrong,” he said.

“Did you…really have a one night stand at the casino, then?”

“I made that up.”

“Like, do you even care?”

“If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t have taken you to the concert.”

So I was crazy then.

“All right, sorry,”   I said.

A few days later, Valentine’s Day:  Billy sent mean texts all morning while I was trying to concentrate at work.

“You’re too sappy, you’re too emotional,” Billy was blowing up my phone.  “Go find another man who will do what you want. I’m out. Maybe if you came over when I didn’t expect and have sex with me maybe then you’ll be surprised to see what I’d do, like go out to dinner, or to the movies, I’m just so tired most days, you work in an office, I come home and I have no energy to do anything.”

“Fine, whatever,” I totally gave up.  Every time I text Billy with a simple question, it goes unanswered.  But then he has time to blow up my phone with abuse all day.  Why me?

“I’ll come over Friday then. Peace out,” I said, to get him to shut up.

Of course, I had no intention of going over to Billy’s house Friday – or at all!

I made plans with my Chapter 13-version-of-a-Sugar Daddy, my “Stevia Daddy,” if you will, instead – Mick!  He made last-minute reservations at the Protocol on Transit.

So we hit up the Protocol, and Mick dragged over a gargantuan funeral bouquet just for me.  Gee, thanks Mick…I tossed it on my bed.  All I wanted was to get wasted, to be able to get through/enjoy this day.

DUMB1

While at dinner with Mick that night, Billy must have been stalking my Instagram or something because later in the night, after I posted a pic, my phone blew up with texts, again.

“Don’t bother coming over Friday,” Billy said. “I don’t want your sloppy seconds. Have fun doing whatever it is you’re doing, it was nice knowing you, I’m blocking your number, goodbye.”

Like, what? I wish I could say it ended there, but I ran hysterically crying out of the Protocol, only to call Billy all night in vain, until when in the a.m. I realized he unblocked my number so I blocked his and never spoke to him again.

Until I got sucked back in, you see.

DUMB5

Tonight,  this punk show, this is the first public debut Rusty and I are making after becoming “Facebook official.”  Not that anyone cares.  But just let me have this moment, would you? I decided to wear gold sateen shorts with stockings and heeled, hiker-esque boots.

My neighbor Dan came to my house beforehand to lend me a cup of weed.  Then off we went, Rusty and I, with nothing to tarnish the silver-plated memories being etched in our minds.

“We are a Super-Couple,” Rusty says at the bar. I’m lapping up his words along with my pinot grigio like a submissive puppy dog.   My leg is draped across his lap, his bass player BDE steeping the air like cologne.  That’s the thing about Super-Couples, aka Angelina and Billy Bob, Tommy Lee and Pam; they do not care about societal norms and common decency, or what is even going on around them, necessarily…We prefer to live life á la music videos and porno sequences, inside an elite plastic bubble ungoverned by rules and conventions…

Wait – who is that getting their ID checked? It looks like, no way – some fool who looks like Billy but is acting totally grandiose! I squint, but get tunnel vision and the area where Billy’s doppelganger is standing becomes a blind spot, a black hole, and I’m staring down a narrow corridor.  I don’t know if it’s Billy or just some clown who looks like Billy. His beat up Vans are the same – but everyone has those. And his vest – it’s not the same patch-covered one Billy wore before. But this one looks like he could be starting a NEW VEST.   Perhaps a new life.  He grew a mustache too.  And he’s…smiling…a totally sick, deranged, and menacing smile, but he’s smiling across the room, in my direction, nonetheless.  My vision gets blurry and  I convince myself that it is not, in fact, Billy at all, but just somebody with the unfortunate curse of looking like Billy.

I turn back to Rusty; it’s not uncommon for me to look dazed and confused.

“Yes, Rusty,” I lean in closer.  “You were saying?”

Billy’s doppelganger sits behind Rusty with a mousy girl who could be his cousin, a random from Tinder, or his steady girlfriend of five years – who’s to say?

A short time later,  I get up to go to the bathroom, and as I’m walking by…

“Damn…” says a voice behind me which sounds like a stoner-slash-skater from somewhere in Ohio…

I don’t turn to look who said it, because I already know. It is Billy standing back there, or wherever that voice came from.

I keep walking. I didn’t really hear that.  Whoever said “Damn” falls back into a black hole, again, behind me, sinks down into the ground…  I lean over the ledge at the bathroom mirror.  I’m trying to convince myself that it was all a visual and auditory hallucination – nothing but a mere hallucination!

DUMB9

Any man reduced to communicating with you via email is probably on the outs (except for Eddie, who just doesn’t have a phone) and should stay there. On Easter morning, I began to receive apologetic emails from Billy.  I choked on a Peep.  First, he acted like everything was no big deal. He ended the note with an Irish blessing.   He proclaimed he was in touch with his therapist. He said he was sorry – but didn’t explain for what.   I didn’t reply.

