The woman in bed with me had just finished it.
All she could talk about was the fact that Nicholson's profile reminded her of me, how I live like an eccentric artist, how I'm not a traditional relationship kind of guy...
* * * *
For the record, nothing happened. No sex, at least.
As you'll soon read, there's a very good reason for that.
Since I started this blog, whenever I've posted something about various relationships, I've had various people ask: why are you so damned neurotic when it comes to women? Occasionally, someone will leave a comment about how I seem like a decent guy, that I'm cute, etc.
I must warn you, dear reader, that this post may cause some discomfort. It may just change your opinion of me, if you even have one, and probably not for the better. I'm used to it, so don't feel bad.
* * * *
The woman wouldn't let the Jack thing drop. She became enamored with the idea that I prefer being the fling, the relationship escape hatch, the go-to guy when passions fail. For some reason, she thought that made me seem, well, more attractive.
Even though I'd made it clear the previous night that I really didn't want to be yet another one-night stand, the woman decided to test me, to see if I'd changed my mind.
The only thing I remember is her climbing on top of me, trying to dig into my track pants like a horny ferret, and politely rolling her off me several times. I tried explaining that, well, her being in my bed in the first place had more to do with logistics (i.e., she was too drunk to drive back to Indiana Saturday night, we were only sharing a bed because I no longer have a couch for guest use, etc.) than a desire for a quick, dirty fuck.
That just made her mad. Rejection does that to people.
If you really wanted to be somebody's boyfriend or something, you'd just ask single girls out. You get off on this shit. Some guys are the boyfriend kind. You're not, asshole. Get over yourself!
I finally snapped. It's been a while since I've kicked someone out of an apartment at nine in the morning.
What pissed me off?
If there's one thing that scares the shit out of me more than anything, it's the idea that one day, I'll be that old man in a big old house, alone with nothing more than memories and my failing libido to keep me company.
Just like good ol' Jack.
After Ish left, screaming about how she hoped she never saw my lame ass ever again, I bolted the door, cleaned up pieces of the broken coffee cup she'd flung at me, took a cold shower. I put on the stereo, a little Tom Waits to soothe the ol' nerves.
I finished the article, browsed some JASIST articles I'd downloaded from work, and went back to sleep. I didn't even have it in me to be angry.
Hell, what's wrong with me? I've got to be one of the only guys on the planet who's more proud of himself for choosing not to fuck somebody than for choosing the alternative.
* * * *
I happened to be taking a drive through Liberty, Indiana, Saturday morning, trying to figure out where I stood after a recent tryst with a woman here in Oxford - a tryst that I'd hoped, at least, could possibly turn into something meaningful.
Tryst. It's amazing how I use so many euphemisms when I write these days. Sounds so much more, well, diplomatic than trying to explain how one ends up as a clandestine player in a rather bizarre love triangle, how one ends up as the odd-man-out in such things completely by accident.
As I've stated before, no, I don't steal girlfriends. It is impossible, really, to steal another human being. Women are not property and have a right to choose things for themselves. I do, however, have a nasty track record of borrowing them.
The latest tryst, however, began as a friendship, and went right at the wrong time. I fell for someone I actually enjoy spending time with - unfortunately, she fell for me whilst still being committed to someone else.
These things happen.
* * * *
Through some cosmic clusterfuck on nature, Ish and several of her friends happened to be camping at nearby Whitewater Memorial State Park. We ran into each other at a gas station.
I told her about my recent odd-man-out, love triangle tryst. She told me about how she was bored shitless at the campsite, how her ex-boyfriend was also a member of her group - along with his new girlfriend. She invited me to the camp site. I declined but gave her my new address, in case excessive amounts of beer failed to relieve her boredom and ex-fueled anxiety.
Somehow, she ended up driving to Oxford Saturday night. She somehow showed up on my doorstep at just before midnight.
I'm an old pro at these sorts of things. When a woman shows up at your door late at night, tells you they have no clue why they decided to drive 20 minutes just to say hi, there is no need for explanations.
While I may be dense when it comes to reading those all-important signals, some things, like having a woman tell you, point-blank, that you are more than welcome to do whatever you wish, are kinda-sorta hard to miss, even for me.
Hell, if it weren't for blunt women in this world...
* * * *I almost gave in to that uncontrollable, Devil-may-care lust, the dangerous kind of passion that always hides somewhere inside of all God's creatures. Sometimes, lust can be a good thing; at other times it can be more destructive than a hurricane in hell.
After being a revenge-fuck for way too many women in my adult life, I almost decided that, yeah, maybe it's high time I start using women the way they seem to use me.
Part of me wanted to just fuck away the memories of my recent tryst. I wanted the heartbreak to go away, to take the easy way out, to not care long enough to forget that I'd been in another woman's bed less than 60 hours prior, that I'd been happy.
Part of me, the immature, lustful part, could almost believe that.
* * * *
I wanted to forget all the other drama of the last month, too. The stuff I haven't really felt like talking about with anyone, much less posting to the ol' blog.
