Leonard Lopate Essay Contest

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I didn’t love the woman I married the way she loved me but according to my figuring compared to the alternatives: loneliness, pain, suffering, that would be alright. Specifically the alternative was, for me, chasing women that liked me, and were amused by me but for whom, when things got down to the nitty and the gritty, would not dream of sleeping me with me or loving me or even holding my hand on a walk though Central Park on a sunny spring day. In hindsight I applaud their courage not to succumb to my wooing because I wooed them hard, I wrote poems and letters and made mix tapes and helped them move and helped them unpack and gave them cooking lessons and made parties and did whatever I could to make my feelings known. I was much weaker than they were when it came to being seduced by a good wooing. That and an affair I had is why my marriage broke up after only fourteen months. This was not the first time I’ve done something like this, i.e. end a relationship ignominiously. Years ago I was engaged to another girl that I didn’t want to marry but almost did. One day, my friend who was working abroad came to visit us in New York. I confessed to him when we were alone that my fiancé and I weren’t sleeping together and hadn’t slept together in months because she had a week chin and some other flaws. I zoom in on flaws, that’s my flaw, a fatal one I believe, and after a while hers just added up and compounded until I didn’t want her anymore but she was a nice Jewish girl and I was a nice Jewish boy and we had each other so why not? Go get married. But I didn’t want to. I also confessed that I wasn’t making a dime as a stock broker which I was trying my hand at as many were trying their hands at in those early days of the 1980s when a duplex apartment on a good block in the West Village, in my case, exactly West 12th Street and Hudson went for $1,200.00 a month. It’s unimaginable now. A dirty bomb would have to go off there once a month for a year before rents went back down to that level. Between my fiancé and I we should have easily covered our rent, but she was paying it all, but people were making fortunes, and plenty of others were at least making a pretty good living, better than I could possibly make being a hand in a kitchen, classically trained or otherwise, which is what I was, a classically trained cook, and I remain that, mostly, to this day, no matter how I try to extricate myself from it. So I figured, why not me? Why not indeed, I had no training or skill or aptitude for it, that’s why. The alphaness, the meanness, the whatever-it-takesness and most of all the thick skinedness you need to make it stock sales. My friend had an idea that would save me from a future unhappy marriage and put some money in my pocket at the same time. It involved flying to Europe, taking a job with him out there and in a few days later calling my fiancé and breaking up with her on the phone, very long distance. I did it. Then four years went by and I had developed a subtle transatlantic accent and a German girlfriend that soon enough did to me what I did to her predecessor, except she did it face to face. You know what she said to me? It’s one of my favorite lines, she said: I’m looking at you like I’m looking at my future ex husband. Isn’t that great? There are photos of my former wife and I on vacation with her parents at their condo in Southern Portugal and that’s what it says in my face: future ex wife, future ex husband. But it was all me, she was head over heals; I was simply, inexplicably, uncomfortable.

There were two girls in particular at Columbia University film school (I was a student there with them) for whom I burned, truly burned. One was a blond waif whose hair stood up as though she had just rolled out of bed and giggled easily and also smoked cigarettes, a habit I liked since I also smoked and had no plans of quitting then (though I’m four years a quitter now, hurray for me) and if you have no plans of quitting you better be with a girl who also smokes, otherwise you’ll have to plan on quitting.

