10 Days of Bond
It’s Super Bowl 2017, the Falcons are playing the Patriots, and I’m happily chilling with good people and a margarita.
In walks a man who locks in on me instantly. We begin a riveting conversation about absolutely nothing, as flirting goes, and I figure if he’s made it into this room of trusted people, he must be safe. Possibly even normal.
At the end of the night he says, “Would you like to go to Charleston with me next week?”
I start to think that’s a terrible idea, but the margaritas were so strong the guy making them passed out during half time so I let myself consider it.
A little impulsive maybe, but how crazy can he be?
He can’t murder me if we have mutual friends.
I’ve wanted to go to Charleston since I binge watched Southern Charm on Bravo last winter.
It’s weird it falls on Valentine’s Day, but since when has anyone ever died from a spontaneous love affair?
Oh… really? …. happens all the time? I’ll have to think long and – “OKAY” my margarita decides.
He calls and asks if I’d like to grab a drink that evening. I accept. He sends me the dress code of the place where we’re meeting. It’s some old school fancy shit but I can roll with it.
On the way out I rip my tights because I am who I am, but it’s a high thigh tear so I pull my dress down and trust I can get away with it as I slide into a car.
When I arrive, the doorman asks which member I’m meeting. I say, “Oh this person isn’t a member,” because this is an old-people place.
I give him the first name anyway, then realize I don’t remember his last name. Doorman offers a name and I say “Yes, that’s him,” assuming it’s not.
Coat Check Man is being persistent about my coat, but I need it to hide my ripped tights and if stand around here playing tug-a-war much longer Doorman will discover I’m an impostor.
I fake left then sprint up the stairs.
Into an elitist’s heaven.
A man plays a baby grand piano as I enter the room of leather bound books, rich mahogany and even richer old white men.
A tour passes through and I swear the guide says, “This was the home where Roger Ailes and Emily Post raised the Brooks Brothers.”
A dashing stranger says my name. The normal-at-best dude from the Super Bowl party has transformed into James Bond.
He stands there with a martini and the kind of hair quaff only blue-blooded Kennedy genes could have created.
I nod to the man on his left who returns with a finger gun and I curtsy to the man on his right. I remember him with a cane and a monocle but that’s probably not right.
The bartender says “What’ll it be?”
I ask to see a menu.
“Of what?” he scoffs.
James Bond tries to explain I must mean of cocktails. The bartender just looks at me like I’m stupid so I say, “A Piña Coloda, please.“ But women aren’t funny in this era so I’m met with disdain. ”Kidding. White wine. Sorry.“
One by one, all three men point out that the bartender has let me have a member’s pour.
Yes. I'm aware. You're in club. I mean, what do you want me to do, pour it back? How about you just wear your dumb matching Members Only jackets - which by the way they sell at Urban Outfitters - and get off my ass about it?
I regain my poise and they go back to talking about how nice it was when only they could vote.
James Bond excuses us then loops my arm through his and we take a turn about the room so the other members have a chance to look me over.
It all feels a little “Rosemary’s Baby” but I’ve gained their approval, and we take a seat in two thrones overlooking Gramercy Park.
James – I call him James now – has decided we’re dating. He spends the remainder of the evening making sure we’re on the same page about when we’re having children and which boarding schools and summer camps would fit best with our own summer plans.
I assume he doesn’t want to spend time with the children either. They’re brats. Thank god for Esmerelda the nanny. I would die without her. Just. Die.
Taking my arm through his again, we exit the club as I give Coat Check Man a smug look over my shoulder because I’ve won this round.
James walks me home which isn’t ideal because it’s February in New York. When we get to my stoop, he pulls me in for an unexpected attempt at a movie kiss.
Meh. Could have done without that. But no real thoughts other than it's cold out here and tights aren’t pants. I treat the exposed patch of skin on my thigh for frost bite.
James Bond drunk dials me.
He yells, “I WANNA COME OVER AND MAKE YOU PANCAKES.”
It’s 11 PM, so I say “I’m good, thanks.”
He yells, “FINE!” and hangs up on me.
The same conversation happens around 11:15 PM.
11:20 PM I get a voicemail. ”I WANNA COME OVER AND MAKE YOU PANCAKES……. HELLO?” (click).
I now think James Bond is weird as fuck, but I’m in a good mood because it’s a beautiful snow day outside. I decide I’ll let him apologize and agree to a snowy evening stroll through the West Village.
I arrive at his building and as I’m about to ask for the apartment number my phone dies.
I call the digital doorman who says 4H.
I go to 4H and find a girl expecting take out. I try 4A because there’s really big shoes in front of the door. Also not him. And I shouldn’t have assumed those were men’s shoes.
I go back out into the snow in search of a phone charger. Annoyed now, I eventually find a dive bar with a charging station and take a tequila shot with some nice older men who don’t seem to have jobs or families.
My phone comes to life and the first text is Bond saying, “btw apt 4K.” I decide he’s the enemy.
I’m cold, hungry and buzzed, but I suck it up and text back “K” hoping he reads it in a bitchy voice.
We have a glass of wine as he shows me his immaculately spotless, beautiful apartment. It’s the most preppy place I’ve ever been in my life and I’ve been to the Vineyard Vine store on Martha’s Vineyard and The Polo Bar.
We pour two more glasses of wine in to-go cups for the stroll. The streets are empty with the exception of a maître d we’re both friendly with – a Haitian man building a snowman with the help of YouTube video and cracking himself up.
His laugh sounds eery in the distance as we continue down the empty road.
We don’t have a reservation at L’Artusi, but of course he’s James Bond so it’s not an issue. This escapes the new girl. While he chats with the manager, she asks me for his name. I say his first but forget his last name again so I panic and say my own.
I’m a modern day woman. A man can take my name.
We’re seated and I excuse myself to use the restroom. I come back to find he has ordered everything down to my wine selection.
As a modern day woman I’m offended. But as a currently drunk girl I’m happy I don’t have to read or make decisions or talk to a stranger.
Bond, who works for the world’s largest global investment bank, tells me he’s hosting a work event at a club that night then asks me to come with.
I don’t want to because 1.) boring and 2.) I’m in old saggy jeans, rain boots and a giant sweater of his I had to borrow because I got cold while wandered around in a blizzard in pursuit of shelter and a battery life.
But I finish my wine and think Nah I look good.
Flash forward and I’m making my own drinks at a table with a bunch of well-dressed Wall Street guys and giving them my opinion on today’s market. Mostly produce but also the snack isle.
We head back to his apartment so I can return the sweater and grab my bag. He orders a pizza on the walk but then passes out on his couch as soon as we walk in.
I don’t want to be there because I just met the guy and I'm in his home while he's asleep and that's weird so I leave $21 next to his face and bounce.
He sends a text that says “Thank you for coming with me last night. Oh and… I love you.” Odd but I would love anyone who left me pizza money too. Especially if they went home so I didn’t have to share my pizza with them.
That night we attend the New York Philharmonic. I’m wearing a black Christian Siriano crepe slip dress made to blow minds. On Instagram. I don’t really care about his mind anymore.
He picks me up in an Uber with Frank Sinatra playing and a nice bottle of red with plastic wine glasses.
The driver has been asked to take the long way to Lincoln Center so we can enjoy this lovely New York night.
Then he gives me a corsage to match his boutonniere.
I try to be cool about it but … I don’t want that.
Eventually, he then tells me he plans to leave his high paying finance job to pursue painting – (eerrrrrt) well timed tire screech as we arrive. And James Bond basically said he wants to quit being an international man of mystery because he wants to dance.
I clink my plastic cup against his and tip it back. Best enjoy the high life while we have it.
The seats are top-notch center balcony, and since he snuck in a flask of tequila to pour into a water bottle we look like the perfect display of sophistication and public school prom dates.
He tells me that we'll donate to the arts every year then takes my hand, pinches my ring finger and says, “Just sizing it up.”
I have some “water”.
At the end of the symphony, he disappears. I stand waiting until he returns, takes my hand and walks me out toward the end of the balcony, where everyone below can see us.
He gets down on one knee. He asks me to marry him while presenting one of his cuff links. A nice Asian man videotapes this moment on Bond’s Go Pro.
I think about jumping.
I'm all for a joke, but this ain't that. So I just stand there speechless for another few moments before he eventually says, “…if not now, then to having an adventure until,” and stands back up.
He thanks the Asian man who seems as uncomfortable as I am.
I have more “water”. I wanna go home.
But instead we arrive at The Beatrice Inn next. Again no reservation, yet they apologize for the wait with drinks and small bites from the kitchen, then go over the top once we’re seated at a great table.
He tells me to point out my favorite piece of art in the restaurant and I do. I will later receive that piece of art as a gift, but that's a story for another day.
For now, he just asks our waiter for a pen then begins to draw his own artwork on a cloth napkin as he explains he really does love me. Even though he hasn’t let me talk much and probably doesn’t remember my last name either.
I make eye contact with the waiter watching this. I try to convey with one look that I’m sorry about the napkin – I’m embarrassed – I don’t condone this behavior – I don’t even know this guy – I’ve been kidnapped – Can you help me?
It just gets us the check.
Right across the way is the Haitian snowman guy again so we cross to say hi. The restaurant is closed but a few people are hanging out so we join in for a quick shot.
Bond goes to the bathroom and the restaurant owner asks me how it’s going. I let him know Bond and I will likely be good friends. The kind that don’t really hang out again after this.
Catching my drift, he pours me another and I convince him and the lost boys sitting at the bar to come with us to the Spotted Pig because there’s safety in numbers.
Also if I’m out in a hot LBD, 4-inch open toed heels and numb enough to trudge through the snow this way, I’m getting another hour out of this rental dress.
Once at the Spotted Pig, I converse with a blacked-out 45 year old community college guitar teacher for 20 minutes just to confirm it was all for nothing. I Irish-exit out the back.
My friend and I have appointments with an energy healer bright and early. I don’t think he’ll get a good read since my body is still about 70% “water”, but his voodoo magic is powerful.
He tells me I have an inability to accept love. I'm afraid of commitment and my shields are up. My pulse is in my fight or flight zone. I live in fear of someone breaking down my walls. And my kidneys are dehydrated.
He says the next time I have an opportunity to say yes to love, take it! Don’t be afraid! Get it girl!
James Bond texts, “I love you"
I text back, “Yeah I can’t go to Charleston.”
It was the right thing to do. James Bond has already wasted a lot of money on me. Knowing that:
A.) His friend has gotten us reservations at 3 very nice restaurants in Charleston
B.) Feelings are not going to happen
C.) He needs to save up for his new career as a struggling artist
D.) Ugh, whatever, I just didn’t wanna go.
So I reject the energy healer’s advice. I say no to a romantic Valentine’s Day trip for two and buy a ticket for one to the Westminster Dog Show!
I hear my mother start crying 3,000 miles away.
Bond says he understands and will forever love only me, his mom and the earth, which I don't really get but I say thank you. Then calls multiple times asking why I would do this to him and tries to get me to come over. I say I don’t want to come over because I have important things to do. Llike put on sneakers and walk around my apartment in pajamas all day, but feel accomplished because I’m wearing shoes.
That night I’m meeting friends in the West Village coincidentally two blocks from his apartment. He calls again while I’m walking and asks that I at least see what he’s been working on… his art.
Feeling guilty for bailing on a very nice guy, I say I’ll stop by quickly. I should at least offer some money for my plane ticket … or another pizza.
I arrive and he’s not answering the buzzer. His phone is off now. I’m about to leave, but a strange feeling comes over me and I know I have to go up and knock.
When I get there, his door is already open. I go inside and I can’t process what I’m seeing.
The world’s more beautifully organized apartment has been torn apart. Cryptic symbols and words are painted on the walls. His closet has been emptied all over the floor with only a narrow area to walk exposed. The doors have been torn off. Furniture is broken. His phone is smashed, mattress is gone, the curtains pulled down.
I don’t know where he is. I know he has to be here, but WHERE is he?
I did it! I spot him! He’s unconscious on the floor, half naked and covered in paint wearing Where’s Waldo glasses.
Not glasses that look like Waldo’s, they actually say “Where’s Waldo” on the side.
I realize what has happened here …
Someone has attacked James Bond and dressed him up like an erotic Waldo then hidden him among colorful chaos for me to find like SOME KIND OF SICK GAME!!!
I wake him up and say, “James Bond, who has done this to you?! ….. what? … I can barely hear you…. Oh… you drank too much?…. that’s pretty lame…. yeah, I get that you were upset but, shit dude, look at the mess you made.”
He says it’s not a mess. It’s beautiful. The Waldo glasses are magnifying his eyes like an evil genius revealing his plan.
He gets up and tells me the meaning of each canvas and the painted words and symbols on the walls. It’s madness. Nothing makes sense. I know I don’t “get” art but this is some really wacked out shit he’s saying.
He shows me where he’s hung the napkin art from The Beatrice Inn then points to the tuxedo hanging up with a face painted on the wall above it and reminds me it’s what he wore when he proposed. I ask if he wants his cuff link back. Then admit I already lost it.
He holds up a piece of his art and explains it’s one that’s really going to piss people off in the art world. It’s a happy face next to a bottle with a wave inside.
It’s called “Glass Half Full”. It’s a gift for me.
He tells me from now on I am the only one allowed in this apartment and I suddenly wonder am I gonna be allowed out!?
He goes back to painting on his closet doors, blocking the exit. I speak in a slow, calm voice and act like this is all totally normal. I ask for a glass of water to cause a diversion so I can snap photos of his lair with my super spy gadget called iPhone 4.
Curse my low storage! But I have enough.
He returns and hands me a 2 liter bottle of tonic water, which wasn’t what I asked for, but there’s no time to argue. I have to get out of here. But how?
Wait a tick! In my hands I hold a tonic bomb. I set the bottle down between us in the narrow walkway. We both know if he tries to follow in his state he will likely stumble and kick over the bottle causing it to fizz up and explode!
It works. I’m free. In my most heroic voice I yell, “Take that evil genius! Now get a good night’s sleep!“
He quits his job. He sends me a screen shot of the email he sent his boss.
Looks like a haiku.
With dot-dot-dots and question marks.
His name is misspelled.
See what I did there? That was a haiku. No big deal.
Box seats at the Westminster Dog Show. Men are scary. Puppies are happy. I want to stay here.
Bond’s Wall Street friends start friending me on Instagram. I check to make sure I wasn’t tagged in a portrait he painted of me… like a happy face with hair.
My sister calls in the morning to say people are looking for Bond. I pass along what I know.
The whole day goes by before I realize all those friends of his had been messaging me on Instagram since the night before. No one else had heard from him since the prior Thursday – except his poem of resignation.
I get on the phone with one of his friends and describe the last few days. I send the photos I took. They go to his apartment. And he’s been in a psych ward ever since.
His friend called that night to fill me in then passes me on to James Bond’s mother despite my “wait…no.. please don’t -”
I begin with, “Hi Mrs. …um”
God why can’t I remember his last name? We almost got married!
“Please know that anything I describe is not to embarrass your son. It’s just to help paint a picture … (chuckle) no pun intended….. Okay… Sorry… No, you’re right…. You might laugh later though …. No, I don’t think you will either. Okay, here’s everything I know. It was Super Bowl 2017. The Falcons were playing the Patriots…..”
At the end of all of this I know I have learned a valuable lesson.
It’s .. um. Sometimes energy healers can give bad relationship advice.
I can do better.
If someone wants to make you pancakes, you should just let them.
That’s not it.
James Bond is schizophrenic.
If you want to meet his mom, but he won’t introduce you... have him committed.
Okay, there’s no moral of the story here. Maybe just don’t say things like, “how crazy can he be?” Because the universe will hear that, laugh, and say “watch this.”
Disclaimer: this happened to one of the nicest guys ever and I am a jack ass for writing about it. Not only nicest, but possibly smartest guy too since his company gave him 6 months paid leave because breakdowns in his line of work are extremely common. Regardless, James Bond, if you ever somehow find this, I'm sorry... but writing is an art... and you're an artist... so we're cool, right? Ok. Hope you're doing better!
I'm kind of a witch ...
Cutting to the chase, I recently went through a phase where I thought I was a witch. Both my sister and I did. True to form, were were getting competitive about our powers so I wanted to prove I was the better witch with something obvious. This was after 2 bottles of wine mind you, but I decided I would to turn my blue eyes into green eyes. So instead of doing something normal before bed like reading or watching TV, I drunk-focused all of my energy on turning my blue eyes into green eyes. And I woke up with pink eye. True story.
To me, saying “I went to the gym” is just as good as a work out. What I do there – be it steam room or snack bar – doesn’t matter because I can say, “I went to the gym today” and feel good about it.
On this particular Saturday, I’m getting something at the snack bar, because I deserve it. Since I went to the gym today. To get a snack.
And the epitome of tall, dark and handsome waits next to me. The chemistry is palpable when he asks, “Are you waiting on that green juice?”
And I say, “No, I’m getting that muffin.” I point to the flat, ugly vegan muffin. It looks depressing ... but I have plans for it.
“You’re a vegan?” he asks.
“God no.” I say, then dropping to a breathy flirt, “I’m gonna head home, butter my muffin then microwave that bad boy.”
“Sounds hot,” he replies.
I’m unsure if he’s into me or proving his knowledge of a microwave.
He introduces himself as some name that doesn’t matter because we’re just going to make one up anyway, and our eyes linger.
“Are you doing anything tonight?” he asks.
“I have plans,” I say. Even though I don't. "But I could grab a drink before..."
"I'll squeeze you in then," I confirm.
1.5 drinks in I tell him I lied about about having plans tonight and he says yeah that was pretty obvious. Then asks what my sign is. Fearlessly cheesy, but as he defends, something has to explain this chemistry.
My guess was the alcohol, but we look up the compatibility for a Gemini and a Taurus anyway.
Answer: When Taurus and Gemini come together in a love affair, they must both take the time to learn what the dynamics of the relationship are and how they can best get along. It will take a bit of adjustment and effort on both sides.
So the internet just became our polite friend telling us it's not gonna work out. Which makes some sense. Physically, sure fine, but our personalities were very misaligned.
Instead of listening to her, though, we order another round. Then continue on with a change of scenery. And another.
I like his old school chivalry. He gets the door and takes the street side of the sidewalk. I like that his mom seems to have raised him right back in Panama, while his dad – some American prick – was never in the picture.
I like that he doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder about his dad, while I still bring up that one time my dad forgot my birthday and made my passport incorrectly so I'll forever have to travel internationally with a fake birthday.
I like that he’s confident and successful, but from humble beginnings.
I like that he’s older, but with a playful charm.
I like that he went to Harvard and works in finance, even though I’ve never liked anyone who went to Harvard or works in finance before.
As we turn down a quiet street in the West Village, I tell him it’s my favorite street in the city and he kisses me for the first time so I’d like it that much more. Points for style. I accept.
Neither of us has eaten yet, but I don’t feel like being in a nice restaurant. I forwardly suggest delivery back at his place.
The internet already said it wouldn't work out so I've got nothing to lose here.
He orders from a Cuban place and raves about their dessert. We talk well into the night, getting closer on the couch and I suddenly want to do something I’ve never done on a first date before.
Because fellas, this hot bod is a temple. You want this, you gotta earn this.
Except him. He doesn't have to.
He’s tall and tan and has a sultry Latin thing going on, so all he had to do was buy me 6 drinks and some Cuban flan.
And it was good. Really good.
Like, some of the best flan I’ve ever had. Definitely not some boring vanilla flan if you know what I mean.
So good I actually passed out after.
Which as it turns out, was actually the result of a gas leak in his apartment and breathing in a lot of fumes throughout the night and then standing up too fast, getting real dizzy and hitting the floor. Thank god he wasn't big on lighting candles.
Despite our horoscopes, a month or two later we're still doing great with the exception of needing a morning-after pill due to irresponsible choices made the night prior.
At least the fix is easy enough.
- Swallow pill
- Temporary Insanity
I swallow the pill and as the double dose of hormones take effect, I debate sabotaging this perfectly fine relationship just for kicks.
This could actually be a difficult one though. There’s so many good things about him and he’s really got his shit together so … wait… maybe that’s it. I can find fault in his success. Yes, that can work!
He’ll want to provide a nice home for us so he’ll work too much and soon all of our fun passion will turn into equally matched fighting.
For a while that will lead back to hot sex, but then slowly the passive aggressive quips will set in and we’ll start tuning the other out.
We’ll have the big house in the great neighborhood that feels empty and lifeless, with a quiet breakfast table after nights I tried to wait up for him and would get no explanation other than “at the office”.
My career won’t be encouraged and I’ll have a circle of friends who spend their time talking about hiring and firing nannies and house keepers, who all stopped paying attention to what's going on in the world a long time ago.
I’ll probably hate my kids because they turned out like assholes while I was stealing their adderall and drinking in the afternoons with my shitty friends at the tennis club – slash – fitness center.
