Tag Archives: unprotected sex

Cowboy Confidence

Cocaine. Our very first introduction, when I was an adolescent, was through various scenes in the film “Goodfellas”. I believed it was a white powder that made women insane, tearing apart their bedroom closets shortly before they broke down in tears.

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Later in life, I heard it was good for porn actors. Around Hollywood I have been told about casting calls for background actors who show up to a house in North Hollywood, stroll into a garage full of people in bathrobes and are asked if they want a line before greeted with a “hello”. Stevie Nicks was forced to rebuild her nasal passageway from so much drug use. It burned a dime-sized hole through her cartilage.

Once,on an internet date, I toured the music studio where “Rumors” was recorded. “There used to be punch bowls of coke laid out right here,” my date explained. I tried to imagine that … punch bowls of cocaine.

Stevie-Nicks-Feet-201203

In an interview with Oprah, Stevie says, “It turned people into nutcases … Mick and I never would have had an affair had we not had a party and all been completely drunk, messed up and coked out. [We] ended up being the last two people at the party. So guess what? It’s not hard to figure out what happened — and what happened wasn’t a good thing. It was doomed. It was a doomed thing, caused a lot of pain for everybody, led to nothing. I’m like, ‘Gee, could you have just laid off the brandy and the coke and the pot for two days?’”

It all sounds pretty negative. The word may conjure up images of Lindsay Lohan, Scarface and clips from Charlie Sheen’s meltdown. There is a flip side to what you see on television. Cocaine is an emotional drug. You feel like opening up about your past, you feel oddly connected to the other people in the room, there is a strange kind of spiritual shake to snorting blow. It is when you cross over to the compulsion of it, that is when you start to lose. It usually happens around 3 or 4am, when you know you are running out because you have tripled the amount of coke with each snort. You start licking tabletops and debit cards. Around 5am, you wonder if buying more is a good idea.

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My roommate likes to blend crushed xanax into his lines, which can dull the edge. Let me rephrase, it may dull the edge. The last time I shared coke with him, he was blending xannies, slurring and still staring at the lines on the table until it was his turn. I made sure to do half the amount than everyone else with each turn, and was the only one bright-eyed and bushy tailed in the morning, already in shorts and a pigtail, ready for a dogwalk before everyone crawled out of their corners. I am not always that disciplined.

*

After Thanksgiving, Frank, my roommate, had a birthday. I baked a cake. We were all so broke, Frank ended up financing most of his own party. He is the only one of us not scraping pennies to fill a quarter tank of gas. He was a good sport about it though. The coke was stationed in two spots, privately in my room and privately in Frank’s walk-in closet. Only a few party-attendees were invited. The girls mostly. It was also Michael, my boyfriend’s, first time.

He clicked into it a little bit too easily. He kept asking to go back to the room, constantly reminded of the lines waiting patiently for us on my dresser. I realized he could easily cross-over. His eyes turned black and he kept looking back to my bedroom door. Next month it would be his bedroom door, too. We were moving in together, though we didn’t know each other all that well. One month before, we started dating hot and heavy, and Michael felt swept up like I have before with others … but now I was more cautious, more skeptical. It seems the less I expect the more I gain in return. He was good to me, the sex was great and I liked him. Did I love him? It was hard to really reflect on our relationship, the bond, when I was in survival mode- desperate to make rent, desperate to get a working car, desperate to prepare for school starting the following week.  Library books were stacked on the small kitchen table. My laptop was in the kitchen. My socks and glasses of tea and water sprung up out off the furniture; the bathroom counter, the shower, the empty DVD rack (which is still empty).

Prepping for residency

I already felt that I had ruined Michael’s life. Since our first date in October, he lost his job, his car and iPhone … his pet-sitting clients, a few possessions, most of his savings. As one of my cohorts at writing school once said, “Oh, you are that kind of girlfriend.”

