Ó%'a*¿

@'f"'"u %ìt¿
A clausrophobic bar rvith
a

generic name -The Dirty Clam,The

Old Parrot, something nautically therned and unremarkable

flanked by darkened storefi-onts, the onl¡'place open to the oppressively hot Ft. Lauderdale night. A place s,here people go to drink and not much else. A small oasis for thc locals, tucked as'ay

-

tattooing herselfon m1' brain: the delicate curve ofher neck; the didn't reflect the dirn lighting so much as collect and amplify it; hos,she smiled rvith her rvhole bod1,, lithe ancl u'ith a
rl'ay her hair2 dangerous intensit¡'.

lrom the roaring four-lane. Car after gleaming car w,ent b1; heading
dorvn the long asphalt dream on the rva¡' to somes,here else. A thirteen hour bus ride brought me there, the outskirts

The truth is, I didn't even notice her. rThe door openecl and solneone rvalkecl in; I turnecl to look, then rvent track to u'atching the increasingll hard-to-follou.Arnerica's Cup. My rum and Coke u'as empty,, so I ordered another. I lelt her sit dos'n next to rne - not a delil¡erate choice, I thought, just her sliding into the chair closest to the door. I ma¡,have turned and s¡niled politell', but suggesting that seems arvfully char.itable. More tr-uthlull¡,: My
eves held theTV screen like a lifc-¡rreserver tlìat rvas keeping nrc fi'om drifting out into dark, unknorvn \\,aters. So rve sat. I har,e a vague leeling she knerv some olthe regulars, chatte<l *'ith thern rvhile I drank.+ I don't remember s'hat was happening s'ith the Arnerica's Cu¡r . .. (did a basketball

ola foreign city, the ts'ilight no-place place benveen citv and suburb, drarvn in parking lots and highs.av markers. I had a ferv hours to look around, my only neighbors ros'upon ror,r'of
CLOSED signs, the lurking shados.s of pahn trees, andThe Old Parrot.'
I 'rvas on a clam chorvder kick at the time. I sat dorvn arrd ordered a rurn and Coke rvith a Nes, England clarn chos,der chaser. I ..r'as the only one alone in the bar: in one corner a grou¡r

ofspring breakers and their girlfriends plave<l darts; another corner offu'ork from the local BBQ shack; and dorvn the bar from me sat trvo grizzled, chain-smoking gu1.s, the kind s,ho are a fixture at every n'atering hole estal¡lished enouglt to har.e
rvas people just

game come on?)

"regulars."

There arc ma¡l'kinds of mon-rents. Sorne ¡'ou remember u,ith flashbulb clarit¡', as tibrant snapshots of a time, place, ancl feeling. Emotional Rembrandts, perfectly executed, unsullied by the dust of time. Others are double-, triple-, quadruple-exposed. Nothing
is ever the s'av it

It rvas late night,/early morning, that time s,hen one day
hangs suspended in limbo before turning o\.er into the next.

"reall¡"' happened, but lost under

a

layered fog

Everyone rvas dug in lor the night, contentedll drinking themsclves into tomorro$'. I s'ent s'ith the fìou,, ordering more rum and Cokes and craning my neck to rvatch the Amcrica's Cup

of

on ESPN2. I have no iclea horv the America's Cup u'orks, hou, points are scored, etc. - I r,r,as tr¡'ing to avoid dra$'ing attention to
m1'self.

interpretation, a scenc ¡rrojected on thc ss'irling, t\\'isting smoke ofmemon. I'll never be surc ilrvhat happened; then rvas real or entirel¡'in m¡'head, but I'll never forgct6 ho*'it felt on rn¡'right ankleT: a slo\\', tenuous touch, the tips of a tvoman's toes gliding
quietly up m1'leg, barely touching mv skin.What possibility feels like. What connectiorì might be. A secondE, mavbe less, but s'ith relerberating significance - the clums¡'sensuality ofa left-handed
caress. A

could say I'll never forget the s,ornan s.hcr r.alked irr - I s'ish I could tell I'ou she s'as h1'persaturated Technicolor in a black-and-s'hite rvorld; that she radiated,
I u'ish I

question mark hanging in the air.

