After the doors close at eleven, we aren’t supposed to go outside. We aren’t supposed to smoke inside. My way around this dilemma was to ascend to the roof of the building when I needed to torch a tobacco twig, and that was precisely what I was doing that night, July 8th, perhaps a half an hour before my shift ended.
As I blackened my lungs, I glanced at my iPhone and saw that I had a voicemail from Claire. Her voice suggested this was another one of her “Ambien dials,” which I always found to make for particularly interesting conversations. She said I should call her right away, even if only for a few minutes. Out of character for me, I actually called her back then and there.
Immediately I was reminded of the strange, timeless nature of our relationship. With other friends of mine, who I go without talking to for enduring periods, I always have to hear shit about how I’ve been a such a stranger and so on. As justified as it may be, it stands as something that dissuades me from calling people back when I otherwise want to. When it came to Claire, though, things were always different. We could just pick up right where we left off. Never more than a sentence or two of playful scolding for how many times I had not called back or taken the lead to call her out of the blue and out of character. Forever and always she seemed just satisfied with hearing my voice again. As always, it was a breath of fresh air to hear her again as well.
“I took an Ambien,” she confessed a few sentences in.
I laughed. “Yeah, I kind of figured.”
For some time had been seeing two doctors, both of them prescribing her Ambien. Her husband at the time knew but never complained, she had told me, as she tended to “put out” more often when under its influence. As we spoke about it, she told me she was only seeing one doctor now. I brought up how I had been thinking of getting on something for sleeping, as none of the over-the-counter stuff had been working particularly well for me, and just today I had considered Ambien. She told me the high off Ambien was in some way sort of like the pot high and, laughing under my breath, I told her I’d be doing that upon getting home. I confessed that I was worried that I had become a pothead. Before I had to end the conversation, she made me promise to call her when I got home.
Home had become a nightmare. Though I had announced to Nick a few months back that I thought we should leave this town and go our separate ways, he was the one that took the initiative. I began looking for not only a new apartment, but a new job, and outside the area. He was the first to find an apartment, however, and left halfway through June. Initially I gave a month’s notice that I was leaving the apartment, but due to my failed efforts at both finding a new job and a place to live I had to go back to the office and ask for an extension until August.
Things had never looked so grim, so daunting. I was 35, I had worked in the same fast food joint for the last decade, I was in debt up to my third eye and didn’t know where I might be living in the next month. I was looking for places, and jobs, in two areas about an hour apart. There was no firm ground to stand on, not anywhere. My entire universe was one of flux. Everything was up in the air.
Upon my arrival home, after dead-bolting the door like a paranoid freak, I kicked off my work-pants and decided to just sit in my boxers and call her. This is a two bedroom apartment that I have all to myself, after all, so why rush the whole pants thing? Too lazy to dial her number or look it up in contacts, I clicked on her number in my list of previous calls. It took a few rings by the time she answered — I had almost hung up, thinking she might have actually fallen asleep. She picked up, though, and she was clearly more high than she had been roughly an hour ago. It surprised me when she told me why, though. Not merely on Ambien, she was now smoking pot.
“How long has this been going on?” I asked her.
“A few months.”
I proceeded to ask her questions to try to get a feel for her current circumstances, as there is always something exciting going on. How about that married guy at the office who she had hooked up with — the guy put on her panties, asked her if she would pee on him and then began putting down the plastic when she complied? Yes, she said, but there are problems. He was still married. That confused me, as when she spoke of him before she seemed to treat this as a mere fling, a fuckbuddy situation, and had no real interest in pursuing something deeper with her piddle-seeking office mate.
Suddenly our conversation turned toward sex in general, however, which is where I began to sense she was driving towards something she had planned on talking about specifically. When she mentioned — tellingly while speaking in second person; a common technique of distancing — that during sex “your thoughts aren’t always on the one you’re with,” I knew we had arrived at a predetermined location.
If I remember correctly, I had thought of a porn star once or twice while fucking an ex-girlfriend because I was tired and feared my enthusiasm was waning. Even those occasions felt wrong to me, however, and I sensed that her meaning was a more extreme form of this. In other words, having sex with someone you aren’t attracted to. I had this same difference in perspective when so many of the guys I have known have announced that “a vagina is just a vagina.” It just has never worked that way for me. It seems too much like turning a subject into an object, reducing the girl in question into a sex toy. A masturbatory prop.
She tells me about Blue Bunny, her dildo. I find myself amused that she had named her phony-bonie, in so doing turning an object into a subject in a way.
My reciprocation? I tell her how I used to have a silicone vagina but ultimately destroyed it. There were two shafts, one of which was, of course provided for your meat-missile. The other was the home of a series of pearly beads that, through the silicone skin felt by the base of your penis, allegedly enhances the experience and more suitably mimics the sensations of a real vagina.
It doesn’t. Yet when the heights of arousal exceed the dam of shame, as is required for me to consider ramming my dick in an inanimate object — I have by that time lost all sense of standard and the damn thing is around, so when I had it, I used it.