Michael was never bitter. He insisted he was happy, and mentioned his mother was supportive of our relationship because she sensed he was happier than he had ever been. Only a 23-year-old would make such fantastic claim. I just turned to him, “Happier ever or just since another time you last remember?”

“Are you kidding me?” he said, “Happier than I ever could have imagined was possible.”

I believe Michael was living under a lot of heavy expectations up to this point. His mother, who believes he holds the most promise of her three boys. His bosses, who used guilt and pressure to motivate employees. He was trying to please everyone else because he hadn’t looked at things from a different angle yet; not as someone’s son, but as a man.  Somehow, my attitude and lifestyle gave him permission to do whatever he wanted to do. Experiment with drugs. Yell at bad drivers. I call it “Cowboy Confidence”. He can get carried away and tell everyone off. After his former employer delayed his final paycheck by almost a month, he called and told them he was showing up and wouldn’t leave without a check in hand.  When he came home after the incident, he was bouncing on the soles of his feet, “I am on a warpath.” He told everyone exactly what he thought of them and I could see the fire lit in his eyes. Not to mention his paycheck in hand. Michael got the taste of freedom.

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Now, he got the taste of cocaine. We all circulated around our little house as characters from Frank’s life dropped in for birthday wishes. Happy Birthday was sung. Candles were blown. I danced with my little dog Brad in the kitchen, cradling him in my arms, swinging him back and forth to the music. He lay back, completely trusting that I would never drop him. The crowd started chanting, “Go Brad! Go Brad! Go Brad!”

Brad at Franks party

Outside in the smoker’s circle, Alia, her boyfriend Ryan, Michael and I all gathered together, mumbling nonsense and declaring secrets. “You know what is great about unprotected sex,” I said, wishing Frank’s friend Jim would go back inside, “Feeling the semen drip out of you when you are alone, somewhere else later in the day.” Alia nodded with a kind of nobility. Jim, a New York stand-up comic, pulled out a notepad, occasionally making notes for his next show. Frank hovered somewhere in the background.

“You need to have protected sex,” Alia said, “And (she pointed at Michael) as the man, it is your responsibility to make sure it is safe sex.” I suddenly felt regret for mentioning it at all. A few weeks ago, after my period, Michael and I continued to have unprotected sex.

“Did you cum?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he moaned.

I slapped him in the face. “What the fuck, man?” I asked.

“What? You told me to.”

“I was talking dirty … you weren’t actually supposed to do it,” I said, getting dressed.

“Well, I thought you knew what you were doing.”

“I am not on birth control.”

“I know, but I thought, hey it’s [StarFire]. She knows what she is doing.”

*

I took the morning after pill, then started taking the pill a week later. This threw my menstrual cycle on a loop and left me in a bloodless limbo for several weeks. After a couple weeks of maybe, maybe nots … I was lucky to make it out motherless. However, the surge of hormones made me crazy for a good month.

CokenWoman in Goodfellas

As it turns out, bragging about unprotected sex in social circles doesn’t make your opinion very popular. Perhaps, I was suffering from my own version of Cowboy Confidence. I will say that one-on-one, every person will agree unprotected sex, with all its risk and vulnerability, eclipses the condom any day.

A troupe of lesbians came in and occupied the living room, cooing over my dogs. It must have been around midnight when Michael and I sat with them and endured an interview about our relationship. In that moment of reliving our brief affair, I turned and saw him sitting on the couch. His eyes were a deep brown, glazed with puppy dog love and buried sadness from somewhere else. His beard was growing in. He looked back at me and my heart swelled. I was really falling in love with him. I could feel it now, after the champagne and cocaine suspended my body and her flinching affection, all doubts and broken hearts, all logic and sensibility, I felt that seed in my mind burst into a sprout. I reached out to caress his face in front of our audience.

