A Man of Mystery

(Originally published September 6, 2010)

I USED TO be one of those “men of mystery” you hear so much about.

After I broke up with my last girlfriend, she complained, only half joking, “It’s not fair! You know all my embarrassing secrets and I don’t know anything about you!” We’d been together three and a half years. If being mysterious is an art, that was my masterpiece.

But after she left, something changed. Suddenly I wanted everyone to know everything.

Blame it on writers like Bukowski and Henry Miller, comedians like Louis CK, Artie Lange, and Jim Norton, all of whom create brutally honest work based in whole or in part on the sordid details of their real lives. There’s nothing more seductive in our narcissistic age of “ME!” than knowing Miller’s Tropic of Cancer is considered “one of the ten or twenty great novels of our century” (Norman Mailer) and “a book which […] might restore our appetite for fundamental realities” (Anais Nin). Why? It’s about bumming around, getting drunk, and sleeping with whores.1 Plus, his stories are, if what I hear is true, true. Henry Miller is Tucker Max if Tucker Max wrote like Walt Whitman.

So I’ve been stocking this site with truth, hoping to restore appetites for fundamental realities and going to some pretty dark places in the process. But two weeks ago, I had a strange experience. I didn’t feel good writing about it and I didn’t feel good having people read about it, and even knowing it had happened made me feel ill at ease. There was so much comic potential waiting to be unleashed, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Then I remembered: you don’t get consideration for Norman Mailer’s “Top Ten or Twenty” list by holding back. So I won’t. To quote a t-shirt I once saw on Stephen Malkmus in an old Pavement publicity photo: “FUCK ART. LET’S DANCE.”

Shall we?

Let it be known, none of this is my finest hour, and almost all of it reflects badly on me. I’ll get the most embarrassing part out of the way first: I tried online dating.

A writer friend recommended OkCupid.com: “I know lots of plain-looking, socially-inept people who’ve had great success. You should try it!” (Not what I wanted to hear.) A different endorsement from another friend: “There’s no straight equivalent for how gay men can go out at night and wake up in a stranger’s bed the next day every single time… well, except OkCupid.com, of course.” (Sold!)

Truthfully, though, that’s not how I approach dating. The very fact I use the word “dating” as opposed to “screwing,” “fucking,” or “raping” should tell you all you need to know: I’m a classy guy. But that was counterproductive for my single life, so I went back to my bread and butter: being mysterious.

An OkCuipd.com profile features sections like “my self-summary,” “the six things I couldn’t do without,” and “what I’m doing with my life.” I refused to answer any of them straightforwardly. My hope was to attract a lucky lady who’d see me as a puzzle to solve, some hot “Sherlock Holmes” piece of ass.

It was Friday afternoon. I didn’t have plans for the evening because I thought I’d be in New Orleans by then (on a film, where I am now). In fact, I’d told everyone I’d be gone a week earlier, so even though plans had changed they’d already held the going-away party and cut the emotional umbilical cord. I had Friday night to myself, and Friday afternoon, as I was the only one still in the office. Nothing else going on, I went on OkCupid, and someone started chatting with me…

“I liked reading your profile. It was really interesting.”

This girl knows what’s up, I thought, so I checked out her profile too. It was awful, just awful. But I didn’t want to be rude, so I responded, “Thanks. How’s it going?”

So it began.

There were a number of red flags early. She mentioned how her last date from OkCupid tried to slip her a roofie and she told him, “It’s going to take more than that. I don’t go down easy. It’s like trying to drug a horse.” After that date left – because it’s hard to bounce back after attempting rape – she started talking to another guy at the bar and they wound up in her car having a seven hour conversation about anal sex. (“On the topic of anal sex, I could last half an hour, tops,” I told her.)

She also said she’d been dating “too many Jewish lawyers,” but was avoiding Mexicans because “those motherfuckers are fertile. They can get you pregnant just by looking at you.” She was a single mother with a kid, by the way, by a Jew, so the comment about fertile Mexicans seemed to be just her attempt to invent a new stereotype on the spot. She also told me she came from a poor town south of Los Angeles where the only things to do are “drink liquor” and “catch herpes.” She then assured me she hadn’t caught herpes. Finally, she said he had to run and fix her kid dinner, but came back within a minute. I said, “Wow, that was fast,” and she said, “It’s a fucking cheese quesadilla. I’m a good mom.”

