Jack’s Naughty Bits: Charles Bukowski, Notes of a Dirty Old Man

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Jack's Naughty Bits

New Years Day: a fabulous time, when most of humanity does its day-long
impersonation of a pot of marinating root vegetables; a day when male-kind witnesses its larger members delivering unto one another concussions not dissimilar to those we inflicted upon ourselves the evening prior; a day of rest, or more accurately, recovery. Yes, if any of you are actually reading this today, if any of you are actually capable of reading today, then you are nobler souls than I, who am no doubt lying in a grog-pool of my own regurgitation, wondering how a brainstem left to its own devices can produce so much cerebral pain.

On such a day, the dawning of the actual millennium (at least for the anally retentive who pooh-poohed last year’s premature celebration), I thought it only fitting to feature that writer who partied every night like it was 1999, the sodden crotch louse himself, Mr. Charles Bukowski.

Bukowski, like the cheapest of distilled spirits, is not to all tastes,
but just as I remember fondly drinking warm Everclear and Kroger-brand
Red Pop from a two-liter bottle in the back of a speeding Camaro the
night before my SAT’s, there is occasionally a time and a place for
Bukowski and his least filtered of all unfiltered prose. Now, granted, I
don’t actually remember any of the events of the red pop outing, I just
presume I must have had a good time. And so too with Bukowski, who isn’t
always easy on the eye, but whom I nonetheless esteem for his ability to
sink lower than anybody else and keep his pen with him. And from such
depths he does draw forth gems. His life was sordid, but in the most redeeming and beautiful sense of the word — and it is that redemption and beauty that provides a wake-up call to anyone languishing, braindead and agonizing, this first day of the year. Here is one such alarum.


From Notes of a Dirty Old Man by Charles Bukowski

I don’t know if it was those Chinese snails with the little round assholes or if it was the Turk with the purple stickpin or if it was simply that I had to go to bed with her seven or eight or nine or eleven times a week, or something else and something else, and something, but I was once married to a woman, a girl, who was coming into a million dollars, all somebody had to do was die, but there isn’t any smog in that part of Texas and they eat well and go to the doctor for a scratch or a sneeze. She was a nympho, there was something wrong with her neck, and to get it down close and fast, it was my poems, she thought my poems were the greatest thing since Black, no mean Blake — Blake. And some of them are. Or something else. She kept writing. I didn’t know she had a million. I’m just sitting in a room on N. Kingsley Dr., out of the hospital with hemorrhages, stomach and ass, my blood all over the county general hospital, and they telling me after nine pints of blood and nine pints of glucose, “one more drink and you’re dead.” This is no way to talk to a suicide head. I sat in that room every night surrounded by full and empty beer cans, writing poems, smoking cheap cigars, very white and weak, waiting for the final wall to fall . . .

Well, she came out on a bus, mama didn’t know, papa didn’t know, grandpa
didn’t know, they were on vacation somewhere and she only had a little
change. I met her at the bus station, that is, I sat there drunk waiting
for a woman I had never seen to get off a bus, waiting for a woman I had
never spoken to, to marry. I was insane. I didn’t belong on the streets.
The call came. It was her bus. I watched the people swing through the
door. And here comes this cute sexy blonde in high heels, all ass and
bounce and young, young, twenty-three, and the neck wasn’t bad at all. Could that be the one? Maybe she’d missed her bus? I walked up.

“Are you Barbara?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said, “I guess you’re Bukowski?”

“I guess I am. Should we go?”


We got into the old car and drove to my place.

“I almost got off the bus and went back.”

“I don’t blame you.”

We got on in and I drank some more but she said she wouldn’t go to bed with me until we got married. So we got some sleep and I drove all the way to Vegas and back. We were married. I drove all the way to Vegas and back without rest, and then we got into bed and it was worth it. The
first time. She had told me she was a nymph but I hadn’t believed it. After the third or fourth round I began to believe it. I knew that I was in trouble. Every man believes that he can tame a nymph but it only leads to the grave — for the man . . .

The crazy people up front who had once lived there had put these shelves all around the bed and on these shelves were pots and pots of geraniums. Big pots, little pots. All geraniums. When we fucked the bed would shake the walls and the walls would shake the shelves, and then I’d hear it: the slow volcano sound of the shelves giving away and then I’d stop. “No, no, don’t stop, oh Jesus, don’t stop!” and I’d catch the stroke again and down those shelves would come, down on my back and ass and head and legs and arms, and she’d laugh and scream and make it. She loved those pots. “I’m gonna rip those shelves off the wall,” I would tell her. “Oh, no,” she’d say. “Oh please, please don’t!” She said it so nicely that I couldn’t. So I’d hammer the shelves back, put the pots back on and we’d wait for the next time.

last week next week

Jack Murnighan‘s stories appeared in the Best American Erotica editions of 1999, 2000 and 2001. His weekly column for Nerve, Jack’s Naughty Bits, was collected and released as two books. He was the editor-in-chief of Nerve from 1999 to 2001, before retiring to write full time and take seriously the quest for love.

Introduction ©2000 Jack Murnighan and, Inc.