A chance coincidence, a delayed flight, a brief encounter…
I was sitting in a small cantina across from Gate A23 in a random Airport, in a random City, as I crossed the country one more time. I sat at a table of four, not paying attention to my boss and his staff while they discussed the mundane and over appreciated. My mind had wondered to the musings of the world and the delay in the flight. As my gaze lowered from the ceiling my eyes passed over a woman, slightly leaning against the wall, looking up at the same board that I had been. Calm and powerful, a greek statue or a Jacques-luis David –perfect and ephemeral beauty– with eyes that displayed little emotion; yet, the statuesque pose was enough to trap my fascination.
Ironic that she is a quarter mexican as I sat in a faux mexican restaurant. Ironic that she was alone and I was pretending to be alone. I wanted to know more, I had to see her, I had to have her in a way that comes and goes so fast across the mind of those that are romantics. I left to walk it off, to move on, to find my fascinations elsewhere. When I returned, she was still there, oblivious to me, or so it would seem. The flights were delayed again, and then canceled, and as if by divine appreciation for my needs she lined up behind my party of four for the airline help desk. As all adolescents do, I acted out until she noticed. Working hard for her to smile, to shed her indifference. Slowly but surely my antics were noticed and she smiled, oh if that had only been enough. If nothing more had happened, I would have been secure in the small victory of bringing warmth and a smile to a beautiful, fascinating, stranger. We left for the baggage claim, knowing that it was over, without regrets, without remorse, I could smile.
She stood there, as if she was waiting for me, at the baggage claim. I couldn’t resist, I had to say hi, I had to know if she was staying at the same hotel as us. The words came out so quick, I volunteered our ride to wait for her and her bags. My mind was racing, I was trying to be ‘cool,’ to be calm, to be in control. The ten minutes in the van, the awkward looks at the check-in counter and the twenty minutes in my room should have put things back into perspective. When I walked past her to dinner, she turned and looked at me from the hotel bar. So we talked, we worked around some assurance policy that we would be able to meet up. I could see it in her eyes, only then as I wrote down my number, the whole night played out before me as we looked at each other. I knew that she would wait for me in the hotel bar. I suffered through a working dinner, waiting for the text ensuring me that she was till there. Leaving behind my responsibilities and any sense of accountability I said good night to my coworkers and went to her. She had been patient, nursing a drink, waiting for me, texting me.
I sat next to you, and steadied my hand that wanted to reach out and touch you. We forced ourselves to settle into the rights and passage of the conventional. A protocol of small talk and drinks when we both knew that we were passing time. Waiting for it to be more appropriate than what it was, or what it would ever be. We fended off would be interlopers, I would wait them out. Or at least in one case, piss them off so much that they would leave. I wanted you to need me, so I talked. We worked slowly through the night, forcing ourselves not to make it obvious, to be social with everyone while all I wanted was you. As the hours went by I could see you looking up at me, ever so slightly changing the dynamic, your face marked with hints of desire. And it was then that I watched the vultures of our minds circle, because without you, right then, the world would have lost meaning. In efforts to hide our true intent we walked, room to room, from singular moments to singular moments of passion; desperately trying to ignore their addition. Finally we stopped moving. We stopped thinking, we stopped being individuals, we were young again, insecure, curious, clumsy, and entwined.
The hours would pass and the sun would be working its way to the horizon when we parted company, one final embrace one final look. The world was different somehow, not dramatically so, only slightly, in only a way that this woman and I would know. With uncertainty we looked at each other from across the room in the same airport from the day before. Casual glances, afraid that any interaction would give it all away, that the whole world that we damned would know. Fear, fear of a future that we would deny, knowing that the seed could not grow, yet somehow, I have found myself writing these words. Smiling, content, happy with the night; a night I would do again, I would work for and hold in appreciation of the subtleties of a romantic tryst found on a cold desert night.
I have no doubt at all the Devil grins,
As seas of ink I spatter.
Ye gods, forgive my ‘literary’ sins –
The other kind don’t matter.
I watched in pure enjoyment as my thumbnail slid behind her jaw bone. My wrist pushed up against her chin and I could see the confused look on her face as her knees dug deeper into the black bench. Her eyes on me, if she was trying to decide how much she enjoyed my hand around her throat. The confused look turned to joy as I my heart rate rose and my breathing shallowed. It was noticeable over the music in the room, with its heavy beats that were drowning out everything else. Her naked hips moved with the sounds and her chest heaved up and down in front of my face. We were surround by others, other who were enjoying the sight of this woman straddling me, pushing with all of her might to satisfy her hidden desire and my not so hidden intent. Others, in this crowed room of naked bodies and desperate men, did not find this to be as enjoyable, and quicker than my inebriated mind could grasp I was lifted up, I think on my own, though it could have been with the help of the suited six foot, fourteen shaved headed bouncer.