She was insane, that I knew, but I had to believe she’d made for an entertaining evening. She left her phone number casually multiple times while we were chatting (“I need to get the mail. In case I forget to come back, ###-###-####”…) and finally I just called.

After hours of chatting, in which she said she’d either spend the night “crashing a high school party to buy 17-year-olds liquor” or “planting [herself] on the couch and watching a Project Runway marathon until Monday,” she remembered she had not one but two other dates already scheduled that night.

Was she blowing me off? “No! I really want to go out with you! You’re way better than either of those other guys! One of them’s the creep who tried to rape me!”

I told her I’d feel shitty having her blow of someone else – or two someone elses – but she didn’t care. Ultimately I didn’t either, because this was the night I had free and I wasn’t going to rearrange my schedule to set a proper date in the future.

We agreed on 10 PM.

For the sake of this story, I’ll call her “A_____.” A_____ told me I could park at her place and we could either walk or take a bus to a bar from there. As I was driving over, and about a block away, A_____ called me, hysterical, saying she couldn’t find her shoes. “Park next to me,” she told me. “You’ll see me outside digging through my car looking for my shoes.”

I did, and she was, bent over the driver’s seat scouring the floor. I finally got a look at her in person. She was shaped like an egg with tits, and was wearing an excessive amount of makeup, veering toward “kabuki.” I found it odd, as she was employed as a makeup artist, but I noticed her business card matched her steering wheel cover: leopard print.

“Just give me a minute,” she said. My car was parked to her left so I got out and waited by my driver’s side door. It provided a healthy buffer between us. Five minutes later, I decided, fuck it, and went to help her look for her shoes.

She wanted heels because she “doesn’t get to go out with tall guys very often,” and there were heels all over her car – six of them – but no matching pairs, just six individual shoes. She was also missing her debit card but wouldn’t go back into her apartment to look for it. “My aunt is in there with my little boy and they’re watching Avatar: The Last Airbender on full volume,” she said. “I kept telling them to turn it down and they wouldn’t do it. I can’t go back in there.” A_____ looked through her purse and found an EBT card – food stamps – but joked “you probably can’t buy drinks with it.” We laughed and laughed.

I don’t remember how we solved the shoe problem – I think A_____ finally settled for flats – but by then she didn’t want to walk or take the bus. I offered to drive but A_____ insisted on driving herself. “It makes me feel safer,” she said.

A_____ popped in a CD, her “feel good mix,” and skipped every song. She hated them all. Then she told me, “I shouldn’t be driving at night. My eyes are really bad.” I shrugged. To quote Rocky IV: “If he dies, he dies.” I looked out the window, noticed what neighborhood we were in, and mentioned that if she’d taken a right at a particular intersection rather than going straight there was a good burger place nearby.
“I have to take the exact routes I know,” A_____ said.
“Oh, I know this area pretty well,” I said. “I could direct you there and back.”
“No, I mean, I have to drive the exact routes I know or I will crash. My vision is not good enough to drive new places.”
Oh my God.

I let her drive here she wanted and we wound up at a bar called “Boardwalk 11.” We didn’t talk about much for awhile except how badly she needed a drink, even after she’d gotten one. A_____ told me she’d been on a lot of dates with guys from OKC (she kept saying “O-K-C” and I kept thinking she meant the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team) and was planning to write a book about her experiences. I asked what she’d learned, and she had no insights. A book seemed like a bad idea.

She said she had a hot, slutty friend she went out with all the time, but hated her because guys would completely ignore A_____ and go after her hot, slutty friend instead. Once it got so bad that A_____ said, out loud, that she’d give a blowjob to any guy who could name five dinosaurs (A_____ is a big fan of all three Jurassic Park movies.) A_____ then asked me if I could name five dinosaurs.

“Come on, this is for a blowjob,” she said.