But for some strange reason, I fantasized about revenge. Revenge is a dish best served cold.  I think I read that somewhere.  Meaning, it’s best to wait awhile for tempers to cool….

You think it would be easy to avoid someone emotionally abusive, run as far away from them as possible.  Then I ran into Billy when I least expected.  I was just walking down the street and there he was like a big obtrusive glacier, staring at me as I walked up to Stamps, the Bar, and unlike the Titanic, Billy never sunk completely from my mind.

“Hi,” Billy said.

He ended up buying me drinks, acting “nice,” even saying he’d buy me a DVD player for my birthday. (Like, what?)

Next came more long-winded email proclamations, until I finally did the unthinkable. Something I vowed I would never, ever, do.

My willpower took a dive and I couldn’t ignore him anymore, or the fantasy that maybe, just maybe, Billy was remorseful.

I was four months sober from Billy.  So of course I had to fuck it all up. It only takes one second, to fuck it all up. For all the time it takes to learn to not fuck it up, it only takes a second to fuck it all up completely.

What’s one little hit, totally in secret, just one little, one-time hit it n’ quit it? DUMB7

I’m going over to Billy’s in fraying, white denim shorts with laces down the front, and a vintage Rage Against the Machine tee my dad once confused for a dirty rag.  I know that tonight is the night for make up sex with Billy.  Stars twinkle in the sky like an exotic dancer’s body glitter.

Last week, during my quest for “revenge,” I unblocked Billy’s number, called him and told him I was coming there to his hot tub. That’s what I’m talking about, fucking it all up in an instant.  All those hot tub selfies he posted apparently got to me. I wanted nothing but to “use” Billy for his hot tub.  After work, I went to Tappo with Mick, and of course I had to get lit, how else can I cope? Either way, an hour later I was in Billy’s hot tub with only a bra on, as I had been going commando since midway through the workday.

“I won’t let you drive home,” Billy said. “Just stay here.”

So I did.  But we didn’t hook up. I definitely submerged my head in the hot tub after shouting “Underwater BJ!!!!!” loud enough for the whole town to hear and swam towards Billy’s crotch, but that was a drunken fail and it doesn’t count.

DUMB4

Then, this afternoon, I texted Billy and asked –

“What time does the hot tub open?”

“Nine,” said Billy.  “But can you bring a friend for Tony?”

“Tony?!”  Tony is Billy’s omnipresent homeboy. It’s a “bromance”.  “I thought he has a girlfriend.”

“They broke up.”

“Oh.  I’ll see if Trixey can come!”

And,  sure enough…

“Yeah maybe,” Trixey replied right away.  “What time?”

“Nine!” I said, overjoyed, because we were about to become one big, happy love triangle, no wait, a love RHOMBUS, and it would all work out with Billy too and we’ll  live happily ever after in a barn/skatepark somewhere.

DUMB6

Of course, Billy and I had sex.

“Get out!” I barged out of the bathroom in exotic nightwear, aka a thong reminiscent of Rose McGowan’s “naked” VMA attire alongside Marilyn Manson. “I don’t care where ya go, but ya can’t stay here.”

Trixey and Tony skulked out of Billy’s kitchen, leaving us alone to consummate our twisted romance.  They were to fall victim to their very own one-night love affair.  But that’s a different story for another day.

It didn’t take long for me to reclaim my sex object position on Billy’s dusty shelf. Sad, really. Pathetic.

“What’s this scar from?” Billy said as we laid on his bed in the a.m., in his disorganized and unadorned room.

“A palm tree,” I laughed, squealed really, because Billy locked me in a vice grip with his legs and I couldn’t break free.

“Where were you where there was a palm tree?”

Since when does Billy care what I do? He simply projects his own issues onto me…

“Tampa, duh. My cousin lives there,” I said.   “Do you still have the articles I wrote?”

Billy leaned over the edge of his bed and rummaged in his bottom dresser drawer. He pulled out a stack of Hustlers and a handgun fell out from between the stack onto the floor and spun away.

“Is that loaded?”  I looked over at him;  Billy was holding the Hustler with my story in it.  “Aw Billy, you really do care.”

Billy didn’t say anything, just laid back and stared at the ceiling.  If I would have looked, I mean really looked at him, I would have noticed Billy’s stare was as dark and empty as his soul.

The same old cycle began once again.

 

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.”

homeless8

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.

 

The Sunshine State Affair

FLAMINGO

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

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

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

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

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

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

WALL

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

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

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

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

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

FLORIDA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COYOTEUGLY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Slut Diaries: Part I

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There’s playing with fire and getting burned, and then there’s dousing yourself in lighter fluid and going full-on Richard Pryor. Ever since the emotionally-abusive cycle with Billy ended, after he spazzed off on me in a jealous rage and things went totally caput, I’ve propelled myself into a Sluttylicious Spree of epic proportions, with party favors included.

