I’ve been reading reviews of Anatole Broyard’s daughter Bliss’s book "ONE DROP" as she marinates in her glorious, insane insensitivity and nuttiness about outing her father as BLACK when he died. Anatole spent a lifetime avoiding the stigma of being a BLACK person, masquerading as WHITE because he looked white, wanting to protect himself from the rigors and bigoted limitations of being born black in white America. I too harbor a secret that has kept me from marriage and family as I shudder to think that upon my death, one of the fruits of my loins would expose me and my life in a book. However, never married, having no family and not amounting to very much, I have no fear of being exposed.
I was a good friend of Anatole Broyard, knowing him before he was a full-time book reviewer for the NY TIMES when he was WHITE, during his halcyon years in Greenwich Village as a high-flying fucker of pedigreed white girls from fancy families who attended girl’s colleges in the East. To offset the unappetizing and dull thud effect of Anatole being revealed as BLACK by his daughter Bliss, what follows are chapters from my work-in-progress, "IN SEARCH OF AN ERECTION" about living in Greenwich Village and friendship with Anatole, 1955 to 1961 where no one knew he was BLACK.
I MET ANATOLE BROYARD 1955 IN GREENWICH VILLAGE WHEN I WAS 28 AND ANATOLE 35. HOW AND WHY, I DON'T REMEMBER.
Norman Mailer's weekly newspaper Village Voice was in its infancy, only three weeks old, never reading it as a news newspaper, only the want ads were of interest when looking to move in with anyone; living with gay roommates, faggots/queers on Bedford and Barrow streets, eventually finding my own apartments. The Voice featured Jules Fieffer's multi-panel black and white outline drawings of a leotarded Modern dancer doing exaggerated dances to her insufferable, theatrical, neurotic life.
Young people were reading Allen Ginsberg’s, HOWL.... "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness.........” I remember going to the Loews movie theater on Sixth Avenue (Avenue of Americas) in the Village, seeing Glenn Ford in “Blackboard Jungle;” Spencer Tracy in “Bad Day At Black Rock;” Marilyn Monroe in "Seven Year Itch;" Henry Fonda in "12 Angry Men."
Harry Belafonte’s thin, high pitched, raspy voiced calypso singing was the rage. People were friendly; Beatniks, the counter culture; jobs, plentiful; cost of living, cheap; girlfriends and fucking just a conversation away. That’s when I knew Anatole Broyard, a purebred original, spawn of Greenwich Village.
Before knowing Anatole, he used to own a secondhand bookstore in the Village, freelance writing for the esoteric publications Discovery, Partisan Review and Commentary. When I did know him, he was writing promotional copy for the Columbia Record Club and back cover notes for their record albums. I'm not sure, but he may have occasionally written book reviews for the New York Times. Having read few books, I was embarrassed when Anatole talked about metaphors, irony and current writers Mailer, Bellows, Malamud, Roth, Updike.
About 1957, Anatole moved to the top floor of a five-story Brownstone walk-up apartment on West 12th street between Fifth and Sixth avenues where he built a floor to ceiling entire wall bookcase on the floor: I helped him lift and push it up against one whole wall. He had thousands of books. The many years I knew Anatole, that was the only time I was in his apartment. For helping him, he took me to dinner at Louie’s Italian restaurant on the corner of Cornelia and West 4th streets in the Village where he was greeted by Louie like he was royalty, having referenced the restaurant in his famous published short story about the death of his father, "What the Cytoscope Said." Anatole ordered a Heineken beer, an artichoke with a side of melted garlic butter, veal parmesan, spaghetti and broccoli. Not being a drinker, having rarely eaten Italian food other than spaghetti, never broccoli, never an artichoke, to hide my ignorance, I ordered the same. Waiting for the beer, Anatole, who had a habit of fiddling with his right eye trying to dislodge a curled in eyelash that tickled his eyeball was making his usual contorted open-mouthed manipulation, widening the opening of his eye with thumb and forefinger, trying to jiggle out the offending curled-in eyelash.
Drinking the bitter Heineken beer went to my head as I watched Anatole ritualistically prep, dip and navigate artichoke leaves from hand to mouth. So I too stripped the artichoke leaf by leaf as Anatole did, immersing each piece into a warm bath of garlic butter, settling one leaf at a time with thumb and forefinger between front teeth, then clenching, pulling leaves through as the garlic buttered vegetable meat scraped itself off and drifted onto my tongue as I sucked, chewed and swallowed. Embarrassed, yet exhilarated at the excesses of artichoking, pleased with this first time experience, I continued until the crown jewel of the exercise, the heart of the artichoke surrounded by prickly hairs revealed itself. And as carefully as Anatole did, surgically with a fork I teased away the inedible hairs from the soft heart: sectioned it, drenched the heart morsels in the warm garlic butter bath, and with eyes closed, swooning and swallowing, became one with the artichoke heart.
Unbeknownst to Anatole, with the manipulation and navigation of the artichoke from hand to mouth I knew I moved up in class.
COW AND A FLOWER...
ALTHOUGH I HADN'T FORGOTTON HIM, I NEVER WOULD
HAVE KNOWN WHAT BECAME OF ANATOLE BROYARD HAD
I NOT BEEN LEAFING THROUGH OLD MAGAZINES IN MY DENTIST'S OFFICE.
A black Harvard professor, Henry Louis Gates Jr. in a June 17, 1996 New Yorker magazine story wrote a lengthy, thoroughly scholarly and critical thirteen pages about Anatole which read like an exposé, emphasizing that Anatole came from BLACK parents and passed himself off as WHITE. The author reasoned that Anatole could never write an honest bio about himself because he would have had to reveal his blackness even though he received front money from a publisher to write his memoir which was partially finished as a paperback, "Kafka Was The Rage" before he died in 1990, having withered to a babbling 90 pounds from prostate cancer. Anatole's best friend Milton Klonsky who also lived in the Village and grew up with him in the Bedford-Stuyversant section of Brooklyn where they attended grade school, Boy’s high school and Brooklyn College, tangentially mentioned Anatole being black, but it was so casual a remark that it never registered as anything memorable or meaningful until I read about Anatole in the New Yorker.
Although we were friends, the years I had known Anatole I knew little about him. I didn't know he lectured in sociology and literature at the New School of Social Research which was on the corner of his apartment on West 12th street, also teaching night classes at NYU. He never volunteered anything personal about his past and I never probed, but was thrilled when he’d call to offer a girlfriend he lost interest in, go to the NY Athletic club on 57th street, play tennis at the Houston Street tennis courts in the East Village, eat at a restaurant in the Village or just schmooze in Washington Square Park.
Being around Anatole was glorious, and at that time of my life I smoked enormous amounts of pot, didn't know very much about anything, read few books, was friendless and suffering from anxiety/depression. But I did know that Anatole was special. I liked saying Anatole’s name like it was someone's title in a Shakespeare play: ANATOLE: THE ANATOLE OF GREENWICH VILLAGE.
Anatole Broyard was beautiful, radiating an aura of confidence—assuredness—but not cocky. About 5’8” and wiry, he was tan skinned with short cropped black hair, extraordinarily boyish good looks, small features and always immaculately, sportily, tastefully dressed. He had elegance, grace and charm. Everyone in the Village knew Anatole. He was a guy’s guy. Girl’s loved him. Older women in the Village he’d compromised when they were young and now ignored despised him. Ironically, as they aged, Anatole didn't.
I qvelled hearing Anatole talk about fucking girls. He had an insatiable and ravenous sexual appetite. His prey...no no no...his preference, young girls from pedigreed families who attended private girl’s colleges in the East: Vassar, Radcliffe, Bennington, Sarah Lawrence, Bryn Mawr, Smith, Bard, Swathmore, Wellesley, Barnard, Hunter; modern dancers from his friend Merce Cunningham's modern dance studio; models and everyday girls. Sometimes, with nothing more than improvisational spell-binding tulips of conversation, Anatole, whether we were sitting or walking and talking was suddenly gone, trailing and sideling up to an unknown and unsuspecting girl and wow wow wowing her. Girls were plentiful, a never ending supply, appearing as if he willed them into existence and into the bedroom of his fifth-floor walk-up apartment on West 12th street.
We were going to meet at the Circle in the Square called the Fountain, ironically never having water in it by the 5th Avenue Washington Square Arch in Washington Square Park. It was a Beatnik hangout and sort of a social center of Greenwich Village. I was like the Village idiot. Although surrounded, I was only marginally aware but not immersed in the prevailing Beatnik culture. I was devoid of substance. My only reason for being was smoking pot, work at getting laid, suffer from crazy-making anxiety/depression. I had no interest in Beat poetry, Beat writers; art, off Broadway or off, off Broadway theater; Modern dance, Ballet dance, Folk dancing, Folk music, Folk singing; Poetry readings in coffee houses; Rent parties (fliers advertising pay one dollar toward my rent and you’re invited); Happenings—crowds gathering when something was happening or going to happen; Marches; Leather sandals. However, I did have long disheveled hair like Beatniks.
On Anatole’s suggestion, I joined and roamed the Museum of Modern Art usually stoned, paying an extra twenty-five dollars to hang out on the fourth floor lounge, a natural resource of culture-vulture girls who like myself may have known nothing about art but looking to get laid. The third floor of the museum displayed on one entire wall PICASSO’S GUERNICA, a grotesque cubeistic, one dimensional black and white mural, the aftermath of a 1937 German and Italian air force bombing, obliterating the Basque village of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War. I approached an Oriental looking girl with “great legs and a great ass, a flaring ass,” looking at the Picasso. Wanting to impress her with my artsy-fartsy insight into modern art, said, "I think they should have hung the artist instead of the painting.” After that brilliant and witty observation I waited. No response. Thinking she spoke no English, in my best foreign language come-on, said, “Ti ye kimosabe,” which is what Tonto says to the Lone Ranger when greeting him. She turned, glowered and scurried away.
Sitting in the Circle in the Square, Anatole was walking towards me. He walked with a shuffle, a lilt, small mincing steps in a sideways fashion like a crab, like he was snapping his fingers to music in his head and keeping time with his walking. He had style, he had flair, he had rhythm as he moved, a non-threatening boyish kinda swagger. He motioned to follow. We sat at one of the immovable concrete tables and benches where old people play chess and checkers. In a book Anatole was reading, the author wrote, “women are a cross between a cow and a flower.” Anatole asked what I thought? Confused! Shrugged! I said nothing! Never again did Anatole ask me anything about writing.
ANATOLE AND THE DOUBLE-EDGED RAZOR...
I LEFT MY APARTMENT ON BARROW STREET IN GREENWICH VILLAGE, WALKED DOWN WEST 4TH STREET, MY USUAL ABSTRACT WANDERING TRYING TO FILL TIME, LOOKED INTO THE STORE WINDOW OF MANNY'S LUNCHEONETTE HOPING TO SEE SOMEONE I KNEW.
Sitting in a booth next to a young girl was Anatole Broyard. Across the table was Milton Klonsky. Anatole, his usual up-beat effervescent self greeted me like I was consequential, a favored friend with “hello sport,” introducing Millie Perkins, a model who became an actress, was in "The Diary of Anne Frank," an Elvis Presley movie, married and divorced actor Dean Stockwell. She must have stayed the night and showered because she smelled of Anatole’s favorite perfumey Yardley soap. Milton Klonsky, jewy, sallow faced, gloomy-doomy with a bulbous gapping pored nose, looking his usual menacing and grouchy self but who was very gentle, said nothing.
Millie rose to leave. Anatole, always the gentleman, extended his hand, helping her out' and pointed to her excessively long, ankle-length, black, Empire-style dress that hung down from way above her waist which exaggerated the narrowness of her boyish non-existent hips. She was pretty, childlike, baby-faced with shoulder length straight gossamer-thin shinny black hair. Anatole carried her huge heavy model’s bag outside and hailed a cab. Anatole had a habit of playfully teasing his nubiles and Millie was no exception. He mentioned her being Catholic and now had reason to go to Confession.
Anatole was telling Milton and me about his current girlfriend, a model, saying she was dumb, whined and complained. He wanted to end the affair but wouldn’t until she achieved orgasm with him. He had standards. He had ethics. He had scruples. He said that each time he screwed her until he almost passed out she’d say ”I was just about to cum and you stopped” which was discouraging because Anatole prided himself in going on, and on, and on no matter how long it took bringing a girl to climax. This one was eroding his confidence.
Coming home from a shoot she handed Anatole a double-edged razor, telling him she was doing a panties ad and needed her crotch hair shaved. She showered, slouched down on a chair, spread her legs and presented him with her hairy mound. Using his hand as a trowel and brush, she wriggled and writhed as Anatole lathered and rubbed on shaving cream. And with the double-edged razor, professionally like a barber with thumb and forefinger shaving under the nose of a client, pinched and vigorously manipulated her clitoris, shaving all around.
The rest is history. Anatole moved on to Millie Perkins.
ANATOLE AND E.....
THERE ARE CERTAIN GIRLFRIENDS WHOSE MEMORIES
LAST A LIFETIME: FIXED, AS IN A PHOTOGRAPH,
STILL YOUNG AS YOU AGED.
I loved walking up the steps and out of the dark Christopher Street (Sheridan Square) subway station in Greenwich Village, into the daylight where four streets meet on wide, cobblestone Seventh Avenue: crossing Seventh avenue, turning left past Grove Street to the off, off Broadway theater near Barrow Street where twenty-nine year old E, a part time nurse at the Village’s St. Vincent Hospital volunteered selling tickets to the play “The World Is My Oyster.”
