Spring Cleaning, or a sorts, I’ve been scanning in boxes and boxes of old essays and various bits of writing and stumbled up this gem. The following is one of a series of three columns that I wrote in the late 1980s for a little publication called “Air, Dirt & Ink” (ADI) that I produced and shared with family and friends. Yeah, I’ve been writing these sad tales for a very long time. Enjoy.
[ADI Editor’s Note:Is it true or fiction? Take into consideration that it’s making its debut in the pages of API, that the subject is Sex, and that the writer is male you’ll then have your answer. BEWARE: Due to the author’s vagrant disregard for other’s sensitivity toward “salty language,” prolonged exposure to this article is not recommended for small children, TV evangelists and ﬁeld mice. Ignoring this warning may result in the kind of anarchy, lasciviousness, and chaos that only Charlton Heston has been known to overcome.]
Driving around Southern California on a sunny Sunday morning, the only thing on my mind is getting to my destination without someone pointing a Smith & Wesson at me. Hopefully all the freeway terrorists are on their donut break, hanging out at the local Winchell’s with the CHP. It’s generally not my policy to take my life into my hands with needless freeway driving but I was called in to work. Then, along the way I got cutoff by an attractive blonde in a white Honda Prelude. That got me to thinking that right about then those in the Saturday-night-fever crowd were probably making their Sunday-morning introductions and/or exits. (Yeah, my mind works in strange ways when I get exposed to direct sunlight this early in the morning).
Uh . . . Last night I was hoping to have been a part of the dancing portion of the Saturday night festivities (I’ve always believed in working my way up to those other big goals). Anyway, I ran into a snag during the negotiation portion of the dating ritual. My prospective date decided to give her former boyfriend another try (I hate it when they flirt with me for two weeks only to go back to Mr. Right just when I muster up the nerve to ask them out). Not only was I out gunned in the historical precedence department but the man had tickets to Disneyland. She excused herself by saying that she needed an amusement park fix. (“If a good ride is what you’re really looking, honey . . . .” Nah, I could never bring myself to say that). So, hours of ambiguous gestures and tentative plans came crashing to the floor all because of fucking Mickey Mouse.
Regardless of what I was feeling on the inside, I was a good sport on the outside and said something lame like, “Don’t get too crazy.” She smiled and told me to have fun “with whatever it is you end up doing.” Gee, thanks. There was a choking, asphyxiating quality to the way the sun set that evening.
“Have fun with whatever it is you end up doing.” Yeah, and I hope Space Mountain breaks down while you stand in line for two hours! What a shitty way to begin a Saturday evening. Ha! But I have to admit that I was the one who screwed up. I didn’t have a contingency plan. I should have known that when she said, “Yes” she meant, “Maybe.” And if she had said, “Maybe,” she means, “Only as a last resort.” And if she had said, “No,” she means, “Please leave before someone sees me talking to you.”
”Have fun with whatever it is you end up doing.” God, some people can be so cruel when they’re wishing you well. This was certainly not a night for me to sit at home (even if ADI was two months behind. Hey, we’re talking about my social visibility here. How am I ever going to qualify for Cosmos’ bachelor of the month If I spend my Saturday nights at home, alone, working on a stupid news-whatever?! Get serious). Going to the movies alone sounded depressing. A buddy was going down to a local 50’s era dance club called The Hop.” But getting nostalgic about an era I was too young to remember sounded more depressing than the movies. So . . . even though I swore that I would never do it again, I knew that the only way for me to regain my social respectability was for me to go down to another (more contemporary) dance club called Baxter’s and undergo the Ego Endurance Test (the dreaded EET!).
The EET is an ego busting, mind numbing experience. It is little wonder that both males and females undergoing the EET tend to drink copious amounts of alcoholic beverages. It has a certain “Twilight Zone” feel about it.
I can picture a beady-eyed Rod Serling, cigarette in hand, narrating the scene:
“You’re stuck in a dimly lit room with two hundred heavily muscled cephalopodic males and three extremely selective females. The three females sit at a single table in the center of the room.”
