Archive: February 2005

(4 entries)

Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Date night, but not for us

As Thursday rolled around, I had spent several days congratulating myself for scheduling The Date That Should Not Have Been, due to occur in just two more days. I went out to my day of toil in the vineyards of overproduction, meeting up with the same agency types who had been recently feeding and clothing me, though not personally, but with money. I showed up fed on Corn Flakes (a former client) and clothed in Levi’s (I am Orthodox in my jeans choice). Just steps into the space, the account executive immediately sidelined me and said, “Can’t you look professional?”

“What do you mean?”

“This isn’t a jeans kind of shoot.”

I looked down at his suit from Yesterday’s Man. “I can’t do a photo shoot in a three-piece. I have to move around.”

“This is an important client. Next time we meet with them, wear chinos at least.”

He wandered off to smile while I did the work. The very concept of “professional” confuses me. What does it mean to “look professional”? It means to wear a suit. Wearing a suit is not difficult. All you have to do is put a suit on your body, and it’s done. You have mastered the process. What does that have to do with your professional abilities?

Another aspect of this myth is the letterhead. Why do deadbeats get printed letterhead? Because it “looks professional”. But what it really is is convenient. Nobody at General Motors wants their entire employee base writing out the address every time they send an envelope to somebody. They get the letterhead printed not for some abstract concept of what it means to be in business, but because it saves time and money for their company. Wearing jeans saves time and money for my company, and for yours if you hire me. For one thing, we’d just spent thirty seconds discussing it, and I bill by the half-second. That’s sixty-three cents you’ll never see again, smart guy!

But I got through it and returned home to more flashing from the only shining element of my life, the bulb on my answering machine. Pushing it turned out to be a let-down. Kerry was canceling the date that was going to change my life.

“Jack, hi, it’s Kerry, it’s about three-forty-five here. I’m really sorry to do this at the last minute, but they just asked me to go out to San Francisco, and I won’t be back until Monday. I really wanted to see you this weekend. The next week or two aren’t looking so good, but can you call me and we’ll figure it out? I’m really sorry, Jack, please don’t think I’m trying to get out of this. I couldn’t say no to my boss. Please call me, or I’ll call you when I get back. Okay. Talk to you soon, bye.”

I pulled from the freezer the just-begun glass of icy vodka that Kerry’s intrusion into my mindspace had interrupted my consumption of a few days before. It had been my backup plan all along, though I hadn’t known it. I sat on my couch and considered what game was afoot. There was the possibility that she was on the level. There was the possibility that she was telling the truth in the particularity of having to leave town, but nonetheless was relieved it got her out of our date. There was the possibility that she was making it up to get rid of me. There was the possibility that the entire date had been a ruse to punish me. They all seemed equally possible. I was even willing to credit as equally possible that she was completely not fucking with me. But I didn’t know which was the truth. I drank the vodka instead.

In Manhattan at least, Thursday is date night, as I have explained: the night for first dates between people who are auditioning each other for a starring role. I went out into the night and stumbled upon dozens, hundreds, an entire city full of these hopeful cases with their locked step and their crossed fingers. Not fair, under the circs. There is nothing worse than being stood up for a Saturday (the most serious of evenings out) on a Thursday (when you’d have to suffer through three whole days of other people’s dates). I headed for the bar, where the only dating was trying to figure out the era of each stain and burn on the bar. Some of them had happened since I’d been going, I was sure.

The bar was almost empty, which is not surprising, even though the neighborhood was crowded with drinkers: they wouldn’t be coming here. I knew I could relax among my fellow rejects from the dustbin of love. I swept into the room and sized up my evening: Crazy Leland, who only knew one joke and was still working on its delivery; Big Sal, who was curled up asleep in a booth, with his feet two feet over the side; Joey One-Nose, our local mafia don who always went home, with great willpower, after two beers and fourteen brandies; and — here I almost turned around and stalked back to my apartment — that firebrand of the drunken pool league, neighborhood girl Teresa, who I hadn’t seen in forever. But she saw me immediately, because she put down the pool stick from the game she was playing with herself and disappeared into the back.