“You guys are making me sick,” a girl said. I removed my hand, but never let go of the feeling. Not when I sobered up. Not when we suffered through our first fight. And still not now, as I write this.

cocainedrops

Frank’s one single, straight female friend was there. I knew she suffered from alcoholism and a serious cocaine addiction, after all, she had money. As the evening went on, I saw her stumble around on heels, grabbing onto counters and tables to steady herself. She was in her forties and an actress, skinnier than she should be, wearing heavy make-up. “What is that song Alice in Chains does?” she slurred.

“Type in the lyrics and I can find it on YouTube,” I said over a passed joint.

“Type it where? I have never used this before.” I patiently showed her the search window in Google and watched her slowly type “Black Hole Sun”.

“Oh, that is Soundgarden!” I said.

“Right, Soundgarden. God, I am so stupid. Why am I so stupid? I hate it when I do things like this.”

“You aren’t stupid. You just mixed it up, that’s all. We all do that.” She stopped talking and I could feel the blades and shadows cutting her up on the inside. I felt sorry for her. Frank told me about their relationship. They watch football and hold each other. Sometimes he spends the night. “I know I am seeing her tonight because she has a date,” he once said. “If it goes bad she calls me, but what is worse is when it goes really well. Then she sabotages it somehow … and calls me.”

Last week, I asked to use his scanner and he pulled out a photograph from the last scan. “What is this? Oh yeah … this is [her] after she passed out on me. She never believes me so I took a picture.” And there she was, collapsed in brown hair, face down, as if she died.

I believe she is in love with Frank. To Frank, perhaps, he loves her for the sentiment. We all have fail safes in are back pocket. And we all want to be loved.

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The evening passed through the house slowly. Around 3 or 4am, I started playing Rolling Stones and James Brown on my laptop and got a few people dancing. Jim watched. Because Jim just watched, Frank watched.  “This is a really good night. This kitchen is great right now,” Frank said.

Jim laughed, cool as always. “This is a great kitchen.” The two fondly echoed each other’s sentences. The drug made them one.

Outside, alone with Michael, he chattered through the drug. “You know what my favorite dinosaur is? The stegosaurus, because it reminds me a lot of me. You know, everyone criticizes it for being slow and stupid but it is just doing its thing. I don’t think I like cocaine, cocaine isn’t really my thing. Do you remember Shelley Duvall? Remember when she used to read those kids books on TV and then they put her in ‘The Shining’? Do they know how much that fucked up kids?”

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I listened to him, occasionally laughing, trying to fight down my own thoughts and memories, kicking at the curtain in the back of my mind.

Inside the house, everyone was gone. “Puff the Magic Dragon” sung by Peter, Paul and Mary played on Pandora. Back on the couch, I sat on Michael’s lap. He kept chattering.  “This song is so sad. I love this song. It used to make me cry. Little Jackie Paper loved his imaginary friend and then he had to go away. Why did he have to go away? He loved him.” There was a moment of quiet between us, in the dark, as the harmonized voices serenaded the powder dripping down the back of our throats, turning to a thick syrup. Then Michael wept, and I held him.

Like I said, it is an emotional drug.

Jim and Frank took frequent smoking breaks. Jim with his spirits and percocets and Frank with his cigars and xanax.  Late in the night, closer to morning, I left Michael on the couch to play “My Funny Valentine”, threw a pillow on the floor in front of Michael’s feet, and sang it up to him. With big, black pupils he stared at me. Jim and Frank walked in and I could see plainly that Frank was agitated. So we went to the bedroom and made love.

Michael drew this for me

Michael drew this for me

When Michael passed out, I returned to the living room to finish my annotations for the semester. They were due that day. I stood in front of the kitchen table, typing, typing and typing. At 6am, the sun rose and Frank walked into the kitchen alone. “You are doing homework now? You can’t be serious?”

“Due today” I said, flatly, hunching down to peer into the screen. Reading. Re-reading. Making sure the drugs hadn’t scrambled my grammar or common sense. As soon as I pressed “send”, Frank and I had a smoke.