Anatole Broyard who knew E but wasn’t interested in her, insisted I go to the theater and introduce myself. "She’s bright and witty, has great legs and a great ass, a flaring ass,"——Anatole's insistant and incessant ideal of female perfection—take her to dinner and out of their apartment so he’d be alone with her roommate Mary from Missouri whom he wanted to fuck. Anatole called it a “random fuck,”—a one time fuck, not worthy doing in his expensive, fifth-floor walk-up apartment on West 12th street. Thrilled at being Anatole’s friend, it was and honor doing anything for him, especially with girls.
I was smitten by E, in love with loving E the few months I knew her. She was a Mormon from Salt Lake City. What I knew about Mormons and Salt Lake City was what everyone knew about the off-beat religion that practiced polygamy: the boring million person Mormon tabernacle choir that was a staple on national radio Sunday mornings; Brigham Young and his 27 wives; the Great Salt Lake, so salty it’s buoyancy kept people from drowning; the state of Utah which was somewhere out there in the no-man’s-land of the West’s desert.
E was imbued with all the Mormon no no's. No smoking, swearing, drinking coffee, tea, booze; no sex until married and only to procreate—children, children and more children—enough was never enough. She liked dipping a carrot in milk and sucking on the milky carrot which I misinterpreted, but it meant nothing more than she liked dipping a carrot in milk and sucking on it. And like Anatole, I loved girls with exaggeratedly muscley calves that E had in abundance but embarrassed her so she wore long dresses and skirts to hide them. She had bangs and forever twirling the right side of her shoulder length, straight black hair. She shaved her eyebrows, convinced they were too low on her forehead, replacing them with penciled in eyebrows. Whether kissing passionately or perfunctorily, her eyes were wide open, wanting to see what I looked like, kissing! She had a high-pitched whinny voice and when flustered, blurted “darn, darn, darn”—Mormons don’t curse. Still, I adored her. Adoration is deaf, dumbing and blind. One day E was gone, having left with her Salt Lake City boyfriend who came to the Village, took her home where they married. She converted to her husband's religion, Catholicism, moved to Huntington Beach, California where he did carpentry.
In the summer of 1961 I left Greenwich Village for Salt Lake City. Years later I called E in Huntington Beach, telling her I was mentioning her in a book I was writing about Anatole Broyard and Greenwich Village. She said not to mention her.
In 1999, when I read in the Salt Lake Tribune obituary E's husband died, I thought about calling or sending a condolence card...but why? Did I really want to intrude and possibly upset a grieving old ex Mormon woman who may still say “darn, darn, darn” when flustered as she childishly dips a carrot in milk and sucks on it; still shaving and penciling in eyebrows because she thinks the real one’s are too low on her forehead; still wears long dresses and skirts, hiding her wonderfully developed calf muscles; still has bangs and twirls the right side of her long, and by now, thinning white hair; still kissing with eyes wide open? No, no thank you, I’ll keep the memory of being in love with loving E in 1958: twenty-nine years old and Mormon, a nurse from Salt Lake City who volunteered selling tickets at a Greenwich Village off, off Broadway theater on Seventh Avenue near Barrow Street to the play “The World Is My Oyster,” and on Anatole Broyard’s insistence I meet because she was "bright and witty, has great legs and a great ass, a flaring ass," take her to dinner and out of the apartment so he'd have a "random fuck" with her roommate Mary from Missouri.
ANATOLE AND THE OTHER GIRL...
SOMETIMES, GIRLS COMING TO THE VILLAGE TRAVELED IN PAIRS, AND IF ANATOLE WAS DIDDLING ONE, HE'D ASK ME TO KEEP THE OTHER BUSY.
“Hello, Donald, this is Anatole, do me a favor. The Brooklyn Judge’s daughter I'm screwing, the freshman from Sarah Lawrence—another pedigreed girl from a prestigious family who goes to a private girl's college—you know, the one who was sitting on the steps of my apartment building, wanting to meet me. She’s coming to the Village Sunday with her sister who is 'bright and witty, has great legs and a great ass, a flaring ass,' please keep her busy. I suggested she meet you and gave her your phone number.” He didn’t have to explain his giveaways, I could be imposed upon. Anatole’s recommendation for servicing girls was like Good Housekeeping Magazine’s Seal of Approval. She phoned, we’d meet Sunday, 7pm at a cafeteria on 8th street, she’d be sitting at the counter wearing a hat tilted down on one side. She emphasized she always wore hats.
It was raining cats and dogs. The cafeteria was near my new apartment on Sixth Avenue near West 4th Street, I ran. There was one person inside: a girl sitting at the counter wearing a hat tilted down one side. I sat next to her, put my wet raincoat sleeved arm around her shoulders, we said nothing. She paid for the coffee, left a tip, we sloshed through the fucking downpour, thankfully my apartment was only a few blocks away. We still said nothing, I didn’t even turn on the lights. She took off her raincoat, dropping it to the floor—that’s all she was wearing—then galoshes with shoes in them, and the hat. The watery, on-offing neon lit pharmacy sign by my window shown through, filling the room with an eerie, variegated light show that reflected and seemed tattooed on her nudity as she laid down on her wet raincoat. Standing in a puddle, rainwater dripping from my raincoat, I gawked, thinking..."thank you Anatole, my Anatole."
Unbuttoning my raincoat, unzipping pants, I laid on her. What we did wasn’t romantic, more obligatory. However I did close my eyes and may have kissed her. Opening them, I was starring at a gaping depression on the left side eyebrow and forehead. She said she had radical bone cancer surgery. They must have used an ice cream scoop to excavate the cancerous bone.
Getting off her, she got up, put on her raincoat, galoshes with the shoes inside and hat, tilting it down on the left side. And as Anatole did with girls, I offered to pay cab fare even though it would have been expensive, being a long distance to Brooklyn. She demurred. Opening the unlocked door, she walked down the cold hallway’s dimly lit stairway. I looked out the window and saw the downstairs front door open into the street. It was still raining like a sonofabitch. Turning right, she ran toward the Subway a block away. Still unzipped and wearing my raincoat, I felt awful.
A few days later Anatole called. Expecting the worst, I blanched but he said nothing about my demeaning treatment of the tilted down on the left side hat-wearing Brooklyn Judge’s daughter whom I treated coldly, indifferently, like she was an object, not a person, a thing I must have humiliated. And I didn't even know her name.
GIRLS, GIRLS, AND MORE GIRLS...
ANATOLE TOLD ME THAT WITH DIFFICULT-TO-SEDUCE GIRLS, HE'D PLAN AN EVENING OF ROMANCING: DINNER, A MOVIE, MAYBE A PLAY, MAYBE A DANCE RECITAL. BUT IF HE SCREWED A GIRL BEFORE THE PLANNED PYROTECHNICS OF A RITUAL SEDUCTION, HE LOST INTEREST IN THE PROTRACTED THEATRICS.
Some girls stayed the night and had breakfast with Anatole at Manny’s restaurant. Those who didn’t could boast of having spent a romantic evening with a writer from Greenwich Village and sent home first-class by cab, an Anatole Broyard trademark ploy.
The years I knew Anatole, I rarely saw him walking in the Village with a girl. He bumped and ground many, rarely twice, never parading the vanquished. Maybe Anatole had guilt about his cavalier treatment with his random fucks and to assuage the feeling of heartlessly dismissing, discarding his throwaways, he funneled some to me like I was a somebody, a graduation present, a booby-prize for having spent a night with the master fucker. When offering girls, Anatole described their impressive biographies which was unnecessary. Having nothing to do, I was always available and willing, but to Anatole, the honest broker of his cast-offs, to insure my interest, they were all "bright and witty, had great legs and a great ass, a flaring ass."
I was always surprised when girls called, saying Anatole told them about me. What could he have said? I suffered from anxiety/depression, low self-esteem, smoked enormous amounts of pot to stay sane, knew nothing about art, dance or books; wasn’t good-looking, interesting or romantic. Girls came to my apartment and submitted willingly like it was contractual: undressing, staying the night, performing expertly. Mornings, I loved showering with them. They left: no promise about a next time, no breakfast, but like Anatole, employing his patented bravura modis operendi, paid cab fare back to anywhere.
Anatole had pick of the litter from adoring girls on the lure of his beauty, his spell-binding conversation, his academic erudition, casting a spell over them with his pheromone boy/man aroma of sexual intrigue. They came to his fifth-floor walk-up apartment on West 12th street which was the unofficial final destination of an underground railway to an extra curricula no credit crash course in the fine art of... random fucking.
ANATOLE WAS THE MASTER AT PICKING-UP GIRLS...
ALTHOUGH ANATOLE BROYARD NEVER REVEALED HIS SECRET FOR PICKING-UP GIRLS, HE SAID TELL THEM WHAT THEY WANT TO HEAR. I WAS CONFUSED. WHAT DID GIRLS WANT TO HEAR?
Sitting on a bench near the Fountain in Washington Square Park, Anatole, coming from a meeting at the Columbia Record Club, walking his usual hipster, light-footed, graceful dancey style sat next to me. Oozing good-breeding, dressed casually but impeccably like he stepped out of a Brooks Brothers men's clothing store window display wearing a three button black linen sport's jacket, narrow khaki stovepipe twill pants, tattersall shirt with a wide Windsor knotted solid colored knit tie and black loafers. Anatole was complaining about the back covers of Columbia Record albums. About Beethoven, referring to him as the deaf composer; about Errol Garner, the repetitive, left-hand rhythm-pounding, self-taught black piano player who sold millions of albums. Anatole had exhausted what to write about them. He wanted to quit his copy writing job for the Columbia Record Club. Why? I thought his job prestigious, writing backs of album covers and promotional copy for the Columbia Record Club that sold millions of mail order records all over America and maybe the world.
I felt special when receiving jam-packed, glitzy and professional looking advertising promotional material from the illustrious Columbia Record Club that many times I was tempted to join but didn't: it was too expensive and I didn't have a turntable. I was in awe knowing Anatole was one of their copywriters, copy writing seemed so creative, so glamorous, better than my dumbed-down advertising job at Macy’s department store. Although a world famous department store, what I did was humdrum and certainly not creative like I imagined Anatole’s was. After a year and a half at Macy's I was fired. Reasons: I didn’t want to work overtime; I had a bad attitude, was argumentative and smirked. My most egregious miscreants, I was accused of stealing colored pencils from the advertising department and didn't want to be a dwarf in the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.
One day I was summoned to the advertising director's office, Miss Cory, who walked around her desk towards me. I held my breath as her overpoweringly gagging, blinding, gaseous perfume fumigated (contaminated) the atmosphere. She had plastered on thick, ghostly white pancake make-up that exaggerated in high relief her bright red lipstick making her thin lips look luscious (ugh). She wore a queenly high-necked, white brocaded dress, a foundation undergarment that flattened her beefy ass as it hauled up her massive, gelatinous, protruding breasts. She said because I was not a team player, I was being fired, which was a relief because as she came closer I thought she was going to hug me.
I asked Anatole about picking-up girls. He said not to talk about their body parts. Girls like to think there’s more to them than tits, legs and ass. Tell them what they want to hear!!! I asked what did girls want to hear?, but before he could answer, from out of the Fountain area wearing shorts, no shirt, looking like an African warrior came the strutting and imposingly tall, barefoot, muscley, handsome, glistening bronze skinned "SuperSpade." Anatole named him SuperSpade and the name stuck. Arrogantly and erect, SuperSpade strode past us trailed by flower-headed young white girls. Anatole seethed at the sight of SuperSpade, and when the name SuperSpade came from his mouth it was delivered venomously, with contempt and loathing. Anatole and SuperSpade were recognized as Greenwich Village originals: whereas Anatole was a CHARACTER, in the best sense of the word, SuperSpade was a CARICATURE. No one knew what SuperSpade did, other than strut around the Village. Everyone-knew-all-about-Anatole.
* * * * * * * * *
One sunny morning, sitting at an outside table of a coffee shop a few doors down from Louie’s Italian restaurant with Milton Klonsky, perky L got out of a cab carrying in a straw tote bag her shivering, spindle legged, bug-eyed miniature Whippet dog. Married and having nothing to do, a few times a week L taxied to the Village to hang out. She was a guy’s wet dream of perfection. Saucy, tanned, blond, firey red lipstick, wearing a straw hat and the skimpiest of brightly colored sun suits, radiating a cunty aura of availability and smelling of too much perfume, she sat on Milton’s lap. Anatole and Milton screwed her early in her Village outings. I was somewhere down the line of many. Usually I’d get giddy around L, feeling unworthy and undeserving about having had someone like her. She showed us some piece of crap she bought for her kitchen. She liked interchanging price tags on purchases, paying the switched lower label price. This time, almost caught, frightened, vowed never to do it again. She left with Milton.
Across the street, looking in the window of Block’s expensive, leather, handmade-to-order sandal shop was a girl I’d seen many times in the Village. I wanted to know her, but thinking about walking up and talking to her when I wasn't stoned was unnerving. I didn’t know if she was bright and witty, but she really did have monstrous tits, great legs and a great ass, a flaring ass. Remembering Anatole’s dictum about not mentioning the sexual obvious even if that’s what attracted me, I was thinking about his suggestion of telling girls what they wanted to hear. What did she want to hear??? Now seemed the perfect time to make my move, buoyed at having survived within smelling distance of L.
Girding my loins, crossing the street, inconspicuously conspicuous trying to act cool and casual, lightheaded as I maneuvered closer to her, painfully my balls scrunched and crowded my scrotal sac. Face tightening, head and heart throbbing, focused but not calmed, I was still listening to Anatole’s voice in my head about eschewing sexual attributes when picking-up girls, telling them what they wanted to hear. Lips quivering, throat constricting, anguished with a frozen, grotesque, Frankensteinian smile I almost fainted, blurting what I thought she wanted to hear: “YOU-LOOK-GOOD-ENOUGH-TO-EAT.” She recoiled, starred, bolted and must have left the Village forever because the three intervening years I lived there, I never saw her again.