I sat at the bar and called for a vodka. Never mix, never worry. Crazy Leland asked me if I wanted to hear a joke. Joey asked if I wanted him to buy me a brandy. From behind I felt a light smack and I turned to see Teresa back already. “Hey, it’s you,” she said.

“Yes,” I said. “I’m glad to see you,” I said.

“Ha,” she said. “Yeah. All right, buy me a drink.”

I ordered her a Jameson’s on the rocks, and she was impressed that I remembered. But I never forget a drink, or the drunk girls who drink them, especially when the last time I saw them we’d had abortive sex (my favorite). However, if it were up to me, I’d generally not put ice in a premium whiskey.

“So how you been,” she said, as we clinked glasses. I told her, “I been all right.” This was how to talk neighborhood.

I said, “I kept hoping I’d run into you again. It’s been a long time since last time.”

She said, “Yeah, you’re right, okay, buy me a drink.” I managed to sway the bartender back to our end of the bar right in the crucial moment of Leland’s joke, and he refilled her glass. I wasn’t quite to the same pace yet. She swirled her ice around and said, “I’m not having a good night.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Yeah, right. What’s right? It’s bullshit to talk about it, though.” That was probably the most wisdom I could expect from any of my emboozled colleagues that evening, but I agreed with it.

I put my hand on her shoulder. As the least drunk person in the room, bar staff included, I felt a fatherly responsibility. “Teresa, I’m sorry,” I said. “I wish things were better for you.”

“Ha,” she said. “You wish you could get me in the sack, is all. Like I’d be interested after last time. Or any time. Like I don’t have enough trouble already.”

I drank my drink and got another one. She was still swirling her ice defiantly. “It’s all the same shit,” she said.

I absently turned my head to take in a bit of the Joey-Leland-bartender conversation, which seemed to require prior knowledge. Teresa drank her drink when I wasn’t looking. I got us some more.

“Thanks,” she said, when the latest one was brought forth. “You don’t have any cocaine, do you?”

Cocaine, that substance that seemed to work for Other People. It bores me. I leveled my cocaine-poor gaze at her. She said, “I know you have some, you guys always do. Come on.” She took my hand, got down from the stool, and started off to the bathrooms, where the traditional cocaine feasts were held. They usually also involved touching.

“I don’t have any,” I said. She stopped, still bathroom-facing, and I took my hand back. She turned around and sat next to me again. “That’s all right,” she said, “it was just a thought.”

We drank in silence for a while. “I’m sorry you’re sad,” I said again, like a bozo.

“Thanks,” she said. We sat there for a while, drinking, not talking, and when she started to fall off her stool too often, I walked her home. She kissed me a bit at the bottom of the steps, and then a bit more at the top of the steps, and then I went home, thinking about Kerry and how she was such a jerk.

by Jack, 8:01 PM | Link | Comments (0) | More from Drinking & Women | More from Kerry | More from Teresa

Wednesday, February 2, 2005

Blame Javier

I slept in late on Friday because I had nothing else to do. That’s more or less my explanation for everything. I called my ardent supporters at 26 Street Color Labs to tell them I’d be in Monday to get the chromes I should have gotten immediately. But it was only for a job. I had better things to worry about, like my wounded soul [sic].

Kerry had canceled our date, and it was a blow. It was a date that never should have been conceived of to begin with, and when it had been, it had given me hope. I thought maybe I had underrated Kerry, myself, and the race of man. Then she had canceled, and I realized that in fact, once again, I was right about everything. I was not going to get a piece of that.

However, she had suggested that she felt bad about the cancellation, and that we should reschedule. This could have been just cover. Or it could have been true. I had to decide which of these interpretations I would respond to. In the hungover cocoon of my bedclothes, I grasped the phone which would dial her number. I decided to give her one more chance. I would take her at face value: I would propose that we get together again the following Saturday. I was even prepared to consider, if she were not available, the Saturday after that. All without thinking less of her for it. That was how far I was willing to meet her halfway. I dialed her number.

It rang once. I reshuffled phrases in my head for use in the clear, concise message I would leave. It rang twice. I had second thoughts about allowing her such control over me after all, but then reconsidered. It rang three times, and I mentally ran through my oratory. But instead of an answering machine message, I heard, “Hello?”