March 10:

Kurt’s on my list of guys to bone.  Actually, he’s on the list of guys I have boned. But is he in the friend zone, or is it possible to re-light a match?

We had our blink-of-an-eye fling, sure.  But it wasn’t my fault it ended.  Kurt suddenly got a girlfriend and banished me from his apartment downstairs.  I wasn’t allowed to hang with his roommates or homeboys, not when he was there anyway.  Honestly, I like Kurt – we go back, way back.  We’re in the friend zone.

This drunken date of ours was slated to happen for, I don’t know, months. Kurt just bought a house in our old college town, a spacious relic on a winding road. So we went on a date to the Italian joint. I drove down; it was a snowy afternoon and the town was empty. Where did everybody go?

Kurt’s truck rumbled up his driveway. “Come on,” he said. “We’re going to the liquor store.”

“What are you, some kind of raging alcoholic?” I said.

“We used to live in the same house,” Kurt said with a grin. “You know I’m a raging alcoholic.”

Yeah, true. We did almost burn the place down once or twice.

Kurt handed me his debit card and I ran across the wine mart parking lot.  Back at the house, we situated ourselves inside Kurt’s rustic den.  I put on John Denver and rolled a joint. The place had been owned by an “old man”  who had been a “hoarder,” according to Kurt, and one with an obvious affection for the wilderness. He left behind in the den two giant walls of books. Their musty jackets loomed over Kurt and I.  Kurt gave me one he said reminded him of me.

“Here, this is it,” he said.  “Mistress to an Age.”

Schnapps

Kurt swilled Evan Williams and I downed wine.  The homespun haze put us in a daze, completely under its spell, until we remembered the Italian joint closed at eight. So we caroused our way downtown, and succumbed to total drunkenness at the Italian joint. It was there I felt the psilocybin kick in. Maybe I shouldn’t have mixed alcohol with a mushroom in the den. My ravioli became something of a muse. We discussed our common Libertarian ideals and emotional instability.  Kurt ordered an excessively-huge carafe of cabernet.  Back at the house, my face was numb but I pressed it against Kurt’s anyway and we started making out in the kitchen.

MARCH 11:

Kurt inexplicably woke up at 6:00 a.m. today, even though it’s Sunday, by turning on his light and saying casually that he “had to go to work.”

“Are you for real,” I turned over. Embarrassingly enough, bootleg big booby smut still emanated on mute from his TV. Kurt put it on as we were making out after dinner.

“I have my period, sorry,” I said. “Goodnight.” And I turned over.

“Oh come on,” Kurt said.

“I can see now that I’m not your type,” I said. “I’m not a big booby uggo downloaded from LimeWire.”

“I don’t have a type!”

Yeah, of course I know men don’t have types…How else do you explain Tiger Woods?

“Shhh,” I said. “I need to get some shut eye.”

At some point thereafter, we both passed out. Dead, and still in the friend zone thanks to that carafe of wine. Either way, in the morning light, I kept repeating to Kurt that I needed shut eye, until he shouted “Shut up!!!!” and clomped outside in his work boots. I heard his truck back down the gravel driveway.

I slept for a couple more hours, smoked some weed, folded Kurt’s laundry, and then began to plot our next adventure  – for some time, Kurt and I have discussed joining the swingers club in town, and going there as a “couple,” actually…

March 23:

Let’s see, “Scotty” from The Third Hole re-emerged, in the strangest of ways. Turns out, he broke up with his fiancé. We made plans to go out to dinner, after I wound up at The Third Hole last Saturday and Scotty and I made plans while in a drunken, coked-out stupor. But nonetheless, we made plans to go out to dinner in the Falls.

But I guess he has a child and was to have custody of him for the evening or something like that? How do these things work? Anyway, a few days before, Scotty said we’d have to postpone. So I asked Mick if he wanted to go out instead. He’s always down to go out to dinner, even at the last minute.

“Let’s go to Mother’s,” I said, and I figured I would just guzzle pinot grigio to make the night more enjoyable.  Since when have I ever needed an excuse to get drunk? Mick is like 50 years old. But right before, while I was getting ready to go, Scotty texted me and said his son went to the movies with friends, and he was headed to The Third Hole after all!

Great. Now I’m stuck going to dinner with Mick, when I could be having a much more stimulating night with Scotty. Hmmmm.

Mick picked me up at 6:00, which is MAD EARLY, and especially bizarre since we were going to Mother’s and they serve dinner until 2:00 a.m.

“Why are we going out so early?” I put my sunglasses on.  “It’s still light out.”

