(Originally published July 15, 2010)
…CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT ‘em.” Or so the saying goes.
It’s true, but there are better ways to finish that sentence. I tend to say “Women! Can’t live with ‘em…” and quietly trail off. And just the other day someone said, “Women! Can’t live with ‘em. Can’t shoot ‘em.” Also true, unless you’re Phil Spector.
I got in around 11:15 last night and saw Nick was on Gmail chat. We got to chatting. He’s moving to a new place in New York and starting law school in the fall, and I’m recently single and employed part-time. He was telling me how easy it is to hook-up in New York, and I mentioned I have a few prospects on the horizon myself, followed by “So, I just got back from dinner and drinks with this male model.” He said, “Whaa?” and I realized I was telling the story out of order so it sounded like I was coming out to him on Gmail chat.
I can be bad at talking to girls. Not all girls and not all times, I just find it tough to strike up a conversation about nothing and keep feeding it with more nothing, unless the girl in question is literally unable to leave. My best-case scenario is a night out with friends of friends. Second best is a pair of adjacent seats on a cross-country flight. Worst case is trying to pick up a girl who’s out jogging, because she can interrupt at any point and say, “Excuse me, I need to run away from you now.”
But give me months, years, or decades to develop a romance and I’m set. I would’ve done well back in the ‘30s.
My biggest problem is that I’m too cautious in conversation unless I know how far I can push it. A month back I was visiting Connecticut and out for drinks with Pete, Glenn, and Nick, as well as Pete’s cousin Carolyn. Glenn had been raving about how Carolyn’s a cool chick because she doesn’t get offended by anything.
It took me five minutes. Here’s a transcript of our conversation:
“So, Carolyn, Nick and I were talking about a short film we could make. We just need a girl to act in it. Would you be interested?”
“What’s the film?”
“It’s a fake trailer for a porn website called ‘Snuffgirls.com.’”
“You know how a lot of premium porn sites do 30-seconds trailers where they interview the girl and show assorted footage of her getting fucked?”
“Well, they do.”
“Anyway, ours would start with a girl being interviewed by the camera guy about her porn experience. ‘I’ve just done one or two,’ she’d say. And during the interview we’d edit in fuzzy images of her walking around the house in clear high heel shoes.”
“Now remember, the website is called ‘Snuffgirls.com.’ The camera guy then asks, ‘So, like, is there anything you don’t do on camera?’ And the girl says, ‘Oh, I’ll do anal, ass-to-mouth, fisting…” Camera guy: ‘Wow. You’re pretty adventurous.’ The girl pauses and says, ‘The only thing I won’t do on camera is… be murdered. That’s my only hang-up. I don’t want you guys to kill me.’ And the camera guy says, ‘No, no, of course not!’ But we can see the camera moving up and down as if he’s nodding ‘yes.’ Then there are a few shots of sex – nothing graphic – and maybe at one point the girl starts fellating a gun the male porn star puts in her face – again, nothing graphic.”
“Then we cut to the finale, with the girl very enthusiastic, post-money-shot. She turns around to see the male porn star pointing the gun at her head and says, ‘Wait! I thought I said I did not want to be killed.’ And it cuts to black as you hear the gunshot.”
“The logo pops up: ‘Snuffgirls.com,’ and you hear a group of girls yell ‘Snuff girls dot com!’ followed by the sound of a firing quad and eerie silence.”
“So what do you think?”
In my defense, I could see Carolyn was disgusted within fifteen seconds, but once you get this ‘ol train a-rolling, it don’t stop for nobody. Funny thing is, she was a cool chick and you could talk to her about anything. Anything other than that.
For example, we spent some time discussing an idea she and Glenn had for a wall calendar called “Big Gay Glenn’s 2010.” (We were six months past a 2010 calendar being saleable, but “2011” doesn’t rhyme with “Glenn.”) The calendar would feature Glenn – who is very straight, but may appeal to gay audiences for his bear-type body – posing in a variety of sexually suggestive positions corresponding to the month. April, for Easter, would have Glenn on the cross in a diaper with a wound on his abdomen spilling out dicks.
“Too many dicks to count,” I suggested.
We also brainstormed a cover shot, and settled on Glenn sitting in a bathtub with a hoagie sandwich floating before him and rose petals falling from the ceiling. Carolyn and Glenn wanted the sandwich to be floating on a silver tray, I wanted it floating by itself (“It would just be this disgusting, waterlogged sandwich.”) To me, the purpose of being a writer is coming up with awful things knowing that if they’re going to be done, you won’t be the one doing them.
And on the topic of “writing,” let’s return to our story.
I wrote a film script that’s in the process of being produced. It’s based on the true story of a Black female coach at an Historically Black University who’s put in charge of the men’s golf team, can’t find enough Black golfers to win, and so recruits players from all over the world. We were put in contact with a successful model/actor in New York who is interested in one of the roles and happens to be an incredibly talented golfer. He just arrived in LA to meet with his west coast representation and do some auditions and we planned on getting dinner to discuss the script, his future acting plans, and anything else.
