You might ask yourself, where was I thinking of Abe in all of this? Probably if you are Abe, reading this.
A few days into Cannes, after his birthday (on which I called international), I waited for him to email me or pop on-line. He never did.
I emailed him: “Am I still in your life?”
There was never a response.
So when you think of how easily I hopped European territories, remember that the love I said goodbye to was completely silent. The saddest part of all was it didn’t change things much.
I leaned back in the sunshine, while sitting with my peers at the table.
Me, “I think I am in love.”
Someone, “With who now?”
Me, “I never got his name . . .”
I could still feel him and, in my mind, wondered if there was something there. The pavilion where we met could be the landmark to find him again. But it was Saturday, and it was a crazy day. Everything was packed, and just looking at it from behind the security gate was a headache.
That night, all my co-workers and students would be going to a Queer Dance party hosted by Lee Daniels. The word was he may have been too depressed to come out since his film “The Paperboy” polarized critics. No one had picked up the film for distribution, despite Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron and John Cusack headlining . . . not to mention a graphic anal sex scene with Matthew McConaughey.
The women in our group went out to pizza before the dance, and I found myself watching a small French woman, who looked like a Russian doll, eat her pizza with a knife and fork. Eventually, she caught my eye and showed me from two tables away how to eat my cheeseless pizza . . . then toasted me from across the room.
I love France.
Karisma, “Turn it off. Off.”
Then I would sing, low, “This little light of mine . . . I’m gonna let it shine . . .”
Karisma shook her head, “No. Off.”
Me, “Let it shine. Let it shine. Let it . . fine.”
We arrived to the Pavilion hosting the event and I was so ready to dance, I was already moving when we arrived. No one was allowed in officially, so off to the side, I danced as the security guard cheered me on.
The manager of the event gave me dirty looks. For every ten people that get a kick out of my energy, my humor and my bizarre public performances, there is at least one person who utterly despises me.
Its hard. I know not everyone will like me, and I really could put a cap on it, but then I would be kind of miserable and they would probably not like me anyway.
When people started filtering in, I knew I couldn’t drink if I was going to dance. Especially after the Hollywood Stones fiasco. A few people already asked me if I was on something. “Where do you find the energy?”
Really, my lame ass dancing just opened the door to more dancing and it became an uninhibited melting pot soon enough.
Darcy had my number and I told him to meet me outside the pavilion at midnight. I didn’t want to introduce him to my peers because his drinking made him unpredictable.
The music was sub-par since one of the students took over the DJ booth during the first half. He was playing a bunch of modern shit I had never heard before, orchestrated on someone’s computer somewhere; no spirit, just beat.
Lee Daniels did eventually show up, happy as can be, with Macy Gray. The kids swarmed around. To them, stars were still like gods.
Earlier in the day, I walked out and saw Brad Pitt walking down the red carpet. People from all ends of the festival ran to the gates, smiling and taking pictures. He was handsome, but really the only thought that occurred was, “His hair really is the exact same color as my dog, Brad. Huh.”
When I walked back to work, I ran into P. Diddy. I thought about telling him he threw a great dance party, but I am not really a fan so . . . why waste both of our time? Because he is a celebrity? Please. You have to pick your moments and make them yours. When you become indiscriminate with your time, your heart, your compliments- you really become absolutely nothing.
Lee Daniels danced and Macy Gray shuffled to the VIP tent to hide from everyone.
I kept dancing, and inevitably sweating. It was a hot, wet night. The clouds were in but it wasn’t raining. My clothes were soaking in humidity and hip hop. And the smell, which I know I have mentioned before, the smell of vegan-ess was rising through my clothes without apology. There was nothing I could do- there were so many of us on the dance floor. Rumor had it, Lee Daniels was high on ecstasy, and now cornered Karisma by the speakers in a two-step.
It was midnight, so I popped out and ran into Darcy, who was, of course, just on his way in. His chest was puffing out, his Scandinavian face blossomed into a big, reluctant smile. I thought about changing before the dance, but ran out of time, and was still in my mother’s capris and a t-shirt.
