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 Impossibly Beautiful

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PostSubject: Impossibly Beautiful   Tue Aug 30, 2011 10:39 pm

I am on a vacation from my reality. Back in my hometown to go to a friend's wedding. I am a music journalist in Seattle. The pay is wretched and I am beginning not to like it anymore. I had to beg my parents for the ticket home. They relented because I haven't been back East in a while.

As soon as I am home again I need to escape. I meet up with my old high school friends. They are carrying worrisome amounts of drugs. They now have corporate salaries and cocaine habits. None of them have remained in Pennsylvania. It feels good to see them but overall I am glad I do not really know them anymore.

We go to the same pub we went to back in high school. I see a few classmates whom I mostly ignore. I am too high on cocaine to care about sentimentality. We laugh at the burly rednecks and their hick accents. There is not one girl in the bar worthy of fucking. Pennsylvania is all the evidence needed to prove the nonexistence of God. Fat idiots with no taste and no culture. Just being inside the state lines repulses me to the core of my being. The other lines, though, I do not mind. I snort them up like a madman.

After the wedding is over and everyone flies back to his respective corporate paradise, I get lonely. I plan a trip to New York to see Wendy my University beloved. I haven't seen her in three years. My de facto plan is to get her high on ecstasy and rekindle an old flame.

I take the Amtrak train from Elizabethtown, PA. My head still hurts from all the cocaine and champagne at the wedding. Overdid it like usual. I still feel the drugs in me and am annoyed at things that might normally make me laugh.

Elizabethtown is so small there is no proper train station, just a platform. I buy my ticket on the train. It takes the woman forever to compute my fare. She has a look of profound confusion that defies description. She consults a few companions, including a food service guy who happens to be passing through. I stare in disbelief.

The food service guy has a clue and shows her how to read the fare chart. The state employees seem dumb but cheery. I wonder if they have feelings like me. They tell corny train jokes and laugh out loud. If ignorance is bliss then these people are fucking in heaven.

My ticket, which costs me $82.00 round-trip, looks like an oversize carnival ride coupon. It seems terribly unofficial without any magnetic strips or holograms. It is just a scrap of thin paper with undecipherable symbols and holes punched in random places. Somehow I feel cheated. I have felt this way my whole life.

I turn my head and see a vision of beauty. A girl of 16 or 17 is sitting across from me. Naked notions of casual sex immediately penetrate my head. I think of something to say but I cannot talk. I am immobilized from the effects of the latent chemicals mixing with the bliss of leaving Pennsylvania.

When I was younger, I resented guys who stared painfully long at girls half their age. Now I too am helpless to resist catching their bright young eyes. Is this my sad future? Her beauty gives me hope in a hopeless world. Excites my senses to overload. Thankfully, I am incapable of action in this situation. Leave the pretty little girl alone, I tell myself. She is better off not knowing you.

I glance at her again. She is reading. Or at least pretending to read. I fantasize that we are trapped on a deserted island together. That is probably the only way I could ever fuck her and watch her pale blue eyes rolling back in orgasm.

The girl sees me staring. I catch the faint outline of her smile. Or is she laughing at me? What is wrong with me? I try to forget her. I think instead about pizza. I haven't eaten in two days, so it's easy.

My favorite food is cheese pizza with lots of garlic salt, red pepper and Parmesan cheese. Sometimes I eat it up too fast and then want to make myself puke. But bulimia is addictive, like cocaine. I do my best to stay away from both of these things. But pizza is as good as sex or drugs. The smell of it alone puts me in a state of opium bliss. Sometimes I have to eat the whole pie.

Our pit stop in Philadelphia is worse than uneventful. I step off the train for a smoke while we switch engines. A woman who is also smoking starts talking to me. I have my $200 Seinheisser headphones on and there is a pause between the tracks. I construct a near perfect 'I can't be bothered' face and answer questions quickly.

"Where are you going?"

"The City."

"What city?"

"New York."

"Do you live there?"

"No."

"I saw you on the train platform. Are you from Elizabethtown?"

I realize I am trapped now and turn off my Walkman. I cannot be overly mean to someone I don't know well. Just because she is ugly doesn't mean she can't be interesting.

I tell her that I am a rock journalist from Seattle to scare her off. She tells me she is from Seattle and instantly expects me to like her.

