I am removing the pussy’s pussy passage as I think it’s unnecessarily inflammatory. I am posting the rest as-is, and it will go up in a few days.
Here it is. I’m drunk. And I finished it. and here it is.
I want to download some Screeching Weasel records to listen to while I write you this letter, though my vision’s gone sour from the wine and it’s easiest now to let the silence play on. When the time comes to sleep, I’ll ignore it and likely open another bottle. It’s good stuff. Chardonnay. Goes down smooth. Requires little thought. And on top of all that, it’s free. Free to me. Free Chardonnay would be a good name for a book by a second- or third-rate Chelsea Handler.
I tried going on dates with you. Maybe we had a double date once. I can’t tell. You left early. Actually, that happened twice. I wonder if you know that I had this crush. This infatuation. That that diabetic told me it was a sure deal. I hadn’t really cared before that.
When I was nineteen, two girls decided I was their boyfriend. This happens to me sometimes. Or it used to. I think it’s the alcohol, now, that keeps me from saying anything. Divulging too much in person.
I’m drinking straight from the bottle. Which, it turns out, isn’t a Chardonnay. It’s a Verdejo? I don’t know what that is. I think you wouldn’t know either. But I’d like to think that you would. But I don’t think that you would.
This letter isn’t going well and I know why. Byron wants me to keep writing these “love letters,” but I don’t love a whole lot of stuff. Or people. And I know there’s a readership. And two bottles in, I can’t forget that you’re not the only person that’s going to read this. But considering how poorly this is going they probably won’t get to this point. Having clicked away to check on stories and essays that’ll never be published.
You’re one of the few people I’ve met who seems, generally, more anxious than me. Congratulations. We would make the strangest babies. Our children would be hospitalized. They’d blame us. They’d be depressives. They’d have drug problems. But they’d be pretty and have really healthy hearts. I mean the latter point literally. In the last thirteen years, I’ve done some pretty awful things to my body, my brain. I have no plans of stopping. But my heart’s strong. It’s a little amazing.
An image just popped into my head. I’m standing in line to get into Heaven and I get up to Saint Peter and he goes through the guest list on his clipboard, can’t find my name, checks the boxes at his feet, behind his lectern, finding I’m not in Hell’s long list, then double-checks my name and social security number, then calls his manager.
God lumbers in from the back room. He’s got a huge key ring jangling, hanging from his waist. He takes one look at me and says, “Huh. Well, Pete. I didn’t make that,” pointing at me. So I sit for eternity in Heaven’s antechamber like Julian Assange. Or more like Tom Hanks’s character in The Terminal.
You have an exhausted look. Like a ticket-taker at all-night XXX theater in 1985 Times Square. Having not yet realized that you could get up and leave. That there’s a small town somewhere waiting for you. That when you came to the big city from a different small town, you, like the rest, ended up in a small town. It’s just that the small town is the dead-end job, for you the ticket booth. The small town is the grocery store visited at odd hours, the only ones you can find. The small town is the unemployment line. Switching to 2nd person, you’ve shuffled this line every day for months. There’s a groove in the cement, wide as a gutterball’s trail, and it leads to your leaving after being denied work that doesn’t exist.
I really wish I had some Percocet. It’s like a full meal and, also, under its influence, you don’t think about having meals.
This water’s turned.
I’m breaking a rule.
I can’t see us together. We might lick each other’s wounds for a few months, but neither of us seems stable enough to keep anyone’s spirits up. Especially our own. We both need solid places to land.
I’m remembering something about ants. Actually, I think this goes for both bees and ants. In any hive or colony, there’s a collection of layabouts. Sometimes a hive or colony will be attacked or damaged. Many of the bees or ants will die. Those that work. Those that tacitly suffer, pulling their weight, crying when a relative passes, but out of earshot of the rest of the family. Many of the strong die. This is the interesting part: the hive or colony doesn’t falter. The layabouts get off their asses, get a little exercise, update their résumés, and become upstanding. Moral. Adult. Deferential. Polite. They volunteer their servitude and are rewarded with coffee breaks and company-wide bowling nights.
If there’s something that needs doing it’ll get done. So maybe that’s why we play kick the can and twiddle our thumbs. Overpopulation.
If we were to decorate an apartment…. Yes. If we were to decorate a house. That would be lovely. The montage begins. Arms akimbo, a bit of a smile you’re trying to hide, shaking your head.
No to my oversized movie posters, no to my big broken amplifier, no to my collections of books and records and keepsakes. The keepsakes I understand. I have every little letter any girl’s ever given me. All the way back to middle school. I was going through them recently. It’s sad. There are so many beautifully made things and much of the time I’ve no clue who gave them to me.