Then he’ll come home late and ask from the bathroom, “What did you do today?”
And I’ll say, “I went to the gym”
And he’ll say, “steam room or snack bar?”
And I’ll say “I fucked my personal trainer in the daycare bathroom” but he doesn’t care because he’s in there sending a dick pic to his assistant
So he’ll just say, “Mmm k. Don’t forget we have that thing tonight”
And I won’t really know what thing he’s talking about because all the 'things' are the same and they’re all so boring and I become NAUSEOUS at the very thought of the monotony and I can’t sit through another one of these 'things' or I’ll vomit.
So I’ll half way sedate myself on pain killers out of utter boredom, and swirl my Chardonnay, while glaring at the plain bread on a small plate, as some toothy woman, who is sucking up because she’s new in town and wants to be invited to drink afternoon martinis with me and my shitty friends, asks us how we met…
And one of us will say “we met at the gym,” while the other tells the story of how we flew to Cuba that very night in a romanticized script that’s actually just based off of some Cuban take-out with a side of gas leak hallucinations
But all it does is remind us that we haven’t had flan in MONTHS
And I’d actually consider it tonight because I’m drinking on pain killers
But on the ride home, he’ll comment on my drinking and I’ll remind him he’s balding
So I’ll rule it now and just eat my bread for a distraction... and a base
But I won’t put butter on it because my life has no meaning and I don’t deserve butter
And my body is CRAMPING at the very idea of butterless bread and now the walls are cramping in on me and I have to get out of here because I can’t live like this anymore because I need to live a life where I CAN FUCKING EAT BUTTER!
I’m thinking so clearly now and I need to tell him all of this.
I try to get him on the phone, but he tells me to text him because he’s in a meeting. He’s still “at the office”.
See, it’s starting already…
I text him what I need to say, which takes me a while because it’s a very long text. I want to be polite about it, but this is a dire situation.
Finally, I finish and fall asleep thinking how grateful I am I didn’t experience any of those nasty side effects.
The next morning, I wake up feeling refreshed and centered now that my chemical imbalance is evening out.
I look at my phone and think well that can’t be right. I read back what I wrote again.
And yes, it appears I did break it off with him over future versions over ourselves, a life we do not have, and events that may never actually happen. So... that was a weird thing to do.
It didn’t matter that he responded and even tried to find some logic in there.
It didn’t matter that he apologized for his combative text that followed, which wasn’t even that bad. Although he did name my age, 27, in question with my behavior. Which was a little below the belt … though not entirely unwarranted.
None of it matters. We cannot continue. It’s like when one character does something horrible on a telenovela and another character knows they can’t go on.
Like, “I’m sorry Fernando. Too much has happened. When I look at you now all I see is the man who killed my father, while pretending to be my fiancé to protect your identical twin brother.” (who had sex with her abuela!)
We can’t come back from this, so I do the only thing I can do, and fake my own death.
Because it is so much easier than saying, “Hey sorry for that awkward text last night. That was fucking weird, right?”
A week or two later, a friend asks what ever happened to him and I tell her the truth. That he was horrible. He called me 27.
She gasps and asks what I did to deserve that. I say, “Probably nothing but let’s not look into it.”
We walk to a further gym location and order two muffins. Because we’ve got a hot microwave and some butter to get to. We deserve it. We have full, happy lives. And we went to the gym today. To get some muffins.
Little did I know at the time, but this would not be the last we see of The Gemini ...
Never Let a Vampire In
I’m at the Seven For All Mankind store on 5th Avenue one day, when a handsome, tatted forearm reaches over to pull out a sweater right where I’m standing.
He’s tall and edgy with a sweater so tight so it’s hard to miss the nice muscle definition he’s working with.
“Sweet tattoo,” I say.
He says, “Thanks.”
We lock eyes and as he gazes at me I can’t help but wonder if he knows that sweater’s for women.
"Is that Sanskrit?" I ask instead.
"No. It's in English. But it looks like it's in Sanskrit. But I can't read Sanskrit. So I got it in English. Because I can read English."
"Oh wow, that's so sexy. Tell me more things you can read. Like... big words?"
"Yeah. I can read big words."
"What about hard words?"
"I can read a lot of hard words too."
"So you can read a lot of big... hard... words?"
He had the look of someone I should be attracted to and the basic arrogance was there.
I could tell he was into me by the way he was looking at himself in the mirror I was standing directly in front of. But I had to find out more to be sure about him.
He follows me to the back of the store where the real interrogation begins.
“Do you have a job?” I ask. …. “Male model? Perfect. That sounds unstable.”
“Criminal record?” …. “Two DUI’s in one week you over achiever. AND you resisted arrest? Bad boy...”
“Addictive personality?” …. “Good, good. Those are always healthy.”
“Do you consider yourself to be an angry person? On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your temper?” … ”Whoa, whoa! Sorry. I hate math problems too. We’ll skip that one.”
“Any additional information you’d like to add?” … ”You’re a former reality TV star? I couldn’t have asked for a better answer. You’re doing very well.”
“Last question. Can you pay your own rent?” … ”No??” [pounce... racks falling ... hangers breaking]
Yes. He was just the piece of shit I was looking for.
A soul sucking vampire who would offend all of my friends, stick me with the dinner bills and take me to Dave and Busters in Time Square.
I was still a bit hesitant at first, but I was certain he was the man of my dreams once I saw him wearing a fedora and gyrating on a pool stick in front of my boss.
I go against everything my vampires studies have taught me and I invite him into my home.
It’s a few weeks in at this point, when we’re on the couch watching the Bravo show he was on. He said he had never watched his own show before, but he had like this crazy sixth sense.
If I tried to get up, he would say, “Wait, watch this part” and then poof, he’d be on the screen. As if he knew what scene was coming up next.
He was so in tune.
The weirdest thing was that every person on the show mentioned how manipulative he was.
I look at him and say, “You’re not manipulative” and we laugh.
He laughs harder because I haven’t realized yet he moved in with me and isn’t paying rent.
As soon as he takes over my spare closet to hang his tight sweaters and sleep upside down like a bat, I think all I could do is try to give it a real shot. Even when I start seeing obvious signs this all got out of hand real fast.
Like when I make a joke in the shower one morning that includes his last name. He says, “What do you think my last name is?” And I learn I was way off base with the pronunciation of that word.
I get out and cover myself with a towel because I’m showering with a man and I don’t even know his name.
I also soon discover we don’t have the same sense of humor. I find it hilarious when I realize his initials are P.U.. But he does not find it funny. He thinks I'm being a bully.
Oh, and another time was when I found out he was a raging alcoholic who was destroying my life and I would live to regret our every encounter leading me into a dark, dark place that included both emotional and one-count physical abuse.
Hahah - P.U. Oh man. Still funny. Anyway…
At least Vampire does have a few redeeming qualities.
- He always tells me how smart he is, even though he hits his face on the same branch outside my building every day.
- He loves to get drunk and talk about how he “won the genetic lottery” when really he’s like a 7.
- He can always break into my phone and read all my text messages even though I keep changing the password.
- He doesn’t have any friends.
Okay, well ... not great examples. But at least I’ve learned a lot in this relationship! True or false ...
Vampires are nocturnal.
TRUE! It’s an insomnia caused by their alcoholism.
Vampires cannot appear in photographs.
FALSE! Vampires can be photographed. They just get cropped out because your friends hate him so much.
Vampires drink an obscene amount blood.
FALSE! It’s just red wine.
… I’m almost positive it was red wine.
Humans are no match for vampire strength.
FALSE! I single handedly won a match against Vampire when he attempted to tickle me once. I hate being tickled. Hate it. I know the laughter is misleading. I don’t know why the body has such screwed up wiring in that area. But limbs were flying, my knee met his jaw and suddenly there was a loud CLICK.
He spit out half his front tooth and yelled, “Dammit Michelle, I’m a model! This is how I make money!”
First off… what money?
And second,10 Things I Hate About You… “Shit Bianca, I’m shooting a nose spray ad tomorrow!”
It was exactly that. And it was one of the best moments of my life.
Hang tight. He has it coming.
Questionable karma ...
Back at UCLA I would keep a case of water bottles in my trunk. It may have started as part of a larger earthquake preparedness plan. I don't remember. But anyway, on hot days I would grab a few to give out to the homeless people in Westwood and think yeah ... I'm a good person. However, years later I would hear a news report that said keeping plastic water bottles in the trunk of your car on hot days releases a chemical and turns the water into poison. So ... that's something I feel bad about from time to time.
Dubai in 48 Hours
Things aren't going well with Vampire.
I'm Googling animal tranquilizers while watching Snapped: Women Who Kill with compassion, when my sister, Christie, calls and asks if I want to go to Dubai.
I glare at the back of Vampire's head with utter annoyance as he drinks red wine out of my favorite mug and think the other side of the world sounds great.
I've been to Dubai once before - Sorry. What I should actually say is I've been detained in the Dubai airport once before.
Long story I'll get to eventually, but short recap is I'd been sleeping in a hut with no electricity for two weeks with an awesome charitable organization building schools. But now I'm ready to get home and I guess a little on edge after an aggressive day in Bangkok and now a layover in Dubai. And if I ask the question you do not need to look past me and give the answer to my father. I'm not a child. I'm not Medusa. Respectfully, it is the 21st century and this is an international airport. Don't be a dick and just make eye contact with me.
Anyway, my bad. I got a bit vocal and they treated us like nobody has every gotten upset in an airport before so we were taken into an office for a chat and we missed our flight. I maintain they blew it out of proportion. But my dad is a saint for not just leaving me behind. Especially because our first class seats flew off without us and we couldn't get rebooked on another flight for a whole day.
When we finally do get on a flight, we can't get first class so we were faced with 13 hours in couch.
I know. 14 days in a hut, where one minute we'd see a chicken walk by, and then that chicken would become dinner, and then we'd eat that chicken with our hands using a large leaf as a plate ... but suddenly I can't handle coach.
My dad assures me we'll get through it if we just knock ourselves out on sleeping pills.
I've heard people do some pretty fucked up things on Ambien, so when my dad offers me one, I hesitate. Then I remember we're sandwiched in middle seats of a plane as wide as a movie theater and there's not a chance I'll ever be making my way to the restroom on this flight.
I take the pill and say, "If I do anything weird, just don't tell me about it, okay?"
He agrees and I pass out.
Some time later I come to and see my dad is also awake.
"How many hours do we have left," I ask.
"8," he says.
"Did I do anything weird?"
"Good answer. Can I have another?"
This time he hesitates, but I'm best left in the dark as to why.
When Christie and I board our flight to Dubai this time, we go for the upgrade again and it is good. We catch up over champagne and she tells me about the panel she's speaking on at the Dubai International Film Festival. I'm already so proud of her.
Then she asks if I'm still living with a vampire and I say yes but I'm breaking it off as soon as we get back. I just didn't want to find a dog sitter.
When we land in Dubai, I see 50 missed calls and texts from Vampire and I'm immediately nervous.
When I see one that says, "Your dog's eye is out of his head" I relax because I know it's a joke. Poor taste, but a joke.
But turns out it's true.
I call Vampire and ask why he's not at the vet and he says that they turned him away because he couldn't pay for the surgery and told him to go get Oliver's eye, which is hanging out of his head, removed at ASPCA when it opens.
This option instead of a very affordable, very quick surgery to put his eye back in place. If anyone else was watching Oliver, this ordeal would have been over before I landed and my little boy wouldn't have been left suffering for hours.
But I stupidly trusted Vampire. Even joked leaving my sweet dog in his care was just easier than finding a sitter.
I ask how it happened and he tells me he came in and just found Oliver that way, which breaks my heart.
It's 5:30 AM in New York, but the vet is open for 24 hours so I tell him to go back.
I call the vet's office and give them a credit card number and the vet I'm speaking with tells me Vampire originally came in saying he hit Oliver with a door. He told them that he slammed his head in the front door by accident when he was coming in.
But he's denying it to me now, saying he had nothing to do with it.
I tell the vet to please do the surgery, and she tells me if I'm wrong and it's not blunt force trauma and it was something in Oliver's brain that pushed his eye out, he'll bleed out on the table and die. Those are the only two outcomes resting on my decision.
Oliver had a stroke when he was two, so she says it's not unrealistic that it could be a brain issue. She says it would be best if she ran some tests, but the longer his eye is out the less likely it is he'll have vision in it.
I should have just told her to do the surgery. I know exactly how Vampire throws that door hard and rattles everything. I always tell him not to do that but he's a soul sucking, alcoholic vampire so he didn't listen.
And now he's covering his own ass and won't admit to what he did.
But I'm scared Oliver will die if I'm wrong and don't know what to do, so I let the vet take precautions.
I'm half a world away and my little man was horribly hurt by someone I let into his life and left him with.
I hold it together the best I can as we taxi to the Mina Al Salam, where we're staying, and change into formal dresses. We can't miss the events on Christie's schedule.
We go to the red carpet premiere of "Concussion" with Will Smith.
A movie about head injuries was not a successful distraction. I'm in and out of the theater as often as I can to get updates from the vet, but all they're telling me is that test results are still coming in and the neurologist isn't in yet so they're just leaving him sitting in a cage with his eye hanging out.
I'm calling every half hour and barely getting updates.
Vampire calls to yell at me about how I don't seem to care that he is having a bad day.
Fuck. Him. I couldn't care less.
He tells me he got fired from his Banana Republic shoot for being late because of Oliver. But within that same conversation I learn that's a lie. He just wants attention and wants me to feel bad for him. Still don't.
He tells me the reason he didn't have any money in his account to pay for the surgery was because he put a deposit down on a one-bedroom apartment for us in Brooklyn as a surprise.
I live 2 blocks from work so why would I ever move to Brooklyn right before the L is about to be shut down? I ask for any form of proof of this and he can't show me any, of course, because he's a chronic liar who owes me two months of rent and his paychecks are always "in the mail".
I tell him I want him and all of his stuff out before I'm back.
I despise him and I'm done answering his calls.
After the premiere, Christie and I find Bassem Youssef, who we're going to dinner with. I don't know who he is other than what Christie has told me, which is he's the Jon Stewart of the Middle East.
But I wasn't prepared for how incredibly famous he would be. When we find him there is a line of people out the door to take a photo with him and he graciously does with every person before we leave.
This man is such a badass. He was exiled from his home country of Egypt and lives in Dubai at this time - but has since moved to LA. He's the author of Revolution for Dummies, brilliantly smart, hilarious, brave and a truly kind person.
He's stopped every five seconds by someone who wants a picture with him and always obliges. Even more wonderful, he lets me use his phone to make several long distance calls during dinner to check on Oliver. My phone is dead at this point and Christie's isn't working well.
After dinner we go on to this massive outdoor party. A visual spectacle of ball gowns and burkas, and still, in the VIP section Bassem is the most famous person. I feel so small minded for not knowing who he was before this.
I want to enjoy this incredible event and the people we're with, but every time I exhale I feel tears start leaking. I borrow Bassem's phone again and have to move further and further away from the loud music. I walk to the edge of the perimeter and speak to the vet's office while standing right next to a security guard.
A new vet is with him now and tells me my options. She first says the vet before her was basically a dumb ass for wasting the last 6 hours on testing. It's clear from all the external bruising on his skull this was a blunt force trauma. I ask if she can send me a picture of him and she assures me I don't want to see.
She was already transporting him to the hospital uptown and told me he lost vision in his eye because of how much time the previous vet wasted. It feels so senseless. It could have been avoided so easily had I just made the right call at the time. Had I just trusted my gut and known this was Vampire's fault.
Then she asks if I'd like her to take his eye out now, or just patch him back together for the time being. I just got off a plane a few hours ago to find out Oliver is never going to look the same when I see him again and I can't remember if I gave him a good enough goodbye or if I was too busy packing. His quality of life has been permanently changed and I wasn't there to stop any of this from happening.
My eyes are draining down my face, but I still have to be able to answer questions. I breath to keep from breaking into a full cry, but all I want to do is hold my little guy and tell him how sorry I am.
I ask what will be easiest on him and she says since it's been such a long day, to stitch him up and let him rest. I say okay and hang up.
I let some tears out then smile and apologize to the security guard for crying next to him. I turn to go back toward the party and he puts his arm up to stop me. I had stepped two inches out of the unmarked zone and he will not let me go back "in".
He saw where I came from and is still claiming I can't cross back over some imaginary line.
If I was in America I would have run for it, but I just don't have the energy for a Middle Eastern jail tonight and also he has a machine gun so ...
Instead, I just go wandering around in the middle of the night. I have no wristbands or badges because I came in with Bassem. Maybe half an hour passes and I'm walking along an empty red carpet when Bassem finds me.
This man is my hero.
Actually he probably just wanted his phone back. I could have tweeted out a hit on Vampire to his 10 million followers. I definitely thought about it.
But he brings me back to the party despite the tragic looking mess in a ball gown I am with mascara all over my face, smiling saying everything is fine to everyone we meet. Because this isn't some cute little anecdote about lost luggage. And my job on this trip is to be charming and personable and hold up good conversation with perfect strangers.
I'm holding it together so tightly that if I sneezed it would have turned into a wet sob.
Sensing this, Christie says we can go and we head back to the hotel. She closes the door and says it's okay if I cry now and it all just comes out.
I'm so mad myself and so sad Oliver's life has forever changed. I see it over and over again. Oliver running out to see if I'm behind Vampire just as he throws the door closed and my sweet little boy gets caught in the doorway.
It's 2am. I hysterically cry until 2:30am. Then catch my breath.
Christie asks what I want to do and I say I need to go back home.
We look up flights and the soonest one I can get on is 40 hours away.
Once it's booked, we know there is nothing else I can do. Nothing else is within my control.
So we make a decision: To have the most insane 40 hours in Dubai possible.
At 3AM, I wipe the mascara out from under my eyes.
And we motha fuckin hit the club.
At Cavalli Club, we meet up with an actress named Ahd that Christie met at another recent film festival. Two of her girl friends are at the table and rolling on MDMA. They're getting more and more flirtatious with each other and security keeps coming over to the table because homosexual behavior in public is illegal here.
We take turns trying to separate them, but all get a little distracted when an actual prince joins us at our table.
Hassan Jameel of Abdul Latif Jameel. He walks in with a light breeze, a white linen shirt and abs like Aladin.
He also could not be kinder or cooler. I wonder how I've allowed myself to share space with a vampire for the last few months when men like this exist in the world.
I've decided I'm single now and despite my puffy face, I still think I have a shot. But he would later to go on to date Rihanna so I'm pretty sure I did not.
While we're all busy paying attention to Middle Eastern Prince Charming, the two girls start making out and we all get kicked out of the club.
We roll into bed with the sunrise. And still Christie kicks ass on her panel discussion despite only having slept 3 hours.
Then we meet back up with Bassem to go the beach and eat some falafel, then Christie and I do a crash course in Dubai tourism with the Burge Kalefa, Burj Al Arab, the souk and then the Mall of the Emirates, where we saw another film premiere. A Saudi Arabian film called Zinzanna, which the actress, Ahd, starred in.
During the film, alarms start blaring and we have to exit the theater because of a bomb threat on the mall. It was a false alarm, but an interesting way to spend time with the cast and filmmakers ... running around a massive empty mall, desperately looking for an exit under the treat of death.
But in all honesty, the threat and the sound of the alarm and need to run is a terrifying reality so many people in the world are living with.
We head back to the hotel so I can pack. The man in the hotel room next door says he's speaking the following day at the festival. He had a VR experience meant to inspire empathy by experiencing what it's like to be in someone else's body.
He invites us to come in and see how it works. It was the weirdest experience ever to look at myself and see myself in a man's body.
But retrospectively I would not recommend two girls walk into a man's hotel room and volunteer to put on noise-canceling headphones and essentially a blind fold. That's a hop, skip and a jump away from becoming a human skin suit.
I finally arrived at the airport and tried to explain to the Eremites staff that since I had first class on the way here, I would like to have first class on the way back. And they told me that's not how airlines work.
And I told them I believe them, but I'm emotional and can't think logically and I don't have any Ambien on me so I'm still going to need that upgrade. I've been hanging out with famous people and princes and I've become accustomed to a certain lifestyle and it's not registering that I am not a wealthy person myself.
For a reason that makes no sense, they actually let me use the elevator to enter the plane on the first class floor. Without a ticket. They might have remembered me as that girl who caused a scene a few years back so they were working to keep me calm.
I told a man who was a flight attendant that I really wanted a seat in first class and he said "okay that'll be $14,000".
I look at him and my bottom lip starts to shake.
He looked me in the puffy red eyes and whispered, "Follow me" ... to a beautiful seat the size of a New York studio apartment.
"But tell no one I did this for you," he says as he hands me a glass of champagne.
