Saturday, August 13, 2011

This picture does not do the view justice. Go onto Flickr and search "Bald Mountain". About 90% of the pictures are of people on the cliffs, but every once in awhile you get an amazing landscape view. The hike is a nine hundred foot vertical gain. For reasons that none of us could understand, we decided to make this hike at 4 o'clock this morning. The last time I made this journey (two weeks ago) I was stung repeatedly by a swarm of bees, so i was apprehensive about the hike to begin with. Even with the bee stings not yet healed, I was crazy enough to do this hike again. In the dark. With a keychain flashlight. Obviously my crazy outranks my smart.

The hike up the mountain can only be described as grueling. There is not zig-zagging up. It is straight uphill for miles upon miles. Occasionally, there is a three foot spot of flat land where you can collapse  into a pile of leaves, curl up into the fetal position, and cry. So far I've only done the collapsing part.

Eventually, you stumble upon a clearing. I do not know who made this clearing, but there is a fire pit and a pitiful folding chair. Do not sit in this chair. It will not break, but there is an entire ecosystem within the seat  that should not be disturbed. Just past this clearing, you can wander into the woods and find a small stream of the coldest water I have ever encountered that has not already frozen over. Do not drink this water. Splash it all over your face, but do not get too much of it in your mouth.

Further uphill, and the path turns to scree. Horrible, slippery, you-will-fall-on-your-ass-at-least-once scree. You will claw your way up this scree until you actually start just climbing rocks. Do not give up, you are almost there. Once you climb those rocks, you get to see it:

Stay in this place as long as you can. There is not logical way down the mountain, you will want to save your strength, and it is one of the most beautiful places you will ever see.

Today, we reached the cliffs at 6 in the morning. the full moon had already set, but we got to see a pretty great sunrise. Much like childbirth, once I see this view, I completely forget about the pain it took to get there and I will do it over and over again.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Class Priviledge Checklist

I found this list Here and I thought it was an interesting experiment in privileged and class. I highly recommend the article I've linked. This is part one in a five part series called "Has Class Trumped Race?"

I've emboldened those items that apply to me:

When you were in college:
If your father went to college, take a step forward.
If your father finished college
If your mother went to college
If your mother finished college
If you have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor.
If you were the same or higher class than your high school teachers
If you had a computer at home
If you had your own computer at home
If you had more than 50 books at home
If you had more than 500 books at home
If were read children’s books by a parent
If you ever had lessons of any kind
If you had more than two kinds of lessons
If the people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively
If you had a credit card with your name on it
If you had less than $5000 in student loans
If you have no student loans
If you went to a private high school
If you went to summer camp
If you had a private tutor
If you have been to Europe
If your family vacations involved staying at hotels
If all of your clothing has been new and bought at the mall
If your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them
If there was original art in your house
If you had a phone in your room
If you lived in a single family house
If your parent own their own house or apartment
If you had your own room
If you participated in an SAT/ACT prep course
If you had your own cell phone in High School
If you had your own TV in your room in High School
If you opened a mutual fund or IRA in High School or College
If you have ever flown anywhere on a commercial airline
If you ever went on a cruise with your family
If your parents took you to museums and art galleries
If you were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Caravan

After years of playing in kid’s basements and back-door clubs, Second Hand Wasted finally gets our big break. Some teenager in Toulouse finds a clip of us on YouTube and sends it to friends who send it to their friends who start such a huge chain of emails and MySpace posts that we accidentally acquire a fan base in France. So after months of negotiations, French lessons, and seemingly unnecessary PR, we have ourselves a twenty-five city French tour and more money than any of us have ever seen before. The barbeque is meant to be a going away party for the band and me.
            “Maybe you’ll find yourself a nice French man who will give me grandchildren,” my mother says, sipping from her fifth Manhattan of the hour. I’m barely nineteen, and already she wants grandchildren.
            “What do I need with a French man when I have a perfectly good American right here,” I tell her, reaching out for Radley’s hand. But he’s not there. Looking around, I see the silhouette of his Anti-Flag tee behind the screen of the closed-in porch. Walking towards him, I see Dagmar’s caramel leg running up Radley’s waist and it becomes obvious that he is kissing her. After less than a second of shock, my anger forces me into a dead sprint.
            “Baby, let me explain” he slurs, but the look on my face makes him stop in his tracks. Dagmar runs away, and I decide to deal with her later.
“I can’t believe you kissed her, Radley. She’s my sister. This is the worst thing you’ve ever done. I don’t know what was going through your mind. You’re such an assho… Just…I think you should go.” I manage to get all this out through tears. “Don’t call me, don’t e-mail me, don’t even bump into me. If you see me on the street, walk the other way!” I warn before pointing to the door. He stumbles through the gate, and I hope the roads are wet and he forgets his seatbelt.

 “How could you do this? We’re sisters. We’re supposed to stick together,” I tell Dagmar. It’s hours after Radley leaves, and I feel like I’ve calmed down a little. Dagmar’s friend Benjy, used to our sisterly quarrels, sits in the corner of her room reading High Fidelity.
“You’re just mad because your boyfriend likes me better than you. You hate me because I’m the pretty one and you have to be an ‘individual’ just to stand out next to me. He could just smell the jealousy on you,” she says, smirking.
“Beauty is an accident of genetics, Dagmar, an accident like mom’s trip to Morocco that brought you into this world.” The words come out muddled, but she gets the point. Benjy holds back a smirk beneath his book.
“At least my mother didn’t throw me in a dumpster behind the Hilton after prom, border bunny,” Dagmar shoots back. I don’t mean to break her nose. I guess I’m just not as calmed down as I think.

The tour is torture. I can’t get Radley and Dagmar out of my head. I drink away my sorrows in Lille. I cry under the Eiffel Tower. I worry myself sick in Dijon.
By the time we get to Grenoble, I’m either too drunk or too depressed to go on. The record company decides it’s best to cancel the rest of the tour.  None of the boys will look me in the eye on the plane back to the States. Two weeks later, they tell me we will have one last show, and then it’s over.
“We owe it to the people who supported Second Hand Wasted when we were nothing,” Warren justifies, and I say yes for lack of an excuse.
Everything might have been fine if not for one little oversight.

“Security!” I yell when I see Radley staring up at me from the crowd of our last show. The sheer shock of seeing his face makes me forget I’m playing. The boys look at me confused before they see security taking Radley away and understanding sinks in.
Without saying a word I walk off the stage at The Icebox, speed back to my apartment to pack up my things, and just drive.  I don’t know where I’m going. I don’t know what I’m doing. But I am getting out of here. I drive west for hundreds of miles without thinking of anything but escaping Radley. After 2,500 miles I start to feel safe enough to stop.

The circumstances of finding the trailer feel serendipitous, a phenomenon that seems to happen a lot in this desert. I’m sitting in a diner, sticky from the dirt and sweat of my journey, and I ask the waitress if she knows of any vacant apartments. She scrutinizes me for a moment before signaling to a woman at the end of the counter.  
“I have another recruit for your caravan,” the waitress says before walking away. Waddling towards me is a woman, old and sun-damaged, in a long gypsy skirt and gauzy top. She jingles with bangles that almost completely cover her arms.
“So, you’re looking for a place, are ya? Well let me ask. Are you mad, mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, someone who never yawns or says a commonplace thing, but burns, burns, burns...?" She is quoting something, but I can’t place it.
“Look. Three days ago I was in Pennsylvania. Then, for reasons I don’t know you well enough to talk about, I jumped in my car and didn’t stop driving for anything but food and bathrooms until I got here. Is that mad enough for ya?” There is a moment of silence between us as she looks me up-and-down.
“I’m Sarah Haras,” she says, extending a jingling arm.