I pick up a piece of cardboard, and stitched into it is this gorgeous, bulbous pattern in bright fabrics. I think I know who gave it to me. But then I’m not sure. And, like I said, that goes for 1/4 of the contents of these boxes.
And it’s not like I can ask.
The patio smells of insecticide.
In a few months I may need to sleep on your couch. Maybe something will happen there. But it won’t be one of those things where you get home from work and we split a bottle of wine listening to Al Green and there’s a butterfly-filled silence and we kiss and it’s romantic.
You won’t have gone to work. You’ll have locked yourself in your bedroom and I’ll need to know the wireless password and you’ll say “come in” and you’ll have a panic attack and I’ll not know what to do so I’ll hold you and you’ll push me away and I’ll get you a glass of water, like that would make any difference, and I’ll come back and you’ll be crying and will have taken your shirt off and we’ll both smell terrible and we won’t have brushed our teeth and we’ll have bad, unprotected sex and I’ll leave after you pretend to fall asleep and we won’t talk for months.
I don’t really think that’ll happen. But I will maybe have to sleep on your couch in a few months. I hope you have a couch.
Months. It’s been months. Closer now than before. You have become an equation. A very complicated equation pasted into an Excel spreadsheet that does nothing. Rather, all the data–all my findings and research–it’s all gone askew. There’s a steadiness to your lunacy. It’s as enticing as it is infuriating. I was never good at math.
In the seventh grade, I switched from the few tapes and fewer CDs I owned to the expanse of borrowing. By the eighth I was a collector. No. I had been.
I’d had comic books. Baseball cards. Pogs and slammers. I knew their worth.
A kid named Ben England (truly I forget his surname, but his mother was English and her accent always gave my little dick a tremble with gar-edge and loo and all) put on a VHS of his brother’s.
Two women, blond both, used gold-hued detachable dicks to…well, at the time I didn’t know. What were these? These places. Not a hole. A complex place of utter confoundment. And excitement. Four boys trying not to grab at their crotches, eyes glued to the Zenith; eyes shifty to each other making sure everyone was having a good time.
We were found out. One of the boys told. If memory serves it was Sean. Which was surprising. If anyone was going to blab it was to be me. But I’d stayed mum.
In a scene only Freud deserves to observe, my father, shirtless, my mother, bottomless, took me into their bed to discuss what I’d seen. I don’t recall my attire.
My lie was so peculiar.
“What did you see?”
“A man and a woman having sex.”
“And that was it? That was all?”
And now there’re “Two Girls, One Cup” skate decks.
Me thinking about you as you works just like a metronome. You tick–tick–tick–tick. Your anxieties are the stuff of legend. Your legend. Do you jerk off? Is there are more acceptable translation for vaginas that’s less detestable?
I don’t think you do.
I had store-bought sushi today and just vomited half of it (that’s a guess) into the yard. You see, I’m downing, in gulps, scotch. I want to be free of the things I know. I don’t want to write about you. I want to compare you. Objectify you. I want to make you a song. A movie. A book.
But I’ve been crying a lot.
I never liked Nirvana that much. I don’t know what it was but I’ve been listening to In Utero and the live one. The Muddy Banks one. Whatever that one’s called. I’ve been listening to them incessantly. On the way to and from all these jobs. The ones you know about. I wish I had some you didn’t know about.
It’s a personal pastime. My own legend. This quietness. The snark. The cynicism. I can’t really tell anymore where all that begins or ends. When I was about the age when I watched the VHS tape of the two women using gilded vibrators on each other I also watched a lot of television. I’d watch A Million To Juan and feel completely comfortable speaking in whatever I thought was a Mexican accent.
I do it still.
Yesterday I was at one of those jobs you know about and I was shredding paper, documents. Typical office setting. The shredder’s in the break room. It’s boring shredding documents for four hours. I began talking to myself. I don’t remember what I was saying or thinking, which is what a day job will do to a person, and one of the coolest people in the office came in to get coffee or something and asked, “Are you talking to yourself?”
“No,” I lied.
I think a lot of life is lying. Which, when I consider it, makes me sad.
At the tail end of my half-hour lunch break I came all over the toilet eroticizing my most recent ex-girlfriend. Not many know about her. Mostly just mutual friends from Pennsylvania. It didn’t last long. Sorry, my jerking off took twenty minutes. The relationship didn’t last long. And I was “getting over” the previous one. Or the really important previous one.
The one where I felt full of fame and shame and real, true love and lied more than maybe I’d ever lied before. In a relationship. Sometimes it felt like I was on the set of a Wes Anderson movie. But just on the set, not in the movie. A behind-the-scenes view of some actual tragic family shit.
But that’s not the girl I jerked off to.