A Shake then boards the plane and as it turns out I'm in the seat belonging to one of his wives. He asks what seat I'm supposed to be in and asks to see my tickets. I stutter until he starts to look angry.
The flight attendant runs over nervously, holds up a random ticket and said "Ah, ma'am. You're in the wrong seat! You're over here." I follow him to a new seat that's even better! He's sweating now and makes me promise I won't tell anyone he did this for me. Ever. So I swore.
But if you cry your way into a $14,000 seat, you're gonna wanna talk about it.
While this trip had a dark cloud over it I looked back and realized that within 48 hours we went to a red carpet premiere, dined with the most famous man in the Middle East, partied with a hot prince, got kicked out of a club for a cultural law against my beliefs, ate falafel on the beach, hit every major touristy site, turned a bomb threat into a bonding experience, had an out of body experience and I scored a free first class seat.
I landed and went straight to the vet to pick up my little boy. Held him. Cried. And promised I'd never let anyone hurt him again.
He still doesn't have vision in his left eye. I still burst into tears every time he bumps his head on something on his left side. But I still find him to be the most adorable creature in the world, who I love even more now, if possible. This is the only boy that will ever have me completely and utterly under his spell.
I leave for LA to spend the holidays with my family. Vampire still hasn't left. I've been cool about letting him sleep on the couch because I know how hard it is to find a place in New York. I just ask that he finds something before I'm back. It'll be 3 weeks by then. That's generous enough.
After Christmas he calls to make sure I'm still coming back to New York so we can spend New Year's Eve together and I think he must be confused about break ups. I tell him I decided to stay in California.
He starts yelling at me about how I could do this to him and I look down at my dog with a shaved head and a cone and know that his lies caused Oliver to permanently lose vision in one eye and I think it was very, very easy for me to do this. Especially after he confessed he did hit him with the door and all that time testing that caused Oliver to lose his vision was completely unnecessary.
He says, "I'm so nauseous, over what you're doing to me I'm throwing up every day!"
And I say, "Yeah man, I don't know what to tell you. I'm gonna go snowboarding with some friends. You're on your own for New Years. Just don't forget to move out."
He says, "I'm not leaving. We'll talk when you're home."
And I say, "I'm not coming home until you're out."
Guess which one of us wound up homeless until February. That'd be me.
I was ready to have him forcefully removed when he finally found a place. He throws in my face that he's moving in with a dancer he found on Criagslist and "she's really hot. She even answered the door in booty shorts!"
I say, "I'm happy for you. You deserve a dancer you met on Craigslist who wears booty shorts. Don't forget to leave the keys."
He didn't leave the keys. This would later lead to an attempt at a grand gesture that included me coming home to candles all over my floor that spelled "I [heart shape] U", flowers, a tearful speech, and some Tyson chicken strips in a pan.
I politely said thanks for all this but I really don't want to get back together. And I'm going to need those keys back.
I spent the next hour scraping wax off the floor with my credit card thinking how grand gestures look different in the movies.
I'm kind of a witch ...
I started using Rent the Runway Unlimited, which is a service that allows you to rent 3 items at a time. I had two nice tops and a purse that I loved. You have the option to buy each item at a discount, so my mom suggested I buy the purse. I explained that I needed to spend all my money on replacing everything in my apartment after Vampire left it smelling of stale beer and self loathing... P.U.
I decide to hang on to the purse for another week or two, but send the tops back.
A day or two later, I'm staring at this purse thinking how much I love it, when I receive an email from Rent the Runway thanking me for returning all 3 items. Including the purse!
Then I remember oh my god duh I'm a witch! Of course my magical powers manifested this purse for me to keep
I call my mom and tell her my exciting news. She tells me that purse is stolen and I need to give it back. I say no. She says I really need to and I say, "Mom. Stop. You sound crazy. This purse was a gift from the universe. I know this is hard for you, but I'm a witch now and you have to be okay with it. I'm out of the broom closet and I'm not going back in."
She carefully says she knows life has been stressful lately, but maybe I should try getting some sleep. And then return the stolen purse. I say no. I was made homeless by a loser Vampire who finally moved in with a dancer on Craigslist and I deserve this free purse. It's a gift.
I tell my sister and she says it's stolen and I need to give it back.
I tell my friends. They tell me it's stolen and to give it back and to stop telling everyone I stole a purse.
I keep the purse. It was a gift. They just don't understand I'm a witch.
I'm pacing my apartment one night, trying to figure out what it is I'm yearning for, when it finally dawns on me. I need to spend time with the only man who knows how to truly satisfy me.
I remember the first night we met back in 2010. He kept me up until 4am. I couldn't stop myself. My boyfriend was sleeping in the other room, but I couldn't think about him. Something had come over me. That's what I want. That's what I need. What I'm craving is Mr. Clean... and his Magic Eraser.
That's right. Mr. Clean is not just some man who's gonna shit all over my life. Mr. Clean's going to make it clean and shiny and give it that bleach smell.
I put on some lip gloss and saunter over to CVS.
Right there, in aisle 3, I see his bulging muscles, his frosty white brows, his left ear piercing that conveys his sexuality but I don't care he's gay... he's coming home with me tonight.
All I can think on the walk home is just give me a stain. Any stain. I can't wait to rub one out. I grab his package. It's bigger then I realize but then oh, OH...OMG... OMG!! He comes in a two pack?!
I rip open the box lid that reads "Most Durable" and think damn right you're durable. We got a long night bald man and I need you to last.I need you to get the job done in every room this studio apartment has to offer. Which is two. We're doing it in two rooms.
Starting with the bathroom...
I flip on the lights and I get so excited there's soaps cum everywhere! ... soap scum*... And ohhh the tub. I don't stop until I'm sweaty and it sparkles like pageant queen. After we did it in the tub, we did it in the sink. Then on the walls on the CEILING, we were WILD!
I've lost all control so I let him take over. He leads me to the kitchen and now he wants to take his time. We go slow and he doesn't miss a spot. Spots I didn't even know that kitchen had. Dirty spots... And he got in there. He got in there real good.
Then the bedroom to the living room, then back to the bedroom because it's actually the same place in a studio apartment.
And then ... I finished. I look at Mr Clean's Magic Eraser still in my hand. He's definitely finished. I look around at my glistening apartment and think wow... I probably need to get laid.
Return of The Gemini
I decide it's time to tell The Gemini I'm still alive.
I was involved in a shipwreck that left me stranded on a deserted island with no way to contact him. It was only supposed to be a three hour tour. But I'm back now so....
He's very understanding. He tries to meet up for coffee the next morning, but I can’t because I’m getting a Smile Direct retainer made. My cheeks will be stretched out and there will dried mold around my lips. I don't need to commit too hard to the cast away look. Just notice how tan and skinny I am.
He can’t get together that night so our texting carries on for 48 hours and at this point the excitement and anticipation for a “do-over” has built significantly. Drinks won't do. Dinner won't do. He ups the ante to dinner at Catch and a room at the Gansevoort so we can stay up all night drinking champagne and partying like rockstars.
Life has been odd lately and I have this itch to be reckless. I think I could actually be down for this, but I want to see him first ... in case I’m not into him anymore.
He assures me he'll cancel it if I change my mind, but one glance and I knew I was in.
Halfway through dinner, I start to say, “About that weird break up text…”
And he assured me we never need to talk about it. Ever. He actually threw that whole phone away because it was so bad. He says he’s just happy I came back into his life and I say I'm sorry it took me so long to get rescued by friendly pirates.
We check in and he decides the room isn’t big enough so he upgrades us to a suite. I remember he can be a bit too particular about things but I'm cool with it in this case.
We’re rolling around and listening to music in our suite and life feels easy and fun for the first time in a while. It's like nothing and no one else exists outside this room.
Except the person who made the noise complaint. And the guy at the front desk who rang to tell us about the complaint. And the room service lady who brought more champagne because fuck the guy next door, we're not shutting this party down.
That is at least until he has to pull it together for a 3 AM business call. He walks around on the phone with Sweedan and I think it’s both funny and scary that this drunk man in his underwear has control of people’s money.
We eventually sleep for an hour or two then order room service breakfast. We play hooky from work, get massages, shop around the West Village, get some tacos and call it a day as the suns going down.
It was a really good day. Such a shame we only have a few weeks before I’m captured by mole people and go missing AGAIN.
I'm on my way home from dinner with friends, when Vampire texts, "Hey, I'm on your street. You around?"
This comes in just as I turned onto my street and something about it feels eery. The timing was too spot on. But still, I say I'm on my way home and he write's back, "Perfect. I bought wine."
He's done this before.
But I've allowed it because of my current predicament. I'm in the process of turning a book I wrote into a TV series. I had several meetings and an arrangement with a professional script writer to help me develop it for a price. I told him everything I was thinking and he would take all my book, notes and ideas and turn it into a pilot episode and show bible.
After 6 months, a frustrating experience and the $3,000 I paid him, what I got back was horrible. It looked like it was done over night and reflected nothing we talked about.
I decided to do what I should have done in the first place and learn how to write everything on my own. Which was harder than I thought it would be. I struggled with how to organize the story and pace it and structure an episode.
Since Vampire was not just a male model ... he was an actor / model / writer / possibly homeless person, he actually offered a lot of insight. After months of working on this project by myself, it was nice to be able to say things out loud to someone. He was a thousand times more helpful than the man I hired and he came free.
When he was over I could get an opinion on my newest ideas and he would let me go on as long as I wanted because all he wanted was to be with me. I was clear about not wanting to get back together and he pretended he understood.
On this particular night, I let him up and he's being as charismatic as a cult leader as he acts as excited about my show idea as I am. He tells me when a character is missing the right motivation, and on when an event needs to start, or when a piece of a backstory should be revealed.
I'm typing away, loving that this project gets to feel real.
I skip off for a bathroom break, ready to get back right back to it, but when I come out, he standing there, furious, with my phone in his hand and yells, "Who the fuck is [The Gemini]." I'm instantly nervous.
I tell him it’s the guy I dated before him and he yells, "Are you fucking him?"
In the 30 seconds I was in the bathroom, he got into my phone and read my text messages.
I say, "None of your business but, yeah."
It's been six months since we broke up, why wouldn't I have moved on? Or at least recycled...
And with that, the temperature of the room changes.
I notice the whole bottle of red is gone and I haven't had any. It's gonna be bad. The yelling, the hysterics, the why would I do this to him and how could I be so cruel’s.
He'd always been good at this. Reacting so severely that I would actually believe I must have really done something wrong to hurt him this much.
It took me a long time to realize I wasn't dealing with a normal person with normal human reactions. It was dealing with a manipulative victim-type that always believe something was being done to him.
He didn't get my pity anymore, but he won’t leave. And his temper is getting worse as he riles himself on his own because I'm not yelling back. I won't engage. I desperately want him to leave but I won't yell or scream because that’s what he wants. He wants the fight.
He repetitively says he's not going anywhere until we talk about this. I don't know how much time passes before I just accept that he's really not leaving. And I'm avoiding the fight so hard I don't make him.
If I can just make it to morning I'll be out of dodge. He'll wear himself out and fall sleep on my couch. If I just go to bed, it'll be morning soon. I always have control of the situation when he's sober. But not when he’s like this.
He follows me when I try to brush my teeth and bangs on the bathroom door when I close the door to change into pajamas. I get in bed and try to hide under the covers, but he rips them off the bed. Then lifts my mattress again and again, yelling at me to get up and talk to him. He tries to pull my mattress of the bed frame to force me out of my safe place..
When I can't handle it anymore, I get up, but not to satisfy him with some conversation. There's nothing to talk about. But he continues on and on and on at me. I keep moving, tidying up, putting the covers back on the bed, getting water.
Because laying down feels ... I don't know... maybe I just want to be ready to run or something. And he just follows me around with this torment for what feels like forever before I finally look at him and yell, "Fine!"
"Fine you'll get back together with me?" he asks. And I say I don't want that, but I'll try hanging out again or whatever.
He tells me that's not good enough and tells me, "Say we're boyfriend-girlfriend."
He demands it over and over and I keep saying, "No. I don't want that. Why do you need those words?"
He says he doesn't know but he needs them. He's hysterical over it. Relentless like a crazy person trying to get me to say the words.
So I cave. And mutter, "Fine then okay." But he tells me I have to say it. I awkwardly say, "Fine. Boyfriend-girlfriend. Just stop this. Let me sleep."
But he doesn't. He's elated that he got me to say the words "boyfriend-girlfriend", but only for so long. He switches again. It's not enough.
He says, "Tell me you love me," but I can't. I don't love him. He yells, "Tell me you love me!" again and again.
Until I do because I've given up.
And all the magic of those words are lost. I feel like a piece of my soul died.
He tells me he loves me too and I'm dumbfounded how he can believe me. Why would he believe I love him, when I've spent all night begging him to leave and telling him I don't want him. It's obvious he's just worn me down, but he's refusing to see it.
But then again, it's not enough.
He says, "Prove it." And I tell him I did, I said what he wanted. But he keeps yelling at me to prove it, again and again, and then comes in and kisses me hard until I'm under him on my couch and I prove it. And I hate him.
In this moment, I hate myself.
I can't understand why I let that happen. It's a gross, ugly memory that tastes like Jack Daniels and red wine and I wish I could forget every moment of it.
The next morning, he's back to being the hopeful puppy dog, just trying to do right by me and make me happy. He's so glad we're back together and says he always knew we would be.
I can't understand how he still believes I want this. It’s delusional.
I start to tell him last night got out of hand and this isn't what I want, but he immediately interrupts with, "Hey, I have another idea for your show ..."
He learned my kryptonite. He knows how to pulls my strings. Talking about something he knows I care about, offering up ideas and willing to make as many calls as it takes to make this dream of mine come true. Swearing he won't rest until I get everything I want.
He has an agent and I'm already dead inside, so I make a strange decision. Don't let it be for nothing. Hang in there until I get something out of it. I want my pilot episode and show bible and a production company. I can last that long.
I can't explain the psychology behind how I felt trapped in a relationship after I mumbled the words "boyfriend-girlfriend".
I'm able bodied. I'm a strong person. I don't have any emotional attachment to this man. So why does my brain tell me I can't just tell him it was all a lie and break up with him again? This isn't a real relationship. I don't want this. He knows I don't want this. So why do I suddenly feel trapped in one?
Why did I first break up with him when I was on the other side of the world even though I wanted out months before?
Why did I not force him to move out until I was across the country?
Why did I refuse to go home until I was sure he was out?
If I'm such a strong person, why could I not stand here in front of him and say I don't want him in my life?
What did I seem to know, but wasn't admitting?
Short answer, I was afraid of him.
The guy who put love notes in my purse and dropped a coffee or lunch off at my office building everyday and brought me flowers all the time. I was afraid of him. I just didn't see it yet.
All I knew I wasn't looking at this as a normal relationship. I was looking at this as one I would be in until I could get out of it. So I told myself I was only staying in it to get something out of it. Not that I was in it because I couldn't figure out how to safely get out of it.
That night was the only time I ever slept with him in the months that followed. I made him agree to start going to AA and never drink around me.
Which just meant he'd hide the mini bottles.
All we would talk about was my show and occasionally try a sober activity like tennis or basketball.
The rest of the time we'd be going down a spreadsheet I have of producers and he called every single one of them on my behalf.
He would pitch the story and I would listen to which parts they responded to then rewrite the pitch again and again as we went down the list and then eventually, adjust the show to match the pitch, until it was almost an entirely new concept.
He has the salesman-type personality when he wants to. That will keep pushing a person until they would cave and say, "Okay, send me the script and I'll take a look."
He knew how to make people give up and give in. I didn't have that in my personality. I started to believe I needed him.
My behavior changed during that time. I'd adjust my responses if I could tell he'd been drinking to make sure his temper wouldn't come back out. Until I was almost an entirely different person around him.
It happened so subtly over time that I didn't notice how often I was giving up and giving in.
I knew I could do anything I wanted, and he wouldn't leave. But he knew just how high his temper had to get before I'd back down and he could stay. I was trapped.
I'm an adult ...
My friend Leigh Anne and I took a break from work for a cookie. We love cookie breaks. But on this cookie break I have to tell her something. I've been avoiding telling her for a while now. And I would keep avoiding it, if Vampire wasn't on my case about it. He knows she's my person and it's not real until I tell her. And I'm avoiding it because I don't want to it to be real.
We sit down and I say, "I have to tell you something."
She says, "Okay."
I say, "I got back together with Vampire. ... It's on a trial basis ... He's gonna go to AA."
There's a very long pause. Then she says, "Okayyy." Trying not to move her face or show expression.
She knows I hate him. I know she hates him. We both know the other knows we hate him.
And then I crack a smile. And then she cracks a smile.
She doesn't know what I'm doing. And I think I know what I'm doing, but I don't know what I'm doing. Our smiles turn into laughter which turn into crying laughter over how badly I have just fucked myself.
But at least we had a cookie.
21 Year Old VS Quartzite County Cop
COP: You want to tell me what you did wrong here?
ME: I went too fast.
COP: Speak up.
ME: I said I went too fast.
ME: I got out of the vehicle when you told me to remain in my vehicle.
COP: Judging by your record you should know how this goes by now.
I don't know how a 21 year old can even have this many violations. 5 speeding tickets in 3 states, 17 unpaid parking tickets and I'm looking at one of the longest lists of car accidents I've ever seen.
ME: Did you see the one where I rolled a car? Up hill. We all got out of school for like two days. Because we were in the hospital. It was nuts. You had to be there.
COP: You rolled a car and now you drive a soft top convertible?
ME: Crazy, right? But this is the first time I've been thrown in the back of the cop car, so this is new. Great move by the way. I did not see it coming.
COP: Thank you.
ME: Krav Maga?
COP: Basic training.
ME: Just some feedback, though, the way you pushed my head down to shove me in the car felt super degrading. I know it wasn't sexual, but I still felt violated.
COP: Ma'am, Are you aware that going 132 miles per hour is a felony?
ME: Do you think it just looked like I was going that fast because my car is red?
COP: No. I think you committed a felony and you're heading to the Quartzite County jail until a judge can sentence you tomorrow. Not only for your felony speed but for charging at an officer.
ME: I don't think all that is necessary. I wasn't "charging" at you. I was just quickly running over to tell you how pathetic I am so you'll pity me enough to knock this down to a warning.
COP: You seen a Quartzite County jail cell? I do pity you.
ME: Give me a few minutes and I promise I'll seem utterly sad.
COP: Fine. Make it quick.
ME: It all started six days ago. Wait, was it five? No, it was definitely six. Six days ago in Hollywood when some old friends from college reached out to say they were in LA. I used to go to Arizona State.
COP: I could have guessed that.
ME: K well that felt judgy.
Anyway one of the guys is in town to shoot an episode of MTV's NEXT, which is a show where 3 guys get off a bus, one by one, and a girl can say NEXT when she's not into him and wants to meet the next guy. Hoping he's better, but also risking that he might be worse.
So he calls while I'm at dinner with some girl friends at Ketchup on Sunset wanting to meet up. I have no interest in going out because I have an early drive to Lake Havasu in the morning.
Real quick, can you turn on the A.C.? It's so hot back here.
ME: Okay, never mind.
So I totally don't want to go to a club, I just want to go home. But my friends want to go out with these guys, so I cave and we meet them at My House.
COP: They came over to your house?
ME: Not Your House, My House.
COP: That's what I said.
ME: No, Your House closed last year. The new, way cooler club is called My House.
COP: I'm getting a head ache.
ME: Maybe turn the air on...
COP: Just get on with it.
ME: I need to give you some background information. Back at ASU, I dated this guy, Mr. Darcy we'll call him, who just made me weak in the knees. Love at first "sup".
It was great. But then I transferred to a school in California on a whim because one of my favorite things to do is make really big decisions without thinking about them at all.
COP: Like committing a felony?
ME: Can we not? You told me to make it quick.
ME: So it's maybe a year after my transfer and we're talking again. He's visited a couple times and so have I. And I like having him back in my life and all, but it's also created this longing for him and it's a real buzz kill.
COP: You're the one who chose to move.
ME: Excuse me, but did Mrs. Officer Judge-Much sacrifice her education for a relationship at 20? Didn't think so.
Anyway, I haven't talked to him in two weeks because he is in Africa. And I like the clear line of knowing I won't hear from him, whereas when he's in Arizona and I'm in California, I'm wasting time wondering what the deal is and wondering if it's a thing, even though I don't even know if I want it to be a thing, you know?
ME: SO, we're at My House - the super hot club - and the guy who was on NEXT starts getting a little too flirty with me.
COP: What's the story with this guy?
ME: Thank you for asking. I'm glad you're finally participating. But ugh, worst question EVER!
Early on, back at ASU, we have a slight flirtation. I regularly wind up back at his place ... but I just can't do it.
COP: Do what?
ME: IT. We can make out all night long, but the second it starts to move past, I can't.