I said, “Kerry?”

The voice, which didn’t sound like Kerry’s, said, “No, this is Erica.”

I said, “Oh!”

She said, “I’m Kerry’s roommate.”

I said, “I know who you are, we —”

“Oh, because a lot of Kerry’s friends, or the people she knows, they don’t know me, and —”

“This is Jack Task. We’ve met.”

She paused for a second, considering that. “Yes,” she said, “Jack. How are you?”

“Well, I’m fine, uh, actually. How are you?”

“Oh, I’m okay, I guess, thanks. Did you want me to take a message for Kerry? Or do you want to just call back and I’ll let the machine get it? She’s away for the weekend, you know.”

“Yes, I do know,” I said, and I thought about what I had wanted to say to Kerry, and about Erica sitting in her room listening to it, precisely targeted direct to the wrong ear. “Well, I guess I don’t have a message. I was just returning her call.”

“She had to leave town suddenly,” Erica said again.

“Yes, she told me,” I said.

“Meeting in San Francisco,” Erica said.

“So I understand,” I said.

“Did you two have plans?” she asked.

“I was just returning her call,” I said.

“Because if you had plans, obviously, well, I’m sorry to say she’s left town unexpectedly.”

“It’s not your fault,” I said. There was a pause while I tried to figure out what was happening.

“Thanks,” she said.

“Erica,” I said, “are you available tonight?”

“Tonight?” she said. “Friday night?”

“Yeah, tonight. It’s Friday.”

“Well,” she said, and I pictured her looking around their apartment, “actually. This particular Friday I happen to be available.”

“Because I was thinking that maybe —”

“Most Fridays I’m not available,” she said. “This Friday happens to be convenient for me because —”

“I thought that, since you’re free, we could —”

“— because this Friday I happen to have no friends at all because I’m very unpopular due to the fact that no one likes me. What did you want to do?”

“Should we get dinner?”

“I can be ready in ten minutes. What time?”

I looked at my watch. It was three in the afternoon. “How about we meet at Café Ombre? At eight o’clock?”

She said, “All right, that’s fine. I don’t know if you remember, I’m a tall blonde —”

“I remember. I look forward to seeing you, Erica.”

“Great. Okay, great. See you then.”

I went back to bed. At around six I wandered into the bathroom and reconstructed myself by chipping away everything that didn’t look like a gigolo. I had a couple of stiff ones and trudged out across town to that West Village enchanted bistro, Café Ombre, where I have never had a date that didn’t end in tragic, Lake District lovemaking. For a moment, on the M8 bus, I was struck with remorse that I was leading Erica down the garden path. I had no right to take her to dinner, especially not at a romantic spot where she was guaranteed to agree to give it up. This was between me and Kerry. Erica was an innocent. The fact that she had answered the phone should not have made her party to the conflict.

But then again, in any court of justice, the fact that she was a blonde with big tits made her fair game. I refrained from asking the driver of the M8 bus to turn back. I was soon at the café, where I spoke to Javier, a man whose job was equivalent to that of the owner but without the ownership that would entail, nor even the salary level of a manager. He seemed to be not so much a manager as the waiter elected from their number to deal with the non-waiters. He was my friend. He gave me the You Will Get Laid table, a leather booth behind some leafy plants far away from the other tables but close to the bathrooms, so your date couldn’t go hide in them with someone else without your knowing it.

Javier brought me, personally, my usual fine Russian vodka in locally available glassware. I had only taken a sip of it when Javier brought me the next course: Erica looking flushed from the cold, beaming, struggling out of her coat with his help. He gave me a broad stage wink, and took off with the coat, another prevention against your date leaving without your permission, and I rose to give Erica a proper greeting with a chaste peck on the cheek involving an unavoidable press against her chest. We sat in the booth. She looked happy so far.

“Thanks for meeting me tonight, Erica,” I said.

She beamed and said, “It’s my pleasure, Jack. I’m just happy to get out of the house for a change.”

