Saturday, September 19, 2009

Reptile - Parts 1&2 (Prelude & Top o' the World)

I was told once that I would lose at life until I die in a fire if I didn't finish this, so here's the first two parts for those of you who've not read them...

(Originally posted in August, 2007)

I want to write about my demon. She's been a monkey on my back since I met her (over 10 years ago now); and I think my only options for getting rid of her are to talk it out or write it down.

I can't do the first (I love all you crazy people who read this bullshit - I just don't know how to talk to you); so I guess I'll have to do some writing. I'm hoping for some kind of catharsis. I need to let this go; and I haven't. My intent is that, by coming clean, I can clean it off. Heh - wash that bitch right out of my hair?

The story is a short one, really; but - for me at least - it was pretty jarring, so I've got a lot to say about it. I may end up attacking it in installments. We'll see. Like the hot dog companies, I'm going to try to keep my bullshit & rat content down to reasonable - non-toxic - levels. I might fail; but I'll say [Edit]after going back and reading over this again, that it's only about 1-2% fecal matter so far[/Edit].

Before I start into it though - I think it's pretty important to tell you something about K.

I'm only going to use initials here because - well - because I'm going to say some pretty fucked-up things aobut at least one of these people, and I'd like to avoid any threat of libel. Also, it just feels wrong to name names outright.

When I met K, I was just coming out of some really bad (not bad meaning bad; but bad meaning good - er... and bad) times. I'd just come from Boot Camp and A-School, where I'd made a real ass of myself and behaved generally in the way that Drunken Sailors were expected (if not supposed) to behave. Those who know stories from Memphis ought to know that they're all true - with one caveat.

The whole thing - the car wreck, E & K1, the drugs, Use-the-Force-Bowling, a moon as big as the sky (I'm talking Joe Vs. the Volcano Big), the drug-dogs, sneaking girls into the barracks and running Fire-Drills just to get them out without notice, all of it - all happened in the span of about two, maybe three months. I call it one of the best years of my life; but the sad addendum to the story is that nine or ten months of that year were spent studying and working, going to bed before 10 and waking before 5. Hitting clubs on Saturday Night, and not much else. That year was like this:

Boring, Boring, Mono, Boring, Boring, Boring, Kissed a Hot Army Chick (we called her a WAC), Boring, Boring, Porn, Boring, Graduation-Yay!, Boring Boring, Boring, Holy Shit! I am having the best fucking time of my life - Oh my GOD!, Boring, Boring, Graduation Part Two, time to go to California.

I didn't learn any of the important lessons in Memphis, and a great deal of what I did learn has really held me back, emotionally; but I definitely had my eyes opened.

That's how I arrived in California. Still hot on the excitement of a rockin' summer - itchin' for action and ready to get down to some serious womanizing and even more serious Drinking (notice the capital "D" - at the Coronado Naval Base, active-duty sailors were allowed to drink if they were 18 - so long as they did so at on-base clubs).

Somehow, instead of reliving that wicked, wicked time - I ended up at church. I...

I went to church. I found Jesus (he was hiding in the azaleas), and I spent the rest of the year comparing notes with my roomate about how hot the selection was at San Diego First Assembly. Mostly, I just made some friends. I bought an iguana. I confronted a huge glass elevator, white-knuckling it all the way to the top just so K wouldn't know I was scared of elevators. I went to the beach and met a Sea Lion. Two of the scariest moments of my life, by the way.

I had the hots for the church's youth leader - a tall, skinny blonde, who may not have been all that attractive, but was the first woman I'd met who didn't seem dependent upon my reaction to her and I fell for her instantly. I spent a lot of time hanging out with that church group. A lot of time helping the other "College-Age" kids volunteering for Youth functions. That's how I first met her.


There aren't many names that start that way. I feel silly using initials now. Oh well. She was a kid. 15 or 16, I think. There wasn't anything there. There wasn't going to be anything there. She was off-limits - even in a strict no-sex zone like church.

But there was this trip to the beach. And this one time, at a pool party - where I just hoped she'd be there and she wasn't. I had a picture of her at one of those big stadium events - you know the ones...

Where too many Christians come together to hear someone speak about how we probably aren't being Christian enough, and then we all congratulate ourselves on what great Christians we're going to be. Usually spells doom and misery for the hard-core athiests and pagans in the community. Furvor dies off after a few weeks if everyone lucky.

The photo was taken from the other side of our group. I just used the zoom to snap the shot while she wasn't looking.

