Saturday, December 20, 2014

Lust at First Sight

Fetishes are like taste. There’s no accounting for them. In high school, before I met the little beauty who would become my first girlfriend, I lusted after Joy K—, who sat next to me in Civics, didn’t know I was alive, and crossed her legs in a way that amounted to cruel and unusual punishment for a boy as horny and shy as I. But she wasn’t the only one after whom I lusted. There were also the scary-looking Mexican girls, with their big hair (in which they were said to conceal razor blades), lurid skirts, and black nylons. They looked like trouble to me, and you’re reading it here first: just as some young women find bad boys irresistible, some boys find bad girls the stuff of lurid fantasies.

In my wanton bachelor days, my two best pals were bass players. We would, of course, talk about our preferences in gals. The two bass players liked wholesome, corn-fed natural beauties who looked as though they might be on their way to cheerleader practice. My own taste, though, was epitomized by a pair of twins who one night in the mid-70s strutted leering into the infamous Rainbow Bar and Grill. Years before Elvira, they evoked with their bouffant blank hair, immoderate eyeliner, and fishnet stockings the Ronettes, Morticia Addams, and the more lurid streetwalkers one glimpsed farther east on Sunset. One of the bass players dubbed them The Kiss of Death Twins. For me, it was lust at first sight.

I felt the same sort of attraction to Willy DeVille’s girlfriend Toots, apparently a nice Jewish girl gone (very!) wrong who’s thought to have been a prime inspiration for that more recent Jewish girl gone wrong, Amy Winehouse. ‘Twas Toots, I gather, who worked up her husband’s excellent stage persona. Later, of course, the lapsed Las Vegas showgirl Cassandra Peterson came along and made the look her own. Va-va-voom, thought I, though I could have done without the endless self-mockery. 

Said the bass players, “We want a girl we can debauch.” Said I, “I’ll take mine pre-debauched, thank you.” Others may find sexuality-flaunting distasteful. I’ve always found it exciting. Give me a gal whose self-presentation says, “The cheerleaders come near me, I’ll waste the bitches.”

When I lived almost 40 years ago on Sunset Blvd., in what would eventually cease to be a huge dormitory for substance abusers, whores, and wannabe rock stars (can you guess which two groups I belonged to?) and become the swanky Hotel Mondrian, I used to encounter in the elevator an older (possibly 50 — unimaginably ancient!) woman who nearly made me forget the Kiss of Death Twins. 

She looked, with her bouffant hair, daggertoed stilettos, and old-fashioned eyebrows, as though she’d just stepped out of 1959. Bouffant hair has always so done it for me, and the stilettos were sublime too. She had a boyfriend — an alarmingly sunburned German alcoholic who on hot days scandalized his fellow restaurants by lounging by the pool in Speedos. But it was much more the fear of What Others Might Think if I showed up to some hotsy-totsy music biz wingding that kept me from revealing to her what was in my heart, and in my trousers. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Fetish Deluxe

Most American men, judging from the fairly miniscule sample with whom I have enjoyed frank exchanges of views, would punch you in the nose if you described them as fetishists — even while commonly being fixated on breasts. Well, I am who I am, and I am indeed a fetishist. I have always had a slightly-beyond-healthy interest in shoes, and used to buy my groceries at what has since been officially branded the Rock and Roll Ralphs in West Hollywood not only because it was the supermarket nearest me, but because so many of my fellow shoppers wore shoes better suited to standing on Sunset Blvd. looking rentable than grocery shopping. (And you should have seen the women!) It has always been a core belief of mine that a gal who’ll endure the discomfort of high heels to maximize her allure will probably be willing to do things to please her guy that lesser gals might not. Empirically, no such thing has proven to be true to this point, but not all the studies are complete.

I have long been unable to resist a woman in very long gloves, which I think of as stockings for the arms. To this day the sight of Charlotte Rampling on the Night Porter poster makes my heart go all a-flutter. And don’t even mention Hedy Lamarr. When the long gloves are skintight, like Hedy’s, the fluttering is such that I quite nearly faint.

The fresh, wholesome, natural look has never done a thing for me. Give me a defiantly brazen slut every time. I don’t I think the former Priscilla Beaulieu, on the day she wed Elvis, has ever been surpassed cosmetologically. I find extremely sexy Goth done well. (You will live forever in my heart, Kiss of Death Twins.) Without her makeup and hair, Siouxsie of & The Banshees fame would have made no impression at all. With it, she was the most desirable woman in Britain. 

