Monday, March 10, 2014

THE FIFTH DATE





When I tell people I’ve had maybe four dates in my entire life, they think I’m kidding. Yeah, sure, you’re from Hollywood they say, like I’m always turning down invites to premieres, wrap parties and après Oscar soirees from Brad Pitt and George Clooney.

 Oh, I’ve had plenty of relationships- not to mention numerous affairs, love triangles, on-going fuck buddy assignations and one-night stands… as well as trysts, booty-calls, and hook-ups. But it’s the honest truth: punk rock ruined me for dating. The way I was socially conditioned, you went out for the night -or out on tour- and if you wound up with someone and had sex, then the next day you both knew it was either a little fling or the beginning of a relationship. Dinner and a movie? Wining, dining and flowers? I had no clue. This was not my reality.


A few years ago, after a lengthy and traumatic break-up, I figured it was about time to get my ass back in the arena, and hell, maybe even date.  Conveniently forgetting my junior-high level of dating inexperience, I prepared to jump into the fray and be a social butterfly, dating different people every night.


I met Enrique at Go-Go’s rhythm guitarist Jane Wiedlin’s Weimar Republic-themed birthday party. The music was cranked, champagne was flowing, and there were two strippers in 1920’s drag writhing around on the coffee table. To add to the Berlin Between The Wars feeling, guests were attired in leather trench coats, flapper dresses, even Eric Von Stroheim-style riding britches. A male servant with a bleached crew cut, copious amounts of eye-make-up and a Hitler Youth uniform was chopping up cocaine on an antique stand from a church that had once been used for holding Holy Water.


 Grabbing a flute of Cristal, I stepped over the leashed slaves huddling on the floor to get a better look at a guy who definitely stuck out in the crowd. He was, for lack of a better word, a “hunk”.  Tall, bronzed and body-builder-buff, he had a curly, oiled pompadour and teeth that were so white they couldn’t have been real. He was wearing slacks, a fishnet body shirt, and a big gold medallion. It was as though Erik Estrada- by way of Chippendale’s- had been dropped into the set of The Night Porter.


“Isn’t that guy hot?”  I whispered to a drag queen standing next to me, who was also captivated,

“ Do you think that’s a costume, or is he for real?”

 Tossing back errant strands of hair from his Louise Brooks wig, the queen’s immediate response was:

  Giiiirl, if he’s straight, you should totally fuck him!”

Might as well expand my horizons, I thought. DATING!


 Out on the terrace, a coterie of my gay male pals were ensconced around a table, deep into speculation about the mystery hunk.

 “ Oooh miss thang…all that’s missing is a mullet,” cooed one.

“Or a pony-tail!” sighed another.

“He’s the suitcase pimp,” said my friend Willy, daintily sipping a champagne cocktail.

 “Huh?” I asked, baffled.

 “He came with the strippers.”


As if on cue, the scent of very pungent men’s cologne filled the air as a prelude to Enrique’s entrance, which immediately hushed everyone on the patio as they went into observation mode. He made a beeline to me and introduced himself in a heavily- accented voice dripping honey. When he said “Enrique”, his R’s rolled like no tomorrow, like an announcer on a Spanish Top Forty radio station.


 I asked what he did; he answered that he was an actor.


“Well, of course you are,” I said, my tipsy flirtatiousness barely concealing my utter sarcasm. Why else would he look that way?


 He turned out to be funny, smart and charming, in town from Venezuela to work on a TV show. It was-as is it wasn’t perfectly obvious- a soap opera.  I later verified with a telenovela-addicted girlfriend that he was actually a big daytime TV star in South America, but at this point, I didn’t care. It was all kind of funny and exotic.


 As I left the terrace to visit the powder room, Enrique followed me up the stairs, his eyes glued to my buttocks, commenting in his silky Fernando Llamas voice,


 “Nice view!”


It took him three weeks to call me, but when he did, he apologized, saying he’d been on vacation “ in Cabo”, a perfect place, I thought, for a guy who wore fishnet body-shirts and probably spent his free time downing Jell-O shots with strippers who were Pamela Anderson look-alikes. Thankfully, I resisted the urge to ask if he’d seen Sammy Hagar there… mainly because when he called, I was literally out on a limb.