THE INFIDELETIOUS ANATOLE...
ONCE A LOVER, ALWAYS A LOVER, AND WHEN IT'S THE SMELL AND TASTE OF NEVER ENDING FRESH, RIPE, PUREBRED PULCHRITUDE, IT'S AN ADDICTION, AND THE ANATOLE BROYARD I KNEW WAS ITS SLAVE. HE WAS THE SEX-DRIVEN GOD OF LUST AND LUSTING.
I could never have imagined Anatole Broyard married, an adoring father of two, having segued from a vibrant and ravenous sex-fulfilling lifestyle in Greenwich Village, trading it for responsible adulthood in the sticks: acquiring cars, dogs, antique possessions and settling into squireship of different country homes in Connecticut.
After endless rereading a compilation of 50 of his essays and commentaries written for the New York Times Review and now a book, “Men Women and other Anticlimaxes”—an inexplicable and incomprehensible title, I doubt he made the transition to domesticity seamlessly. His writings are brilliant, meticulous, insightful erudite jewels of brevity; tinctured in graceful, mellifluous lyrical trysts about anything and everything: sometimes joyous, sometimes sad, sometimes nostalgic—aimless longings for what was and can never again be.
Reading in his daughter Bliss’s first book “Fathers,” she had an awkward, pitiful, disturbing to read one-night-stand with a-friend-of-a-friend, staying the night in his apartment in the Village near Anatole’s office apartment on West 12th street. Awakening to a cold and indifferent reception from her thankful-it-was-over lover, she walked toward the Subway, past her father’s apartment building, and as a final insult to her romanceless evening, saw Anatole kissing a women. Later, during one of their ritual father daughter luncheons, Bliss tried but was unsuccessful in confronting Anatole about what she had seen.
Although married, having a family and living in Connecticut, sometimes commuting to Manhattan for his job and staying overnight in his Village apartment—and with his history of gay-bladesmanship, surely Anatole must have had under-the-radar assignations for his health and sanity. A lifetime of rapscallion behavior precluded fidelitous but not saintly deprivation. Some have fire in their belly, Anatole’s fire was in his balls, requiring the freshest of young girl meat retardant to put out the fires.
I’ll stop ranting because what I’m writing may be leaching into exploitative, disgusting pornography. And what Anatole Broyard did in his lifetime was not pornographic, but the purest expression of his very essence, giving to the female world what it can never get enough of...honest to goodness love-making and love-lessoning, the total package of selfless romancing.
OBITUARY......ANATOLE AND HIS PROSTATE...
WHEN I KNEW ANATOLE BROYARD, HE TALKED ABOUT IRONY, AND AT THAT TIME OF MY LIFE, ADRIFT IN IGNORANCE, I KNEW NOTHING ABOUT IRONY.
Reading about Anatole dying an ignominious and withering death from prostate cancer when his was the gold standard of prostates...that’s when I understood IRONY. One would have thought Anatole’s sexual proclivities insured the eternal health of his prostate. Also the propitious selection of purebred sexual partners guaranteed his prostate indestructible.
Anatole’s prostate was used for good only—a random fuck here and there, yes, but we all backslide once in a while. His sexual athleticism was not willy-nilly, vulgar sex for sex sake, but carefully and fatherly dedicated to introducing young girls to the rudiments, intricacies, intimacies of the sexual art and mysteries of lovemaking. It was a full time job for Anatole, doing it prudently and judiciously, relentlessly, thoughtfully and tenderly. He once confided, not boastingly but with humility, that after a girl was with him, she’d make a wonderful lovemaking partner for some sexually deprived boyfriend or sexually dull husband. I believed him.
Never ending diddling must have been time-consuming, taking precious hours away from his book-reviewing for the New York Times, but Anatole was focused and ferocious, a zealot in his instructional love-making histrionics. The pleadings of young maidens to "please, please take me to your bed and make me whole...make me complete...make me a women" was heart-wrenching to softy Anatole. Enough was never enough. Selflessly and passionately he gave his time, his expertise, finally his health.....and sadly.....his prostate.
When Anatole died, it was over. No more heroics, no more fireworks of orgasmic explosions for the next generation of fledgling, unsuspecting, unattended, uninitiated girls. He left no chronicle, no bible of his legendary FUCKING subtleties or a litany of “how to’s” for tenderfoot pretenders to his throne. He-did-so-much-good-for-so-many.
I would loved to have been at Anatole’s funeral. I can see it now: Hundreds of former purebred virgin novitiates, privileged at having been deflowered in Anatole's fifth-floor walk-up apartment Garden of Eden on West 12th Street, walking down the isle for a viewing, looking like a runway of yesteryear's pedigreed beauties in their finery, solemnly parading past and worshiping at the casket, the altar of the great romancer, the indomitable seducer, the educative lover, the royal fucker...Anatole Broyard.
Ah, the illusiveness, the reductification to forgetting when someone we know drifts from this mortal coil. And when Anatole died, why why why wasn’t his fragile prostate beatified...or at least preserved like Einstein’s brain in a bell jar of formaldehyde at Princeton University: viewed as a national treasure; examined and dissected by the scientific community determining what made his prostate so special, so precious, so utilitarian, so superior...so Anatolean?
INCIDENTALIA ABOUT ANATOLE.....
Across from the hi-rise red brick Women’s Detention Center on Sixth Avenue, corner Greenwich street in the Village was a fruit and vegetable store where Anatole bought two fresh figs that cost an astronomical twenty-five cents each. Having never eaten a fresh fig like I’d never eaten an artichoke until I had dinner with Anatole at Louie’s Italian restaurant, he offered me one. Refusing, Anatole fondled, savored and ate both. I wasn’t a gambler when it came to foods I’d never eaten. I didn’t eat pizza or a tuna fish sandwich until my early twenties; my first pumpkin pie, one snowing midnight at a truck stop in Sheridan, Wyoming, or was it Sheridan, Colorado when I was twenty-six; shrimp, crab, lobster, reluctantly and only once at age twenty-seven in the Grand Ballroom of a Memphis, Tennessee hotel where I was playing saxophone in Blue Baron's orchestra at a GM dealership convention that was introducing a new line of cars. After the crustacean adventure, the lights dimmed, the audience hushed, and in a comically surreal moment, the band playing “God Bless America,” curtains opened onto a rotating platform where female models in flowing gowns were pointing to three brilliantly light-drenched General Motors automobiles. The dealerships rose as one, ecstatic, ooh-ahing and wildly applauding the glistening inanimate objects. And to this day I’ve never eaten oysters, clams, squid or sushi.
We crossed Sixth avenue, down 8th street, passed Whalen's drugstore, passed Anatole’s favorite faggoty men’s clothing store, crossed 8th street, looked in the luncheonette window at the stool where I met the Judge's daughter that fucking rainy evening and cold-heartedly demeaned her in my Sixth Avenue apartment; walked to the corner 8th Street Bookstore where Anatole bought me Saul Bellow’s “Seize The Day," a little thicker paperback than the first book he had me read, Bernard Malamud’s “The Assistant” which was about 125 pages. He weaned me into reading with short novels. And now that I think about it, ”my good friend and future teacher of writing and book reviewer for the New York Times Anatole Broyard, why why why did we never discuss the many books you encouraged me to read?”
Leaving the bookstore, we went into a brightly lit bar with wooden tables and benches. Anatole ordered two Heineken beers. He drank his, I nursed mine without finishing, getting loopy. Many times indoors, Anatole felt drafts. Knowing nothing about drafts, never having felt one, we changed tables. Antatole played records from the Juke Box, 3 for 25 cents: Tito Puentes, Migalido Valdez and Xavier Cugat. It was an odd selection of records, never having known anyone who liked Latin-American music. Back at the table, with fingers and palms of both hands, arms flapping, head rolling, Anatole was drumming to the music. I was glad we left, his table drumming was disquieting and so unAnatolean.
Anatole exhibited another uncharacteristic behavior when we watched boxing on TV in Milton Klonsky's cramped, depressing apartment on Christopher street. Between rounds, Anatole gets up, animated and in a shadow boxing posture, moving gracefully, narrates as he crisply jabs, feints, bobs, weaves, uppercuts, right crosses, left crosses, recreating the rounds we had just seen.
Anatole, Milton and I walked to McDougal street near Minetta Lane into San Remo’s Italian Restaurant and Bar where we met Anatole’s Dutch friend Ernest Van den Haag, PhD in Sociology. Tucked in the dark corner of the booth, Ernest looked sinister with his thinning, greasy, slicked back gray black hair and wearing small, round, light-reflecting steel rimmed thick glasses. Anatole who edited the poetry of Hy Sobeloff, an eccentric millionaire who owned department stores was offered his house in West Hampton, Long Island, New York for the weekend. Anatole asked if we wanted to go. Milton said he’d take Vonda, whom he said was “bright and witty, had great legs and a great ass, a flaring ass,” which she didn’t. Ernest, sounding comical with his thick Dutch accent, like the prison guard Sgt. Schlutz in the TV show Hogan’s Heroes when he said he’d take his new girlfriend who “vas brrright unt vitty, haass grrrvate legs und ha grrrvate haass, ha flarrring haass.” Seeing Ernest’s girlfriend in West Hampton...he lied. I said I didn’t have a girlfriend. Anatole, like he had a Rolladex of girl’s names in his head said I'll get you M from Brooklyn, who’s “bright and witty..........”
Saturday morning we met by Anatole’s building on West 12th street, and in two cars were off to Sobeloff’s house. M and the car smelled of sulphur. At that time, girls with bad complexions slathered on stinky, sulfur based makeup. Blond M was a giggler. She wasn’t too bright but she was witty, having great legs and a great ass, a flaring ass. M and I smoked enormous amounts of pot. Playing tennis for the first time, M was awful. After 15 minutes of racket-flailing and chasing tennis balls she lost interest, and in a glorious tennis moment, ran and tried to hurdle the net, but missed. The toe of her sneaker caught the net, she flopped over, twisting an ankle, landing on her knees and hands. The years I passed M in the Village, she walked with a limp.
M worked for the Scandinavian Airlines. When she planned a special social weekend, bought clothing on a Friday from exclusive women’s stores, carefully removing the labels, and just as carefully replacing them on Monday, returning the clothes, getting cash back or credit. She said the scam no longer worked.
LEAVING GREENWICH VILLAGE WITH CAROLYN IN 1961...
SEEING HER LARGE BARE BREASTS IN THE SHOWER OF MY GREENWICH VILLAGE APARTMENT, I WAS IN AWE OF THEIR MASS. LOOKING AND TOUCHING THOSE GLOBULES OF GLOB LEFT ME BREATHLESS. ONE HUNG LOWER THAN THE OTHER, AND I MEAN HUNG, AS IF SHEER SIZE AND WEIGHT CAUSED ONE TO SLIP.
I felt sorry for Carolyn's breasts, like they were alive, having a life of their own. I’d get giddy looking at the discrepancy, yet repelled knowing the secret of her faulty tits like it was a disability, a burden I wish I had never seen.
She was six-feet to my five-eight, and when we walked together, she hooked her arm over and around my shoulders as the rest of her body hovered like a protective helicopter gunship. When we held hands, I knew what a baseball felt like cradled in a catcher’s mitt. She was statuesque and striking, possessing a commanding presence: people walking past turned around to look at the rest of her. Carolyn was giving, loving, trusting. I was a needy, demented asshole, perennially in heat...slave to a crazed dick, treating her like I treated all girls, as sexual driftwood: to pick up, admire, turn every which way and discard. Girls were momentary ameliorators of my loony-toony anxiety/depression.
Her long, thick black hair shimmied down to her behemoth rock solid ass as I assisted in the daily ritual washing, drying and combing, taking long exaggerated strokes down to the crack in her ass-length mane, feeling privileged performing in that hairobic choreography. Starting again, without a comb, dirty mind aflame with luscious lust, quivering hands and fingers ooze down from the top of her head, ravenously massaging neck and upper arms; still creeping, greedily lusting to capture all of her voluminous breasts, but sadly salvaging elusive, handfuls. Surreptitiously, fingers crawl along her powerful and generously muscled thighs, closer and closer to her female secret crevice, and in frenetic anticipation, in a sinkhole of breathless, sucking-sound depravity, snake in a finger from each hand...then two...then three...but clogging at the entrance trying for four. The bags under her eyes, a genetic aberration, exaggerated her twenty years, making her look older. I wasn’t ready for a woman, especially a baggy-eyed Amazon with out-of-kilter bazooms who adored and loved me. At age thirty-four I was still a boy: immature, misinformed, irresponsible and nutty. Adorable and lovable, hardly.
When I look back, Carolyn was one of the many young ladies I plunked, plundered and scarred. Better me I thought, an experienced man than some pimply-faced kid who just wanted a piece-of-ass was my dick-tated logic. Love is deaf, dumbing, blind and makes you stupid. And Carolyn wasn’t stupid. Her glaring faults, aside from her wayward wonkers was loving me, adoring me, believing in me, attaching herself to me: that made her stupid. Was I like the gunslinger in search of accumulating notches on his gun? Was I like a fighter pilot with kills painted on the side of his dick? Nay nay nay, more like an out-of-control drunken truck driver maniacally bent on sexual road kill.
