Chapter 2: On the Relation of Daniel and Nathaniel to Other Men and Such, and the Narrator Reveals Himself as a Man in an Old Folks' Home
So I reached Dan. I suggested we go to a bar called "Spicy's." Dan snorted, a comment on the sloppy and worthless brand of rabble the place invited.
Aside from its general shabbiness, "Spicy's" was known for two things, or three: a constantly ebbing and regenerative tide of nubile, experimental waitresses, or so the talk held them to be; a pervasive, beery thuggery brought on by the constant presence of drunken thugs, incredibly; and third, chicken wings, which such men in particular love to eat, because they reclaim the feeling of actually slaying and tearing an animal to pieces. And cocaine. This makes four dreadful things Spicy's brought to mind, so we had it coming.
But Spicy's had lots of televisions and Daniel and I probably had a coy fancy for the lacquered, lewdly caparisoned servers, flouncing edgily through the bar in such tight revelations of denim and lycra, knotted up about the middle and suffocating their asses, as make men distracted and foolish, and confirm the Muslims in their mores. We arrived on the usual torturous scene. A boozy male crowd produced its mash of croaking and bleating and generally combative noises, and the air was staleness of everything, of bacteria, of beer-inlaid carpet, of hot dirty fryers and brutish types sweating out their personal poisons. Inside that din, the happy patrons were probably keening over the shittiness of rich folks, or enjoying little fits of animation over sports, and they were each of them failing to disguise the merciless libidos that hounded them like prison wardens and made them useless for genuine conversation. It was the predicted clot of vicious dipsomaniacs. They were almost unanimously white and they smoked the cigarettes and they didn't at first glance appear to care or know about anything, and that's the sort of unyielding monstrous evil that we must deal with regularly if we are to reach Heaven or attend the bar scene.
Our server's name was Mandy, and she had her shirt cinched closely beneath her small, solicitous, forceful breasts. She was a muscular girl and her whole tiny sexy body imparted a definite and terrifying pugnacity. The ass was severely contained by the hips. An ass like a slightly pudgy, fit boy's, or rather, more like a woman bodybuilder's, scarcely horizontal.
Probably a bodybuilder, Mandy helped us to find a spot with an obscured view of the game, and she wiped off the table. As I recall, so many years now since, she moved by a tumid sexual sashay, bursting from her dark jeans and out of her tough, tight little t-shirt like a biker, while her soft, exposed belly bent your mind towards sex, and how much one might eventually tip her. While she stood there by us, Dan and I spoke haltingly, not very smooth, and I think we were sharply aware of this haltered chit's man-mastery. Mandy was probably used to signs of mincing lust, and she was kind and forgiving of us. She even scooted into the booth and sat next to me, putting on a small show of weariness, and from her hips and her strong arms I again breathed in that very wholesome and forward vulgarity, the aura of a young girl that does a lot of drugs and fucking.
The pretty saucepot struck against my libido painfully, and she stuck there oblivious to the muted groans and whimpers of the poor engorged thing, huffing and sucking angrily against its thrilled flesh, like a starving eel. Sitting so nearly next to me could have been a sign, a sign of particular affection, I thought. For a minute little pockets of the glad, welcome, rising heat swelled by way of a swirl about my navel. My loins burned and the complex organs of the hip region swam with lust that only boys know. My loins thrashed and paddled towards the light and flesh of Mandy.
Prowling on meaty, muscular legs, she began an evening's frolic through my mind, and even after she appeared from some meeting with her manager, which she vainly pretended had been a nuisance, flitting about the table and carrying on a conspicuous new sniffing and rubbing flirtation with her cute red nose, I was gripped by an unreasoning, cave-dwelling hunger for the girl. Normally I don't like the coke-huffing freaky bar matrons. She was perfect for this job. By her clothes, and the sly catering and cajoling of her movements, through her hoarse and raucous voice and bumptious sexualized confidence, she seemed to have designed herself to make these dumb drinkers sit long on their hot barstools and clench their prostate and finally in tips pay dearly for the prospect of fantasizing about her. She was young and remorselessly on display, and seemed like a somewhat angry, nasty girl that you could still talk to, and so all fantasies picked over her, circling and clutching and grabbing. Servers like these should need cabaret cards for all the hidden dramatic work men force upon them, in our minds. Yes normally I don't admire the flaming hot miscreants, but Mandy demanded attention. Thinking of her makes me tighten up a bit here and there, now that I am old and drunk and inflexible.
I interpreted this booth gesture of close-sitting and acting intimate as an unusually friendly one, as I am weak and vain and impressionable. As I say, my server had already wrested reason from me, by this point. There she was, doing her duty, dispensing small vague samples of her attention. She was beginning what in her mind could well have been another dull and unpromising flirtation with one more sly, overheated chimpanzee from the street.