If you’re a crackhead, then your wife better be a crackhead.
-Chris Rock

She was, to my surprise, close to being engaged to a rangy and wealthy Jewish boy on his way to an elite med school. He lived out of state and she didn’t advertise him, but before I found out about her boyfriend I made a short film with her, my first coherent short film and it remains one of my favorites. The other girl I burned for was a highly intellectual half Chinese half Scots girl with shocking (in those early days of the ubiquity of shocking dyed hair ca. 1998 – 2000) dyed red hair and white almost kabuki-ish makeup. She was not quite beautiful but she was in, it seemed to me, total possession of herself and that turned me on. She wore torn stockings and short skirts like a 70s era punk rocker. She had a smokey voice, and a Canadian accent, which made since she was from Canada. She would say project to rhyme with pro/tect. I liked that. The way she walked, with a hard heel down and when she ate or smoked she did so in a way to avoid smearing her very red lipstick and so revealed a red pink plum of a tongue that was absolutely erotic for me to see and I wanted her tongue in my mouth like some kind of living pink marshmallow. She had just ended a relationship with a very tall, very rangy dog owning backwoodsy, Sean. I guess I have the typical over emphasis on other guy’s height that guys like me, not quite 5’ 7”, have. Both these girls were beauties, special cases, and I think its fair to say that they were from a bit more privilege than myself, actually it’s more than fair to say, it is obvious to say. I was one of the few foolish enough to attend Columbia University film school on my own dime which for me meant the bank’s dime which means I carry a lot of bank loan luggage these days. But that debt inspires me, like a hot foot, to work and work and work.

I was thirty-five then, in 1998, my first stoned, delicious, invigorating year of film school. There’s nothing like it to make you feel that you will be next, you will be THE next (Scorsese, Kubrik, Tarkovsky, Coen brothers, Farrely brothers, Ozu, Kiezlowski, you name it, you’re going to be next) when you’re in film school it not only seems true, it is true, (you’re paying). It’s good, it’s how you should feel. I had a failed restaurant on Shelter Island behind me, a couple of failed relationships as well, a big handful of unrequited romances and I was living at my parents Long Island home with my poor dying and soon to be dead mother which meant I was commuting to school everyday while they (Stratos dwellers, sexy girls that I wanted bad) were living in Columbia graduate student housing or better if they could afford it. I tried to close those deals, seal those deals, but I couldn’t. They were smarter than me; they were more courageous than me and I appreciate that now. I don’t know how to say no to love.

That was film school for me, sitting around outside Dodge Hall on the beautiful Columbia University campus smoking cigarettes with the girls I loved, and craved; making them laugh; I am funny, not on the page, definitely not on the page, but in person, for sure, no one would deny it. Soon enough I did get Columbia housing, and soon after that my mother passed away from a deeply mysterious and painful disease that had her screaming at night, when she thought we were al asleep in the house. It was a big enough house to play tricks like that. For example my mother didn’t know I smoked, but I did, all night long with the fan pointed out the window and me shivering in front of my computer writing scenarios, each one worse than the last, each one more about seducing and charming these girls I loved than about writing well. But I think many writers have been similarly motivated / mislead, you’ve got to catch it and whack it. I would have been better off joining Weight Watchers and taking it seriously. I know that’s true and it has changed my life and weight loss has been one of the roads that led me to my divorce. Believe me, if you’re poor and unconnected and not a genius and somehow have the crazy idea to be in the arts and you know physical beauty and desire it then, my friend, you can’t also be short and fat because then you will become a first class onanist as I had become and still am, slightly, to this day. All the porn on the internet, well, it’s like fast food, filling and sickening and highly addictive. My therapist today says it just pictures, it’s just masturbation, it’s nothing to be ashamed of, but I am, and I think its wrong and try and keep it in check.