I can still see it. The skinny blonde was standing "in front" of her - closer in to the stadium. I think her brother (my friend - how I met her, and how I met her again years later) was in the shot. I'd intended to take the picture of the blonde - why can't I remember her name - but I saw K and my focus was shot.

She had one hand on her hip. I'm pretty sure she was wearing a blue and green flannel shirt, but the memory is tricky; and that might have been something she was wearing one of those times at the airport. No. I'm pretty sure it was that shirt in the picture. Her hair was long and straight. It was half pulled-up, like a loose I-don't-give-a-damn ponytail. I don't know what she was looking at - but... well, you get the point.

See what I mean about installments..? haven't even got to the build-up and I've got to stop for a bit and do some work. Probably more to come today.

REPTILE - PART 2 (Top o' the World)

A bunch of us were just hanging out for my friend's bachelor party. Horsin' around, playin' games, eating steak and sending him swimming in the intercoastal to find the Lost Sword. We ended up at the Gold Club.

It was weird being back there. Things have changed so much. I'm sure part of it was being there as a guest and not an employee (the first half-hour or so I was there, I couldn't get out of bouncer mode - I kept watching everything and everybody but the show, totally unable to relax); but the new management (I guess) has really cleaned things up nicely. Better (if not more) lighting, cleaner restrooms... They've moved away from the latex covered breasts and chosen instead to go with full covers, but that was for the best. It was a good show; and I think fun was had by all.

The fireplace was so small. In my head it was huge. I drew a portrait of one of the dancers after hours one night. She was sitting on the stone fireplace in her fuck-me boots and not much else - she had long straight hair too; but she was - I think - 1/2 Seminole. So bloody gorgeous you'd crawl through a half-mile of broken glass on your hands and knees just to...

Well, you get the idea. The whole place just seemed smaller, somehow. It was always larger-than-life when I worked there. At least - it was in my memory. The bars were huge, the dancers were beautiful, and the security-team (re: bouncers) was bad-ass. Skin-heads and prison guards and a psychotic ex-marine (slash-skinhead slash-prison guard). I can hold my own; but I was so out of place there. The pussycat of the bunch, maybe. Now the security guys (there were 2 plus a well-dressed manager) look like wimps.

I'm almost sure they're not - but there used to be guys in that club that I know I could not have taken in a fight. They're all gone. Now there are just guys. Now it's just another club. No different than Caesar's, or JR's or any of a dozen other joints.

Before I got back into the story, I thought it might be important - maybe only important to me - to address how drasticaly things can get warped in your mempory.

I left San Diego for my first duty station full of piss and vinegar and the righteousness of the Holy Spirit pumping through my veins. I left K and her church and her brother (and my iguana), and to be honest - out of laziness, and distraction, and then shame and fear - I didn't look back.

I met D - a half-Japanese/ half-Mexican hottie who was a youth-leader at the Assemblies of God church I ended up teaching at. We never slept together. Hell, we never even dated. She was a good Christian girl who (in hindsight) might've had a thing for me - and I definitely liked her; but the group dynamic was so weird that neither of us made a move. I met a man who became a very good friend and who might've been gay, or might've had a thing for D, or both. I guess he wasn't such a good friend after all - or, I guess I wasn't - judging by my ignorance. I met an exotic dancer named C - no shit, that was her real name - on stage, she was called Roxi. We dated for - like - a week. She was crazy.

She was a bitch too. I had a crazy-powerful crush on a girl in Admin for - god - months. She dominated my life for far too long. We went to dinner a couple of times. I took her to see Independence Day. I can't even remember her damn name now. She was so important then. M. I can't believe I couldn't remember that. I haven't thought of her since before my marriage. Holy crap, that makes me feel like a schmuck.

A year-and-a-half, maybe two-years into my tour in Nevada, the Powers That Be decided they were going to refurbish the barracks. New carpet, new plumbing, new paint & new furniture. This has almost no bearing on the story except that I had to pack up everything I owned and move into the "Transient Barracks" for a month.

In the bottom of my Sea Bag, in a little black book that said "Phone Numbers," or some shit, there was a number:


That's really the number. Check it out.

What the hell, huh? I called 'em. I really thought they weren't going to remember me. Or they'd be all pissed that I brushed 'em off like I did. But my old friend was happy to hear from me. I talked to him for awhile and he put his sister on. I talked to K for awhile, then with their mother. I called back two or three times when I was asked to come visit.