 A stray cat had brought three kittens into my house, and on their first venture outside, one had gotten stuck up a tree. I tried to ignore it; it would figure out how to climb down by itself with it’s own natural instincts. Stressed out and cranky, I was already late for a   photo-session.  It was smoggy, about 103 degrees and humid… my false eyelashes weren’t sticking, and I was about to get my period at any second. But the kitty was so tiny and so scared; I woke up my actress/model/bartender neighbor and forced her to hold a rickety ladder while I climbed up into the tree to rescue the panicked baby.

 I was getting covered in sticks and twigs, sweating profusely. My neighbor broke an acrylic nail and was whining about it…and her hangover. The kitten was wailing, and I was beginning to think maybe I should call the fire department. The walk-around landline phone was shoved my back pocket; I’d been trying to call the photo studio to say I would be late. When it rang, I answered, assuming it was the photographer.


  Enrique laughed when I told him I was up a tree, thinking I was kidding.


 “Joo are an interesting girl,” he said, intimately, as though he knew me. You don’t know the half of it, I thought.


We made a date for that night.


 The photo session sucked. Not only did I feel bloated and ugly, the “studio” was in a garage behind the Fat Burger on Santa Monica and Gardner. There was no air-conditioning, and the smell of grilled onions permeated the air.  I got my period, and also got a flat tire on the way home.  By twilight, the heat hadn’t let up. But Enrique called again to cajole me into going out, and I figured a cocktail would do me good. He picked me up in a new car that smelled like one, with a metal flake paint job that gleamed as seriously as his teeth.


 Joo look maaaaah-velous,” he purred sincerely, and I reveled in his ultra-clichéd Don Juan/ Suavecito/Rico Suave cheesiness.


 I selected a bar called Daddy’s on Vine Street, because it was nearby and dark …but more importantly, air-conditioned. My sisters and I had recently discovered it, having gone there once to toast the memory of our deceased Papa on Father’s Day. I remembered it as being quiet, but when we got there, it was absolutely packed with what seemed like the entire cast of every season of American Idol contestants. Enrique and I stood at the bar, unable to talk because of the din, and had martinis while waiting for a booth to open up. Finally, one did- it was cozy and intimate.


 Enrique immediately ordered another round.  I felt light-headed, and remembered that due to the kitten, photos and flat tire, I had forgotten to eat. I tried to switch my position, but my platform boot got wedged in the cramped space between the couch and coffee table, so I swung my legs up onto his lap, effectively breaking the ice.


 “So,” he asked, stroking my legs with one hand and practically bottle-feeding me my martini with the other, “How did joo lose your virginity?”


 Just as I was about to answer, a woman’s voice screamed into my ear:

“EXCUSE ME!! CAN WE SHARE THIS BOOTH WITH YOU?”


I turned around and it registered how pretty the girl was. Then, in a dreamlike spit-second, I realized it was my sister Eddie… and that it was so dark, she also didn’t recognize me. A second later, we both shrieked loudly in shock. Even over the noise of the crowd, our screaming duet was so loud it caused Enrique to spill the martini all over both of us.


 “THIS IS MY SISTER,” I yelled.

 “WHAT IS SHE DOING HERE?”, Enrique yelled back.

“ IT’S JUST A COINCIDENCE!”, I screamed back in disbelief, laughing hysterically. What are the chances?


  Enrique looked dubious, and then I noticed that my sister had in tow her twin Cupcake, both of their boyfriends, and another pal to boot.


“CAN WE SHARE YOUR BOOTH?” Eddie howled.

Flustered but ever the gentleman, Enrique moved over,

 “JOO ALWAYS BRING YOUR SISTERS ON DATES?” he bellowed.


 “YOU’RE ON A… DATE?!?”  The twins managed to raise the decibel level to new heights in shocked unison.


 The whole crew all crammed into the booth, and ordered us two more rounds, one for intruding, and one just because.  Since conversation was nearly impossible and their scrutiny was so intense, Enrique suggested we go back to his place.


 “I have vodka there,” he hollered.


 When we got outside, stumbling into the still-stifling night air, I realized I was beyond tipsy. I was drunk as a skunk. The ride to Enrique’s apartment was a blur, although I do recall the hellish scent of his aftershave filling the car, and that I couldn’t figure out the seat belt and he had to do it up for me.


