Saturday, August 1, 2015

Her Career in Corrections

My first wife and I married, divorced, and remarried three times. One might have concluded either that we liked receiving toasters and juice-makers (we had a big, if progressively smaller, wedding each time), or that we really enjoyed make-up sex, which a number of studies have confirmed is significantly more exciting than the ordinary kind after the second trimester of marriage, unless the two partners are willing to bring each other’s fantasies to life through costuming or props or what-have-you.

It gets expensive, divorcing and then remarrying. There are lawyers to be paid, and then wedding chapels to be rented, and airfare to and from Las Vegas to be purchased, and suits to be let out, and (because First Wife categorically refused to be seen at successive weddings in the same dress) new wedding dresses to be bought. Between our first and third weddings, the main flower girl, the daughter of the warden at the detention facility at which FW had earlier been employed as a correctional officer, went from being a rosy-cheeked little cherub to a toothless crank casualty. That’s how long this went on!

Early in our relationship, we agreed that each had to tell the other something no one else in the world knew.  I confessed that I had, since seeing the semi-animated feature film in which she’d starred, secretly enjoyed dressing up like Jessica Rabbit and saying, “I’m not bad, but just drawn that way.” (To each his own!) She, in turn, confessed that she’d long secretly yearned for a career in corrections.

I did everything I could to help her achieve her dream. While she attended the correctional officers academy in Petaluma (which, incidentally, would produce many of the TSA’s most overbearing and celebrated airport thugs), I put my own dreams of an entertainment career on hold  and processed words — nouns, adjectives, prepositions, the lot! — at a big fascist law firm to keep a roof over our heads, a floor beneath our feet, and walls both in front of and behind us, and to both sides. On graduating, though, she was able to get a job only in the local drunk tank, which she found demeaning. It was all I could do to endure eight hours of the condescension of lawyers who intellectually weren’t fit to wait for the bus for me, and then get home to find her weeping into a bottle of Freixenet.

Thank God she was eventually offered a job at the women’s correctional facility near our home. Which isn’t to say that the new job didn’t have its decided downside. Our first divorce wasn’t to do with our having  become unable to bear the sight of each other, or with our sex having become rote and obligatory-feeling, but with her coming to imagine herself a lesbian. Guards at her facility were given a choice between trousers, on the one hand, and skirts and sensible pumps on the other. She went with the trousers and admitted she’d been intimate with one of the inmates. When I didn’t get hurt or furious or what-have-you, one of the inmates turned out to have been every inmate on C-block, except the two who refused both to bathe and to use hygiene products.

When she was hired out of the correctional system to be the chief operating officer of a major Silicon Valley hi-tech firm, she of course had to jettison the trousers. I was reminded of Sir Laurence Olivier’s having famously said that he couldn’t really become a character until Wardrobe had given him the requisite attire. Once back in skirts, Dior pantyhose, and pumps, FW forgot all about lesbianism, and we enjoyed the best sex of our long, if oft-interrupted, relationship. I was happy to pretend to be an intern whom she would summon to her “office” and then ravage, to whatever extent a woman not wearing a strap-on might be said to ravage a man. I think you probably get my drift, though I’m not, as is so often case, entirely sure that I do.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Confessions of a Rent Boy

My first two years of college, I got ordinary jobs during the summer. I washed dishes and worked in a tire factory. I was a parking lot attendant. I broke apart huge sheets of buttons bearing inscriptions like Make Love, Not War in anticipation of their big offered for sale in head shops. My drug-dealing was not nearly so prolific as that of others of my acquaintance, having consisted solely of my selling for $20 a large bag of magic mushrooms a wild-eyed young man had given me for no reason on Topanga Beach one afternoon. As my junior year came to a close, I began applying for jobs advertised at that on-campus placement center, only to discover that most prospective employers wanted hair much shorter than mine had become. The closest I got to being hired was by a company called Starving Young Artists, for whom I would have pretended to have created the ghastly works of purported art they were in the business of selling at swap meets. The guy doing the hiring didn’t find me sufficiently outgoing (the sidewalk was probably more outgoing), but I’d been pretty iffy about hoodwinking feckless art-lovers anyway.

