It lasted about a month. The relationship.
Our last date was tonight. He took me to a poetry slam, and I should have known it was our last date because he participated in the poetry slam. Meaning, of course, that he spent most of his time on stage, or backstage, or anywhere other than at the table where I sat alone, nursing random drinks while not smoking (smoking is forbidden in New York in places where one most needs a cigarette). The date, you see, was designed for distance; me alone at a table in the audience, he backstage for a while, then onstage for a while, then backstage again until the end of the show for a curtain call.
Except--as you know if you’ve ever been to one of these poetry things--there is no ‘backstage.’ Most of the participants of poetry slams sit at tables with their dates and wait to be called up from the audience. Poets, it turns out, center themselves by staring at candle-flickering votives and drinking bad wine while sitting in bent-wood chairs across from their dates. Poets do not center themselves by hiding out backstage in hypothetical greenrooms, waiting for their names to be announced as if they’re about to hold court with Johnny Carson.
And there is no curtain-call for poets.
Our first date, though, was different. He was there with me at the table, and rubbing his foot against my calf, and touching my hands, and looking into my candle-flickering eyes, and saying things like, “No one, not even the rain, has such small molecules,” which made me melt even though I didn’t know what he meant. Everyone has small molecules, right? So did he mean mine were even smaller? More compact? Were my molecules superior by virtue of efficiency?
And, god, okay, his eyes, candle-stained. His eyes were blue, and the candlelight during that first date made his eyes appear to melt. Like, you know that scene from the first Indiana Jones film? Where the tiny evil guy with the glove has his face melted off by the vengeful Old Testament God? And his eyes slip out of his head? Pour out? Yeah, imagine a face that is beautiful and stays whole and yet the eyes slide from the lids over and over--that’s what his eyes looked like the first date. Melting. And blue. And frozen, but liquid.
And it was the Nazi, not the tiny evil guy with the glove, wasn’t it, who had his face melted off, wasn’t it? Or did both the Nazi and the tiny evil guy with the glove have their faces melted off? Did they meet the same vengeful-God fate?
So. First date. Dinner. Table, with a candle and melted blue eyes and calf-caresses and hand-brushes and oh-my-god-I-love-him-alreadys, and I tried. Maintain, I kept thinking to myself. Maintain, and be normal. Be appealing, and charming. Be as charming as he. Him. Charm him, take in his charm and mirror it back at him like Archimedes’ mirror.
Melt his eyes for real. Burn his flesh with your charm which is really his charm reflected back.
On our first date, I only knew a few things about him: He wasn’t Jewish, he was circumcised, he was younger than I, and he’d once lived in Vermont. We’d met online--I won’t say where online, but that’s how we met. We liked the same books. He liked poets I’d heard of. I liked movies he wanted to see one day.
He liked free bread at Olive Garden. I liked free bread at Olive Garden. A match made in heaven.
The second date? Home. His home. We watched movies, cooked a souffle--seriously!--and watched more movies. We overlapped one another on his futon, our legs weaving in and out as we balanced plates on the cushions of the futon and stared down Peter Lorre.
After the second date there were the texts. Or sexts. Some texts--perfunctory “How was your day? LOL”--and some sexts--”HRNY now 4 u.” Pictures were emailed. Dirty talk was exchanged. And we had sex once.
I’d rather not discuss the sex. It came after a notable sexting event, and ended with a sexed attack. There were no survivors. My neighbors told the evening news the next day that I seemed like such a quiet man, kept to myself. The sex was that good.
He told me he loved me, except he didn’t tell me. He bought me flowers, which is the same thing as saying ‘I love you.’ He bought me flowers in exchange, I suppose, for saying those three words, and then he wrote me a poem, which is like saying ‘I love you’ without flowers, and more cheaply. It costs money to buy flowers, but it costs nothing to jot some random words down on a napkin at Caliente Cab in the Village.
He did both. Flowers one night, then a napkin-poem the next. Here’s the napkin-poem:
I love your toes
I love your nose
That’s about all
He wrote the poem during a lull in our conversation. During that lull, the waiter--Caliente personified--asked us if we wanted more chips, or more dip, or anything at all, and I told him we were fine. “Relative,” the waiter said. Smiled. Moved on.
Our last date, as I said, was at a poetry slam. He--my boyfriend, not the waiter--was there. He’d asked me to go. He said I’d love it. A poetry slam, one of many around the city he participated in, since the slams happened all the time, erupted up out of the idea of what New York used to be like thoughts popping up from the subconscious mind. Oh, these things seemed to say, remember when New York meant something? Well, here I am, meaning something even though I’m on a stage in a bar no one goes to and telling you things that are obvious while using word-combinations no one understands.
Ponies fucking Gore Vidal.
I hate poetry now. A good poem lasts about a month. A great poem lasts as long as english class.
I sat at the table, alone, with a candle-votive as my only company. There were others at tables around me, and each table had a votive, candle-laced, candle-sparkled, and each table was warm and glowing and dressed with a white tablecloth and a few flickering drinks and a few flickering humans. I was the only table of one.
And then they called him up to the stage. He came from behind, as usual, which surprised the emcee--the emcee was holding down his raised eyebrows with the palm of one hand as he shielded his eyes from the stage lights. The emcee was peering out into the audience for my love.
Here’s the poem my (former) love slammed:
“Had I but world enough and time fuck that. Had I a road diverging into one (again, you slut--how many roads have diverged into you?) I’d in your doo a stately pleasure-dome decree. And in that dome I’d declare immortality. What? Immortality. That’s right, come live with me and be my love, and we’ll scuttle about the silent sea-bottoms and have some bottoms while ignoring the mermaids singing. Fuck those mermaids. And fuck you.“
I downed my drink as everyone else applauded. I scuttled out of the bar.
Inappropriate sharing, incomprehensible ramblings, uncalled-for hostility: yup, it's a blog.
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