Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Reptile - Part 4 (Come into my Parlour)

I enjoy listening to female vocalists, but I can't explain why. When I work out, I'd rather hear something loud and obnoxious, like Metallica or Beethoven. When I'm driving, I want anything fast. Marilyn Manson's Antichrist Superstar is, in my opinion, one of the absolute best albums for driving fast. Elastica was great for that too. When I'm in a drinking mood, it's Great Big Sea all the way. When I'm just hanging out, or working, or thinking. When I just want to be alone with my thoughts

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I prefer Regina Spektor, or Sarah McLachlan, or Alanis, or Natalie Merchant. Even though (or maybe because) Regina Spektor makes me think of K. Sarah McLachlan (for some ungodly reason) makes me think of J. Alanis makes me think of A. And Natalie Merchant makes me think of M.

I think I like female singers who remind me of women I've known. Friends and lovers and those I just longed for from a distance or the seat beside her. Maybe I make the connection on an emotional-memory level. Certainly, other music reminds me of other people.

I can't hear Mary Mac without thinking of driving to see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I can't listen to Metallica's black album without waxing nostalgic about High School. Most 80's metal makes me think of my friend's house where we would crash every once in awhile and watch MTV (this was way back when MTV actually played music videos all day). Bolero makes me think of drinking with my dad. Savage Garden and Elastica both remind me of Japan. That's what music is for, though, I think. Stirring us, making us feel. Reminding us who we are and were.

Meredith Brooks makes me think of the Reptile, though. The sound of Shania Twain's voice pisses me off for exactly the same reason. Tanya Tucker too. That Two Sparrows song makes me want to shove screwdrivers in my ears.

But enough about that.

When I danced with the Demon, it was usually to country music. We listened to Nine Inch Nails and White Snake and Poison. She liked AC/DC, so I learned to listen to it. I liked Metallica, so she did too. I introduced her to Marilyn Manson. She loved it - though not until she'd given it time. She liked Elvis and I liked Cash; but at the clubs we danced to Country and Western. Just the slow stuff. I think we might have line-danced twice the whole time we were together.

I'm pretty sure her outfit was the only reason we made it to third place in a Twist contest at Dick Clark's American Bandstand. But we got third - a gift certificate, I think. I want there to have been a trophy, but I can't remember. It was a damn fine get-up, though. It always was.



She was wearing jeans a white button-down, cinched at the waist and pulled up to show off her stomach, when I went back two days later.

I don't know what I was thinking. I don't know why I went back. I certainly wasn't entertaining any conscious notion of the future. The animal draw

reptile

of her was undeniable, maybe; but - in my mind at least - she was gay. I was involved, seriously - if over an excruciating distance - with the first woman I'd ever actually been in love with. I was a respected leader in a local church. I was probably going to be engaged within the year. Married before my tour was up. I was going to be a pastor with the Assemblies of God - get my own Church. I'd pursue art and writing on the side; but - Well, the point was... I had a plan forming in my fevered little head; so what the hell was I doing at the Depot?

I can't come up with a good answer for that. Maybe I just wanted to spend time with her. Talking to K was difficult because of the distance, the phone costs, and the lack of physical proximity (distance, I know; but it's different. Closeness. When we were apart, we felt... apart. If you don't get it, I can't explain it).

Maybe I just needed someone to talk to. Some woman. There was D in the church; but - I don't know. She was hot; but she was one of the guys. I loved her like a sister, but I couldn't really talk to her.

I probably had a rum and coke. I wasn't drinking Scotch yet; and I didn't really enjoy beer until I started drinking it with my Demon in my lap, encouraging me to chug, chug, chug. Open your throat. And laughing.

The casino bar of the Depot was a big "L"-shaped thing, underneath or beside the staircase leading to the nightclub and facing the casino floor. It was fully stocked and dimly lit (even in the daylight with the desert sun streaming in through dirty windows), with a massive television screen mounted in back corner.

Usually there was sports on that screen during the day, music videos at night; and in the months to come, as my life became more and more entangled in hers, we'd sit at the end of the bar and eat breakfast together while we watched Dinosaurs.

We talked. All these conversations run together, so that all or none of them could have taken place at that bar or in the park or at the petting zoo or sitting on her friend's couch or playing pool. But first we just talked. I'm sure, with hindsight, that there must have been more than a little flirting going on; but it was - on my part, at least - the unconscious kind that comes about naturally, when I don't think I seriously have a chance. The kind that works, I guess.

Most nights it was dead. Just the two of us and maybe the bar-back from upstairs coming down to change a keg or stock the limes. She'd sit on a stool or on the beer cooler, and we'd talk. And talk.

I make a big deal now about the sex; and how it was only the sex that kept us together, but I argued then - as I must do now, I suppose - that we were actually quite good together when we weren't having sex. Just sitting alone in an empty building sharing stories with each other.

It hurts me to write that. I want there to have been nothing good between us other than immediate gratification. I don't like admitting that we had a relationship long before we found each other between the sheets. It was inevitable, our split - but not because we despised or even disliked each other.

One of the reasons our conversations were so engaging - so entertaining (for both of us, I hope even today) was because we were so different. Or, because we were so different and being together was an impossibility, so I spoke my mind.

I was making a friend here. A weird, broken and put-back-together, wild creature of a friend, but a friend. We talked about her move from Portland, her friend who had a stroke at 23 because of drugs, bar tending, life in the Navy, astrology, music, drinking, the merits of Johnny Cash and (in her eyes) his obvious inferiority to Elvis. Cartoons, Muppet's, television and radio and a thousand other things I'm sure I could have just as easily talked to K about. Over the course of a week or two, I probably spent every second or third night at the Depot, nursing a drink and chatting up the pretty girl behind the bar.

Of course, she made the first move. If a move it was. It was a coy, girly kind of move - a clever way of manipulating me into asking her out, maybe. She casually hinted that she hadn't had the chance to get out and see Reno. She'd only come to town, gotten the job at the casino, just before I'd met her; and she didn't have anyone to show her around, and no car to go by herself. Plus, who wants to go out alone, anyway?

I told her that I didn't know jack-squat about Reno, but I had a car and we could easily get lost in the city together. At least we'd both be lost with someone we knew. And so - whether the next night or the night after - I picked her up from her friend's house and we made our first trip to Reno.

2 comments:

John said...

Finally! I've been waiting two years to hear the end of this story. It's awesome, very engaging! Keep it up!

David said...

More Reptile coming soon.

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