I turned the radio dial to the pop station.

“Oh sure, change the channel,” Mick said sarcastically as “It Ain’t Me” by Selena Gomez emanated from the speaker. “Who’s going to walk you through the dark side of the morning…” I said, not nearly stoned enough. “La la la, it ain’t meeeeee.”

“Oh my God, please, can we just have a quiet evening,” Mick droned.

“Sheesh” I said while trying to take a selfie. “The lighting is really bad in here.”

“Complain, complain, complain,” Mick said monotonously, and I knew right then it would be an annoying evening.

Or would it?

When we got to Mother’s, it was totally empty.  We sat in the far dark corner by the bathroom.

“It’s so early I’m not even hungry yet,” I said, thinking maybe I shouldn’t have popped an Adderall and 15-day herbal cleanse that I had lying around from Feel Rite, but so what? I was only trying to have a pleasant evening.

“Cannot believe we have a prune mixed with a banana for a president – I mean what the serious fuck?” I said, looking at Mick but he has the personality of a dial tone, and his face didn’t even move. “This scandal with Facebook using our information and pandering to the GOP? Of course they did, and he knew how stupid everybody really is and how to manipulate them emotionally.  We impeached Clinton for getting a BJ – but we are going to allow our civil liberties to get ass raped?

I watched Mick pour steak sauce all over a bloody piece of meat until I felt about ready to puke.

“I stand up for sex workers!” I grabbed a knife. “And freedom of speech! Does the Cheeto with Easter grass for hair, does he really know how to even read the Constitution?”

Mick sat there, detached.

“Who are you talking about?” he said.

“Ugh!” I said. “Do you want to go to the Goth store after this? There’s a party at nine.”

“No, I do not want to go to the garth store,” Mick said. “What is so great about the garth store? If you want to live that lifestyle -”

“Yes, I DO want to live that lifestyle,” I stood up and tossed my cloth napkin aside. “You are insulting my community. Just meet me at Q.”

I walked down the block to Q., and after Mick paid the bill and everything he came in after me. I wonder if he realized it’s a gay bar, with all the subtle rainbow accents? Mick is totally square nowadays.

“Look,” he said, sitting down. “I think after this we should both part ways, you should just go back with Billy, both of you don’t care about anybody but yourselves -”

“Wow, really?” I got upset and walked outside again. That was a low blow, even from Mick. I dialed Scotty’s number not sure if he would be available, but he answered on the first ring.

“If I took an Uber to The Falls,” I said while walking towards Delaware Ave. “Could you drive me home later, or like, tomorrow?”

“Yeah sure,” he said. I could hear The Third Hole background noise. And that’s exactly what I did. I rolled down the car window as we approached the saloon, and smelled smoke in the air. A house fire was just being extinguished.

Harbor Inn

MARCH 31:

I’ve wanted to do nothing all day except day drink and listen to Danity Kane. Why the fuck is it still snowing? Luckily, Troy*, my platonic homebody from the past, re-emerged. We met up at a sushi joint right after my hair appointment, so I looked pretty bossed-up if you know what I’m sayin’.

But I wasn’t trying to seduce or flirt with Troy. I wasn’t sure what was going on in his love life.

We were day drinking in the Hertel jurisdiction, D-District, where it all began, back when I lived in a minuscule attic studio more suitable for three blind mice and Troy was still legally married.

But wait – is Troy still legally married? Who knows, who cares.  Either way, we watched a drunken Camilla Parker Bowles-look alike chug Michelob after Michelob at MT Pockets. We started gyrating to “Boys” by Britney Spears at Gecko’s.  Somewhere along the line, I thought maybe Troy and I were going to make out.

Little did I realize, we would soon be making out in a full-blown PDA episode inside Gecko’s! And afterwards, we staggered into the Video Liquidators theater. Apparently I’m a regular, but they really do have the best selection of slutty lingerie. Anyway, no one else was there, which was weird since it was a Saturday and we found ourselves alone. First I peed in the ladies room, which is painted a dusty rose hue.

We wandered to the back of the store.

SHoes

What happens in the Video Liquidators theatre stays in the VIdeo Liquidators theatre, if you know what I mean.

But we emerged from its dark, sticky depths still in the friend zone for the most part.

APRIL 1:

“Do you want to become a mouthpiece of your generation?” I say to Pete, in front of the giant window of Just Vino that looks out upon Main St.  I’ve found myself on an actual date with someone I know, but not very well.

“I like your blog,” he says. “I had no idea you were so talented.”

Sure, you say that now… But what about after one is about you???

“It would be okay, actually,” Pete said. “That would be cool. Just change my name. Or don’t.”

APRIL 13:

I’m driving home from work, a.k.a smoking a jay and circling the block, wondering about how I’ll ever feel normal in relationships again.  But did I ever? I’m not exactly “normal.”