My first year in the caravan flew by like one long day. I don’t know if we can be considered a legitimate caravan, seeing as we never move anywhere. It’s more of a place that people move to rather than with.
“This is where the broken come to get fixed,” Sarah explains to me one day. We are sitting under the awning of my trailer door, drinking some combination of cactus juice and alcohol. “Haven’t you read the sign?”
Right outside the perimeter of the caravan, there is a wooden sign that’s meant to welcome people in. I saw it when I first arrived, but never thought to question it until now.
Be Aware
                        This is where the broken come to get fixed.
                        Here there are shamans, mystics and seers.
                        Shooting stars move in circles.
                        Rain clouds make ninety degree turns at the caravan’s border.
                        This is a place of synchronicity.
                        Coincidences are common.
                        Welcome Here Are the Magical Minds.

“It helps to keep out the normals,” Sarah explains. When I ask her what is so abnormal about this place, she tells me about the other people in the caravan.
“That’s Bishop. He’s a shaman for followers of the Longhouse religion. He’s a very wise man, but never bring up the Bush Administration in his presence. It’s not so much that he’ll be angry, it’s just that he doesn’t understand the concept of cliché and his diatribes never end. Cherry over there is a stripper at The Whispering Eye. Last year, she was abducted by aliens. I don’t know what they did to her, but she can climb up and down that pole using only the strength of her legs. Chayton, he owns the Whispering Eye. He’s a Shoshone Indian and he swears he’s a direct descendant of Sacagawea. Although everyone around here knows that her tribe was from Idaho and North Dakota, while Chayton’s people haven’t left Nevada since before the Trail of Tears. Besides that white lie, he’s a good businessman and treats his girls right.  If you’re looking for a job, The Whispering Eye is always looking for new talent. A mixed race girl like you could make big bucks. The boys like variety.” I don’t know how to respond to this. My nationality has been a point of shame up until this point. I only know about my heritage from my birth mother’s police report (she was never found after leaving me in the dumpster.) and what’s been told to me by my birth father, who later became a police officer and illegally let me see the report. I look around, wanting to change the subject.
“What about him?” I ask, about the man whose trailer is on the opposite side of the circle from me. 
 “That’s Jasper. I don’t know much about him. He keeps to himself most of the time. All I know is that he goes through books like they keep him alive. Euphemina, that’s the woman in the trailer next to me, schizophrenic, but she tends her flowers like they’re her children, and, well, she went into his trailer once. Books everywhere. She couldn’t figure out where the poor thing slept with all those books lying around.” I look towards Jasper again, and he’s staring right at me. He’s at the door to his trailer, hundreds of feet away, but I can feel his eyes barreling into me and I shudder.

I end up going for a job at The Whispering Eye. I don’t exactly need the money; I still have quite a bit left from the French tour. But desert days are long and I can only drink so many cactus-y drinks with Sarah before I feel like I’m wasting my life away. I’m sure I should try to find a more venerable means of employment, but I feel at home on the stage and music just reminds me of Radley. I came here to escape him.
 As I expected of a strip club in the desert, The Whispering Eye has a Western theme, unpainted wood, country music, and cowboy hats. The building itself is a triple wide trailer with a small bar up front and only the one stage. Even Chayton dons a ten-gallon hat and spurred cowboy boots.
“Where you from, sweetheart?” Chayton asks.
“Pennsylvania” I tell him. He gives a loud hoot that I interpret as a laugh.
“No, girl. I mean what nationality are you?” he laughs again.
“Oh. Well…” I never know what to say when people ask this. Mainly because I don’t identify with my birth parents, but I’m sure Chayton is curious about my skin tone rather than my upbringing, so I answer honestly. “Um… my mother is Chicana, my father is German, and my adoptive parents are WASPs.”
“Well, that’s a fine mix of girl you got in that skin. You’re hired,” he tells me, and the excitement of a new job mixes in with the realization that I am a stripper. I don’t know whether to jump for joy or vomit.

The club gets surprisingly full for being in the middle of nowhere. Men, and some women, come from somewhere unknown to see us take off our tops and climb the pole. Bishop has a reserved seat every Thursday night to see Candy do her magic. Sarah wasn’t kidding when she said Candy can climb the pole with her feet. She lies down at the base of the pole, and inch by inch she arches her back and wraps her legs around the metal until she’s lying completely vertical. The crowd goes wild.
My act isn’t nearly as astonishing. From the time I was two until I turned sixteen and decided rock and roll was more my lifestyle, Dagmar and I took dance classes. I still have the flexibility, though it’s been five years since I quit. This, however is the only skill I have when it comes to erotic dancing. I can’t work the pole, I don’t have much rhythm, and the first few times I got out there I fell an extra eight inches off my spiked heels. The only other thing I got going for me is that Dagmar was wrong; we are both the pretty one.

One night, I’m up on the stage, crawling around to The Coaster’s “Down in Mexico,” when someone catches my eye. The room is dark, but from one corner of the trailer, I feel a particular set of eyes barreling into me and I shudder.
After the song, I venture over to that corner just to make sure my feeling is correct. It’s him. Although it’s dark, he has his nose in a book.
“Hey there, sugar,” I say, taking on the persona of what I think a stripper is supposed to be like. He places his book on the table. High Fidelity. I had a moment of nostalgia I could only slightly place.
“I’ve been watching you,” he says. His accent is a mixture of the American West and French.
“Oh yeah? You like what you see?” I smile coyly, pushing away the silly feeling I get when I take on this persona. Jasper smiles, seeming to know this is just an act.
“Life’s a bitch, then you die. Fuck the world, let’s get high” he quotes Second Hand Wasted and gives me a knowing smile. For a second, I don’t know how to react. I haven’t told anyone about the band and I never imagined someone outside of France would know who I was. “Coincidences are commonplace,” he tells me. We both laugh.

Jasper comes to the club every night I work after that. He sits in the same corner, and when my dance ends, I join him. Mostly we talk about music. He tells me about bands like Babylon Circus and HushPuppies, French rock bands that remind him of our sound. I try to explain the battle between grunge and Britpop in the mid-90’s.
I fall for Jasper hard and fast. I think of him before I go to bed. I imagine moving into his trailer, listening to Eliot Smith late into the night. He’ll read his books and I’ll take up the guitar again. We’ll never get married and he’ll never have to meet my family. Dagmar will never steal him away. We can live in sin in the desert. Maybe have a lovechild. These are the thoughts that lull me to sleep at night.