“We have to talk. Now, when I moved in here, I thought I was moving in with a couple of artists. I didn’t think I was moving in with a young couple in love. I can’t stay here. I am not saying I am leaving now or anytime in the near future, but down the line, I think …” he said.

“Before the lease is up in October?” I asked.

He nodded, with a fresh cigar hanging low but erect from his lower lip. “It isn’t that I don’t like Mike. I love Mike. He is a great kid.”

“He is so nice …” I said.

“He is so nice, he is solid. I really like him. I just can’t live here with you two.” He paused. My head hung low. “I won’t pull a Gary and leave you hanging. I will find someone to rent out the room and take care of all that.”

“What about the cable!? It’s in my name and it is a year contract. I don’t watch TV!”

“Oh, I didn’t think about that … maybe we can break the contract. I don’t know. We will figure it out later down the line, when it becomes more serious. I am fine for right now.”

I blew out a cloud of smoke. It slowly rose into the sky. “I just have to let these crises pass through me like a wall of water. The money, the car, the lease. I can’t control any of it so I just have to surrender to these moments,” I said. “That’s life, I guess.”

Tidal wave tsunami art

Frank looked as though a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. “Sometimes you say really profound things.”

“Great,” I said, dryly, sucking on my cigarette.

“God, feelings talk really works!” he said, cheerfully. Then he patted my shoulder. In that moment, I hated him. I despised him. No one was loyal. But as it is with everyone else I love, it soon passed. I just wanted everyone to be happy. And despite the huge reading list and all the preparation I should have done for school coming up, I spent those last few days before school troubleshooting and reviewing what the worst outcome could be with everything; with Frank, with Michael and with school.

I blew the coke and blood out of my nose, sent in my final paperwork and went back to work. That’s life, I guess.

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Sex with Other People

Dear Readers,

This week has been difficult for me. Upon revisiting an old piece I submitted late last semester, I reviewed my mentor’s notes and they were brutal. Included were comments like: “Most people don’t care about your sex life outside of maybe your blog readers …” combined with overall mark-ups about formatting, incomplete thoughts and ineffective structure. I am getting over this godforsaken flu, though it has been well over 2 weeks, the fatigue is all-consuming. There are other things … I am broke and working all the time.

In the midst of getting the notes and feeling my mental state unravel, my boyfriend broke up with me because he decided he couldn’t make me happy. Jumping on Facebook, someone posted a picture of a dead puppy left in a cardboard box, covered in morning snow, laying next to an overturned water dish and it all came crumbling down. I realize the blog is two months behind so you don’t know the state of things, but let me illustrate the mood here in this messy bedroom on a Tuesday afternoon: I couldn’t read or write, I didn’t eat, I couldn’t get out of bed; I couldn’t shower.

Frank, my roommate, would circle outside my bedroom door and occasionally come in to sit next to me, as I lay curled up under a blanket on the bed with a bag of chips and a bottle of cheap wine. His hand would fall down to my leg and shake. “How are you doing?” he asked.

“I would kill myself but that would require getting out of bed and actually putting an effort into something,” I stated in my typical,  matter-of-fact way. He chuckled.

My boyfriend and I made amends. My new mentor sent brilliant notes for this semester. And just as I opened a clean white page in Google Docs to write this, my old mentor sent a very encouraging note my way: “… it often looks like I’m hardest on the students who I think have the most potential …“

I am waiting to feel better.

I don’t.

This depression is lethal. My fingers are numb. I have slept for four days. My hair is in a greasy ponytail and my lips are chapped. So here I am, about to write more in first-person, more autobiographical material, more about my sex/love life,  more about my story in the hopes that it does mean something. Otherwise, in my mind, I would mean absolutely nothing.

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***

It was November and Michael was spending the night every night now. We had been dating for a couple weeks, and things, as they tend to with me, escalated quickly. He was attentive, genuine, funny, affectionate and by my side every night. And with Michael’s more constant presence, my two roommates, Greg and Frank, both seemed to disappear more and more into their rooms.