He took a step back and said, “You smell like a man.”
I smiled, “I know. I have been dancing for 2 hours.”
He said, “I love it. You look . . . adorable.”
Gosh, me? I looked like a poor high school student who was shopping at the Goodwill with someone ELSE’S mom.
He took my hand and looked me up and down- the purple socks, the leopard skin converse, the hair blown through by music, sea storms and sweat.
He said again, “You are too adorable. What can I get you to drink?”
I skipped behind him to the bar. He still liked me. His friend, tall, quiet and hunched over, followed.
Darcy, “This is my friend, Andrew. He is Heath Ledger’s brother.”
The friend nodded. I shook his hand.
Darcy, “You know Heath Ledger, don’t you?”
I said, “Yup. I do.”
I wasn’t going to play into the game. Darcy tried spreading a rumor that he was a rising celebrity’s brother. I can’t remember who it was now, even as I revisit the cast list for movies that week. Half the time, people were impressed and let him get in to parties based on his word. The rest of us knew better.
As for Heath Ledger, he never had a brother.
Darcy, “So, what are you having?”
Me, “Pink champagne.”
He looked me up and down, and smiled with a curl of the lip.
Darcy tried to kiss me, but I backed up. “I can’t here. I have students.”
He said, “I really have to tell you something important, can you come here for a second?”
The corner of his jacket was lifted and I stuck my head in its shadow, just as his lips met mine. He tasted sweet.
Then I said, “I have to go back to dancing.”
He flung his hand up in the air, as if sending me away on his own volition.
I spotted Roche on his way in, and I ran up to greet him.
He smiled down at me and said, “You smell great.”
I lifted my pits and shook the sweat out, “I know, its terrible. There is nothing I can do.”
Roche put his hand on my lower back and said he was just dropping by. I know he had a crush on me, and I knew he didn’t have a chance, but I smiled back anyway.
I returned to the dance floor, and Michael Jackson popped on. THANK GOD!
Dancing, I started my singing thing and kind of joined in with a tall, British woman in a white evening gown and her partner, a tall, skinny boy with a short black hair cut, a red and white striped sailor top and a dinner jacket.
They liked that I was singing, looked at each other and joined me.
The boy was cute, when his mouth opened to smile, I could see two small incisors. I remember thinking, “I wish I was gay so I could have a cute, British gay boy.”
The tall boy said, “This has taken a bit of a turn for the weird, hasn’t it?”
Nice . . . accent.
I said, “Well, it is a queer dance, so the DJ probably thinks the only music he can play is Disco.”
He said, “Is this a queer dance?”
I nodded, “Aren’t you gay?”
He shook his head, “No.”
Before I knew it, he was dancing closer and closer to me.
As the British girl turned to look for someone else, and he came even closer to me, I thought, “I hope she doesn’t hate me for this.”
Then, as he kissed me on the mouth, I thought, “God help me, where is Darcy?”
I pulled back and said, “I can’t kiss you. My students are here.”
British Boy, “Where?”
I pointed to the large group right next to us, “Everywhere.”
He said, “Aw. Shit.”
His hands were on my hips and I knew he could smell me. I really expected stinking that bad would be an aversion- but they all kept rubbing up against me . . . tall, beautiful, Europeans. I wanted this boy. I thought about how I was going to pull off Britain and Darcy in one night. If it could happen in any way, I was going to make it happen.
When Sugar Hill Gang came on, all the whities danced and sang, as a few member of Macy Gray’s entourage coolly slid back and forth behind us.
They laughed at us. That’s right, they LAUGHED in my face.
And you know what I did?
I turned into them and sang my fucking heart out:
♪ ♫ ya start poppin ya fingers and stompin your feet
and movin your body while you’re sittin in your seat
and the damn ya start doin the freak
I said damn, right outta your seat
then ya throw your hands high in the air
ya rockin to the rhythm, shake your derriere
ya rockin to the beat without a care ♪ ♫
I wouldn’t waver. I know they thought I should feel embarrassed. They were laughing at me. They were laughing at us for being white, and clunky and for rapping . . . the thing about music is its for all of us.