Not while I was married. I wasn’t interested in my wife. Not in the sack. Not from the first day, I’m sad to say. I had called my dad, a practicing pharmacist, for a few Viagra tablets to help get my dick hard at which he incredulously asked if I was over the hill, those were his exact words: are you over the hill? In a way I was, my dick had been in a little accident with a Filipino escort I had meet in Manila years earlier in a dim chapter of my life when I was selling worthless shares of stock on the phone to lonely Europeans with a couple of friends of mine. This wasn’t a business we created, rather, it was “organized” and my friends relative was one the chiefs of the operation so people like me were invited to come work, (hard work it turned out) and bank a few bucks, which I sometimes did, though it wasn’t my strong suit. But I got a powerful case of the clap from this Filipino escort and I didn’t stick to my antibiotic regimen scrupulously because I was young and stupid and because I was young and stupid I also drank a lot while taking the antibiotics which made the Gonorrhea rage and become resistant to normal treatment and when all was said and done, I was a little worse for wear and tear. Now in the subsequent years I have totally recovered but the mind body connection can get in the way and the woman I married, who did not turn me on at all but was extremely dear, and extremely sweet and powerful in her love for me and needed for me to show my love for her back, (of course, naturally) in the form of a good old fashioned union making session of sexual intercourse, at least once in a while and since every girl I had ever desired, from childhood on had passed on me I decided not to pass on this girl and humiliate myself in worthless chasses and hunts for girls who were becoming grails and so I asked my father at the age of forty for a prescription of Viagra, which he couldn’t give me because he was not a physician and could not prescribe but only scrounge up samples, which he did for me. They helped no doubt about it. My father told me to break the pills in half and lower my dose, but I didn’t take any chances like that. I took the whole pill. What I didn’t tell my father was that my girlfriend didn’t move me, not like the blond waif, not like the half Scots half Chinese girl, not like the owner of the health food shop on Bridge Street on Shelter Island who eventually became an amateur shepherdess and then moved to Georgia to sell pine furniture. He was glad I was with someone especially since his wife, my mom was now deceased and we all need to be loved and tucked in and he wanted me to be loved and tucked in and this girl loved me and tucked me in and soon enough we were doing laundry together and getting chubby together on meaty meals and creamy desserts with her visits to California before she finally moved in on election eve 2004.

That night when I picked her up at Long Beach airport they were saying Kerry might be in but I knew it was going to be Bush again, I knew it like I knew my soon to be wife, though not my wife yet would, probably, not make it through the whole second term of our, (fill in the blank) weirdest, bravest, dumbest, most masterful, shit for brains, visionary, spoiled brat, oddest, what have you, Alfred E. Newman looking President. I knew it. Seven months later we were married at the Beverley Hills court house with her sister as witness. She cried while we exchanged vows and I wanted to cry. I wanted to cry the tears of joy that she cried. That’s the whole truth of the marriage. I wanted to feel it, I simply didn’t. I wanted to feel all the feelings she felt for me, I wanted to feel them for her and with her. But I didn’t and I didn’t want to be alone and we enjoyed each other’s company a lot with that one big exception. These days as I cycle back and forth to work I find myself swearing out loud to no one. I’ll say shit and fuck and sigh loudly replaying the whole thing, the marriage, the divorce, the pet names, the phone calls, the meals, the hand holding walks to the drug store after a heavy meal to ease our digestions, all the while kicking myself, of course, just in my mind. Then, out of the corner of my eye I might spy a wonderful, succulent, delicious girl with fine legs and long hair and I’ll look at her quick and put my eyes back on the road to be safe and know, that I’m okay and that I’m cursed.

The night before our wedding ceremony I realized that my old suits no longer fit since I had lost so much weight on Weight Watchers (the thing we did best together was diet) so we went to Banana Republic and I bought a new white shirt and new black shoes that were very stylish and didn’t pinch or impinge on the bottom of my ankle bone. Not until the actual wedding day when they did start to pinch and impinge. This happens with shoes.