 Needing money, having time on my hands, and being young, unlined, and maybe a little bit gorgeous, I decided that I would spend the summer being a male prostitute. I bought myself a black fishnet T-shirt at a boutique of ill repute on Hollywood Blvd. and set about trying to determine the best place to loiter seductively. It turned out that I didn’t need to go very far, only into the center of the commercial district adjacent to the campus on which I would spend one last year.

I tried standing around in front of the Argosy Bookstore in my new T-shirt. Some of the mangy student activist types who patronized it looked at me askance, as they presumably thought I was betraying The Revolution, but I paid them no never-mind. I’d been there only about 20 minutes before an academic (you could tell from the faux leather patches on the elbows of his corduroy sports jacket) in a Volvo with a Free Angela Davis bumpersticker leaned toward his opened passenger window to ask if he could give me a lift somewhere. “By that,” I asked saucily, “do you mean you wish to interact with me erotically?” He gulped self-incriminatingly. I said, “Twenty-five bucks,” and got into the car when he didn’t say no. I told him he had beautiful eyes, though they were brown and pretty ordinary (and, judging from his wire-rim “John Lennon” glasses, weak), and Klute, starring Jane Fonda as a call girl who tells her johns they have beautiful eyes, wasn’t yet even in pre-production.

He drove us over to a quiet stretch of Veteran Avenue, on the edge of the big Veterans Administration cemetery that I’d always enjoyed being driven by as a child on days when the thousands of indentical white headstones were decorated with miniature American flags. He fellated me. I didn’t enjoy it as much as when my girlfriends had done it, even though I think a couple of my girlfriends had been novices, and correspondingly underskilled. One doesn’t want to feel teeth.

Was I embarrassed? Of course I was. Homophobia was virtually unchallenged in those days, and I was a product of my culture. In the Sex in Prison {sociology) class I’d taken two semesters back, the professor had mentioned that so-called pitcher (as opposed to catcher, you see) convicts didn’t perceive themselves as “queer” by virtue of having played traditionally male roles. I took some solace in remembering that, and even more in the $25, which in 2015 would be worth $2763.29.

I actually made more money that summer, adjusting for inflation, than I would again until my late 40s, when I would make a fortune selling arms to various foreign enemies of Our American Way of Life. One of my regular “tricks” (I and the two lapsed sorority sisters whose turf was in front of the Laemmle Theatre quickly learned the colorful patrois of our summer jobs.) had actually been a teaching assistant in Introduction to Astronomy, which, not realizing it was physics in disguise, I’d taken as a freshman to get my science requirement out of the way. He didn’t recognize me, and speculated that he probably would have had I worn to class my black fishnet muscle shirt, not that I'd had any muscles to speak of at the time [the above photo is of my roommate, Vince]. English rock musicians had made emaciation very stylish, and gyms were still the nearly exclusive province of homosexuals hoping to be invited to pose for “muscle culture” magazines.

I had my reputation to think of.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Going Off Caitlyn Jenner

Usually the first thing I do in the morning (after getting out of bed, of course!) is to have a light breakfast — three eggs, any style, bacon, sausages, hash browns, muffins, choice of melon, juice, coffee — and then look on line for the latest news about Caitlyn Jenner, the transgendered Republican who has proved that even in his and her mid-60s, one can look really hot if he and she has many thousands of dollars to spend on a variety of elective surgical procedures and professional makeup artists and hair stylists. I actually find Caitlyn quite sexy — until she opens her mouth and that ghastly abrasive bray rushes out as though pursued by furious creditors.  I wonder if I am as fascinated by her as I understand many others to be, such as those who buy magazines at the checkout stands of supermarkets.

I actually knew Caitlyn’s male predecessor, Bruce, having been assigned by a magazine whose name I won’t mention to compose a “profile” of him for the September issue, which was actually “put to bed” (a publishing term) in mid-July of the year before he won the World Cup, or whatever it was he won. He was every inch the jock, glaring at me contemptuously as I posed my questions, and making no great effort to conceal his disdain as he answered in a ghastly abrasive bray.

