Saturday, December 12, 2009

I've Been Where Tiger Is

I can understand that Tiger Woods probably isn’t hugely enjoying being exposed as what the British tabloids call a love rat. But he should look at the bright side. All his Other Women seem to agree that he’s a fantastic swordsman, as wags of my dad’s generation might have put it, and has a great big one.

I’ve been where Tiger is, though on a much smaller scale, and without my own personal Rachel Uchitel even being offered the opportunity to affirm my immensity or great skill. I attended a concert at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium one evening in the spring of 1977 with my second live-together adult girlfriend, M—, and shortly thereafter received a phone call from P— saying she’d found me terribly attractive from a couple of rows away and hoped we might meet.

I suffered badly at the time from what I’ve read may have ailed (or still ail) Bill Clinton. My sense of my own attractiveness was so abysmal that I found it nearly impossible to turn down a reasonably presentable woman who said she fancied me. We agreed, P— and I, to meet for lunch. I liked her lipliner and her pushup bra. I loved her liking me. I said we’d have to get together soon.

The following Saturday, I phoned her after my weekly impromptu basketball game at Fairfax High School. I, who until the age of 17, would have been as capable of asking a pretty girl out as of swimming from Malibu to Maui, asked if she might be interested in licking the sweat off me. I honestly don’t know what had come over me; I think the decent, responsible part of me was going for self-sabotage. But she gasped, “Yes!” And when she greeted me at her front door, it was in a corset — out of whose top she seemed about to burst — garters, black stockings, and high heels. I seemed to have left the decent, responsible part of myself back at Fairfax.
After we’d cemented our close new friendship, if you will, she pointed out that there was a mirror with two nice lines of coke on the bedside table to my immediate right, and would I excuse her to finish making my gourmet lunch?

I started skipping basketball on Saturday mornings, and heading right over to her. It was the highlight of my week, at least until I was overcome by guilt, and said we’d have to stop. She was beside herself. She phoned me every 45 seconds. When she threatened suicide, I told M— I was going to go see a friend. I gave him P—‘s number and asked that he phone me immediately if M— called looking for me. Naturally, he forgot to, and when I got home from telling P—, in the sexiest outfit I’d seen her in to date, with the most delicious smells wafting out of the kitchen, that we really did have to pull the plug, M— jumped me, pummeling me hysterically. I let her wear herself out, and begged her forgiveness. I told her, truthfully, that I’d decided it was her I loved more.
We staggered on, M— and I. She kept bringing the affair up, and I kept imploring her to try to forget it, for her own sake no less than my own. She asked one evening as we watched TV if my mother, to whom I was very close at the time, had known about the affair. M— (correctly) took my hesitation as affirmation, and was so crazed with humiliation that she tried to put her cigarette out in my face. It didn’t hurt much more than had seeing the hurt in her eyes every time she looked at me.

Eighteen months passed. It became ever clearer that, for reasons that hadn’t anything to do with P—, M— and I didn’t have much of a future. I had in the meantime taken myself in hand and learned to suppress my heretofore-immobilizing shyness. Beginner’s luck: the first woman I ever approached stone cold — a pretty would-be blonde model we’ll call D—, in a Century City boutique called Heaven — eagerly agreed to go out with me. I continued to lack the courage just to break it off with M—, and instead suggested that each of us have a couple of nights a week when he wasn’t accountable. She said OK, but when I got home from my first date with D—, she attacked me even more ferociously than the first time.

A few more months passed, tensely. I finally worked up the nerve to tell M— we were done. Doing so made me feel so guilty that I told D— we too were over. I moved into one of the many bedrooms in an art hovel on the western edge of Koreatown, and suffered great loneliness for several months. It seemed only fitting.

When it felt as though I’d suffered enough, I phoned D— and said no obstacles remained to our becoming the couple she’d so wanted for us to be. Now, though, she seemed no longer to want it. I got the impression my already having a girlfriend had made me more attractive to her. I had several more months of loneliness ahead before “meeting” (I’d known her eight years before, when she was dating another member of Christopher Milk) my future first wife. What had gone around had come around.

[From the blog For All in Tents and Porpoises. Enjoy the archive and subscribe at]

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