We had just one night of Honeymoon at a famous Art Deco Santa Monica hotel. That night in the hotel I couldn’t get my dick hard despite the fact that I took a whole Viagra and some herbal get-your- dick-hard-and –your-heart-racing support supplements. She soothed me and told me not to worry about it but I was worried. In the morning I was able to perform but, it was not one of my best despite the piss hard-on I already had and the chemical support. I’d done a lot better in the past when we were just living together and there was no pressure, but not a lot better. These days, sometimes, I think I put too much emphasis on our sex life but, it is a metaphor for the relationship, isn’t it? At least on the outset. We probably should have annulled the marriage right then and there if we were braver and honest and just remained friends—with almost no harm and nearly no foul. But who is brave and honest like that? Not me. Not us. Especially when we had saved each other from loneliness and from all the people that had denied us and rejected us in the past. We were fixing all that with our marriage so there was no way we could have abandoned what we were embarking on. Sometimes I chalk it all up to being overly influenced by the distractions of the big city. In my case, yes, the distractions of Los Angels, the girls. I couldn’t stop looking left and right and left and right. Sometimes I wished we would move. I didn’t really need to be here, I wasn’t in the industry, I’d not made any contacts, the job I had could have been had in any college town and maybe in another town, more bucolic, less fleshpot, I often think, we could have survived, survived quite happily. My work would have suffered but so what? Whether I’m good or bad at what I do, so what if there was nothing I’d written or directed to share with the world? We could have had babies, we were thinking of it at the moment of the break up. We could have raised them, maybe better than we were raised, though, I don’t know. Better than me at least; she was raised fine. We would have paid our (my) bills and made love on Saturday morning and gone to the movies on Wednesday night and Sunday afternoon and built model airplanes and cooked new recipes sometimes and old favorites other times and read books, some we’d agree on and some we wouldn’t and that would be that. Done. What’s wrong with that? Nothing.

After we packed our bags and checked out we went to the more luxurious lobby of Shutters on the Beach but it was hard for me to sit still the way I would have liked because my heart was racing with herbal supplements and I was nervous about our marriage and guilty about not performing on our wedding night and knowing that the memory of our that night would not be good. But she had a way of shaping her memories to suit her. A great trick. After not being able to sit still in the comfortable hotel lobby and look at the New York Times together and drink delicious coffee and eat perfectly made croissants with plump preserves and just sit and be happy with the other happy guests of the hotel, we went to the beach for a walk and we took pictures of each other. Then we got in the car and drove to a little French café we had always wanted to eat in and she had a steak and French fries which was her dream meal and I had some kind of bullshit diet minded salad. I wanted to be hungry, I wanted to be ravenous and free and eat like a conquering hero.

At home she lay down in bed for a nap. Our bed had been made especially beautiful with Portuguese embroidered linens and I said I was just going to check my email but instead I masturbated looking at pictures of sexy girls on the internet. Afterward I lay down next to her and slept a little with us holding hands, side by side. In those days you know what I would do? I would say to myself, who do you think you are? Who do you think you are to want more than this? To want different from this to want legs and ass and tits and a love that’s different from this? Who do you think you are? You’re just a short, fat nobody that lost a little weight so you’re thinking thoughts, but forget them. You can’t really do anything very well, not cooking, not writing, not filmmaking, certainly not stockbroking; you’re not exceptional, so take it, take the love, don’t deny her, and don’t deny it. You’d be a fool to deny it. Who do you think you are? I said that to myself a lot when I was married. I still say it now. I might always say it. Except, I know I’m a pretty good cook, saying I’m not is false self hatred, however, the writing, the filmmaking, well, I just need practice, if I practice and I am, then I’ll be okay. Vacillations! But what else is there?

For the next fourteen months we lived a happy enough life. For all our incompatibility in the bedroom, I was able to do a reasonable job, in my chemically enhanced fashion on Saturday mornings—this I chalked up to some old Jewish mythology that it’s a special blessing to make love on Shabbat. That didn’t mean there was a prohibition on making love the rest of the week, but I really wasn’t that interested, that and, Viagra is expensive, and I needed to keep my expenses down. Follow the money, right?

Let me tell you about what was good before I tell you anymore bad. I had my UCLA job, and I got her a little UCLA job too so we weren’t rolling in dough, but we were keeping our heads above water and better than I had ever kept my head above water before and that included making my ridiculously expensive college loan payments and our Santa Monica rent and my consolidated credit card bills that my two student films were on. Pretty good. We continued to maintain our weight and stick to Weight Watchers and our daily exercise which included jogging on the beach and doing the elliptical machine at the gym and swimming at Santa Monica College pool and following along with a fairly rigorous yoga tape from Crunch gym. When we were done with our daily exercise we showered and after we showered we made a healthy dinner and after a healthy dinner we would watch a great movie and after that I would take a benedryl and a melatonin and open a book and close my eyes and go to sleep, and so would she.

