It is 2008, it is 11:50 on Saturday night, I am at work, and I am alone. I can hear you yelling into a microphone through the ceiling in my bar, the floor of the club upstairs. The sound of you freestyling unintelligibly gives me a feeling of comfort that is so disarming that I had to pick up my computer and write about it.
You look comfortable in a wife beater. You’re usually too frenetic to maintain eye contact when you speak to people. You are every noncommittal notion in my brain all rolled up into one compact little trophy.
I hate the term White-Boy Rapper. I don’t use the term Negro-Metalhead or Oriental Two-Stepper, so why should I qualify your music that way? I hate that shit. Some of my best friends are white. I’m not ashamed.
I’ve been to almost every one of your shows since I moved here, but of course you don’t know this. I watched you up on stage, every “Fuck, yeah,” every nasty, nasty lyric about what you’d do with a local girl if you ever got your hands on one.
I remember when it started. You left your skateboard at my bar, and I’m a sucker for a boy with a skateboard so I brought it to you at the Cellar once I was off work. You told me you had recently come to the realization that I was hot, something you had not noticed before.
“Mandey, dude, man. It was like that scene in Not Another Teen Movie where– wait, have you seen that?”
“No.” I sipped my drink calmly, thinking that any parallel that you could possibly draw between me and a spoof of horrifyingly bad teeny-bopper flicks could not possibly be flattering.
“Mandey, I swear, yo. Yo. It was like, like in the She’s All That scene, when the ugly girl gets all dressed up and the dudes are all like, ‘Yo, Janie Briggs is HOTT, yo!’ And that’s you, Mandey! You are so hot right now! And not, like, hot, like, good looking, but I mean, what I really mean is that you’re hot IN THIS TOWN RIGHT NOW yo you know?”
I did not, in fact, know this, yo. I wasn’t sure I believed this. But I liked that you seemed to. “He could take his pick,” I thought. I could not.
I’d remind you of our swimming pool incident that took place underneath Mike Ellis’s apartment window later that night but I won’t. Remember I stabbed myself in the foot jumping over the chain-link fence? Well, I actually split my big toenail down the middle but I was too embarrassed to tell you. Now you know. The end.
But no. What I want to talk about is the time I went to see you perform a show at Nightlight a few weeks ago. I gave you a ride back to your apartment. You were all wild-eyed and amped up from playing.
My car is idling in the driveway and you asked if I wanted to come in to see your place.
“No one invites a girl into their apartment at three a.m. just to give her a grand tour, man,” I said.
“Mandey, come in. it’ll be two seconds, just come hang out.”
I go in. The walls are wood-paneled, sparsely decorated. I stand in the middle of the linoleum kitchen and wait while you disappear yourself. I tense up a little when you return wearing nothing but boxers, carrying pajama pants and an Independent Trucks t-shirt.
“Put these on.”
I cannot tell you no. This realization frightens me.
I go in your bathroom and I’m tempted to look in the medicine cabinet but I don’t. I’m wearing your clothes now, and I’m back in the living room, and you tell me to sit on the couch. All the lights in the apartment are out. I sit on the couch. You say:
You flip a switch somewhere in the room and suddenly the couch is alive with running LEDs. Your couch is blinking. The rainbow lights are racing each other around the couch in circles, never stopping. I’m dizzy.
You run to the bookshelf.
“Check this out, Mandey Jane. I got this from a flea market. Fuck. Got it for a steal.”
Another switch flips and ignites a series of multicolored lights on a wooden board. The lights are radiating over and over again away from a Virgin Mary statue nailed to the center of the board. There are lights flashing under the sofa and there is a Blinking Guadalupe on the shelf. I’m beginning to think I’m not really here.
“Mood music, Mandey Jane.”
Mood music, you say, as you rifle through a bin of vinyl. You find one you like and put it on the record player. You turn it way up. It is the Beverly Hills Cop Soundtrack.
We sit on opposite ends of the couch and check our email from our respective laptops. I am unsure of what to say, or what is going to happen next.
Suddenly I am lying in your bed, though I know nothing sexual or uninhibited will happen. The room is dark, and you’re fumbling in the bedside drawer. There’s a tiny amount of light from the streetlamps coming through the bedroom window. The light is sectioned into slats and looks choppy on the thin white sheet covering my body, which is curled in a defensive fetal position. You finish rummaging through the drawer and in the bands of light I see a .22 caliber revolver, and before I can react to this you empty the chamber of bullets onto my chest. You hand me the gun, and I refuse to react. It’s not that I’m trying to act tough, though. I’m just not freaked out by you. In that instant, I realize why I am so comfortable around you.
It’s because I trust you.
The last time I saw you was at the bar where I worked. You picked up my matchbook and counted the number of burnt matches still attached. You announced you could tell how many cigarettes I had smoked during my shift. After work I rolled up to a Wastoid party at 4 a.m. to find you outside face down in the gravel parking lot in front of the Squalor Dome, dressed like The Fonz and mumbling sweet nothings into the dirt. I brought you inside and laid your head in my lap. You threw up on my hoodie. I played with your hair, absentmindedly.
“I want a girl who’s too sad to give a fuck, I want a boy who’s so drunk he doesn’t talk.”
I don’t mind the dynamic between us. I actually prefer it, for the most part. We both know that even though it seems you’ve got all the control, that’s not really true.
You called me on my birthday and told me to come visit you at work, that you had bought me a birthday present. I went over to the cafe and found you there done up in a torn wife beater, explaining the meaning of “No Homo.” You handed me a small rectangular gift wrapped in the centerfold of a porno spread. The words, “Don’t forget Your Cock,” were emblazoned on the front of the magazine page, made to look as though the model had written it. The words were positioned right above the card that you had handwritten in a controlled, spidery, perfectly uniform print.
I waited until I got into the car to open it, because I don’t like having to react to presents. I remember you didn’t want me to open in front of you because you don’t like for people to have react to presents in front of you. This, I thought was perhaps the perfect metaphor. I opened it carefully so as not to destroy the wrapping.
It was a copy of Not Another Teen Movie.
I watched it that night, and again the next night, and the comparison is now something I think I sort of understand, but not completely.
Sort of like J Waves.