ME: He'd take his hat off and his receding hairline was just so bad. Like dude, you're 18. We're at ASU. How stressed can you be?
COP: Just turn the lights off so you can't see it.
ME: Tried. I still knew it was there.
COP: It was still there when he had a hat on. How's that different?
ME: I don't know, it just is!
COP: (sigh) Go on.
ME: I stop trying to force myself. It's not gonna happen.
Not then and definitely not this night.
COP: Wasn't he in town to date some other girl?
ME: Yeah. He tried. But when he took his hat off she said, "Next".
I should tell him the reason I'm not interested in him now is because he's gained two new inches of forehead, but instead I say it's because I'm still talking to Mr. Darcy. I instantly regret bringing him up, which is only made worse when this guy laughs and says, "You know he's dating some 30-year-old chick, right?"
Straight punch in the gut because no I did not know that!
I drink my drink. His drink. Some stranger's drink. An ash tray. Then head home to get two hours of sleep.
COP: You know he was just trying to get in your pants, right?
ME: 100 percent, but drunk girls believe things.
That's literally what date rapists bank on. Like, "Hey girl, there's a unicorn in this room."
And a drunk girl's all like, "Really there is?"
Enters room and boom. Date Rape.
All because sometimes a girl just wants to trust a guy and friggin' believe in unicorns!
So the next morning... thank God the roads are empty at 5 AM when I'm driving to pick up my friends for Havasu. I am in bad shape. I fully Nicole Richie.
COP: What does that mean?
ME: Oh, it's when you drunk drive up a freeway off-ramp thinking it's an on-ramp.
COP: Jesus Christ, how do you still have a license?
ME: My winning smile and I'll-do-better attitude.
ME: My dad's a lawyer.
COP: You embody everything that is wrong in the world.
ME: Yeah, I get that a lot.
So a few days in Havasu and the friends have now convinced me I need to DTR with Mr. Darcy.
And I don't think it's a good idea. But girls are really good at rallying each other up against a guy.
So when he lands back in the U.S. after Africa and I see he's calling, I want to answer with, "Hi! How was the trip?" But my friends are watching so I have to start accusing him of things.
He says he did date a woman who was 30, but it was short lived and over with months ago.
COP: Do you believe him?
ME: Yeah. He's a straight shooter.
He asks me to come out and spend the weekend in Phoenix since I'm already half way there.
I play it coy and tell him I'll think about it.
Then bail out of a speeding boat, swim two miles to shore and start driving because I'm whipped. First love has a hell of a hold, right?
But this can't go on. I want in or out.
I arrive and he's got a face that's just so hard to be mad AND he doesn't feel good.
COP: What like the flu?
ME: No. Web MD said it was malaria!
He finishes telling me about the trip and we're ready for "the talk"...
I'm hyped up and ready to go ... and he falls asleep. Mid day on the couch, just out cold. When it was my turn to talk!
I let him sleep for a few hours then wake him up, but he's totally delirious and falls right back to sleep.
Eventually I go out to meet some friends and come back in the middle of the night. He hasn't budged an inch. I leave him there and take the bed. Still no change by morning.
It's really starting to get old. Or life threatening. I can't tell...
COP: How long are we talking?
ME: 2 Harry Potter's and a Twilight long.
COP: Damn. And you don't think it's creepy of you to just linger?
ME: Um, Edward was literally crawling through Bella's window every night, jumping in her bed and staring at her for hours because vampires don't need sleep.
Comparatively, no. I was just hanging out, eating stuff out of the fridge.
But I mean, retrospectively yeah, I guess now that we're saying it out loud, it feels a little weird.
Anyway, that brings us to this morning. He finally wakes up. And he is perfectly fine.
COP: Was he faking to get out of "the talk"?
ME: Possibly. I kind of respect his commitment if so.
No food or water for two days. That's pretty good.
COP: What did he say when he woke up?
ME: "You're still here?"
COP: Ohhhh. That has to hurt.
ME: Yeah, no shit.
COP: So at this point do you still wanna DTR?
ME: No. I want to DIE. But I'm there and all so what the hell.
COP: What'd you say?
ME: I'm bad with words so I played him the chorus of an O-Town song.
'cuz I want it alllll, or noth-thing at alllll'
I know this song well because this one time I blacked out and woke up with a member from that boy band in my dorm room.
Not the nice ass Ritz I had to drive him back to the next day ... my shitty dorm room. It's actually a great story if you've got time after this.
COP: I don't. You ever get an answer?
ME: I didn't even let him finish his sentence. I don't think it's going my way so I just had to get out there.
COP: So then you got in the car?
ME: Well, no. Then I slept with him while listening to O-Town.
Self respect wasn't really my thing this morning. But, yeah, then I got in the car.
So I'm driving and I'm seeing his texts come in, just blaming it on the distance. And all I can think is don't blame the distance. Distance is good. I want more distance.
COP: You were texting and driving?
ME: Stay focused, we're at the finish line. I step on the peddle, getting far away from the scene of the crime, and the next thing I know you're pulling me over and preventing me from getting back to my safe place.
And then you just start writing me up without giving me a chance to tell you not to give me a ticket because I had a super bad week!
COP: Welp, I gotta say you were right. I do think you're more pathetic than I did a few minutes ago. But more importantly I dislike you so much I don't even want you in my jail for one night.
I'll drop your speed down to 90, which is still a felony, but you will be free to go now. You'll just have to take it up with the court system at a later date ... when I will hopefully be on vacation.
ME: Ooooo, with Mrs. Officer Judge-Much?
COP: All I can hope is that I never see you, or anyone remotely like you, on this road again.
ME: Hah, on the highway between LA and Scottsdale? Fat chance!
Sorry. Can you let me out of the car now? It's so hot back here.
I’m at a bar with friends avoiding home as I have been for weeks because of Vampire. Every time he tries to start in about something he wants to fight about, I grab my purse and say, "I forgot I have that thing," and run out the door. It's become a habit to just give over my apartment to him and flee the scene.
On this particular night, friends and I are talking about one girl’s upcoming wedding. Being as she's committed herself to a life of sex with the same person for eternity, we think it’d be a great idea to see if she can recall all of the people she’s ever slept with. Naturally, we all participate.
We make alphabetical lists by scrolling through our phones. Mostly full names, but some others like “Canadian Nick Funnel Cake”.
Then we ask, “Of these people who would you sleep with again if you could?
I point to The Gemini and also Mr. Darcy. I haven't slept with Mr. Darcy since college and he doesn't even live in the states anymore, but just for the sake of nostalgia he made my short list.
My friend mentions I forgot to include my current boyfriend, Vampire.
It's not an oversight. The only real interactions I had with Vampire anymore were along the lines of …
ME: I love you. I love you so much. You’re the most handsome man in the world. I love you with my all my heart.
HIM: I love you …
ME: SHUT UP! I'M TALKING TO MY DOG! WHY ARE YOU EVEN HERE?!
I don't sleep with him. I barely talk to him if it's not about my show. Other than that I hate him.
I had to stop watching GIRLS because I was already living Marny and Desi’s relationship. I was a disinterested shell of my former self and he was aggressively emo with a substance abuse problem.
I didn’t just avoid him because I hated him, I hated who I was around him.
My friends look at me when I refuse to add him to my ‘still fuckable’ list and ask what the heck I’m doing. They don’t understand why or how I could have ever gotten back together with him.
I divert by telling them I have high standards. I won’t even re-fuck Canadian Nick and he comes with funnel cake!
I'm not kidding. Him and is brother brought some Canadian type of healthier donut thing to the states and they had a few shops in the South Bay. I know he was a "business man", but it was way more fun to say I was hooking up with a guy works in a donut shop.
I was hot off a long term relationship that came with a handsome boyfriend, beachfront property and a perfect looking life. I figured if I'm going to fall from grace, I'm gonna do the damn thing right.
My friends let me off the hook at that weird, distracting story and I promise I’m in control of the Vampire situation and I can get out any time. I’m just waiting for the optimal moment.
My phone buzzes on the table.
And it’s Mr. Darcy.
We all gasp. Because we know exactly what that means … The government is listening in on us.
Then calling our exes to say, “Green light, bro.. she’s still DTF.”
Like Big Brother … but like a big brother in a frat trying to help his bros get laid.
Mr. Darcy says he's in Philadelphia then asks if he were to come to New York the following night, I would like to grab dinner.
A long time ago, I thought I was winning the "who can care less" competition when I transferred schools and moved from Arizona to California. But then he moved from Arizona to China so ... he won.
He has no idea this competition exists because he's just living his life like a normal person. So I kept the trophy.
My friends say I have to go for it. They hate Vampire and root for his demise with wood stakes and garlic bread.
I know I wouldn’t sleep with Mr. Darcy since I’m technically still in a bullshit relationship. But what's a casual dinner...
The following day, Vampire tries to start a fight over how I hang out with my friends every night to avoid him. And I try to end the fight by saying yeah you're entirely right.
So he pivots to harp on why I won’t do the holidays together. Just a few days in LA with my family, then a few days in Transylvania with his.
I say, “Because I told you a dozen times, I don’t want my family to know I’m dating you. And I’m respecting your wishes. You said you want the next girl your mother meets to be the girl you marry. I'm not that girl.”
“So you won’t marry me ever?” He demands.
He already knows the answer but he wants me to say it so I seem like the asshole. I oblige.
He’s still somehow shocked by this not-new information and says, “Fine! You want to break up so bad, then let’s just do it! You’re off the hook!”
And I say, seriously?! Is this a joke?! Your timing could not be more perfect. Because my ex is in town and I was JUST saying I'd hit that again.
He grabs his bag and starts stuffing his things into it while yelling, “You’ll never hear from me ever again!”
And I point out that's how I intended the first break up to go.
He then starts pulling everything out of his bag with equal frustration, which is a really inefficient way to pack so I say, “Do you want my help?”
He storms out of the apartment. I take that as a yes, finish packing his bag, then get changed for dinner.
He comes back in as I’m walking out and yells, “You’re leaving?!”
I say, “Uh, yeah dude. I have plans. Told you that like a month ago.” Even though I made these plans yesterday.
He says, “Look me in the eye when I say this to you…” and I do and he says, “I HATE YOU.”
And I laugh and say, “Okay, crazy person,” because I couldn't think of a zinger on the spot.
I meet some friends for happy hour then find a handsome familiar face at Cookshop in Chelsea.
We catch up, kill two bottles of wine and close down the restaurant.
I check my phone and see at least 20 texts that prove Vampire's still in my apartment. I can tell he's drunk and he's waiting for me to come home.
I know what will be there if I go back. A drunk temper and another sleepless night on the other side of it, feeling weak because I can't make it stop. Hoping if I close my eyes it'll be morning soon.
I never feared him in the day light. Something happened to him at night though. He was nothing but alcohol and anger and everything's my fault. Doesn't matter what it is. It's my fault.
He would literally forget what he was blaming me for and then say it was my fault he forgot.
I used to fight back, but I'd stopped a long time ago. I thought I was being the bigger person, trying to diffuse the situation, but all along I'd just been placating a crazy person who I subconsciously knew was bound to really lose it one night.
But that's not something I can explain to my friends. I don't understand it myself still. Getting back together with someone who scared me into it? Riddle me that one. So I divert with stories like how I hooked up with a guy who worked in a donut shop and hope no one pries into what's really going on in my life.
But now we were broken up. It was his call. He was the one saying it this time, not me, so that means it has to stick. Finally!
Sure, he'll have rule over my apartment tonight. But by morning it'll finally be done. For good.
I turn my phone off, and tell Mr. Darcy I don't want to go home. He understands I don't want him to ask, so he doesn't.
I hide out in his hotel room. But don’t get one minute of sleep.
No, not because I'm have wild ex-sex all night. (Just part of it)
Or because of my traumatic break up. I obvious took that like a champ. Or a sociopath …
I can’t sleep because now that this guy's on the other side of 30, he has sleep apnea so bad every breath sounds like his last. Like he’s dying the world’s loudest death over and over again.
Him sleeping and me not, takes me back to that time he either faked malaria or drugged himself like Juliette to appear dead for 48 hours to avoid “the talk”.
I half expect him to wake up in the morning and say, “You’re still here?”
And then I’ll wind up with a felony speeding ticket and need for a criminal lawyer even though I don’t have a car or valid driver's license anymore.
Thankfully he doesn’t. We leave the hotel to grab breakfast and say goodbye.
I return home a few hours later and see Vampire standing in the middle of my apartment.
I say, “You’re still here?” Confirming those words are never positive.
He gives an evil laugh and says, “Oh, I’m not leaving. Ever.”
“But we broke up yesterday,” I remind him.
And he says, “No, that didn’t happen.”
“It definitely did. You said it yourself!” I confirm, but he’s refusing that information and pretending everything is great.
“Do you want to play tennis?” he asks in a voice so peppy it couldn't possibly belong to him, then says, “I’ll get the rackets!”
When he opens the closet, I notice his bag is back inside and has been unpacked.
I decide to pack for him again. But when I do, he grabs the bag out of my hand and throws it across the room then stomps his feet like a child.
He whines about what a meanie I'm being and I say I’m not a meanie, you’re a cry baby. Then he huffs and puffs but finally loses to nap time and passes out.
A 6'2 giant baby is draped over my bed, face down with limbs hanging off the edges and I’m left just standing there, thinking well what the fuck do I do now?
I see an empty Jack Daniels mini bottle in his pocket. I already saw the three in the bathroom trash can. I don’t even care. It's daylight and I'm not afraid of him, so I wake him up and tell him he needs to get out.
"Stop playing the victim over everything. For once, just be man!" I say. But that was sexist so I beg him to just be an adult human. Be an adult human in your 30's.
He grumble-yells nonsense at me then finally leaves.
Later on, I meet a friend for dinner.
I lead with, “I broke up with Vampire,” and she orders champagne to celebrate.
Then we meet friends at a jazz club in the West Village. I say, “I broke up with Vampire,” and they lift me to crowd surf like I’ve won the big game.
Another friend joins us and I say, “I broke up with Vampire!” and she deems this day a national holiday and we all break into song and dance then march down the streets of New York with the jazz band.
Well not really. It was too cold out. But it was a night of celebration.
One friend tells me how happy I look and the rest agree. I feel happier. Like a weight has been lifted and I can’t stop smiling.
At the end of the night, the couple going my way offers me a ride home because it’s freezing out, but I let them to go on. I’d rather walk because it feels good to be free.
My phone is dead so I’m not sure what time it is when I get into my building.
Then I get to my door. My lock is busted. And my door has been bolted from the inside.
I'm perplexed for a moment then realize Vampire is inside my apartment. And he’s locked me out of my own home.
I knock until my knuckles are sore, but Vampire isn’t answering.
I remember a trick I learned from him the week before when we tried to play basketball at the courts two block over. I was helping him practice sober activities now that he’s in AA.
He shows up wasted.
As soon as I see his sloppy gait, I walk toward him, then right on past heading home.
He chases after me, but he’s sloppy and I’m fast. I leave him outside. He’s drunk and I’m not letting his toxic energy into my safe place.
He takes his revenge by striping his clothes off and throwing them in a trash can with the basketball. And now he’s in his underwear in the street so…. good one? Idiot.
Dating an alcoholic would actually be entertaining if it wasn't so mortifying and destructive to one's life. I left him out there hoping he'd have enough sense to get dressed. But nope. He then holds down the ear piercingly loud buzzer to my apartment, driving my poor dog crazy.
He held it down for full minutes. It's a horrible noise. Then he'd let up for a second, then hold it down again. And again. It’s torture and I eventually can’t bear it any longer. I hit the "door" button, knowing it will let him in and the next door he'll be at will be mine. I cave and let him in that door too, then pray he'll just fall asleep and leave me alone. But alcohol is like PCP to him. It gives him angry energy. It was just another long night.
The next morning he woke up and asked where his pants were. Idiot.
Remembering this, I take a page from his Guide to Being the Worst Person Ever and I hold the buzzer down a full minute. And again. He either has the tolerance of a monk or he’s passed out drunk... So… that answered itself.
Oliver is crying for me on the other side of the door and I can't keep torturing him with the noise. I can't explain to him that I can't get in, but I promise I'll be back.
I leave in search of a phone charger. I’m annoyed, but so glad Vampire’s nearly out of my life forever, I’m not even that upset. It’ll just be a funny story I can laugh about with my friends tomorrow. The kind of silly, little anecdotal tale of a crazy ex that pairs well with a mimosa.
I hustle to The W Hotel in Union Square and ask if they have a phone charger. They say no and tell me to go to Best Buy because it’s open 24 Hours.
So I hustle to Best Buy and no it’s not.
So then I hustle to a 24-hour Walgreens, buy a charger and sit in the pharmacy until my phone comes to life. I call Vampire a bunch of times. No answer.
I text my friends this funny predicament and they all text back saying please do not go back there, offering up their places for me to stay at.
I know I should listen. But my dog is in there with him, I have to go back. And I can handle this.
I call locksmith and half an hour later, he calls to say he's on his way.
I’m halfway home when Vampire calls me. I make him swear he will keep the door unlocked until I get home before I call off the locksmith.
It’s after 2AM when I finally get into my apartment. It’s a mess. He’s a mess. Mini bottles and red wine stains everywhere.
I say, “Nice move asshole,” as I take off my jacket to start cleaning up his destruction.
But he’s fully awake now and fuming mad because I’ve just called him an asshole. He gets so close to my face to intimidate me that I notice eyes are going sideways. They're dark and empty and sideways.
This is something I've never seen before. He's so drunk there's no trace of a human in him. And I think there might be no limits this time.
He yells nonsense while throwing things. Anything in his reach. A water bottle, a notebook, the remote control. I beg him to leave. Go home or find a friend in Manhattan to stay with. Anything just go. But that's not gonna happen.
He puffs his chest out and towers over me, backing me into walls, yelling more nonsense in my face. Over and over again I push him back to get out of the corners he puts me in, but he’s relentless.
I could say everything he wants to hear to calm him down. It worked last time. But of course, here we are again. As if this could have gone any other way.
His berating, and heckling, and yelling, and cornering me won’t stop and I know this time is worse. Placating wouldn't be an option even if I wanted it to be.
I keep shoving him away to get space, but now he’s hitting his chest into me then using his hands to shove me even harder. Knocking me into the refrigerator, the mantel, the closet door. Then pushing me hard against a wall and holding me in place just because he can as I'm screaming for him to let me go.
I'm half embarrassed a neighbor will hear me and half hoping they will. He kicks my knees in with his so I lose my footing but he keeps me pinned with his grip on my arms.
I stopped pushing back. I could feel every finger digging into my skin then he hit me against the wall again. He lets go and walks away from me, yelling how this is my fault. I did this. I made him do this.
I grab Oliver and make a run for the bathroom and lock the door. My poor dog is shaking like crazy.
I call The W Hotel ask if they have any availability. They don’t and I beg them to look again, reminding them I was just there asking for a charger, as if it would make a difference. Nothing.
It’s not like I have the money to blow on a hotel. I lost my job five days ago when the company changed directions and won’t start another for two weeks. But I don’t want to go to a friend’s house because they'll ask why I needed to come over in the middle of the night and I don't want to say.
This was a guy I hated because he hurt my dog and I'd opened up about his temper after the first break up. They hated him too and then suddenly I'm back together with him with no explanation and everyone knew it was a bad idea. I was embarrassed to look stupid to have gotten back together with a man who would dare put hands on me.
I feel stupid for putting myself in this situation and stupider for walking in here tonight.
I know it, I just don't want to feel it with eyes on me tonight.
I hang up and start searching for another hotel. He’s in the in the kitchen smacking things or throwing things and cursing. I hear a glass break. It was a wine glass that was a gift from a friend.
Then he’s back to banging on the bathroom door and kicking it and yanking on the handle, demanding to know who I’m talking to.
Three hotels and still no rooms. I don't know how much more this door can handle, or how much Oliver can. I'm pressing my feet against the door hoping it'll help keep him out.
Until he walks away again.
After a few minutes of silence out there, I get this burst of senseless strength and decide I’m done hiding. I want him to know I’m not afraid of him, so I open the door and step out. Then close it again with Oliver left inside the bathroom.
I tell him I was finding a place to stay because I won’t be in the same room as him another minute, but then remind him this my place and he's the one who needs to leave, not me.
I’m trying to prove how little power he has so I stand in the middle of my studio apartment with my tough face on.
He calls me a cunt and for that I call and I roll my eyes dramatically with a laugh and call him trash.
And then he turns back to the kitchen and whips open the knife drawer and every muscle in my body freezes.
I don’t have any power at all. I can’t move, I can't breathe. I’m just stuck in the center of my apartment regretting everything that got me here.