Elaborate makeup works for me in the same way high heels do — as an indicator of willingness to go the extra mile. Few things so eloquently say, “I trust you,” as a woman you’re accustomed to seeing in heavy slap, as the Brits call it, showing herself to you unadorned.

While it’s pretty obvious where a breast fetish begins, I have no clue where any of my own fetishes came from. Freud speculated that male sexual fetishism derives from the unconscious fear of castration inspired by the mother's genitals. While I’ve been terrified of a great many things in my life, I can honestly tell you that never crossed my (admittedly, conscious) mind. I do very vaguely remember playing under a table around which a group of women in stockings and high-ish heels were seated when I was maybe three or four, but don’t recall having been especially thrilled. How that, or any other, childhood experience matured into a 40-year love affair with the Night Porter poster I am unable, or at least unwilling, to say.

The Dog I Didn't Lose

The missus is a lifelong animal lover, but when we had to vacate our swanky, expensive riverside flat in Teddington and move to dreary, dismal Finchley, way on the opposite side of London, our landlord said no pets. The missus pined for a canine presence, and hit on the idea of providing temporary dogsitting.

Our third guest (the first two made no particular impression in me during their brief stays) was a golden cocker spaniel called Safi. The afternoon she arrived, she staked out what she apparently imagined was a safe place on the stairs between our two floors, and was too frightened to make eye contact with me, though I addressed her in a friendly tone. When she did finally decide that I wouldn’t harm her, it was a revelation. She put her paws up on my knees and looked at me beseechingly. I’d never bonded with an animal like that.

On Sundays, we commonly went for a traipse on Hampstead Heath. We took Safi, and she seemed pretty pleased to be with us. I understood better than ever what people liked about dogs.

There was a school with a big playing field about half a mile away, on the other side of the A598 a block or two up from the West Finchely Tube station. The missus and I had gone there a few times to kick a football (that is, soccer) ball around. A few days after we visited Hampstead Heath, I took Safi over there for a nice runaround. 

And within around three minutes, lost her.

For five minutes, I dashed around the periphery of the field shouting her name, achieving nothing but the umbrage of neighbours. I thought of breaking the news to her family that we’d lost her — that I’d lost her — and was beside myself. I didn’t want my wife to know, of course, but had no more ideas.
Looking like the last person anyone would ever want to encounter on getting off a train, I dashed down to the Tube station to try to borrow a mobile phone. I think I may have had one at the time, but hadn’t taken it with me. Predictably, nearly everyone recoiled in horror when I beseeched them to let me use theirs. One guy, who fancied himself Mr. Streetsmart, said, “Not bloody likely, dude.” In ordinary circumstances, I’d have given him an earful about how stupid — how self-conscious and effortful — “dude” sounded coming out of his British mouth. These weren’t ordinary circumstances.

Someone finally allowed me the use of her phone. I called home, expecting that my wife would be beside herself too. She wasn’t. Safi had walked herself back to our house on Chiselhurst Avenue, through an unfamiliar neighbourhood, across the always-busy A598, and scratched at the front door until my wife heard her and let her in. I burst into tears of relief.

She left us that weekend. A friend of her family came to collect her, and to care for her for the few remaining days of her family’s holiday. As he carried her away, my wife corroborated my own impression. “She doesn’t want to leave us.”

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Meet My New Boyfriend, Who's Awesome

Meet my new boyfriend. Meet his prolifically tattooed forearms, noting that it isn’t just their soft white underbellies that bear tats, but the hairy uppers too. Is that cool, or what? And the tats themselves? Ugly crude anchors, and God knows what else. Who can tell? Not exactly prison shit, but not nearly the sort of thing you’d get in the new tattoo parlor in the mall either. They bespeak his individualism, and so does his pierced right eyebrow, and his backward baseball cap, with a little crescent of forehead showing through the space above the adjustable band. 

No lumbersexual, he has a soul patch, but not an actual beard. When we first started dating, I tried to persuade him to get one of those stingy-brim fedoras, but he said, “Everybody and his dog’s wearing one of those, dude.” How not to love a guy who refuses to be part of the pack, and who addresses women as dude?

Most of the guys I’ve dated have drunk Pabst Blue Ribbon in the same spirit that they wear the stingy-brim fedoras, but not my new boyfriend. He says, “Irony sucks,” and drinks beer brewed in microbreweries. How awesome is that?  And he’s not the clingy type, not at all. When we met at happy hour tonight, for instance, he said, “How you doing?” and then, before I could answer, got busy reading text messages on his phone. 

