Saturday, July 03, 2004

New Orleans Cafe 1: Dan and Becky

I'm not sure how I'm going to style this one. It's basically going to be a series of stories about the parties held and disasters dealt with during 1993, beginning where I left off in SATMATC and ending (probably) with the house we all lived in burning down, falling over, and sinking into the swamp. It's a strange and twisted tale of love, friendship, treachery, and Night Train wine. And there'll be sex in it, although it'll be sex involving me, so avert your eyes, or pretend I'm Brad Pitt.

But before all the glory, there was some soul searching and hard livin'.

As I wrote in SATMATC, I was left alone in a huge (at the time) house with little in the way of heating, and even less in the way of furnishings, by an ex girlfriend who saw the handwriting on the wall and moved all of her stuff out while I was off gallivanting around the Northeast, learning hard lessons about the nature of dealing drugs for a living.

[Zora the editor is probably cringing at the structure of that sentence, but hey...]

For those of you who have been in NYC for a long time, we in the rest of the nation can actually control the temperature of our domiciles by merely flicking a switch or twisting a knob, instead of suing our landlords. This seems to work out pretty well, except that we also generally have to pay our own utility bills, which is hard on a guy who mows lawns for a living come January. So I was living in the living room of my house, with all of the trappings of civilization right there within easy reach. It was a decent room, all things considered, with a fireplace and french doors and big windows that looked out across the street at a vacant lot, behind which was the Magic Fountain, which I'll get to later. The kitchen, where I kept my rice and beer that winter, was tiny and not generally used, especially when the floor started caving in under the sink...but you can buy a fifty pound bag of rice for something like eight dollars here, and if you don't cook it all the way, it swells up in your stomach, giving the illusion that you actually ate well, until your teeth start to fall out. Lots of rice and soy sauce, mixed with $2.00 McDonalds meals at work. I was squeezing by, barely, and I was seriously depressed.

This was the first time in my life that I actually lived alone, with no girlfriend and no friends that were worth a damn (The Legendary John will return during the summer, but not yet). It was a difficult time. I had a phone, but little in the way of numbers to call. I'm not a social person by nature, so finding friends was difficult, even though I was enrolled in college. Ultimately, I wound up calling an ex girlfriend named Becky, who is probably the only true to life nymphomaniac I've ever met, which is probably why I had her number memorized without having seen her for something like a year and a half. Becky's sexual conquests are awesome, in some respects--in fact, every man I know that had met Becky had slept with Becky, except me...and I don't know why that is. Maybe because she was a serious biter (we did make out a lot). Maybe because there was something a little too intense about her. Maybe it was because she was, at root, untrustworthy--which is yet another tale. Anyway, somehow I dodged the sex bit, but I liked her well enough, and shit, I was a very lonely boy. And, as they say, "any port in a storm."

I called her up, and as it would happen she was taking classes in the same building that I was enrolled, in fact, was in a class next door to one of mine. We met the next day, and I got to meet all of her friends.

It was a pretty typical mix of hippies, homos and artists. They were mostly girls, and the boys were mostly gay, with the exception of her current toy, whose name was Dan. Yes, that Dan. Dan was the dark, intense artist of the bunch, and we got along well, especially since we were both a bit frightened of her big gay friend Brandon.

They were all smokers-I learned early on that all the cool people smoked, and smoking areas were where you found all the cute bohemian girls...and even if they didn't smoke, they knew that's where you found all the cute bohemian boys, between humanities classes. To this day, I always assume that my edgy friends smoke cigarettes. It's always pleasant to find they do not.

Anyway, I made them my official between class crowd after a few days, and after Dan got over his subconscious "this-girl-is-mine" issue, we started hanging around together outside of school.

Now, I know you'll find this hard to believe, but I tend to cut class a lot, if I'm not interested in what's going on. All those core classes? Fuck it--I was pretty well ahead of the curve in high school and in college, due to being a voracious reader, so I would show up for tests and spend the rest of the time drinking beer at home, dodging work. What can I say? It's attitudes like that which have kept me under The Thumb of The Man my whole life, right?

So when Dan caught me in the hall and suggested we go drive around and look for Becky's car in the parking lots, I was game--I don't even remember if that was an excuse for smoking pot, which in retrospect it sure sounds like. After hearing a bit about my lifestyle and interests, he gave me his number and suggested we "hang out some time." He didn't know that I'd been talking more to my cat than pretty much any other human being for the last several months, so what was to him a casual way of ending a conversation was to me a sort of lifeline.

A few days later, I showed up at his parents' place, where he was working on a rather large painting with a bird skull stuck in the middle of it. Skinny Puppy or Coil was blasting from the speakers in an otherwise spotless garage (complete with ping pong balls on strings dangling from the ceilings). He wrote a note, and off we went in my car.

[I really wish Dan would write his version of this and post it--it's much more entertaining than my version, and knowing that it's out there makes me a little more self-conscious about what I write here. Ah well. Maybe I'll send him an email.]


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