Carolyn, a girl of monumental proportions and skills, coming to New York City’s Manhattan in early 1960 from an art colony in New Mexico after leaving San Francisco's North Beach to study sculpture with a master in his Greenwich Village loft who pawed at my loving Carolyn until she left in disgust, coming upon me who did more vile and degrading sexualating than the innocent pawing of an elderly guru sculptor.
Carolyn, left-handed and lisped, had big feet and toes that looked like stubby, truncated fingers, wore sandals and walked around the apartment bare-assed wearing only a wide leather weight-lifting belt. She read books, wrote poetry, played, practiced and listened to classical guitar music, talked about San Francisco, sculpture, writers and poets she knew, painstakingly wanting me to share as if I were interested or understood, foolishly deferring to me power over her, and all I knew was looking at her monumental magnificence, groping her, showering together, bathing together and fucking: more is better...enough was never enough. What a delusional difference, feelings for another person makes. She was enamored with me. And I, with a dick for a brain, couldn’t stop looking, thinking about and muzzling her voluminous, lopsided tits, generously rock solid thighs and ass, and the profligate indulgence of my repulsive need to probe, invade and desecrate her secret female crevice.
A few evenings a week we went swimming in a deserted Greenwich Village school’s indoor pool after picking her up on my Vespa motor scooter from an uptown Manhattan bar called the Left Bank when she finished cocktail waitressing, sometimes bringing home a hundred dollars in tips she counted as I demeaned her with my perverted sexual demands she submitted to willingly and lovingly. You get a lot of mileage out of being adored and loved.
I had never seen such swimming. Long, quiet, effortless strokes: breathing with her mouth open, inhaling and exhaling as her head gracefully rolled in and out of the water. She said she swam for hours in the San Francisco bay as I watched in awe, marveling at the liquidity of her movements, and after fifteen minutes of lazing laps like she was making slow motion love to the water, she was just warming for a sequel. Patient and maternal, she coaxed me into the pool, encouraging my flailing at the water as if I were trying to put out a fire, and after one excruciatingly painful lap, swimming side by side under her guidance and protection like a turd or drunken blow fish being followed by a dolphin, I was heaving and gasping, spitting and gagging, swallowing water and almost drowning from fear and exhaustion as Carolyn rescued me, dragging me half dead up the steps from the shallow, kiddie end of the pool.
As was her misfortune and the other misinformed, unsuspecting young ladies, she happened my way during the libidinous, stupid, selfish, emotionally fucked-up and indifferent phase of my life when body count was the only count that counted in my sexual reality which was really sexual depravity. Age, size, height, weight, color, mental state, all inconsequential. With my dick in command, it was full speed ahead, the more fucking the merrier. God bless America, God bless Anatole Broyard, God bless great legs, tits and asses, God bless the Beatniks and living in Greenwich Village during the mid 1950’s to 1961. I was looking for numbers of conquests so I could boorishly boast to anyone who would listen. Every girl I touched I contaminated. I was the AIDS of intimacy, the kiss-of-death of romance, the bubonic plague of love-making. It was lust and lusting. God, but in my insensitivity, ignorance and nuttiness I had amazing success.
The trouble with someone saying they like you is you’re conscienced to say I like you back. And if they say "I love you," it’s even worse if you don’t want to, but do equivilate the same emotion. But when a dick dictates, a man will say anything to get laid.
I imagined Carol’s mismatched bazooms and baggy eyes as handicaps—deformities. I felt sorry for her. Feeling-sorry-for doesn’t sound like love, but it’s good enough for attachment and commitment. At least it’s not the gaggging, cloying, delusional “I need you, love you, can’t live without you” kind of love that disembowels and slow motion kills in the mind-blowing creeping ferocity of lovers squeezing the life out of each other in the confusionary strangulating skirmishes of love. Who really knows or understands the vagaries of loving and coupling: for better or worse, in richness or poorness, in sickness and health, in rain, sleet or snow until one devours the other in the insanity of love, lust, jealousy, desperation, ignorance, fear, neediness, loneliness or the curse of intimacy. Ah, the bane of intimacy, tell me your secrets and I’ll use them against you as I lie to you about mine.
On-and-off, Carolyn stayed two months in my Greenwich Village apartment: a small loft-like space on the second floor, Sixth avenue near West 4th street four-story walk-up building with a mattress on the floor, kitchenette, toilet/bathtub/shower that overlooked the recently opened Heyerman’s Steak House, having met Carolyn in the Spring of 1961 at the Museum of Modern Art where she was concentrating on a sculpture, I was fixated on her ass. She had size: hefty, tall, dark with long, thick black hair wearing huge circular gold-like earrings, making her look wild. Talking to Carolyn but having no idea what I was talking about, I was referring to a Henry Moore reclining sculpture: a clumpy/dumpy amorphous shaped black stone hulk of a female with cavernous breasts and a hole in it’s torso. Whatever I said about the sculpture must have resonated because we connected, and that evening in my Greenwich Village apartment, we consummated.
In our conversations, Carolyn did most of the talking. She mentioned a sneaker company wanting her to model as a javelin thrower wearing their sneakers, also something about a Skippy peanut butter commercial because she lisped, and her lisping produced a cute "thkippy" when she said Skippy. Disinterestedly I listened, being too busy listening to my dick.
ALTHOUGH I DON'T REMEMBER HOW OR WHY I CAME TO GREENWICH VILLAGE, I KNOW EXACTLY, HOW, WHY AND WHEN I LEFT GREENWICH VILLAGE.
Sometimes, my older brother Melvin, an ex Marine who owned a small one man radio, television and appliance repair store in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn would give me a hundred dollar bill to use my Greenwich Village apartment for a night’s gambling and making fuck movies. Big Mel ran the gambling, taking two percent from each pot of craps and polka—his cut for guaranteeing checks, supplying food, booze, and whores the gamblers paid for. Gambling didn’t interest me, but watching Big Mel make fuck movies did. Everybody was usually drunk during the fuck movie filming. I didn’t drink. I liked hearing Melvin, who was the brains of the operation: writer, director, talent scout, cameraman, lighting and paymaster saying “get that dick up,” and “more sucking, more fucking.” Sometimes Big Mel was so drunk he’d let me direct, which wasn’t much of an accomplishment because all movies were the same, only the titles differed: Two bare-assed guys with mighty schwangs wearing black socks held up with garters; two, huge bosom girls fucking and sucking. All wore Lone Ranger type masks that kept slipping which was supposed to hide their identity. At that time, acting, making and selling fuck movies was illegal. Melvin gave the stars (?) 100 dollars each and promised to use them again which he never did, but to creative genius Mel, a change in cast—with masks—illusioned the fuck movies were different.
Brother Mel had duplicating machines, making hundreds of copies and thousands of dollars—all in cash. One night the police showed up during filming. We were taken to a police station into a holding room for thirteen hours. When brother Mel confessed he was Big Mel the porno king, backer and brains, the rest of us were released. Big Mel was fined and spent two years in New York’s Riker’s Island prison. When he was released from jail, getting him to Salt Lake City, where I was living and then to Santa Cruz, California, resuming television repairing, gambling, owning a poker parlor, also selling stolen property. He eventually went to prison in California.
Two day’s after the bust in July of 1961, Carolyn and I left Greenwich Village. The evening before, Carolyn made dinner, roasting a giant leg of lamb—I had never heard of or seen a leg of lamb—invited Anatole, his girlfriend, an ordinary looking washed-out strawberry blond; Milton Klonsky, his girlfriend Vonda and others I don't remember. Anatole endearingly referred to Carolyn as my giant Redwood from San Francisco. We left the apartment a mess the next morning, driving away in my father’s 1952 green, 4-door Oldsmobile with whitewall tires and a promise to send him $200 for the car which I never did, and when he died 20 years later, he left me nothing. In his will, in his own handwriting he said I would know why. It was the $200 I never sent him for the green, 4-door Oldsmobile with whitewall tires. My father never forgot and never forgave, and if you owed him money, he was unrelenting. The plan was: I’d attend summer school’s life-drawing art classes at the University of Colorado in Boulder paid by WW2’s educational G.I. bill, then drive Carolyn home to San Francisco. I lived in a dorm, ate in the dorm cafeteria while Carolyn’s six feet stuffed itself in the green Oldsmobile where she lived, ate, slept and sometimes we fucked. I’d bring Carolyn leftovers from the dorm's cafeteria. I no longer wanted Carolyn and sadly, treated her badly. My tall, young, rich, good looking dorm roommate volunteered driving Carolyn to San Francisco between summer semesters in his TR4 sports car.
I’ll never know what became of Carolyn, my giant Redwood from San Francisco’s North Beach whom I visited after summer school before relocating in Salt Lake City. But after two days with Carolyn, I abandoned her sitting on the curb by a parking meter on her twenty-first birthday, crying, and all because, deep down in my insensitivity, in my immaturity, in my callousness, in my fucked-upidness, I was anguished and ashamed, embarrassed at having a girlfriend six-feet tall with discrepant, wayward wonkers and bags under her eyes.
I wonder if she still loves and adores me?
Looking back, and after living a full but purposeless life, my only reason for being was to smoke pot, suffer from anxiety/depression, fuck girls, make just enough money to get by, get fired from most every meaningless job I've ever had. I succeeded gloriously in that maniacally driven, desperate, unambitious lifestyle or was it really lack of lifestyle. I did a lot of RANDOM FUCKING which is not boasting but fucking so I wouldn't be alone. Trolling for and bedding girls while living in Greenwich Village kept me busy, a distraction from the maddening frazzling of my maddening anxiety/depression that kept me fractious and frantic—exhaustingly and emotionally wandering in ever decreasing concentric circles until my head was up my ass.
One of the places I lived in Greenwich Village on Barrow street was a one room tenement fourth-floor walk-up apartment 4E, a building that had a ground floor entrance to Chumley’s bar I never went into because Anatole Broyard said it was full of older has-been writers and artists, and when Anatole opinioned about anything, that became my point-of-view. Although I lived there a few years, passing Chumley’s door every day coming and going, I never even looked in.
My apartment was spartan but utilitarian: A plate, pot, pan, knife, fork, spoon; no table, chair or bureau; a kitchen sink, fridge, two burner gas stove and oven; empty closet with wire hangers; toilet, rolls of toilet paper on the floor, a curtainless shower/bathtub. Everything I owned was on the floor: clothes, shoes, sneakers, tennis racket, tennis balls; mattress and candles for romancing; a radio, a noisy ticktocking wind-up ivory colored Westclock; a lid of pot, ashtray and large Diamond brand box of wooden matches. I smoked pot every night to help me sleep, always getting up early, walking through Washington Square Park to the 5th Avenue bus or walking down the Sheridan Square subway, taking the D train to Herald Square for my advertising job at Macy’s.
One evening I met two “jungle bunnies” at a lesbian bar on Seventh avenue near Christopher street: one, light colored, freckled and red hair; the other, a shiny black black, boyishly trim, titless, close cropped hair who looked sixteen. They were receptive to fucking individually, communally or me watching them together.
On a dark, cold morning, coming out of apartment 4E, the shiney black black was squatting, her back against a tree, pissing, steam coming up from under her dress. Excited, I suggested she come upstairs and fuck. She said, OK, but first had to drown kittens she had in a hat box in the Hudson river by the docks a few blocks away.
Sitting at the bar of the White Horse tavern on Hudson Street nursing a beer, I was talking to a lesbian, a recent graduate of Bryn Mawr girl’s college who acted as pathetic and needy as I did. After an hour of futile coercing—I always wanted to fuck a lesbian—wandered home alone. A tall, thin guy walking behind and passed me turned and politely whispered “would you like a blow-job?" Heart exploding, scared shitless, I ran to my building on Barrow street, passed Chumley’s door, flying up four flights of steps to apartment 4E like I was being chased. Inside, not turning on the lights, collapsed on the floor mattress. Feeling for the ashtray, captured a roach, then a match from the matchbox, scraping and lighting it along the sandpapered panel. Head tilted back, hand shaking, bringing the tip of the flame to the roach, inhaling deeply, coughing, burning lips and tip of my nose. Exasperated, feeling stupid, helpless and pathetic breathing in stinky, burnt nose hairs.
Exhausted, I slept until someone was banging on the door. Did the fucking blow-jobber follow me? I said nothing, the pounding continued. “It’s me, it’s me,” it was the red haired, freckled jungle bunny. Letting her in, she sat on the mattress, lit some candles, fished around in the astray for a roach, lighting it. Getting up, opening the closet, she grabbed a wire coat hanger. “I’m giving myself an abortion, I've done it before.” Groggy and fascinated, I stood by the bathroom door, a candle in each hand. She stretched the hanger in the middle, long and thin, slouched down, ass protruding over the toilet bowl, inserting the hanger in her. After a slight moan, twisted it, writhing as she jiggled it past the hard part. Standing up, she leaned forward, swizzling out the hanger, blood streaming down her legs around her feet. Putting my only towel between her legs, she waddled to the mattress. "Roll a joint and hold me.”
THE TALL BLACK GIRL with small white features, a modern dancer from the Kathryn Dunham dance company just returned from an African dance tour. At a Greenwich Village party, passing her a joint that was circulating, she tickled my palm. Taxied to my apartment where we showered. I sat in the corner of the bathtub looking up at her long, muscled legs and curly cunt hairs, marveling at her modern dancer’s long, lithe, firm body which was mine to look at, touch and glory in as dirty shower water collected in her corner of the tub, washing away skin-lightener she must have smeared on as she morphed from light jungle bunny to brown. I could have been sitting in shit but wouldn’t move, fixated on the sheer perfection of her dancer’s body. She had a vicious cold: sneezing, coughing, sniveling and could have been infected with bubonic plague, but I was primed, transfixed, focused, single-minded as I screwed her, feeling invincible.