So I said, “Tyrannosaurus Rex, Brontosaurus, Velociraptor, Oviraptor…” and that was it. After spending every weekend of my childhood at the Natural History Museum in New York, where my favorite exhibit was the dinosaurs, I went completely blank after naming four.

I guess it’s true what they say: I really didn’t want this girl to give me a blowjob.

We saw a guy with dark hair, a five o’clock shadow and glasses enter with two blondes. He shook the prettier one’s hand and A_____ said, “Jeff Goldblum over there isn’t getting any tonight.” (He looked nothing like Jeff Goldblum.) A_____ went outside for a cigarette – I stayed and drank – and “Jeff Goldblum” seemed to be doing pretty well while we she was gone. I pointed this out to her and she said, “Yeah, I forgot, ‘Jeff Goldblum’ has an eight and a half inch dick.” I joked, “Do you mean this guy or film and television actor Jeff Goldblum.” She said, “No, that guy. Jeff Goldblum’s dick is only six inches.”

I asked how she knew, and I believe her response was “firsthand experience.”

She added, “But I have a talent. I can tell how big a guy’s dick is just by looking at him.” She couldn’t figure mine, however – in the wide range between “Jeff Goldblum” and Jeff Goldblum – and that made me happy.

I went outside with her for her second cigarette and A_____ got a text. “Uh-oh,” she said. “Remember how I had those other dates tonight? I sort of forgot to cancel them.”
She showed me the text: “Hey, I’m inside! I see you!”
A_____ continued, “I told him I was staying in tonight, unless I went out with one of my neighbors.”
“Okay.”
“You don’t understand! I told him all my neighbors are gay or Jewish.”
“Okay,” I said.

Her other date came outside. He seemed nice and I didn’t know whether to feel bad for him (he got blown off) or good for him (he dodged a bullet). A_____ excused herself to go to the bathroom and the guy and I chatted awhile. Turned out he did marketing for Stamps.com, a competitor of my dad’s old company, and we had a good conversation about startups, marketing, and internet postage. Then A_____ came outside and said she needed me to take her home. I said goodbye to the guy and finally settled on not feeling bad for him in the least.

We didn’t return to her house. We went to a place called “Barfly” on the Sunset Strip and sat on the patio. A lady selling roses walked by. “I love roses,” A_____ said.
No fucking way, I thought.
A_____ said, “You know how June’s birth stone is the pearl? It has a birth flower too: the rose.” She pulled back one of the straps on her top to show off a tattoo on the back of her shoulder. “A lavender rose. If a guy gives me one of these, I’ll fuck him, no question.”
“Do those occur naturally?” I asked. “I’ve only ever seen red, white, and pink roses.”
“I don’t know. I think you can buy them at supermarkets.”

She told me she was getting pretty drunk. I said, “I thought you were like a horse. You look like a horse.” I was referring to her comment about her high tolerance, but it came out wrong. I tried to recover by mumbling something about how she was “sleek” and had “a big ass.”2

At around 1:15 AM, she told me she was ready to go home.

She parked across the street from her apartment and told me to give her a moment; she had a long day coming up where she needed to refinance her apartment.
“I have to make bagels and lox for the ReFi guy. He’s a Jew.”
“Of course,” I said.
“But I’m worried that my aunt may have locked the door and I won’t be able to get back in.”
“Do you want to go check?”
“Maybe in a little. Let’s just rest a second.”

A_____ cracked the window and lit up a cigarette. “I hope it’s not a problem that I smoke,” she said, as if I were sizing her up for a relationship rather than contemplating suicide. I told her it wasn’t a problem. Then I made a mistake.