That a lot of people have a lot to say to my new boyfriend should surprise no one. Other dudes I’ve gone out with would have been all, “You’re looking amazing,” but my boyfriend’s got enough self-confidence not to bother with all that. It took a little getting used to because I’m not exactly Ms. Self-Confident, and demand regular affirmations from others, but I’m getting there, slowly.

As I compose this, an LAPD helicopter seems to be circling above the eastern third of the heavily Jewish Fairfax district, which reminds me that around 10 days ago, while I was having a traipse in my male clothing on Fairfax Avenue, one of those traditional (Hasidic?) Jews, in black and white clothing and the sort of fedora men wore in the 1930s or whatever, the generous-brimmed kind, asked me for directions. I was happy to provide them, but then he demanded to know if I were myself Jewish. 

I am the descendant of Semites who somehow wound up in Russia and Germany, and an ethnic Jew. He looked skeptical. Was my mother Jewish? Through and through, I affirmed, whereupon he wondered where were my tefellin, small black leather boxes containing scrolls of parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah, worn by observant Jews as a ""remembrance" that God got the Israelites out of Egypt. I told him I lacked tefellin, but had once owned some Teflon cookwear. He wasn’t amused. I mean, he didn’t smite me or anything, but he made no secret of his disgust either.

His displeasure increased when I told him that the God I’d be inclined to believe in doesn’t care what I wear, and, being omniscient, wouldn’t have created Egyptians in the first place, knowing that they’d enslave his beloved Jews. I admitted that I find deeply offensive the notion that God likes one nationality or ethnicity more than others, and pointed out that God seems to inflict unspeakable random cruelty on all races, cultures, and creeds. Whereupon my new friend said, “Harrumph!” and stormed away. May your flock increase, pal, or whatever.

I’m not sure why I’m telling you all this. Maybe it’s because you’re such a good listener.

Monday, December 15, 2014

It's Wonderful Being I, He Said Grammatically

I’ve always had a way with women. Even as a teenager, I somehow always knew exactly the right thing to say to the opposite sex to put them at their ease and make them want to enjoy intimate relations with me. Oh, I may not have been the most fashionable boy in sight, or captain of the football or even debate team, but rarely did I lack a pretty little filly on my arm, which was very awkward during PE, but worth it! I never learned self-pleasuring, as I had no need.

My male classmates, especially when we got into the hormones-kicking-in years, would commonly ask, “John, how do you do it?” I would answer, “I don’t do, amigo. I am.” This might have got me punched in the phizzog if not for my potential assailants’ understanding that if they ever so much as touched me, none of our female classmates would ever speak to them again, except possibly to demand, “How could you?”

Most guys who are as adept with the ladies as I suffer a lot of resentment from others with testicles, but I’ve always been highly successful in my dealings with my fellow fellows too. Whereas gals, by and large, want me, their brothers or even husbands want to be me. The atmosphere changes palpably when I enter a room. If you put me and 11 other dudes who didn’t know each other in a windowless vestibule, I can pretty much guarantee that I’d have been chosen the whole dozen’s spokesman and leader within around 20 minutes. Other men just seem to sense my strength, sort of in the same way that dogs naturally defer to the strongest and best-looking among them.

Which isn’t, mind you, to assert that I’m the best-looking guy you’re ever likely to meet. I have an oddly shaped nose, for one thing, and the decades have filled my above-referenced phizzog, by no means as taut as it once was, with unsightly creases, crevices, and chasms. And yet when I was in Hua Hing, Thailand, not 10 years ago, many local women would call, for instance, “Hello, handsome,” when I went for a little stroll in the ‘hood. In the end, I guess my incomparable essential, well, maleness always saves the day.

Kids too just naturally seem to love me. Some, years after the fact, have told told me that I always have an ingratiating twinkle in my eye, albeit not one suggestive of wanting to touch them inappropriately. The fact is that all living things seem pretty enthusiastic about me. Since I was old enough to remember, most breeds of dog, as well as cats, horses, reptiles, and even fish, have all seemed to enjoy my company. I think they know they’re safe with me, and that I’m not going to anthropomorphize them as do so many of my fellow animal-lovers. I work hard to maintain my boyish figure and, as you’ve read here in the past, am much in demand as an after-dinner speaker, if only in my own fever dreams.

Of course, I am also popular with inanimate objects. If I had to speculate, I’d credit my natural grace and thus disinclination to bump into them or send them crashing to the floor.

I know all this is likely to strike some as self-aggrandizing. I shall have to find a way to live with that. The good news is that I am nothing if not adaptable, and I am not adaptable, and yes, I did steal that from Bill Bryson. The mediocre borrow. The great steal. I must be…on something.