I always assumed I’d be stronger than that feeling of being frozen. Of course I’d able to run. I'm the one yelling at the dumb girl in the horror movie to run and can't fathom why she won't. But this was before the phrase Fight, Flight, Freeze or Placate. I only knew of the first two and spent so long after this judging myself for not being strong enough to fight for my home or at the very least flee.
Then again, I thought I was smarter than ever being here, in a situation like this with a person like him.
I knew it like a fact that I was about to get stabbed. It's my biggest fear in the world and someone how I just accepted what was coming. It was going to happen. I’d fight back until I couldn’t, then I’d pretend he won and he’ll run and I'll call for help. My phone's in my back pocket, there’s a hospital on 12th Street and 7th Avenue and all the streets go in my favor. One left, one right and up three flights of stairs. I’ll be fine. It’s just going to hurt for a little while then I'll be okay.
A million weird thoughts fit in three seconds, but then I see him pull out scissors. Thicker than a knife and I know it's going to be worse. And I hope I still make it.
All the while he's still just yelling about how this is my fault, holding the scissors up like a threat.
But then it's like he panics and can't do it. He changes course and instead of coming at me, he turns to the chair and starts picking up clothes of mine laying there, yelling more jibberish, and cutting my shirts up the middle and tearing them apart.
It’s so odd and unexpected I just watch, but then it shakes me free so I run back toward the bathroom. He throws the hat he’s trying to cut the bill of with the scissors stuck in it and runs after me and I try to turn around to see what’s coming just as he grabs my head and slams my face against the closet door. Pushing one side of my face into it so hard, he punches the door next to my face repeatedly with his other hand, making me think he could hit my face but is choosing not to. Like he's showing me mercy, practicing restraint.
Now I'm screaming for him to get off me. Now I want a neighbor to hear me. He lets up so I push him off and she shoves me back against the door once more for good measure then walks away again. I grab Oliver out of the bathroom, open the front door and start running down the stairs.
Next thing I know he's right behind me chasing after me again.
But he's sloppy and I'm fast. But not fast enough. I realize I'm not making it to the door before he gets to me.
So I dial 911, turn around and hold up it up to show him my screen and say I called the cops. He's too drunk to realize I didn't hit call. Idiot.
With my phone in one hand and Oliver in the other I have no way to catch myself if he pushes me backward down the stairs.
Instead, he calls me a cunt again then spits on me. And then waves his hand as if to say fine, then run without words. So I do.
I run outside toward 6th Avenue and don't stop for two blocks. It’s freezing and I'm in a tank top with no jacket.
I stand there debating what to do for a while. I scrape the spit on my leg off on the corner of a building. Then I text a friend asking if she's up. I wait a while but no answer. It's almost 3AM. My phone is on 2% battery. I text the couple I was with earlier. And wait again. Nothing. It's cold and windy and I can't take it so I flag down a cab.
I don’t have my wallet or any money to pay the driver. When I tell him this he drops me a few blocks before of my destination, which at the time I think is so disk-ish, but it’s a kind of a blessing. I use the time to collect myself. I’m not crying, I’m just rattled. And cold but a little time to decompress helps.
I get to the home of the couple I was with earlier that evening. The ones who were saying how happy I looked tonight.
I can’t pretend it was nothing because they know I wouldn’t inconvenience anyone at 3am unless I needed help. But I say he was just an dumb drunk who threw out a few scare tactics try and get a rise out of me. I was fine but he wouldn't leave and I didn't want to stay there.
I'm actually embarrassed I thought he was going to stab me and think it would be over dramatic to tell anymore. He had me pinned a bunch of times, but always walked away. He was never actually going to do anything. He was all threat and no follow through. My cheek hurt because he pushed my face too hard against the door, not because he punch me in the face. He punched the door not me. He cut my clothes, not me.
And this is how I rationalize it to myself. As if I over reacted to a situation where nothing all that bad happened. I should be embarrassed by how scared I was.
I know that doesn't make sense. But I nearly called the cops because I got pushed around a bit? Big deal. I wasn't knocked out on the floor, I was able to run. He spit on me then I ran for my life when he wasn't even chasing me. It's degrading and makes me feel weak and stupid and embarrassed and I don't want anyone to know.
I'm a big believer in it's only weird if you make it weird. It's only bad if you make it bad. It's only monumental if you make it monumental. It's a car wreck that affects your life, or it's a forgettable fender-bender with a few bruises.
This is a forgettable fender-bender that will not be part of my story.
Going forward I’ll laugh when tell this story and say, “He totally lost it! He locked me out and cut up my clothes!” because that makes it sound like I was on the other side of the door.
My friend makes up the pull out couch and gives me some melatonin to help me sleep. I was probably more wired than I noticed. I only think that looking back, but in the moment I was sure I was pulling it off.
And then I count my blessings…
I may have been cold outside in the middle of the night, but it was for a total of maybe 15 minutes.
I may not have had a wallet on me, but I had money in my account.
I may have had my dog with me, but it wasn’t a child, taking it all in.
I had a phone in my pocket with friends and family available for me at the touch of a button.
I wasn’t financially dependent on him in anyway and there were no emotions to draw me back in.
I may have even lost my job that week, but had gotten a new offer that same day. And the poor guy who had to fire me 5 days before, I was sleeping on his couch tonight.
I had a bed and friends that night to listen, even if I didn’t want to talk.
How many people haven’t had even one of those things on their side? I had one rough hour and walked away okay. I can’t even pretend to know what it’s like for someone who has ever spent a minute more in a bad situation because they didn’t have such an easy way out.
“You just found out you have cancer today?” I ask.
When I left my friend’s place the morning after the chaos, she asked if I was scared to go back.
I said, “No, Vampire will be sober now. I can handle it. It's not like I’m afraid of him.”
I didn’t want her to worry so I told a white lie. Nowhere near the crock of shit I was about to hear when I got back to my building and found him sobbing on the stoop.
“Yes! I’ve been waiting for the test results to come back for a month!” he yelled with a spit string.
“What test did you take? The BAR exam?” Because a month is irresponsibly long for medical testing.
“You don’t know what I’ve been through!” he yells. “These meds they’ve got me on are the reason I’m throwing up in the bathroom every morning!”
“It’s a studio apartment,” I remind him. “I know everything you do in the bathroom.”
Mostly because he announces it: “I’m going to the bathroom to jack off because my girlfriend won’t have sex with me!”
Then I’d put headphones on to block out the slappy sound and feel sad about losing my nice lotions in there.
“So you’re saying you’re on medication?”
“Yes. They give me all these injections to treat it. I’ve been keeping it from you so you wouldn’t be worried, but now you’re just dumping me!”
“Right. Okay. But you call me when you get a paper cut because you want me to worry about you. You would milk a cancer scare for all it’s worth. Also, you’re broker than Humpty Dumpty and have no health insurance, so how do you pay for these treatments?”
“It’s a place, like, for the community… I go there and they give me all these shots.”
“Do you mean a bar?”
“No! I’m going to a doctor!” he yells defensively.
It sounds like Dr. Bartender has been administering some whiskey shots already. It’s 11 AM.
“It’s cancer treatment for my foot!”
“Got it. You’ve been getting free injections from a doctor for the foot cancer you weren’t sure if you had until today.”
“They thought I had it. But…. the doctor just called… he said IT’S BENIGN!” he whales.
“Oh Jesus… Vampire. You need to do your research before bullshitting. Benign means it’s harmless and malignant means it’s spreading.”
“Well he said my kind is spreading.”
“Okay. Your benign foot cancer is spreading. (sigh) I can’t,” I say as I step past him.
He sobs harder when he yells, “They’re going to have to amputate! They’re going to cut my foot off!"
"I'm not a doctor," I say, "but maybe they should try a biopsy before the whack the whole thing off."
" They're cutting my foot off. You can't just leave me like this!”
“So you’re arguing that I should stay with you because you’re about to lose your foot? Even if I believed you - which I don't - do you think your foot was the problem? I want all of you gone. Not just a foot.”
“You can’t just break up with me, right now! I’m about to have an operation!”
“Look man, if I could stand you, I would happily move forward, just you, me and your nub. But after last night I will never be in a room alone with you again. Get yourself some help.”
He wipes the tears a way, calls me a cunt again, and never brings up the cancer he’s been sobbing over again since it was completely fake and failed.
Then has the audacity to yell, “I didn’t do anything!”
I take off the jacket I borrowed and say, “Oh, really? Did I fucking fall down the stairs?”
I point to the obvious bruises on my arms and shoulder blades and side of my wrist right there on the street. For just this moment, I don't care if anyone knows. His fingers prints left bruises on both arms, clear as day and he's trying to deny it.
He keeps shaking his head and avoids looking in my direction. He hasn’t been able to make eye contact with me this whole time. He may not remember everything, but he knows what he did. Why else spew such an insane story. He must have assumed the only possible way I could take pity on him is if he had cancer.
"This is done." I say, “Wait here while I get your things.”
He yells, “NNNO,” like a child and runs away.
I stood on my stoop thinking yeah, you better run. This is my stoop, not your stoop!, feeling like the queen of my castle after defeating the enemy. Defeating a giant man baby anyway. He was nothing in the daylight.
In the days that follow, he comes back several times. Holding my buzzer until I’m about to lose it. Kicking my door whenever he manages to get in the building. Cussing me out from the hallway then pretending to be sad before yelling I'm a cunt again and kicking the door. Just some old fashion harassment.
His stuff has been sitting outside my door in the hall for two days now but he refuses to take it. He wants a reason to come back.
While venting to my sister, I mention my lock is still broken and within the hour a locksmith is knocking at my door. Proving again, I have really good people in my life. With my lock fixed, I can finally leave my apartment without fear of him getting in. I meet a friend for dinner and tell her the funny little story of how he locked me out of my apartment and cut up my clothes and I became single.
During which, my phone dies.
And when my sister can’t get ahold of me, she assumes I’ve been killed. She begins contacting friends who start contacting other friends and a search party is built. Within the span of a dinner, I’ve become a missing person.
It’s always been a huge fear of mine that I’d go missing and someone would choose a really ugly photo for my poster. The kind of photo I would have untagged myself from had I not gone missing, but now it’s all over Dateline and I can't do shit about it.
Although, even if my friends did pick the kind of photo I would have chosen – smart, classy, with a girl-next-door smile – it wouldn’t matter. The media would dig up some slutty ones. They always go slutty.
Halloween costumes, a bachelorette party or maybe the one of me in San Felipe when I was 18. So they could say I kind of deserved it because I was a reckless, bikini-wearing heathen.
I don’t know which would have been a bigger misrepresentation. Reporting I died in a “lover’s quarrel” or me portraying me as a wild party girl when I was innocently there on my high school grad trip.
A trip set up through an organization that bussed hundreds of 18 year olds into Mexico, then provided an endless supply of Madori Sours, Sex on the Beaches and Adios Mother Fuckers for 4 straight days.
How any of us convinced our parents to let us go is insane. Let alone pay for it.
On the last day of the trip, I watch the sunrise with the lucky bastard who scored my v-card earlier that year. We shared a broken, sticky lawn chair and I asked if he was going to miss me.
These were our last days. I was going off to college and he was going back to repeat the twelfth grade again.
As we look out over the ocean he says, “I guess. It’s whatever.”
If he was Tim Riggins I would have accepted that answer. But he was not Tim Riggins.
I go back to my hotel room, find my friends then head to the beach for a concert where Pepper was performing.
That's where we are when we hear the he and some other guys got jumped outside a liquor store. The assailants ran off and the Federales arrested our friends for the brawl. Apparently this was not an uncommon scam, but the guys didn’t have enough money to pay them off.
When the news gets to us, my friend turns to me and asks if we should call our dads for legal advice and bail money.
His words – “I guess. It’s whatever” – repeat in my head and I say, “No. We should give them a day or two to think some stuff through. Really make them miss what matters.”
Like freedom. And the best thing that ever happened to him … three months ago while watching Dazed and Confused.
Hm, why wasn’t my first time romantic? Rose pedals, candles… Meh. I’m over it. We go back to singing Why Don’t You Have Some Dirty Hot Sex With Me and leave them in jail.
Six months later I’m at college and my dad sends me two photos. The first is of a glossy, orange flyer advertising Grad trip 2006. I am on this flyer. Wearing a bikini and a straw cowboy hat. Also on this flyer is Stephen Colletti and Jason Wahler from MTV’s Laguna Beach. Superimposed in.
I tell my dad I don't even know those guys and I don’t recall signing a photo release, as if that would be his big concern.
… I also don’t recall acquiring a straw cowboy hat, but that doesn’t seem right to bring up now.
The second photo he sent is of a box with about 500 more of those flyers. My dad stole all of them. However, the flyer still exists on the internet, just waiting to be found by Nancy Grace.
I remind my dad I’m still an innocent angel who would never drink or party or talk to boys.
He says, “Okay. How’s Arizona State?”
And I say, “Good thanks, but I caught mono.”
I remember the guys on our grad trip running onto the bus in the nick of time. Everyone cheered, but I slipped Riggins a look that said I hope that Mexican jail gave you some perspective. Maybe next time I try to force a romantic moment you’ll just let me fucking have it.
… Oh my god. Am I a bikini-wearing heathen?!
Would Riggins and other men get on TV and say, “Yeahhhh, but she kinda had it coming…”
I shake the thought. For now I had two jobs - letting everyone know I'm alive and getting Vampire’s shit far from my home.
After I checked the first box, I call a courier service and had his shit sent to his gym.
Because he still doesn’t have any friends.
The in-person harassment stopped, but I would still get strange texts. Like six-inch long rants of hatred or just randomly in the middle of the day a simple “Don’t think of me EVER.”
Um. I wasn’t. Don’t text me and it won’t happen again.
I blocked Vampire's phone number, but still get a few emails in the months that follow. Not remorseful emails. Just ones telling me I made a huge mistake and I'm going to regret this. I finally decided to respond to one he wrote me about 5 months after our dramatic end on April 1st. I read his email and then wrote back, ”Vampire, I never thought I’d say this but ... I miss you too.” Then another that said, “April Fools. Fuck off.” And I blocked him on email too.
Never again will I say "I love you" if I don’t truly mean it.
What a mess it makes. Not only for me, but for the recipient of my empty words. It was all so wrong and I wish I could take it back every time I said it.
But there was a time in my life once... a time when I had the chance to tell someone I loved them. And I didn't say it. He was standing right in front of me but I let him walk out of my life. It's a regret I've had to live with everyday since.
The power of your first love is greater than any other and stronger than imaginable. It transcends time and space and it trumps all logic.
I was 13 the first time I fell in love. The same age as Romeo and Juliet. He was a high school student, but he looked like he was in his early 30s. His name was Max. And he was an alien.
He crash landed in Roswell, New Mexico in 1942, but remained in an incubation pod with his sister Isabelle and friend Michael. They were found wandering on a dirt road outside Roswell and adopted by loving parents.
I was able to see him every Monday night at 8pm on The WB.
I knew I was falling in love with him when I took a whole roll of blurry pictures of him on the TV and developed them in black and white for my photography class in junior high.
My teacher gave me a D. I gave myself a photo album so I could save them all and put stickers in it.
Our relationship ended not long after he moved. Not far just to UPN Channel 13. But he was surrounded by incompetent humans who lacked the budget to could properly showcase his powers through special effects. They made him look so foolish.
Before I knew it, it was all over. He was ... cancelled.
I just had to keep getting out of bed in the morning. Putting one foot in front of the other. I prayed wherever he was he knew I still loved him and would never forget what we had.
It had been just over a decade since our relationship ended when I’m covering a Golden Globes pre-party at Cecconi’s in West Hollywood one evening.
I'm mid-interview when I feel what can only be described as a presence. It’s over whelming. I slowly look behind me through all the cameras and equipment. And he’s there. Standing alone in the empty area behind the chaos.
I can barely believe my own eyes. He’s beautiful. My heart begins to race.
“What? I’m sorry Cate Blanchett, I wasn’t listening. I don’t even remember what movie I’m supposed to ask you about. Just tell us what you’re wearing tonight and you can go …. Cool, okay, thank you for talking to us. Enjoy the party!”
I turn back around and he’s still there. Looking out of this world. But he's not out of this world. He's really here. Just inches away from where the people who are still famous get to be.
“Huh? Sorry Liam Hemsworth. Right um, what was it like working with… whoever. I really can’t focus right now, dude. Can you just hit your regular talking points and I'll act like I'm paying attention?” …… Really? Wow. Wild. Okay wrap it up hot shot …… K, thanks for talking to us, have a great night!”
I whip back around again but he’s gone! I wonder if he used one of his alien powers to vanish or if he simply walked away.
An hour or so later, the last celebrity finally walks through. My camera man and I do a few stand-ups to cue up sound bites, which are phrases like “Liam Hemsworth dishes on working with his sexy leading lady and you’ll never guess which one of them has a penis.”
That was just a warm up.
We get some b-roll of the grounds then pack it up. I walk up to the valet stand with my ticket ready but the valet isn't there. There’s only one other person on the sidewalk waiting.
It’s him. He's real. I didn't imagine the whole thing. He's an arms length away.
He and I are standing in the moonlight on the corner of Melrose and Robertson. Alone as last.
I can’t remember how to breathe and my body start displacing moisture. My palms get sweaty but my mouth goes dry. Can he hear my heart pounding?
I’m too nervous to speak. But he has to know I'm here. What if I just tap him on the shoulder? No, he might get startled and use his powers in public.
What am I even saying? I don’t know what to say to him! It's been years since I've seen him.
For all I know he’s still with Liz. Last I saw they were getting married.
Her wedding dress was ugly. Like a white poncho or something. We get it, you’re in New Mexico. You live in a van now because you’re on the run from the government. But it’s your wedding day, at least try. She still looked pretty I guess.
God, I don’t even know if he still lives on Earth! Maybe he just came down for award season.
Just say, “Hi, where do you live now?”
No. That’s too stalkerish. Albeit a bad stalker because a good stalker would already know where he lives.
Whatever, there’s no harm in a simple hello. I mean, c’mon you just snubbed Hemsworth and you can’t even say hi. Just do it! Say anything.
I open my mouth and - NO! His car is pulling up. I need more time. WE need more time! I want to jump in his trunk and scream "Abduct me Alien Man!"
He crosses around to the driver's side of the car and tips the valet with a smile that makes me happy and breaks my heart all at once.
He looks right through me before closing his door. Red tail lights of this Toyota Corolla flash as he pulls away from the curb and drives off.
I whisper "I love you" into the air, but he’s gone. I'll never see him again.
The valet walks up to me and says, "Ticket please."
I throw my ticket on the ground and yell, "HOW COULD YOU?!"
I take off running into the night, never to return as people honk and yell at me to get out of the road.
He'll never know I love him.
Return of The Gemini (again)
After the whole ordeal with Vampire, I needed a distraction. I decided it was time to tell The Gemini that I wasn’t really kidnapped by mole people. Well, I was. But then I got to know them. And they set me free. But I decided to stay because I understood them and their world and I felt accepted and at the end of the day isn’t that all anyone really wants.
Which explains why I didn’t answer any calls or texts in the last 4 months. I couldn’t get a signal underground. But I’m back now. So …
I like that he doesn’t ask many questions. I need that. I need casual, simple, fun.
We fall back into an old pattern easily. Almost too easily. A friend texts one night when he was over and asked what I was doing. I said I’m walking my dog around the block for a third time, drinking wine out of a mug because The Gemini fell asleep in my apartment and I don’t know what to do.
"Passed out after sex?" she text back.
"Yeah but then woke up and like… went to bed. At my place. Why would he do this?"
"Wake him up and talk to him about this whole spending the night thing."
"No, I can’t. I’m no good with those conversations. I go all pirates and mole people. Wait! It's a full moon. Do you think he still believes in werewolves?"
"No. But isn’t he allergic to dogs?"
My eyes follow the leash in my hand down to Oliver.
"Thanks. I’ll talk to you tomorrow."
I go back inside and crawl into bed next to him. I pet Oliver then pet him, then pet Oliver, then him again, thinking how morally this is a pretty fucked up thing to do. But my plan works and he wakes up.
"Hey, what’s wrong? You okay? Are your allergies bugging you?" I ask sincerely.
"No. I went to the doctor and got back on my allergy meds so I could be around your dog," he says as he falls back asleep.
It’s like he went on the pill for me and we didn’t even decide if we were serious yet.
I wake him up again. He asks what's up and I can't think of anything so I just start a random conversation that leads us to talking about our families and life and big dreams. We stay up talking for quite a while and just as I was about to fall asleep he said he better head home. And just after he left, I thought aw... damn, now I kinda wished he'd stayed.
But the reality is I wasn't ready to let a man get too comfortable in my safe place just yet. So much so I was willing to activate his allergy that for all I knew could have been fatal.
The summer I was 19 and home from my first year of college, my parents told me to get a job.