“I can’t believe you talked to that one guy for seven hours about anal sex,” I said.
“Give me your hand.”
“What?”
She had me ball up my fist. “The guy took my hand, like this, and said, ‘You have to go slowly…’” A_____ then worked her fingers into the creased part of my fist like it was an asshole – making me feel like an asshole – until my hand opened all the way up.
“That must have been a really awkward conversation.”
“Eh, not really,” she said. Then she said, “I really like porn.”
“Oh.”
“Do you?”
“Yeah, sure.”
“What’s your favorite kind of porn?”
I paused.
“Don’t be a prude. Come on.”
I didn’t want to admit, to a single mother, that I like the ones where the guy doesn’t pull out. But when I finally told her, she simply said, “That’s hot.” Then she said, “I like gangbangs.”
I tried to relate. “Yeah, that’s how it is with Internet porn. You get bored and start having to watch stuff that’s more and more extreme.”
“Gangbangs aren’t extreme,” she said, somewhat defensively.
“Oh,” I said.
“Have you ever been in one?”
“A gangbang? No. Have you?”
“Yeah. I’ve been in…” she started to count with her hand, but ran out of fingers. “…A couple. One time – this is kinda crazy – I got with two brothers. But we were all really drunk.” Then she said, “I used to have these fantasies about… I was a punk rock girl, you know? I had a band and everything. And I always wanted to fuck one of those punk rock kids at a show. So I went to a show recently, picked out a kid, and said, ‘You’re coming with me.’”

I checked my phone. It was now 3:30.

A_____ continued, “I took him into my van, and… you know how you said you like the porn where the guy doesn’t pull out? I’m on the pill, so I let him go unprotected three times in a row. Nineteen-year-olds! He wanted to keep going and I was like, “No, sweetie, I need a break! I gotta clean myself up!”

I should say, at this point, I’ve made an effort to clean up the language for the purposes of telling this story. In reality, this girl was quite crude.

She then took a blanket out of the backseat, pressed it to her nose, and inhaled. “Smell this,” she said. I did. It smelled neutral, but good, in that it didn’t reek of cigarette smoke or gang sex. She laid the blanket across her body and reclined her seat so it was almost horizontal, the correct position to engage in cigarette smoking or gang sex.

“Do you need to get some sleep for the refinancing tomorrow?” I asked.
“Just a few more minutes,” she said. “Talking about porn has got me really horny.”

I stayed as firmly on my side of the car as I could, pressing myself against the door to see if I could escape by osmosis. “Boy, it’ll sure be nice when you can go inside, watch some porn, and take care of that.”
“Why do you pants keep coming undone?” she asked – a non sequitir, but not really. She lifted the blanket to confirm that yes, the button on her fly was undone and the zipper was halfway down. She said, “You know, a lot of guys say they can’t believe I had a baby because my pussy is so nice. It’s magic.”
“When you say your ‘pussy is magic,’ do you mean it has magical powers, or just magical properties? Because there’s a difference.”
“I guess it’s not magic, but magical.”
“Wizard pussy.”
She laughed. “I still can’t figure out what size your dick is.”
“Yep.” Still a man of mystery.

This went on for some time, I’m sorry to say, me alternating between suggestive comments and subtle hints I should leave, her getting aroused and telling me not to. For a few brief moments, I heard her masturbating audibly under the blanket. At 6 AM, I finally said, “I gotta go.”
“Just a few more minutes.”
“I gotta go.”
“But you’re so entertaining. Don’t leave.” (I wasn’t that entertaining.)
“I gotta go.”
“Okay.”
“Don’t worry,” I said. “Now you get to watch all the porn you want.”

She went inside. (Her aunt hadn’t locked the door.) I got in my car and drove home. As I was parking, I got the following text:

“My aunt took the computer!!!!! Im going to die”

I responded “that’s the worst thing that could possibly happen”
HER: “Im dying of horniness and lack of imagination”
ME: “I feel terrible for you”
HER: “Help meeeee”
ME: “What could I do?”
HER: “Anything”
ME: “I just got home”
HER: “Im so mad!!!! Im really turned on and i dont know what to do”
ME: “I’m sure there’s some way to handle it”
HER: “Im sure there is too. Ur no help…”

I got back to my apartment and turned down the sheets. The texts kept coming, more rapidly, with graphic detail, and I thought about going back just to shut her up, but it made me feel like a low self esteem chick who fucks a guy “just because.” Just because he bought her dinner. That doesn’t work for me. I need to be romanced, not hassled or bought off. I didn’t even get a necklace.

The lesson here was that I could get a very desperate girl aroused by speaking frankly about sex and being vague with my intentions. It’s not a helpful lesson, but it’s something. Being mysterious has always been my forte.

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