KINKY AND BUSHY RED HAIRED J, looking like Little Orphan Annie was sitting on the rim of Washington Square Park’s fountain, rocking her daughter in a pram. In a matter of minutes after introducing myself, she asked a friend to watch her baby because she said “yes” when I casually asked if she wanted to fuck. We taxied to her apartment off Fifth Avenue near the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Central Park. She had a huge bed with dirty sheets and insisted I hit her during sex because that’s what her big black boyfriend Rex did, and she loved it. I refused, but she nagged. So I slapped her, hurt my hand and my dick stopped working. She was happy and I guess fulfilled. My hand ached for days. I gave up on her even though I saw her often by the fountain with pram and baby.
PETITE, BLOND D would invite me to her apartment after we’d meet accidentally on purpose in Washington Square Park: shower and fuck. D usually got out of the shower first as I lingered. Her four-year old daughter comes into the bathroom while I'd be toweling off and tweaks my dick by snapping at it with thumb and forefinger. D's adamant about letting her daughter do it otherwise it might be psychologically damaging, making it more than an innocent exploration if I scolded or tried to stop her. MOMMIES KNOW BEST!
ISOLDE, A MUSIC MAJOR AT NYU that had a campus in the East Village said that in Belgium, Isolde is as common a girl’s name as Mary in English. She smelled of Ivory soap. Rubensesque Isolde had the narrowest of waists that exaggerated her explosive flaring ass and colossal firm, bulbous tits. Lying in bed, Isolde spread out like ink on a blotter, giggled and laughed at what I said, endearing her as momentarily I’d forget my craziness, drowning in quicksand of fat or should I say free-floating on a magic carpet of fat. Isolde had a wide mouth and smeared audacious amounts of bold, bright red lipstick. Seeing myself in a mirror after fucking, I looked like Bozo the clown.
ANATOLE REFERRED TO HER AS THE JEWISH PRINCESS, a psychiatrist’s daughter and English major at Barnard, a girl’s college in Manhattan. After an evening with Anatole, he told her about me. I said “sure” when she called and stayed a night. She had long, thick, black hair, rolled and tied into fat side buns. A little heavy, but proportionate, she exuded quality, grace and elegance. Touching her, kissing her, fucking her was electrifying—a new reality, making love, having never experienced that feeling before.
Soaping her in the shower was glorious. She lathered me, it was intoxicating. I liked getting out of a shower first, watching girls dry themselves with my large, special occasion furry towel. She didn’t disappoint. She rubbed on lotion that I never used but kept for showtime—showertime—as I’d assist in lotioning shoulders, necks, backs and bonbon behinds. She wrapped the towel around her body, tucking the end in above her protrusive breasts. With another towel, she rubbed her hair dry, wrapping it around like a turban, throwing her head back, the end of the towel splashing down her back. My heart fluttered as she paraded around the room wearing towels and my penny loafers, and with every step, the penny loafers increased in value.
Sitting next to me on the floor mattress smelling of lotion, I closed my eyes and inhaled her essence. She took my hands in both of hers, kissed them, placed them around her chubby cheeks and thanked me for a wonderful evening. Why the fuck was she thanking an esteemless, pot-smoking, needy, no talent, anxiety/depressive asshole like me? I never knew what to do with a girl after fucking. I had no second act. Walking her downstairs and out the building I hailed a taxi, offering her ten dollars fare she declined and seemed embarrassed. I cupped both her hands in mine and kissed them. Heart sputtering, I gasped seeing the cab disappear. Closing my eyes, pervasive anxiety/depression began percolating it’s uneasy reality.
I PASSED AND GAVE THUMBS-UP to Anatole who was walking in Washington Square Park with a young, tall, titless, skinny, hooked nose girl with well developed calf muscles who wore thick glasses. Anatole phoned and said she was 17, a ballet dancer from Julliard who liked to fuck. He gave her my phone number. She called, I said I was available. I could have said I lived off Anatole’s no-second-chancers.
When she arrived, I was wearing my Anatole Broyard outfit: twill, khaki stovepipe pants, white, open collarless shirt, Converse sneakers and a knit, cable-stitch sweater with a wide, rolled collar. Preparing for her, I actually preened, turning around and around, looking at my skinny-assed self in the three foot high floor mirror, something I never did. Did I look like Anatole Broyard, hardly, he was the real thing; me, an ersatz look alike.
After a few hours of forgettable sex, she left me with a memory: a resilient case of gonorrhea that took weeks of Penicillin to clear up. I called, telling her she gave me the Clap which she denied having and hung-up. I told Anatole. He said he always wore protection.
ON A DREARY, DRIZZLING EVENING, leaving Macy’s, I was eating at the Horn and Hardart Automat, talking to a girl at a nearby table. Depressed and fumbling for conversation, she was OK about coming to my Greenwich Village apartment. It always amazed me when girls made themselves available. She had rat-like eyes, penciled around with lots of black eyeliner, illusioning them looking larger. We smoked pot, she was pleasant, talked about her secretarial job at a law office and jealous Italian boyfriend but didn't want to fuck.
For a week we ate lunches sitting on the steps near the concrete lions of the New York Public Library, sometimes fucking on the large conference table of her office when the lawyers were out to lunch. We alternated desk-fucking with weekend mattress fucking in my apartment. What we did she said was fun but didn't last long, she was fearful of her poker-playing possessive, bad tempered jealous Italian boyfriend who wanted her around all the time.
WHEN WE MET IN THE ADVERTISING DEPARTMENT AT I.J. FOX, a fur company at my new job across the street from Macy's, the layout artist said she recently was fitted for a Diaphragm—a contraceptive women jimmied up a cunt that capped the cervix, preventing pregnancy and would I like to help her break it in?
Super cunt J was a whiner, complainer, giggler who had her hooked nose surgically bobbed. She lived on the second floor near the steps of her Morton street, Village apartment. I’d stay over Saturday nights. She took forever installing her Diaphragm, using a greasy fungicide, causing the damn thing to slosh around, my dick losing interest. We slept on an uncomfortable, narrow, matressless cot. Predictably, Sunday mornings her ex, six-foot five boyfriend who later was Sgt. Esterhazy on the TV show Hill Street Blues—dying of a heart attack during the run of the series—shows up downstairs, yelling upstairs he’s here, bringing bagels and cream cheese. Ex boyfriend comes in, makes coffee, we eat like family. He was so fucking tall and menacing he scared the shit out of me, but not enough to keep me from staying at J's apartment Saturday night to Sunday morning and having breakfast with Sgt. Easterhazy.
CHUNKY C, a student at NYU who’d call at odd hours of the night from her Manhattan apartment when she couldn’t sleep, taxi to my apartment wearing only a raincoat and carrying her poodle Juju. Blond C was wide-assed, thick thighed, beady-eyed, bad breathed, whiney and liked sleeping late. I’d leave mornings for work or playing tennis, thankful she was gone when I returned.
Years later, when I was in the Beverly Hills library, a blond girl said “are you Donald?,” nodding yes, “I’m C, we used to make love when I went to NYU.” Making love was not how I’d have characterized what we did. We hugged. It was the same blond, only older, beefier, wider assed, thicker thighed, beady-eyed, bad breath, whinny C. We made a luncheon appointment, she lived in Hollywood. I lived in the old band leader, singer and movie star Rudy Vallee’s Coldwater Canyon hilltop mansion that overlooked Hollywood boulevard and the San Fernando Valley before living in Arnold Schwartzenegger agent’s Hollywood Boulevard Penthouse, overlooking the the domed Church of Scientology.
Her three room, second floor apartment was bright white-walled with lots of paintings and drawings. She was a artist’s rep. Wearing all white: open collar man’s shirt with a wide Windsor-knotted black tie, shirt tails draping over toreador pants that couldn’t hide her girth but exaggerated her excessive hips. Smoking pot did nothing to ameliorate my sizzling anxiety/depression, and after a few minutes of listening to her whine, staring at her discordant body and comic white outfit, fled.
ONE DAY IN 1970, I was in New York City. How or why I don’t remember. I called an old friend, Wolfgang Zuckermann who manufactured Harpsichords and invented do-it-yourself Harpsichord kits in his second floor loft above the Theater d’Lyse on Christopher street in Greenwich Village that was always performing a Kurt Wyle musical. He wasn’t thrilled hearing from me, reluctantly let me stay the night at his Jane Street upstairs/downstairs apartment. The bathroom was near his downstairs bedroom. I had the upstairs bedroom that had a two foot tube with a funnel in the floor I’d piss into that exited to the outside into the cobblestone alley that had spindly Ailanthus trees (tree of life) growing along the faded red brick wall of the building.
Wolfgang liked listening to Bach, the music coming upstairs keeping me awake. It was midnight, I was cold; complaining, and to shut me up called someone named Diane who lived nearby and always willing to fuck. She told him it was too late, her daughter was staying over and hung up. She called back, came over and crawled in bed with me. It was so cold we didn’t take off our clothes, my dick wouldn’t work, and for a few minutes perfunctorily rubbed against each other. We kissed, she thanked me, saying she enjoyed what we did but next time call earlier!
Wolfgang said I fucked Diane Arbus who was a nutty, famous photographer. Years later I saw an exhibit of hers in a Pasadena museum—black and white photographs of creepy looking people. Her pictures sold for exorbitant amounts of money. I didn’t know who she was when I bedded her in Wolfgang’s Greenwich Village apartment, but instead of thanking me for a wonderful evening I wish she had taken a photograph of me during the emotionally distorting phase of my life or offered an autographed photograph of one of her creepy-looking people. She committed suicide in 1971 which was shortly after our faux-fucking. I’d hate to think because my dick didn’t work that cold evening in Wolfgang's apartment I was responsible for her suicide.
A CHILDHOOD POEM BY ANONYMOUS.
Now I’m old and feeble
and my pilot light is out,
what used to be my sex appeal
is now my water spout.
I used to be embarrassed
the way it would behave,
for every morning it would stand
and watch me shave.
But now I get the blues
the way it hangs down my leg
to watch me shine my shoes.
SOME PEOPLE COMMENTING ON MY BLOG HAVE ASSUMED I DON'T LIKE WOMEN. MAYBE. WOMEN HAVE AGENDAS, YOUNG GIRLS ARE ACCOMMODATING, lOVINGLY ADJUSTING TO AN OLDER MAN'S PERVERSITY. MANY FEEL THAT I WRITE WELL ENOUGH—GRAPHICALLY DEMEANING FEMALES—THAT MAYBE MY PERVERSITY CAN BE OVERLOOKED.
I ASKED SWEETHEART IF SHE'D STAY SEVENTEEN FOREVER. SHE COULDN'T PROMISE, BUT PROMISED SHE'D NEVER FORGET ME. SHE FORGOT ME.
She loved treating me as if I were royalty, like paying for purchases and carrying the heavy packages when we shopped for groceries: opening the car door on my side from the outside, curtsying as she let me in and gently closing the door, letting herself in on the driver’s side, and once in, suggestively placing her hand on my leg—a motherly flourish—reminding me to buckle-up as she buckled up.
The first time she drove my Volkswagen I asked what’s the first thing you do readying to drive? “Light-up-a-joint” she said and did, “then buckle-up, adjust the inside and outside mirrors, turn on the ignition, press down the clutch pedal,” and to my horror, grinding gears, shifting from first, second, third, fourth, and God forbid, reverse—she was taking Driver’s Ed in high school that practiced on automatics. Teaching stick-shifting was stressful, but when you’re in love and fucking the student driver, your brain is in your dick, so sacrificing a car’s transmission is a pittance to pay to the power of pussy, especially when it’s the prized possession of a seventeen-year old.
She loved driving, it made her feel grown-up and independent as she waved, driving past and showing off to her girlfriends. As a teenager, seen driving a “Beetle” in the early 70’s was tits.
She was a little taller than I, and when we walked together she slung her arm around my neck like we were buddies. We held hands and she’d tickle my palm—her youthful improvisational invitation of a promise she fulfilled gladly and lovingly with the exaggerated, aggressive sexual vigor and athleticism of a teenager in love, doing the filthies with a dirty-old-man more than twice her age her parents loathed and wished dead.
She loved undressing in front of me as I gawked, stripping slowly, sometimes doing the hootchy-kootchy in her torn panties she knew I got-off on, sometimes reciting unintelligible and incomprehensible love haikus she heard in Mr. Fixx's high school English class. She also whispered her own unintelligible and incomprehensible love haikus she wrote for our ears only as I feigned understanding—praising and lauding over them. A man will listen to anything and say anything to get laid. She kept a personal journal—a little too much about us—about the naughties we did in the shower, bathtub and bed. As a bonus to my dirty-old-man’s insistence and insouciance for depravity—the exaggerated needs of dirty-old-men have no boundaries—retrieve her cheerleader pompons from the closet we shared, prance and dance and jump around, backflipping and cartwheeling, smiling and cheering, displaying in all her childlike vitality the newest school cheers. I was impartial, I loved the old cheers also.
Mornings were electric. After staying the night at my house, lying to her mother she was spending the night at a girlfriend’s, she leapt out of bed to the fridge, whipped out a cold orange—I liked cold fruit, she liked warm, and to her youthful romancing of love, giving in to my likes was true love. She’d bite into the skin, making a pocket, slipping her fingers in and under, peeling it lovingly and meticulously, picking away the white cellulose under the skin which clung to the fruit, section it, whispering “open wide” which I wouldn’t, feeling silly but loving every moment of feeling silly being babied by my baby. Of course I’d give in, opening my mouth a little as she jimmied in an orange wedge, her fingers surreptitiously trailing the fruit. She and I were delirious as I sucked on her orange tasting fingers.