In my bedroom, we had an air mattress and three dogs, music playing and weed smoking. We were happy, making out, making love every half hour or so. With my new job, my new place and my new boyfriend, things felt like they were falling into place. I needed that more than anything. Stability, if not the illusion of stability.

Me and Mike in Bed Me and Mike Kiss

‘Lady Marmalade’ from Moulin Rouge came on my Spotify playlist.

“Hold on! Is this what I think it is? …. now, I think it is has appeal, it is contextual, but I think it stands on the platform of the movie. I don’t think it stands on its own,” Michael said, sitting up from my naked torso in bed.

“The song? Are you f***ing kidding me? It’s excellent,” I said.

Standing next to each other in public, it was awkward. Waiters would flirt with me when we were out together at dinner. We simply did not look like a couple. He was small, with the face of a 12-year-old. And, as a tall woman approaching her mid-thirties (who am I kidding, I am in my mid-thirties), my face is thinner and has given me the definition I needed to finally blossom into a good-looking woman.

Me at 21

Me at 21

Side by side, we may pass as brother and sister, aunt and nephew, but never as boyfriend and girlfriend. When we kiss, the waiter’s face drops, the couple at the booth next to us whisper and we shrug. I know it bothers him, but I always tell him it doesn’t matter what they see … only what we see. It is so hard to make it work with someone, why kill a connection over something as silly as age and height?

Michael was looking in my closet door mirror one day. “I mean, look at this … I have a perfect build, good-looking face, and I am stuck in a little boy’s body. Is this some kind of joke? What is God trying to prove. Look at this … it is ridiculous,” he said.

Then there is the issue of age:

“How can you not love Pink Floyd?” I asked in the car.

“If I tell you something will you promise not to get mad? My mom loves Pink Floyd,” he responded.

“Here, let me put on some of y our young people music,” I said, switching the station over to hip hop.

“Oh, [StarFire], you fuddy duddy.”

The age and height seem like natural obstacles, but I ask you to imagine the genders reversed: the female narrator of this story as a 5’4 ft. tall 23-year-old, and the male love interest as a 5’9 ½ tall 34-year-old … would it be that odd now?

Me and Mike Starting Out
My mother once asked me why I don’t date men closer to my age. I have no fucking idea where they are. Sascha and I shared a pitcher of beer the other night and she said, “The guys our age are all married and miserable. That’s why.”

So in my unpacked bedroom, on a mattress thrown among white walls, we laughed, made love and fell in love. One particular night, I started my period and told him it was alright to ejaculate inside of me. In the dark, we made love six or seven times, and I felt the stickiness of blood on his fingers as he held my waist while I sat on top. I am the first to advocate for condoms, though I never use them. I have used them and they are a wonderful prevention tool most of the time, but I have had every brand of condom break on me. Now, I ask questions, hope for honest answers, and feel the push of their skin inside me. The ridge of circumcision slip through. I hear the moan of his voice change. For better or worse, I believe this forms stronger bonds of intimacy with my sexual partners. You rely more on trust. You both agree to danger. And you allow your body to be completely exposed to another human being. There is a primitive bond. Now, when he cums inside of you, everything is taken to the next level; the trust, the danger and the pleasure. I feel everything inside of me grow suddenly more sensitive and if he tells me he is about to cum, I can orgasm almost immediately.

“Have you had unprotected sex with someone else, I mean … since we have been seeing each other?” he asked.

I took a breath in. “Yeah, I have.”

“Was it with someone you knew and trusted?” he asked.

“No, I’m sorry, it wasn’t. I didn’t know him well at all,” I said.

I heard him exhale and I put my hand over my head as we both lay still, totally naked, covered in blood and semen. “I am sorry,” I said again.

“I just don’t know why you didn’t tell me before we had unprotected sex again,” he said.

