It Never Quite Goes Away, Con’t

Intro to the Craziest Story on Earth


In the Middle


I returned to my friends at the bar, exactly at closing time. I clutched the artist’s phone number in my fist, and swooned in the back seat of the car, bedazzled and buzzing. That night he called to be sure I made it home OK and we decided to see each other in a few days. The time passed like a molasses drip, but soon enough, I was driving to his little place in West Hollywood.


In the daylight, the inside of his apartment looked exactly like how it had in the dead of night: dark. His studio opened into a vast, bright courtyard, so there was that. But so many other things were dark: his clothes, his art, his windows. Sure, it read eerie, but I shook it off. And so we talked, got to know each other better, and within an hour or two, I felt like a deer caught on the train tracks, immobile, hearing the not-so-distant whhhoot whhoot! of the train’s whistle. It wasn’t that I was afraid. It was that everything happened so fast, soon we were with each other all the time, and I knew in those early hours, that we would be. I couldn’t stop the progression. Nor, at the time, did I want to.


From that day forward, we hit the town. Drinks at the L.A. Museum of Contemporary Art, music at the Hollywood Bowl, visits to the Pacific Design Center. People watching at the places I’d only read about. I bled Los Angeles during that first month; the city penetrated every pore, I experienced it all headlong and fancy free. On one date, we started with coffee in Santa Monica, hit downtown L.A. for lunch at a Hare Krishna temple, cruised Marina Del Ray, and circled back to Santa Monica for rooftop drinks. Heady stuff.


And for about two months, I lived this way. Days-long outings to out-of-the-way places, secret visits to a Topanga Canyon home abandoned mid-construction, excursions to Hollywood Hills homes with beautiful girls lounging poolside. He always had these ideas, and I went along with them. I imagined myself as an innocent milkmaid from the Midwest who knew nothing about anything, and here he was, filling my head with experiences and visions and electricity. Everything he did or said was so foreign, and I let it engulf me. Truth be told, it wasn’t him I liked so much, it was that I stepped out of my skin with him and saw everything differently. And I liked that.


Did I mention he didn’t have one red cent? Neither did he. According to him, he traveled to Alaska once a year to crew a deep sea fishing boat, and then lived off his earnings until it was time to go back. Soon, it’d be time to go back. In a few short weeks, he’d lose his apartment and be out on the streets. I couldn’t picture this tall, thin, sensitive man on an ice rig, but it sounded somewhat plausible. Given the topsy turvy my life had become, I’d think almost anything were possible. I mean, here I was, a Midwestern girl, dating an artist who regularly wore formal wear during the day. The old rules didn’t apply to me anymore.


So off we went. And everywhere we’d walk, he insisted on taking the outer position. He said that in the “olden days,” men would walk between the woman and the road, so that passing horse detritus wouldn’t sully the maiden. Rather, the man would take the dirt. And when we walked, we talked about his cracked movie and his ideas for art and videos and poems. One time, I even “starred” in one of his “films,” dressing up in a ragged white lace dress, painting my face white and walking slowly around his courtyard in the dark, while his cronies filmed my ghostly meanderings.


Some weeks later, he began to bunk with an old friend who lived off Hollywood Blvd., Alaska indefinitely put off. I knew he considered me his soulmate, and stayed in the city to continue our relationship, so I began to feel bad that I didn’t envision any kind of future with him. I’d come to view him as eccentric and otherworldly and artistic, and slightly deranged. Someone I couldn’t keep in my life long-term.


A turning point came when we made a date to meet each other at the Los Angeles Museum of Art for cocktail jazz night. I arrived right on time and not seeing him anywhere, proceeded to the bar. A few minutes later, I scanned the crowd from my perch on the steps, not spotting him in the throng. Soon, some people I knew approached me and we talked for a couple of minutes, while I kept an eye out for him. After a half hour, I thought I saw him through a potted plant on the outskirts of the dance floor. He skittered away, and a minute later, I spotted him behind a tree. All pretense gone, I marched right up to him, angry at the silly game. He emerged, laughing, to tell me that he wanted to spy on me to see who would approach me while I waited for him. In fact, he’d been at the museum the whole time. I’m embarrased to say I was just young enough to find that borderline romantic, but smart enough to be freaked out and angry. We moved on, but I now had one foot out the door.


Another time, quite out of the blue, he recounted a visit with a one-legged prostitute in Seattle. Apparently he got down to business with the prostitute in the back seat of a car while her boyfriend sat in the front seat. The way he told the story — detached and robotic — scared me. I hoped he envisioned this monstrous shock as a scene for the amputee movie he planned to make, and was throwing it out there to see what I thought. I looked at him, aghast, thinking, AIDS test! Stat!, when he told me he was kidding. Right about then, I made plans to get out.