For I have known them all already, known them all:—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

-T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock

That is unless I couldn’t go to sleep in which case I would sneak out of bed and masturbate to internet porn. I have special kink for girls in pantyhose and that’s what I would prowl for. These skinny Eastern European hostages that pose for these photos, they drive me wild. They still do. But much less these days. Much much less. I have a girlfriend now. She is the girl I had an affair with and the girl that I tore my marriage of fourteen months up for and though I’m not quite sure I love her, and love anyway, seems out of the picture for me since I feel cursed but maybe that will get better in time, but I am turned on by her which is a fine thing to feel, and I do ask her to wear pantyhose for me and she “gets it” and when I see her and feel that fine mesh on her body that just barely keeps me at a distance, I just love it and I don’t have to take heart-racing supplements and I only rarely have to take a Viagra (and at that just a fraction of a pill) but after a run of taking that stuff, it’s tough to abandon it all together. I guess I have developed a little mind over matter problem and that’s just fine with the people at Pfizer that, in fact, is probably the idea. So there I went right back to the bad things, and there is one bad thing: in the three years of our being together including fourteen moths of marriage my creativity went all to hell.

All I did was write an adaptation that no one had asked me to write and that, because the author of the novel is well known, albeit dead, it will be difficult if not impossible to ever make or for me to see a dime from this labor. It’s a mysterious thing I did, and in retrospect I think I was just trying to keep my motor running while I was otherwise “checked-out” during my marriage. That’s okay.

The book I adapted was Patricia Highsmith’s Tremor of Forgery—aptly titled since my life was a forgery and I was displaying tremors from it. But I didn’t see that at the time. I found the book by accident when looking for Hellboy graphic novels; it was accidentally misshelved in the graphic novels department at the Santa Monica 3rd Street Promenade Barnes and Noble. I picked it up and read the back cover and read Graham Greene’s recommendation and I bought it. I had not heard of Patricia Highsmith before though I should have, I had seen Strangers on a Train and I had seen Purple Noon but I hadn’t seen Minghella’s Ripley yet. I took it home and read it once and read it three or four more times back to back and I knew I had to adapt it. That’s what I did: I worked my UCLA job, I worked a few weekends here and there for a caterer, with my wife, for extra money and all the exercise and healthy meals, and jerking off you already know about, after all that, I worked on this adaptation. I almost attracted the producer of Ripley with this thing—almost means what though? And I almost attracted the head of Lions Gate too—also meaning what? Well, the Ripley producer said his readers said that I did an okay job at it and that I should always show him my work in the future and he said that from now on I should write from the heart. I told him I would, but at the time I didn’t know how I would and it was hard for me to understand how I hadn’t.

Here’s the breakup. I was having an affair with the sexy woman who gladly puts on pantyhose to satisfy my fetish and my wife was away on a job dressing the cast and the set of an off Broadway show. When she came back she looked like she had gained all the weight she had lost on Weight Watchers. This was a dangerous thing to happen with a shallow sharpie like me. Especially since my love for her was provisional, and tenuous, at least that’s how I felt then.

The second day she was home from her job we went jogging on the beach. Afterward we came home and I looked for a pan of leftover rice we had preparared the night before to heat-up along with the rest of dinner, she had just gotten out of the shower and I asked her where the leftover rice was. She popped her head out of the bathroom and said guiltily that she had eaten it for lunch. I went back into the kitchen and she came to relieve me so I could shower and I said, honey, you put on a lot of weight in New York and I gotta tell you, I’m looking at other women and I don’t like it and she was crying instantly. She knew what I meant immediately. She said, why did it have to be you? Why did it have to be you that broke my heart? I don’t remember what I said after that. I took a shower and when I was dressed I went into the kitchen and she was there making dinner and I tried to apologize but it didn’t stick. And we really didn’t eat dinner. The next day we had to work a catering job and she was very chilly with me. Later we went home and tried to talk but when there’s an affair involved and when you are dedicated to not confessing that come hell or high water, everything just turns to shit. I confessed to her about the Viagra. I confessed about the internet porn. She said she knew about the porn and suspected the Viagra. Then we let it all slide. She had to go back to New York in a few days to finish the show and start another small modern dance she was dressing there.