I’m chasing the dragon of actually caring. I feel numb to the earth. I’m waiting for The Feeling to sneak up on me again, like heroin probably does, but I’ve never done heroin.

Wait – who’s that? Chasing the dragon, right, that is until I see the guy taking out his trash – t-shirt, beard, tattoos – he looks to be moving old carpets and junk.  It looks like maybe he’s moving in…and just on the next block over too…Hmmm…

 

No Ifs, Ands, Or Big Fat Butts

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This story isn’t about butts. It’s about romance. But what is “romance?”  No one seems to know, not even the dictionary. The dictionary says it’s, first and foremost, a “novel, movie, or genre of fiction.” Google says it’s “a feeling” associated with “love.”

I always thought romance was something sold in the Victoria’s Secret catalog.  This is probably because I used to wear the Amber Romance fragrance from their Fantasies line. (I later switched to Strawberries & Champagne, and they’ve both been discontinued).  Romance, to me, is rather illusory and fleeting, like cheap perfume.

In college, one of my upper-level English classes was “Romantic Journeys.”  It was taught by a very handsome professor-slash-documentary filmmaker.  It was then that I went from an Existentialist to a Transcendentalist.  Romanticism is about being free to express raw emotion.  There are also lots of castles in Romantic literature, so maybe that’s why Cinderella and all of them live in castles and get swept off their feet? But in reality, some Romantic guys actually went insane.  Edgar Allen Poe had syphilis, didn’t he? Frankenstein is also from the “Romantic” era.

Men today shouldn’t be scared of Romantic gestures, or expressing their emotions for that matter.  It’s slightly macabre, scary and perfect for the Halloween season. Here are some ways to make your relationship more Romantic this Halloween.

Live on Your Own Private Island/Castle

You will be able to have sex anywhere and everywhere, first of all.  On an episode of MTV Cribs featuring Nas and Kelis, they boasted that they are super loud when they have sex, so it’s a good thing no one else is around. I can’t remember where they lived, but it seemed pretty secluded.  Sadly, they went through an acrimonious divorce.

I once visited Alexandria Bay, NY with my belligerent former-sugar daddy and we did a ghost tour. There’s a castle there called Boldt Castle; it’s very famous.  The man who owned the Waldorf Astoria in NYC started to build a castle on a heart-shaped island for the love of his life, but she died mid-construction.  He ordered all work to permanently end.  You can take tours of the place now though, and the area’s ghost tour covers that and other places.

Sigh… so Romantic. A ghost tour would be perfect for a spooky yet sexual date. Or you could drive around looking for castles and explore.

Wear Vials of Each Other’s Blood

Billy Bob Thornton and Angelina Jolie were certainly a Romantic couple.  I never found out how they obtained the vials of each other’s blood that they wore around their necks. Was it professionally drawn, or was it more of a DIY effort? Donating a pint of blood would be something interesting to do as a couple.  You will get free juice and donuts, too! #FreeDates. Maybe you can take some blood home and fashion it into jewelry.

Bram Stoker wrote during the Victorian period, not the Romantic period, but Romanticism permeates the novel.  Dracula lived in a castle, of course. The sexualization of vampires is no secret; Helloooo Robert Pattinson.

Today you can visit bondage dungeons that resemble castles.  While there, mingle with the folks turned on by blood. There’s nothing closer to the heart, and therefore passion, than blood.  You might pick up some new ideas for the bedroom.

If you prefer to stay in for your Romantic night,  red wine and candy apples make succulent and sexualized treats. The Halloween film Sleepy Hollow contains blood play/bloodletting sex scenes.  It will surely get the blood flowing to the right areas.

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Pick Out Your Tombstones Together

So what if it’s only your second date? It’s never too early to choose how your headstones will look side-by-side. Personally, I want a heart-shaped tombstone. Black marble. What can I say, I’m a Romantic ‘til death. And the font is very important – chic cursive for me, all that way, with an etching of a rose.  A cemetery date would be great for Halloween. A walk through Forest Lawn is very picturesque, not to mention Rick James is buried there and I recently discovered a pond coated in cool green slime.  You can decide where your side-by-side burial plots can be placed, too, and then listen to “Cemetery Gates” by The Smiths.

Edgar Allan Poe is said to have died from syphilis, probably due to the fact he married his first cousin, but the actual cause isn’t known.  He was apparently murmuring the word “Reynolds” over and over when he appeared  at the hospital. It could have been syphilis, alcoholism, rabies, or something else.

His first cousin/wife, Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe, died before him, even though they married when she was only 13 and he was 26.  She had “the consumption,” but Poe’s extramarital “sexual improprieties” are said to have contributed to her early demise.

They’re buried together in Westminster Hall and Burying Ground, Baltimore, Maryland.