Because it wouldn't be long before I was out in the working world. And as I woman I would have to work twice as hard to get a foot in the door. I would have to work twice as hard to be respected and 10 times harder for promotions I would already deserve.
They told me I should pick something useful. Something that would look good on a resume.
So I said okay. And then signed up to be a Hollywood extra.
The world they were drawling on about didn't exist anymore. I knew everything because I had graduated from high school and now have one year of college under my belt.
Women and men are treated exactly the same today so I didn't need their warnings. All I need a job that offered a bunch of easy cash.
Once my photo was on the Central Casting website, I could be requested for anything and everything. And lucky for me, I look basic enough to be in the background of anywhere.
Five -six days a week I was up at 5am, driving all over Los Angeles, and making no less than $100 a day for sitting, walking by, or silently saying "watermelon apple" to a stranger who would then silently say "carrots and peas" back.
Easiest money ever. Even more cash if I was "featured extra". Meaning I would get make up, wardrobe and be part of the scene. Like the barista who hands coffee to a main character or something like that.
In the movie Knocked Up, there's a scene where Leslie Mann's character loses her shit on the bouncer because he lets two "skanks" in over her.
I'm one of those skanks.
Or in Transformers, I was one of "Makaela's friends" so I was on that set a bunch of times and in various locations.
In one scene, Shia LaBouf's character crashes his bike in front of us. Michael Bay points to me and tells me to say the line "Such a dork" to "Makaela" who was played by Megan Fox.
I made nearly 5 grand and scored a SAG card, even though my line was cut because I'm a terrible actress.
Which I already knew.
Back in high school, I took a drama class and my teacher called me after class to say he knew the casting director on a new sitcom called Hope & Faith, and he wanted me to submit me for it.
The show was staring Kelly Ripa and Faith Ford and the role I was auditioning for was Faith's daughter, Sydney Shanowski. I did get a call back, but not the part.
But it was enough for me to decide I should be an actress so I got an agent and a manager. After almost a year of walking into rooms and being judged and rejected I threw in the towel. But not before selling my soul to Hollywood's favorite cult.
I did a series of Scientology commercials. So I can cross running for office off my list of career paths.
There was one where I'm partying with a bunch of girls and a pimp in a limo.
One where I'm dancing in an elevator like a crazy person, while everyone else stands still.
And one where I point and laugh at a small boy trying to kick a ball.
Because according to Hollywood, I look like a really mean, crazy, prostitute.
I should have known it wasn't for me after that very first audition. The part on Hope & Faith went to an actress named Megan Fox, who later went on to star in blockbuster hit called Transformers.... Wow. That came full circle.
My role in this film could have been entirely different. Eh well. I'm just a talentless extra and reformed Scientologist on break from college.
One of my extra roles did lead to a bit of an on set love affair though...
It happened the day I played "Cowgirl Getting on Bus" in "Dukes of Hazzard 2: Adventures of Going Straight to DVD."
It was with one of the Dukes. I don't want to use his real name so we'll just make up a totally fictional one and call him "Aaron Samuels".
He had been a flirt all day. He would tease me or make up funny cat calls with the other Duke.
I'm a method extra, so when Aaron Samuels comes over to chat, I say, "carrots and peas."
And he says, "Yeah, we should grab dinner tonight."
I nod and say "watermelon apple!"
And he says, "Margaritas too. Good call."
I have a great time with him and the next night we plan to hang out again, even though it was a Saturday and my work on Dukes was done.
As I'm leaving my house, my step dad strongly objects to the idea.
Which is totally fair.
"Knocked Up, Skank #2" was not the resume builder my parents had in mind.
And now I'm about to go out with "some actor guy who only wants ONE THING!" my step dad kept saying, clearly referring to sex.
His argument is that I'll look like some Hollywood floozy or one of those girls who just goes to work to find a well-off man. Or the kind of girl who puts out for a job.
He couldn't be more wrong.
I'm no floozy.
I'm raking it in this summer - making equal pay as a male extra, mind you.
And obviously I'm not going to sleep with Aaron Samuels like some wanna-be actress hoping for a role. I'm a professional extra now. I'm already doing what I love.
We both know if I was a boy, most parents would say, "Go hit that, son."
But because I'm a daughter, we worry about my reputation. If I sleep with someone it says something about who I am. If I sleep with someone in his position, I'm a gold digger or a social climber or using sex in exchange for something.
I leave after my lecture and meet Aaron Samuels at his motel.
Which doesn't sound great when I write it here.
But it was where everyone was staying and hanging out. The location where they filmed was a dirt road with ghost town so it was the best option after the one restaurant we already went to.
We hang with the cast and crew for a bit, but when we go back to make another mixed drink in his room we start making out instead.
We're at it for a while, rolling around on a motel bed, when out of the blue he says, "HEY! Do you want to build a fort?"
And I think what the fuck?? Why did he just stop kissing me and say that? How could he have possibly known I love building forts?!!! He gets me.
I say heck yeah and I'm glad I don't have to give him a line to stop anything from going past rolling around just because a motel bed is always a strange place to say, "Hold up cowboy, I'm not that kind of girl."
We watch a movie on his laptop in our fort and say goodbye at the end of the night. And that was where our love affair ended.
I got the feeling my step dad might have been on to something there. Aaron Samuels and I really didn't have any deep conversations. Or... conversations.
A few years later, I'm getting ready for work in New York ...
(Yes, I managed to get a job despite my resume that includes Hollister, Pink Taco and Extra: type cast as a shitty person)
So I'm listening to Good Morning America and a story about how Julianne Hough accidentally outed her Dancing with the Stars partner, who hadn't officially come out of the closet yet.
It's my Duke!
And I think Ooooooooooh! THAT'S why he wanted to build a fort!
Sure, proved my step dad. That "actor guy" definitely didn't want to sleep with me. Like, AT ALL!
What on earth am I talking about right now, you ask?
The moral of that ridiculously long story - other than to brag about my career as a movie star adjacent - is to point out that I am really, really bad at identifying who is gay and who is straight.
Always have been.
Let's not even talk about my best friend in high school. Or how I kept waiting for him to come out of the closet to me.
We sometimes coordinated outfits. We even won Best Dressed together in the yearbook....
But it turns out he was a straight dude. Whole time. I was the only who didn't know he had a crush on me.
I changed clothes in front of him. Often. Just waiting for him to say, "Yeah, your girl body repulses me. I think I like dudes. Can we talk about it over an Orange Julius?" And be all like "Yes! Now let's talk about who on the football team you think is cute!"
Anyway. In this case, I'm at a party talking to some guy who is definitely, definitely gay. I thought.
He's slightly annoying, but we have some good banter so I say, "Sure, let's grab dinner next week."
I can tell his personally would wear on me quickly. It's the kind of loud ego I can put up with from a sassy gay, but would never deal with it from a straight man.
But turns out he's not just straight, he's a well known New York womanizer. And now I am on a "date" with him.
Also, I have Scarlet Fever. I feel fine, but no one would ever knowingly go on a date while with Scarlet Fever.
It's not a cute sniffle or a sexy horse voice. It's Strep Throat with a full body rash. Full body.
Very few cases in adults, but my sister and I have a knack for contracting illnesses typically only found in babies or on the Oregon Trail.
In one example, my sister got croup when she was 17, which is a type of whooping cough babies get.
The sound is best described as "a barking seal".
To this day I still don't know how she didn't deafen herself from the echo inside the Easter Bunny head.
.... I should explain that.
She was the Easter Bunny in the mall when she contracted the croup. A costume that's a claustrophobic's nightmares.
Just imagine your head is isolated in this dark, empty, spherical space. You can't even cover your mouth when you cough.
She was just in there, germing up that dome piece, while confusing a generation of children.
Because of my sister, when the teacher says, "What does the duck say?" they say, "Quack, Quack!"
When the teacher says, "What does the lion say?" they say, "Roarrrr!"
But when the teacher says, "What does the bunny say?" they say, "BARK BARK BARK BARK... BARK... BARK BARK ...... BARK"
I was the Easter Bunny in the mall the next year. Because let's be honest $15 bucks an hour for sitting on a throne has an appeal.
The management company had to get a brand new head because my sister infected the last head so bad.
So the fur on my bunny head was brighter than the fur on my bunny body.
It was so embarrassing.
And led to another photo in my high school yearbook. But not my on Best Dressed page. Probably on account of the pastel vest and no pants.
I think I should tell my "date" this story to kill time, so I say, "One year, I was a bunny ..."
And he says, "Playboy?!"
And I say, "No... Easter."
And he stops listening, so I drop it.
We go back to him talking because he prefers it that way.
He's so straight and so comfortable with his masculinity, he calls himself a "feminist" repetitively, as he explains what it's like to run a company where women are allowed to work too.
"Honestly, every girl at my company is just trying to sleep with me. Marry me actually. So they can quit their job. Which is the only reason women go to work anyway, right... to find a husband. And all girls want to be with the man who has the most power and money. Which is me. I can say this because I'm a feminist."
I pull up one of my sleeves and start itching my rash. Even though it's a non-itchy type of rash. Because it's more of an internal health issue.
"Naturally, every girl coming in for an interview tries to flirt with me to get the job. It's like honey," he laughs, "you've already got an advantage here. You're pretty to look at and cheaper labor. No need to put my hand on your knee."
I pull up my other sleeve and itch that arm too. The one closer to his plate so he'll hopefully lose his appetite.
"Now as a feminist, I try to treat all my employees the same. But here's the thing - and I'll speak candidly here - I'm really good at yelling at men. But I have a harder time yelling at women because you cry all the time."
I stop itching my rash out and ask, "How would you define a feminist?"
And he says, "Sh sh... a man is speaking."
"Hey! You need to sit quietly. You see, it's the same in the bedroom. You women think you want to participate in sex, but really what you want is a man to do the job. You want me to flip you over and have my way with you any way I'd like."
"That sounds like ra-"
"My gosh, you're a noisy one. Gonna have to smack a muzzle on that mouth of yours if I decide to take you home tonight. I'm messing with you. But please don't speak again until I say it's okay."
"So anyway. After I finish, the girls always tell me how good I am. Every time. And as a feminist, I can see they're telling the truth. That I am very good in bed."
The waiter comes over and says, "Another round?"
The feminist says yes and I say, "I can't. Nope. I can't sit here any longer. We need the check, please."
"She'll have one more" he corrects.
"I'm really not feeling so well," I say even though I feel fine.
"She wants the same and we'll see a dessert menu."
"Sir, if you don't bring the check, I'll scream I HAVE LEPROSY and run around licking forks and touching faces. Do you wanna be a headline tomorrow or do you want to bring the check?"
I've got the appearance to back it and a look in my eye like I've got nothing to lose.
The waiter hurries back with the check.
"Well you certainly know how to get the job done," The Feminist says. "I can even see you being a secretary to a very successful man one day."
I look at the bill he's signing to see if he's a bad tipper too. "It looks like you did the tip wrong," I point out.
And he says, "Hah, like you can do math. Oh ... yes, I did add that incorrectly. Good eye. You really are smart for a girl."
I bolt out of the restaurant and he follows saying, "I always thought women couldn't run because your hips are made for holding babies, but you are very fast."
Just two more blocks and I'll be home I tell myself.
He catches up at a cross walk.
A little winded, and without being asked, he catches his breath and says, "You know, I would never date a fat chick. Just not how I'm wired. Not in my DNA. I like that you're keeping it tight. Would you ever get a boob job?"
I make it to my stoop and he's still there so I say, "K thanks for dinner bye."
I give him an ass out hug and he goes for the kiss as if I've given any sign that would be okay.
But instead of acting offended for the one millionth time, I remind him I have an Oregon Trail disease. And he says, "Right, okay. Well I'll send you notes on how you did. But you can expect a second date."
I tell myself to just keep it together and get inside, but ... I can't. It's like the fever is controlling me. My rash is getting stronger and redder and suddenly FLAME ON!
"I'm gonna help you out with some verbal notes now. Like the actual definition of feminism. To which you clearly don't align yourself with from your every single statement, screaming of sexism. You are what we're warned about. You're what the 19-year-old, naive me didn't believe existed anymore. Because men like you run companies, women have to work twice at hard to get a foot in the door. Women have to work twice as hard to be respected and 10 times harder for promotions we already deserve. We rest on nothing and step up to prove ourselves everyday while men get a smooth ride up that ladder on the backs of women better than them. But no matter what position we enter into, we have the capacity to do a hell of a job. If I want to be cast as a skank, I'll be the best damn skank that screen's ever seen. If I want to be a gender ambiguous Easter Bunny in a purple vest, I will hold my giant head up high. If I want to work at Hollister ... actually I'm just gonna leave that one off. The point is, if I choose to build the company that buys your company, I will proudly do it knowing I earned every inch without, or despite, a man like you getting a hand anywhere near my knee. You are not a feminist. You are a misogynist. Who, to be clear, I THOUGHT WAS GAY!"
I caught my breath as my rash calmed itself into flame off mode and went inside.
I'm recount this unbelievable encounter to The Gemini the following night.
And he says, "You went on a date?"
And I say, "K, I put a lot of focus on the fact that I thought he was a gay man and you somehow missed that. And honestly, your first question probably should have been taking an interest in my acting career. But it's fine."
I realize then it would bother him if I went on a date. It's not like I would have told him about going on a date if I thought it was a date. But this was an accidental date, so I don't think we get to get weird about those.
But he did.
Just hang tight and wait for the irony. It's on its way.
When The Gemini gets a promotion and suggests we celebrate with a do-over of our do-over – meaning hotel suite, champagne and some molly – I say I'm in.
Knowing he was about to go out of town for three weeks, we may as well go big. He’s heading home to Panama for one week then going to South Africa for two.
But he gets stressed about packing for a hotel in addition to his big trip, especially since he has to go to the airport at 8 AM, so we decide to just stay up all night at my place.
He puts on a movie while I wrap up some work then we take the molly.
Just as Boogie Nights turns what-the-fuck dark, the drugs kick in. But it feels different than last time…
I ask if the package has directions and he says, "It's clear."
"So did we do it right or not?" I ask
And he says, "No, I mean they came in cellophane."
But his words sound weird and distant.
Time is jumping. Or frozen. We’re both experiencing it, but can’t explain it to each other using words. The cadence of our speech is weird and nothing we’re saying makes much sense.
“Am I talking funny or are you talking funny?” he tries to decifer.
“I’m not talking,” I say. “Wait… now I am. Wait … AM I?!”
He says “I don’t like the way your dog is looking at me.”
And I say, “Well you two need to work that out. I don’t want to get involved.”
“Involved with what?” he asks.
And I say “I don’t know. You and my sister are in a fight or something.”
“That was yesterday,” he reminds me.
“Have we been here all night?”
“Your flight!” I jump up.
“No, it’s okay. The clock says it’s been one minute.”
We give up on talking because it's just way too hard. So we go back to doing what we are good at.
Until suddenly there’s a knock at the door.
We ignore it. There’s another knock at the door. We really try to ignore it. There it is again. They've been knocking for days!
We think if we just stare at each other with what-are-we-gonna-do faces it’ll solve itself. But it doesn’t work.
I look for my clothes and he pulls a blanket over his face because I can’t see you, you can’t see me is sound logic on drugs.
I open the door and see my little, old downstairs neighbor, Jackie.
She’s the sweetest. When I had a very loud locksmith at my place recently, she came out to check on me even though it was late.
I got her flowers the next day to apologize for waking her up and she wrote me a thank you note and baked me cookies.
She was the sweet little old lady downstairs and I was the nice young lady upstairs.
Until now. I stood there with just been fucked hair and my pants on backwards.
She says her ceiling is raining and asks if I have a leak. I turn around to see water pouring out of my bathroom so I say no.
We’re both quiet for a minute.
My front door faces my bathroom with about three feet between the doorways so she can see what’s happening.
She asks if I’m sure and I say, “Yeah, it’s not me.”
She says it looks like there’s water everywhere and I say, “I took a shower today so there’s a little on the floor.”
I literally cannot comprehend that there is a problem.
She looks at me then notices the lump on the couch. He’s 6’3 and it’s just a light Anthropology throw so he had to tuck very tight for full coverage. He looks like a mummy.
He’s being so still. I think he’s holding his breath. Jackie looks back at me and I get nervous so I hold my breath too.
She knows I’m on drugs. She’s judging me. I’m judging me. I’m being paranoid. Change the subject…
“Well have a good night.”
I want her to leave so I can go back to not realizing my apartment is flooding.
She asks if it’s okay if she calls the super in the building and I say, “I think you should. There is definitely something wrong with your ceiling.”
She leans in, perplexed by me, and points to the water. We both look at it. We both look at each other. We both look at the mummy. Then she leaves.
Thank God. I close the door and run back over to the couch to make sure he’s still alive.
He takes a deep breath. “How long was I under?”
“I’m not sure,” I say. “A few hours? Your flight!”
“It’s okay. The clock says it’s been 3 minutes.”
We go back to what we were doing before Jackie interrupted with her ceiling problems. And there’s another knock at the door!
WHAT IS GOING ON!?
I get dressed again and he takes a deep breath before going back under his invisibility cloak.
I open the door to the super and say, “Hey Juan. What are you doing here?”
Juan sees the flood that I’m now actually standing in and immediately goes around me to try to stop it.
He asks what happened and I say, “Jackie is having a problem with her ceiling. Don’t be mad at her though. She’s old. Probably doesn’t know what button she pressed.”
He works for a while then calls for back up. No clue how long it takes but ANOTHER maintenance guy shows up.
Jackie comes back up and the nosey woman, Rachel, next door just invites herself in. Rachel asks what happened and I say, “Someone in the building has a flood,” in my gossipy voice.
I don’t look at Jackie because I’m obviously talking about her.
There’s chaos and yelling in Spanish coming from the two men in my bathroom.
I look back toward the couch. I want to ask him to translate, but he’s invisible right now.
Everyone besides Juan has now noticed the very still body on the couch by now and it makes them uncomfortable so one by one they leave.
Finally, Juan comes out and tells me a pipe broke behind my wall. The news makes me awkward. Actually the drug made me awkward, but Juan doesn’t know that I’m on drugs, so he tries to make me feel more comfortable with some casual questions. Like, how’s work? Are you going away for the holidays?
Then finally, ”Did your boyfriend move out?”
“No!" I yell. "I mean yes. But stop!”
I glance at the couch, wondering if he heard that. I never explained that I was back with Vampire for a while.
“He’s gone.” I say. “Forever.”
I want Juan to know I’m okay with the break up so I laugh loudly and say, “And he is NEVER coming back!”
Juan now notices the body on the couch. He backs out slowly and runs down the stairs.
Juan is so weird.
I run back over to the couch and pull the blanket off.
He catches his breath again and then finally says, “Didn’t your ex move out like a year ago?”
And I say “Yes. But time has been frozen so Juan thinks it just happened.”
And he says, “Oh right.”
“Can’t believe how long that took,” I say to change the subject.
“My flight!” he jumps up. “The clock says it’s been 8 hours!”
“Oh no! What was our start time?”
“I don’t know.”
“Then where did you get the 8 from?”
“The clock says 8.”
“That’s because it’s 8 o’clock.”
We pause the TV and see there are 45 minute left in Boogie Nights.
“So that means this movie is 8 hours long?”
“Yes?” he says in the form of a question.
Now that we figured that out, he probably has to leave for the airport soon.
“Still got a little time left …” I say seductively.
“I can make time for you,” he says.
Neither of us has realized that he’s only been at my place for an hour and a half. So he actually has a lot of time left before his flight. Like 12 hours.
“And next time we’re celebrating,” he says. “lets stay at a hotel. This place is a dump.”
“I live here,” I quietly remind him as we flip off the last working light bulb in my apartment.
With the morning light, I realized he may have a point. In a hotel we could call up for more towels. But this morning we’re left with no towels after Jackie’s flood.
He takes a shower before he leaves for the airport and I have to use the blow dryer on him.
Once he’s all dry and fluffy I send him off to enjoy his 3 week trip.
And Now, The Irony
… It’s December 21st when he texts some sweet sentiments one afternoon while he's away. So sweet I wonder if maybe one day I’ll talk about this man and not call him by a made up nickname. Probably not, but a girl can wonder.
We’ve been in touch since he left for his three-week trip, but today feels like there’s been a change. We talk for a while and there’s definitely something different.
The casualness of it all has moved into something deeper. There’s a desperation in the way he wants to be with me and I like it more than I expect to.
I’ve never felt so unequivocally wanted and he leaves no questions about how he feels. He says he’s never been so addicted to someone and I think it must be true because his phone bill is going to be outrageous.
I told him about my accidental date with The Feminist because I found it funny. I didn’t really think much about whether or not that was weird it was a date because we weren't supposed to be monogamous.
I wasn't ready for a relationship. I had plenty of his attention. I didn’t need him to tell me I was the only one he was with. I didn’t even think I wanted that with him. But suddenly I started wondering if this was worth considering.