“You wanna get out of here,” he asks one night. It’s been a month since I first saw him in the club and he seems to have fallen for me just as hard as I have for him. “I wanna show you something.” It’s Tuesday, a slow night for the club, and nearly four o’clock in the morning, so I say yes. Jasper waits as Chayton cashes me out, and then we get into his Volkswagen Rabbit and drive off into the desert.  Babylon Circus’ “La Caravane” plays on the stereo, and I sing along to the chorus: 
La caravane passe passe la caravane passe
La caravane passe passe la caravane passe
La caravane passe elle est pas prete de s'arreter
Et les chiens n'ont pas fini d'aboyer[1]

            “You speak with skill” Jasper tells me, and I blush.
“Thanks. Yeah…I’m not fluent, but I pronounce pretty well I guess. Where are we going?” Jasper smiles as he turns onto a sand road. Up ahead, spirals of sandstone stretch into the sparse clouds. The full moon spotlights an otherwise dark cluster of cock’s comb shaped rocks. Jasper parks at the base of the mountain.
“Follow me,” Jasper says as he lights an oil lamp. Slowly, we scale the mountain, Jasper with the lamp and me with the moon. As the moon descends under the horizon, we rise up to meet the peak. There’s a moment when we’re level to the moon, and I feel like I can reach out and grab it.
“A few more steps,” Jasper says as he disappears into the mountain. His hand reaches out. I take hold, and with one last push of my legs I’m on top of the mountain. I lose my balance for a moment, and Jasper puts one surprisingly muscular arm around my waist, pulling me up.
“Now what?” I ask as I find my footing.
“Look,” Jasper says, pointing behind me. On the horizon, the sun is just about to pop out from behind the mountains. The sky glows red and white with the mixture of clouds and sunlight and for a moment I don’t know where heaven stops and the earth begins. Words escape me as Jasper puts his arm around my shoulder. I put my arm around his waist and take in the view. I can feel his face moving closer to mine and as our lips meet for the first time, my knees go weak. I know I’ll laugh about it later, but for the moment I just go with it.
We lay back against the sandstone, still warm after a night in the dark. Jasper slowly runs his hands up and down my thigh and as they move upward I’m slightly embarrassed that I’m not wearing underwear. His breath tastes like tequila as our kissing becomes deeper. His skin smells like a Caribbean library, old books and suntan lotion. I run my hands up his chest and remove the sweat-drenched tee that sticks to his body. The cat’s cradle of strings that hold my shirt on gets tangled in his ring, and he ends up ripping it from my body. We each take time to remove our pants, and as he slips himself inside of me, the years I’ve gone without sex rush back to me in an awesome wave. This is the first time I’ve been touched by a man since Radley, and it feels like the perfect way to end my dry spell.

I think back on that night now, and wonder what could have been. Jasper and I make love until the sun envelopes our naked bodies. He drops me off in front of my trailer and tells me he has some errands to run. That’s the last time I see him.
“What do you mean he’s gone?” I ask Sarah.
“He said he was cured. Came here to get over writer’s block. He said he had a breakthrough and needed to get back to his typewriter.”

Sun-bleached pink rocks stretch for miles out the window of my trailer. The blazing Nevada sun blackjacks through my window. Having already exhausted the car battery, I flap the Chinese paper fan I won at the Chuck E. Cheese in Henderson. I take another drag of my Camel and re-read Jasper’s postcard for the umpteenth time. There is no apology, no explanation for what happened.
            The Valley Spirit never dies. It is named the Mysterious Female. And the doorway of the Mysterious Female is the base from which Heaven and Earth sprang. It is there within us all the while; Draw upon it as you will, it never runs dry.
 These are the only words I get for a year, but I’m over it. The medicinal quality of the desert air holds no room for grudges.
 Second Hand Wasted’s LP whispers from the CD player beside my Murphy bed:

                        Sex, drugs, rock and roll,
                        Weed, speed, birth control,
                        Life’s a bitch, then you die.
                        Fuck the world, let’s get high.

 The singer feels like a stranger, though I know it’s me. A different time. A different girl.

[1]The caravan will pass the caravan passes
The caravan moves it is not ready to stop
And dogs are still barking

Second Hand Wasted

I was hundreds of feet from the car, but I saw the reflection of light off the flyer beneath my windshield wiper.  You don’t usually think much of a piece of paper when you’re walking through those electric doors at the supermarket. “Oh, just another ad for a new restaurant or some flyer about babysitting.” But as I removed the flyer from under my windshield and was about to throw it to the ground, I read the first line:

Second Hand Wasted
First Show Since Paris
September, 10 2008
Ice Box Skating Rink
Across from Scranton High School
8 p.m.
$5 Admission after 8,
So Get There Early.
This brought me back to her:

 “It’s like… you know… when people smoke around you, they call it second hand smoke, right. So…you know… when you’re around people who drink and you act drunk to fit in. That’s second hand wasted,” she explained to me.
 Astrid Kensington-Dewinter was the love of my life. I had seen her here a few times, but this was the first time I’d got up the nerve to talk to her. We were sitting at a table in the corner of The Metro, a hole-in-the-wall hang-out in Wilkes-Barre where all the freaks and misfits gathered each weekend to hear local bands and drink root beer from glass bottles. Her band, Second Hand Wasted, had just finished their set. My band, Suicidal Smegma, had played right before them, and we were still packing everything away when Astrid hit the stage.  I was transfixed. She was like a siren. Beautiful. And I was Odysseus, tied to the mast of the ship.
 We bonded over the cliché use of the words “Fender Stratocaster” in any movie featuring a guitar, which parlor has the best tattoo artists, and caramel lattés from Northern Lights Café. We had a deep, meaningful discussion about the Sex Pistols, the tragic death of Kurt Cobain, and our lives.
“Do you want a smoke,” I asked, pulling out my pack of American Spirits.
“No, I haven’t smoked in years.” I was surprised she didn’t smoke, almost everyone who hung out at “The Metro” did.
“Why?” I asked.
 “You see, when I was 13, I had a friend who would buy me these chocolate cigarettes. They were really awesome. Have you tried them?” I shook my head.
“Yeah, well anyway, when I was 14, the guy got arrested. I’m not sure what for, probably had something to do with screwin’ a minor.” She took a moment to laugh to herself before moving on. “Anyway, I couldn’t get cigarettes with him in the pen, and by the time I was 18, I wasn’t addicted anymore. What can I say? I used to live a very colorful life,” she told me. A stud through her nose, playing in a band called Second Hand Wasted, and she “used to” have a colorful life.
“I think I might love you, Astrid.”

            I make myself think about times like that now. Trying to forget why we broke up. It was only a few months ago. She had pulled me out of her parents’ Fourth of July BBQ…
 “I can’t believe you kissed her, Radley. She’s my sister. This is the WORST thing you have ever done. I don’t know what was going through your mind. You’re such an assho… Just…I think you should go.”
 I don’t know how it happened. I barely even knew Dagmar. One minute I was standing on the deck, eating barbeque chicken and talking with Astrid’s 17 year-old Lolita of a sister, trying to convince her that the Jonas Brothers are not rock-and-roll, and the next thing I knew, Dagmar has me pinned to the house and she’s sticking her bubblegum pink tongue in my mouth. I didn’t want to kiss her, but the animal instinct in me took over. My instinct just kept thinking of that tight little body, the butterfly that hung from her navel, visible through the tank top. That’s when Astrid walked in.
  “Don’t call me, don’t e-mail me, don’t even bump into me. If you see me on the street, walk the other way!” she screamed. Then she cast me out into the mean streets of her parents’ suburban neighborhood.