“We do not put our hands on the girl!” with such authority, and clarity, I had no choice but to respond with “yes sir.” The girl grabbed his arm with both of hers begging for leniency and gentleness, I am sure with the expectation that my pocket book would extend past closing at this high-end strip club in Denver. “I want my lawyer” came from somewhere inside of me, and like magic he was there. “Pierre, whats happening?” “Kim, they want me to leave…. Cant touch the girls… Why do I have a french name… Hand around her throat…. He touched me…” Kim threw his five foot six frame between us and said we would leave on our own volition. And we were out in the fresh air, breathing deep the cool Colorado breeze. We made it a block before he started laughing, and another before I stopped talking about seeing the girl in an hour.
It was a week later over a couple of beers that I was educated in the differences between choking and strangling. I am surprised to this day how much worse it sounds to say “I was strangling a girl,” rather than “I was choking a stripper.” Semantics, but more than potato or tomato, there is a visceral abhorrence to the idea of strangling; where as we are all more comfortable with the sexual connotations that exist with the word choke. I now spend time going word to word that we use interchangeably looking for another such dichotomy. In reality, it was not the pronunciational difference such as the tomato or potato comment but rather an inherent misunderstanding of the definition. If words are to have meanings, and de facto making them important, it is just as important that we know what those meanings are. To write the way our for fathers would have wanted us, or even to meet the standards of Christopher Hitchens would require a significant better understanding of our own vernacular.
During our small chances of lucid conversation between the laughter, we were able to piece together a night where this story is but just one small part of the amazement that the team from the small corporation Captains, Inc. – a fake company we created, to hide our jobs and to completely separate the night from our daily reality– were able to walk away.
Twelve hours prior to me being forcibly removed –sorry, I left on my own according to Kim– from the night club; we were laughing at my luck with women. Something that clearly would not change with the night. This was followed by the creation of a small consulting firm designed to help with movie productions, specifically that weekend in Denver. A chance to possess a persona in which we could slough off accountability and obligations. I found that my french name came from the restaurant that we dinned in. Here we only spoke french, well in reality only one of us spoke french, the rest would make nasally guttural sounds. “Ughh ugh,” and “Pierre, Jean, and Francis” were shouted back and forth in toasts to our good luck. The wait staff was disappointed in our lack of french skills as Francis ordered for us and apologized for us, flirted for us, and eventually helped us leave before we caused more harm than good. Then it was my turn. We moved to a night club in Larimer Square and were escorted to a table where bottles of vodka stood waiting.
Our rock star status was solidified as the women begged to spend time with the jacket laden crew and their free flowing booze. Dancing was followed by dancing, which can only lead to making out. Making out can only lead to making out inappropriately. Our venture at this club was coming to an end as the manager was chastising our server for her friendliness and the other tables were inviting us back to their condo for after hours. Lights came on, bets were lost and won, booze was imbibed and given away and we were happy when we were walked down stairs to the waiting limo.
Walking backwards, I passed through the black curtain that separated a small room from the hallway and was unceremoniously pushed down into a chair. The chair was more of short bench spanning from black wall to black wall. The girl that was doing the pushing was also doing the smiling. A sly grin, not hiding the suggestions that it held as I braced myself with both hands on the bench. The conversation was short, and witty, though the banter was quickly lost as my eyes, hypnotized by her movements, focused on the girl in front of me. Like an indian snake charmer I was sat immobile and mesmerized. Slowly, as I began to relax, I smiled. Another song is played, and the act begins again. There was something in my relaxation, something in my look, that infuriated her, she recognized my esoteric disappointment. She couldn’t take being pushed to the back of my mind, she need it to be about her, about the money I was giving her. She was tired of being just another girl, tired of it being just another guy with more cash than they should be allowed to walk around with. With a rising sense of desperation, her sharp nails dug deeper in to my shoulders and her mouth pushed against my face. My response was fast and immediate when she sunk her teeth into my neck. With my hands around her, I grabbed her, pushed her, tried to bend her into me. Her breathing was loud and rhythmic, the music was louder and two more songs went by. We found each other smiling, not in love, or of joy but rather the smile that comes after exhaling deep, the release of all excess and indelicate emotions – of satisfaction. I found my hand around her neck, and her hand on my wrist, her body on top of mine, moving ever so…
Given our proclivity for women, booze, and inappropriateness we managed to find our way to the late night strip club. There is a story of a camel who carried straw, and it would seem that one strand of straw broke his back. As you can see the wheels were coming of this train and the wreck was going to spread from the front steps of a strip club’s back door to the hotels fifth floor. We were seven deep, five originals (with french names) and two additional women when we struggled to convince the man at the back door of the club to let us in. With missing IDs and credit cards we still managed to get us into this sprawling palace of erotic fun. I can not speak for my friends at this point, in fact as the story goes some immediately turned around to leave, only to be left wondering floor to floor in the hotel threatening the lives of all residents who tried to get in their way.
Lights, women, cages, music, and the allure of private rooms had Kim going back to the ATM machine with a frequency that could ruin your credit and mine. I myself was immediately infatuated with this innocent looking girl who grabbed my by the hand. “Can I dance with you?” My defenses were still strong, and I passed at the opportunity. Checking on Kim and the others I made my rounds. Convincing friends not to use the ATM machine, not to get separated, not to lose their room keys. It was not to much longer that I had given up on trying to put the wheels back on the train, or taking straw off the camel and I jumped head first into the river, placed my debit card into the machine, and was carried down stream by a vigorous dark haired figure, until I too ran ashore.