“I know. That was irresponsible. I am really sorry, there is no excuse,” I said again, still covering my face though I couldn’t see him very well in the dark anyway.

“Well, I am glad you are telling me now, but what the fuck?”

“I know, I know. It was just awkward and I didn’t know how to bring it up or when. There is no excuse,” I repeated.

“Well, don’t feel bad. I just wish you would have told me,” he said.

“I know. I should have. Are you mad? I mean, do you still want to go out?” I asked, like a teenager.

“Yeah, of course,” he said. Then he put his arm around me and tugged me close. “Hey, don’t feel bad about this, ok?” It was odd. No one ever really comforted me before about my sexual exploits.

“I do take your health very seriously, I just was doing whatever I wanted. We weren’t really serious then, and suddenly we were …” I said.

“Hey, it’s ok,” he said again, tucking his cold nose into my neck.

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We made love, and he fell asleep. I was unable to sleep, so I would leave the room while he napped and walk out to the living room to finish books for school. I came back in with a cup of tea and casually picked up his phone. I do not make a habit of this, and had he picked up my phone, God knows what he would have found. But at this late hour, this man who just comforted me about unprotected sex with another man was fast asleep and his phone was on my desk. I picked it up and found text messages to a girl (we will call) Donna.

“Are you still coming out to Milwaukee?” Donna wrote.

“Yeah, in a few days and just so you know, I am a sure thing in the sack,” Michael wrote.

“ … you should know I have a UTI. I just don’t want you to be disappointed,” she typed back.

“That’s ok, at least I can take you out to dinner,” he wrote back.

“SURE THING IN THE SACK!?” I bellowed over my cup of tea. Michael stirred over my stained sheets and pillows.

“What?” he said sleepily.

“I see. You were going to go fuck this girl in Milwaukee. Nice, Michael!” I said.

“I couldn’t. She had a UTI,” he said.

“But you are a sure thing in the sack!” I said, and threw the iphone at him. He turned a little so it pelted him in the back, right shoulder blade.

“Come on …” he said, calming, cool.

“FUCK YOU!” I shouted, then slammed the door.

I know it was irrational. I know it was childish. I didn’t care. It was the first ping of jealousy I felt since the summer and it burned. Perhaps even more so with Michael dripping out of me.

moonfountain
Around 3am, I was making soup, reading Nabokov and heard Frank walk in with a friend. “Someone is up …” I heard him say. I slowly climbed out of my wicker, circular chair padded in pillows we picked up from a yard sale. The $50 oval mattress that came with it was discarded after my cats pissed on it one too many times.

“Hey, you are up?” he said.

“Yeah,” I said quietly, looking to see who his escort was.

“This is Jim, I have been wanting you two to meet for some time. This is great,” Frank said. A tall, pale, middle-aged guy strolled in. He spoke in a funny kind of way, fast with a curly whine to the words he chose to emphasize. Sometimes it seemed like he was chewing on his sentences. Introductions were made and Jim settled in with my dogs on the couch. He was a doglover and I was immediately attracted to him. He was also a stand-up comic, in from New York; successful enough to support himself on bi-coastal gigs.

I led the conversation in our kitchen starting with how I agreed that Michael could ejaculate inside of me while on my menstrual flow. I read Jim’s face to see how he would take immediate, intimate conversation and he held it with grace, and a flickering smile. I revisited the story about my sexual partners and how I was honest though hadn’t volunteered the information.

“It was really uncomfortable,” I said.

“Any conversation about sex with other people is uncomfortable. I don’t care who you are,” he said.

“Meanwhile, I am getting these texts from Double T … this rapper I met at a friend’s house a few weeks ago. (please see Hope, Worries and the Cumming of New Times) Michael and I are having our first fight out of this taxi cab coming home from a party in North Hollywood. We made him leave his car but of course, he was the only one who could afford the taxi. As we are getting out, and Michael is struggling for a credit card that goes through, Double T calls me. Now, Double T heard my gripping lecture on how to properly give a blow job so of course, he is interested, but our introduction ended with him asking if I shaved my pussy and I said no. ‘I keep a little to remind myself I am a woman.’ He just walks away. Not even a goodbye.