Together we took endless hot baths—she couldn’t turn the bath water on fast enough—adding Mr. Bubble bath beads when she sloughed high school for the education I provided. I knew and kept telling her that what we were deliciously doing behind closed doors would never again be duplicable. I knew it wouldn’t and couldn’t last, but it was for us to do, and fuck the inevitable. Shades drawn, lights out, lit, scented candles, our hot baths with Mr. Bubble bath beads in a large old fashioned bathtub with clawed feet was quality time: intimate and confessional as we looked, touched and whispered lovings to each other. Eventually and inevitably when we did go our separate ways, it was never again to be with anyone like it was being with her when she was a teenager, a high schooler, doing the filthies with a dirty-old-man more than twice her age.
SHE LOVED BEING WITH HIM. HE MADE HER FEEL SMART, HE MADE HER FEEL BEAUTIFUL, HE MADE HER FEEL SHE COULD DO ANYTHING SHE WANTED: HE MADE HER FEEL SPECIAL.
A scholastic whiz, her Grade Point Average was 3.85, and yet it was his validation of her intelligence, brightness and beauty that just praising, listening and reassuring, we have so much power to do wonders for an other. He loved looking at her soft, round, warm, pimple and blackhead free alert baby face. She made him feel whole and human, momentarily forgetting his crazy-making anxiety/depression. He loved her because she was an academic starlet. He was encouraging her to become a Doctor, a real Doctor, not a fake Ph.D Doctor.
School was easy for her: Learning was a graceful segue from algebra to calculus to the sciences. Where he struggled through school, slightly dyslexic, barren of learning skills, incapable of concentrating or memorizing, she breezed through academia, absorbing, learning and preparing, amassing credits and knowledge, the power base necessary for medical school.
PERCEPTIVE AND FACILE, SHE WAS A NATURAL.
HER INCANDESCENCE ILLUMINATED WHATEVER
SHE TOOK A SHINE TO.
It was true love for a little while. But it was all too much, too soon and too late: one, too young, the other, too old. At seventeen she had the “right stuff.” At forty, he knew and loved her for having the right stuff.
He took her to Europe as a high school graduation present. He gave her up when they returned, “for her benefit” he assured her, because now at 19, and he 42, it was best to move on with her life and education, be with friends her own age and interests, not burdened with an older man who would not be getting any younger. And when he saw her twenty-five years later, she was funny-looking, like a chipmunk: an RN, just a nurse, working at a hospice comforting the dying; the mother of a ten-year old daughter and in the process of getting a divorce. We were strangers, our conversation strangulating and stilted. She had forgotten me as I had never forgotten her or forgiven myself for giving her up when she was nineteen and I, forty-two. She exuded sadness, was frumpy, overweight, suffering from PMS and depressed, real depression, something I never thought she was capable of. And of all things, a nurse, when she should have been a Doctor, a real Doctor, a Doctor Doctor, and not a fake Doctor, one of those Ph.D Doctors.
Recapitulating: I loved looking at Sweetheart’s nudity as she paraded around the house, sometimes wearing only a loose tank top or shorty slip that hovered around her navel, exaggerating her firm, round, youthful ass, pedestaled on rock-hard thighs. It was breathtaking and titillating having my very own sexual object, work-in-progress 17-year old whom I was guiding and molding, nursing and nurturing to my dirty-old-man’s creepy and needy requirements during her sexual awakening. I was creating and directing a work-of-art for my sexual deviancy. She was my prized object-of-affection to look at, touch and caress which was what I required to feel whole as I leered and leeched after that 17-year old who kept me breathless, anticipating fucking, no no no, making love to again and again a ripe, healthy, natural resource of boundless sexual energy which is the inherent domain of the young. Sweetheart would kiss the palm of my hand and put it against her cheek. Just writing about it brings tears. Kissing Sweetheart, I quivered from head to toe as she waggeled her tongue in my mouth, something I've never experienced kissing another girl.
She exuded pheromone laden pure cuntitude that I inhaled greedily. Lovingly she gave of herself, but I was insatiable, voraciously gorging and lusting, encouraging her to be free, creative, experimental but not vulgar, the seventeen year old was my prized student, having a lifetime to become corrupted at the depraved hands of less sensitive and insincere men who would ignominiously treat her like just another random fuck with none of the loving niceties that under my concerned tutelage she'd bloom and blossom.
GIVING UP SWEETHEART....
I gave up Sweetheart with plausible but implausible reasoning: her calves below her powerful thighs were too skinny, she walked stiff-leggedly, was barrel-chested, had little tits and sniveled a lot because of allergies. I know I gave her up because of those imperfections—talk about shallow, as if I were perfect—corrupting my feelings about her whom I could never forget as I lied, assuring her I was too old, she, too young, and to move on and be with friends of her own age.
I loved the sound of Sweetheart's voice and comforted by her warm breath that smelled of a freshly opened can of corn (whole kernel, not creamed). I can't escape her memory, self-induced and reinforced by rehashing our intimate pillow-talk, bathtub talk and phone conversations, illusioning that if she'd just call or show up, we'd be together again as if going our separate ways never happened. Sweetheart, serendipitously, if I should ever meet you, I'd ask you to please work at treating me kindly and lovingly when I dream about you?
AS A KID, I LOVED SKIPPING—ONE FOOT HOPS AND LEAPS KIDS DO THAT YOU NEVER SAW ADULTS DOING.
My lifelong gloomy/doomy, anxiety/depression—diagnosed as ANHEDONIA—an incessant, nagging misery, a constant demanding to never enjoy anything, and the only time feeling good was momentarily forgetting how badly I felt all the time. I thought,if only I could resurrect something I loved doing as a kid before falling into that cavernous black hole of Anhedonia, I’d rid myself of dwelling and festering in the doldrums of negative thoughts, hateful thoughts, self-deprecating thoughts.
After years of therapy and unsuccessful psychotropic drugs plus pot smoking—a natural mood elevator—maybe, just maybe if I started skipping again—yes, skipping—I’d skip myself out of the miserable feeling person I was. It seemed so simple, so logical, so doable. So I planned: I’d go to the park and skip, skipping myself back to sanity. Because it was to be a glorious occasion—a rebirthing—I bought new sweats and new running shoes (skipping shoes) to celebrate my anxiety/depression interdiction, self-medicating with skipping. Six a.m. Sunday morning in the park, it was dark, crisp, and in a positive mood doing stretching warm-ups like I saw joggers do. And just thinking about skipping was exhilarating—emancipating—momentarily forgetting my anxiety/depression. Jumping up and down, clapping gloved hands, flapping arms, steam coming from my mouth, feeling awkward and silly at the thought of skipping while others were jogging, but on a high, I was psyched.
Prepped and in a take-off posture, leaning forward with arms bent at the waist, I lifted a bent leg readying to skip. Nothing happened. I couldn’t make my back leg hop and leap, I forgot how to skip. Panicked and confused, I relaxed my skipping posture, lowering arms, lowering bent leg, thankful it was dark, no one looking, feeling stupid—a frozen klutz in a jogging outfit. I tried again. Lifting a bent leg, leaning forward, arms in the ready position, but trying to hop and leap forward was futile, my back leg still wouldn't come off the ground. I was paralyzed!
Determined. A last effort. Prepared, but this time my uncoordinated legs in a herky-jerky motion tangled as I moved like a paraplegic flailing his arms trying to talk and be understood. I tripped over my feet and fell, a knee hitting the ground, gloved hands braking what could have been a disaster.
Confused, disoriented, cold and frightened, humiliated with fear and in pain, almost in tears, I failed in the innocence of wanting to feel good again, clownishly believing I could skip myself out of my emotional quagmire. Disentangling my crumpled fallen body I arose, limped, hopping on my good leg, retreating to the safety of my car, getting in and slumping behind the wheel into a cringing fetal position, fading to my normal inconsolable black hole of anxiety/depression.
"LOOK MOMMIE, NO CAVITIES"....
I like the pampering and professionalism, the fussing attention I get from my dentist, who at age 82 came out of retirement after spending two boring years at home frivoling—which was not his idea of enjoying his golden years, and I like to think, just to attend to my teeth.
His office is eight blocks from my house, and he may be the only dentist who has one chair and one older female assistant in his spacious one-room office with a large picture window in a small complex he owns that has four rental apartments. Because of a game leg, having had failed lower back surgery which crippled his left leg that he schleps to a chair next to patients, and once he parks his crutch and sits next to you, you know he’s not going anywhere until finished.
His practice is not like those one-man dental offices with four rooms of dental chairs, top heavy with high-priced sexy hygienists and assistants as the dentist scurries from room, to room, to room, to room servicing other patients—your mouth forced open and aching by a plastic retainer, praying he hasn’t forgotten as anxiously you await his returning. Trapped and helpless, I'd feel guilty even thinking about talking to my Lone Ranger dentist, like I don’t have the right to take up his expensive time asking him frivolous questions about my teeth because he’s so busy running around I assume his time is precious and more important than mine. And gas, my old dentist offers free nitrous oxide—laughing gas—helping me drizzle off to dreamland, and not like one of my many multi-chaired dentists who minimized and dismissed my wanting gas as old fashioned, and if I really wanted gas he’d reluctantly drag a gas tank out of a closet and charge me 35 dollars for daring, would you believe it, daring to inconvenience him.
Now that Dr. Walter Burns is comfortably seated, I know he’s focused, not thinking about patients in other rooms, not like my last dentist who wore a clip-on telephone head-set, talking to his stock broker, transacting buying and selling stock, feeling guilty that my open mouth was a distraction to his money-making stock market schemes.
Finally, cleaning my teeth—yes, he doesn’t have a hygienist—and it’s not beneath Dr. Burns’ years of dentaling to spend forty-minutes cleaning my teeth with the thoroughness of an archaeologist excavating at a dig. While under gas I imagine him crawling around the inside of my mouth with his probes and scrapers, invading nooks and crannies, searching out and destroying destructive bacteria. Because of age, my gums have been receding so I take special measures at home to keep bad bacteria from residenting beneath my gum line the special way Dr. Walter Burns told me to brush and floss and use the Peridex oral rinse he sells for 15 dollars a bottle that kill germs hiding in my mouth, scrupulously following his hygienic advice, and each time I go for my dental checkup I look forward to his praising, feeling like the little girl who gloriously, in those old Crest commercials, waggles a piece of paper like a report card and gushes, “look mommie, no cavities.”
It’s worth waiting to get a dental appointment just to hear him ooh and ahh about my assiduously detailing teeth and gums. And he really doesn’t want to clean teeth—it’s time consuming for the so little he charges and takes away from the more expensive and glamorous dental procedures that’s worthy of his sixty years dentalating.
And now, each time I leave Dr. Walter Burns, DDS’s office, I’m ecstatic, walking a little taller and a little straighter, and all because my dentist, who came out retirement, and I still like to think just to take care of my teeth says I’m doing such a wonderful job brushing and prophylacting that my teeth will probably outlive me.
You will soon understand why I may not visit you somewhere out there in your recently purchased vast, pristine 200 acres in Virgin, Utah where you sometimes hide out in your Yurt: a $12,000 do-it-yourself movable, collapsible circular tent of skins and felt created by Mongol nomads and now popularized as habitat for hearty folks who want freedom from the constraints and dependence of civilization’s taken-for-granted conveniences.
No running water, no electricity, no indoor plumbing, no roads, no phones, roughing it in free-spirited, joyous deprivation, partaking—not taking—but sharing with creatures big and small the earth’s abundance, not greedily, only what’s needed for survival, necessities for the fuss-free balanced life, cohabitating harmoniously with nature in nature’s spacious, outdoor workshop.
Laudable, oh yes, but lamentable, because my abnormally normal lifestyle—or lack of lifestyle—which is also a kind of roughing it, necessitated by limited income and few interests, I don’t want to voluntarily be where accommodations are lesser and more spartan than mine, where you have no electricity, depriving me the pleasure of watching TV. Because I have no family and watch TV regularly, I’m caught up in the lives of characters on television’s sitcoms whom I care about and identify with as I emote in their fictioned lives like they're real, like they are my families.
So Lyman, until your Yurt is no longer electrically challenged so I can keep in touch with my TV families, I’ll forgo visiting as anxiously I anticipate the upgrading of your environmentally correct Yurt, hoping and waiting for it to be contemporized with electricity for my survival’s requirements.
Thank you for maybe understanding. I'm still a friend and maybe future visitor to your yurt, Donald.
LYMAN AND HIS MOUSETRAP.....
A kindly soul: sensitivity toward his fellow creatures, Lyman Whitaker created a kinder, gentler final solution contraption for the last days of a mouse
He constructed a sixteen inch long smooth, inclined tubal pathway mousetrap. The lure in the trap is aged, Jarling Swiss cheese. Only the best for a critters last meal. As the mouse scampers up a smooth levered tube, the incentive cheese sprinkled liberally and seductively along the pathway—the mouse nibbling its way onward and upward when suddenly the weight of the mouse leaning forward on the down side of the tube with no friction to brake its headfirst momentum slides into a watery milieu.
Kinder, gentler final solution to the riddance of a mouse, who knows? And yet, what a way to go: on a full stomach of expensive Jarling Swiss cheese, slip sliding into eternity.
ROBERT THE LAWYER.....a true story.
A lawyer friend, recalling an early case in his legal career, said a women called, telling him her hemorrhoid surgery was bleeding, causing endless pain. She wanted to start a malpractice suit against her surgeon. The lawyer said pictures were needed of the botched surgery. She didn’t have a camera so he invited her to his office. He would use his Polaroid.
