The Lisa Diaries

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The Lisa Diaries by Lisa Carver  


Getting Wick’d

February 8, 2001

I was in Columbus, Ohio, at Gene’s house. He was getting dressed for Jerry’s memorial, making one last attempt to find a Gaunt shirt in the laundry pile.


“Right before he died, Jerry cock-butted me,” he explained.


“What’s cock-butting?”


“Stealing someone’s date. I brought this girl to Larry’s bar, I went to the bathroom and when I came out, Jerry had his arm around her. I said, ‘That’s my date.’ He said, ‘Well, she’s coming home with me.’ He’d never seen her before. He wouldn’t let me or Bret or Mike sit with them, and then he took her away. So I took all my Gaunt shirts and gave them to the Salvation Army. He wrote me some lame-ass apology by email that didn’t make any sense, and then he died. I went to the Salvation Army to buy back the Gaunt shirts, but they were gone.”


I remember that night — Jerry called to tell me about it. “You would have been so proud of me,” he said. I was always trying to get him to have sex, I guess that’s what he meant.


Gene and I decided to go eat somewhere we always used to go with Jerry. We tried to find the Indian restaurant, but it was closed so we went to Danube, where you can get a bottle of champagne and two grilled cheese sandwiches for $125, or a “giant-ass” bottle of cheap wine and burgers for $20. “Why is it these hard-drinkers or rockers or whatever they are, they try to take you someplace good to eat and always end up in a diner?” Dave asked me once, and I disliked his sentiment. The hard-drinkers or rockers or whatever they are, they don’t need something to be good. They are stoics in the old sense of the word: making magic out of the sad and pitiful.


I’ve always been drawn to people who were abused as children. I think it’s because they create some new pain to cover up the boring old one that’s always there; they’re compelled to stay wild and inventive long after it would be sensible to quit for the night. Jerry did this with alcohol and arguments, doing both till it hurt then doing both some more.


Classically trained as a violinist, Jerry picked up the dirty-sounding guitar instead, because he had this electric desolation he needed to give voice to. Sleeping with Jerry was like eating at Danube: you try for the good place but end up in this smokey dive instead, and you look around and there’s this edge of tragedy to everything, but it’s like something extraordinary is happening too. I seem to recall a lot of sounds of dissension whenever we were doing it — people fighting in the street below Jerry’s window, the owner of Brownie’s in New York banging on the bathroom door for us to come out. Each time felt like the last. Jerry was a true romantic, which in real life application meant he was a pain in the ass. “Hey Lisa,” he’d say, “how come I want to know everything your friend Kate is saying?” I wanted him so completely, and he was already slipping away from me. He didn’t really want Kate, but that thought went through his head, that he wanted her that second, and in his idea of romance you say everything. I loved how he always hurt me, I think because it made me feel tough to see how much I could take, and I think because he did it so unselfconsciously, and with flair.


I met Jerry backstage at a club in Boston. He didn’t know I was a journalist; he thought I was a Nashville Pussy groupie, and he got really angry — he thought I was going to get used, and he saw something innocent in me. He was the only one to ever see that. We were fighting about it — we didn’t know each other’s names or occupations but we were very heated in our argument — and I was complaining because all the beers in the refrigerator were imports and I only like cheap ones. So he smashed his expensive bottle against the wall and it was like he’d laid down his coat over a puddle for me and I said, “That’s it, you’re coming with me.” And I fucked him in the girls’ room.


The memorial was at a club called Little Brother’s. It started at ten p.m., but by nine, hundreds of people were already there. Pictures of Jerry making goofy faces covered the walls. In every single photo, he’s got a bottle in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Gene and LisaThe autopsy revealed emphysema and a grossly enlarged heart. Jerry was thirty-four.


Bands played his songs while everyone bought each other shots and told about times they got “Wick’d.” “Wick’d” is a term in Ohio named after Jerry, for when someone has something extremely ill-mannered done to them. “A lot of people confuse honor with politeness and convention,” Simone said, “but Jerry could just walk out of a bar without the courtesy of telling you where he was going because somehow it was the honorable thing to do. He would show up at a duel at dawn.” I found out things he’d said about me, ways he was proud of me that I never knew. And I found out that he was about to go to Spain and attend culinary school, of all things. He was so excited about it, they said. The girls and I were very competitive about our Jerry stories. One girl wrote “Kitten” in a heart on the wall. “That was his nickname,” she explained. I never knew that. I took the cigarette out of her fingers and burned a hole in the middle of the “Kitten.” She said it was perfect, and threw her whiskey shot at the burn on the wall.


Jerry asked me to marry him two days before I married Dave. “You’re the only one who can understand me,” he said. He’d probably said that to each one of these women here now. And it was probably true every time, because Jerry was a different person every five minutes. He was part reaction against whomever he was with, and if you were leaving him, then he needed to be with you. I chose Dave because he was more of a challenge. His ways are not natural to me. Jerry’s were. I felt like I could learn with Dave, and with Jerry I’d only keep being what I already was. Jerry never repressed me; Jerry was never grossed out. He first saw me five years before we actually met. It was at a Suckdog performance at CBGB’s. He told everyone how I was naked and covered with bruises and saying, “C’mon, hit me! Hit me!” People told me he said it was the most awesome thing he’d ever seen. Dave also saw me five or six years before we met, also at a Suckdog show at CBGB’s, where his friends dragged him over to watch me pee in a litter box (I was a cat in our opera), and Dave was so disgusted he turned around and walked out. I think I chose Dave because he represses me. I can’t find my pleasure the way I’m accustomed to with him — which is through doing something unhealthy and melodramatic and just being glad to be alive at the end of it. I’ve had to find different ways to get through the day. Dave is kind to me. He would never say those things about Kate, but he would never smash his expensive beer against the wall just because I didn’t like it, either. Well, it’s not fair to compare the living to the dead. The newly dead are so attractive. They can’t annoy you anymore, and they seem to have something of yours down with them, just out of reach — one of your chances for transformation. Along with my ex-husband (a stinky old Frenchman prone to misadventure), a daydream distant future with Jerry would have been one of my ways back to myself, a way out of who I’d chosen to become. It’s as if there were three roads and the earth opened up and swallowed one road whole, and my future is smaller, tighter, with Jerry dead.


The person who organized the memorial asked me to speak. I got on stage and looked out at these hundreds of faces and didn’t know what was going to come out of my mouth. I said, “The thing I remember most about Jerry is all the trouble he caused.” Everyone cheered. “He came to New Hampshire to visit one time, and New Hampshire is a very quiet place. He was only there for fifty-six hours and he managed to cause five fights and make a lot of people mad. We went out on a canoe and Jerry kept almost tipping it over when he’d dip his head back to look at the stars because they were so beautiful. It was midnight and it was cold, and he wouldn’t shut up” — here everyone cheered and yelled Jerry’s name — “and that was what was so fucking great about him. He was electric with trouble. He was wonderful and the most honest person I ever knew.” Then I jumped off the stage and grown men were crying and I ran out of the club without saying good-bye to anyone. I realized I didn’t belong in Columbus anymore.

Lisa Carver is the author of the books Dancing Queen, Rollerderby, The Lisa Diaries and Drugs Are Nice. She’s written for Hustler, Index, Icon, Feed, Newsday and Playboy, among others. She lives in New Hampshire.


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