"Jimmy Hendrix was from Seattle, you know," she says to my dismay. "He was much more talented than that Kurt Cobain guy."

Please go away, I think to myself.

She continues to stand there. I size her up from head to toe. She is middle-aged, hideous, and about as wide as tall. She has shin guards on and a crutch under one arm. She is the kind of person who would talk about nothing to anybody merely for her own amusement.

She asks me what paper I work for. I lie and tell her The Stranger, a local gay weekly, hoping this will shut her up. It doesn't. She asks me if I know Dan Savage, an extremely popular columnist who writes mostly about anal sex. I say that I don't. She seems disappointed.

I tell her I am writing a piece about 'acid house' clubs in New York. This scares her off. She hates drugs and techno music. I hate her. She is a totally fucking useless cunt. People should instinctually know not to talk to other people on a train platform. Especially people with expensive headphones on.

I finish my cigarette and get back on the train. I can hear her rattling away, telling someone that I am from Seattle. She almost succeeds in ruining my good mood. I sink into my seat and put my Walkman on maximum volume. I force a smile and dream of Wendy.

I can't believe it has been three years since I've last seen her. Wendy is like a stranger to me now. Once she was closer than a sister. Once we were the same fucking person sharing extrasensory perceptions. At least I thought so. Was it real or was it just a combination of youth and drugs?

I arrive at Penn Station in Manhattan. Wendy is there waiting for me. She has been drinking at the station bar. I flash back to when I first met her at an Irish Pub in Pike Place Market. She was 21 and too cute for words.

We sat side by side on barstools talking of music, literature, and pills. We would hang out for hours. Sucking down pints of Guinness and smoking Marlboro Reds. We both thought rave would change the world. In truth it only changed music and drugs. Kids like techno instead of rock. Kids take ecstasy instead of cocaine.

Wendy looks older. No longer girlish. She is dressed like a businesswoman and her face is a little bloated from all the alcohol. But she still looks way better than average. She says I look good, the same as always. In truth I feel a lot better. My first thoughts upon awakening are no longer about suicide.

Wendy takes us immediately to a West Village bar. She knows all the bartenders, a bad omen for her face and liver. They give her free drinks and treat her like a sister. We languish in exaggerated tales of our personal histories as we suck down pints of Guinness. The bartenders always make me pay.

Wendy works in advertising. I ask her if she ever considered becoming a nun. She laughs and says no and kisses me on the cheek. I light up a cigarette. Wendy starts chain-smoking and I am unable to keep up.

By 3:00AM we are well lubricated and decide to get some pizza down the street to soak up the alcohol. We sit in silence staring at each other. Listening to other people's conversations until we decide to leave. Wendy knows the value of spending time with someone without idle chatter.

We take a cab ride to her brownstone in The Bronx. The fare is almost 30 dollars. She pays the fare and tip. Her apartment is palatial by New York terms. Must cost her $1,500 a month. I hear barking. I wince. I had almost forgotten about the fucking dog.

Wendy's dog only has three working legs. The fourth leg is tied up under its belly. It wears a one of those lampshade things over its head- so it won't bite off the crippled leg when it gets lonely and paranoid.

The last time I saw this dog was in Wendy's home town of Malibu Beach. I mentioned something about a shotgun and "an end to the misery". I thought she was going to kick me out of her house. She cried and forced me to listen to a story about the dog's leg. While still an exuberant puppy, the beast had jumped out of the car window while driving full speed down the LA freeway.

Wendy invites me to sleep in her bed. I get momentarily excited. She sleeps on the couch. Lucky me, I sleep with the dog. It forces me to contemplate the cruelty of nature and the world. I keep kicking the beast off the bed, but it always jumps back up and under the covers. I am drunk and eventually tire of this game. Finally I pass out.

I awake the next day feeling abysmal. Wendy seems fine. I pretend I am too. I roll two joints and Wendy and I head to the Bronx Zoo. We smoke outside the cafeteria and leisurely stroll around stoned and looking at the animals.

We see two giraffes having sex. Wendy and I belly laugh and suddenly the world is okay again. Hangover gone. The giraffe's dick is a yard long, bright red, and has a clasping two-fingered "hand" on the end of it like an elephant's trunk. Seeing a giraffe's member grasping wildly is completely alien. We decide to give the giraffes a little privacy and head over to the bears.

