It was the night before Thanksgiving. I’d only been in town a few months and everything was going wrong. I’d just gotten out of an entanglement so ugly I’d started believing evil really did exist in the world — that it was a solid thing, like a rotary telephone or a birthday cake. When a man tells you he’s sick and twisted take him at his word. He knows who he’s talking about.
But there’s little time to wallow in heartsick when you’re unemployed and running short of cash.
I was all dolled up in a tight, black wool suit and Wall Street warpaint because I’d just finished up a lousy job interview. Across the street from the subway stop was a blinking sign. Blue. Bird. Lounge. A neon drinking bird with a tophat kept tipping over to sip his martini, then up again. Back and forth and back and forth and back and forth.
I wasn’t excited about home. My roommate, Joan, had been particularly pissy as of late. Why not toss back a few; it might help get me to morning.
You’d have to be stupid to order a cocktail in a dive like that, so I went for a pint on tap. After another I was bumming cigarettes from the guys sitting next to me at the bar, a blond and his friend. The Blond was just passing through on his way to visit the folks upstate. His dad was a professor at a college up there.
I told them about my horrible job interview and the Blond asked what had the interview been for, undertaker? (making a crack about the black suit). He asked how I’d ended up in the big city, and I launched into my sob story about the bad romance.
About halfway through I was boring even myself so I started embellishing. Now the evil ex was having violent outbursts. He couldn’t help himself: he had excessive levels of testosterone caused by a double set of testicles. The guy had four nuts, a fact he’d somehow managed to hide from me until last week. I’d given him an ultimatum. It was me or the extra pair, and he’d made his decision…
The Blond told me I was funny, which might be effective flattery. But I was embarrassed, so I said, “I’d rather be sexy.” “Oh, you’re sexy,” he said.
I was jacked up from the beer and the general hilarity and I blurted out, “One of you boys should come home with me, but which one? You’re both so handsome.” The Brunet, which was the better looking of the two, snorted “not me” with a rapidity that I felt was lacking in compassion. But the Blond was on track: “Are you serious?”
We turned to look at the Brunet. He cleared his throat noisily and said, “I believe I’ll be taking my leave now” while raising an imaginary fedora. He left half a pint on the bar which I shamelessly commandeered. “A good friend of yours?” I asked. “Not really,” the Blond answered.
“So what do you say…” said the Blond, wrapping his arm across my back. “I don’t know,” I answered. “I don’t do this kind of thing. Are you married? Do you have a girlfriend? I got enough going on right now without the added guilt.”
“Unattached,” he shrugged.
“I don’t know why I asked,” I huffed. “I don’t believe a thing men say any more.” Then I told him if he wanted to come home with me there were some rules.
“Such as?” he asked.
“I’m in charge. You only do what I tell you to.”
“You have to promise never to contact me because I hate men now, especially boyfriends.”
“Ah, ha. You say that now, but you haven’t slept with me yet,” I said, and he laughed. “And you can’t tell me your name.”
“But I already have. And your name is Gladys.”
“I’m so drunk I must have forgot. Don’t tell me again. This has to be anonymous.”
We left the bar and walked to the bodega on the corner to buy condoms. I didn’t want eye contact with the clerk, so while the Blond was making the transaction, I clopped over to the refrigerator case in high heels. A blister near my right ankle burned and just thinking about taking my shoes off felt good. As I peered inside the glow of the case I thought, I can’t believe I’m doing this. How pathetic. And I laughed out loud.
We grabbed a cab and went back to my place. Fortunately, my roommate Joan was still out, no doubt snorting cocaine of low quality off a toilet tank somewhere in bohoville. We went into the living room. The Blond sat on the couch, and right away I got naked and sat in his lap. I let him cuddle me and stroke me like a cat, but I wouldn’t let him kiss me.
I straddled his lap and ground my crotch against the fly of his jeans. Then I flipped over and stretched out across his lap. “Spank me. I’m a bad girl,” I commanded. “Sometimes I drink too much.” We both laughed.
He whacked me good a couple of times and when my ass was toasty I stood up and struck a Betty Grable. “Tell me I’m attractive,” I said.
“You’re attractive,” he said.
“Are you saying that because I told you to say it, or do you really believe it?”
“I don’t know, but my cock’s pretty hard right now.”
“Stay here,” I ordered, and I scurried into the kitchen to look for something else to drink. I have alcoholic tendencies and when I get a good buzz going I go nutty for the stuff. All I could find was a bottle of red wine someone had given my roommate and me as a housewarming gift. I uncorked it and took it into the living room, and we drank it right out of the bottle.
I told the Blond to take his clothes off. “Can’t we turn the lights out?” he whined.
“What, are you hiding something? I want to check you out first, make sure you’re healthy and not a junkie or covered in Herpes lesions.” Maybe I’m being too mean to this guy, I thought, but he didn’t seem to care. He took his clothes off and turned around a few times. He was well built — something I didn’t expect. Muscular, but not steroidal.
“Wow, do you work out?” I asked.
“No. I’m a carpenter, and I do a lot of physical labor.”
He got down on the carpet with me and we passed the bottle back and forth, laughing just because we were drunk. He tried to touch my crotch, but I smacked his hand away and hissed, “Go and wash your hands first.” I hate when a man tries to touch me with dirty hands. It’s disrespectful.