The girl I jerked off to is from…Delaware? No. I don’t remember. Around there. She’s very pretty. Very nice. She’s still here. In Los Angeles. We haven’t spoken in months.
If we dated. You and me. If we got drunk and kissed. Not like I said like when I’ll have to crash on your couch. Not like that. Like if we hung out. Well…this is what I tell girls. In the first month:
When I was thirteen I didn’t have a job. So anything I owned I didn’t own. Just stuff my parents bought me. And they bought me clothes. And I asked for these shirts. Shirts representing the bands I liked. No. I loved them. My Discman pushing into my ears Marylin Manson’s Portrait of an American Family and Pearl Jam’s Ten and Soul Asylum’s record with the girl on the cover where the colors are all Maya Deren–I don’t remember what it’s called–on the train to Monterey, rigid and scared, and girls tried to talk to me in the scenic car and I was on my way to see my grandfather and my grandmother. Rukiya. My grandmother. Rukiya, Jackie. Richard and Jackie. Jackie had bought me the Soul Asylum record. I don’t remember it being very good.
But the shirts. In the first month of us dating I’d tell you I had these shirts. NOFX, Rage Against The Machine, Korn, Marilyn Manson. I dyed my hair black and saw Man Is The Bastard (not knowing who they were) a year later, and I had a Crass shirt I couldn’t wear to school because around their logo read “JESUS DIED FOR HIS OWN SINS NOT MINE” circularly and that one didn’t last long. Even though I bought it with “my allowance,” my (still) Christian father threw it out.
I’d tell you about those shirts. That the Marilyn Manson one had…I think a cop on the front, holding a gun to his head, and on the back it read something absurd like “Have You Killed Your Authority Figure Today?” And he knew everyone in town, including the sheriff, and we went to Supercuts and my father held his hand against my chest many storefronts away from where I was to get my haircut and gestured me back to the car, his car, and I didn’t get a haircut because my father was embarrassed of me in my shirt, but he never said it. It was just…it was obvious.
“Why no haircut?”
“Well, I saw so-and-so.”
“He’s a police officer.”
“He’s the sheriff.”
“I’d shoot the sheriff,” I sang. My Uncle’d given me a CD copy of Marley’s Legend.
My father changed the subject.
My hand smells of ketchup.
I wonder if you say catsup or ketchup. I’m hoping ketchup.
Maybe two months into our courtship, after we were comfortable and walked around with our shirts off around each other and gave up that we only liked “good” and “cool” stuff and would watch The Office or Parks and Recreation or something, I would tell you that back then I had a Pearl Jam shirt too.
It was black. It had two white circles on the chest. One inside the other. And I’d tell you that I think I bought it in on a break, as our middle school went year round, so I couldn’t tell you the season, that not much mattering in Corona, California.
And I’d tell you that I wore it to school once before I burned it in the orange groves a half mile north of my parents’ house. And that would lead to the discussion of my cowardice and your refusal of my cowardice and two or three months after these first two months you’d bring it up again and say, “You were right, you are a coward.” And you’d be right.
Ten’s a good record. But just for the really good songs. Vs. and Vitalogy are really great and No Code, the last Pearl Jam record I physically owned, is, in that sense, their best. In any sense their best. Richard, my grandfather, while we were at Costco, bought it for me. I was a few years into punk and understood the difference between pressing your own shit and selling out. I don’t entirely understand it anymore.
But No Code: it was so strange. He picked up some bagels or cheese or meat or something…no. Wouldn’t have been meat. I was a proselytizing vegetarian so Richard and Jackie never had meat around when I visited. But No Code. It was right there after the food. Near the speakers and batteries. Alongside who-knows-what. And I picked it up, looked at it, and without a word Richard put it in his cart and without a word I smiled.
I opened it at his and Jackie’s home, their beautiful home, and found these cards inside. It was punk. It was the punk I knew. Sort of. Little images. Tiny cardboard Polaroids in a slit in the CD’s packaging. I didn’t listen to it much. The same trip, Jackie took me to one of the two good record stores in Monterey and bought me a Sepultura CD. And I think my Deicide CD. Things I’d play loud and merrily to upset my parents.
I was loud and brusque around the house and terrified and quiet and punched at school. Well, I wasn’t frequently punched. But it happened. And we’d go to the restroom before…I forget what they called it but most schools call it Home Ec. We’d go smoke a bowl and go to class where the girls would make brownies and cakes. And I was with Richard (who loved Strife) and some other guy and the girls. Jamie Stapp. And another Jamie. One I knew in grade school and never stopped having a crush on. I came a lot thinking about her face, the first Jamie, all full of braces, her big body. Not fat. Sturdy. Like our science teacher. I was engaged to a Jamie once. I like girls named Jamie.
I’d tell you these things a year in. When the small things were the only things left.