            After a week, I still couldn’t bear to get out of bed. I replayed the scene over and over again in my head, the sweet taste of Dagmar’s tongue, the faint smell of charcoal from the grill outside the enclosed porch, Astrid’s shrill scream as she saw my lips touching her little sister’s. I still had the small, hand-sized bruise on my chest from her blows. I looked at it in the mirror sometimes, imagining where else that little hand had been, the soft caress of her fingers through my hair, the clumsy way she would strum her guitar after sex.

            The morning after her parent’s BBQ, Astrid came to get her things.
            “But where are you going to live?” I asked.
“I’m moving in with the band,” she told me as she walked out. I got custody of Sid Vicious, our mostly deaf, entirely blind bull terrier. After awhile, even he seemed to miss her. He laid in his crate and whimpered from time to time. Sid in his crate, me in my bed, we were quite the exciting pair.
            One night in that first week I had something of a nightmare. In it, I was playing with the band at The Icebox. We were really rocking the joint, best performance of our otherwise shitty careers. Then, suddenly, Astrid was in the audience. Only she was wearing a blue toga and a crown of ivy around her head. She stood right up front and stared at me with her most seductive come-hither look. She opened her mouth and an ear-bleeding screech escaped. I walked towards the shrieking woman. I couldn’t stop myself. I felt my foot step off the stage and woke up right before I hit the floor. I woke up with a start and found myself on the floor of my bedroom. Sid was barking from his crate across the room. Apparently, something had scared him.
            I was awakened the next afternoon by the doorbell. Although I didn’t want visitors, something pulled me towards the door. Shuffling through the mess of my apartment made the journey a treacherous one, but I made it with only a stubbed toe and an unknown sticky substance on my hand from the doorknob.
 “I forgot something,” Astrid said as she pushed through. “I’ll be gone in no time,” she promised as she opened my closet. She quickly pulled out her guitar, and it made a shrieking noise as it hit the doorframe. I covered my ears from the sudden loud noise. As quickly as she breezed in, Astrid breezed out.
“Wait,” I called after her, but she wouldn’t turn. I ran a few steps forward and, tripping on a dog toy, fell from the porch.
About an hour later, I was still lying in bed when the doorbell rang again. I tried to ignore it, but the bell persisted, so I made the trek once again. Through the peephole, I saw the sapphire eyes and onyx hair that could mean only one thing.
“What do you want, Dagmar?” I opened the door, but refused to unlatch the chain.
“Hi, Radley,” she squeaked. “So umm…I was just wondering…you know…if maybe you wanted to…possibly…and you can say no, but uh…will you go to prom with me?” She smiled at me with her glossy, pink lips and for a moment I almost considered it.
            “Dagmar, go home. Just…go home.” I said, watching her teeth disappear as she pouted, almost in tears.
            “But I love you!” she yelled through the closed door as I made my way back to the bed.

I spent my days thinking about the good times Astrid and I had…
“Ou est toilette…Where is the bathroom” Astrid said as we tried to learn French.
“No... No. It’s Ou est LA toilette” I corrected her. She was going on tour in Paris, and wanted to learn the language.
 Ou est LA toilette” she mocked. “Volonté vous veuillez venir à la maison avec moi” Astrid said coyly. I looked it up, smiled at her cheeky suggestion, and kissed her.  She was quite un petite taquinez.

             When I got my cartilage pierced...
“It doesn’t hurt, I swear,” Astrid told me.
Of course in reality, it hurt like… well like sticking a needle through your ear. She held my hand while they unwrapped the sharp metallic needle from its individual package. She even let me squeeze her hand while they stuck the needle through my ear. I screamed bloody murder, and she made fun of me for weeks, but it was worth it just to see her happy. (Isn’t that twisted? I made my girlfriend happy by sticking a sharp instrument right through my ear and then decorating it.)

            She even bailed me out of jail…

 “Radley what happened?” she asked with a worried look on her face.
“I punched a clown,” I slurred. I had gotten shit-faced and gone to the circus. “He was coming on to me. He just kept smiling at me with that big red smile,” I explained.
“Radley, he was a clown, the smile was painted on that way,” she told me with a laugh.

            My life fell apart even more than it already had after Astrid and I split. Not getting out of bed meant I couldn’t play guitar.  Suicidal Smegma decided it would be best to drop me. Without the band, I didn’t have a job, so I was evicted.  Forced to live in my parents’ basement, I spent my days the same way I had in the last few months before the eviction. Only this time, I didn’t have to get up to eat. My mother left PB&J on my bedside table, strawberry and creamy with the crust cut off. Worst of all, Sid got hit by a car. If you ask me, it was suicide. He may have been deaf and blind, but something about the urgent pull on his leash as he ran into the street tells me he couldn’t stand my depression anymore.
            The move to my parents was the last straw. If I couldn’t be with Astrid, then I didn’t want to be. I decided to follow in the footsteps of the greats like Ian Curtis, Elliot Smith, Darby Crash, and Kurt Cobain. As the saying goes “Razors pain you, rivers are damp, acid stains you, drugs cause cramps, gun aren't lawful, nooses give, gas smells awful,” but alcohol poisoning seemed like a punk rock suicide. I took all the money I had left in my bank account and went to the liquor store. The guy behind the counter asked if I was throwing a party, and I didn’t have the heart to tell him no. That, and I’m sure you’re not allowed to sell five bottles of liquor to someone about to commit suicide. I came back with all my boys: Jack, Jim, Jose, Johnnie, and Jameson. Having no idea how to get this started exactly, I loaded it all into my CamelBak so I could drink without thinking. The first gulp made my eyes water and my throat close up, but after awhile it went down like water. After about the twenty or twenty-first gulp, I blacked out.

            It was just the kind of mean-spirited luck I had that made me survive the night. I woke up the next morning (head pounding, throat acid-burned and raw) on a bench in the park across from my parents’ house. Wearing Hawaiian print board shorts and a tube top, I was cuddling a cardboard cutout of Ronald McDonald. Suddenly, I felt a sharp pain on my chest. Looking down, there was a blood-soaked bandage adhered to me. I walked to a nearby 7-11 to call a friend to come pick me up, and then got the key to the bathroom. Inside I slowly peeled off the bandage to reveal a new terror. From the mirror, a mullet-clad John Stamos tattoo smiled back at me, and I wept openly.

            This is how I ended up in the supermarket parking lot. Flashes of the night returned to me as I walked the supermarket aisles. I remember Animal, the band’s drummer, coming into my room about a quarter-ways through the CamelBak. I remember the Tiki Bar and a bachlorette party asking me for my underwear. Ronald probably came from the McD’s on Keyser Ave. Animal insists on a double cheeseburger whenever he gets loaded. The tattoo and the park bench are still a mystery to me. My grocery bags full of hangover remedies and supplies for keeping tattoos, I contemplated the band flyer.

“Obviously, she doesn’t want me there,” I assured myself. “She probably didn’t recognize the car when she left the flyer. I did wash it after all.”

I weighed the pros and cons of the situation while I put the groceries in my car, while I turned the key in the ignition, and while I drove down the expressway. By the time I pulled into my driveway, I had decided not to go. Then, as I walked in the house, I told myself I would.  