In my view, Jenner should have hired the voice coach from the 1958 Dustin Hoffman vehicle Tootsie, if he or she is still with us, to help her achieve a lovely timbre — maybe a husky Jessica Rabbit purr, or, more entertainingly, the late Marilyn Monroe’s fellatio-promising breathlessness.

Where did this come from? My understanding is that she’s from Mt. Kisko, NY, the native speech patterns of which I am able to assure you are very different from Jenner’s. The typical Kiskoite’s speech is softly Italianate, evoking pizzerias with red and white check plastic tablecloths and proprietors named Luigi, soft summer evenings in the shadow of Il Duomo in Milan, that sort of thing. Lately, my greatest regret has been that so few have been able to savor my zesty wit by reason of ignorance thereof. The Internet turns out to be very much less than it’s cracked up to be when helping someone try to establish him or herself as a brand. I felt sure that by now some very rich, very obnoxious producer would have contacted me and said, “Here’s a couple of million bucks, Johnny. Do something creative with it, something that will make me laugh.” Could you have turned down an offer like that? I sure couldn’t!

But back to the Jenners, old and new, and in this case mostly new. I am simply unable to muster any sympathy for one who’s comfortable being thought of as a Republican. To me, one might as well confess to having unusually ugly genitalia, or pungent urine without having eaten asparagus. Speaking of which, do you know that at one time I was in negotiations to write songs for and produce Britney Spears’ very talented younger brother Asparagus? I’ve been working on that one for years, and now it’s here!  

I think I might enjoy Caitlyn's changing the spelling of her surname, since she's already changed everything else in sight, to Jender. Don't pretend you don't agree that would be almost unbearably cute.

I thought that a big deep-pocketed magazine, maybe one of those nearly overwhelming with perfume samples, would probably hire me to write about Caitlyn on the strength of my having written so movingly about Bruce all those decades before. But of course my entire career except for the first three or four years has been characterized by my expecting very much more than has actually materialized. The celebrated pedophile Woody Allen, also of Mt. Kisko, has glibly noted that a large part of success in the arts is to do with simply showing up, and I have always not only shown up, but on time, but to no avail, which, when you think about it, sounds sort of geographical, does it not? In London, there is a neck of the woods called Maida Vale, and who’s to say that neighbo(u)ring Aldershot couldn’t rebrand itself as Noah Vale?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Being a Groupie - Part 3

The Insisters could have been a lot cuter, but they had more tattoos than any of the local dudes, which made them semi-sexy, I suppose, and I liked how skinny they were. There isn’t that much to do around here except eat junk food, and most of the local dudes are like obese. I didn’t like the music very much, but I liked that it was so loud that Alykzandra couldn’t hear a word the pair of Privilege dudes who tried to hit on her after the fourth song were saying, and I could tell she thought they were hot. At my school it’s like a status thing to date a Privilege dude because he has to drive 12 miles each way to see you.

The group didn’t play very long because the guy with the big guitar with four strings passed out and had to be like carried off stage. They announced that he had the flu, but Alykzandra, who likes to pretend she knows everything about everything, snickered and said he’d probably OD’d. I wasn’t sure what that meant, and I don’t think Britt did either, but we both pretended to, and then the lame warm-up band came back out and started playing all the songs they’d sung before, and they weren’t any better the second time. In fact, they might have been even suckier, so when this dude with a really cool tattoo on his neck — a dotted line and the words Cut Here — asked us if we’d like to meet The Insisters we said why not. We didn’t want to appear like over-eager.

It was kind of fun going backstage. I’d been to the Crest around a million times, but never been back there. The Insisters dressing room I guess you’d call it had a big table with lots of sandwiches from Jimmy Johns and big bottles of Coke and Sprite and whatever. I was hungry, but it looked like somebody had put a cigarette out in one of the sandwiches, and there was a syringe on top of another one, and one of the Insisters came over looking like he might have the same flu as the passed-out one, and put his arms across Britt and Alykzandra’s shoulders. Totally like entitled, even though he looked a lot older close up than on stage! It was like I wasn’t even there. His speech was all like slurred. He asked if they wanted to party, and I was hoping Britt would say no way so she could drive me home and I wouldn’t have to see that Uber guy again, but she let Alykzandra speak for her, and Alykzandra said, “Why not?” like it was a really clever or whatever.