At 9:00 last night I pulled up to this swanky restaurant, The Belmont, and the valet took my car (this will be important later). The model/actor – I don’t feel like making up a name – arrived soon thereafter. He looked the part of a model/actor. Even the bouncer seemed to be flirting with him as we walked in, and after charming the hostess too he got us a table on the patio. 1
This guy told me “underwear model” was just a day job, “something to pay the bills.” He also owned a handful of restaurants, did mixed-media painting, and had studied acting classically for the past eight years, in addition to world-class amateur golfing and cheese grater abs.
Exactly like me, in other words.
We talked about relationships. He asked if I was married. I thought it was odd, until I remembered I tend to see older than I am when you first meet me, until I suggest there be “too many dicks to count.”
I told him I wasn’t, that I was newly single, and asked about him. He said he was happily in a long-term relationship. That seemed weirdly conservative to me, given what I imagined his options had to be. Later in the meal, as if specifically addressing my worry that he was too uptight, he showed me a piece of artwork he’d created from the nude silhouette of “a girl [he’d] been fucking awhile back.”
After our meal, around 10:40, we left and gave our tickets to the valet. As we waited, a girl walked up behind us and stood underneath the valet umbrella, bleached blonde in a cocktail dress with a lot of eye makeup, like someone who’d just arrived in Los Angeles, or, alternately, like someone who’d lived here her whole life (in other words, like all girls currently in Los Angeles). She wasn’t my type, but I figured, I’m single, I need to meet new people, I should lean against this parking meter and pretend to check my phone.
Like I said, I’m bad at talking to girls. My new male model friend, however, wasn’t.
“How’s your night going?”
“Oh, just hanging out by the valet stand, hoping to meet a pretty girl.”
“Where you from?”
“Just moved here from Boston. You?”
“I’m bi-coastal. I’m everywhere.”
“Wow. What do you do?”
“I’m into murders and executions. Mergers and acquisitions… you ever see American Psycho?”
“I was gonna say, I love that movie. You and I have, like, the same sense of humor.”
It wasn’t what was said so much as who was saying it. He could’ve been pitching “Snuffgirls.com” and she’d have been captivated. I guarantee it. I also wondered about this guy’s girlfriend back in New York. It must be awfully hard to be that good-looking and remain faithful to her. I couldn’t fault him, necessarily.
As I overheard their conversation from the periphery, I noticed my phone was still working and I wasn’t missing any incoming calls. Good.
The valet brought the model/actor’s car. He shook my hand, hugged the girl, and left.
Now it was just the two of us. I clumsily tried to pick up from where they had left off: “So, Boston, huh? That’s gotta be an adjustment. How do you like LA?” I don’t remember why she was there, just that she was employed as a medical supply salesperson, was originally from Vermont, and had been a high-jumper in college. “I know someone who ran track at Miami,” I said. “You track people are nuts.” Yep.
The valet had been gone more than ten minutes. This kind of captive audience situation is usually when I’m at my best but by then I was just thinking about my car.
“So… what kind of medical supplies do you sell?”
“Oh, you know, everything: heart monitors, defibrillators, catheters…”
Why? Why did I ask that? Was I hoping she’d say something like, “Well, we’ve got these stethoscopes that are hot, and wet, and…”
(I mentioned at one point I’m a screenwriter and getting a film made, but I never use that to my advantage. By contrast, Charles Bukowski has made an entire career out of the same story: “The girl said she liked my writing. She had nice legs. I ran my hand up her skirt. We left the party and fucked that night.”)
Then the girl’s car arrived. “Nice talking to you,” she said, and left.
Where the hell was my car?
I showed one of the valets my ticket stub and told him I’d been waiting “a very long time.” There was scrambling and confusion among the entire valet staff, never a good sign. Two more minutes passed. Five bleached blondes in cocktail dresses and lots of eye makeup left The Belmont, handed over their stub, and walked up the curb a little ways to wait. Imagine their embarrassment when the valet pulled up my car in front of them! LA’s sort of a status-conscious town, believe it or not, so they were naturally humiliated to be mistaken for the owners of a dirty ’99 Honda Civic, by far the least attractive car being serviced at The Belmont that night, or any night.
This is LA, after all. Even the panhandlers drive Audis.
I paid quickly, sped out of there, and got home, where I began chatting with Nick (and we’re back to the beginning of this story), during which I got a text from the model/actor. I saw his name pop up and assumed it was the boilerplate “Great to meet you!” Instead,
He wrote: “Did u take that chick home with u?”
Then: “She was down.”
Then: “She wanted it. U should have moved in for the kill.”
I wrote: “Been out of the game too long. Plus, you’re the murders and executions guy.”
He wrote: “I have a chick. I’ll crack em open but u gotta knock em down.”
Son of a bitch! He wasn’t trying to cheat, he was trying to get me laid!
I relayed this to Nick during our chat and he said (I’m paraphrasing):
“Crack ‘em open? You mean, like, their skulls? And fuck what comes out of their skulls? Their brains?”
Then I said:
“Sure. It’s all gravy. At least, it feels like gravy. On your dick.”
Why do I have trouble talking with women? Who knows? (Good God…)