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You may not view all this stuff as “Romantic,” and simply dismiss it as the stoned ramblings of an utter nitwit.  That’s your decision. You can keep it PG, put on the old French maid costume and tickle your man with a feather duster again…  That’s cool for Halloween, too.

The dark and the mysterious has always been sexy, and dare I say, Romantic. The brooding Romantic hero in an exotic setting  has become a familiar plotline.  A Happy Ending is what we crave,  but sometimes, it’s the emotion and intrigue in between Happy Endings that makes the Happy Ending feel so good. The whole ‘Happily Ever After’ thing is for the birds.

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.”

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The Blind Leading the Blind(fold): How to Spot Serial Killers on Dating Apps

I recently had the displeasure of being zip-tied in a man’s home. But that’s what I get for not paying attention to the “red flags” that Teddy constantly waves through the air like he just don’t care; I was too preoccupied with my own delusions and fantasies to notice them.

In fact, Teddy and I should have never met at all.  It went against the laws of nature. He has that whole “Norman Bates” thing going on – he’s a total recluse, with mommy issues and antisocial/borderline personality disorder. His moods flip like a switch, but never seem to show on his face. His house is meticulously decorated from the era of “Mad Men”; there’s dusty bottles of gin and cocktail shakers, mid-century furniture and I don’t know, 60’s Christmas songs by Bing Crosby and the like emanating from an ancient record player, because this all took place in the wintertime, mind you.

Norman Bates

But something brought Teddy and I together, even though the only time he really leaves home is to go to work. It was okCupid. What the hell was I doing on okCupid? Who knows.  But Teddy looks really good in photos…very much like Dr. Threadson from “American Horror Story,” actually.

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He began alluding to having a “bondage dungeon.”

“So how intense is this dungeon, anyway, Ted?” I said. “I mean, on a scale of one to ten.”

“My dungeon is an 11 and I don’t use safe words,” he said. “And you aren’t ready to see it.”

“What are you talking about? Haven’t you seen Device Bondage? Everyone uses safe words.”

Not ready…ha! I think I’d like to decide for myself what I’m ready for…  I felt like he was presenting me with a challenge, or at least new blog material. Is Teddy a dedicated BDSM practitioner? Megalomaniacal “Christian Gray” wannabe?  A serial killer? Naturally, I went to his house to find out.

The date night which ensued at Teddy’s house has now turned into ThePrivateMag’s latest offering to society – my handy guide “HOW TO SPOT SERIAL KILLERS ON DATING APPS”  – just in time for your 420 celebration. Don’t even think about meeting your match in person without checking for the following Serial Killer Signs. According to an FBI symposium published in Psychology Today, there isn’t one definitive serial killer profile, but there are several common traits present among murderers.

HE MANIPULATES EVERY SITUATION IN HIS FAVOR

Teddy controls everything. He’s CEO of his own company. When it came to the two of us, in the end he knew way more about me than I knew about him. He would get pissed at me out of nowhere, because apparently I’m “out of control.” He played mind games to get me back to his house. With the exception of our first date, that’s the only place he wanted to be. His house, where he holds all the power and control. He also told me to wear high heels for our date.

“Intent on exerting some kind of control over the people around them, they often hold back bits of crucial information in a bid to maintain power over the situation, gain attention and assert a warped sense of authority,” said  Dr. Elizabeth Yardley, Director of the Centre for Applied Criminology at Birmingham City University, in Real Crime magazine.

If you’re chatting with somebody new, and you have to beg for information or they simply dodge your questions, it’s definitely a bad sign.

HE’S A SOCIOPATH/SOCIALLY INEPT

What is a sociopath, anyway? The term gets tossed around quite a bit. “He must be a sociopath, we had sex and he never called me again…” “Oh he’s a total sociopath, he’s a drunk with complete disregard for the law…”  Sociopathy is just one type of antisocial personality disorder. According to the article “The Sociopath – Serial Killer Connection” from Psychology Today magazine, sociopaths make for “disorganized crimes” committed impulsively. Sociopathy is a learned behavior, showcased by disregard for social standards and the feelings of others. It makes you prone to violent outbursts as well.

There are other types of Antisocial Personality Disorders, and many are left undiagnosed. According to PsychCentral.com, “Antisocial personality disorder is a disorder that is characterized by a long-standing pattern of disregard for other people’s rights, often crossing the line and violating those rights. A person with antisocial personality disorder (APD) often feels little or no empathy toward other people, and doesn’t see the problem in bending or breaking the law for their own needs or wants.” Antisocial Personality Disorders are 70 percent more prevalent in men. Symptoms tend to decrease in intensity by their 40s-50s.

