My sons and I very early on decided that “swearing to God” on important stuff just didn’t make sense. So we decided to “swear on your penis”…. “Are you going to be home by midnight? Swear on your Penis!” “Okay, dad, I swear on my Penis.” Most amusing when said in the company of others not familiar with our mores. (Significance of this explained later....)
Tomorrow is my b-day, so it’s an opportunity to think about what’s happened to me in the past year. I have a high libido, but, early last year I realized that my sons were having more sex than me. I had long since stopped brushing up against strangers and was waiting to have copious amounts of sex with the right partner. I wasn’t meeting interesting women at chicken breast counters at Albertson’s or at internet cafes. I needed to make a change. So I bought a self-help book, “Blink.”
You know about “Blink?” No?…let me tell you about Blink. Its thesis is that your first and most immediate reaction is the one that is true…your blink of an eye perceptions are even more accurate than careful evaluation of all empirical data.
So I finish reading “Blink” just about one year ago almost to this very day.
And remember, that with age you are supposed to be moderately wiser, especially in the logic of love. (Here’s where it begins to go downhill, literally and figuratively.)
March 2nd, last year. Gallery opening in SF for Edward Burtynsky, one sip into my glass of wine when every enzyme, nerve synapse, smell gland and all possible erectile tissue is telling me that I am in love with this woman on my left drinking champagne in the proverbial blink of my eye. It is instantaneous as well as unimaginable….
You want to know who she is? Again, we have already established who I am…your basic New York Neurotic Jew. (no collective judgements…but you get the gist, eh?)
First that avalanching hairThe elegance of her Audrey Hepburn neckIce Blue Eyes41 years young, Tall and AthleticClean Body with a Dirty MindThe way she formed her words in her mouth and the precise way they were chosen…imagine Alito at the Senate confirmation hearings.Educated at Hotchkiss, B.A. Harvard, Ph.D. in French Literature from UC Berkeley…a whip smart woman and her e-mails were like chocolate truffles.
And she loved to fuck, in all configurations, just let your mind roam free…go where it will because we went there and beyond…let me tell you.
And the name of this woman that I instantaneously decided was the “woman of my dreams?” You’ll love it. Hayden Elizabeth Lancaster Parker. Initials spelled H.E.L.P. I kid you not. A true, blue blooded WASP of Mayflower lineage landed at Plymouth Rock. Hayden Elizabeth Lancaster Parker…one of those unaccountable WASP names imposed on unsuspecting infants by their well born parents. Imagine a woman whose parents’ homestead was a decaying 20 acre estate in Greenwich, CT…so much money that they could have cared less, summers on Martha’s Vineyard, no need to clap, just rattle that jewelry, a family that bred both thoroughbred horses and “bouvier dogs.” Bouvier dogs!
Just pretend I have clipping from the American Kennal Club on “Bouvier Dogs”:-
“Bouvier Dogs are powerfully built, of notable appearance, depth and subtlety. Some people find Bouviers charming, but other people find them downright intolerable. Bouviers don’t exuberantly demonstrate their affections and they’re highly flatulent.” Interesting….
Back to the chase - we hang out together at the gallery, go to Café Plouf for a drink afterwards, we’re making out on Bart back to the East Bay, and before you know it, we’re at my place and we are making love, missions bells are ringing and all the walls come tumbling down. I am experiencing a connection of Biblical Proportions. When she went to work that next day, I sent her an e-mail that said, “If all the drawers in all the desks in all the world, never get stuck, that is how much I think I like you.” I was smitten. Overnight I became this frenzied man on a mission to conquer this unconquerable Plymouth Rock woman.
I thrive on challenge. And this was HUGE! A cross cultural challenge. I wanted HELP. Unclear if HELP wanted me. One day warm and inviting, next day cold and distant. Then, I have to go to Mongolia. Yes Mongolia. Other people go to San Diego or Schenectady, but I go to Mongolia. These type things happen to me a lot.