I should explain a little more. K's brother was the first person my roomate and I met in the church (who was our age). And he was the kind of guy who tried to include everyone - no matter what. You couldn't help but like the guy. A bunch of us would usually go somewhere to eat after church on Sundays, and then end up at his place. His mom was awesome. He got a lot of his "friendly, easy-going" from her. He had a kid brother who was my brother's age (holy crap I just realized how old that would make him now); and then, of course, there was K. I tried not to put her in that place in my mind (too young); but she definitely didn't detract from the experience of hanging out at A's house.

I don't remember how long I lived in San Diego - less than a year, I'm sure. But I ended up spending a lot of time with K's brother and his crew. I spent a lot of time watching his mother's extensive video collection.

Even after a year or two of silence, it wasn't that weird of him to ask me to be groomsman in his wedding when someone had to beg-out. Plans were made. I took a few days off before a weekend, rented a car, and drove back to San Diego.

I stayed at K's house. I slept on the couch; and during the day, she and I talked and drew and went to the park. She was taller now, thin - but filled out nicely. And she was still this amazing person who could just completely capture my attention with a few words. During her brother's wedding, my job was to escort her down the isle (she was a bride's maid).

The ride back to her house after the reception was at once way too uncomfortable and wonderfully incredible all at the same time. We were in her mother's car - along with all of the wedding presents. There was no room. She sat in my lap.

She was warm and light, and my hands didn't have anywhere to go, so they were around her waist and resting, folded in her lap. I could feel her heartbeat thorugh her back. I'm pretty sure that it was there - in the back of that car that I first realized that I could love her.

I've never had another moment like that with anyone else. I knew this girl. I knew who she was and who she wanted to be. I knew what she believed. I misunderstood one or two things about her; but she was the perfect woman for the man I was so desperately trying to be. I would've become that guy too, if she'd been by my side. I knew it then. It wasn't frightening, wasn't overwhelming. It just was. I not only could spend the rest of my life getting to know this person, I wanted to.

Over the course of the next six months or so, I spent every moment I could get away in San Diego. And when I wasn't down there, we were on the phone, we probably wrote two letters a week, each. Drawing pictures back and forth, and talking about our day, and missing one another.

I bought her a promise ring. That moment made it a little scary. To believe that this was the one. Not just to know it, but to believe it. It was exhilerating and wonderful and the tiniest bit frightening.

That little bit of fear, though - that killed it.

I miss K so much more than I have any right to. I don't go around every day - or even every week or every month pining for what won't ever be; but sometimes the most random shit makes me think of her.

Listening to Regina Spektor reminds me of her scent. I don't know why - but it does - and the scent makes me think of being near her - of her room - her art - watching TV on the floor of her living room - debating religion. Mostly, it makes me think of holding her in my arms. Of holding her hand in Mexico. Of her sitting in my lap one evening as we drove home in an over-packed car.

The six-foot Arkansas Redneck who lived in the room by mine asked me one night why I don't ever go out drinking with him. He'd taken a real shine to me, see - because I was kind of funny and a "real stand-up guy." He wanted me to have a beer with him. At that point in my life, I was over 21; but didn't drink. He said he knew that - but I wasn't an alkee or anything, so I should ocme out and have one beer with him.

I caved. We went to the Crow's Nest or the Dirty Bird or some shit like that. I can't remember the name. Just this little piece of shit hole in the wall that the permanent resident sailors liked to hang out in. We had a beer and shot some craps. Lost our asses. Then we went to the Dept - a combination night-club/ casino a few blocks from the Dirty Bird(?) in Fallon. The wallpaper in the club was this horrid red space-ship wallpaper - like you might see on some eleven-year-old's bedroom in hell. Ladies Night at the Depot was called "Pigs In Space" around the base.

We were up there in the nightclub part, but I wasn't drinking. I was just going along with it, enjoying the company and watching these people make total asses of themselves. But being sober makes that sort of thing tedious after an hour or so, so I went downstairs to the casino - where it was quiet. Where would my life be today if I'd just taken a damn shot?

Downstairs, I played some blackjack - I won, like 20-30 bucks; and took my chips to the bar; and there she was.

My Demon.

The Reptile. The monkey on my back. She was pale and frail, wrapped in a miniskirt and some kind of animal print, with long, red hair. If I'd known what she was going to do to me - If I'd understood what I was going to let her do to me - Id've run screaming that night and never looked back.

Instead, I bought another beer and sat at the bar listening to her tell some chick about how all men were evil and she (this chick who was so broken up over some dude who didn't treat her right) didn't need them anyway.

The first words I ever heard come out of the mouth of the woman who would become my ex-wife amounted to a militant-lesbian rant about the superiority of female companionship and how men amounted to not much more than a nuisance. I've only myself to blame for what came next.

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