In contrast, Psychopaths are more “in control” and according to Psychology Today, “The FBI explained Psychopathy is a personality disorder manifested in people who use a mixture of charm, manipulation, intimidation, and occasionally violence to control others, in order to satisfy their own selfish needs.”

Be on the lookout for drug and alcohol abuse and a violent criminal record. The best indicator of future behavior is past behavior.

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SEX LIFE DOMINATED BY AUTO-EROTICISM

If a guy you barely know from Tinder wants to go all 50 Shades on you, you might wind up tethered to a radiator in his basement (why do I have to find everything out the hard way?) with no way out. I’ve spoken with dominatrixes and been in dungeons before, and the legit BDSM community stresses the importance of consent and trust. But if you’re a withdrawn manipulator who lacks empathy, you don’t care about such things. Therein lies the catch.

“Serial killers’ fantasies are often about control and violation…” according to the online article “10 Most Common Traits of Serial Killers.” “From an early age, many serial killers are intensely interested in voyeurism and fetishism as well as other paraphilias. Many will start their deviancy as relatively harmless peeping-toms, before moving on to house-breaking, rape, and murder. Given that elements of bondage and dominance feature so strongly in most paraphilias, it is no surprise that this is often the route followed after adolescence.”

I asked Teddy his favorite sex position and he told me “he doesn’t have one, vanilla sex doesn’t interest him” and the only sex he has is with women who are tied up. “But what about a quickie in public, or on the go?” I said. “Doesn’t it take a lot of time?” Teddy looked at me like I was crazy.

Perhaps the most popular murderer/bondage enthusiast was Dennis Rader, aka the BTK (Bind Torture Kill) serial killer.

CHILDHOOD ABUSE AND NEGLECT

Not everyone who endures childhood trauma grows up to murder people, obviously, but according to the previously mentioned FBI study, a large portion of serial killers interviewed had gone through severe childhood trauma and neglect. When I asked Teddy about his family, he said he “doesn’t talk with his mom”, who lives out of state, and that his dad “was a psychopathic drunk.”

ARSON AND ANIMAL TORTURE

8Mile

These are common early crimes committed by those who kill later on – and they definitely make for a really bad date. If you’re out with a guy and he wants to burn down a house – But maybe he was watching that scene from 8 Mile, you’re thinking, where Eminem and Brittany Murphy share a moment under the fiery glow of a house consumed by flames?  Um, girl, just walk away.

 

 

Submitted For Your Approval

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Inside a house far back from the street dwells a man with a cross to bear. He’s an even-tempered man, albeit a very reclusive man, who may or may not dose himself with MDMA, psychotherapy-style. If we could see through his curtains, which are perpetually closed, we would see him reading by the fire.  In fact, he’s reading this very blog, on an iPad, with his slippers propped on a mid century table.

His living room has a distinct Twilight Zone feel; it’s as if we went back in time. But we haven’t gone back in time. We have entered a parallel dimension.

I met Teddy on okCupid four years ago.  He messaged to tell me he “consumes” my writing, and likes it. Nothing ever happened with him back then, though, because he fell off the face of the planet. Until, just recently…

Do you experiment with molly? is the text Teddy sends me. Hm, Teddy, what ever happened to you? goes through my mind as I type a reply. I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing the interior of Teddy’s meticulously mid century abode.

I drive to Teddy’s house expecting a chill evening. As soon as I pass the Audi dealership, I know I’m far from home. Snow falls from the sky in heavy clumps.

“Good evening,” I say into my phone, walking the long, snowy path towards Teddy’s garage. “I’m here.”

I see Teddy’s diminutive figure emerge through a square window in the door, which he unlocks and holds open.

Teddy is fortysomething, with hair both thick and spliced with gray.

“I was just making rosemary chicken,” he says. “Come in.”

Teddy leads the way into his kitchen, where the walls are clementine orange. Coordinating pans hang above the stove, along with all the homey trappings of a 1950’s kitchen – containers excavated from estate sales, their contents labelled on the outside, and a really-old looking coffeemaker.

“Interesting place,” I say.  “Why don’t you give me a tour?”

Behind his black frames, Teddy looks serious. In fact, he looks exactly like Dr. Thredson from American Horror Story. He calmly leads our way to the living room.

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Vodka and gin are stashed on a bar cart, along with various shakers and glassware. Schwing! Three old typewriters are displayed on a shelf. The walls feature framed movie posters from Bye Bye Birdie, Psycho, and the like. All the furniture is mid century modern and pristine. The room is a page torn from a catalog.

“I had this sofa reupholstered,” he says as I walk down the hall.

“Is this a bathroom?” I turn a doorknob slowly.

“No,” Teddy approaches from the right. “You can’t go in there.”

“I’m curious now. What’s in there?”

“Nothing,” he says. “It’s just, nobody can go in there.”

“Ok, all right,” I say. “Is it a sex dungeon?”