Two days before flying off to Outer Mongolian Territories of China, I remembered an earlier e-mail to me, when I asked if she did phone, I got convoluted answer reflecting on the vicissitudes of time and mood and she said if phone communications don’t work well, how ‘bout smoke signals or graffiti on Oakland buildings? Light bulb goes off in my head. I choose a very urban response reflective of my urban roots. I go to Office Max and got a dozen of those large red Sharpies. Pastrami on rye, I start writing poetic graffiti to H.E.L.P. in unisex bathrooms in cafes all over College Avenue. I was now “Tagging” to win the heart, mind and body of a daughter of the ruling class. At Café Roma, I pick the perfect spot, on the back of the bathroom door, and in bold red Italian styled calligraphy I write: “Dear HELP, I was nostalgic and languishing on an untidy path then I encounter this Kennedyesque Ethical Slut who does reportedly sketchy phone. If you never call, I might miss who you might be.” (I was delirious.)
Then - off to Mongolia. I’m Hunter S. Thompson slash gonzo International Businessman. I’m wandering in Lawrence of Arabia landscapes, guys on camels w/ ammo belts slung over their shoulders, swords in their waistbands, and w/ my ever present wireless laptop, in my overly orange decored hotel room, I’m sending endless e-mails to HELP, 7500 miles away, all nerve synapses firing at headbanging speeds.
I transformed the landscapes of bathrooms in dive bars and 5 star hotels with my large red sharpie graffiti to HELP. I wrote, “This photo of HELP, now blurred and obscured as if the world had shifted in the interval between the blinking of the shutter and the fixing of the image, potential shrapnel flayed into flesh.”
This Romeo returns from Mongolia and she won’t see me for a week. Then bliss-like connection. HELP here, HELP gone. We’re in bed, suddenly, her mind is in Greenwich, CT and I’m in Brooklyn. The “A” train doesn’t go to Greenwich. We’d be making out on line at the Berkeley Bowl or she wouldn’t answer my phone calls. Loving HELP was like staying in the shower too long in a crowded house. You’re half way through, soap on your balls and ass, and suddenly the water turns cold. Life with HELP was solving riddles.
I watched her like a spider as the spider walks sideways up a wall. So I employed all my magic potions, all my sorcery, grilled tuna with Chilean nectarines for her, ginger scented massages, my backyard would be ablaze with roaring wood burning stove and 50 votive candles placed on tree branches, It was a blaze of light. I would demonstrate my time teleportation experiments where I have learned how to slow the spoilage of food (whole other story.) I would bring dry ice to her house and blow up plastic bottles in her honor. And, yes, there would be 10 minutes of crackhead bliss and then disconnect and this crackhead would plummet into insecurity and despair. Think Long Day’s Journey Into Night, think of the discomfort of a Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, think Bergman Doom and Gloom.
HELP dumped me two times, once in May and then again in July. I was clearly too much. I mourned her, sulked on my outdoor couch, entered therapy to try to suss out what had happened and began the process of slipping away. I took brillo and comet and erased all the desperate graffiti. People had to wonder about this guy walking into café bathrooms with bucket filled w/ cleaning bottles, rags and wire brushes. People would be knocking on the bathroom door and eventually I’d emerge with comet dust all over me.
I had HELP, I lost HELP, boy, did I need some serious help!
Then in late September, Bob, as in Bob Dylan, impacted once again upon my lifeline. FYI – I am big, big Dylan devotee from way back. I once had the largest collection of Dylan tapes in all of sub-saharan Africa! I once had Dylan drunk across my lap in a NYC checker taxi cab…like Christ or the Pieta…a major religious experience for me. And HELP knew that.
Time was late September, Scorscese documentary on Bob was on TV and HELP called, after long absence, as she was TV less, and asked if she could watch Dylan documentary with me. We did…and then we were going at it, post the Dylan doc, on my couch. Maybe it was a Simple Twist of Fate, her mouth watery and wet, her skirt swayed as a guitar played, I was Forever Young, I was Knocking on Heaven’s Door, it was Lay Lady Lay, a New Morning, Shelter From the Storm, she was my Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands, and the Times Were Definitely A Changing….