I considered for a moment her outfit, which must have been witty when you considered its brevity. Red heels, tan skirt, and a kind of orange tube top normally worn when it is not winter and you not are a non-hooker. It struck me how sad it was that a girl whom nobody invited out wouldn’t have appropriate date clothing, but would still have hooker tube tops. (I was in a blazer, slacks, and a collarless shirt — all black. Do you approve?) Anyway, she looked pretty hot.

Javier’s assigned waitstaff professional took her cocktail order — vodka Gimlet; what does that mean? We considered the menu and I ordered a professional bottle of wine. It all went off quite well, with the leafy plant swishing importantly whenever the next course was brought or someone had to go to the bathroom. Erica and I gazed into each other’s eyes for our own separate reasons, and finally I got the check and paid it with the money that I get from working. Now we know why I bother.

At my signal her coat was returned and we stepped out into the night, standing on the street corner for one final negotiation.

“Thank you so much for the wonderful —”

“How about one more drink?” I asked.

“Well, sure, all right, where do you —”

“How about your place?”

“Sure, I have some drinks,” she said. “We can go to my place for a drink. That’s no problem!”

“Let’s do that,” I said. She smiled at me, and I felt bad, but I remembered that tube top under her honest winter coat. Wasn’t she just as much to blame as Javier?

by Jack, 3:50 PM | Link | Comments (2) | More from Drinking & Women | More from Erica | More from Kerry

Thursday, February 3, 2005

Meeting cute

After Erica led me into her apartment, I took her coat and left her to mix the drinks while I snooped around the place. I had never been invited back to the apartment she shared with Kerry before, and certainly not by Kerry. I left our coats on a chair and stood in the doorway of Kerry’s room, noting the too-big bed but not touching it: I’d leave that for when I saw her next. Sure, she might have had to leave town suddenly, but she’d be back, and I could resume my lifelong process of learning how to seduce her.

Erica had arranged herself on the couch, brightly waiting for me with two vodka-and-sodas in her two hands. With her hands full, her tube top was beginning to slip, and as soon as I relieved her of a glass, she pulled her top back up while sipping from the remaining drink.

“Bit chilly for December,” I said, gesturing at her cleavage with my glass.

“Oh, I like my vodka on the rocks all year round,” she explained.

“That’s good,” I said. “Drink up.” We drank up. I finished my glass but she didn’t finish hers. Otherwise I still liked her. I put the glasses on her Ikea table and kissed her goosebumpy neck. She had her hands gently on my shoulders, and, grinning, she said, “Oh, you shouldn’t.”

“Why not,” I said, without stopping. She said, “Oh, okay.”

I looked in her face and I said her name. She fluttered and said something similar to my name. I kissed her right down the cakehole and she made it known she appreciated it. We held onto each other there on the couch, crunched up in one corner, feeling important. “I’m glad you called me today,” she said, which was a pleasantly revisionist version of the story, since I had been calling her roommate. “Me too,” I said.

Erica settled in against the cushions and I handed her her drink. She smiled at me and smiled at the drink and smiled. I traced little circles on her thigh with an ice-skating finger. “You know,” I said, “you’re a good-looking woman.”

She giggled. “No, I’m not.”

I leaned back in but I didn’t take her drink. She sipped on it as I bit on her jaw. “Don’t act surprised,” I said.

“I’m not surprised, it’s just not true,” she said, in all her radiant glory. I hooked a finger into her tube top and peered inside. “Looks pretty good to me,” I said. She snorted and spilled her drink on her own clavicle. I raised up the tube top to absorb it. As I wiped her with the clothes she was wearing, I said, “Stop playing games; you know you’re turning me on.”

Her eyes were wide. “Are you serious? I am?” I nodded. She grinned. “Okay,” she said.

I pried the empty glass out of her hand, set it on the Ikea table, and kissed her seriously with hands on head and everything. Then I rolled her tube top up under her arms, which she automatically lifted so I could take it off over her head. She really was as gorgeous as I wanted her to feel. A little goofy, but nobody would know that if they were just looking at the dirty pictures that I’d have to find a chance to shoot.