I finally told P. (the Backpacker Fling) that, well, some folks can't afford to take a month off to renovate Spanish villas, that I wasn't exactly comfortable playing the role of Rich Italian Woman's fuck-buddy carpenter while her boyfriend plays at being a race car driver. I wanted to forget her and her shouting through Skype that I'd led her on, that I was behaving like a stereotypical American boy, that most guys would kill to hop a plane for Europe....
I wanted to forget that I apparently sent an ex running to her stereotypically Los Angeles, $600-a-session shrink because she called me after eight months and I bluntly stated that I don't miss the twice-a-month STD testing or being the East Coast Boyfriend portion of her open relationship. I wanted to forget being told that I'm addicting, that I'm to blame for her once-again exclusive boyfriend's failure to meet her intellectual needs and the fact that she can't help remembering how my hands felt on her lower back.
I wanted to forget the fact that I've had two different women on two very different sides of the planet tell me that it was downright wrong for me to even consider actually DATING someone while they're lonesome and horny, to actually consider being in a relationship.
I wanted to forget all about work, forget about the fact that I spent an extra week ill with walking pneumonia because I was too driven to take time off, forget every damned thing related to libraries, librarianship, and my job. I wanted to forget the $6-million, taxpayer-funded gorilla on my back. I wanted a reason to call into work, to say that I'd be in bed for the next week, screwing my brains out, and that I'd need to cancel a few meetings.
Part of me wanted to just not give a shit about anything.
And that part almost won out. But, well, sometimes, dignity can overcome lust.
When there's a woman running her tongue down your arm while you're not-so-innocently sprawled on the floor, watching a film like Interview with a Vampire, I don't know how - or why - the other, more responsible, side won.
It was obviously a hard-fought internal battle. But, dammit, sometimes having a soul means one accepts that there are indeed times for conscience-driven impotence.
And that kind of impotence isn't cured by some little blue pill. That kind of impotence doesn't go away the next morning, even when, physically, one is indeed turned on and able.
Some women, the ones who think I'm the kind of guy who enjoys being nothing more than a fuck-buddy, don't seem to understand that.
* * * *
I've been the revenge-fuck. I've been the fling, the other man, the chronic womanizer, the wreckless fun guy, the once-and-a-while lover, the Angel of Death for soon-to-be ex-boyfriends and fiances, the passionate exit ramp off the Abusive/Alcoholic/Junkie Assholes and Bastards Expressway.
I've had guys tell me they've dreamt of pulling a bullet through my skull because I slept with their girlfriends. I've cried watching college drinking buddies walk out of my life because I went home with their significant others. I even had one guy who probably has no clue, to this day, that his "best girl" was actually paying my rent in 1997 with the money he was stealing from his fraternity.
I have spent the majority of my adult life as that guy. The guy that makes other guys nervous, because he has no problem talking to women like human beings, with listening when they won't. The guy who makes boyfriends want to hold their girl's hand a bit tighter when he walks by, the guy who turns jealousy into an art form for some women.
And I've spent the last few years of my life trying to learn how not to be that guy. Maybe, just maybe, I'm tired of it. Maybe I want something more, something deeper. I'd like to learn how to, one day, do normal boyfriend/husband/whatever things with someone while in a meaningful, long-term relationship. Maybe I'd rather just live the rest of my life without any of the drama, to be able to die happy one day in the distant future without acquiring any more guilt.
Maybe, subconsciously, I knew I'd be reading a Rolling Stone interview the next morning, an interview with a guy often called the Great Seducer. Maybe, somehow, I knew I'd read that article and realize that if I had acted on instinct alone, I'd one day end up being the kind of senior citizen who never got the whole healthy relationship thing.
Maybe I don't want to be just like good ol' Jack when I grow up.
* * * *
When I finally rolled out of bed Sunday, I felt, strangely enough, at peace with the world.
I shaved off my weekly stubble, got dressed, made another pot of coffee. I cleaned the hardwood floors, did the dishes, folded laundry.
At one point, I stared at this picture I keep on a shelf in the bedroom, this old black-and-white photograph of another guy named Jack, the biggest influence in my life and, at times, the reminder of the kind of man I wanted to be when I was a child.
This Jack isn't some actor; the weathered old coonass in the photo, the guy staring off into the sunset with a Stetson on his head and a factory seconds cigar between his fingers, was bigger than that. This was a man who said things like holler and Hot Damned! and yellerbellied yet was still able to hold high-ranking positions in various embassies around the world, a man who played golf with the rulers of nations and who was one of the only American diplomats decorated for doing his part to help diffuse the Suez War.
When he died in 1986, he died knowing that he had left his mark on the world. He left behind a wife of 40 years, his one surviving son, and two grandchildren. Despite all of the acclaim he received in life, despite all of his adventures, his family and the unconditional love they held for one another was his greatest accomplishment.
For some reason, staring at that photo, I couldn't help but be envious of a man who went to bed with the same woman for almost a half-century and always felt he was the luckiest man alive.
No offense to Mr. Nicholson, but I still think I'd rather be like my grandfather when I finally grow up.
And I don't need a Rolling Stone article or some random bitter woman in my bed to tell me that.