Regardless, in the midst of my jerky roughhousing one evening I somehow manage to puncture the interior wall of my pseudo-pussy, drill into the parallel pearl shaft and push it and its neighbors so hard they collectively assisted me in creating a sort of wormhole shaft out of the vaginally-shaped silicone universe and, consequently, a route for them to burst free into the dark, smoky world of my apartment. I had turned my pocketpussy into a dick-hammered pearl cannon.
It was like a small-scale Easter egg hunt afterwards. With the interconnecting shaft, the thing was difficult to clean, so I soon just threw it away. I can only hope its buried in a landfill somewhere, for the thought of it being used secondhand by some lonely and pent-up vagrant, thrusting in a shaft well-worn by yours truly and no doubt caked in my dead and crusty cum — well, it is by no means a pleasant thought.
I should probably add that I have her a much shorter version of that story. Not out of a desire to censor myself so much as not murder the mood in an unnecessary bloodbath.
Anyway, during masturbation or imaginary meandering during sex Claire would have a “go-to guy” in an ever-ready fantasy in her “back pocket.” If she wanted to get off, she could always have that go-to if she needed it. For her, at least for the moment, it was this ugly, balding guy at work, who she imagined had a particularly small penis. It dealt with her dominating him. This was a fantasy, she added, that she would never actually pursue in real life, and I of course asked her why. She returned my question with a question.
“What if it didn’t live up to the fantasy?”
It would ruin the fantasy. Disempower it. So she keeps it safe and secure and untouchable.
Though I shared the taste for domination and submission she had in her fantasy, the dick-insulting she exemplified when talking down to him was as contrary to my tastes as the golden showers. Talking down to in general, though, was a thought that turned me on.
She asked me if she had ever played with herself while talking with me. Never did I recall her making such a confession and I refuse to believe I could have forgotten had she done so, and I told her as much.
I told her I had never had phone sex, either, though in retrospect that statement was not entirely true. When I was still living in the trailer with Nick and Rena and still dating Annie, I had used both my cell phone and ancient computer to have webcam sex with her. I put my phone down and turned up the volume as I watched choppy, delayed, ever-buffering imagery on my computer screen. I also had two separate girls I had sexted with, though I’m not sure if that counts.
Upon Claire’s request, I got high. This was easy enough, as I had been packing my bowl as we spoke. As I got high she asked me what I would do if we were alone in a room and she was sitting on the bed before me. I could do anything, she said.
No worry. No guilt. No shame.
Lounging at her, I grab her by the wrist and pin her down to the bed, lifting her wrists above her head as I close in on her, atop her. Grabbing for bungee-cord-like rope and a blindfold that appear out of the imaginal ether, I soon have her bound and blindfolded, unable to reciprocate, resist, or anticipate anything. It has been a long while for me, I tell her — over two years now — so I don’t go easy on her, either, pounding into her long, deep and hard.
“What else would you do?”
I didn’t answer, but I saw myself lightly choking her. In a cautiously phrased manner, I tell her how I then proceed to lightly slap her across the face, just to ensure I had her complete attention, that she wasn’t wandering away to her go-to, piggly-wiggly man. Eventually I let one arm loose so she could slap me on the ass, then the other so that she could pull my hair at the same time.
As the fantasy went on, I was telling her less and less of it. I was getting absorbed, but I was also embarrassed enough to censor myself at this point. I feared offending her, coming across as a turn-off.
My reservations gave her the wheel. It was what I intended, and she took it without complaint.
Its not only with her, and its not only here. I am always far more confident that I will be willing to accept who another person is than I am that they will be able to accept me for who I am. Even with Claire, the closest I could ever come to a soulmate, I am more eager to take the passenger seat and let her drive me than for me to take the wheel and assume responsibility for the both of us.
Both of us are on the bed. She is on all fours and I am on top of her, gazing down at the tattoo of the sun of Sublime on her back. I grab her hands and pin them against the headboard, interlocking our fingers as we both slam into one another in time. One hand of mine bursts free, slapping her ass; then the other hand to grab her ass, then hold her by her thighs as I proceed with my jackhammering.
I liked her imagery.
Regardless a to which one of us took the role of narrator, I noticed, my insecurities bled on through. I would get excited, go rock hard, feel embarrassed and nervous, go dead and droopy, and then I got rock hard again as the excitement built back up twice as fast. With the oscillation the energy build to such a degree that I was convinced that if I could only get myself horny enough, anything might be possible.
“You think you can cum on the phone?”
Immediately the visual blossomed into my mind in all its gory glory: a cell phone covered in a sticky, milky-white substance. Like a Slimer from Ghostbusters made entirely of sausage snot had just subjected the receiver to a drive-by ravaging.
I was clearly high.
It dripped there in my mind for a moment before I realized she meant to ask whether or not I thought I would orgasm on the phone. I was fairly certain this would not happen.
“I think you can.”
Indeed I did.