So I spun, and hopped and rapped, and eventually, I got a closed mouth smile and a little nod. I am sure they just wanted me to go away. I didn’t want to be their friend, I just wanted them to see that Sugarhill Gang was mine too.
Darcy came up and grabbed my hand, stumbling. He was drunk. I liked him sober.
He said, “Come on, time to go.”
I pulled my hand back, “No. I am dancing.”
He put his hand on the air, dismissing me, as he trudged off. I turned back to the British Boy, maybe this night was salvageable.
We had one last song, it was “Heard it through the Grapevine.” Everyone knew it, the blacks, the whites and even the kids. We were all on the dancefloor at the same time, our voices rising through the top of the tent. Our church.
I am playing it now, and remembering putting my arm in the air with twenty others for the refrain:
♪ ♫ Oh I heard it through the grapevine,
Oh and I’m just about to lose my mind.
Honey, honey yeah ♪ ♫
Then I kept going:
♪ ♫ I know that a man ain’t supposed to cry,
But these tears I can’t hold inside.
Losin’ you would end my life you see,
‘Cause you mean that much to me.
You could have told me yourself
That you love someone else.
Instead… ♪ ♫
The music makes me take the stage. I draw attention to myself, that’s true. However, the peak for me is when everyone is there standing by me, singing in unison. The hands in the air as we anticipate each note together. Everyone smiling and you can’t turn without bumping into a stranger, sharing the note and the rhythm.
They lifted the lights and the music stopped. Just as a sober moment hits you over the head like Fairy Godmother’s wand, I realized that my supervisors were watching me, drenched in sweat, pink with soul and in the arms of a strange, beautiful British boy.
I said, “I have to do something responsible now, so they don’t think I am just a partier.”
He said, “Alright. Well, shall I wait for you?”
I said, “Please do.”
Checking in with one manager and another, they told me not to worry, that the kids found me relatable . . . but I know I am different, and being LOUD and different makes you less credible. Why couldn’t I just tone it down?
I grabbed a trash bag and started bussing the tables, when Darcy suddenly appeared.
I said, “I have to bus these tables first . . .”
Oh God, Oh God . . . where is the British Boy?
Darcy started grabbing cups and throwing them away for me.
My manager said, “Don’t worry about it. Its ok. We got this covered.”
I hurriedly did a sweep before stacking all the chairs. I stacked and stacked and stacked until I really felt utterly useless. Then I grabbed my bag, turned around, and both suitors were gone. This did give me a moment of ease, because having them both there would have been a disaster.
I walked out of the area, and felt the sea breeze blow on my neck and face. That is the only consolation to leaving a dance party- that first breath of cold air. I was alone. Everyone had left, and I was still high on Marvin Gaye.
On a whim, I started walking towards the Palais when my phone rang. It was Darcy.
Darcy, “Where are you?”
Me, “I am walking by the Palais now, towards the Croisette.”
Darcy was hard, “Where? I don’t see you.”
I put my hand in the air, “I am standing right here, in one spot.”
Darcy’s voice outside started barking in synch to his voice over the phone, “I am at the Palais facing the street and you are nowhere to be found.”
Me, “Now that is not true, because I can hear your voice.”
Darcy’s voice was behind me, “Bullshit.”
I put down my phone as he walked towards me. He smiled, his hands out.
He is handsome, but he is a terrible drunk. Why did he have to get wasted?
As my hand curled through his arm, we began walking on the inside streets looking for food. It was 2am, and a sandwich stand was still open. I asked for an ice cream cone, and felt my brain swim in sugar and cream for the first time in years.
As Darcy waited for his sandwich, I closed my eyes, “MMMMM, why is that so good?”
Darcy, “Good, eh?”
We passed by a man in a tuxedo, and he said, “Are you going to the party?”
I said, “Which party? We are looking for a party?”