I didn’t know what to do. The dude hadn’t actually invited me, just Britt and Alykzandra. I thought he probably wouldn’t mind, especially if he got a good look at Alykzandra’s skin, but what if he did? It would be more like humiliating than I could bear. So I was relieved when the Cut here tattoo dude asked if I wanted to do some smudge. He was actually better looking than the actual Insister guy. I didn’t know what smudge was, but it didn’t really matter at that point. Eat your heart out, Alykzandra!

He said his name was Venom, but that I could call him Ven. He wanted to go back to my place. I told him I didn’t have a place yet, and that I lived with my dad. He took a long hard look at me and asked how old I was. I told him, and it seemed to like excite him Maybe somebody will be able to explain to me why old dudes like really young ones when the young ones probably don’t even know how to like do it yet. But whatever. I wondered when we were going to do the smudge, or if that had been like a “come-on.”

We went back to the Ramada Inn — gee, how did I know they’d be staying at the only classy motel in town? — and went up to his room. I’d expected it to look like my little brother who stayed with my mom’s — like a hurricane or whatever had hit it — but it was like totally anal, everything in its place and a place for everything. Maybe they hadn’t been in town long enough to like trash it. The weird thing is that there was little model train set up on the little table where you’re supposed to eat or whatever, and Ven wanted to show it to me. It didn’t look that impressive — nothing like the one that big department store whose name I forget had in its front window last Christmas in Yankton. Ven was so proud of it his eyes were like glistening, and that freaked me.

“You don’t like model trains?” he said, like it was the weirdest situation he’d ever been in. “Wow, I’ve been like totally into them since I was like maybe seven.”

I said maybe I’d better get home since it was a school night and everything, and my dad would be stressing. He didn’t like protest because he wanted to have weird sex with me or whatever, but because I wasn’t interested in his stupid train set. The third or fourth hottest girl at Bolsinger High is supposed to get wet over a model train set? Hello? But who’d want to have weird sex with somebody so stupid as to believe that Friday’s a school night?

I’m telling you all this, but not Britt and certainly not Alykzandra. They both claimed to do stuff with the Insister dude that I don’t even want to repeat here, so I didn’t really have a choice but to say that me and Ven got majorly kinkier than either of them, for hours. Alykzandra looked at Britt and said, “I like so don’t think so, since I looked out the window and saw you getting in Tim Pritchett’s taxicab at like 11.” I said maybe she’d been like hallucinating, and Britt, bless her heart, said, “God knows I was!”

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Being a Groupie - Part 2

I looked so hot in Mom’s lace top that I thought the walls might melt. When it was time to head out, I put over it this totally lame sweater my aunt Margo gave me last Christmas, and my dad got totally excited because it was the first time I’d worn it, and he wanted to take a bunch of pictures of me in it to send to Margo and kept telling me to smile, which I finally did so he’d let me like leave. He knows better than to ask where I’m going anymore, or when I’m going to be home. I never tell him the truth and he always winds up getting like humiliated, so he doesn’t even try.

It was a really big deal when somebody in our town signed  up to be an Uber driver, because before that we had to rely on Tim Pritchett and his stinky 10th-hand Yellow Cab that he bought in Cedar Rapids or something, but half the time he’s too drunk to drive. Our Uber driver turned out to be Justin Whatsit from English as a Second Language’s dad or uncle or whatever, in a piece-of-crap-mobile with one of those air-freshener things that actually make the car smell worse than it would without it. I wanted to text Britt on the way over, but Dad-or-Uncle kept distracting me, asking a bunch of lame questions about how do I like school and if I’m planning to like go to college, all the usual stuff adults who think you’re going to be really flattered that they’re asking ask. I wanted to send him the text message STFU, but I was raised better than that.