Happy 30th Birthday to friends of whom I am not worthy, whose time is too valuable for the likes of me and my antics. To them I offer this epic night, where this is just one of many stories that would have you crying, and the teller blushing.
“So, just like everyone else? Thats what is bothering you, isn’t it? The fact that you have to experience the same things as the rest of us, the masses.”
An interesting point made in a conversation about a personal situation in my life. I had just finished telling my friend that its “not my style,” and “thats not how I normally am,” or even “that is just not me, I don’t make those mistakes, I don’t allow those responses.” She sat across from me and pointed out the obvious. I don’t like to be lumped into the greater masses of humanity. I don’t. As we all tell each other and mostly ourselves that we are special and different, I am walking down the back end of one of the most common mistakes that can be found, it is a shame I guess that it took me thirty years to make it (or more importantly to learn from it.)
They say that to fall in love is the demonstration of our humanity. Or, maybe they don’t, and I just came up with that. I have lived my life as a realist with the desire of a romantic. Staring at the skies, dreaming away the here-and-now for a distant future. Yet I have always grounded myself in the reality of the moment; the shifting landscape of my life and my instability. My world around a card table, with the deck open and the cards laid bare; in a rash and desperate gamble I went “all in.” Was it a bluff, God, yes it might have been. For I have no idea what would have happened if I had won this hand. But, even as I pushed my chips forward I knew the outcome. Deep down, where my rational and disciplined mind still churned away, angry and pissed that it was being ignored and pushed to the side, yelled out “bloody hell, what a fucking mess.” It is this aspect that my friend was trying to tell me makes us human. That our desires will overpower our most basic survival mechanisms. That logic and reason can be lost to the temptation of passion. That we are willing to ignore all of our other senses to hide the most basic truths around us. That I could be blind to such transgressions that would make the relationship almost untenable no matter how the cards fell.
We look out across the world and our senses are bombarded by the graphic displays of love, romance, fairy-tails, heartache… It is on our TVs, played out in movies, and dominate the music we listen to. Yet, avoidance of these logical failures is almost impossible as our basic needs drive us towards relationships, and companionship. No, I did not want to be like one of the many, I wanted to be strong, different, rational and still in control. And as my control slipped and my desperation climbed, I could feel my dignity slowly slip out between my fingers. Dignity; that is the hardest part about this. I wish I had quit the situation a day earlier, a week earlier, a month earlier; but I couldn’t. I held onto what we all do in trying times, hope. Misplaced, unreturned, and torturous for a man who has stated time and time again that hope is not a method.
Clearly by this point I have given you enough to understand what the general situation must be in this relationship. Well, what was a relationship, for the ultimate in todays modern, hip-generation of closure is the de-friending of someone on Facebook, thank you Mark Zuckerburg. So we moved full circle from where we never made it official, meaning no Facebook status, to officially over, because we are no longer Facebook friends. Such is life, such is life, God I hate those words, I hate the prospect that the loss of my dignity, the time spent thinking over each word said, each action taken, or each word not said, could end up being nothing more than a personal lesson to take forward with me to the next. I have hurt others, but I have always been honest; and now I have been hurt, though this is the only time that you will read it, or hear me say it. I am stronger than that, just as each of you are. She was not honest in her dealings with me, and gave me a false sense of hope and security. A girl, no more than a child playing at adulthood, could not fathom what was going on around her. And I forced her to make a decision in the face of my honesty, one that should could not make for weeks (or without her parents,) until finally she said no, “stop pushing–please.”
Am I like the rest of you? Clearly. Have I ever been different, no. No, in the sense that humanity shares more similarities than differences. No, in the idea that as I travel around the world and discover that every culture shares ideas, values and dreams. I am one of the rest, though maybe more stubborn at times. The concept that my uniqueness is unique in and of itself is an allusion. For if each fingerprint is different, if each grove is unique, then are we not all the picture of the 1960’s Berkley students sitting on the wall -demonstrating their individuality by all looking the same? In the shadow of our electronic personas maybe we have created (engineered) an even more separate account of who we are, allowing for the differences in time, location and ability to give us space to shape who and what we want to be; forever changing the nature of truth and how we share truths or how we create a uniqueness. In the end the truth is that you move on, you learn, adapt, accept, and maybe even grieve (I am sure this sounds more like an AA meeting now than a blog.) for a moment, though I have always claimed to be different, separate, alone; for just a moment, I was a stereotype, a cliche’, a story so old that never needs retelling because of its ubiquitous nature. For those weeks, days, hours and minutes I was as all star-crossed lost souls are; hurt, weak, and shameful in the shedding of my pride to win a prize that was never mine.
So another day forward, one less minute spent on a problem that was solved two weeks ago. Another day forward, and one less minute.