We made believe everything was okay. Her return was scheduled for Thanksgiving eve and my sister and father and niece were flying in for it too. We had Thanksgiving together: non traditional thanksgiving in fact, which I had been scheming for years. I made a huge roasted filet of halibut with buttery herb and garlic breadcrumbs, mushroom lasagna and sautéed bitter greens. It was a big success. There was peace in the kingdom, on the face of it. Meanwhile I was having secret phone calls with the affair, and had even set up a rendezvous under everyone’s nose (ha ha) for my birthday with her that I almost pulled off. Weeks later when my wife was packing and leaving our home for good she told me she knew what I was up to that day. Still, during that visit I kept it together but everything was coming to pieces and my wife very quickly noticed that I had taken my wedding ring off. A cruel display I must admit.

Then, when the family had gone and we were alone we took a walk on cloudy early December Santa Monica beach. We held hands. Then we went to The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf on Main Street on the Venice-Santa Monica border. She asked, what’s happening to us? I feel so depressed all the time, I’m sure you noticed. I said, we don’t have any chemistry, we just don’t have any chemistry and better now than later. Better now than later. I might have said it again. It was over. Whatever else we said there, I can’t remember. It was done. It was over.

We spent the next few days together trying to make believe everything was fine, we were grownups we had married we were now, like fifty-two percent, separating but it was impossible. She would make dinner and we would try to eat. We would try and watch videos and have ice cream like we used to but it was just absurd. Then she moved into her friend’s place and would only come home to pack while I was at work. But the packing also fell on Christmas break and I had nowhere to go while she was home so I would camp on the beach or Starbucks for the hours while she was at home. When she was done with each day’s packing she’d call to let me know it was okay to come home. And like a sneak thief, I would sneak in the house and see what was missing, the holes in the book shelves and on the walls. She insisted on having a talk and we did, I held fast and she said it was all so sudden and so strange it was like I had died and she was just reviewing the body before burial, I said okay. I said I understood and I held my ground and didn’t confess a thing. Sometimes I regret that but my friends assured me she didn’t need to know.

On Christmas day I called her and begged her to come back. She wouldn’t.

We met one more time after that in West Hollywood where she was staying. I begged her to come back and she said you don’t love me and I said I did. I said, please, think about it.

Then I let things slide. I was immediately together with the affair but I shouldn’t have been. I was whirling and twirling and I was in shock like an unlikely executioner’s first day of work.

The affair and I were now a little like Zola’s Therese Raquin and Laurent after murdering her poor pale anemic husband Camille. We were cursed and my apartment was (and is) haunted.

When my former wife had first moved in she painted a large wall gloss red. Now it closed in on me like an Edgar Allen Poe story. I had to paint over it fast and did so on Martin Luther King’s birthday. I painted it sky blue and seaweed green. It helped a little not as much as I hoped, but it was better than not painting the wall sky blue and seaweed green.

Now I have to tell you about the affair. She lives at home with her mother. Very old fashioned people. Persians. So we had to push our affair in my repainted but still mostly haunted apartment. Now I know I have to move and I will when I can afford it. Right now, the affair and I are seven months into it and not doing too badly. Her mom’s away in Iran for a three month visit there and I see how good things are for the affair (now girlfriend, let’s face it) when we have a fresh apartment for us to play in. I think it really is a miracle we’ve lasted through these haunted and cursed months. That I have lasted through my awfully guilty conscience is a testament to my therapist, deep breathing, daily swims at the pool, a strict writing schedule and a schedule for my girlfriend and I: we only see each other on the weekends, Friday through Sunday. It’s a struggle but we hang on to each other like preservers. She is herself a psychotherapist and is constantly taking my emotional temperature. She’s very sensitive to me and as a result I pick fights with her, mostly because it’s easier to pick a fight than to say I need to be left alone. But I do, I really do have to get into the habit of saying I need to be left alone when I need to be left alone, which is probably too often for her taste, which is why I tend to pick fights instead. She has faults, and I find them. So what I do to survive and keep us treading water is take a score of the blessings and curses of my profoundly new life.