He leaves Panama for a two week trip to South Africa with friends about the same time I land in LA. By now we’re in a world where time zones don’t matter. We’re up at all hours talking like we can’t get enough.
We go between confessions and phone sex to travel plans we’ll book and the reasons we wish the other were there. He says “send me a dirty picture of you” and I’ve never done that before, but I’m in the mood so I go for it.
Then I go back and reread his text and it actually says “send me a picture of you.”
He doesn’t have Facebook anymore and probably just forgot what I looked like. So… I took it there for no reason. But a dirty photo is a gateway text to sexting, so it led to some fun.
It’s odd, but so many times before, he’d said romantic things or reasons he liked me and I sat silently on the couch or across the table because words of that nature don’t come so easily to me. I'm cautious. But for the first time ever, with anyone, I was reciprocating in a way that surprises me.
Maybe it's the distance between us that's allowing this. He can show me his desire for me and I won't feel the sudden need to guard my stoop with a thou-shall-not-pass attitude. We can speak freely because there's no chance of immediate action. All distance and desire. It's a pretty solid recipe.
… It’s New Years Eve and I’m the only single person at party at my sister and her husband’s beautiful place in the Hollywood Hills. Theres a bit of humiliation in knowing so many good friends give up their midnight kiss to cheers with me, but I appreciate their compassion. I love them all and also have a little solace knowing I don’t feel so alone … even if I’ve kept it to myself.
Only one more day and we’ll both land in New York.
… It’s the first day of 2017 and I’m excited for what this year might bring. My sister and I spend the entire next day in bed eating pizza and watching Gilmore Girls. I’ve always found some thrill in secrecy and privacy while dating, but I admit why my phone hasn’t left my hand in 3 weeks.
I just call him The Gemini and she remembers him from such events as my apartment flood and the bat shit crazy break up text of two years ago that caused me to fake my own death.
… It’s a Sunday when he tells me he’s already taken Monday off so we can spend the next day together too. The old version of us, where he stayed at the office too late and always put work first, feels like a 100 years ago.
… It’s 2 AM and it's freezing in my apartment. We’re intwined as close as humanly possible for warmth. He says “I wish were were some place warm.” I agree and he pauses a second before saying, “Want to wake up in Cancun?”
My eyes light up and I say yes.
We get up and he tells me to grab a couple bathing suits, we can buy everything else there. He books our tickets and an incredible resort in Playa del Carmen for the next five days.
He emails his work and I arrange my work schedule then I say, "Oh wait, you have to go back and put in my fake birthday. Remember because when I was young, my dad forgot my birthday and he made my passport incorrectly. Can you believe how horrible that is?"
And he says, "Yeah, my dad my dad abandoned me when I was two."
And I say, "Um, this isn't a competition."
Then I ask when his birthday is because I don’t remember. He says he’s the first day of Gemini.
“Ah, so you’re two faced,” I say, having just heard that fun fact from my astrology-loving friend.
He gives me a sneaky smile I find irresistible and force myself to stay focused on finding at least one matching bathing suit.
And then I remember oh shit I have a dog. The boarding place is closed so I send my sister a text she probably won’t see until the morning, asking if it would be okay if when she wakes up Oliver is at her place.
But she responds saying she weirdly woke up and can’t go back to sleep. She says it’s no problem as long as I tell her at least what country I'm going to and give her an actual name for The Gemini. I do and immediately she’s stalking him.
He and I laugh as we watch her texts come in and he seems flattered as he sees she’s checked his Linkedin page. I realize he might like that she knows about him. He seems to at least be interested that she’s looking into him. We talk about our family members as if the other knows them but we don’t.
She sends a text that reads “Divorced?” and we look at each other with raised eyebrows and laugh.
I reply, “No.”
She sends, “Married?” and our reaction and response is the same.
He jokingly asks, “Where would my wife think I am all the time?”
I tell her she’s looking at the wrong guy and to stop stalking.
She says, “lol oh yeah never mind, this is some guy in Panama.”
I look at him and he seems surprised.
He’s quiet for a second before saying, “Wow… She must have really found something.”
I ask what that means and he looks like he doesn’t want to explain for a moment then goes on.
“She might have found a registry,” he hesitates. “I was engaged once. We were supposed to get married in Panama. I didn’t want to tell you because I thought you might look at me like I was damaged goods.”
I don’t. I think nothing of it actually.
But I ask for the story in case he says the engagement ended when he murdered her. Because I'm about to get on a plane with this guy and go to a country where he speaks the language and I don’t and I'm just going through this phrase right now where I really don't want any more men to try and kill me.
“I was with a girl for a long time and eventually I broke it off,” he says. “A couple of months later, I missed her. So I came graveling back and she said she would take me back but only if we took that next step and got engaged. I agree and proposed. But when we’re registering at yet another place I just break down and know I can’t do it. I break it off and it’s horrible. I hated doing that to her. I’m actually pretty self conscious about it. I didn’t really want you to know about all that.”
He seems genuinely sad as he admits he has a hard time thinking about it because he really did care about her.
Because I didn’t want to tell him my past with the vampire coming back into the picture, I hadn’t really asked much about his past. I tell him I’m self conscious that I’ve shared a home with two different guys. And that I don’t want to live with someone again until I get married.
He tells me he’s never lived with a woman before and doesn’t want to until he’s married.
We talk about the reasons we’ve both been afraid of marriage, and marriage in all forms. We talk about how we envision it and what we want out of it.
He says “this” referring to how we are, and I wonder why its taken me so long to see how great he really is.
I still don’t know if I see us for the long hall, but the next few days wrapped up in nothing but him is exactly where I want to be for now. I pull him over to the bed because everything else can wait.
… It’s 5AM when we realize how much time we lost and now we really have to hurry. I have to drop Oliver off and he has to go home and grab his passport.
He jumps up and suddenly looks horrible. He’s dizzy and sweating, he’s a funny color, his heart is racing.
He had wanted to wait until we got to Cancun for any physical activities to be romantic after having gone 3 weeks already, then I go and jump his bones and now he’s having a heart attack!
…. Is it weird I want to take it as a compliment?
But still! He’s too young to die of a heart attack!
I look over at the coaster with cocaine residue and think well yeah, that probably didn’t help…
I realize this is the third time drugs have come up with him, which covers every time we ever did them. But that’s because he prides himself on his research and ability to find the best. In everything. He swears he found the most high end drug dealer in the city and in addition takes every measure to make sure the experience is the best it could possibly be and we’re left without a hang over.
When I say he showed up tonight with a Neti Pot, nasal saline, 6 pack of vapor inhalers, 4 large Gatorades and case of water, I’m not even exaggerating a little. If I was going to be reckless, I was still going to do it the smart way. With a smart person and best possible product.
Plus he's a guy who handles things. He researches and takes precautions. Around him I can just sit back and enjoy life with and know he'll take care of things.
Vampire was a wreck and I always had to be the adult in charge, so it was nice that every so often I could let loose around The Gemini and trust all would be okay.
So what the heck happened here?!
I say, "I think we should go to the hospital, I think we should go to the hospital, I think we should go to the hospital, I think we should go to the hospital," before I remember I'm on cocaine.
Despite me, he somehow stays calm. He lays back down and I rub his back and trace pictures because he loves that, and we lay there a long time before he finally says he’s doing a little better.
We laugh reminiscing how I fainted at his place the first day we met and call it even now. Then he pushes our flights back then says he’s going to go home, possibly vomit a bunch, then and pack and pick me up.
He texts me when he gets home and apologizes for such an anticlimactic evening. I say I’m going to sleep until he's on his way and tell him if we go to Mexico great, but it’s no big deal if we don’t. Just feel better.
He assures me we’re getting on that plane.
My last text is to Christie, saying Oliver won’t be at her place when she wakes up after all, but I’ll explain later and then ask her to send me that website or registry she found so I can fact check his timeline and make sure this woman is still alive somewhere.
… It’s 7:15 AM and I wake up to a text from Christie saying it was his Facebook page she was looking at.
I tell her he doesn’t have Facebook. He told me when he deleted it a year ago.
She says the page she was looking at has since been deactivated. She sends all she can find, which includes a screen shot of two posts from other people:
- “Adios to Panama. Thanks to "The Gemini" and [a woman's name] for joining their hearts in such a beautiful place.”
- “Congrats to "The Gemini" and your beautiful wife [a woman's name]. I wish you a lifetime of happiness.”
These posts were on December 20th of 2016. Three weeks ago. But that doesn’t make any sense. There aren't any photos, but that's his first, middle and last name, exactly how his Facebook used to be. It can’t actually be him, though. Because that would mean he got married. Three weeks ago. I talked to him that day.
… It’s 7:30 AM and I’m pacing my apartment. The name. The location. That’s him. He was there. It fits perfectly. A wedding in Panama and a honeymoon in South Africa. He never sent pictures with his friends. Just himself and zebras and shit.
I hadn’t been to his place since he moved in the fall. He always stayed at mine. With the exception of the Gansevoort. A hotel ...
I'm the other woman he took to a hotel.
It was all bullshit. The story of his painful break up ... he was lying to my face with a ring in his pocket.
I felt sick. Not over him. I couldn't have cared less about him in this moment. Some woman living in the West Village with him just had the best day of her life three weeks ago and had no idea before she walked down the isle he was on the phone telling some other girl he missed her. She went on her honeymoon and the entire time he's off texting another woman probably pretending it's work. I was part of doing something so disgustingly horrible to this woman, I hated him for that.
… It’s 7:45 AM and I send the screen shot Christie sent me to him.
Below it I write:
“Didn’t deactivate fast enough. Please give your wife my deepest apologies. I would never knowingly do this to another woman.”
… It’s 8 AM and I honestly believe he’s going to respond with an explanation that makes perfect sense and I’ll laugh and say well at least you know where I stand on that. And then we’ll have 5 perfect days in paradise.
... It's 8 PM and NOPE. He's a two-faced wanker and I need a drink.
I'm an adult ...
True to form I detach and tell the story with excitement and laughter as I describe the near misses, when I meet up with friends that night.
If the dog boarding place hadn’t been full. If my sister hadn’t woken up at 2AM. If I hadn’t broken his romantic rule to wait until Cancun after three weeks of separation. If he hadn’t then had a heart attack or whatever and had to push the flights back … I either still wouldn’t know or would have found out when I landed in Mexico.
I tell it all like it was just a bullet I dodged.
One friend says I have to tell the wife. Another says I need to meet up with him and make him tell me everything. Another says he was definitely going to kill me in Mexico. And still another says, "Okay. You have an opportunity here. You have a rich man by the balls. Are you going to let that opportunity pass you by, or are you going to get your rent paid for the next year?”
I never would have taken her for an extortionist, but I like her a little more for it.
Not my style though. I do nothing. All I can hope is that he lives in fear of me blowing up his life long enough to straighten his shit out and start being a good man to his wife.
Questionable karma ...
Two weeks pass and... I know it's wrong. I shouldn't text The Gemini. But I can’t stop thinking about the wonderful things I miss about being with him. I always do the right thing. I always do right by others. But what if for just one moment, I put myself first? What if I do the selfish thing? What if I get what I want...
I take a breath then pick up my phone. I send him a text asking for his fancy drug dealer’s contact information and the name of that Cuban restaurant. Once he replies I block his number. Bitch please, I have integrity. He's not special, I am. And I can do those wonderful drugs and have good flan with anyone.
After telling my friends about The Gemini that night, one suggests we do a sage burning ritual. It’s clear I’ve got some weird ass vibes happening in my apartment and I need a fresh start.
The purpose of a sage burning is to be a “spiritual house cleaning” or purification of a space. Might not fix the mold infestation the flood caused, but maybe it’ll chase out some of the bad energy left behind.
I only knew that burning sage was a thing because of Alanis Morissette’s MTV Cribs episode. At the time she was dating Ryan Reynolds.
I ask my friend if maybe I could date someone like Ryan Reynolds and she says it’s doubtful but I couldn’t do worse than the last few.
One can only hope.
Before the burning I decide to clean out some of the weird shit I’ve collected since I’d moved to New York.
Like the random assortment of vases I had because Vampire always brought me flowers.
The intention was not to be sweet. The intention was to point to the flowers and say, “Look at what I got you! Did you see what I did for you? Look how good to you I am!”
There’s a strong chance that while he was saying this, he’d blacked out in his underwear and has just spilled red wine on my couch. And instead of saying, “Sorry I spilled wine on your couch” he would say, “You’re mad? I got you flowers last week!” and point to an ugly vase with a bear hugging a heart.
It’s like he was stealing from hospital gift shops or something.
They all had to go.
While working on my book shelf, I recall another conversation we had toward the end, when he was just a total drunk.
I’m not kidding about this. Actual conversation that happened when he walked in one day.
VAMPIRE: Hey. I got us a phonebook.
ME: A phonebook? Why?
VAMPIRE: What do you mean why? I just carried this all the way here.
ME: Right. I get that. But … why?
VAMPIRE: Is this how you want to do this? You always have to make me feel like a piece of shit!
ME: I mean, you are a piece of shit. If you were awesome, I’d make you feel awesome. But you’re wasted pretending you just came back from an AA meeting and you're carrying a phonebook. As if you could walk in and say “hey look at this phonebook” I wouldn’t notice that you’re drunk right now.
VAMPIRE: Are you serious? You’re being serious. Okay Michelle! Do you have any idea how heavy this is? I walked 5… 10 blocks carrying this thing for YOU!
ME: But WHY? Why do you think that’s a helpful thing to do? I haven't used a phonebook since I was like 7. And the internet was invented.
He threw the phonebook on the floor and stormed out. I just stared at it wondering where he even found a phonebook. He had to be robbing hospitals. Or old people.
I kept it because I assumed one day I’d be at lunch telling my friends that Vampire gave me a phonebook and they would think it was so fucking weird I’d have to prove it.
No one needs proof he’s crazy. Toss it.
Next I pulled two mannequins out of corners. Vampire brought them into my apartment because… um no, I don’t actually know why.
Knowing they can be worth some money, I snap some photos and put them on Craigslist with the caption: “Two Female Torsos for the Price of One!” because I think it’s funny.
Then I realized there is no way in hell I’m answering my door to the person who clicked on that fucked up link.
I set them on the sidewalk and when I walked down 20 minutes later they’re already gone.
Hours later I’m heading to yoga and I see a boy, about 14 years old, walking through Union Square, carrying a skateboard under one arm and one of the mannequins under the other.
I tried to take a video, but he seemed in a hurry to get her home. He was like Sid from Toy Story. But with hormones.
That torso must have been so scared. And who had her sister?
After those, I pull out the two tennis racquets Vampire and I got when I was trying to teach him sober activities. The last time we played, I kicked his ass. He was being a sore loser about it and he said he needed to get some Taco Bell.
So we went to Taco Bell on 14th Street and while he was waiting for his Chimichanga he picked a fight with some guy about god knows what, and I stood there thinking I was raised well. I'm a good person. I have great parents. I volunteer and I donate to charity. I have a job and goals and plan to live a life that matters.
So how am I here in life ... dating the guy who gets into a fight at Taco Bell?
I shake the memory and toss the racquets.
Next, I hold up a large framed print. I had received it as a gift. It was from Bond. James Bond.
He gave it to me right after he was released from the mental institution.
When we were at The Beatrice Inn the night of the Philharmonic, he had told me to point out my favorite piece of art. I pointed to a green Gummy Bear mugshot by the artist Whisbe.
When I opened it up, my first thought was Oh my god he stole it?!
He did really like the movie The Thomas Crown Affair... What is it with prep school boys and that movie?
Anyway, I looked into the matter and discovered it was not stolen. So I'm gonna keep it. I mean, it is kind of awesome…
Then I held up the one Bond painted me himself. The happy face with a bottle, titled “Glass Half Full”.
What if one day it’s actually worth something? I could sell this original for millions…
I also found some art work Vampire made me. He put it up on the wall above my desk without asking. It was a boy and girl holding hands.
I was polite about it.
Then Christie walked in one day, screamed and said, “Why is there a dagger going through the girl’s body?!”
I said, “What? No, there’s not.” Then stepped back, looked again and screamed too.
Vampire came in and I asked why there was a dagger going through the girl’s body and he said, “It’s a bridge!”
I took it down. I think it was a dagger.
I kept it as evidence with my clothes he cut up in case I was murdered. But it’s time to just clear all those out.
Same with the Nedi pot and other nasal supplies The Gemini kindly brought over before I found out he was a pathological liar. Trash pile.
The 30 little candles that spelled “I ‘heart’ you” from when I came home from and found Vampire in my apartment on his knees, asking to get back together. Toss.
Next I rid of the Columbia University sweatshirt and tiny Columbia jersey that SF guy bought Oliver. As well as the duffle bag he asked me to store for him.
A few weeks after we broke up, I decided I should send that bag back to him.
I opened it up to see 6 cartons of Muscle Milk.
The man left Muscle Milk in my closet. For months. Asked me to store them. Who does that? Who puts a duffle bag full of Muscle Milk in someone's closet?
I wouldn't put milk in my worst enemy's closet.
I dumped the milk but kept the bag at the time. It was a nice bag. But no more. The duffle goes too.
I wanted nothing in my apartment left behind or given to me by men of my past.
Except the TV.
And the Apple TV.
And the guitar.
And the Edison bulb lamp.
And the record player.
Wow. South African boyfriend was great. He didn’t give me anything weird.
Wait. Nope. UTI that turned into a kidney infection. Not cool.
According to nothing other than my own desire, a sage burning requires friends, wine and music.
With the first two down, I turned to Spotify for the jams.
I scrolled through playlists until I found the perfect mood-setting music. We burned that sage to The Ultimate Breakup Playlist, featuring songs like Bye Bye Bye, Get Out of My Life, and Burn.
I once sent dirty pictures to a man on his honeymoon. That's something you can't feel good about.
A Dapper Man and the Deaf Girl
When I go into Soho House, I either walk in as my bubbly self and tell them my sister has put me on the list, or I act cranky give them my sister's name as my own. Not that my sister is a cranky person. She's just crankier than every other person I've met. That's really the only way to tell us apart.
Actually, there's a ton of ways but most people just see two blonds and say, "Y'all twins?"
To help confuse the staff about our true identities so we can share one membership, I had been impersonating her by being stoic. And, unbeknownst to me, she had been impersonating me by being overly friendly with front desk people, waiters and bartenders.
One day when I'm using the account, minding my own business, a waiter and bartender are having a laugh and one points to me and says, "This girl knows what I'm talking about. She looooves french fries."
I ask my friend if I look fat today. Because who just points and laughs at someone and tells everybody they love french fries?
A few minutes later, I'm coming back from the bathroom and as I re-enter the room, I hear, "Fry Girl!" as the bartender points and laughs again.
"Why are you being so mean to me!?" I yell and run out of room sobbing.
And then I went back and paid my bill.
So one week later, my sister, Christie, and I are at Soho House together, discussing what other inside jokes I should know about (like the bartender calling her Fry Girl because she likes to order fries). And a friend of hers, who is in town, and his two friends join us.
One stands out as particularly dapper.
I explain to him the delicate situation my sister and I are in, and then he tells me he works in hotel acquisitions for the very company I've just told him we're scamming.
I promise I won't do it again and we both know I'm lying so we cheers to a common understanding and order more fries.
A few weeks after this night, I'm staring at a packed suitcase for a trip to Mexico I didn't take, with a man who turned out to be living a double life, and thinking it would be a good idea if I just didn't date for a while, like until my next life.
I'm debating if it would be better to come back as a dog or a next generation Kardashian, when a text comes in. It's the very dapper man from Soho House. He's gotten my number from a mutual friend.
He asks me to dinner and I think eh what the hell. I'm not a quitter.
He gives me a call to set up the date. He asks if there is anything I don't eat. I say I don't like oysters. He says he thinks oysters are gross too and already we have so much in common.
Then I ask if he's going to watch the season finale of West World and he says he doesn't have a TV. My eye twitches as I try to understand. I ask what he's doing then and he says he's making tea because it helps him skip dessert.
I'm on my second Twix ice cream bar.
If they come in twos in the candy bar, they should come in twos in the ice cream version. Your body just expects a second Twix.
I know now it's probably not going to work out for us, but to be polite I'll still go to dinner with this weird guy who would rather work hard than binge watch HBO shows and have a nice bod rather than eat two desserts.
The night of the date I step out of the shower. Grab a q-tip... swab.... swab harder... swab too hard... and lose hearing in my left ear.
I jump around on one foot trying to correct it, but no change. I get ready assuming it'll work itself out but it doesn't. It's 20 minutes until he's picking me up and he sends a text to apologize because he'll be 10 minutes late.
I have a window of opportunity. No time for the doctor, but what if ... I pick up the phone and call Fresh Nail Spa.