Thanks Rod. Anyway, each time one of the females got up to go to the restroom, one of the drooling cephalopods insisted on commenting on the more prominent features of her body in only the most graphic (and may I add, crude) language. Add to this, the fact that I couldn’t help but noticing that she wasn’t wearing enough clothing to pose for a lingerie ad.
“The music, it’s incessant beat, washes over you, pouring forth from the brightly lit one square foot dance floor. The sunken dance floor is surrounded by a heavy wooden rail designed to keep the drooling males at bay while the three females decide on who will get to dance with them next.”
Ah, Rod, do you mind? Anyway, I practically had to take a fucking number just to hear one of them say, “Oh . . (sigh] not right now, thank you.”
Depressing, huh. At this portion of the story Rod is suppose to walk in to explain the moral lesson behind this sad tale. . . Ah, Rod? Great, I must’ve pissed him off.
One of the last times I did this to myself I didn’t go solo. I took along my buddy, Ed. I don’t remember whose stupid idea it originally was, but Ed, being a good buddy, must’ve figured that I needed a break from the four walls of my apartment (“But Ed, I like my four walls. See how close together they are. Do they seem to be getting closer to you?”). So, in a misguided attempt to re-establish my virility we collided head on with Baxter’s and the EET. Granted, he wasn’t under any kind of threat by this “going out to a dance club” stuff. I mean, he was still married (did you catch that cleverly inserted “still”), at least he had a reason for not dancing.
That night I was shut out in three attempts (Ed kept his ego intact by restricting his smiles to our barmaid). Now that I think about it, I guess I shouldn’t feel so bad about last night. At least last night I got one dance out of three attempts (not bad for four and a half hours of work).
“Are we having fun yet?” Why do cute barmaids always ask that?
Fun. Oh yeah, that’s why I was doing this to myself. I was suppose to be having fun. About the only thing I was having was a bottle of Corona and a silent debate with myself centered on the word, “Why?”
“Why?” I mean, why convert one rejection (the thwarted date) into an evening filled with rejections. After one night of asking perfect strangers to jerk around with you on a crowded piece of linoleum and being gunned down by their concerned looks (some bordering on panic), wouldn’t you want to know why we do this to ourselves? (This is the kind of question we should have dealt with in our high school Humanities class.
“What is man?” Who cares? I wanna’ know, “Why date?” Somebody’s gotta be profiting from our emotional martyrdom?”).
“Are we having fun yet?” God! Ed, buy a beer from the woman so she’ll go away and I can think this problem through. Better yet, let me have another beer. (Somehow I didn’t get around to thinking the problem through, until last night).
Please excuse the somewhat forced analogy (this is what happens when one tries to “think something through” after copious amounts of beer)—but, I think an analogy can be drawn between this dating stuff and writing.
With writing (“Now class, when you write your little essays for the school newspaper, please avoid making the kind of mistakes that Mr. Bustillos makes in his essays. When making an example use the third person singular pronoun, one’ instead of the second person pronoun, ‘You.’…” ) you go on and on and on and on (“And do not over use parenthesis, it hurts the flow of the main sentence.”) and on and on and on—as if you couldn’t tell, right?. The idea behind all this excessive verbiage is the writer’s vague hope that with all of this writing he’ll eventually stumbling onto something worth keeping. I can only guess that it’s the same with dating (“So how many frogs have you kissed today?”).
In all honesty I should probably thank my Disneyland friend and the overly selective females at Baxter’s. Because of their willingness to sacrifice what good times they could have had with me, I got home early and was alert enough this morning to accept the job offer from my work. In all, I ended up making a few hundred bucks instead of spending it on someone else’s need to deal with the EET. Um . . . thanks?
You know, I just can’t get over how sunny it is today. I never get out this early on a Sunday morning. Pretty nice. God, on a day like this it only seems fair that after work I should go over to Disneyland and see how Space Mountain is holding up and say, “hi” or “fuck you” to Mickey or something.
image: Los Angeles Traffic – The Newhall Pass by Jeff Turner, some rights reserved June 2, 2008, https://www.flickr.com/photos/respres/2544979655/