I spent all week debating the situation in my head. On the night of the show, my mind had decided to stay home, but my body had a different idea. I didn’t even have a good reason for going. I just wanted to see if she was as screwed up as I was.  I told myself I would be making a fool of myself as I put on jeans.  I said I wasn’t going as I put on my coat. I convinced myself it wasn’t worth it as I started the car, and I reminded myself that she hated me as I pulled into the lot.
            By the time I was at “The Icebox,” it was 8:30 so I had to pay the cover charge. “I’m not paying $5.00 to see my ex-girlfriend” I thought as I handed the girl my money. They had tables set up on the rink. The band had the show catered, and waitresses were walking around taking orders.  I sat down at a table in the back, terrified that she would see me. The waitress came over and took my order. “Caramel latté,” I told the girl, flashing back to that first night bonding with Astrid.
The lights dimmed, and the MC took the stage. “How’s everyone doing tonight?” the young man screamed, trying his best to get the energy up. “The Ice Box is proud to present SECOND HAND WASTED.” My fear heightened with the applause. Then she took the stage. Her hair was shorter, she’d gained some weight, but she was still beautiful. The weight was in all the right places; I fell in love with her all over again. She was the siren again, pulling me to her, and I walked closer to the stage, abandoning the concept of my latté, matter over mind again.
Up there singing, she reminded me of that first night. As we walked out of the café, she moved in closer and closer. We walked at least ten blocks before she pushed me into that alley. Pushing me up against the hard brick wall, her warm, soft lips grazed mine. I moved towards her, but she pushed me back, then… 
Dagmar’s stare brought me out of my day dream. I had walked right to the edge of the stage and was looking up at her. She looked back, daggers in her eyes. I saw the pain she felt, remembering that I was not supposed to be seen. I could tell she saw Dagmar in my eyes, or maybe a tattoo on my forehead said “I tried to fuck your sister.” At first, I didn’t even move. She had a spell over me I couldn’t control. Beauty mixed with pure fury.
 “What the fuck am I doing here?” I accidentally asked out loud. Astrid seemed to have forgotten what she was doing. She stood on the stage, frozen in anger.
“Security!” she yelled into the microphone. I would never see Astrid again.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pretty Girl

With the lazy hand draped over her, Dagmar gives the tiny bit of fat on her stomach a discriminative squeeze before turning over onto her back. It’s yet another restless night. A hundred random thoughts pop into her head, none of which will make sense in the morning. Next to her, Jax snores softly. While normally her sleeplessness is caused by an over-active imagination and an addiction to diet pills, tonight her restlessness comes from the body next to her. Part of the problem is that it’s August, and they are forced to either snuggle close in her twin bed or she would have to balance herself against the end of her mattress and brave the fact that she could fall from the bed at any moment. She feels beads of sweat slowly slipping down her body and the cool breeze of her fan is just out of reach. Mostly, though, Dagmar is afraid that at any moment, her roommate Benjy will come back and catch her in bed with the man Dagmar has referred to as “Creepy Jax with the Anime Eyes.”

Many post-work afternoons had been dedicated to discussing the creepy ways Jax chooses to flirt with Dagmar. Staring at her from across the crowded office, drunkenly knocking on her door most weekends just to see “what’s up” (not only was Jax her co-worker, he also lived in the apartment next to her), the way he would jokingly insult her. Secretly, she was flattered by the attention. Most of the time, she would even instigate the teasing. It had become something of a ritual between the two of them. Everyone at the office knew they would eventually become romantic. Someone even started a pool on how long it would take before the two young interns slept together. The only snag in the scenario was Dagmar’s ego.

“Come on now, I’m prettier than that,” Dagmar said about the possible romance. Jax had just left after yet another drunken flirtation, and Benjy’s new girlfriend, Kitty, who knew nothing of these post-work discussions, had suggested there was something between them.
“I don’t know, Dag,” Benjy added teasingly, “you do complain an awful lot about not getting laid. Maybe he can become your new toy.” This prompted an evil eye and a punch to the arm.
“No, I’m so creeped out by him. He just stares at me all day. He doesn’t even blink!” she explained in mock-horror.
It was true that Dagmar was much better looking than Jax. Her long, onyx hair framed her heart-shaped face and made her sapphire eyes sparkle. It was impossible to describe her and not use the word statuesque. Years of strict ballet and equestrian lessons had given her perfect posture and a graceful, walking-on-air stride. Chunky as a kid, she was still under the assumption that she was fat, so she spent three hours a day working out. With the help of diet pills and a higher than average metabolism, Dagmar had the fit look that catapulted her from mere knockout to full-blown goddess.
Jax, on the other hand, was not so appealing. His pudgy, pock-marked face was too big for a body thin to the point of alarm. Hours of crouching over his computer playing World of Warcraft left had Jax’s body with the posture of early man and a sickly yellow tone to his skin. His fire-red hair always looked as if it had recently been hit by lightning and his aniridic eyes; wide open and never blinking only completed the look.

“And, if you haven’t noticed,” Dagmar said with a boastful air, “there haven’t been any lack-of-sex complaints from me lately.”
Benjy rolled his eyes exhaustedly. “Oh yes, how can we forget Cadillac Gatts.”