The Blessings:
1. I’m writing like crazy and I have several short film projects lined up. Also, Tremor of Forgery is off the shelf and back on the back burner with a producer friend of mine.
2. The affair and I have lots of sex which my mind and body really appreciate.
3. I hardly pull my pud anymore or look at too much internet porn though I occasionally do, but nothing like before.
4. I sleep without medication.
5. The affair and I only see each other on weekends which suits me fine because I really like to be on my own and do my work and think my thoughts.

The Curses:
1. Betrayal is terrible and I am torn to shreds over it daily and hate myself for being a shallow scoundrel for whom a vow is meaningless.
2. I’m poorer now and have had to reschedule part of my student loan payments and I worry.
3. I miss the comforts of a home made and kept by a good loving woman.
4. Maybe I did a devil’s deal and I’ll never love again. It’s possible.

On NPR a couple of afternoons ago they had a feature called This I Believe and this week, believe it or not, there was a woman reading her essay about settling in marriage being the thing she believed in. I swear it’s true. She said she wished her husband kissed her more than he does and she said she wished a lot of other things too, for her kids and for her career to be more than what they were but that overall her children and her husband and her career, while not perfect were okay. She said that she loved coming home to her hearth and the good loving familiarity of it all and that that was better than all the things that she was disappointed with and had once wished for and I’m thinking of my pantyhose fetish and my shallowness and I had to shut the radio off and when I did I cried a little and promised myself I’d write my ex-wife a little letter. I will, one day. I will write her a nice little letter and tell her how I’m doing. I’ll tell her I’m doing okay and I’ll tell her I hope she is too. Maybe I’ll tell her that we can be like Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson and maybe we’ll get married again. And again. But now, there’s another girl that I always liked from Columbia. I always knew she had a boyfriend so we left each other alone, romantically, we became friends for sure. This former boyfriend, in addition to being very tall (they all are) is also considered by many to be a brilliant and at least certainly up and coming theater director. But me and this girl, we always had a thing, I was her assistant director for her movies, she was my assistant on mine, including a loopy three weeks in Bucharest where I made a particularly ill fated film that will be described in another essay. Suffice it to say, the movie didn’t nearly live up to its excellent title: The Man Who Killed and Ate the Thing He Loved. Though now, after all is said and done, I might be that man. We’ve been in touch these last few months and I know all about her breakup which has broken her heart and she knows all about my stupidity. Everything.

But it was otherwise directed; and it may not be amiss for all people who shall meet with my story, to make this just observation from it, viz., how frequently, in the course of our lives, the evil which in itself we seek most to shun, and which, when we are fallen into it, is the most dreadful to us, is oftentimes the very means or door of our deliverance, by which alone we can be raised again from the affliction we are fallen into.
-Daniel Defoe Robinson Crusoe

Sometimes I think I’ll drop everything here in L.A. and find her in New York. I told her I’m interested and she said she sensed it too. She’s one of these very creative, very sensitive, genius Jewish girls from Minnesota, they produce them there. She’s quit sexy too, with a pile of wavy brown hair, a sexy warm voice and a beautiful body, and funny stubby fingers that I think are cute, and I have a good knack for making her laugh, “she gets me.” I can’t help but admit this too, but after three years with my former wife who was from Portugal and now my months with the affair who is Persian, I crave a girl with more cultural similarities than differences, I crave a nice Jewish American girl. That’s who I am, except without the girl part. And I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she looked very sexy in a pair of pantyhose. I’d bet on it.

On the phone with the Jewish Minnesotan genius now living in New York I confessed my fears that I’d do it again, that I’ll make the same mistake again and she said she was sure I would, but then she laughed and I laughed too. I’m okay, I’m cursed.

© Michael Stone