A hulk showed up and accommodatingly spread her beefy cheeks. He photographed the alleged botched surgery from all angles, and when she left, locked the door and jerked-off all over her Polaroids.
HERE'S MY CARD.....
Please don’t foist your business card on me. I resent someone offering their business card and I don’t want their business card and they tell me I can do whatever I want with their business card because they get them free. I don’t care if they’re free. I feel guilty being rude in refusing the business card as it’s forced on me, taking it anyway like it's offered as a sacred trust, and now I’m responsible as the card’s caretaker in perpetuity.
An old girlfriend asked me what I think about when we have sex because her old boyfriend told her that guys think about other girls. To sound normal, I told her what she wanted to hear, “I think about other girls.” I asked her what she thinks about during our love making? She said, “I think the sheets aren’t ironed!“
When Bonnie was seventeen she told me she would rather fuck me than pee. When I saw her thirty years later she told me just the opposite.
CARDS, LETTERS. BOXES.....
WHEN IS THE APPROPRIATE TIME TO THROW THEM AWAY?
Whenever I receive a personal letter, store bought cards or box with fancy wrappings, I’m guilt-ridden about the respectful time to keep them before discarding them.
Bills I pay immediately, throwing away the evidence that I ever received a bill.
Personal letters I keep for a while, holding on to them out of love for the thoughtful sender. But the longer I keep the letters, the more difficult it is to throw them away. And when I do, tear them into a million pieces, annoyed with myself for having kept them so long.
I uncomfortable when receiving elaborately wrapped gifts, ripping at the wrappings is like destroying a work of art, so painstakingly I disassemble the artistically wrapped box, then storing the box, ribbons and wrapping paper out of respect for the person who took the time to fuss, eventually, contritely, throwing them all away, disgusted with myself for having warehoused the crap in the first place.
Special occasion cards are another pain. Please don’t send me expensive greeting cards that I keep for months, constantly reminded that each time I see the card, if the sender knew I ripped-up the thoughtful card—and I hate cards—I’d feel squeamish about her knowing—women usually send cards. So I keep cards a little longer. And when I do throw one away, furtively look around, hoping no one is looking!
I saw a TV show about an old rain forest Indian who traveled deep into the jungle to visit a tree his father left him as an inheritance. And in the tree lived a rare bird with rare plumage. All the Indians in the community respected his inheritance, and it’s understood that when he dies, the tree and rare bird with the rare plumage would pass on, being the family's possession in perpetuity.
What I inherited from my father was the ability to lie, cheat, his grubby money ways and his quirky, piggy mannerisms:
> I watched him pick his nose with all ten fingers, roll the buggers into a ball and flip it.
> I watched him squeeze pimples, leaving the exudate on the bathroom mirror.
> I watched him piss in the bathroom sink and kitchen sink which revolted my mother.
> I heard him fart loudly while talking to people and smile as if he were entertaining.
Not wishing to reveal or pass-on my father’s abhorrences, I never married, never had children, denying future generations awareness of my father’s stylistic abominations.
I love coming home, and as I open the door the phone is ringing: it's a real person calling, someone I’m dying to hear from, not a prerecorded message telling me I’ve been selected for something-or-other, and to get a surprise gift, call a number in Texas or Florida or New Mexico and claim my prize because I’ve been singled out as a national treasure who's about to get the surprise of his life, and it is a surprise, it costs $4.99 a minute just to find out it’s another scam, just a ruse, exciting me into thinking it’s my turn to enter the winner’s circle because of perseverance and hard work I’m recognized as someone who during a lifetime of meritorious achievement is about to get his pound-of-flesh: the Iron Cross, a Medal-of-honor, Quare-de-guerre, Knighthood, a presidential Rose garden invitation; maybe interviewed by Oprah, Montel, Maury, Ellen, Regis; the Today show, Good Morning America, PBS, 20/20, or the coup, Leno and Letterman.
But no no no, it’s just a random shit call, my name came up on the speed-dial and I’m so lonely, needy and deprived of recognition that I turn this obvious hoax into a love affair. Oh, the price one pays for a lifetime of invisibility: begging for emotional crumbs, loveless handouts, desiccated perfunctory hugs, left over moldy accoladel drippings. The blood, sweat and tears exacted by the hard-up can be humiliation, servitude, groveling, prideless mortgaging of one's dignity. All that for the momentary cessation of anonymity, just to forget you’re a nobody who amounted to nothing; free-falling into the delusional sinkhole of money-grubbing scamers who fraudulently certified and recognize you as a winner of amorphous and empty caloried gifts, gratifying your cloying cravings of the denied and forgotten with the bone-chilling, cold-warmth of overly priced and seductive phony-baloney gratuities, better bought and for less money at any Big Lots and Nothing Over A Dollar stores or the Gucci department of Army-Navy surplus stores.
A MAN WILL SAY ANYTHING TO GET LAID.....
I bought the last thirteen dinner rolls. The bakery was closing, the salesgirl said they were half price, giving me an extra one, the last one at the dozen half price. An elderly couple asked if there were any dinner rolls left. The salesgirl pointed, saying I bought the last dozen. I offered them the rolls. I only bought them because they were half price, the salesgirl had big boobs, and it gave me reason to talk to her boobs. I wanted to impress Miss Betty Boobs with my generosity by offering the rolls to the old couple. A man will say anything to get laid. I stupidly said I was only going to eat them as if the couple would do something more imaginative with them. They demurred, smiled, seemed embarrassed, thanked me and left.
The salesgirl beamed at my generosity. I felt heroic(horny). We spoke about getting older, bread, cakes, rolls and I’d like to see her when she got off work which was in a few minutes. We met in the parking lot.
She apologized for her bakery attendant’s flour-coated outfit, assuring me she never made dates from behind the counter. I smiled, opened the car door, feigning pleasure at my good fortune. Oppressive, there was too much of her in the car—she was fermenting, it was her time of month. Cheap perfume could not mask but only heightened the pungency radiating from her zippity-doodah, so I leaned over in faux intimacy, cranking and cracking the car window, letting some of her out.
She was telling me too much about her past: abusive father, drunken mother, molestation by brothers. I was enamored by her boobooperdoos, not her past. She talked, I listened. The quieter I was, the more she volunteered: her dog, her cat, her bird, her posters, her collection of baby spoons, her garage sale acquisitions. Gibberish passed for conversation. She was lonely, lost, loveless, needy. I was at the mercy of my dick and her zesty piquancy. We drove, coincidentally ending up at a motel. She said “yes,” we checked in as Mr. and Mrs. And there she was, my prize for buying half priced rolls plus one, thirteen at the dozen price.
RUNNING ON EMPTY.....
I hadn’t seen many girlfriends from my college days. Scavenging for needy freshmen at the University of Utah, faking it as a student, I paid for abortions as I practiced unsafe sex on the vulnerable. Height, size, weight, color, age, looks, hair-lipped, obese, scrawny, pimple-faced, emotionally disturbed were never considered. Attending college with no interest in academia, paid by WW2’s GI bill, fucking filled time as I was still smoking pot and coping with anxiety/depression.
And as if I had willed it, a face from the past materializes at a supermarket, wheeling a fully loaded baby carriage with groceries and children: pregnant, looking the same slim, trim and impish, still girlish looking and now a women, giving off that gamey, musty smell that was uniquely hers when I knew her as a seventeen-year old high schooler. I confessed I’d been wondering why I never see old girlfriends, and suddenly “you appear, as if beamed into existence by my wishing a past love, present." I apologized for damage I may have caused while coping with anxiety/depression, busying myself gorging on sex, and maybe at her expense. I remember her saying she loved me. You hear that mantra so often it becomes permission words opening sexual doors. When you’re seventeen it’s so easy saying I love you, believing you mean it. “Apologize for what(?),” assuring me high school was memorable because of me, my house, “balling” (her word), pot smoking and dropping acid.
Feeling exonerated, yet a little put off by her still gamey, musty smell, fulfilling her biological inevitable, also taking anthropology classes at the U, but saddened, realizing, as she moved on in life......I was still running on empty.
Olympic champion ice-dancing skater Sergi Grinkov at age twenty-eight collapsed and died while practicing for the Ice Capades. The cause of death: a massive heart attack, without warning, killing him instantly.
Boston Celtic's basketball team captain Reggie Lewis was only twenty-seven when he collapsed, also dying from a heart attack while playing basketball with friends.
Sounds terrible! And yet, what a way to go. Both young, in their late twenties, at the top of their game doing what they loved: one, ice dancing, the other, playing basketball.
But with my luck, in old age, and I can see myself now: in a convalescent home—a warehouse for the aged and decrepit where biography stops: incontinent, diapered, feeble, arthritic, senile, spoon fed, unaware, alive but dead, stumbling, fumbling, gesticulating at flotsam and jetsam, behaving like a withering, blithering palsied atrophied zombie, propped up in a wheelchair, drugged out, lost, alone, watching without seeing or understanding TV reruns of I love Lucy, Gilligan’s Island, Hogans Heroes, Leave it to Beaver, Perry Mason.
My sister-in-law told me that when she found my brother Big Mel dead on the couch, he’d been communing in his favorite activity: watching a XXX porno movie. Although a gaping hole in his lips from a burned out cigar, the smile on his face, hands on his crotch surely indicated contentment. The end must have been orgasmic, leaving on a high. No decrepitude, no withering of mind and body, euphoric, maybe a little pain, but contentment; peaceful and just a hint of a smile—maybe a smirky smile, smoking a cigar, hands massaging his crotch, and who knows—God only knows—maybe a soft, lingering erection.
RADIO TALK SHOW HOST.....
When I was a radio Talk Show Host on station KTKK in SLC, Utah, it didn’t seem like much of an accomplishment. And like the gifted Idiot Savant who can do only one thing amazingly well while fizzling in all other human endeavors, my one talent was sitting in front of a microphone, talking for hours without a script: telling stories, exaggerating fiction as fact, concocting and commenting about whatever floated into my head.
I have adequate social skills, less than adequate mechanical skills and non-existent working skills. I have difficulty concentrating, my mind wanders when I read, and trying to memorize anything is impossible. Fired from most every job, I was told I was negative, a lousy worker, argumentative, disruptive, a whiner, a complainer, not a team player. In real life I’m not a show-off, having nothing to show-off about, but in front of the microphone I showed-off, loving every minute on the Air, exuding confidence, erudition, wit and charm.
I’d walk into the radio station studio, look at the log, organize the live and ad lib commercials, adjust chair and mike, turn down the lights, punch up the theme music, gradually lowering the music and start talking. “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, this is Goldon Delicious,” (my radio name).
Though a talk format, I did most of the talking, discouraging my usual uninteresting callers by never giving the station’s call-in number. Listening to myself through the headset I was amazed, “where did all the endless crap I was talking about come from,” yet marveling at my ability—effortlessly and endlessly—without fear of faltering, without preparation, confidently knowing that whatever came from my mouth would be entertaining, incisive, lucid, gracious and in good taste (avoiding politics and religion), having continuity—a beginning, middle and ending. I was so glib, so smooth, so light and yet heavy with insight, listeners assumed the shows were scripted.
And like the Idiot Savant who is a one-trick-pony, my ability to talk endlessly (incessantly) and entertainingly was innate, usurped at the expense of a lifelong inability to do much of anything else.
I HAVEN'T ANSWERED IN YEARS,
YET HE STILL WRITES.
I’ve moved about ten times in six years, and Ed manages to catch up with me. You have to give him credit for tenacity. He says I have a chance to win ten million. And if I answer quickly and paste the special sticker which states I’m an Early Bird and win, I’ll get a bonus, an extra million for promptness. It’s tempting: Something for nothing—the American dream.
For years I’ve eschewed Ed’s correspondence. He persists. Why am I so obstinate? I should feel flattered. My usual mail is bills from utility companies and unsolicited advertising. And now, this famous TV personality who never met me wants to give me money—lots of money—and all I have to do is buy some magazines. He warns: this may be the last time I’ll hear from him. It’s so expensive finding and mailing stuff, if I don’t answer soon I’ll be removed from his exclusive mailing list and lose the chance to win millions, and even if I don’t win the big bucks, there are hundreds of other prizes. How can I be so callous, ignoring his offer, his perseverance alone should tweak my conscience?
Deep down I know I haven’t a prayer of winning, but at my current income, even if I live and work a million years I’d never come close to earning the kind of money he offers, yet, old stick-in-the-mud me keeps turning my back on good old Ed’s generosity. In the past I've thrown away promotional insurance deals he's offered me.
Ed McMahon of Publisher’s Clearinghouse, how can I resist the temptation? My dilemma Ed baby, I not much of a reader, I've never won anything in my life, and if I ordered magazines, it would be disingenuous, only to win money.
Ed, I feel myself wavering, my resolve melting, the gimme, gimme greed factor is tantalizing, overpowering. I don’t want to give up hearing from the only famous person who sends me fabulous colorful brochures with its pie-in-the-sky glitterati that offers me millions.
Ed, you're the devil, you win. Put me down for two magazines: Forbes, so I can profitably spend time reading how wisely to invest my newly acquired millions, also Penthouse, so if I win nothing, my suffering soul will be assuaged, ogling and panting at fantasied, erotic nude female perfection, helping forget the wonderful world of wealth I imagined could have been mine, if only...if only...if only I had won.
>When a Chinese girl told me her name was Carolyn DONG
like in DING, I couldn’t take her seriously.
>The author of a book about George Bush wrote,
“there are times George Bush is dead wrong and proud of it.”
>When someone tells me what they do,
I know too much about them.