He said, “At the top of the hill. There is a party.”
I pulled on Darcy’s arm, “We should go.”
Darcy snarled, and in his delicate accent, responded, “You want to go to a fucking party? What for?”
I said, “Um . . . to dance.”
Darcy said, “No, we are going home. (to tuxedo) But thank you.”
I said, “We are going to whose home?”
Darcy, “My home.”
I said, “How do I know you aren’t a serial killer of some kind?”
He walked up a step to sit down and fell backwards on his ass.
I said, “You are drunk.”
Darcy, “I am not, I thought there was glass right there. You are rude!”
He stuffed the sandwich in his mouth and I worried he would ruin our Jane Austen affair.
I put out my foot and leaned into my knee, “Are you an alcoholic?”
Darcy, “What makes you think I am an alcoholic?”
Me, “I fall in love with alcoholics.”
Darcy finished his sandwich in no time and said, “Let’s find a taxi.”
Me, “No, I prefer to walk. That way I can find my way back.”
Darcy, “Its a long way up that hill.”
Me, “I prefer to walk it.”
Darcy, “Well, I don’t.”
Me, “Why are we having a domestic dispute on our first date? Is this how intense our love affair is going to be? Are we in a relationship now? Is that what is happening?”
He smiled and took my arm.
Darcy, “If you prefer to walk, let’s walk.”
We walked up the hill. The festival is by the seaside with a few streets walled in with restaurants and retail vendors.
The rest of the city is straight up a very steep hill.
Me, “Are we there yet?”
Darcy, “No, we are a third of the way there.”
Me, “Are you serious?”
Darcy, “You insisted on walking.”
We climbed, and danced along cobble stones, and old railings, houses with storm shutters closing out my giggling and his banter.
Me, “How much further?”
Darcy, “Halfway there.”
Me, “(breathing heavily) . . . fuck”
Darcy wouldn’t let me stop, “Come on then, we have to keep going.”
We stopped at the base of very tall, outdoor stairs. I looked up the thing and shook my head.
He said, “I am just at the top of this staircase. Now, you should know my parents are staying with me.”
Darcy, “Yes, well they wanted to see the festival this year. The red carpet and all that shit. Its too much for them, they won’t want to come again.”
Darcy, “Just be quiet when we go inside, alright?”
I nodded, took in a deep breath and climbed the stairs until we reached an outside gate. He unlocked it, and carefully stepped over grass trying to overthrow what must have been a couple hundred years worth of stone laid out for our step.
The house was old, and I of course, loved it.
We walked in and climbed a spiral staircase to his bedroom. It was barely lived in, with only a few pieces of film flyers, a schedule and a bunch of change dumped out over the dresser.
He froze, so I froze. We listened.
Darcy, “They are up.”
I looked around a little like I didn’t know what that meant.
He said, “Would you like a drink?”
I said, “Please.”
He came back with a glass of wine, and I sat on the bed.
Me, “So, what do you do?”
He said, “I buy comedy and horror movies.”
Me, “Oh, you are Norwegian. I wasn’t sure, your accent sounds British.”
Darcy, “Oh?” He took a sip. He was confident.
Me, “Speak to me in Norwegian.”
I giggled and bounced on his bed.
He crawled up to me and kissed me.
We disrobed and he tried to enter me without protection. I felt dirty . . . in a liberating way.
I pushed him back a little and said, “Do you have genital herpes?”
He said, “No, my doctor says I am immune to genital herpes.”
I laughed, “That’s not possible.”
Darcy said, “Yes it is. He told me so.”
Everything he said rung out with such authority like it was struck from our very own liberty bell, I wasn’t about to argue with him.
He had a wonderful body, smooth and sculpted. He also was just rough enough to play without pushing me to question the tone of our affair. It was friendly.
We were about banter, push and pull, teasing- and without question he entered me without a condom.
Even as I write this, I take in a breath remembering how good it felt. He fit perfectly, and when he moved, it tickled until I climaxed.