Dagmar met Cadillac, who insisted that everyone call him Caddy, the first weekend after she started her internship at the firm. Out with a few of the other girls from the office, she was cozy in a booth right off the dance floor when she saw him from across the room. Caddy was James Dean reincarnated. Not only in his clothes (leather jacket, tight white shirt, and jeans that contoured all the right areas), and habits (cigarette hanging from his lip, constant need to lean and hang) but even his talk was from another decade.
“Action, Dutchess. This frolic pad is a gas. How about you and me cut a rug, maybe guzzle some foam after?” he asked with a seductive rasp.
“Sure, Cowboy,” Dagmar answered with her own flirtatious purr. Out on the floor, Caddy swung her around like a ragdoll, all twirls and lifts.
“Groovy, chick. You come on like gangbusters,” Caddy crooned into Dagmar’s ear. She melted into that croon.
After a few more spins around the floor, the lovebirds went to the bar to guzzle said foam. He wasn’t much of a talker, so Dagmar filled the awkwardness with her voice. She told him about her internship, her apartment, her education, and her childhood before he so much as opened his mouth.
“Wow Bree, you can really beat up the chops with those crumb crushers. You’ve capped most of the fine dinners I’ve come across. It’s the bible!” Dagmar took this as a compliment and kissed him on the cheek. He looked down at his watch. “Jump Back! It’s four chimes. Sorry Queen, you’re home-cooking, but I gotta cut out and nod in my dreamers.”
“Well, can I get your number?” Dagmar said with a little bit of plead in her eyes. Without a word, he pulled out a business card, handed it over for inspection, (Cadillac Gatts. Hep Cat Who Creeps Out Like the Shadows. At your service for all the righteous clambakes. 344-1952) and pulled Dagmar through the doors of the bar.
Once out in the street, he kissed her. It was all tongue. His mouth was open as if he was going to eat her whole like a snake, but Dagmar gave him the benefit of the drunken doubt and was too wrapped up in the persona to care about sloppy kisses. She tried her best to kiss him back, but pulled away when her nose entered his mouth.
“I’ll plant ya now and dig ya later,” Caddy said as he hopped into the cab.
She waited two days before giving Caddy a call. They were, perhaps, the most excruciating two days of Dagmar’s short life. Caddy had implanted himself in her mind and she was unable to escape him. It was two days of the grasp of his hands on her waist, that sweetly copper aroma that emanated from his muscular body (some mixture of blood, leather, and cinnamon that intoxicated Dagmar’s olfactory system), the gravelly purr of his voice in her ear as he spoke that sexy old-fashioned language, and even the hot feeling of his breath on her nose.
Even Jax couldn’t pull her out of her trance. His teasing jeers and covert stares were lost to the bubble Caddy had cast. By the end of the week, he had given up on trying to get her attention.
Finally, it was two days and socially acceptable to call without seeming as desperate for him as she obviously was. It was three rings of eternity before Caddy picked up.
“Sure thing, Dutchess. Put on your best ground grippers, and we’ll rock the Casbah,” he said when Dagmar asked him about a date.
The date was set for three days later, and every free minute of that time was spent on preparation. It was three days of washing, drying, straightening, curling, spraying, plucking, waxing, lifting, dieting, excising, masking, and deodorizing. Hundreds of outfits were found unsatisfactory. All of this was done with a sense of apprehension and terror.
By the time the date came around, Dagmar was running on four Diet Cokes and three Stackers. She was so nervous she couldn’t answer the door.
“Please, Benjy. I need to make an entrance,” Dagmar pleaded with her roommate.
“What are we going to do with her?” Benjy asked Mowgli, the Egyptian Mau that had come with the apartment. The cat answered by slinking between Dagmar’s legs and resting atop the television. “Mog and I, we don’t know what to do with you, Dag,” Benjy teased as he walked towards the door. “Go on, make your grand entrance.” Dagmar rushed into the hall and tried to calm her heart. Just the idea of Caddy was making Tiger Swallowtails overrun her stomach. Her condition only worsened as she heard him make polite conversation with Benjy. She could barely swallow as she rounded the corner and got her first glimpse of “Date Night Caddy.” Instead of his usual get-up of jeans and a t-shirt, he wore a black button-up and matching pants. His shoes were cowboy boots, and not a single hair was out of place. Tonight he was resurrecting “The Man in Black” himself.
“… but Neal Cassidy practically invented rapping,” Dagmar heard, Benjy’s hands waving furiously at Caddy.
“Ow! There’s my main queen. You’re togged to the bricks, baby. Let’s go find us a jumpin’ joint and get our kicks,” Caddy propositioned, ignoring Benjy’s rant. “Later, Jack,” he offered as a goodbye, Benjy still seething with annoyance.
There was nothing special about that first date. They went to Uno for drinks where Caddy, with the exception of telling the bartender his drink order, made no attempt at conversation. Dagmar filled the silence with more babbling about herself.
“Alright, Wren, let’s blow,” he said as their drinks were drained. Soon they were speeding across town to a nameless jazz club where Caddy danced Dagmar so fast, she was never sure when her feet hit the ground. “These Cats really bust their conks to break it up,” he commented about the house band.
“Totally,” Dagmar said, hoping she was agreeing to something good.

“Knock me a kiss, would ya?” Caddy said. They were parked in front of Dagmar’s apartment complex, and she had one foot out the car door when he said it. She leaned in and received yet another sloppy, mouth-gaping nose warmer. Even with the repulsiveness of the mouth assault, Dagmar couldn’t help but giggle as she left the car.
Three floors up, she saw Jax’s curtain close. She could feel him looking at her through the peephole in his door, and she gave a wave as she went into her apartment.

“Popped collars are the decline of Western Civilization,” Benjy stated as Dagmar walked in the door. Mogley was perched on the couch right above his head, attacking the shine of Benjy’s gelled-up hair. On the TV screen, a young man, wearing the culture-declining popped collar, was simultaneously getting a tattoo and eating bull testicles in order to win a date with Tila Tequila.
“Why do you watch MTV if you hate it so much?” Dagmar asked. Benjy shrugged as he turned the TV off.
“How was your date with the man in black?” he asked with an air of sarcasm.
“Perfection,” Dagmar purred before flopping down on the couch.
“Your boyfriend came by while you were out,” Benjy said with a smirk. It took Dagmar a moment to figure out who he was talking about.
“Oh God! What did he want?” Dagmar feigned annoyance.
“Just to see ‘What’s up’, but I’m sure it was so he could stare at you some more,” Benjy told her as he pushed himself off the couch. Dagmar rolled her eyes, but as Benjy left the room she smiled.
The dates with Caddy became something of a routine for the first month of their relationship: drinks at Uno, dancing on air, sloppy kiss with a wet nose goodnight. Through it all, Dagmar was a mess of emotions. She was pulled into the world that was Cadillac Gatts. Every moment of her day was dedicated to thinking about the last time they were together and planning what action she would take when she saw him again.
After almost a month of drinks, dancing, sloppy kisses, Dagmar decided she was ready to invite Caddy in for a nightcap. Caddy seemed too cool to try and make the first move, so she thought doing it herself was the only way. She made sure it was on a night that Benjy would be with Kitty. Then she did an extra bit of plucking, waxing, moisturizing, washing, and special underwear shopping. By the time Caddy came to pick her up she was practically hairless except for her head, body soft as silk, and spring fresh.
The date was the same drinks, dancing and sloppy kiss, until Dagmar said, “You want to come in for some coffee?” and arched her newly waxed eyebrow seductively.
Once inside the apartment, there was no need to pretend anymore. There wasn’t even time to say the word “coffee” before Dagmar was enclosed in Caddy’s kiss and Caddy’s arms and Caddy’s smell. Before she knew it, Dagmar was on her bed and Caddy was struggling to get his pants off over his boots.
“Take your shoes off first,” Dagmar suggested. He stumbled on one foot before falling to the bed.
“Fuck it!” he said as he left his pants around his ankles and inched his way towards her. Suddenly, Caddy’s old-fashioned language disappeared. “You like what you see?” he asked as he pulled down his boxers to meet his pants.
“Oh yeah,” Dagmar answered in her best attempt at a sexy voice. Without warning, Caddy barreled into her like a man who had business to do. She felt like a soft-shell crab split on a skewer while he thrust himself into her.
“Jesus Christ! You’re so big!” Dagmar said without thinking, meaning it in surprise and making it sound like a compliment.
“Oh yeah, you like that, baby?” Caddy said, taking it as a dirty compliment. “Are you all wet for my big cock?” Dagmar couldn’t help but giggle, and Caddy took it as encouragement.
After what seemed like an eternity of cheap dirty talk and overenthusiastic thrusting, Caddy announced that he was almost there by saying, “Come for me, baby. Oh yeah, ya gonna come? Huh? Yeah, cum real hard for me. Ya gonna come?”
“Yeah!” Dagmar said, more to shut him up than from actual excitement. And with that, Caddy gave a final thrust, pulled out, and ejaculated on Dagmar’s chest. She quickly picked up his shirt and wiped herself off as Caddy readjusted himself on the bed, pulling Dagmar into him so they could spoon.
“You’re too much, really in the groove,” Caddy said as he wrapped his legs around Dagmar’s and returned to his old-fashioned self.
The sex left Dagmar hot and sweaty. Even so, she couldn’t seem to escape from Caddy’s equally hot and sweaty embrace. He pulled her in tighter and nuzzled his cheek into hers. Too sore and exhausted to fight him off, she gave in and they spent the night in overheated embrace.