With her déshabillement a project begun, I moved her aside so I could nestle in the couch’s corner instead. She flopped down on me like a drunk, horny girl will do. We kissed and murmured and felt around each other. I think I took off my jacket. I hadn’t had that much to drink, for me, but I suppose Erica was used to getting kicked out of the party long before she’d had as many as she’d had tonight. Again, was this my fault? I did like her. I wanted something to happen between us. She was the one who was drinking her drinks.

She was spending a long while feeling around my crotch and smirking up at my face. I let her do that for a while and then I said, “Why don’t you put it in your mouth?”

She snorted again and drew back her body in probable surprise, which was a graceful arch despite her drunk staccato movement, but her hand never left the goods. She looked up at me and I nodded that I approved this message. The unzip was easy, the reaching in took some shifting around on my part, and then the tentative engulfment began. You spend so much time walking around the planet sending out the telepathic signal, “Please suck my dick,” that it’s always a relief when someone finally does. As I say, it was tentative at first, with lots of glances at my face for encouragement, but I said, “Erica, I’m just so happy to be here with you,” and after a while she was just all on her own down there, self-contained, putting in a good day’s work, and without any self-consciousness at all. She had been wound up well and now she was going to run out her charge. I squeezed her shoulder with genuine affection.

Life is farce, and so are blow jobs, but I watched Erica with growing admiration. As the only blonde bombshell wallflower in existence, she was a rare specimen to be cared for. I wasn’t going to hurt her. I wanted to help her. I wanted to cherish her, as far as was reasonable. I would do whatever I could for her. Kerry, my perfect woman, to one side, there was no reason that Erica could not also be amazing. Especially since Kerry was out of town for a few days.

As my plans for the coming weekend bounced around in fuzzy bliss, I heard the door open behind me and I turned my head to see Kerry heading in with her wheeled suitcase. She looked over at the couch first, as a couch, and then looked to see I was on it, and then wheeled closer to see that Erica was on it too. At this point, Erica hadn’t stopped moving; she was in the zone. I said, “Kerry!” Erica looked up, then took my dick out of her mouth, and said, “Kerry!” Then I burst across her face. Then Kerry wheeled her suitcase into her room and shut the door. We watched her go, and we listened to the manic sobs. Erica looked troubled. I wiped her face with a rag I found on the floor, which turned out to be her tube top. “I’m sorry,” I said to her, meaning it generally.

“She said she was going to be away for the weekend,” Erica said, still dazed from overstimulation.

“Thank you for a wonderful evening,” I said, standing, putting my jacket back on, and replacing my dick in my pants. “I will call you.”

by Jack, 1:31 PM | Link | Comments (5) | More from Drinking & Women | More from Erica | More from Kerry

Friday, February 18, 2005

Why I no longer go to restaurants

I’m just getting around to alerting you that my previous post was Trouble Sells’ One Hundredth. This post begins our second century; it also puts us over 60,000 words, most of which were dirty. Gifts are accepted but not required.

Traditionally, February is Jack History Month. Today, rather than looking back at my early life, I will tell you what I have planned for the ongoing narrative in the upcoming weeks and months. Adjust your schedules accordingly.

But first, a few words about what is important in life.

I don’t go to restaurants much these days because the experience does not impress me. Either you have a good meal, or you have an average one, or you have a bad one. So what? It is transient. I can’t get upset about it. So many people spend their lives worrying about where the good restaurants are. They read books on it, they spend time on research and gossip towards the same end. Or they focus on what the good wines are. Or where the best live and recorded music can be found. Or who the best people are. But it’s transient. You can’t hang onto these things. It isn’t enough to make up your life.

So I don’t go to restaurants anymore. I don’t expect restaurants to save me. Nor wine, music, nor people.

So what’s important in life, instead? I don’t know, but I am hopeful that relentless self-obsession will show the way. Maybe we will find out in future essays by and about myself, as I take on the following unresolved issues:

New Year’s Eve, the final night at my bar.
Christmas in Racine.
Me and Erica, the odd couple.

It may take me a while to decide how to best present these epoch-making tales, but they’ll all be dealt with eventually. That is what you can expect from our next hundred episodes.

Thank you for your interest.

by Jack, 4:21 PM | Link | Comments (2) | More from Foundational Issues | More from Jack History Month

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