I was conscious of enjoying the peculiar rat-fink nervousness that comes from being with other marketable males while a desirable woman is near. It is too often goofy and unpleasant. Some men prefer blundering, assertive, essentially territorial displays in these situations, and others like to behave towards their "wingmen" and pals as equals and sexual commodities in their own right. As a predestined Libra I am somewhere in between, and I can only think that Daniel is more honorable in this respect. As I tried to say Daniel is reserved or something quiet like this, and it seemed like the reins, insofar as purposeful flirting goes, were in my sometimes heavy hands. And she was mine by proximity, it should be written.
But sometimes, innocent flirting is for me a grotesque, violent challenge. When meeting new and lovely women, particularly in the old days, the method that I practiced, of "talking to"---or piquing, flimflamming, and coaxing them--- generally rested upon an alchemy of seeming shy while, slick-like, betraying a willingness to ask them outright, as Charlie Parker would, whether they want me to suck their pussy tonight. It would take too much energy now to convince you that this is what every man is doing in his own way, in the general symbolic sense, when he courts a woman. I try to tell them that such ministrations are urgent, or that I am different, like a Martian oral specialist, top in Her field, tee hee, and not like all the rest of the earth-men who wish to suck their pussies by way of mere romance or lust. Generally, I resist the urge to meet their eyes too much, partly because this might end up confusing or disgusting the both of us, and I clutch the idea that I can modulate my voice to a style unlike the cool, ridiculous, affected bass swagger of other men, speaking instead with sparing, gentle inflections that grope for a sensuality which is both grave and mischievous, patient and plying. Currently I am a significant failure, romantically, because I appear to be schizophrenic to the eyes of the ordinary, thick-hearted and dried-up women here at the retirement home.
(As to the disgusting quality of my eyes and what folks see in them, it is difficult to describe, but we are going to divagate anyway, as I am in control here and feeling my meds. Some folks see only an asshole and stop there. But some are able to see in them images of some sort of gross, limitless carnival of the unfettered Ego, with brilliantly costumed prostitutes and priests and Gestapo agents doing the sodomite rumba. They find in my eyes the parade of trannie mind-controlled murderers employed by the CIA, or the images of the nightmarish open zoo that I once fantasized about in my daydreams, where the rich children of investment bankers and designer pharmaceutical moguls, on leashes, are publicly eaten by fat tigers, lizards, and manatees. Inside the cages are Angolan men cannibalizing all the first-born white males of San Francisco in revenge for proxy war and the display of a lynched man's genitals in a department store window in Memphis, on Main Street, in 1909. You just can't imagine but it's all there. There may have been so many ugly things in my eyes, to compliment the pretty brown, but I'll never have any way of telling what it's like to be me from the perspective of those that matter--- all of you good people. One generally needs to be a successful film actor to have a firm idea of what a truly despicable and selfish asshole one is, because it all needs to be seen from the third person, and most of us lack the artistry or equipment for that view.
But also imagine looking into a window upon a scene of sexual depravity among famous Senators, let's say. ….. In my tender eyes George Bush, Sr., is having unbridled fun with a black youth of less than twenty springs, named Brent, possibly from Nebraska. They are doing it savagely in a tinted limousine and you can see it in me because I have no way of forgetting such lewd tales, whether they are true or not. In my eyes a black lady named "Marjorie" or something alleges that she was raped and kidnapped by George Bush Jr., the blubber-lipped alcoholic prodigy, and then files suit against him in 2004 or 2005, during the time he is acting president of the post-september 11 world. "Marjorie" is then later killed by a gunshot wound to the head, and ruled a suicide. Such things are a sty in my eye and my consciousness.
Apparently, also, there are red-skinned imps with doctorates in my eyes because I've seen them and you will too if you are not blind, and blue cacodemons with stun guns leaping around a cauldron or sound cannon or torture device or what have you, and their pustulent genitals are flopping about hotly and their arms spastic as they rub at them and beckon to you in a greasy farce of seduction, promising to write sonnets if you'll spread your cheeks once quickly. And they are all singing a fresh R&B ballad in which the forelorn male expresses his need for your body and your panties, and promises to make love to your body and whisper to your panties all night long. As it turns out, many people are not comfortable seeing scenes like that when they make eye contact, and so think poorly of me. And I would too.)
Dan and I observe and are unsettled a bit by the sniffing slattern, but keep our calm repose. She moves us to a better table, and we order beer and fried potatoes, one of my favorites. A huge TV flashes the game right at our elbows, three feet high. No one else, crowded at a decent pace from us, is watching the game. Their evenings are either drunken and all-male, or romantic, and removed; the unpopular nigger-filled NBA playoffs have drawn nobody but Daniel and I, here in the new south. Therefore occasionally some white ape from its concealment near the watering-trough tampers with the remote, changing to the fool spectacle of baseball. Basketball is the most humane and beautiful sport of all, and baseball is repugnant, it stands to reason. It seems Dan is too close to the screen and has a perverted angle, though from any angle baseball is distressing and embarrassing. But he is satisfied and we talk a bit over the awful, screeching radio rock that functions as ambience in those places.