>I heard someone say, he doesn’t trust anyone
whose ass is wider than his shoulders.
>When Willie Nelson turned 75,
he said the most surprising thing in his life
is that he outlived his penis.
WHERE HAS ALL THE QUIET GONE?
Maybe there was never quiet! Maybe it's always been noisy and I wasn’t aware. But I’m aware now. So what? Who cares?
I love quiet, not necessarily solitude, but the peaceful serenity of quiescence.
Not even libraries, ancient sanctuaries of quiet are quiet anymore, but lunatic asylums, launching pads for the screaming art, practiced by mothers who use libraries as playgrounds: playpens for unruly children as they yell “don’t touch, put it back, stop running, stop crying; leave your sister alone," and screeching, “if you don’t keep quiet, you can’t come to the library anymore!”
I cherish quiet, lust for quiet, covet quiet, and if and when I ever find quiet I’ll lay in it, marinate in it, luxuriate in it.
Ah, the sound of quiet is music to my ears.
THE EIGHTY-YEAR OLD AUTHOR WAS TALKING ABOUT THE ORIGINS OF HIS FABLES.
His wife when she was alive and they were in bed in the dark always asked him to tell her a fable—the sound of his voice comforted and caressed as tales leapt from his mouth, having a beginning, a middle, an ending, seemingly originating from somewhere out of nowhere.
Now he sits at his typewriter, clears his mind, thinks about her, letting his fingers roam the keyboard as his mindless mind composes instant fables just for her, in perpetuity for when they will meet again.
It’s not creative writing he says, he's merely a typist: the recorder of fables that require little editing, and always surprised when reading them, never knowing how they composed themselves, feeling a oneness with a wife whose memory, though twenty-years past is suddenly present, and she's pleased as punch by another fable, thanking him, caressing him, kissing him as she slips into memory until another fable percolates……just for her.
I HAVE A TWO STEP RITUAL
WHEN GROCERY SHOPPING.
I roam the store
loading the shopping cart
with impulse items.
As I walk toward the checkout counter
piecemealy unloading what I don’t want
which is about 90% of what I put in the shopping cart
and not necessarily from where I took the items,
arriving at the checkout counter, having satisfied
my exaggerated impulse to buy.
A possible midair airline disaster was averted when an alert stewardess smelled sulphur and noticed a passenger trying to light a fuse hanging from his shoe which was later found attached to a plastic explosive lining the insole of his shoe. Since passenger shoes are now routinely examined as part of airline security, imagine the disruption of airline travel if a passenger was found trying to light a fuse dangling from his ass.
I live alone; food sits around little too long: I’m hungry, grab a slice of my favorite snack: Honey Whole Wheat raisin, walnut cinnamon bread—overbearing with too many raisins and walnuts, intrusive with too much cinnamon—but I still love the bread, it tastes like cake.
Three quarters into the slice, savoring its goodness, fondling and twisting the bread as I’m eating, I see green and white mold on the remaining crust. Flinging away what’s left, I’m in the bathroom, sitting on the bathtub rim and leaning over the toilet bowl, not nauseous, but revolted, I hate vomiting. Feeling faint, weak, stupid and sorry for myself, imagining the worst—a slow, violent, tortured death as my body writhes, withers and rots from a mold induced, incurable bacterial infection.
>Should I urp,
>should I call 911,
>should I go to the ER,
>should I call poison control,
>should I call a nurse I know?
Groggy, helpless, hopeless, indecisive, I panic. Getting up and looking in the mirror, it’s dark, I see nothing. Opening the medicine cabinet, my eyes adjust, I see a ROACH, the remains of a MARIJUANA cigarette, the universal, herbal anti traumatint of anxiety, fear and indecision. So I light up, inhale deeply and languidly, chest heaving, head spinning, holding the smoke a little longer than usual, then relaxing, exhaling slowly and measuredly, confidently knowing that life-threatening situations require creative intervention. Thank god for the miraculous, medicinal magic of marijuana.
Sitting down on the seat of the open toilet I relax into the satisfaction of knowing that through the haze of obfuscation—fear and panic—I had the presence of mind—total clarity—to self-medicate with the ROACH, survive, and once again enjoy my favorite snack, Honey Whole Wheat raisin walnut cinnamon bread—overbearing with too many raisins and walnuts, intrusive with too much cinnamon, with or without putrifactious, scary green and white mold.
WRONG, WRONG, WRONG......
Old habits don’t die, but contaminate and override my sense of right and wrong. I know it’s wrong to sample foods in the produce department of food stores: like sampling grapes or nuts or green peas or cherries or whatever is loose, small, edible, filchable and no one is looking.
>While in a grocery, I’ve been known to open a candy bar, eat part of it, sneakily hiding what’s left on a shelve behind something.
>I’ve been known to drink part of a canned soda and secreting the unfinished can…acting inconspicuously.
>I’ve been known to put 10 Kiwi fruit in a plastic bag when they are 8 for a dollar, telling the checkout person I have 8 in the bag, and when I get away with it feel relieved but cheap and creepy, but not cheap and creepy enough to stop me from doing it.
>I’ve been known to grind loose peanuts into peanut butter which is next to the grind-your-own loose almonds for almond butter, putting the almond butter in the peanut butter container just to save three-dollars on a pound.
>I’ve been know to.....,it’s too embarrassing going on, but I know better. It’s wrong, wrong, wrong and I hate myself for doing what I do and keep doing as I imagine the stomach-turning fear that sooner-or-later I’ll be caught and accused, but still, compulsively, not maliciously keep doing it, my conscience coerced into forgiveness because I feel guilty, as if feeling guilty exonerates me from the crime of stealing. I’m repulsed, and yet energized about my stupid and petty miscreantings, abhorring my adult onset childish behavior, knowing that sooner than later I'll be immersed in my creepy act of sampling (thievery) with no intent to purchase—hoping no one is looking and hoping I’m not caught.
MONEY, MONEY, MONEY, I LOVE YOU...
Coming home from work, my father greeted no one: go to his desk wearing his green smelly greasy overalls, greasy overall’s jacket and greasy cap—he sold meat to delicatessens, sometimes paid in cash—take from his pockets wads of crumpled bills, pressing them flat, meticulously sorting them into neat piles, face up of one’s, two’s, five’s, ten’s, twenty’s, a few fifty’s, some hundreds, coins, occasionally silver dollars. The mere sight of money drove me gaga, so the manipulating of his money in stacks higher and higher before counting was mesmerizing. I loved watching him choreograph the bills as he flattened, straightened and positioned them on his desk in neat piles, growing so precariously high that sometimes they'd teeter and topple. The exhilaration of seeing bills crashing down was agonizing, becoming lightheaded as I reached to right the wronged money, and to calm myself, pressed some of the bills against my heart, knowing if I held the money little too long I’d die.
My father never gave me an allowance, and being agonizingly indecisive even if I had money, I never knew what to buy. I now know as I couldn’t conceptualize then that I lusted for money, and if asked three things I love most I’d blurt “money money money.” Call it love or call it lust, it’s a romance that supersedes all other loves or the possibility of ever loving anything other than money. Even now, when walking, always looking down, hoping to find money, and if I see a penny, nickel, dime, and dear God, a quarter or dollar bill I’m giddy, surreptitiously but greedily picking it up, and if no one is looking, caress and maybe kiss it.
I was fascinated with two-dollar bills which were always so new, so regal, feeling unworthy about touching them. But clutching the hundreds was exquisite. I didn’t know what you did with hundred-dollar bills, but instinctively knew they were powerful. Sometimes while counting, my father let me hold the hundreds. Hoping he’d forget what he gave me didn’t last long, he always remembered, and much too soon take it all back as I reeled, drained and exhausted, the hollow emptiness that goes with a great loss.
Silver dollars were anomalies. I couldn’t make heads nor tails of them. They didn’t seem like real money. Their size and weight in my small hand felt awkward. I knew what you did with other coins, but silver dollars were something you kept for luck, having a sanctity—an inherent worth—that just holding one was breathtaking.
I’m about to reveal what I shouldn’t, and even admitting it is scary. The humiliation of outwardly appearing sane and normal, that I’m capable of something so outrageous should be kept secret, but a secret coveted is a burden that rots and festers, and with time burns a hole in your soul.
I think it all started when I’d get emotionally tongue-tied, overreacting to a simple misunderstanding with a girlfriend. Having no reconciliatory behaviors at my disposal to defuse the give-and-take between lovers, what followed was a convoluted comic opera of a sick mind. I can not conceptualize the creative mechanism that brought about my exaggerated, innovative modus operandi for alleviating a simple tiff, becoming a gnawing, debilitating emotional upheaval—an inherited weakness in my very being—my mother was an hysteric. I knew nothing about the ameliorating magic of masturbation, that low budget universal and immediate neutralizer of emotional pitfalls during my early deformative years. Good God patient reader, with this apologizing gobbledygook of a preamble I’m still averse to reveal the layers that makes me sound creepy, even contemptible, but I’ll try, I must must must unburden.
It’s scary but true that recently, again, I resorted to my perversity—the antiquated paradigm for resolving emotional trauma. Inability to manage stress is something I’ve never learned to deal with intellectually other than the humiliation of self-abuse, recrimination, sleepless sleeps, suicidal thoughts. You may wonder that after so many years of maniacal mood swings between lovers I’d have discovered wholesome ways to resolve the innocent misunderstanding—a few words delivered thoughtlessly—matriculating to a cloyingly nagging rehashing, becoming life and death soliloquies lasting days and nights of recriminations, drama and self-loathing about what I said, should have said, and why did I say what I said?
Where and how I learned to suffer so long and so well the anxiety and torment in response to contretemps between lovers as I never forgave or forgot is something I’m doomed to wallow in as I drown in the miasma of emotional puke and bile. It was theater-of-the-absurd I needed to enshrine my pyrotechnics, my song and dance of misery that attacked my battered psyche, knowing no rational way out of an innocent difference between lovers—and whomever said “love is supposed to feel good” must have shouted it to impassive gawkers as he leapt from the tower of the Empire State Building after a simple, seemingly resolvable yet unresolvable lover’s quarrel. Please bear with me patient reader, my confession is percolating with all its sordid florescence: outrageous absurdity and stupidity.
When starched, stressed, anxious, depressed or hysterically rattling around, I’d console myself with endlessly fondling and rifling monies through my fingers, simulating a washing of hands in heapings of coins and bills like a cleansing, a purification ritual, moaning with contentment, sometimes stacking bills and coins in neat piles as my father did, culminating in calming, tempered and titillated in peace and serenity, my soul tranquilized, becoming a oneness with the piles of money. Glory, hallelujah, Nirvana, Mama mia, Deliverance, Absolution, Pacification.
It was just a matter of time before I needed a stronger fix, a larger canvas for my psycho-emotional dramas. So I’d fill my water bed with hundreds of dollars of mixed monies, slither under a blanket, rolling and clutching, licking and luxuriating, turning and squirming, moaning and groaning as money filtered through fingers and toes, cascading off face, stomach, chest, genitals. Oohing and ahhing, aching and arching, I’d writhe in the extravagance of indulgence and pruriently pleasurable suffering. I experimented with an electric blanket and water bed heater, also adding more and more money, sometimes thousands of dollar as I made violent mind-altering love in my therapeutic bed: squirming, burning, churning in the warm money, getting it on and sometimes getting-off as I submerged myself in frenzied love-making, knowing that my money’s tranquilizing power would mercifully quell the emotional upheaval of yet another of my crazy, irrational, suicidal nose dives.
In the dark, always and only in the dark, naked and perfumed after a hot, fragrant bubble bath, my money friends—nay, my lovers—consoles anguish and fragility, relieving pent-up agitation, hostility, hatred, confusion—the accretion of piss and gunk, the residue of a love affair gone awry in the kill or get killed world, my world, the gratuitous, delusional world created by my sick minded self. Relief inevitable, but I wanted no relief, just more and more of the same taunting, titillating rolling and thrashing in my monied bed. The sensation of suffering, suffocatingly satisfying as my inanimate lovers ooze and fill every crevice of my needy-greedy flesh and fantasy. No rest, satisfaction prolonged, held in abeyance with sheer will when whammo, a volcanic eruption, explosion, implosion: razzmatazzmia, cataclysmia, ORGASMIA. Monies heaved and rose from the center of my universe, slipping and sliding down my risen and now fallen musketeer, playing peekaboo with careening coins and free-floating bills. After the tremor and thwack of my shooting star’s detonation there’s recoil and release. Satiety (satiation) overcomes maniacism. Sanity and salvation at last, at least for this moment, until the insanity, the lunacy initiated by another miscarriaged love drama cycles again with its inevitable destructiveness. But alas, I’m grateful, thankful for the graphic, climactic, sensual and exhaustive choreography in my lifesaving money bed of compassion, romance and understanding.
Recapitulation: rebirth, and once again dissolve to dull normal. Relaxed, recovered, recuperated, it’s easy come, easy go until the inevitable next money-go-round merry-go-round of another agonizing tortured and tormented life and death drama in my life support water bed of survival, understanding, resuscitation, rejuvenation, rebirth and love. Getting the money back to the bank after each psychotic crashing and burning was a downer. Repackaging the coins into their paper containers, tedious and anticlimactic. Dilemma resolved: buying a second permanently heated water bed drenched to overflowing in money where I’d submerge myself for safety and sanity before the inevitable next loony mental state erupts as I crawl under a down filled blanket on satin sheets, contorting into an exaggerated fetal position, swathed and drowning in liberally layered monies of all kinds. This new bed is now my bank with day and night tellers: my therapist, my call-girl, my salvation, my sanity, my security and revelatory because my secret is no longer secret.