“What am I going to do?” Dagmar asked Mogley. Benjy hadn’t gotten home yet and Dagmar was itching to get this problem out of her head. The cat answered by rolling onto his back and playing with a ray of sun. “You don’t even care, do you, Mog?” Dagmar asked, almost expecting the cat to answer her back. She scratched his belly anyway and took a shower to get some of the night off of her.
Caddy had left only twenty minutes before. Not wanting to face him, Dagmar pretended to still be asleep as he crawled over her and collected his come-stained shirt from the floor. Before leaving, he kissed her forehead and Dagmar’s heart jumped with excitement.
She thought of his gentle head-kiss as she washed away the crusted bits of semen from her bellybutton. The hot water intensified the aching in her pelvis and she winced at the thought of his powerful thrusting. Yet she was torn between the two parts of Caddy, the wonderfully old-fashioned reincarnation of James Dean who could twirl her around the dance floor and put her under his spell, and the sexually oblivious chauvinist from the night before who seemed more concerned with getting himself off then making sure she was satisfied.
“He’s far too pretty to give up on after one night,” she finally convinced herself. “I’ve put too much into this relationship to just give him up to some other woman,” she told Mogley as she came into the living room. “I just have to change him.”
And that’s exactly what she attempted. She added a new activity to the routine of their dates. They still had drinks at Uno, where Dagmar was beginning to run out of things to say, and then they went dancing at the jazz club where Caddy had gotten to know the house band and got all their drinks “jelly,” as he put it. But now, instead of the sloppy goodnight kiss, they went into Dagmar’s bedroom and she attempted to change him. She thought flat-out telling him the truth was mean, so she thought of other ways to make the sex better.
Because Caddy’s dirty talk made her cringe at the ridiculousness of it, she tried to do the dirty talking for the both of them. But there’s only so many ways one person can tell another person to fuck them. Besides, Caddy would usually get one of his own dirty phrases in and Dagmar would lose her train of thought trying not to cringe at the mixture of his degrading dirty talk and the penis which, while not as abrasive as the first night, was still an uncomfortable experience. Next, she tried gagging him with a silk scarf, but he began to choke, so that was out.
Dagmar thought that if she could find a position that brought more pleasure than pain, maybe she could concentrate on keeping him quiet. She took up yoga, searched the internet for alternative positions, and even went so far as to buy props that would contort her body in hundreds of directions. She tried the dragon position, lotus position, rainbow arch, sex slings, and exercise balls, but nothing seemed to make her feel less like a stuck pig.
Throughout all of this experimentation, Caddy seemed none the wiser. He just went along with everything Dagmar suggested. Dagmar spent weeks trying to reason with herself that Caddy probably believed what he did would be OK. It was the usual situation, Dagmar was attempting to change Caddy, and Caddy was saying absolutely deplorable things and truly believing it would turn anyone on. They were experimenting with the victory position when Caddy accidentally slipped out. It was then that Dagmar imagined he conceived his devious plan. The sudden pain Dagmar felt left her breathless. She gasped for words as she gasped for air.
N-n-n-No!” she finally got out as she jumped from the bed. “That is an out hole!” she screamed. “It is never ever ever ever alright to inflict surprise butt sex on another human being!”
Caddy gave her a Cheshire cat grin. “Solid, Dutchess. I’m hep to your jive,” he told her. “I dig a skirt that can signify. Come on back to this pad. It’s almost brightnin.”
Dagmar picked up his pants and handed them to him. “I think you need to go,” she told him.
“But I wanna fuck yooooou,” he whined. It was Dagmar’s last straw for the night. If there was one thing she couldn’t stand, it was a whiner.
“Now,” she said as calmly as possible. She stood at the door until he walked out the other side, no kiss or anything.
After that night, Caddy became just as stand-offish as Dagmar. Infatuation leads to ridiculousness, and neither one wanted to be the one who ended the relationship. Even so, Dagmar stopped inviting Caddy in for a nightcap, going back to the old routine of a sloppy kiss and goodnight. For reasons unknown to Dagmar, Caddy started to show up after she got back from work and she was relieved when her period showed up so she would have a valid excuse not to have sex, though the extra hormones just added to her irritation.
There was one night in particular when the mixture of Caddy and hormones was particularly unbearable. He had come over to hang out with her and Benjy and Kitty and the four of them sat around watching TV. Throughout the night of idle channel-surfing, Caddy was behaving particularly forward; putting his hand between Dagmar’s legs, rubbing his lips against her earlobe neck and cheeks, and making sexual innuendoes about everything that came on the screen. Dagmar refused to respond to any of it, but Benjy and Kitty could feel the tension building in the air and knew better than to leave them alone together.
“Wait Daddy Bear! The Notebook! Let’s watch that,” Kitty said.
“OK, Snookers,” Benjy said as he flipped back to the movie. The tension in the room was building, and it was obvious that Kitty was attempting to get Dagmar into a romantic mood. Dagmar, however, was not in the mood to be romantic, and as she pushed Caddy’s hand away from the crotch of her jeans, his patience seemed to wear off.
“What’s your story?” he asked. “Why are you being such a drag?”
Dagmar jumped up from the couch and screamed, “Maybe because I have to bleed from my vagina for a week!” And with that she stomped off to her bedroom, slamming the door behind her. Mogley skidded across the room and hid under the table while Benjy and Caddy stared after Dagmar in shock, and Kitty stifled a snicker.

After that, Caddy stopped by less and less often. Their dates went from every weekend to once every few weeks. Until one night Caddy showed up three hours earlier than usual. Dagmar hadn’t even showered yet, but she invited him in none-the-less.
“Listen, Dutchess,” he said with a business-like air, “don’t igg me now. I need a few ticks to slide my jib,” he told her.
“Um, OK?” Dagmar said, confused, as she took a seat on the couch, assuming he wanted to continue talking. Caddy paced the room.
“So… this has been sharp. Really you’re the most. But you got me whipped up with all this sad jive. One minute you’re all about the trickeration and the next thing I know you’re some V-8 who’s got her glasses on. I…I just can’t pick up on your fraughty issues. Do you got your boots on with what I just beefed you?” He stared at her, waiting for an answer. Dagmar took a minute to put his words together in her head. Suddenly it dawned on her.
“Wait…Are you breaking up with me? What the fuck did you just say? I have no idea what any of that means!” she screamed.
“Listen, baby…” he started
“Oh hell no, don’t you dare call me baby, you piece of shit, wanna-be hipster! You are breaking up with me? Look at me. I’m Gillette, sweetheart. The best a man can get!” Dagmar screamed into his face. Flecks of spit collected in the corners of her mouth and she began to look almost rabid as she used all her strength to push Caddy out the door and slam it in his face. Having taken her anger out on the door, Dagmar collapsed to the floor and cried breathlessly.