The post tele-coital pillow talk was a bit awkward. You hold off on the impulse to say “how was it for you?” because its so damn typical; it doesn’t matter than the question cannot be drawn from the plethora of cues available in the context of physical sex and is therefore more justified in this case. You just do not taint a landmark like this with a question like that. I could think of nothing to say yet again, so she took the mic.
“Did you cum?”
I laugh. “Yes,” I tell her. “Yes, I most certainly did.”
She tells me how good of an artist I am. When she had convinced me to draw something alongside my pastel works of strange faces, sketches and cartoons and draw some finches, she told me, she was convinced of my talent. She didn’t understand why I failed to use it to pursue a career.
It was the same reason I failed to pursue anything in my life. I had no sense of direction and no ambition, I have had the desire to do something important, the burning impulse has been haunting me my whole life and perhaps longer, but there is a hand that holds me back. I know it is within me, but I cannot get it out of my way.
I have had opportunities to do something with my art. One friend wanted to jointly make a children’s book. Another wanted to team up to make a video game using a story, given I could come up with a good enough one. Why did I avoid it all, let it fade, let it pass me by?
“Maybe you just need to be forced into decisions,” she offered.
That wasn’t it. “Then I feel weak for not making them myself,” I told her.
As stupid as it all is, I feel the need to do things myself, though find myself overwhelmed and incapable in my attempts to do so and fall back onto reliance, back to being a beggar and so into an ever-growing sea of shame, frustration, outright rage. After while, well-established patterns, stagnation, feels like the safest place for me. For the record I do realize this is not a personal philosophy highly conductive to evolution.
Be the memories false or true, it is all too easy to see how I could have actually been the bum or hobo I recall being in a past life. I could just as easily be one in this life if not for my friends and family. I was and am a child, typically waiting for things to just fall in my lap, too incapable to pick up the things that fall in my lap when they slide off onto the floor. All out of fear for the reactions I would surely have if I tried and failed.
I’m sensitive, I know that. My emotional reactions to things carry an often overwhelming emotional intensity for me. If I tried and failed, how would I feel? That the universe tricked me into letting it lift me upward just so that it would be able to drop me from a greater height. After awhile, it feels imperative to play it safe and keep close to the ground. You couldn’t be dropped or fall on your own if you remained close to the ground. So instead, I kept my dreams close to me, where reality couldn’t render them stillbirth or crib death.
Then something in my head clicked. A typical “aha!” moment. While she didn’t state it explicitly and I was indeed fairly fucking high, it suddenly struck me that, whether she meant to indicate it or not, the suggestion here was that my hopes and dreams of being an artist or writer is my “go-to” that I keep in my back pocket. My dreams of success were like her Piggy-Wiggy Man. After all, what if I tried to write that children’s book, write that story or do some art for that video game, make that logo for that band and no one liked it, it went nowhere, I failed?
I would have ruined the fantasy and reality in one single, foul swoop. Killed a dream and a waking hope. Two ephemeral birds with one ambitious stone. A seductive fantasy and hopeful reality broken, resting in jagged shards that will continue to slice your soles you as you tread across them for perhaps years to come.
May my most sacred
of seeds be preserved
so to spare them the potential ills
of breaking fertile ground.
All their options open,
their lives ahead of them
all kept at a safe distance to which
they shall remain bound.
No seedlings to be scorched
by drought or floods
that drown away,
no sprouts taken out by parasites:
all saved from the slaughter
of harvest day…
In part, perhaps I hold off on making a choice, preferring to keep all my options open. It may also serve as a strategy aimed at keeping my dreams alive and my fragile hopes away from the world of gravity and the hard, solid ground that would inevitably shatter those hopes to pieces.
Suddenly I remember a girl at a former job suddenly just turned to me and said out of nowhere one day, “are you afraid of success?” It caught me off guard, and maybe it didn’t really make sense until now. As much as we fear losing the go-to dream in our back pockets through failure, we might fear the opposite extreme: success. Perhaps part of the fear stems from the fear that if you get what you hope for you will have nothing left to hope for; that it would be the end of the road.
Failure is our weapon in our war against boredom. Echoes of and answers to a Nietzsche concept: “Against boredom, even the gods struggle in vain.”
So does this mean certain doom, or could we learn to live with contentment? Without the tension between what is and what could be? Is being perpetually dissatisfied truly some strategic means of generating meaning out of our lives? Do we fear achieving for we believe there would be nothing left to reach for?
Maybe Agent Smith was onto something in the original Matrix when he spoke about previous Matrix versions where everything was perfect: humans could not take it. This world we live in is not necessarily an illusion perpetuated by artificial intelligence but the world in which we save ourselves from the infinite boredom inherent in perfection. Heaven and hell are synonymous, so bear the frustrations of failure and try as infrequently as possible, relying instead on your capacity to dream your little dreams: they are Novacaine for reality…
Now all hope is gone,
as I have gotten all
that I could have asked for
and then some,
If only I had lacked ambition,
I might have been spared this