tThe nrain character in Philip K. Dick's A Scanner DcrÅi,¡,s'ears something calle<ì a "blur suit."Thc blur suit ¡:rojects to tlìe outside uorld thc of ever) Person storccl in its databasc, changing manv times a sccon<ì. It turns the \\'carcr into a blrrr, a non-l)crson rrìro is everyonc ' Eas¡'excuse lor $4lat's to come: I rvas nrore drturk than t rcalized. But honestl¡,, I N,asn't that drunk. Excuscs co¡nc to an end some\.hcrc 5 ...thc object ofsuch illtensc scrutin)', aWarren Conrnrission-style,26 r'olumes ancl counting i¡¡ mv heacl kin¿ ol'thing, analr.sis as the marginalia ofex¡rerience, full offalsc starts and rnc¡rtal scribblings, rchashings ¿ncl Matrix-likc l¡ullct-time scrutiny slãrr it dosn hcre, pausc, rotate the scenc, exa¡nine thc "facts" ... u Ofcourse t'll forget. I've alread¡'forgottcn so ¡nuch. See 7. 7 Or knee' À'tY journal says knee, l:ut I remember it as being the anklc. (Horv is that possiblc?\Ä/as I rrearing sandals at the tinte?\\¡hat reallv happened herc?) Picture it in vour head... s Calculate the nanoseconcls nccessar)' for scnsation to traÌ'el up nr¡, leg to nrv brain, for nry brain to recogrìize ht¡nra¡r toucl.¡ ("1 just s.ant someone to talk tol And a little ol that Human Touch /Just a little of that Human Touch" Brucc Springsteen) and r.eact... Latcr, of course, Springsteen sings, "Girl, ain't no kindncss in the facc of strangers/ Ain't gonna lì¡rd no nriraclcs here."
likcncss

r Rcd, or blondc. Or brunerre.

I Or sìratcvcr.

I lroze." I can't sar,rvhat messagc s'as beirrg sent through those tocs, up n'rl leg, aroun<l

certain kincl ols,cight bccorlcs sccon<l naturc, loneliness is its

ml heart and into ¡rrv head. Horr'-

simplc a gcsturc is this: \\'ornarì to marì, ¡'es, brrt, more funclarnentallr', hurnau to hurnan. It s'as as sim¡rlc as"l a¡n trvi¡¡_q to get )'orrr attentiorr.Therc is a ¡>crson sittirrg ncxt to Ïou." Ancl I coulcln't do arl'thing. I s¡rerrt thc lcst of the rright sitting thcrc tlving to conlince m'r'self it ha<lrr't ha¡;¡rcrrccl, therr trling to figurc out u,l¡at to do ifit had, uìrat to sar', horv to sav it, hos,to be sure, holv to avoirl anv kind ofvulnerabilitv becausc of course rnv o\l'n \\'ânt of a conncction \\,as so ¡tos'erful that it ovenvlrelnrcd me, turncd scll-<lcstructilc; thc s.a'r, livirrg rvith a

olrn cor.nf'ort, an<l s'hcn it's rcrnovccl, thc strongcst leeling is ol ïcrtigo, spiraling loss. . . Hos' col<l arc \\'c - aur /. that I corrld not thcnro sim¡rlv
tu¡n a¡rd acknou'lcdge that srr-rall, plaintive beacon h'onr another solital'r'shi¡r traveling in the cold, dark night, coul<l rrot a<lmit sìrat I'r'rr most ah'aid of that he r necd (r'cal or inragirrccl) rr,as a mirror olrl'r'ou'n that night, and that ultimatclv u'c arc all still sccking, plca<ling rr'ith onc arìothcr, u'aiting, looking, rvaiting auil ho¡rirrg that thcrc is'so¡rrconc out tlìcrc to res¡rond? | |

doesn't all go back to

5'n

gladc and Thcrcsa

W-,

s'ho did rirtuall,v the

sane rÀing

to rne under onc of those chcap plvs'oo<l

desks,

tlrink thcrc isn't a subtlc <larn¡¡ation in that choice of ¡lhlase cither. Coldrress.) Thcresa \\¡. ..--., a horliblc
(God bless
lcacls us

rlorrn anl nurrrber of dark ¡raths: l) ì\{om rlas right. ìVlothcrs usuallv arc.