“Well, I don’t know if I want you dating someone who would go around putting his penis in a girl’s butt hole. Even if he does look like James Dean,” Dagmar’s mother told her. It was Friday night, Caddy’s date night, and Dagmar had been crying all week over the break-up. She thought her mother would be of comfort.
“Maybe I should just become a lesbian,” Dagmar said.
“Oh no, dear, men are good for some things. I mean in some cultures they have the good sense to go into the woods when they’re not needed. Some men just need to learn to stay out of the womenfolk’s hair until we need them.”
Dagmar’s mother seemed to ponder another thought. “Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if men were just penises that you could put on a shelf when you were through with them?”
Dagmar thought about that for a moment. “And arms for cuddling. Arms that contract when you’re having sex so they’re not flailing around everywhere,” she added.
“And lips for kissing,” her mother added onto their perfect man.
“But no vocal chords,” Dagmar added as a last-minute precaution. Then they had a laugh at their journey into chauvinism.
“All right, Princess, my bitches are coming over for a Girl’s Night. We’re gonna drink margaritas and celebrate Cynthia’s divorce. Kiss kiss, feel better,” her mother said before hanging up.
“Margaritas,” Dagmar said to herself as she hatched a plan. “If Cynthia can celebrate her divorce with margaritas, maybe alcohol will make me feel better about Caddy. I need to celebrate my freedom,” she told herself. She searched high and low for her secret stash of tequila before realizing she had polished it off celebrating her internship. The only alcohol in the apartment was a box of Franzia white zinfandel. Dagmar had no idea where it had come from, but decided it was better than nothing.
With Benjy out on his date with Kitty, Dagmar’s only drinking companion was Mogley.
“Here kitty kitty kitty,” she called as she put the spout over his water bowl and let the wine mix with his water. She then held the nozzle over her head and let the sweet pink elixir fill her mouth. Mogley took a few laps of the concoction, meowed woozily and zigzagged to the corner to lie down.
“Lightweight,” she mocked as she took the bag from the box and squeezed some more wine into her open mouth.
Half an hour and three quarters of the bag later, Dagmar was dancing around the room to the music in her head. Mogley had just escaped a rousing waltz when there was a knock on the door. Dagmar stumbled towards the sound and somehow managed to poke her eye with the peephole.
Jax!” she rejoiced as she opened the door.
“Hey, Dagmar, having a little party?” he asked when he saw the state she was in. Dagmar laughed and hiccupped. Dagmar was used to Jax mysteriously showing up when she was drunk and home. She could smell Seagram’s on his breath, liquid courage to come over and talk to her one-on-one without stammering, she imagined. Around the office he wasn’t as bad. There was less pressure to keep up conversation when other people were around. When they were alone, or even when it was just the two of them and Benjy, his nerves always seemed to get the best of him.
“Jax! Come drink with me,” Dagmar demanded as she pulled him towards the couch. “Here,” she said as she held the bag of wine over his head. He opened his mouth obediently and she let the nozzle flow too quickly, filling Jax’s mouth and dripping wine down his chin. “Oops. Sorry,” she said, before wiping his chin with her shirt. “So what’s going on, Sugar?” Dagmar slurred and giggled with what she meant to be cheekiness.
“Nothing. Just wanted to see what you were up to,” Jax answered, taking another swig from the collapsing bag of wine which he had taken from Dagmar
“Just dancin’! Wanna see me dance?” Dagmar purred seductively before hiccupping.
“Um… sure?” Jax laughed.
Dagmar did an ungraceful leap over the cat’s dish as she ran into the next room. She stifled a laugh as the wine tinted her white carpet pink. The combination of a burned-out light bulb and her double vision forced her to pick a CD by the colors she recognized. She saw red words and could almost decipher the words “Merman” and “Gypsy.”
“Perfect,” she told herself before flipping to number 15 on the CD.
As the song began, she leaned against the doorframe seductively. The trumpets blew as she wiggled down the wall and back up, rolling her hips.
Sandra Church sang out “Let me…entertain you…Let me…Make you smile.” and Dagmar walked one foot in front of the other towards the couch where Jax sat, smirking at her drunken attempt to be sexy.
“I’m very versatile,” brought her down to the floor, and she kicked her feet in the air one right after another.
“And if you’re real good, I’ll make you…feel good,” Dagmar mouthed as she crawled up from the ground and kneeled on the coffee table. She got to her feet as Sandra sang out, “I want your spirits to climb.”
By the crescendo in the trumpets, Dagmar was attempting Rockette kicks when she overestimated her balancing abilities and began to fall backwards. Jax was there like a rocket, catching her in his surprisingly strong arms.
“My hero,” she crooned, kissing his cheek.
That kiss must have sent a white hot spark up Jax’s spine. His sable eyes cauterized hers as he leaned into her flushed, wine-soaked lips. She brought her face to his and stared into those eyes right before their lips met. He gently rubbed his mouth against hers before lifting her slightly and kissing harder.
Not a word was spoken as Jax carried Dagmar to the bedroom and set her feet on the floor before lifting his shirt over his head and turning off the lights. She pulled out the chop-sticks that had been holding up her greasy hair as Jax undid his belt. His pants fell to the floor without needing to be unbuttoned as Dagmar peeled off the sweatpants she had been living in for the past week. Their lips met again and she pulled him by the suction of their kiss onto the bed.
Dagmar’s beauty was slightly muted with only the glow of the moon to light the room. Jax removed his boxers and inched his way towards her without hesitation. So used to Caddy, Dagmar braced herself for the pain that came with sex, but was surprised to find pleasure in Jax. He guided himself into her with just the right amount of force.
Jax slowly ran his hands up and down Dagmar’s thighs as he thrust himself deeper and deeper inside of her. The sleepiness of the wine mixed with the pleasure of painless sex made Dagmar giggle and gasp. She bit her lip as he moved his hands towards her breasts, never touching them but getting teasingly closer with each thrust. The intimacy of their act was heightened by the fact that they never lost eye contact. Only with the power of Dagmar’s first orgasm did she even blink. It wasn’t until she had two more that Jax finished.
“That was nice,” Dagmar said as Jax ran his fingers through her hair. Dagmar fit her head comfortably in the concave center of his chest.
“Yeah,” he agreed. They lay in comfortable silence for a moment before Jax said, “Try to get some sleep.”
“OK,” Dagmar obeyed, and right before she closed her eyes, she thought she saw a ring of green around Jax’s seemingly over-dilated pupils.

It was nearly 4 a.m. when Dagmar awoke with a start. “What have I done?” she thought over and over between half-sleep, half-waking hallucinations. Suddenly, she heard the soft slam of the apartment door. Wide-eyed, she lay facing the doorframe in worried anticipation that Benjy might walk by her doorway. As he slowly tip-toed past the open door, he looked in. Wide-eyed himself, Benjy stifled a laugh and shook his head. Dagmar gave him the finger and he rolled his eyes before walking into his room. Dagmar mentally prepared herself for the teasing she would receive in the morning. But she doesn't care anymore. The heat from Jax's body becomes a detoxifying sauna. The weight of her past spills through her pores with the sweat. She no longer feels the shame of her mistakes; Caddy, the pregnancy scare, every mistake from her past floats into the air and becomes vapor. She snuggles closer, letting Jax detoxify her further.