The bears are humping too. So hard and so often that the lone female has lost her coat in some spots. The males all take turns and the female has a strange beatific glow. It was so sexy I wanted to climb in and have a go too.

All the animals are getting some. It's October, and the Zoo is an orgy. Even the prickly porcupines are fucking. They look absurd, like giant S&M punker rats. My belly aches from laughing. But that is not the funniest thing.

"Jason, that bat is giving itself head!"

It's true. In the nocturnal exhibit, a bat is hanging upside-down sucking its own erect cock. I don't believe it until I press my face against the glass and see with my own eyes. In a small case a chubby bat is greedily licking itself with a long black tongue. Its cock is of monstrous proportions and completely erect.

Wendy's mutual delight and horror instills a lust in me. Shining with that inner beauty that makes me love her. It has nothing to do with the animals fucking. No. It is not lust it is love. Just spending time with her is way better than rutting around naked in bed like animals.

After the Zoo we go to Gaelic Field to watch the Irish football matches and drink more Guinness. We meet up with Wendy's best friend, Aurora. She is beautiful as well. Flaming red hair, very Irish. I mention wanting to go to a club. Wendy is not interested. She is apparently "out of her drug stage". With the exception of cigarettes and alcohol, of course.

At Gaelic Field everyone is drinking, playing Irish football, or both. I can't tell if it's a stadium with a bar or a bar with a stadium. After the match we go to an IRA tavern and drink until midnight. I am the only non-Irishman there. I imbibe 6 pints of Guinness and a few mixed drinks.

Wendy's current boyfriend, Tyler, whom I knew nothing about, shows up and is Irish like everyone else. He is better looking than me and from Dublin. I try to strike up a conversation but I fail miserably, like normal.

Tyler seems bewildered when I tell him about my psilocybin mushroom experiences. I think most Irishmen have a healthy disdain for all drugs not served in a pint glass. I am perplexed but understanding of his views. Everyone has a right to an opinion.

Still, getting Wendy to take ecstasy five years ago was not a difficult maneuver. What could change in five years?

A lot can change in five years.

A lot can change in five seconds.

Tyler orders round after round of whiskey shots. We each take turns paying. When the whiskey hits our brains we get comfortable with each other and become fast friends. The earlier sober awkwardness is gone. Someone breaks out a guitar and we carry on singing folk versions of U2 and Oasis. I imagine this is a typical scene in Dublin. It all feels very wholesome and clean.

We sleep at Tyler's house. It is full of drunken Irish construction workers. Not a green card in the whole place. It is Sunday night and there is a boy vomiting violently in the toilet. I wonder if I am going to follow him. Normally I would, but I am too embarrassed.

Tyler grabs Wendy and pulls her into his bedroom. I get the couch. Half of me feels jealous and stupid and half of me is happy that he is so protective of her, something I have never been and never could be.

Lying alone and sick I feel like everyone in the world has a lover but me. I remember mine is back in Seattle and feel better. I hadn't thought about her until this moment. I suddenly realize that she means nothing to me. Nothing, in fact, means anything to me. Except Wendy.

My head spins violently. I stand up and walk around to avoid getting sick. There is no bottled water in the fridge and I am afraid to drink from the tap. I know my hangover is going to be a lulu. I chug a Coke and pass out back on the couch. I dream assorted madness:

I am hanging out in a techno club with Bill Gates. Bill is nice but geekish and I plot secretly of how to extract a few million out of him for personal use. We talk about Rebirth 2.0 and Roland synth modules as we suck down our pints.

Bill thanks me endlessly for getting him out of Redmond and talks of his love for Sasha and Paul Van Dyk. Bill seems to like me. I offer to buy him a drink. He accepts. He offers me a job. I accept. We laugh and talk about why we hate Linux.

At the end of the dream I leave Bill's table to take a piss and get more drinks. I never make it back because I am attacked by a cougar. The beast rips me to shreds and I die in a pool of blood. Bad luck in a club to be sure, but I've had worse.

Wendy wakes me up at 7:00 AM. My brain feels like a broken soda biscuit. It is Monday and everyone must work. I cannot move. I stand up and try to pretend that I am not uselessly hungover. Jenny urges me into the car and heads for work.

My fate is to walk the streets of Manhattan by myself until 6:00 PM when my train takes me back to Elizabethtown. We stop for coffee and I smoke a cigarette. As soon as I finish the smoke I feel my bowels making a mad dash for freedom. Suddenly I remember the hearty Irish stew I downed for dinner.