I'll urr<lerstand this in 20 r'ears. And might even have a girlfriend to exl)lain it to. 2)Shcu'asrigIrtan<l/orrr.rorrg'Eitherrrirr.,slrcPrett\'tlll'tch¡loisotredthcrr.cllfì.olrrrvhicheligil|egir|ñ.|el lìrture grarrdchildrcn?) coul<l l>c drarvn, at lcast f'or thc f'orcsecablc lìrture.,À lot ol'things tlavcl slowlv in a surall torlrr, but
rçord that Jcssc Hicks is cnrotio¡¡alh' r'ct.rrded is not onc' of'thent. 2a. AND then this ¡>t'cnrisc - rrith littlc to no cnr¡riric.rl basis, as IT had nar'ò¿ onc girlh'icnd l¡cf'orc that - rr'.rs runiversalh accc¡rtc<l! Is this sonrc solt ol horriblv Greek sclf'-lìrllìlling ¡rrophecl kind of'thing: I couldn't bc rca<lv f'or a rclationshi¡r l¡ccausc f kncu n'n nrothcr didn't think I rras arr<l elerr so, clcr'\ gill sithin carshot (tlris rvould bc, irr chronological ordcr <¡f crushingncss ¿¡rd rrith sclelitv ol'said crush in parcnthesis ' S.rr.rh J (8, though rlarcring .rfìer' le¡rcatcd kicks to thc curl> an<l thc sncakin-{ sus¡ricion that co¡ling ¡nl lromcrr'<>rk hcld nrr>rc intcrcst fi>r Àtiss J than did ânltlìing elsc I coul<l offcr); ì!lollv K (also an 8, alìcr I realizcd Salah J \\'as rìot rvlro I rlas Iooking f'or.rt .rll and rvho, rvith a clroi¡' of angcìs looking <los'n, I linallv recognized as nrr' ¡rersonal Courtncl Love); Salah 13 (8 until vou think ¡l¡ot¡t it and thc¡¡ sl¡c bcconlcs a l0 bccat¡sc was¡r't Saral¡ B rrl¡ele it lìrst lregan arì\'\\'a\'(¡ìot counting'l-.\\i), the lìr'st hcaltbrcakinglv oblir-ious donrino to làll, the fìrst ste¡r down a long path of castlcs-in-the-skl rouranccs?) a¡rd of coursc Cod,v F ( a tc¡r s'hosc ¡rcr¡rctu.rl unavail¡bilitv led to a nìorìrcrìtarv tlanslcrc¡rcc o¡ìto Kristcrì T (ouch)); Laura Z (a tcn, lct \\'ith hcl olr¡ coru¡rlcx cnrotional orbist (as though there's ônotlìe¡'ki¡ìd) rrhich, rlhcn i¡ìtc¡'sectir¡g rritl¡ n¡r'osn scctnccl to ¡'csult i¡¡ (again) a tlajccton closer to arìother blo\r'r¡ NASÀ projcct than the truc flight ol'Cupid's arlorr ['rn sorlr', Laural); an<l Casct B ("Thcsc go to elelerr" rlhat ¡¡¡<>rc can l;c sai<l?) an<l s<¡ <>rr ar¡<l on an<ì on, arl nauscanr alrcadr') blisslullv accc¡rtcd ml lack ol neccss¡r,r'matulitl a¡r<l scnt o¡r about lrcr lrusincss, OIì t{indsight is 20/20 lrut <locs¡¡'t ¡:romise ¡r'ìs\\'crs: s¡>encl cnough tinrc <loin-q this and all of vour ¡rast l>ccorncs a Gorclian knot pullcd ti-qht bv tinrc, thc qucstion thor bcing o 1¿ Crant ìVf<>rrison, "Hos' nlarll si<lcs rlocs s¡raglrctti havc?" onh it's "Horv

3)

4)

ccls fucking. AND, BLIT... Idiagram of a rloonred s¡racc vcssel tra¡>¡rc<l in orl;it arou¡¡d a black holc]
assunìL's

to otlìcr ¡reo¡rlc, but tlì.rt

that thc

/ of this tinre

lì'ame has reallv changcrl. Has hc?

onlv to itsclf, alonc.

40

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