Nights swirling and whirling and from that moment in late September until sometime in mid December, this HELP gave me everything I had ever longed to get from her. We were lovers burning our sheets and we were making life coupling plans. Her avalanching hair was mine, her elegant neck, her ice blue eyes, those long athletic legs, the clean body with the dirty mind was mine alone…forever.
She granted me pop over privileges. Gave me a key to her house. We were officially girlfriend and boyfriend. I even drove her to the airport. We were saying “I swear on my Penis” commitments to ensure that this now blissful relationship would work. I’m swearing on my penis, she’s swearing on her penis, it’s fucking beautiful. Everyone’s swearing on their penises. Hayden Elizabeth Lancaster Parker is swearing on her penis. Hallelujah!
She said several times, “Don’t Let Me Fuck This Up.” And all my graffiting stopped.
Cut to my best friend – he’s a shrink and I’ve known him since sleep away camp at 8 years old. He is also my only tennis partner – we have no idea how good we are since we only play each other. When I started playing tennis with HELP, I had to tell David as I felt like I was committing adultery. Because of the ups and downs of my early experiences with HELP, I had shown him about 50 e-mails from HELP to get his professional opinion. Because he knew me so well, six comparable sessions of therapy could be distilled down to 15 minutes in the whirlpool post tennis. Unlike your typical compassionate and uninvolved therapist, David would quickly tell me, “Scott, you are a fucking moron!” This woman is incapable of intimacy on the level you want, and he predicted that the distance would undoubtedly surface again and that eventually I would HATE her. He even offered to bet his Kensington home…and this is from a guy who can’t help himself from watching his money and getting the best deal, simply put, he is now buying light bulbs on-line.
Starting in mid December, HELP sent me e-mails about our cross cultural challenges and how “her people” react to certain situations versus how “my people” do so. Stuff like the bliss of connection is not a gimme in a cross-species romance such as ours, and though I don’t feel especially connected to you right now, I am still fascinated. She was becoming more “bouvier” like again, aloof and indifferent, and I was still this “mutt” – wanting her love and attention and missing it. December 19th she goes home to Greenwich, CT for the holidays…she was returning to her roots. The thoroughbred horses, the bouvier dogs, the decaying estate, the congealing history of who she is. Goodbye Columbus!
Isn’t it a mind fuck when you read the situation all wrong? While I was still experiencing a connection of Biblical proportions, HELP was disengaging. She goes back to her roots, gets re-acquainted with her history and in my desperation, what do I do? I’m sending her Jew Food from NYC. I call Katz’s Delicatessan on the lower east side. I arrange to have a dozen potato and kasha knishes, a bucket of ½ sour pickles, a salami for your boy in the army, and a dozen H&H bagels sent to her (3 onion, 3 poppy, 3 garlic, 3 bialis). From Connecticut there were phone calls thanking me for the knishes, the bagels, the salami and the half sour pickles that I sent her for “her people” to experience the tastes of “my people.” But she also told me that I am right to be afraid, this could be serious and she didn’t think that Bush laid in enough vaccine to protect me, and there were many unanswered e-mails. Even I knew it was over. Upon her return, we went through some motions of trying to keep it going but it had quickly disintegrated. I asked HELP if she needed amnesia for a kiss.
Let me make this as clear as an unmuddied lake: I’m a Jew who got to the New World via a barge from Ellis Island. I tried to go the distance with a woman who got here on the Mayflower via Plymouth Rock. Blink had not accounted to get my Jewish ass onto the Mayflower. At the end of the day, there was no blink of the eye truth. At the end of the day, HELP was just a momentary illusion. This Jew boy from Brooklyn, in some alternative reality, was just an adventurous pilgrim, laden with scurvy, hurling over the side of the Mayflower, because sometimes you just get tired of who you are. And sometimes the eye persists in seeing something that was never really there to begin with.
Fuck Blink, close the book on Hayden Elizabeth Lancaster Parker. She is Like A Rolling Stone, I’m Tangled Up in Blue but I Shall Be Released and I will Paint My Masterpiece. Sometimes you can’t balance a mattress on a bottle of wine. I had HELP, I lost HELP, fucking eh, I need some help. But HELP is just a four letter word. And, I swear on my penis, that I won’t be there the next time HELP calls.