  As we pulled into his driveway, I imagined what his apartment looked like- I just knew it would be a bachelor-pad. Not the sloppy, plaid couch and leftover pizza-box Monday Night Football kinda place, but a swinger-ish, sterile playah kind of place. I clairvoyantly saw Ikea-type brushed metal CD stands filled with lame R&B, an eighties black lacquer bedroom set, and triptych Southwestern paintings. Maybe a copy of Playboy or a car magazine laying on the glass coffee table. A gooseneck lamp, track lighting on low.  What could I possibly have in common with this person?

 I was immediately thrown into a moral dilemma:


 Would I…could I…fuck a guy who had Eighties furniture?


I should have recognized this as a portent of disaster, but decided instead to continue with my anthropological experiment. The interior was worse than I thought.  He switched on the stereo, and some god-awful New Age crap was playing. I took a seat on a big, plush cheap couch upholstered with Jackson Pollack / Art Director Scrawl splashed material, while Enrique made drinks. He handed me one, immediately getting out a bong and offering me a hit.


 I cannot smoke pot. I just can’t handle it at all. I turn into such a raving lunatic, that it’s impossible for me to even form the simple sentence, “I’m so high without collapsing into painful hysterical laughter complete with tears, aching sides, and snot shooting from both nostrils.  I used to joke that I’d only ever smoke marijuana if I were on three or four other substances.


 So I politely declined the offer, we sipped our drinks, and made small talk. He got really high quickly, giggling like a school kid, his deep dimples looking adorable. He was giddy and fun, dropping the Latin Lothario thing.


 Cool, I thought, a new side of this guy, all little boy!  Still woozy from the booze, I remembered I had a tiny bit of coke in my Santee Alley Luis Viutton knock-off wallet. He refused, saying he didn’t do it, but I figured if he was indulging in something I didn’t do, then it wouldn’t be rude to snort it by myself. It energized me and woke me up, but instead of snapping me back into reality, it merely enhanced my drunkenness.


 Maybe I wanted some pot after all. Enrique made it look so… attractive. I took a big, bubbly hit, and as it filled my lungs, I immediately got incredibly, ridiculously high.


“It’s good stuff, huh?” he choked, holding in another hit.


 Can you turn this shit off?” I asked abruptly, gesturing towards the stereo in a dismissive sweep.


 He seemed kind of hurt, but obliged.


 Change the subject, I thought, deflect your bad-manners faux pas.

 “Say your name.” I commanded, rather loudly.

“Joo know my name,” he said looking at me quizzically.

 “But just say it, so I can hear you,” I whined.


“ENRRRRRRRRRRIQUE” he said, and I yelped loudly, bouncing up and down in delight. He started snickering at my display.


 “SAY IT AGAIN!!!” I practically yelled. This was turning out to be fun.

He repeated,“ ENRRRRRRRRRQUE!” and this time it was so gratifying I couldn’t contain an orgasmic squeal, getting so excited I knocked my drink all over the carpet.


“Shhhhhh!” he said, holding his hands to gesture Quiet Down, while trying to mop up the mess.


 As he went to make another drink, he took a large geode off a shelf and handed it to me.


“Look at that,” he called from the kitchen, “Isn’t it incredible?”


 It was beyond incredible… huge, oddly shaped, almost like a stone boat.  It was so heavy I had to hold it with both my hands, like a big meteoric watermelon slice. The outer shell was rough, bubbled, pockmarked and rust-colored like iron ore, but the inside was filled with   thousands of otherworldly aquamarine crystals, clustered together in all shapes and sizes. Some were milky, some iridescent. It seemed to glow from within. I was rendered speechless with its beauty.


“When I found it on the beach in Cabo”, he said, stirring the drinks,  “Only about two inches were sticking up from the sand! Can you believe it?”


 I held it up to the light to admire it, turning it slowly, but it seemed to emanate it’s own light. Suddenly, holding it and observing it just wasn’t enough. I had an overwhelming urge to taste it. If it looked this way, certainly it must taste … like…some luxurious outer space wintergreen candy… maybe…or at the very least, salty and wonderful like the tropical waters of Mexico.


 Ok, the 80’s furniture was one thing- I could stretch my personal boundaries to accept that. But I instinctively knew that, stoned or not, there’d be no way in hell Enrique would understand my desire to lick his crystals. The need to taste it was irresistible. I stole a furtive glance at the kitchen, and thought maybe I could sneak in just one satisfying taste on the sly. He’d never be the wiser!