So he calls me on this random night and I am dealing with grouchy, drunk Michael in this taxi cab, and say, ‘I can’t talk right now. I am with my boyfriend. And you weren’t interested anyway because I didn’t shave my pussy.’ Then I hung up on him.

He continues to text me. (I take out my cell phone) 2:38am: ‘I never said i wasn’t enterested baby i love the way u look and i would love to see u asap … i have all kinds of party favors.

3:21am: ‘You should come suck this big black dick of mine.’

4:56am: ‘What youdoing

7am: ‘Hello’

Isn’t it amazing how dignified a conversation can get over four hours of total silence?” I said.

Jim and Frank laughed.

I returned to the bedroom to make love to Michael. There was no tension, no arguments, barely any words. The room smelled of sweat, blood and semen. I cracked open the window and left him there to fall back asleep.

sexinthedark
“Are you upset about the Donna thing?” he asked.

“No, I just need to blow up about things for a second and then I am over it,” I said.  Walking out of my bedroom, my hair was wild and alive. Jim handed me a cigarette without a word, and we stepped outside.

“You understand while you are fucking this kid, you are handling fine china,” said Jim, holding his hands out like Michael’s glass snowglobe was put back together in our imagination. I nodded, heavily. Everyone wanted to remind me how fragile he was, and how reckless I am. Even this person I just met.

Jim, Frank and I chatted until dawn, about fucking, about comedy, about drugs and dogs. I liked him. It was complicated, you say you want a relationship, you want a guy to always be there, you want someone to love you and be your partner. And then you meet someone fantastic. Someone who effortlessly makes you laugh; whose storytelling holds your attention to the last syllable when you are shaking in the night air holding a dead cigarette. When his eyes fall on you, the vibration to perform shakes from your shoulders down. I liked him. Immediately, I liked him.

That was the first time I had to choose.  There are people out there you will be attracted to you want to make love to, maybe for a night, maybe for a weekend, maybe for a year. There are people out there you could fall in love with. Hell, there is a man or two out there I might still be in love with. In the end, you need to choose the man who will give you the best life. The man you can love, and make love to and share in some kind of life you want. A life that relies on hope and daydreams, laughter and discovery, trust and fidelity- not just with the body but with the mind and soul. You can’t share that kind of faith with more than one person, you have to choose. You must invest. Otherwise, it becomes just an affair. Another fragile, temporary, tragic affair. I choose Michael. At least for right now, my life is Michael.

I went back into the room and fell asleep with my boyfriend.

Michael and my dog Brad

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Making Bad Decisions I Don’t Regret

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.


The morning after “Roberto”, I was lost in him. I realized I had forgotten to leave my card or phone number before fleeing his flat.

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.


Behind me were two very handsome gentlemen in their late forties. Karisma had asked me to turn it off.

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.


We sipped our plastic cups outside the VIP room. Darcy wanted to try to get us in on the Heath Ledger card, but it didn’t work.

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 music would go from Disco to Pop with the occasional winning choice of ABBA or something equally “gay” culture. It was spotty.

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.”

Oh.

Me, “Oh.”

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.


He said, “NOW, can you go?”

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?”

He wins.

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?”

Me, “Ridiculous.”

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?”

Darcy, “Bullocks.”

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.


It was a rigorous walk, so I am glad I had on my good converse. It also helped my drunk suitor sweat a bit of the alcohol out.

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.

We stopped.

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.

Me, “Seriously?”

He said, “I am just at the top of this staircase. Now, you should know my parents are staying with me.”

Me, “What?”

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.”

Me, “Oh.”

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, “For?”

Darcy, “Norway.”

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.”

He did.

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?


I said, “I am so tired.”

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.”

I laughed.

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.

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