He said, “Did you just cum?”
I nodded, holding my hand over my head, “Yeah, I never cum the first time. That’s weird.”
He kept going, and once again, I don’t remember how it ended. Did he cum? Did he not cum?
I only remember him saying, “Why the hell is there sand in my bed?”
I sleepily responded, “Because I took a nap on the beach today.”
When I woke up, the early morning orange broke through his cracked storm shutter. It was early.
Rolling over, I put my arm around his bare body and rested my chin on his shoulder, wondering if it was a turn off for him. He embraced me.
I wondered if he was the one. Was he the one who will fly me out to Norway, show me the world, meet my parents, get me pregnant . . . will he be the one that falls in love with me, the way I fall in love with them?
Darcy, “Me too . . . and I have to go to Monaco today.”
Me, “I haven’t slept in 2 weeks.”
Darcy, “Me either, well I get about 4 hours a day. No one sleeps in Cannes.”
I grabbed the glass at the bed stand and took a swallow.
Darcy, “That’s wine, you know?”
I put down the glass, turned and looked at him, “Oh, I know.”
He turned and kissed me, passionately. I thought about my breath, my hair . . . were my eyes puffy, did I smell better or worse than last night?
His tongue suspended all worry, as it wrapped around mine, and I gave into him again.
We made love and he said, “Do you want me to cum inside of you?”
I said, “You can’t. I’m not on birth control.”
Darcy, “Do you want me to cum? I am about to.”
Good Lord, why does it do it for me?
We simultaneously orgasmed. This is such a rare occasion, that I remember the last time I had a simultaneous orgasm- which was Christmas morning with my husband (at the time) in 2003.
All the lovers I have had since, the ones I felt comfortable enough to orgasm with, withdrew before cumming, leaving my chamber empty to climax alone.
This was the first time somebody surrendered with me in the moment, without a thought to the consequence. It felt like the ultimate release. We both held each other for a moment.
He said, breathlessly, “Why do you orgasm so easily?”
Me, “I don’t usually.” Usually someone is more responsible than me. “You have a nice cock.”
Darcy, “Thank you.”
Me, “Or should I stop outside and thank your mother?”
He laughed. Then listened for her.
Laying back with his cock drained and beached on the top of his thigh, he said, in an American accent, “Surely you can’t be serious. ‘Yes, and don’t call me surely.”
Darcy, “‘Nice beaver! ‘Thanks, I just had it stuffed.’”
I giggled again. I love “Airplane”. GESUS, I am a dork.
Darcy, “‘Pull-over!’ ‘No it’s a cardigan but thanks for asking!”
I giggled again, too loud to hide from his parents, but he just smiled and lay still.
Darcy, “Why is there sand in my bed?”
Me, “I told you, I slept on the beach yesterday.”
He brushed the sand off his sheets.
I said, “Can I take a shower?”
He said, “Well, you can. But I have to warm up the water first. This is a very old building.”
I said, “Shit.”
Getting dressed, I caught my face in the mirror. My eyes were puffy, my hair outrageous. I stood in my underwear shaking my head.
Me, “Christ. I look tired. What if I get pregnant?”
Darcy, “Well, then you’re fucked.”
Darcy put on his underwear, it had a cartoon airplane printed across the front of it. So, I took a picture of him.
He, then, took a picture of me in my underwear.
After getting dressed, quietly, we tip toed passed the other bedroom, and I slowly descended down the staircase with my sunglasses on. He hung over the banister, smiling at me.
I pushed on the door.
Darcy whispered, loudly, “PUSH THE BUTTON!”
I pushed on the door again.
Darcy, “THE BUTTON!”
I pushed the button. A slight buzz released the lock.
I said, “OH. Push the button.”
Smiling, I saluted him. He waved at me with a flicker of his fingers and a big smile.
Walking home, I stopped by a small cafe, ordered an omelet and an espresso. The man who owned the shop sent someone to buy a baguette, so he could cut it up to serve with my breakfast.
Cannes was just waking up, again.