The two of us can talk about most things together. Again, I like Dan and anyway I can seem interested in anything other people say because I have been raised properly and know at which angle to incline my head, and which areas of the face to peer at, in order to demonstrate attentiveness. And he is a person blessed, rarely blessed, with a character that's both interesting and tolerable: he is not too conceited over the fact that he knows what the fuck is going on, I mean, I guess. He will listen up convincingly, when not holding forth with ideas that are of their own, novel and often spontaneous, and generated with a kind of rambunction.
So instead of, or perhaps in the spirit of talking of the most obvious things, we talk of what dissatisfies us deep inside our guts and our brains while swiveling our heads around like lurky hungry sharpers. We are skulking, like the other vultures, over our glasses of bile. But while talking with Dan I am looking for Mandy and her peeking lower back, its exultant butterfly tattoo, her lively nose and square pretty face with its enticement of metal piercing the chin and tongue. You'll recall that her ass is unnaturally pert, her hips slim and boyish, as if still growing. Mandy has capable, muscular arms with pleasant lines and her bicep makes a pronounced dip inside the elbow that excites me. She is wonderfully conditioned and chemically alert. I can still see her now.
Her belly is a yelping, cooing impertinence that is hard to ignore, like a cherub burbling and trapped in a cloud, who has lost its swaddle. It is just too sexy and I do my part for civility by avoiding its hypnotic glow. Likely it contained some stud or hoop but I just didn't see.
We were visited by a literal human contretemps right before our move to the TV table. As mentioned we play ball on Tuesday, Dan and myself and other friends. But in addition some two-legged disgraces often show up to scramble around yelling crassly and throw up shots inspired equally by selfishness, machismo and apoplexy. It is a good chance for young men with some fantasies of being able to play to jog and dart in one another's way, exchanging insults and challenges. One especially jangly, obnoxious fool is named Mike, but his ridiculous nickname is "Rasta," or "Rasta Mike." Any Babylonian nitwit that allows his self to be called thus has already been well-described. Dreadlocks, and the cachet they can be relied on inspiring among the bourgeois student class, have to be the neatest microcosmic instance of "slumming." Michael was himself, indeterminately black. More of a burnt umber. Parents were almost cult-like refined high-yellow Christians.
And so at our first table, Daniel and I were treated to a few moments with the ersatz rasta and one of his friends, a drunken hapless bungler called Gene who would have instantly reeked of trouble in his vile sloppy awkwardness, had he not seemed so harmlessly goddamn sloppy and awkward. First of all, Gene moved and behaved in a rubbery, saggy sort of way, so that his body did not seem to be supported by bones. Also his presence was much too forward and when he spoke it was a confused and mashed-up emission of needlessly loud gurgles. So deep into his cups was Gene that he was literally indecipherable. (At the risk of seeming swinish and male chauvinist, I'll say that in my experience it was usually women-folk who to such an extent forgot language when intoxicated, despite being infinitely better practiced at talking.) Beyond this speech impediment, there was a glaring void of composure and sense. I kindly attributed this, too, to his extreme drunkenness.
He offered his floppy little hand, and I rued my civil streak as I shook it. He held on for an uncomfortable length of time sputtering inanities, fully incoherent but jovial, until I felt dumb letting him clutch me to such pointless, blubbering effect, and pulled away. The insane blubbering continued though and I felt as if exposed to some harsh element or communicable disease. It soon all became comical, then veered towards aggravating, as Gene was adrift in a frothy, endless river of nonsense, and offering a travelogue. He passed from amusing to intolerable scourge within two minutes, mainly because of the ruthless patter.
Mike, though every bit as drunk and systemically weakened by pills as his garrulous sidekick, stood to the side, and across his dropsical, glassy face, vacuity somehow gave way to a glimmer of the idea that Gene was coming off as a shit-head, a mishap and a compromise, and was bothering us. But it was only a shooting star of hope, a glint in a vacuum. Ultimately he could do nothing but reflect the blur of gestures and words that passed before his groggy eyes. Dan and I looked at each other, silently exchanging jokes and regrets. As an acquaintance, even, Mike had acquitted himself poorly, and we knew we would soon have to make impatient suggestions about leaving us.
Thankfully they were soon off: Gene was in mid-burble when the two lifeless, tranquilized weasels just started drifting towards the bar, as if they had smelled a wounded chicken. They faded away to the sound of Gene's yammering. Gene himself seemed to be in danger of dissolving. No one might have guessed that he still had great stores of spunk to spill. Daniel and I were left to titter while lamenting our species and side-watching Allen Iverson, one of Dan's favorite athletes, and an example of what a man can become if he is not a sloppy, stooge-like motherfucker.
To be Continued in Chapter 3, in Which the Protagonists Become Fully Antagonized and Gene Takes a Bottomless Bow into a Window or Two.