But loose ends remained. I’d invited him to San Francisco to visit my family and as a please-everyone-20-something, I didn’t renege the offer. The drive to my parent’s place passed unbearably. I simply was done with him. Done with the weird tales he told, the games he played, the white gothic suits he’d wear. Done with his poetic quotes, paint-smeared fingers, burning intensity. The facade crumbled and all that stood before me was a mentally unbalanced, broke liar.


The days passed. The whole time, he wore that damn white suit and to their credit, my parents didn’t lock me in the closet until he left. But, I sensed their panic. One conversation with him and they picked up on what I’d been blind to for two months — this guy was a crazy sham. Sure enough, my first morning back, my phone rang back in L.A. and I picked it up to hear my dad, normally a sensible enough guy, practically begging me to break up with the starving artist. I assured him I would and a few minutes later, I did. I took the easy way out and severed ties over the phone, but at least I could hang up afterward. I just didn’t want to see him ever again. And I wanted that not seeing him to start right at that minute.


He hung up on me. I let out a big breath and thought I was done. So when a loud knock erupted out of nowhere later that evening and I opened my door to find him on my doorstep, shaking, wet, and holding a bottle of wine, I realized I might be in some trouble here.


{{This is turning out to be way longer than I ever thought. I’ll finish up this weekend…}}


Part III Here.


20 thoughts on “It Never Quite Goes Away, Con’t

  1. I understand what you said about stepping out of your skin. I had one like that. Except for his ‘aura’ I’m still left wondering WTF? Why did I spend a minute with him? What a story this is! And as I’m reading this I’m thinking…OMG he’s going to hide under her bed! *shriek*

    here. waiting. ;)

  2. Is it weird that I so totally “get” all of it? And that I would have been the same way? Maybe even more dumb because I might not have caught on to the crazy right away?

    Also? We really MUST talk about you being a tease, my friend.

  3. That might be what I like best about growing old and crusty – you don’t ignore the signs anymore. This a wonderful/terrible story and beautifully written.

  4. i’m with steph about totally getting it. dating in your 20’s is a scary thing. it’s the perfect storm for wanting to please, discovering yourself, and not having enough experience to read warning signs.

    it’s frightening that this is a true story, but it reads like a novel.

  5. Okay, this now sounds like a DIFFERENT guy from the one I remember you writing about in the past. Or it’s the same one and I just stupid.

    Either way, beautifully written and instantly recognizable, familiar in so many ways. Except mine turned out to be a murderer later on.

  6. Slouching: I know, huh?

    Jenn: OK! (Will you babysit? :) )

    Simply: I wish I could have read auras! It would have been crazy colored.

    Steph: What are you wearing right now?

    Cheri: NOT a genius, as you can tell from this story…

    Melanie: Come on! You’re the one who willingly initiated the totem pole picture! THAT’S awesome!

    Tinsenpup: I “know” you from your blog…and “old and crusty” does not describe you.

    Myra: “Perfect storm” is the perfect analogy.

    DaG: No, same guy…but I never wrote it all out with details. I re-read the old blog and I wrote it so list-like…I’ve never sat down and wrote it like it happened…I guess I didn’t want to experience it again.

    And…murderer, wha???? WHEN do we get that story?

  7. This is so compelling that I’m DYING for more!! Can’t wait till a new post pops up in my reader. Also, what makes it really good is that I know you came out the other side, so that even if he turns out to be totally psycho, you ended up fine — so psycho can be intriguing and a hairy reminder of the follies of my own youth too…

  8. I with the other commenters. I would totally dig a guy that took me to crazy places and wonderful dates out on the town too. I think a lot of us have guys that make us wonder “What were we thinking??” I went out with that guy for two years. He struggled with being gay. I thought I could fix him. I didn’t stick around to find out the end of his story. I did encourage him to join the AF Reserves and I sometimes wonder if he got called away to Iraq.

    Again, why do I always say more than I mean to in your comment section??? I think you have a secret power.

    Can’t wait until the next segment to the “wonderful/terrible” story.

  9. Oh man, if you were to write a mystery novel, I’d be the first in line to your book signing, my shirt ripped open begging you to sign my chest.

    I’d be your number 1 fan.


    after seeing the movie, “Misery”, that doesn’t sound like such a good phrase

  10. lol @ all the comments above. :)

    haven’t we all had that one, effed up relationship that changed us forever? i know i have. and reading this made me relive it all over again…

    great stuff! can’t wait to read more. :D

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