Teddy is quiet.

“I’ve been building one in my basement for a while now,” he says. “But if I take you down there, you must submit.”

“I knew it,” I say. “I knew you had a dungeon.”

“I’m a man who needs control,” Teddy says, coming closer.

I go back to the living room and sit on the couch. Teddy leaves for a minute, and eventually returns with a bottle of wine and two glasses.

“I don’t usually have this around,” he says, “but I went and bought some pinot grigio.”

“You’re the best,” I say. “How did you know that’s my favorite?”

“I had a feeling,” he says.

Teddy places another log in the fireplace, and it cracks and flickers and pops, before he sits on the other end of the couch. He’s wearing a cashmere cardigan and Hermes cologne. Ancient Christmas music emanates from the stereo.  I start to ask questions.

“So what do you do for Christmas?” I say. “Any family traditions?”

“No,” he says.

“What about your mom?” I say. “Where does she live?”

“I haven’t spoken to my mother…” Teddy trails off. “My mother and I don’t talk.”

“Why?”

Teddy stares at me in silence from the other end of the couch.

“Ok, sorry…” I say. “I’m sorry.”

Teddy pours the wine.

“So, since this is my inaugural Writer’s Seance,” I say, “What kinds of things do you write about?”

“See those six boxes under the TV?” I look at the shelf , and sure enough, there’s a bunch of boxes there, from typewriter paper or something. Handwritten labels are taped to the side of each one. “Those are my manuscripts,” he says.

“Oh, cool,” I say. “Can I read them?”

“No.”

“Do you want to read some to me?” I drink my wine. “Even just a sentence or two?”

“No one has ever read any part of them.”

“Do you think I can, someday?”

“No,” he says, heading towards the kitchen. “If I ever catch you looking at them,” Teddy’s head pokes from behind the wall, “I will have to remove you. Physically.” I follow Teddy into the kitchen. He’s chopping mini potatoes.

“Do you have any sparkling water?” I ask, opening the fridge. There’s nothing inside but dozens of cans of Vernors.

“Actually, yeah, here’s some water,” Teddy pours water from a pitcher on the counter, lemon slices floating inside, and hands it to me. “There’s only a small amount of roofies in it.”

“Gee, thanks,” I say, walking around the kitchen.  It’s a kitchen that makes one think robotic Stepford blowup dolls will emerge from a closet at any minute to sweep the floor like an LSD-influenced Fantasia sequence. “Does it ever get lonely out here?”

“I stick to myself,” Teddy says, arranging the potato slices in a pan.

“Aw,” I say, and give him a hug. Teddy’s head snaps to the side to look at me quickly, his spatula raised. He taps it on my nose.

“Ha ha,” I say, and go back to the living room.

“Dinner will be served in twenty minutes,” Teddy says, following me to the couch.

“I really appreciate you making me dinner,” I say.

Twenty minutes later, Teddy brings out the rosemary chicken, the roasted potatoes, some silverware and cloth napkins. I unfold a napkin across my lap. Teddy devours everything in five minutes.

“Wow, Teddy, you have an animalistic appetite,” I say.

A white, artificial Christmas tree glimmers in the corner as we eat and talk, talk and drink, and I get the strong sense I’m being psychoanalyzed. Hours pass while watch movies. Teddy’s decor is having an opiating effect on my mind.

“Let’s open another bottle of wine,” he says, standing up.

“Um, only if I can sleep on your couch.”

“My couch?” Teddy says. “What about my bed?”

“I don’t really know you that well, so…”

Outside, snow continues to fall in clumps and I know I won’t be making it home tonight.

A little while later, I’m tucked in on the reupholstered couch and everything’s dark. It’s the middle of the night. All I hear is the ticking of a clock. I sink into a deep slumber. My body and mind go in separate directions. I dream about plastic wrap, prescription drugs, and nuclear warfare.

Odorless vapor drifts around the living room. I open one eye. Teddy’s in the armchair with his e Cig in hand, staring straight ahead at the wall, and his mouth is totally flatlined.

“Teddy?” I rub my eyes. The clock on the wall tells me it’s 7:30. “Do you sleep? Or just stare at the wall?”

“What the hell kind of question is that?” Teddy gets up and starts making coffee.

I get my stuff together while Teddy stays in the kitchen with his back turned.

“Well, I’m going to go brush off my car,” I say. “Teddy?” Teddy doesn’t react. “Well, bye.” I stand there as Teddy walks into the living room without giving me any response.

Kathy Bates, Norman Bates, and now this fucking dude, I’m thinking as I drive past the Audi dealership on my way home. When I’m safely in my bedroom, I call my friend Eleanor despite the fact it’s 8 a.m.

“Eleanor, hey…” I say. “I think I’ve met someone…”

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