I went on a date the other day. We can call it a first date though it could also just as easily be known as a last date because I highly doubt I will ever see her again. In fact, I can even imagine a scenario where she would send me a very expletive and CAPS LOCK filled text message if she ever has the misfortune of stumbling across this particular editorial.
Unless you’ve seen me naked sometime in the past three years, you probably don’t know about the giant homage to Princess Mononoke that adorns my stomach. I’m a relatively inconspicuous young man, my most notable other features being a thick, scraggly beard and a pair of extremely plump red lips, so most seem to be a little surprised when I take off my shirt and they are faced with a piece of art that takes up approximately 50% of my torso.
The first time I watched Titanic also happened to be the first time I saw a pair of large naked boobs staring at me onscreen. They were Kate Winslet’s large naked boobs, of course. I was a confused young boy of nine sitting in the corner of the very first row of a Central New Jersey theater: my father to my right, my older sister to my left, and me and a rapidly mounting sense of awkwardness in the middle.
(Ahh… should I look? Should I not look? What’s everyone else doing? Oh god, something is happening in my pants!)
Fifteen or so years later I found myself again watching Titanic in a completely sold out theater, but this time from the corner of the last row, with very different company and about as far away from New Jersey as one can get without either burrowing to the Earth’s core or flying to the moon.
So, you want to meet my mother you say? Sure, sure I think we can arrange that. You’ll have to find that bastion of liberalism that she and my father live upon. It’s a hill overlooking a small pond and two fields in the middle of the cow and horse and chicken and Republican country of Central New Jersey. Oh, it’s beautiful – no doubt about that – and what it lacks in nearby facilities that would entertain a teenager, it more than makes up for with its beautiful seclusion and the leafy trees that hide my childhood home from the neighbors for about three quarters of the year.
Ah, Almost Famous. There will always be a special place in my heart for you, a place somewhere right next to my first OMG-BEST-BAND-EVR (Sublime), Hunter S. Thompson novels, and Ganguro porn (I regret nothing!).
Yes, as a budding writer/journalist before I knew I was a budding writer/journalist I loved watching Almost Famousand imagining my own awkward, gangly 15-year-old self traveling across the States, interviewing rockstars, and engaging in the kinds of wonderful debauchery that would bless me with lovely stories and a mild case of gonorrhea.
Ah, the wonders of the internet. You start out with some very basic questions about human evolution and wind up looking at strange cartoon pictures of sexuality. Delightful.
Now, I assure you, I did not begin my journey through the bowels of Wikipedia with the express intention of seeing cartoon men (and some women) ejaculate onto each other in a variety of interesting ways. But once I found my way down that fascinating hallway of animated splooge, I simply couldn’t resist clicking on every new and wonderful term I came across.
“Sir, I just asked if you want to add fries with that.”
“Don’t fucking sir me, boy, trying to act all high and mighty and proper. Just get me my fucking hamburger, fucking raghead.”
The teenager’s head snaps back, as if he was slapped, and his mouth drops open. He throws Earl’s hamburger into its bag and, gritting his teeth, thrusts the bag through the drive-through window. Earl snatches the food and immediately claws open the hamburger wrapper.
“You probably spit in this too, didn’t you, raghead? Didn’t you?” Earl separates the pieces of the hamburger: pulling apart the bun, the beef patties, the lettuce, looking for the evidence of spit that eludes him.
Bite my lip and burrow my sweaty palms in the pockets of my pants and wipe clean the evidence (though scant may it be to onlookers) that damns me for letting words spill out of my mouth that are not direct truths, but carefully composed misdirections.
Keep it clean. Keep it simple. Keep it safe.
Focus on the trivialities. Keep your eyes averted.
Control. Control. Control.
How many nights have I fallen into her trap? She glistens under a spotlight moon, the sparkles in her hair send beams bouncing around the room and into the eyes and hearts of a thousand desperate men, and none more desperate than I.
Dirty laundry, decaying newspapers,
Chinese take-out boxes, and stained sheets.
Plates stacked under the bed, glasses perched on the nearby table
teetering, waiting to tip and spill and tumble and crunch into the floorboards
“Don’t take them off,” she tells me.
She means my shoes,
and I take her advice.
We slide into bed,
cocoon inside the mess,
and push the trash against the wall.
There’s something poking sharply into my back –
a self-improvement book. “Stupid,” I think.
She takes off her skirt and her blouse and her bra
and drops her panties down past her knees and around the
rainbow painted hiking boots still laced and snug around her little feet.
She smells like cigarettes and magazine perfume and curry, but her lips are soft
and her eyes smile and dance and I can see my own goofy
face staring back: a dirty beard, sunken eyes, greasy hair
and a foolish grin and reasonably straight
whitish-yellow teeth that chatter incessantly
when I’m nervous or when I’m trying
to impress someone.
(They often chatter.)
And I awake with her in my arms and the bed is soft and enveloping and the room is dark and cluttered and neither of us have any place to be so we let the hours slip by unheeded. Absentminded conversations spin in circles as I hold her and the light flitters in and around the curtains with the rising sun. She stretches out and slips her lips into mine, but I flinch and jerk back as if I had been slapped. No, no, no, I remember this and I fear it. But she just smiles and kisses me again and the pain floods through my body, oozing through every pore.