He went into the bathroom, and I heard him piss and then wash his hands. When he came back I let him touch me and he put his fingers inside of me. We rolled around on the carpet for a while, and he rubbed and kissed my body until I said, “Okay, we can go into the bedroom now.”
We grabbed our clothes and walked back to my room. I turned on the light and he asked me to please turn if off, so I plugged in a string of red chili novelty lights I had nailed to the wall over my futon. It made the room nice and rosy.
He rubbed my crotch some more and sucked my nipples. He fished a condom out of his pants pocket, put in on and put his penis inside of me. It felt good, but there wasn’t the joy like with someone you care about. The probability of me having an orgasm approached the null so I didn’t even bother to get really excited. I’m small and he was strong, so he could move me around and that was sexy.
Afterward we talked and smoked for a while. When things got quiet he reached over to a pile of fanzines that were beside the bed and started reading out loud:
“‘It was the summer of 1976, our nation’s Bicentennial. I found myself in the souvenir shop of a white trash seaside resort faced with a monumental decision. After considering an exhausting number of permutations of T-shirt and iron-on transfer (which covered every inch of the wall and ceiling), I had winnowed it down to just two: a cartoon mouse holding a single long-stem rose next to the catchphrase “a touch of class” on powder blue or the simple rock ‘n’ roll-inflected “wild thing” in rubbery silver glitter on black. I made my choice and everything that I am today flowed logically from there.'”
“Did you write that?,” he laughed. “It’s pretty good.”
“I don’t know. It’s the same kind of shit everyone else is writing.”
He told me about his family and how his dad was disappointed that he had only wanted to be a carpenter and not an academic or some other kind of educated professional. He asked me what I was doing for Thanksgiving and I said, “I don’t care about it.”
“You know what would be funny,” he said, “if I took you to Thanksgiving dinner with my family, and I had to explain who you were.” I didn’t know if he was inviting me or making a joke, so I said, “That would be against the rules.”
In the morning he was kissing my neck and telling me how adorable I was. It was flattering, but he lit a cigarette first thing and the smell nauseated me. I just wanted to get rid of him.
“So, should we go for another round,” he asked.
“No thanks. I’m hung over.”
“You mean you’re sober,” he said.
“Yeah, I guess that’s it,” I said, chuckling.
“Maybe you should get going.”
We got dressed and I walked him out of the apartment. I wanted to get some fresh air because of the cigarette smoke and maybe some coffee. When the subway stop was within sight I pointed him the rest of the way. Then burrowing my hands deep in my jacket pockets I said, “That was nice.”
“It was,” he said.
“Well, see ya’ later.” Then I laughed and added, “Or I guess I won’t be seeing you later.”
I was feeling better after walking in the cool air, so I went to the diner. There was no one there so I got a big booth all to myself. I ordered scrambled eggs and dry wheat toast, which was all I could stomach. I starting feeling cheerful for a change. I thought, he was a nice guy — not my type — but a nice guy. That was more fun than crying myself to sleep.
When I got to the apartment, Joan was sitting in the living room smoking a cigarette, which made me queasy again. She didn’t have to talk: I could tell she was mad by the way her mouth was set. I sat down on the chair across from her and picked up a section of last week’s newspaper off the floor.
“You had some guy here last night, didn’t you?” she asked.
“Yes. Yes, I did.”
“Who was he?”
“Just some guy I met at a bar.”
She let this hang a minute and then said, “That’s not cool, bringing strange men back here. He could have been a sicko. It’s not just you here, you know. What about my safety.”
“Come on. Get off your high horse,” I snapped. “Just last month you brought some guy back here, remember? The one that tried to fuck you in the ass.”
“That was different. My friends were here from out of town sleeping in the living room, so he couldn’t have started any trouble.”
“You’re right. I’m sorry,” I said, not wanting to argue. “It was wrong, and I’ll never do it again. But he was a perfect gentlemen. I could tell.”
“You were drunk!”
I sat there pretending to look through the paper while she fumed. Joan reached down and hooked something white off the floor with her index finger. “It looks like your friend left something.” She held at arm’s length a pair of men’s white briefs. Then she screamed, “Oh my God!” and twirled the underwear around so I could see the back. There was a big red-brown stain.
“It looks like your ‘boyfriend’ was bleeding from his asshole. How do you feel now?” I felt like I was going to hurl. “You fucked some guy who was bleeding from his asshole,” she added in case I wasn’t capable of putting two and two together.
I thought, my God, I fucked some guy who was bleeding from his asshole. This is really, really bad. Then with great relief I remembered something: I had knocked over the bottle of wine when we were on the floor and sopped it up with his underwear.
“It’s all right,” I said. “It’s just wine.” The floor of our apartment had a tremendous slope, and I retrieved the spent bottle from where it had come to a rest against the wall.
“What? That’s my bottle of wine!”
“I thought it was ‘our’ bottle of wine.”
“That was a very special and expensive bottle of wine my friend gave me.”
“I’m sorry,” I said. There was no point in defending myself: I really shouldn’t have drunk it. “I’ll buy another bottle to replace it.”
But she kept harping on it. “You can’t replace it because it’s from her family’s private vineyard. I can’t believe you would just take it like that.”
Then I had an inspiration. “I’ll give you $20, all right? But if you take the money I don’t want to hear about it any more. That’s part of the deal.” I knew Joan was hard up because she already owed me a hundred bucks. “Okay,” said Joan. “But I want it now.” So got my purse and handed her the cash.