It looked like they’d just bussed very kid from my school over for the concert, and every kid from Privilege too, and from the Catholic schools. Some of the guys from my school and some of the Privilege ones were trying to stare each other down in front. I suppose it would like kill them to act older than nine every once in a while. I took the sweater off Tim pulled up in front, and got all parental on me. “I really don’t think I should let you out of the car like that,” he said. I told him his two choices were letting me out and my reporting him for attempting kidnapping or whatever the like legal name for it is, and he let me out.

It was hilarious how everybody stopped talking at the sight of me, even Britt, whose top two Privilege dudes were trying to look down. It was like she was suddenly proud to be my friend or something. She’d never greeted me so like warmly. I felt like saying something to the two Privilege dudes like, “If your eyes bulge out much farther, they might like fall out,” or something, but I didn’t have a chance because here came Alykzandra in her sparkly bustier, and suddenly the dudes only had eyes for her, and I wanted to strangle her with my bare hands, but some guy who looked in his short-sleeved dress shirt and clip-on tie like the assistant produce manager at Walmart came out and announced that the show was going to start.

There was this really lame warm-up band. Somebody said they were from Privilege, with one guy from my town. Me and Britt and Alykzandra spent all but one song in the ladies’ room smoking and like sneering at less hot girls who came in, and any girl who came in could pretty much count on being less hot.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Being a Groupie

It wasn’t me who like originally had the idea of being a groupie. It was Brittanae’s. Her dad or uncle or whatever had been like a rock star in the 1980s or something, and he’d told her that he always had like a million girls to choose from. Me and Britt and Britt’s friend Alykzandra, who could move to another state or even country without me crying Tear 1 because she’s always telling everybody that her and Britt are besties when the simple fact of the matter is that it’s me and Britt who are, decided we would go to the Meandering Calliope show at the Crest Ballroom. But then it occurred to me that maybe I’d better get bigger boobies first because I had no intention of Alykzandra getting more attention than me, which she would because she’s like ginormous. I asked my dad and of course he said no way I’m only 16 and probably haven’t even finished like developing or whatever. I was expecting that. I told him that in that case maybe I’d tell the court or whatever that I’d changed my mind and wanted to live with my mom. That really hurt him, but sometimes you have to like hurt the one you love, like in that song my mom used to like so much, "Pleasure and Pain," or whatever. My dad said that if my idea of a good time was watching my mom drink herself to death, then be his guest. I said yeah it was my idea of a good time. He pouted for around 24 hours, just like I knew he would, and then said what we both knew he was going to say in the end anyway, that if it was really important to me he’d find a way to pay for it. I asked for DD’s, which I knew he wouldn’t agree to, and then let him talk me down to C’s. I’m not as big as Celeste but I’ve got a prettier face and much better skin.

You can imagine how much I wanted to kill Alykzandra when I found out she’d like persuaded Britt to go to the Calliope show even though I couldn’t, and Britt had promised she wouldn’t. I guess they lost their nerve because the guy who was guarding the entrance to the backstage area said they needed either to have this special pass-type thingie or “be real friendly” with him, which Celeste was OK with, but Britt said no way because the guy was apparently gross.  He reminded Britt of Jared Whatsit in English as a Second Language, which me and Britt signed up for because we thought it was going to be really easy, but it isn’t because Mr. Holman’s majorly into participles and adverbs and all that stuff, and is anything in the world more boring than that? But then we found out there was going to be another show, with this group from Omaha I hadn’t heard of called The Insisters. 

Me and Britt went to Hot Topic to get something we’d look really hot in. I wasn’t majorly ecstatic or whatever about Alykzandra inviting herself along, or on her insisting on getting the same sparkly bustier as me and Britt. I thought we were going to look like a singing group or something, and at the last minute decided to go over to my mom’s and borrow this like black lace top she has. She said I was too young o wear something like that and I told her her breath smelled like vodka, even though vodka isn’t supposed to smell. She called me a brat, and slapped me across the face. I could have ducked but it wouldn’t have been in my like best interests because after she slaps me she always feels like majorly contrite or whatever, and bursts into tears and lets me do whatever I want.