 Swiftly I brought the rock up to my mouth, but sadly, due to the marijuana, I had lost most of my motor control skills.  As I lifted the geode to my lips, I misjudged the distance and the boulder smashed me in the face. I was so shocked that I dropped it, causing the entire apartment to shake.


Jumping at the noise, Enrique spilled both drinks, and ran to my side. The whole bottom of my face was numb. I could taste blood filling my mouth, and sliding my tongue gently and exploratorily around my front teeth, my heart sank as I felt a jagged edge.


 I babbled what I hoped sounded like,  “Did I chip my tooth?”


 Enrique took my chin in his hand, trying to discern the damage done to my face.


 “Well,” he said slowly, “ Maybe just a little,”


  Full of adrenalin, I raced to the bathroom to get a look in the mirror, and tripped over his gym-bag, sailing through the air like Superman before falling flat with my full body weight hitting floor in a sprawled –out heap, this time shaking not just the apartment, but probably the entire building.  Picking myself up with great difficulty, I staggered to the mirror and when I saw the chip on my right front tooth, I began to cry inconsolably.


 Enrique offered ice in a Whole Foods bag as I blubbered. When the swelling went down and the blood stopped gushing, I demanded to go outside.


 By now it was about four am, and Enrique was not at all enthused by the idea. Outraged that he didn’t think I had enough party-savvy to behave for the neighbor’s sake, I had completely forgotten the fact that I’d not only been screaming hysterically earlier but also had dropped the huge rock and then fallen down myself.


 Reluctantly taking my arm Enrique brought me onto the terrace for air. It felt good, it felt healing. I needed oxygen!  He practically had to drag me back in a few minutes later.


 Pouting, I flopped onto the couch and crossed my arms like an irate five-year-old in the throws of a tantrum.


 “I need air!” I whined obstinately.


 “Please…” he pleaded, “We have to be quiet!”


 By begging non-stop, I finally wore him down enough to open the door a sliver.  Then I took a drastic measure, a last resort, since he was being so mean … and I needed air.

 I lay down on the floor with my nose to the crack of the door, like a dog.


 Finally relieved, I opened my eyes and noticed he was staring at me. In what could only be described as a colossal understatement, I mumbled,

 “I should go…”


 “No!” he said swiftly, “Don’t go!”


  Even in my deteriorated condition, this struck me as straight outta left field. The only reason he could possibly want me to stay, I realized, was for sex. But who in their right mind would have a fling with a drunken, stoned, gakked-out, swollen-faced maniac who was laying across the door sill, gasping for air? Who would want to make out with a meteorite-licking lunatic who not only had reefer-induced cottonmouth, but bloody lips and a chipped tooth? What a sicko! More than a little concerned at this turn of events, I said I’d call a cab.


 “I’ll drive you,” he offered, to which I replied without an ounce of social convention,

“NO WAY!”


He’d been smoking way more of the pot than I had, and if I was in this condition from just a couple of bong hits, how in God’s name did he think he could operate an automobile?


 Enrique handed me the phone, but I was too wasted to even dial the number for Celebrity Cab, which I’d committed to memory two decades ago. After three attempts, he grabbed the phone and, rolling his eyes, dialed it himself.


 I don’t remember most of the ride home, but do recall the cabbie asking me if it was ok if he picked up a hooker.  Bouncing her head and entire spine against the front seat and plexi-glass panel, cackling incoherently and high on crack, she almost gave me hope that maybe I wasn’t the most fucked up person on earth.  As a gesture of good will, the cabbie didn’t charge me for the ride.


 I woke up the next morning on my couch, fully clothed, with dry contact lenses adhered to my corneas, and my false eyelashes still intact.


 That afternoon, while carefully repairing my tooth, my dentist asked me how I’d managed to chip it.


 “I… bit into something,” I said. It sounded reasonable.


Two weeks later, Enrique left a message on my voice-mail, asking me to go out again.

I never called him back.


#

 The story you’ve just read is from my book  “Showgirl Confidential: My Life On Stage, Back Stage And On The Road” (Punk Hostage Press, Sept. 2013).

You can order a signed copy here:


1 comment:

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