At a volume that sounds normal to only me I yell, "Do you do that thing where you stick candles in people's ears... yes?.... I'll be there in 4 minutes."
I lace up running shoes and sprint out the door.
A very, very, very old woman patiently holds the lit candle in my ear. I ask her if she's ever dropped one before. Because all I can think about is how much hairspray just I used, how flammable I am, and a headline like, "Can an ear wax blockage turn fatal? 15 people parish in flames at Fresh Nail Spa... Tonight at 11."
She finds fascination in showing me just how much wax came out of my ear. She keeps telling me it's a lot of wax. I assume from her age that she's seen some shit in her life, so if it's a lot to her, it's a LOT.
But the problem isn't solved. I toss the first candle away so she'll stop shaking her head at it and I ask for another.
I sit up after the second one and realize nothing has changed.
She however is freaking out that even more wax came out of the second candle. She seems really concerned by it and keeps telling me to look at it.
I finally beg her to leave the wax alone. It's a lot. I know. I'm embarrassed. I Q-tip regularly so I can't explain what happened here tonight. But I have to pay and act like I was home this whole time waiting for a guy who is 10 minutes late.
Running is hard as my equilibrium is getting worse. If you've never experienced this, it's like spinning in circles then trying to walk straight.
I make it upstairs and he texts "I'm downstairs"... Arg!
I switch shoes, because let's add heels to this tilt-a-whirl, and run downstairs. Not only is he holding a book called a "Conssouire's Guide to Oysters", he is holding beautiful pink roses in a white vase. A vase!
As if he saw into my soul, and he knew I didn't have things like vases... or silverware. It's the kind of thoughtfulness only someone who doesn't have a TV could have time for.
I go back upstairs to drop everything off, but my dog decides to be an asshole and run out the door and down two stories. I run down two flights, grab him, carry him back up two flights, then run back downstairs, clinging to the rail for dear life.
I get in the car and explain my situation because it's impossible to hide. He says words of understanding, I think. I don't actually know. He was on my bad side. Which I can't tell him because it's not sexy when a girl on a first date yells "HEH? SAY IT TO MY GOOD EAR..."
We arrive at The NoMad, which he tells me is his baby. It seems like it's been a while since he's been there because everyone is coming up to say hello. Ev-er-y-one.
He's always quick to include me in the conversation, despite my ailments.
They would extend their hand and I would have to cross my eyes and focus really hard to align our hands then shake it. He was so polite each time even though for him it must have felt like...
HIM: Let me introduce you to my cross-eyed, deaf date, Michelle.
HIM: ... She wasn't like this when I met her.
We take our time trying an assortment of cocktails in the Library Bar and a few small bites, while talking about... um, I don't really know. Probably just small talk like ...
HIM: How's that drink?
ME: California originally, but I've been here 3 years now.
HIM: Oh.. okay... I was just in San Francisco last week for work.
ME: Yeah, yeah. Same.
HIM: You were in San Francisco last week too?
HIM: Were you in San Francisco last week?
ME: No. Why?
HIM: Never mind.
We order more drinks hoping it'll improve our situation.
I try to infer as much as possible from what I already learned about him online. (again I refer you to the previous story that taught me to friggin' Google people)
I had assumed from his name and the country his parents came from that he is Muslim. And I'm excited about this because in the midst of Trump and his disgusting immigration ban, the least I can do is use my citizenship for good. Like offer to marry one of his cousins or something. If the date goes well.
However, as you lose one sense, the others get stronger. My vision and power of observation has been heightened. I spot a red string bracelet on his wrist. Kabbala??
I want to know everything about why he switched from Islam to Kabbala, so I ask him to tell me everything.
[ 20 minutes later ]
HIM: So anyway... that's how I came into Kabbala.
ME: Totally, totally. Thanks for sharing.
(I didn't hear anything he said)
ME: So this communication thing ... it's super hard. I know it's a date, but ... is it cool if we just eat?
Occasionally I point to something and give it a thumbs up, but mostly I was in my own head thinking about my own religion. Which I hand't thought much of since Jesus Camp... where nightmares are made.
On the last night they blind folded us one by one, led us around and dipped our hands in weird things while asking us multiple choice questions. We’d all pick the most virtuous answer because frankly we were scared shitless of what they’d do if we got it wrong.
If you see a blind old lady trying to cross the street you would…
A.) Help her.
B.) Push her into oncoming traffic.
C.) Pray she makes it and the lord will guide her.
At the end of the obstacle course they backed us up against something hard then held our arms stretched out like a T. They removed the blind folds so we could see we were against a giant cross in front of a mirror, while one of the leaders held a very thick 12 inch nail in the air as if they were about to drive it through the palm of our hand so we would know what Jesus did for us.
Some screamed, some wet their pants, but instead of crucifying us out there in the woods, they gave us the nail take home as a souvenir and sent back to our bunks to sleep as if we hadn’t just been traumatized.
Most of us just stared at the ceiling all night, clinging to our nail incase they came back, or whispering to the person closest if they thought that was kinda fucked up too.
I got off the bus and told my mom I didn't want to be Catholic anymore, and she said, "Good timing. Your dad and I are getting a divorce."
I haven't been religious since. I do, however, still talk to Jesus from time to time. On warm days the church across the street from me opens the side door to reveal a life-sized statue of Jesus that faces my front door.
I like to pretend we're leaving for work at the same time and make up conversations, like...
JESUS: Hey neighbor!
ME: Hey Jesus!
JESUS: You see that new sign they put up?
ME: The one that says "Curb Your Dog"?
ME: I did. But I'm still not gonna do that.
JESUS: I know. My dad's been looking down on you.
ME: That's harsh.
JESUS: No, I mean he looks down on all of us. From Heaven. And he told me about it at supper last week?
ME: Oh yeah, how was the last supper? Sorry I missed it. Work's been crazy.
JESUS: Aren't you just a temp?
ME: Um, you've been seated as your dad's right hand man for how long and you still think he's gonna turn the universe over to you?
JESUS: Whoa. That was pretty mean.
ME: Yeah. I heard it too. Sorry man.
JESUS: It's cool. I forgive you.
ME: Just like that?
JESUS: It's kind of my thing. Anyway, this water's not gonna turn it's self into wine.
ME: Yeah, I better get to work too. If I’m late again I’m totally getting fired again.
JESUS: Then may the lord be with you.
ME: And also with you!
Regardless of my relationship with statue Jesus, Catholicism still isn't for me. But I had never thought much of trying something else on for size, as my date --
ME: Sorry, what was that?
HIM: I said I'm so full.
ME: Yeah, sure. We can take a look at the dessert menu.
Anyway, I was just saying maybe I should explore a relationship with Buddha or Shiva or Krishna.
Two desserts later, we return to the Library bar for one last drink and he points out all of the interesting design aspects of this room.
He points to a spiral staircase that came from Paris and cost ten thousand dollars.
He points to a tapestry that was hand made in Budapest and took 6 months to make.
He points to the oak beams designed to carry sound so people can hear each other across the room.
My eyes follow the beam above us until I land on a couple directly across from us. They're older and fearless with the PDA. Again, my heightened sense of sight spots something.
I point to them and say, "Hey! He's wearing a ring and she's not!" - because this is now something I notice thanks to last week's damage.
He takes my hand in his and gently lowers it. Pointing at wood is okay, but pointing at people is rude. My lack of volume control has also just made me a weird tattle tale, standing up for morality in a hotel bar.
I say I think I should go. He agrees.
The next morning the doctor blasts the blockage out of my ear with a high power hose. "Look how tiny that was!" he says.
I don't tell him about the two full candle sticks that shook an old woman woman to her core.
I walked back home with an open mind and open ear as I really take notice of what was on my little street.
A Center for Tibetan Buddhism, Catholic Church, Historic Jewish Center, Kabbala Center, all boys high school... I mean, that one doesn't matter but I like that it's there. They're little flirts. They always try to cat call but it comes out like turrets, then push each other and run away.
It's weird but I like it. If they ever ask me to buy them beer I'll think about it. I'll run it by my new religion after I finish exploring my sweet little street that has me singing It's a Small World. Afterall.. if a man of Kabbalah and deaf ex-Catholic can break bread together, the possibilities could be endless!
P.S. To any of these extremists in the mood for an antisemitic attack, if you want to mess with my Jewish Historic Center, I know an army of slightly screwed up former Catholic kids sleeping with a 12 inch nail under their bed and you'll be answering to us. We're skittish, godless and got nothing to lose.
Sadly my deafness that night at the Nomad was more than my date could handle.
... Just kidding. Our second date was in Miami. A girl who asks if we can eat instead of talk? Score.
The man even makes swimwear look dapper. Like, he could tape an ascot to his bare chest and then men of Miami would soon copy this look.
I'm thinking this as we lay out at the Nautilus Hotel pool after leaving rainy New York. It's a work trip for him and I'm just here because I can work remotely and pack in under 20 minutes.
Also because I don't understand appropriate dating behavior. Like it's weird to go on a trip with a man if you haven't even kissed.
He's gone out on his own to start a new group of affordable, experience-oriented accommodations, which is actually a really impressive idea when you see it all together. He came down here to check out a property he's thinking of purchasing and meet with a few investors and contractors.
He takes a breakfast meeting and I unpack then we post up by the pool from 11AM on.
I spend the better part of the day in the shade because I'm a pasty white person, but he was born a solid mocha and therefore fearless with direct sun.
We keep adjusting our daybed to keep him in the sun and me out of it, but while I'm laying on my stomach and focused on my laptop, I don't notice the moving sun and damage being done.
I'm also distracted by redoing all the conversations we tried to have that night I was deaf - like books, hobbies and music...
He gives me his headphones to show me what "deep house music" sounds like ... so I'll stop saying "ndtsss, ndtsss, ndtsss, ndtsss" at him whenever he says he's listening to "deep house music".
"Is this Taylor Swift or Colbie Calliet?" I ask to mess with him about what started playing, but it falls flat. He claims not to know who Colbie Calliet is so I find Lucky I'm in Love, with Jason Mraz and play it loudly from my laptop until he regrets bringing me.
He asks whatever happened to Jason Mraz and I say other than this song, I haven't thought much of him since I was in high school and I performed I'm Yours in sign language for my ASL class.
Damn, how did my sign language skills not come out when I was actually deaf on our date? Missed opportunity.
Then again what good is a language if only one person at the table speaks it, right?
He goes to his 5pm meeting and I eventually go up, shower and try to cope with a backside sunburn so brutal I might have cried in the shower. I did. I cried in the shower.
After I'm dressed, I know he's still going to be a while, so I decide to go down and enjoy a glass of wine at the outdoor restaurant.
That's a lie.
My dress was suddenly too big, so I try to call down for a safety pin, but the phone isn't working because some of the outlets stopped working, so I go down to the front desk and get a safety pin, then realize I didn't bring a key to get back in because I was busy holding my dress up, and instead of going back to the nice young man who just pinned me into my dress to get a new key, I decide to drink on our room number instead.
It's pretty empty at the restaurant with the exception of a man in maybe his 60s or 70s. I sit down at a high top table with my back to the man, but when no one comes to take an order I eventually turn and ask him if I need to go inside?
He communicates to me that he doesn't speak English. I nod and turn back around so he can properly see a safety pin is holding me together.
A few moments later I hear him say "excusez moi..." I turn around and he's saying a word I don't know and motioning something with his hands.
I'm a little rusty with my sign language but I get the message.
"No soy prostituta," I say politely because I'm sure it was just an honest mistake.
He shakes his head and points to his phone screen to show me he has 1% battery left. The plugging motion makes sense now.
I communicate that I don't have a charger and he nods then points to the open chair at his table inviting me to join him. I think this could be interesting and take a seat.
He asks if I speak any French and I shake my head. Then he asks if I speak Spanish and I say, "Pequeño!"
Again, not because I took it in school like I should have ...
This one time, I went to Puerto Rico with a bunch of friends and at the end of the trip, everyone departs except for me and my then-roommate who had a later flight.
We get to the airport to learn all flights off the island have been cancelled due to something called the "Polar Vortex", stranding thousands of us in San Juan. It's chaos.
I post this crisis on Facebook, but only get hate comments because we're on vacation in sunny Puerto Rico, while the rest of the country is under 4 feet of snow. They don't care that I'm a pasty white person with a sunburn so bad my skin keeps fuzing to my clothes and furniture, and I'll die if I do one more day in the sun!
We spend the next few days doing indoor activities. Like drinking rum in dark, shady bars. Lots of rum. All of the rum.
When we run out of money for spiked hotel rates, we try doing standby. My roommate gets called and we wait with anticipation, hoping they call my name too. They do! I'm the last person to get on that plane, but when I get to my seat, someone is sitting in it.
The flight attendant tells me to come with her to fix my seat number, so I deplane and once I'm off, the plane takes off with all my clothes, money and hope.
I spend 3 more days marooned on that god forsaken island, going mad from the heat like a pirate that's been betrayed by his crew ... wandering around San Juan with sun-worn skin, smeary black eyeliner, dreadlocks with beads and mumbling where is the rum... why is the rum gone...
But on the forth night, I rope me self a couple of seas turtles, tie them together and make me self a raft! Or wait.. was that me or Jack Sparrow? "Ei, it's CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow!" the voices in my head correct.
I arrive, by plane, and land in New York's 8-degree weather wearing socks over sandals and a yellow Puerto Rico sweatshirt that was given to me by a nice man at the airport who correctly assumed I was homeless and crazy.
I said, "Gracias Señor!"
And he said, "De nada, Mujer Triste, which means "You're welcome, Sad Woman."
And I slur back "That's CAPTAIN Sad Woman to you!" with my fist in the air as he hustled away.
So, yeah ... if you get left alone in a country with no money, you'll pick up a phrase or two!
..... How did we get here? What were we talking about?
Oh! So the man across the table speaks French and understands Spanish. We can work with that.
He points to himself and says, "Je m'appelle Michel."
And I point to myself with so much enthusiasm and say, "Mi llamo Michelle!"
And now that we have the same name, we are BEST friends.
He says something in French and I guess at it in Spanish, until I remembered I have the Google Translate app. From then on we are speaking a fantastic blend of Spanish, French, English, sign language and then get clarity by typing things back and forth in the app.
An hour goes by as we enjoy our wine and Spanglench, when I see the well tailored suit I came with searching for me and wave him over.
Michel asks if he speaks French, and it turns out he is fluent, of course, because you can't be that dapper and not speak French.
I thank Michel for the wine, we all exchange contact information and on the way to dinner I translate the email he sent that says "Good luck with your science fiction books." I laugh and wonder what else might have been lost in translation.
Dinner is at a restaurant in one of the hotel's he's worked on in the past. It's all delicious, but we order too much and decide to give what's left to someone in need on the walk back.
We can't seem to find anyone homeless, but do come across a crazy woman with dreadlocks, sun-worn skin and an empty mini bottle clutched in her hand.
I offer the bag, but she shoos us away in aggressive Pig Latin.
I glance back to see her looking at the empty bottle in her hand and mumble why is the rum gone? ... I feel like I know her.
The food goes to a man who works in the hotel and came up to fix our outlets.
We have no idea what happened, but it looks like someone blew a fuse when she was blowdrying her hair for 45 minutes and using a straightener because not everyone is blessed with hair that works in humidly and wasn't she already punished enough by being locked out when the stupid phone didn't work and she needed a friggin safety pin?
We pour two glasses of wine and put on pajamas. Not what I would have guessed, but still very dapper.
He works on a presentation for his big, important meeting with investors in the morning, while I take pictures of my butt. The sunburn has reached a dangerous shade of red and I need my sister and friends to confirm that it is worse than the Puerto Rico burn.
I'm laughing about our dumb humor when another kind of text comes in. A friend reaches out to tell me her older sister has just passed away that evening.
I get off the bed and go out to the balcony because if I don't I'm going to say something stupid.
If I open my mouth I'll say that I couldn't move on if I lost my sister. I wouldn't know how to live if she wasn't in the world anymore. I'd refuse to go on if she didn't exist anymore because I need her and she didn't deserve to even lose one day of her life.
But I can't say this out loud. Less than two years ago the man I'm here with lost his older brother in an accident.
I'm pacing when he comes out to the balcony and asks what's going on. I skirt around it before I finally tell him the news.
I wish there was a language I knew for this type of tragedy. Where my feelings could be translated into the right thing to say.
He sits down in one of the chairs and I sit down in the other.
"What are the right words?" I ask. "What does someone need to hear, right now? What did you want to hear?"
I apologize and ask him if it's alright that I'm asking about his brother's passing. He says it's okay because it's the permanent elephant in the room. His brother is always on his mind so talking about him out loud doesn't make it any harder or easier. It's already there. That's what my friend is in for.
He tells me there just isn't anything I can say to make it better. All I can do is be genuine when I tell her I'm going to be there.
I trust what he says because he's had more than his fair share of loss. His brother was 29 when he passed away. His mother was 29 when she passed away. The age I am now. How strange it must have been for him to turn 30. To be an age older than his elders. An age they'd never get to be.
I write to my friend, but it all sounds so cliché coming from me. I've never felt this kind of loss. I've been so fortunate.
Feeling so useless brings back the last time I was in Miami.
It was five years ago. My ex boyfriend from back in LA and I were just about to leave for a trip to Hawaii, something we'd made annual, when his phone rings. It's his brother from Naples, Florida.
His brother tells him their mom had fallen and hit her head pretty badly. Badly enough for us to get in the car and book new tickets to Florida on the way to the airport.
We land in Naples just after midnight. We stay with her through the night and by morning she's gone.
We leave the hospital like it was all just a bad dream. It takes a few days to clean out her house and storage unit and we spend hours going through photos with his brother and sister-in-law and bottles of wine.
At the funeral, he looks so handsome in a suit as he brings up a plastic Florida Gators cup with a beer in it to ease his hang over. He makes friends and family laugh as he attributes it to celebrating the life of his mom the night before. How she would have wanted and they all know it's true. It's all so sad but he finds moments of light that are honest, heartfelt and still respectful.
I'm so proud of him it breaks my heart. I don't know how he handles it with so much grace and dignity (holding a plastic Florida Gators cup).
They decide she would have wanted her ashes to be spread over Malibu, but it will take about 12 days to prepare everything. We both ask for a few more days off and stay.
With 10 days left, we enter into an incredible, weird, sad, funny, dark comedy of a road trip all over south Florida.
We get most of our meals from gas stations, pull over when he needs to walk, tell stories when he needs to talk and sing loudly and badly to oldies when he needs a distraction... and oh, do we find distractions...
We go to a pool party at the Hard Rock Hotel in Hollywood, Florida and get lap dances at a strip club from a dancer who aggressively wants to have a threesome.
We gamble in Tampa and win $400 on roulette.
We go dancing at the club in the Fountain Bleu Hotel in Miami.
He introduces himself to Busta Rhymes even though I don't think it was Busta Rhymes.
We snorkel with great white sharks in Key Largo ... and agree to never do that again.
We make a rule in Key West to only buy and wear obnoxiously bright tie-die clothing.
We spot gators in the everglades, then get trapped in the car with a swarm of mosquitos and spend the rest of the trip dotted with creams and slapping our skin compulsively with every light breeze.
Then eventually, we end up back Naples for what we've been waiting for.
We laughed so much in those 10 days, but still, I look back and so badly wish I could have been better for him. He deserved someone who knew what to say or maybe just understood an ounce of what he was going through.
Instead he had me ... a kid with a crinkled map screaming I WANNA GO TO HARRY POTTER WORLD NEXT! ... C'MON WHHHHHY?
Five years later I'm sitting on a balcony in this same city (and down the street from where I let my ex think he met Busta Rhymes) with the same insecurity. I haven't made any great strides in understanding what other people need. How to really be there for someone. How to help someone now any more than I did back then.
I only know to look for ways to laugh, but that's not for everyone.
We continue to talk well into the night about life, death, religion, coping, spirituality, traditions when someone passes. Everything.
Finally exhausted, we're both ready for sleep. He gets up and I start to as well, then stop.
I tell him to go ahead.
He asks if I'm okay and I say, "Yeah, I just want to sleep outside."
He reminds me we talked about the chastity pillow and he won't try to anything.
I assure him that's not it.
He says, "You look like you're gonna cry" and I confess it's a combination of things but mostly, when I tried to stand up I realized the raw skin on the backs of my thighs fuzed to the chair and I can't get up.
He inspects the situation and suggests we just rip me off the char like a bandaid. Like a big sunburned bandaid that was about to lose at least two layers of skin.
I beg him to just bring me a blanket and some water and I'll be fine.
He won't so I finally say, "Just do it quickly."
After it's over, I look at the chair with all the skin that's been ripped from my body.
I wipe my eyes and say, "Don't tell me I don't know loss..."
He steps in, closes the door and says, "Yeah, you can sleep outside now."