Wendy goes to work at 52nd and 6th Avenue, at the Payne Webber building. Everyone in New York has their own skyscraper. There are literally thousands of them just lying about. I look for an empty one that no one is using, but they all seem to be occupied. I start walking towards the Village. I am about 30 blocks away.

As I pass Saint Peter's Cathedral, I ponder walking right up, squatting down, and shitting on the altar. My thoughts on Catholicism. Instead, I reach in my pocket and feel my two hits of ecstasy, chalky against my clammy fingers. Feeling I have nothing to lose, I pop one in my mouth. I feel better almost immediately, like a naughty kid who has just stolen a cookie.

Half an hour later, I am overcome with fear. I run into a large Starbucks and ask for the key. I rush in and take a 2 second and 5 pound dump. Before I wipe, I glance at my handiwork. I filled the entire basin with a steaming brown mess of half digested stew. It looks remarkably similar to what was 10 hours ago sitting in my bowl. Chunks of potatoes and carrots in a brown sauce. My balance leaves me for a moment and I almost fall in. I wipe quickly and leave without flushing.

I return the key to the barista and rush out into the cold without ordering anything. I slink over to Tower Records and spend an hour sitting on the floor listening to the new Frankie Bones record. My vision twitches and my head spins.

When the disc ends, I float over to Tower Books and buy the New Musical Express weekly before wafting back to Starbucks. I feel I must patronize them for being there when I needed them. I chill out with a chai tea and read about my favorite bands. I get dirty looks from the barista. She must have used to bathroom after I left. I smile and she turns away.

I come down a bit off the ecstasy as I trot around the Village window shopping. I buy a pair of sunglasses on the street. Orange lenses to make everything appear sunnier. My chemically induced euphoria is getting a bit speedy. The chai latte is not settling well. I almost upchuck and must forcefully re-swallow some chai vomit. I burp loudly.

I still have four hours to kill before my train leaves. I see a movie about the sex life of Bill Clinton called Primary Colors. The film was written by a close aide. Our President gets a friend's young daughter pregnant and then lies about it. When they make him take a blood test he switches the samples.

After the film, I take a cab to meet Wendy at her office at 5:15PM. She escorts me to the train station. Apparently, I said something rude to her about Tyler the night before when I was drunk.

Me and my big mouth.

Wendy inquires as to my meaning now that I am sober and capable of embarrassment. I brush it off, trying not to think about it because I honestly don't know what the fuck I was talking about either. I am too spacey to make anything up.

Perhaps drink makes me see ghosts and imagine things that could never occur, like Wendy and I having a casual affair. Still, all is apparently forgiven and she kisses me on the cheek and sends me back to Elizabethtown. We promise to meet up again before another three years pass. I fall in love with her again and miss her before we part. The pain of separation anxiety sets in.

Before I start to cry, I take my last pill. My head explodes. I catch myself speaking aloud to no one. Shouting? People stare, but I have my headphones to block their thoughts.

In Philadelphia, I have to change trains. I try and find a quiet place to smoke a joint. But people keep coming up to me and asking me for money. Philadelphia seems a city of beggars and idiots. I give two dollars to a homeless man with a boy. He acts as if I gave him a hundred and tells me "God bless you". I wonder how a homeless man with a kid can even say the word "God" without sarcasm.

I call my dad from a pay phone to meet me at the Elizabethtown station when I arrive at 10:14PM. Before I board the train, I buy new batteries for my Walkman and step into the bathroom to pull a few hits off a joint while I think about my life.

In reality, I am a lowly journalist. A depressed minimum wager with more self-loathing than hate mail. Envious of the baristas from whom I get my daily caffeine. Without them, our American empire would surely crumble.

I have no aspirations or devotions, diseases or cures. I am stalled like an old car on the side of an endless highway. I cannot live forever in Seattle. It has plenty of drugs and music, yes, but no culture. I cannot live like this. Nobody can live like this, I repeatedly tell myself.

I have never left the United States. Perhaps my paradise lies across oceans East or West? Paris, could that be the answer to my prayers? Thailand? It all seems so contrived.

I have never dared to grasp at that which is beyond my comfortable reach. My dreams are like the pretty girl on the train- impossibly beautiful, and unattainable.


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